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Trump to Meet with Mexican President; ISIS Says Top Leader Killed in Airstrike in Syria; E.U. Orders Apple to Pay Ireland $14.6B in Back Taxes. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 31, 2016 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Today, Donald Trump in a surprise meeting with Mexico's president, only hours before his highly anticipated speech on immigration.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The public face of ISIS killed in Syria. How this high-profile terrorist was struck down and significant blow his death is dealing to ISIS.

ROMANS: Apple forced to pay nearly $15 billion to Ireland. But Apple is fighting back. The huge fight ahead for the tech giant. How it affects your wallet, what it says about taxes and tax policy and globalization.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. It's Wednesday, August 31st, 4:00 a.m. on the East Coast.

Breaking overnight: Donald Trump announcing that he will meet today with the president of Mexico, that meeting happening just hours from now before Trump delivers his highly anticipated speech laying out details of his immigration policy. A sit-down between Trump and the Mexican president is surprising to say the least, given Trump's repeated vows to build a wall, along the Mexican border, and to make Mexico pay for that well.

Last month, the nation's president, Enrique Pena Nieto, told CNN there is no chance that Mexico will pay for a wall.


ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, PRESIDENT OF THE MEXICO: There is a way to have Mexico pay that wall. But any decisions inside United States is a decision of its government.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But under no circumstances would Mexico pay for that wall?

PENA NIETO: There is no way that Mexico can pay for a wall like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: Trump has also drawn fierce attacks in Mexico and in the wider Hispanic community for his sometimes heated rhetoric against illegal immigration.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is traveling with the Trump campaign and has the very latest for us.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George and Christine.

We knew there was going to be an important speech, an important moment in Donald Trump's campaign on Wednesday, we just didn't know it would involve a visit to Mexico. Now, Donald Trump's immigration speech scheduled for Wednesday in Arizona is still on. What was unexpected was his visit to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The president's office saying they extended invitations both with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the meeting will be private.

Donald Trump also has that speech as well, where we have all been waiting for the specific details of that immigration policy in Everett, Washington, on Tuesday night, he mentioned the stakes for that speech.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: There is no better evidence of the fact that Hillary Clinton's immigration policy which brings in illegal immigrants and ref -- well, is that a true statement -- it brings illegal immigrants and refugees to take jobs from our hardworking African-American and Hispanic citizens, and they want those jobs.


Instead of providing free health care and jobs to millions of refugees from around the world that we have no idea even where they come from, we should rebuild our inner cities and provide jobs to struggling Americans that have been struggling for years and years.

MATTINGLY: Now, there are still a lot of logistical issues to figure out for Donald Trump's trip. No question about it. The Secret Service being pushed hard to figure this out in just a short period of time. And I'm told inside of Trump's team, there's concern about this idea. A lot of unknown variables when you're meeting with a world leader.

But that said, those supporting this idea, including Donald Trump, making very clear, this is the type of moment, a big bold moment, a big bold statement that they believe should help him show that he is ready to operate at the highest points of the world stage -- certainly an unexpected twists, though -- guys.


ROMANS: All right. Phil, thanks for that. And a lot of opera going on behind him. Nice way to start your morning. Top House Democrats want the FBI to look into whether the Trump campaign had any, quote, "overt and covert connections" to suspected Russian government cyberattacks. Democrats say Donald Trump's remarks inviting Russia to leak Hillary Clinton's emails and links between Trump aides and Russia raised red flags. Security experts say Russia was almost certainly behind the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee, and the subsequent leak of internal DNC documents. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid sent a similar letter to the FBI on Monday.

HOWELL: It has been a busy week for the FBI. As early as today, the bureau is expected to release a public report it sent to the Department of Justice last month. That report focused on its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server. You'll remember, the FBI Director James Comey recommended no charges in that case, but called Clinton's handling of classified materials, quote, "extremely careless."

Law enforcement officials say the FBI agent notes from Clinton's voluntary interview will also be released in the next few days.

[04:05:04] And we're also following a trio of very closely watched primary races. It turns out that it was a good night for the incumbents. First, in the state of Florida, the former Democratic Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz beat an opponent backed by Bernie Sanders in her vote for re-election to the House.

And Senator Marco Rubio winning his primary after reversing a decision to retire from the Senate following the end of his run for the White House.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This has been an usual road back here with you tonight. As you know, after my race ended in March for the presidency, I was prepared to become a private citizen. And I was not just prepared to be so, but I was excited about what that meant.

To the Republicans here in the state who over 70 percent of them have returned me as their nominee for the United States Senate.


Now, in about 70 days, the people of Florida will choose. And they will have a clear choice to make. Politics are at its best when it's about clear choices.


HOWELL: And in Arizona, John McCain beat conservative Kelly Ward who argued the 80-year-old senator is too old for a sixth term.

ROMANS: New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie vetoes the state's $15 minimum wage bill. He explains why at a supermarket in his state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: This bill would make New Jersey only the third state in the nation to adopt a minimum wage of $15. And it would trigger an escalation of wages that will make doing business in New Jersey unaffordable.


ROMANS: Doing business in New Jersey is already. It ranks dead last among states in the Tax Foundation's business tax climate index. New Jersey residents pay nearly $7,000 per capita when you add up state and local taxes. About half of that is due to property tax, which is the highest in the country.

Christie is right only two states have $15 minimum wage bills on the books, New York will get there by 2018. California by 2020. Washington, D.C. also passed a bill to hike pay to $15 an hour by the year 2020. Other states and localities have adapted minimum wages that are higher than the federal of $7.25, but $15 is that high water mark there.

HOWELL: Following a story that a key figure of ISIS killed in an airstrike, and now, the terror groups says they are determined to take revenge.

That story, next.


[04:11:29] ROMANS: ISIS is vowing revenge for the killing of its key deputy, Mohammad al Adnani in Syria. Adnani was the terror group's official spokesman. He was a chief strategist who he repeatedly called for attacks on the West. Coalition forces haven't confirmed his death, but the Pentagon says Adnani was targeted in a precision strike near the Syria-Turkey board.

I want to bring in CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank. He is in London.

What does al Adnani's death mean, if it's confirmed four the war on ISIS here?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Christine, it's a huge breakthrough on the war on ISIS, perhaps one of the biggest breakthroughs so far. He was absolutely critical to ISIS. He was the key deputy to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the organization. He was one of the people in charge of their security apparatus and also somebody who was overseeing internal attack plotting.

Western intelligence believed that he had command responsibility for the Paris attacks, the Brussels attacks and also for those attacks more recently at Istanbul airport. But more than that, this is somebody who, over the course of the last couple of years issued a series of audiotapes in which he called on followers in the West to launch attacks in ISIS' name. And that resulted in a huge response from the followers in the West. And we've seen him inspire attacks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Notably, the Orlando shootings followed on just a couple weeks after a call by Adnani to launch attacks during Ramadan. He will be very, very difficult to replace when it comes to ISIS. This is a huge loss for them.

ROMANS: You're talking about external attacks. We're hearing new reports this morning about ISIS stepping after this, Paul, to attack the U.K. What do you know about these reports this morning?

CRUICKSHANK: Oh, I'm told by a senior European counterterrorism official that the intelligence obtained over the summer indicates that ISIS is stepping up its efforts to infiltrate operate operatives into the U.K. in order to launch attacks. They managed to do that in the past with Continental Europe. But it's become more difficult for them to get operatives across the English Channel into the U.K. The U.K. not part of the Schengen zone, that 26-nation bloc where they don't have internal borders in Europe.

It's been more difficult for ISIS to do this, but they are ratcheting up efforts, according recent intelligence to get an attack through in the United Kingdom. I'm also told by the same official that security agencies in Europe are discovering more and more ISIS operatives on European soil. And they've been very frustrated in tracking these individuals because they're using inscription. Messaging apps like Telegram to communicate, meaning it's very, very hard to track their communications.

That official also saying that security operation within the European Union nowhere where it needs to be, in order to meet this very big threat of threats. A threat that is only likely to rise in the short term because of the death of al Adnani, ISIS already vowing revenge.

ROMANS: All right. Paul Cruickshank for us in London -- thanks for that, Paul.

HOWELL: Singer Chris Brown is in trouble with the law again. Brown was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. The LAPD initially responded to a woman's call for help at his Los Angeles home early yesterday morning.

[04:15:01] She claimed that Brown threatened her with a gun. The singer refused to cooperate with police. Officers returned later then with a search warrant. And then took him into custody. Back in 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony for assaulting his then girlfriend Rihanna.

ROMANS: In Chicago, police officials have taken the first steps towards firing the officers involved in the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager two years ago. Administrative charges were filed Tuesday against the five Chicago police officers who allegedly gave false statements during an investigation of Laquan McDonald's death. Dashcam video contradicted nearly everything the officers said happened. A police board will hear their cases next month and decide if they should be fired.

HOWELL: Tropical weather, it is bearing down on Florida and Hawaii.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest for us.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: George and Christine, you know, you think about these tropical depressions still on the cusp of becoming tropical storms, but whether that happens or not, really not a big weather maker as far as changing what the elements will be here come Thursday afternoon, around the Big Bend of Florida. That's what we think landfall is possible with tropical depression 9. At that point, potentially, a tropical storm, heavy rainfall, 4 to 6 inches across that region, up to 10 inches available in few isolated locations.

But tropical depression 8, it is already pushing away from the eastern coastline of the United States and the Canadian maritimes will get a side swiping of the storm system as it gets there later into the weekend. But look at what's happening across portions of the Pacific Ocean. We have a category 3 Hurricane Madeline. The category 4 Hurricane Lester, incredible satellite presentation of these two storms, with Madeline forecast to skirt the southern tip of the big island potentially come Wednesday night into Thursday morning, while a Saturday night landfall as a category 1 Hurricane Lester is possible there. And, of course, we have a tropical storm and a hurricane warning in place across that region.

But take a look at this, George, and also Christine, because the rarity of storms pretty impressive. Only 14 in the past decades have come close to the islands. Only four have made direct landfall and, of course, we have a couple now on approach across this region -- guys.


ROMANS: Interesting, the storms in the East Coast churning up the surf along the East Coast as we head into this important holiday weekend here.


ROMANS: All right. Also churning things up, Apple ordered to pay nearly $15 billion in back taxes to Europe. The company says it has paid what it owed. But now, it's in for a major fight with E.U. officials.


[04:21:55] ROMANS: The European Union ordering Apple to pay as much as $15 billion in back taxes plus interest to Ireland. A three-year probe by the E.U. ruled Ireland's tax-dealing with the California tech giant breached rules on state aid to corporations.

The record crackdown on fiscal loopholes risks inflaming tensions with the U.S.

CNN's Isa Soares live for us in London with the very latest.

You know, $15 billion, this is -- this is a very big deal and signals sort of a new air remarks I think, in major companies using tax strategies that appear to be legal, we thought were legal, using tax strategies that lower their tax bill.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, Christine. Very good morning to you.

This is a staggering amount of money. Of course, we know that Apple has the means to pay for this. What it means long term for U.S. companies coming over to Europe and the way they behave in Europe.

Let me explain to you how the Europe Commission set this up. They've come you up with an incredible way to explain it clearly. This is what they have at stake. They basically say that Irish government has been given granting illegal state aid to Apple for more than 20 years, artificially lowering their tax bill. And this graphic illustrates.

So, Apple as you can see there, Christine, has stores right across Europe. The sales and profits from these stores have been channeled to Apple's head office in Ireland. The head office, by the way, according to the European Commission that only exists on paper, no premises, no real employees, no real activity.

And then more shockingly to many people, many in Ireland will land interest in these companies, the fact have very low tax rates, Christine. The shocking information came out yesterday saying Apple just pay 1 percent tax on European profits in 2013. And get this, the stand -- and they paid only 0.005 percent in tax in 2014. That means for every 1 million euros in profit, it only paid 500 euros in taxes. Just putting into perspective for viewers, the corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5 percent.

So, what Europe is saying is basically you can't give preferential treatment to Apple because you need a level playing field. So, this, as you can imagine, shocked many people here in Europe. Many applauding it, of course, you and I pay taxes and they feel they should be paying, too, because there are huge repercussions.

ROMANS: We know Apple has something like $200 billion in the bank. I mean, one could look at that and say they have amassed a huge war chest of money by employing these tax strategies around the world. We also know that the E.U. is probing other companies as well, trying to, sort of, turn of, that, you know, ton off that loophole.

SOARES: Absolutely. And we heard yesterday, Christine, from the European Commission who said they have more than 1,000 cases they're currently looking at. One of which is McDonald's. This really could mean so much for Europe.

Now, we've heard from Ireland basically saying they do not -- they're going to appeal this.

[04:25:04] So will Apple. And what I'm hearing from experts on this, look, Apple won't pay.

Ireland won't accept the money, they'll probably have to create some sort of escrow account where they put some money in there and then they get really taxes on that interest just to please Europe because they have so many jobs, Christine. They have more than 5,500 jobs in Ireland alone.

And in terms of U.S. companies -- excuse me, I'm losing my voice -- 7,000 U.S. companies in Ireland alone. So what this means long-term is, you know, is Ireland really a stake of losing those big companies that made tell so appealing up to now? And Britain is already applauding it, coming out in the U.K. treasury saying we are open for business. Given Brexit, they're ready, saying we can take some of the business.

ROMANS: Interesting. The U.S. treasury saying we don't think it's a good idea to try to crack down on Apple on that tax thing because it's American taxpayers that may end up with it.

SOARES: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right. Watch this space. You're absolutely right. Isa Soares, thank you so much for that.

SOARES: Thank you.

HOWELL: Donald Trump taking a surprising trip heading south of the border to meet with the president of Mexico. Details on that, next.