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Trump: McGahn To Leave As White House Counsel In The Fall; U.S. Denying Passport Renewals To Americans Along The Border; Sen. John McCain's Body To Fly To Washington, D.C. For Ceremonies; New York Gov. Cuomo And Cynthia Nixon Spar In Contentious Debate. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 30, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:03] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN ANCHOR: The president's legal team reportedly looking for help to handle possible impeachment proceedings. The chief White House counsel out the door as soon as next month.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The subway system --

CYNTHIA NIXON (D), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: MTA has been controlled by the state since 1965.

CUOMO: Excuse me. Can you -- can you stop interrupting?


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Insults go flying as Democrats square off for the first time on stage in the New York governor's race.

HARTUNG: A case of road rage. An Uber driver with a gun and a case of mistaken identity. How a man ended up dead and why police say it's justified.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Kaylee Hartung.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Kaylee. I'm Dave Briggs -- 5:30 eastern time.

"Push Comes to Gov" is how "New York Post" phrased that debate. We'll get to that interesting and contentious moment in a moment.

We start with politics in D.C. "The Washington Post" reporting President Trump -- his legal team, for the first time, said to be focused on the dreaded "I" word -- impeachment.

The president's advisers and allies increasingly worried he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself if Democrats take over the House. That could lead to subpoenas or even impeachment charges.

The president's team has reportedly discussed recruiting experienced legal firepower to the office of White House counsel which is now losing its lead lawyer Don McGahn. HARTUNG: President Trump announcing on Twitter Wednesday, McGahn will be leaving the job in the fall after the expected confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Hearings begin next week.

But, McGahn's departure was not unexpected and yet it appears he was blindsided by the Trump tweet having not announced his own timetable to leave.

We get more from CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Kaley, President Trump's announcement that Don McGahn might be leaving in the near future came as a surprise to a lot of people here.

Now, even Republican senators expressed some surprise that President Trump had made this decision but McGahn was rumored to be expecting to leave the White House shortly after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the president's nominee for the Supreme Court.

McGahn had been at the White House since the very beginning of the Trump administration, but our sources tell us he's had an estranged relationship with President Trump for over a year now. In that period of time, McGahn has also become a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

Now, President Trump, responding to this news that he broke himself over Twitter, had nothing but praise for McGahn when we spoke to him at the White House on Wednesday -- listen.

REPORTER: Don, are you --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Excellent guy. Yes, Don McGahn's a really good guy -- been with me for a long time. Privately, before this, he represented me. He's been here now -- it will be almost two years and a lot of affection for Don.

And he'll be moving on probably the private sector -- maybe the private sector and he'll do very well. But he's done an excellent job.

PHILLIP: And, President Trump also said that he was not at all concerned about what Don McGahn might have told the special counsel in those interviews.

But meanwhile, we are also looking to see who the president names as McGahn's replacement. A top contender, according to our sources, is Emmet Flood, a White House lawyer who was brought in, in part, to deal with a lot of the Russia-related inquiries coming into this White House.

Now, Flood does have an interesting background. He was a former lawyer for President Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearings -- Dave and Kaylee.


HARTUNG: Abby Phillip at the White House.

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos is considering a plan to bolster the rights of college students accused of sexual assault, harassment or rape. That's according to "The New York Times" and "Washington Post."

New rules could have significant repercussions for how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual abuse.

The changes would narrow the definition of sexual harassment from, quote, "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature" to "unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive."

BRIGGS: The regulations would also reduce a school's liability but encourage schools to provide victims with more support.

An education spokeswoman calls the reports premature and speculative and says the department was still deliberating.

HARTUNG: "The Washington Post" reports the government is denying some passport renewals to Americans along the border. The basis, a familiar one for President Trump -- birth certificates.

The administration is accusing hundreds, possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using false birth certificates for decades.

BRIGGS: In some cases, passport applicants are being jailed and entered into deportation proceedings or stuck in Mexico with their passports revoked.

The change throws citizenship for many into question and suggests another dramatic shift in immigration enforcement. The State Department tells to "Post" quote, "It has not changed policy or practice."

Let's discuss all this with Tal Kopan, who covers immigration for CNN. Good to see you, Tal.

This "Washington Post" story cites a man, Juan, who is 40 years old who spent a couple of years in the U.S. Army, was a cadet for the Border Patrol, works as a prison guard, is an American citizen who could not have his passport renewed.

[05:35:11] Give us some context as to exactly why he can't get a passport now.

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, Dave. You know, this is something that actually dates back much longer than this administration --


KOPAN: -- which the "Post" is reporting is that they've been told that this seems to be becoming more common from folks at the border. They're seeing this much more often. They said it had decreased during the Obama administration.

But the problem is there were some midwives, some birth attendants, and even some doctors for decades along the U.S.-Mexico border who have admitted to at times providing false documentation for births in the U.S.

So the administration -- the Trump administration, of course, has made rooting out fraud in the immigration system one of its top-stated priorities despite not really a ton of evidence that fraud is sort of widespread and pervasive.

This seems to be another instance of that where they're looking at many of these cases and if there's a suspicion that one of these birth certificates could perhaps be fraudulent, they seem to be going ahead and bringing cases towards those people and saying perhaps you don't deserve this passport that's either new or a renewal.

So this seems to be a continuation of that effort based on those past experiences.

What the problem is is it's not clear how you distinguish the very real birth certificates that these people also provided from the ones that may be suspicious.

HARTUNG: So what avenues do some of these people have to protect themselves or to fight back when they're penalized in this way?

KOPAN: Yes. You know, Kaylee, the story mentions that many of the people who do justify their passports go on to win their case and the government is asking for -- the State Department told us that the things that they ask for are a preponderance of evidence that you are an American citizen. That's sort of the burden of proof if you are applying for U.S. citizenship.

So they ask for things like well, can you corroborate this in any way? Are there other hospital records?

Can you describe where you were living at the time? Can you prove where you were living at the time?

Does your mother have any records of being in the hospital? Those types of things.

Now, of course, you hear the story mentioned -- imagine being asked do you remember where you were born. It's sort of a silly question.

So, you know -- and, some of these people do not have access to an amount of wealth that would make expensive legal services an easy thing for them to take on. So it may sound simple to provide more documentation but for many of these people, it may not be so simple.

BRIGGS: Right. Hiring an immigration attorney, not an easy task.

So this story sounds like it's just now beginning, much like we heard the separations just start to trickle out, so more on that in the days ahead.

But let's talk about the departure of White House counsel Don McGahn -- how crucial that is, how central he's been to this administration.

"The Wall Street Journal" writing this morning in an editorial, Don McGahn's quiet achievement.

"These judges, many in their 30s or 40s, will be the bench from which a future GOP president will fill Supreme Court openings. If you doubt the importance of this achievement, read and enjoy the reports of looming liberal legal doom in "The New Yorker" and "The New York Times."

Don McGahn has been one of the most effective people for this administration.

Why is he out now, why is it announced on Twitter, and what will we look back on his achievements as?

KOPAN: Well, I mean, first of all, let's keep in mind that the point we're nearing in this administration -- we're almost coming up -- we're past a year and a half, coming up on two years. It is not uncommon for people to start leaving the administration at that point. Now, this administration has had an immense amount of turnover up to this point that we don't normally see.

But we do know that there have been -- sources have been telling us that Don McGahn has been planning this for some time now, looking to the end of the Kavanaugh confirmation as his exit strategy.

They have not been getting along -- he and the president, necessarily. Now, it was a surprise when the president tweeted his departure date, roughly, which hadn't actually been formally set, but it wasn't necessarily a surprise that he was on his way out.

But the point about the judges cannot be understated.


KOPAN: And you saw Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell, on the Senate side, sort of express dismay that McGahn could be leaving. Grassley is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; Mitch McConnell, of course, the Senate majority leader.

They have confirmed a tremendous number of judges and it has been a strategy to pick those judges young to get the most --


KOPAN: -- of those lifetime appointments -- way more than I think many people expected. And that can be transformative in the court system beyond just the Supreme Court nominations. So that achievement, in their eyes, really cannot be understated.

BRIGGS: No, it cannot. The question is what were the 30 hours that Don McGahn spent with the

Bob Mueller people -- what will that foretell about the president's future? But that, we do not know. That's for another day.

Tal Kopan, great to have you on this morning. Thank you.

KOPAN: Thank you.

HARTUNG: And later today, the late Sen. John McCain will make the flight from Arizona to Washington one last time. But first, a memorial service at a church in Phoenix with former Vice President Joe Biden delivering the eulogy.

[05:40:11] Yesterday, lines snaked around the street as people paid respects on what would have been John McCain's 82nd birthday.

More from CNN's Nick Watt in Phoenix.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Kaylee, Arizonans have waited for hours in 102-degree heat to file past that flag-draped casket and pay their last respects to the man who represented them in Washington for 35 years, first as a Congressman and then as a senator.

There was, earlier in the day, an intimate ceremony inside the Capitol for friends, colleagues, and family at which Gov. Ducy spoke, and he called John McCain Arizona's favorite adopted son. He also said that when he traveled overseas the only things people know about Arizona are the Grand Canyon and John McCain.

GOV. DOUG DUCY (R), ARIZONA: Imagining Arizona without John McCain is like picturing an Arizona without the Grand Canyon. It's just not natural.

WATT: Cindy McCain, his widow, his wife of 38 years, was there dabbing away a tear at one point. And when her husband was described as a fighter from the podium, she nodded. On her way out, touching the casket and touching her cheek to the casket.

This morning, there will be a funeral service at a church here in Phoenix before the senator's body is flown to Washington, D.C. where he will lie in state at the Capitol. Then on Saturday, there will be a ceremony at the National Cathedral.

John McCain will be buried Sunday in Annapolis, Maryland at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery and then next week, Gov. Ducy says he may announce who is going to fill Sen. McCain's seat.

Back to you.


BRIGGS: Many feel Cindy McCain is looming large over that decision.

But, you know, the sports world just played an interesting role here. Larry Fitzgerald, Luis Gonzalez, Shane Doan -- that's a former Phoenix Coyote -- a former Arizona Diamondback. They've all been very involved in paying tribute to the late Sen. John McCain.

HARTUNG: And a great story, I thought, on about the process of John McCain asking Barack Obama, of all people, to eulogize him.

BRIGGS: Yes, very interesting when you contrast that with Sarah Palin not being there as well.


Well, a former Texas police officer gets his sentence for shooting and killing a black teenager in a park, but the victim's family is not really satisfied.


[05:46:29] HARTUNG: Well, it didn't take long for the Florida governor's race to get ugly. Just hours after progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum became the state's first black candidate for governor, his Republican opponent -- Trump-backed candidate Ron DeSantis -- said this on Fox.


REP. RON DESANTIS (R), NOMINEE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: And let's build off the success we've had on Gov. Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.


BRIGGS: The DeSantis campaign quickly explained he was referring to Florida not making the wrong decision and to characterize it as anything else is absurd.

DeSantis then went back on Fox trying to clean it up.


DESANTIS: It has zero to do with race. I believe people should be judged based on their ability and character, regardless of race. But it's because of that that I know that socialism won't work in Florida. It's not good for any race, color or creed.


BRIGGS: Gillum, for his part, responded to his rival's remarks with this.


ANDREW GILLUM (D), NOMINEE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Donald Trump -- this is a page from his playbook. I think he was clear about what he meant and he understood the dog whistle that he was blowing.

And I understand that he intends to speak to a particular part of the base to incite them. But the truth is I think there are a majority of us who disagree with that brand of politics.


BRIGGS: Earlier, Gillum told Fox News he is not going to get down in the gutter with DeSantis and Trump.

HARTUNG: With two weeks ahead of their own primary, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his rival Cynthia Nixon facing off in a contentious debate.


CUOMO: My opponent -- my opponent lives in the world of fiction. I live in the world of facts.

The subway system --

NIXON: The MTA has been controlled by the state since 1965.

CUOMO: Excuse me. Can you -- can you stop interrupting? Can you stop interrupting?

NIXON: Can you stop lying?

CUOMO: Yes, as soon as you do.


HARTUNG: Wow. The two sparring over their visions for the state.

Cuomo was asked about rumors about a possible White House bid and he said this.


MAURICE DUBOIS, ANCHOR, WCBS-TV, NEW YORK CITY: Do your promise to serve four more years as governor, if reelected?

CUOMO: The only caveat is the -- is if God strikes me dead. Otherwise, I will serve four years as governor of New York.


BRIGGS: Nixon firing back, reminding viewers of Cuomo's recent gaffe when he said America was never that great.


NIXON: Donald Trump did tweet at you about whether or not America was great and you backed down pretty quickly. You stood up to him about as well as he stands up to Putin.

When it comes to opposing Donald Trump in New York State, we already have a corrupt corporate Republican in the White House. We don't need a corrupt corporate Democrat in Albany as his main opposition.


BRIGGS: The winner of the primary faces Republican Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro.

HARTUNG: And in a stunning move, child abuse charges were dismissed against three of five adults who lived at this decrepit New Mexico compound with 11 kids and where a child was found dead. The reason -- the judge said the suspects did not have a preliminary hearing in the 10-day timeframe required by New Mexico.

Taos County District Court Judge Jeff McElroy called out prosecutors for being incompetent. He said he finds it disturbing the district attorney would put the court in that kind of a situation.

The two other defendants were arraigned on felony charges in connection with the death of that 3-year-old boy.

BRIGGS: Former Texas police officer Roy Oliver sentenced to 15 years in prison for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager. It comes a day after he was convicted of murder for fatally shooting 15- year-old Jordan Edwards as he left a house party last year.

[05:50:00] The family of Jordan Edwards said they would have like to see a greater sentence but they respect a guilty verdict.

Oliver's defense plans to appeal the verdict and the sentence.

Five fifty is the time and a check on "CNN Money" this morning.

Global stocks mostly lower right now but on Wall Street, the rally continues. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both hitting record highs for the fourth session in a row. You can thank tech stocks.

Apple closing at an all-time high. Apple's stock up 31 percent this year, the first U.S. company to cross $1 trillion in market value.

But another company set to join that club. Amazon rose yesterday edging closer to $1 trillion. It's now less than three percent away from that milestone.

Trade-offs are one focus today. All three NAFTA countries racing to rewrite the trade deal by tomorrow.

Earnings season is almost over and corporate America raked in big profits. Profits rose 16.1 percent last quarter, the largest gain in six years.

Profits got a big boost from strong economic growth and big tax cuts. The new tax law slashed the corporate rates and U.S. companies paid 33 percent less in taxes this year or more than $100 billion.

Overall, a great second quarter. Strong profit growth should continue in 2018, but experts warn future growth could be hurt by Trump's trade policies and will likely slow as the effects of the tax cuts wane.

Coming up on the program, an 11-year-old boy stuck in a flooded sewer. You won't believe how one firefighter managed to find him.


[05:55:57] BRIGGS: Florida police say an Uber driver was justified to shoot and kill a man who stormed toward his car. You can see a pickup truck cut off the Uber.

The man identified as Jason Boek apparently thought his girlfriend was in that Uber after the two got in a fight over texts. Then this happened.



JASON BOEK, SHOT BY UBER DRIVER: You know I've got a pistol? You want me to f****** shoot you?

PASSENGER: Oh my God. Oh my God.

WESTLAKE: Oh my God.

BOEK: I didn't hear you (ph).


HARTUNG: Oh, it did say he had a pistol but police say he was holding a cell phone.

The Uber driver, Robert Westlake, is a licensed security guard who holds a concealed weapons permit.


GRADY JUDD, SHERIFF, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: And at the end of the day, the message is clear -- don't mess with an Uber driver.

You have the right to protect yourself. This is a classic 'Stand Your Ground' case.


HARTUNG: As it turns out, Boek's girlfriend was not in the Uber. She called the car for a friend.

BRIGGS: Aretha Franklin's long goodbye continues tonight with a tribute concert in Detroit. Nearly 40 artists will perform a variety of jazz, gospel, and R&B.

Before that, there will be a final public viewing for the queen of soul at the New Bethel Baptist Church where her father was once the pastor.

Over the last two days, thousands paid final respects to Aretha Franklin. Her funeral will be held tomorrow in Detroit.

HARTUNG: And a Pennsylvania mother is charged with homicide after prosecutors say drugs in her breast milk killed her baby.

Thirty-year-old Samantha Jones was feeing her son R.J. in April hours before he died. An autopsy found traces of Methadone, amphetamines, and methamphetamine in the boy's blood.

Jones told investigators she'd been prescribed Methadone to help manage an opioid addiction but the criminal complaint makes no mention of the other drugs.

The mother's attorney says Jones loved the child and never intended to harm him.

BRIGGS: A remarkable rescue in Wisconsin. An 11-year-old boy was sucked into a flooded storm sewer Tuesday night. Police say the boy was playing with friends in a flooded drainage ditch.

Somehow, an eagle-eyed firefighter saw the boy's fingers pop up through a manhole cover.


AMOS MIKKELSON, CHIEF, HARRISON FIRE RESCUE, HARRISON, WISCONSIN: We had people in wetsuits and water rescue suits walking the ponds, walking the ditches.

We do believe that there was air trapped in that manhole cover area. Not exactly sure about what miracle he was able to find that.


BRIGGS: A remarkable save. The boy was lifted to safety and is now back home with his family.

HARTUNG: That is a miracle.

U.S. Open officials are feeling the heat and it's not because of the sweltering temperatures at Flushing Meadows this week.

French tennis player Alize Cornet briefly took off her top after putting it on the wrong way during a heat break. She was issued a code violation by the chair umpire and that decision triggered a storm of criticism with charges of sexism and a double standard.

The U.S Tennis Association says it regrets what happened and it may clarify the policy to make sure it does not happen again.

BRIGGS: You were there yesterday. How hot was it? Was it just brutal just even being a fan?

HARTUNG: It was. It was absolutely brutal earlier in the day.


HARTUNG: I'll tell you, the new Louis Armstrong Stadium that they just spent millions of dollars on is --

BRIGGS: A little cooler?

HARTUNG: -- a little cooler. A little cooler than Arthur Ashe.

BRIGGS: It's supposed to feel like 95 today around 2:00 there.

HARTUNG: Hey, thanks for joining us. I'm Kaylee Hartung.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned at all about what he said to Mueller?

TRUMP: No, we do everything by the book.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: The president is clearly worried about what he has said, and he should be worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're really watching is a slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre.

DESANTIS: The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda.

GILLUM: And he understood the dog whistle that he was blowing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a credible candidate that is turning himself into a carbon copy of Trump.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, August 30th, 6:00 here in New York. Six o'clock in Westeros (ph) as well, right?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I know that's a -- what that's a reference to but not everybody might.

BERMAN: Stand by, stand by.


BERMAN: It's not every morning you get a major staff upheaval, a Jared and Ivanka citing, and a "Game of Thrones" reference all in the same storyline, so brace yourselves.

This morning, "The Washington Post" reports that the White House is being warned winter is coming.