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Hurricane Harvey Roars Towards Texas Coast; McConnell Offers Praise, Trump Criticizes McConnell; Ryan: Debt Ceiling Increase Will Get Done; Benches Clear In Tigers-Yankees Brawl. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 25, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: They're talking 2008, Ike, which killed 21 people.


BRIGGS: And, of course, 2005, Hurricane Katrina.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Yes, it's a life-threatening rain event.

I'm Christine Romans. Thirty minutes past the hour.

Let's begin there with Hurricane Harvey, building strength as it takes direct aim at southeast Texas.

It is, right now, a category two hurricane, maximum sustained winds 105 miles per hour. Harvey rapidly becoming more powerful. This was just a tropical depression this time yesterday.

Now, the latest update -- the very latest -- also shows the storm slowing down and it will linger along the Gulf Coast for days. When a powerful storm like this slows down it is bad news. The National Weather Service says Harvey will bring life-threatening amounts of rain, nearly three feet in some spots.

BRIGGS: Over 17 million people under a hurricane or tropical storm warning. We have a full forecast for you in just a moment.

But, Texas highways filled with cars yesterday. Interstate 37 out of Corpus Christi, you see here, backed up for miles.

Those choosing to stay in place not taking chances, filling sandbags, stocking up on food and water, boarding up windows. Some having some fun with the storm. Officials warning people this storm, though, not to be taken lightly.


RON NIRENBERG, MAYOR, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: The storm has the potential, and I want to stress potential -- things do change -- to be a weather event that we talk about for years to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: CNN's Nick Valencia live for us in Corpus Christi, Texas this morning. Good morning to you, Nick.

What are the preparations being made there this morning?


Lots of preparation over the course of the last 48 hours, but some more bad news. We'll start with that here Corpus Christi.

Over the course of the last 15 minutes, the wind here in Corpus Christi has shifted direction and the rain has started to pick up. That's an indicator of what we will see much, much later today when the worst of Hurricane Harvey is expected to start coming this way towards south Texas.

We talked about those evacuations. Lots of preparations here by state and local officials. The city mayor here yesterday announcing voluntary evacuations.

But a lot of coastal residents, they got out of town well before that announcement was made. I spoke to a local resident yesterday who says he was in the grocery store at 6:00 a.m. and there was already nearly an hour wait in line.

I mentioned those evacuations, among them 10 precious souls -- 10 little babies from a neonatal unit here in Corpus Christi were transferred to Fort Worth, Texas, about six hours away.

Assisted evacuations will continue about 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. Eastern later this morning. City buses will continue to drive people north to places like San Antonio, Fort Worth, Austin, Texas.

This storm is expected to be an ugly one and as we get those forecasts -- these predictions -- they might live up to a big billing here -- Dave, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, it sure looks that way. All right.

Nick Valencia, thanks for that. Stay safe this morning in the pre- dawn hours there in Corpus Christi.

Let's take a look at the latest here from the forecast and bring in meteorologist Karen Maginnis live in the CNN Weather Center.

A category two at this hour. What are we expecting?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is a strong category two. If we bump it up just a few more miles per hour we've got a category three.

We'll see that central pressure deepen and we'll start to feel the effects, even more powerful along these coastal areas, but look just how broad this is. It covers the entire coastal area from Brownsville all the way up to Beaumont-Port Arthur and into coastal regions of Louisiana. If anything changed from the last report coming out of the National Hurricane Center is that it's slowed down a little bit. And as you said earlier, Christine, that is a bad sign. When they slow down, a lot of times they're gaining some strength and they are pouring all of that tropical moisture just on shore -- that northeastern quadrant -- that upper right quadrant.

That's what's we're looking at for a particularly dangerous situation, but that isn't just it. The storm surge with a category three, nine to 12 feet, and computer models are saying 15, 20, 25 inches very likely. But there are a few models that are saying some areas could see as much as 40 inches.

Where you see this yellow shaded area, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes. That's not -- it doesn't get a lot of attention in hurricanes. We usually do talk about the storm surge, and the heavy rainfall, and the wind damage, but there is that threat of tornadic activity.

Here's that computer model I was telling you about. Port O'Connor, 40 inches. Port Aransas, they're saying about 50 percent of that town has evacuated. That's good.

I hope you are heeding the warning -- I really do. It's been awhile since we've seen a category three.

[05:35:04] Take it easy. Keep it here on CNN. We'll update you.

Back to you guys.

ROMANS: All right, Karen Maginnis. Thank you, Karen.

All right. The president encouraging everyone in Harvey's path to stay safe. The president tweeting, "As Hurricane Harvey intensifies remember to plan ahead."

The president receiving regular briefings. He has spoken with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The White House announcing it stands ready to provide resources where they are required while downplaying concerns about preparedness. There is no permanent Secretary of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile in politics, President Trump and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell taking very different approaches to try to get this relationship and their legislative goals back on track.

McConnell offering mostly praise for the Trump administration in a speech at a Kentucky Farm Bureau event, while President Trump kept up his attacks on the Kentucky Republican on Twitter, before and after McConnell's speech.

ROMANS: He slammed McConnell for failing to repeal Obamacare and for this, quote, "I requested that Mitch M. and Paul R." -- that's House Speaker Paul Ryan -- "tie the debt ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. bill which just passed, for easy approval. They didn't do it.

So now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up, as usual, on debt ceiling approval. Could have been so easy, now a mess."

BRIGGS: A Senate Republican leadership aide says the idea of tying the debt ceiling increase to a popular veterans reform bill had been discussed but the idea was rejected by hardline conservatives, the House Freedom Caucus, who want provisions to curb government spending and did not want to vote against that popular V.A. bill.

For now, the White House is trying to dispel the notions of fractures in the Republican Party.

Sara Murray has more from the White House.



President Trump spent much of the day yesterday railing against members of his own party, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Despite all of that, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insists the president has a fine relationship with Republican leadership.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think the relationships are fine. President Trump has worked with Leader McConnell to reach out to other members and to work on those shared goals, and we're going to continue to do that when the Senate comes back from recess.

MURRAY: They're still hoping to take on an ambitious plan to overhaul the tax system and they're planning on releasing more details on that next week.

And in spite of Trump's grumbling tweets, Huckabee Sanders says they do expect Congress to raise the debt ceiling with relatively little fanfare and without attaching anything along with it.

Back to you guys.


ROMANS: All right, Sarah. Thank you for that.

Speaker Paul Ryan brushing off the president's criticism about not passing a debt ceiling bill, promising that one is on the way.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: And we will not hit the debt ceiling. We'll do this before the debt ceiling. There are many different options in front of us on how to achieve

that. We'll do that because this is about paying the bills that we already racked up -- making sure we pay our debts.


ROMANS: Now, that was at a tax event at a Boeing plant yesterday.

The clock is ticking on the debt limit. Congress has to raise the ceiling before early October, otherwise the U.S. won't have enough money to pay about a quarter of its bills. That forces the government -- the Treasury Secretary, actually -- to pick and choose what gets paid on time and these aren't good choices.

One example, in October, if the Treasury pays big line items like Social Security, Medicare, and Defense it won't have enough money to cover tax refunds, federal worker pay, and veterans' benefits.

And that debt limit will be hit exactly when Congress needs to pass a spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. The last shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion dollars and was really stupid.

BRIGGS: Twelve legislative days for Congress, which is a mess, to find an agreement on funding the government. No big deal.

ROMANS: A lot of work to do.

BRIGGS: Republicans have plenty to do. Will the party infighting prevent action on taxes, debt ceiling, and much, much more?

We'll discuss with Greg Valliere, next.


[05:43:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: You know, I'm often asked what is being the Majority Leader of the Senate like. It's a little bit like being a groundskeeper at a cemetery. Everybody's under you but nobody's listening.


BRIGGS: A laugh track would help there, you know?

ROMANS: I have three little boys. I feel the same way, you know. Like, everyone's under me but nobody's listening.

Mitch McConnell trying a lighthearted approach as he addresses his party's leadership. It's a tough time for McConnell as he tries to bridge divides in his party and his own rift with the president. They haven't spoken in weeks but have a lot to tackle when Congress returns to Washington.

Let's bring in Greg Valliere, political economist and chief strategist for Horizon Investments. And Dave was looking at the legislative calendar earlier -- you know, something like 12 days --

BRIGGS: Twelve days.

ROMANS: -- when the House and Senate both at work once they get back from this Labor Day break.

That's not a lot of time to do a very tall, tall order, raising the debt ceiling, funding the government. Oh, and now the president wants to tie the border wall in there, as well.

Where are we going here?

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Well, we're going to go for more dysfunction I would guess, guys.

Maybe by the end of September we will get a debt ceiling increase. I don't see the U.S. defaulting on our debt.

Maybe by the end of September we get a continuing resolution --


VALLIERE: -- which means the budget fight goes to December before they resolve it, but it's going to be a very unnerving month.

And I think for the financial markets, which suddenly are starting to look at Washington, this could be a little unsettling.

BRIGGS: Yes, you say dysfunction. "The Wall Street Journal," the Murdoch-owned and conservative leaning, they call it divorce.


BRIGGS: Here's an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal."

It says, "President Trump now seems to be using Twitter to tell Republicans in Congress he's divorcing them or at least seeking a trial separation, and for its own self-preservation the GOP Congress is going to have find different living arrangements."


BRIGGS: What are the implications for all this financial work that needs to be done and, to your point, the markets?

VALLIERE: So here, Dave, you've got "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, the gold standard of conservative thought for so many years, they're dismayed.

[05:45:05] They have a Republican House, a Republican Senate, a Republican White House, yet you have chaos reigning everywhere. And I think they understand, as most of us do, that the president needs a scapegoat and if these things don't move quickly he has an easy target in Congress which, by the way, has a job approval rating far worse than his.

ROMANS: He's --

BRIGGS: Seventeen percent.



BRIGGS: That's according to the latest poll.

ROMANS: He's picking fights. So you look at the Senate, for example. He has picked fights with a fifth of the Senate.

This is our colleague, Chris Cillizza, who sort of put this together.

Eleven senators at one time or another, he has been pretty vicious toward and criticized, sometimes after they've criticized him first, of course.

How does he get through the agenda, though -- tax reform? Are they working outside of him, do you think?

VALLIERE: Well, first of all, Christine, things are complicated.

When you mock John McCain for getting captured there will be a payback. And, they got a big payback on the health care vote.

But that said, I think most Republicans are unified, especially in the Senate, that they want tax reform, they want to get the budget stuff done. And I'm beginning to think they may view the White House as an irritant, as a non-factor. And I firmly believe if we get tax reform it will be in spite of Trump, not because of Trump.

BRIGGS: Well, to that point, you mentioned earlier in the show a "New York Post" story about the --


BRIGGS: -- Trump administration perhaps willing to compromise in a proposal that would eliminate deductions on federal tax returns for state and local taxes.

Willing to compromise. Are they willing to compromise on really anything at this point because Axios reports that it is the House who will shape this tax reform legislation? That the White House will stay out of it entirely.

Wouldn't they have learned from health care that you have to --



BRIGGS: -- own the details in order to sell a plan to the American people, let alone -- VALLIERE: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- your Congressional colleagues.

VALLIERE: It's like George Steinbrenner. He had a good team but he kept meddling in it all the time.

And now, all of a sudden, you've got the spectacle of the White House saying we're not going to give you a bill. You guys put together your own bill.

And the overnight there's this leak that the White House wants to make big changes without, I don't think, consulting with Paul Ryan. So for Ryan and the tax writers, they're going to have to look over their shoulders to see if they're getting second guessed or sniped at for this entire process.

ROMANS: You know, they all want to win, though. They -- everyone --


ROMANS: -- wants to have a win. In tax reform, you know, very disappointed to repeal and replace Obamacare, but --


ROMANS: -- tax reform is something they think they can do.

Does it turn out to be something that's like a repatriation holiday for corporate profits overseas and maybe a one -- just a corporate tax cut and not middle-class tax relief? Is it something slimmed down in the end, do you think?

VALLIERE: It will be slimmed down for -- the corporate rate's not going from 35 to 15. They can't afford that.


VALLIERE: But there will be several interesting provisions. So I still think we get a bill. I just think the tax bill comes later rather than sooner.

BRIGGS: All right. Greg Valliere from Horizon Investments. Thank you, sir. Sir, have a great weekend.

ROMANS: Have a great weekend, Greg.

VALLIERE: You bet. You, too.

ROMANS: All right.

Apple is bringing a billion-dollar investment to Iowa but it's getting some big tax breaks to do it, too. "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:52:40] BRIGGS: Five employees with the Denver Public School System, including two coaches, placed on leave after the release of a disturbing -- excuse me -- video from a high school cheerleading practice.

The video shows a teenage girl screaming in pain as she's physically forced to perform a split. You also see teammates holding her down. An adult in the video appears to be pushing her down, ignoring her cries to please stop.

Police say child abuse detectives are investigating the incident at East High School. The school's cheerleading coach, now on leave, claims the video is actually being taken out of context. We're actually not playing the audio for you because it's far more painful than what you're seeing here.

ROMANS: All right. New details about the gunman who shot and killed a former coworker at a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina before taking hostages and holding off police for hours.

Now, one of the owners of that restaurant says the gunman was a disgruntled former dishwasher at Virginia's on King.

Police identified the victim as the executive chef, 37-year-old Anthony Whiddon.

According to witnesses, diners crawled under tables and ran for the door when the shooter entered the restaurant and announced, "I am the new king of Charleston." He was shot and critically wounded by police after being cornered.

BRIGGS: A good old-fashioned baseball brawl in Detroit -- Yankees, Tigers, giving a preview of Mayweather-McGregory, which comes Saturday night. Benches clearing three times.

That's when things really boiled over in the sixth inning. Miguel Cabrera -- the pitcher was behind him so he and Austin Romine start the punches. You can see the benches clearing.

This melee did not end for several minutes and this was far from over.

One inning later, Yankee reliever Dellin Betances hit Detroit's James McCann in the helmet. That's frightening, seeing him go down. Benches cleared, yet again.

In the eighth, the Yanks' Todd Frazier hit and, again, both teams empty their benches.

Eight ejections, including the two managers. Fines and suspensions, you bet they are on the way.

The bad blood here between these two has been simmering since last month when four players were hit in a game at Yankee Stadium.


BRIGGS: Thankfully, it's the last time these two teams play this year. That was ugly.

"SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's" 43rd season begins September 30th. NBC announcing Ryan Gosling will host the season premiere, Jay Z as musical guest.

[05:55:03] Meantime, "WEEKEND UPDATE'S" summer edition returns for its third episode Thursday night. Guess who made an appearance?


ALEC BALDWIN, (MOCK DONALD TRUMP): People ask me why are you doing a rally only eight months in. Folks, it's never too early to campaign for 2020. Mike Pence is already doing it.


But first, I want to talk about Charlottesville. As we all know, there was a tragic victim that came out of Charlottesville, me.


Folks, the media has treated me so unfairly by reporting my entire remarks, even the bad ones, so I wanted to set the record straight about exactly what I said, and I have the transcript right here, OK?

I moved on her like a bitch but I couldn't get there -- oh, sorry.


MICHAEL CHE, ANCHOR, "SNL WEEKEND UPDATE": I still want to know who was this. I feel like I have to say on behalf of black people everywhere, we don't know this fool.



BRIGGS: There's some interesting reporting on that guy in the "Miami New Times." Check it out for yourself.

ROMANS: All right, 56 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Hurricane Harvey heading straight for the heart of America's oil refineries. That means higher prices at the pump.

Nearly half of America's petroleum refineries are on the Gulf Coast. One-third sit directly in Harvey's path. Oil platforms and rigs are shutting down, 39 facilities evacuated.

What does that mean for drivers? Well, maybe a gas price spike of five to 15 cents over the next week, especially in the south, southeast, and mid-Atlantic U.S. The good news, gas prices still near historic lows.

Now, airlines are making it easier to change your flights if you're connecting through Texas or you're headed there. Most U.S. airlines are waiving change fees for flights in the region, including the biggest four -- American, Delta, United, and Southwest.

Global stocks slightly higher today after they closed down yesterday. The concern on Wall Street here is government funding, including making sure the U.S. raises the debt limit in time.

From Washington to Wyoming investors, today, are tuning in for the Fed's annual Jackson Hole conference. The head of both the E.U. and the U.S. Central Banks will speak.

Watch if Fed Chief Janet Yellen says anything about the future of interest rate policy, especially rate hikes this year.

Apple is bringing its billion-dollar -- bringing a billion-dollar investment to Iowa. The CEO, Tim Cook, announcing plans to build a $1.3 billion data center in Waukee. That's just outside of Des Moines. The facility will help power Apple's app store.

Apple already has data centers in California, Oregon, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Iowa is giving Apple big tax breaks for this project, $208 million worth. Now, such incentives are common.

Some are criticizing the high price tag, especially as this data center is only expected to create 50 permanent jobs, although the state's governor and Tim Cook both say there'll be hundreds of positions as the construction gets underway.

Starting Monday, Whole Foods gets cheaper. That's when Amazon closes its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods.

The first order of business, cutting prices for things like avocados, brown eggs, salmon, almond butter. Amazon said the price cuts will continue after that and Prime members will get additional discounts.

The deal may be good for consumers but it's making grocery chains nervous. Retailers like Kroger and Walmart, their stocks plummeted on the news because Amazon is the destructor and this deal gives it access to the $700 billion grocery market.

BRIGGS: Back to those tax cuts that Apple's getting. You're hearing a lot about that --


BRIGGS: -- whether it's Foxconn in Wisconsin or Boeing in Washington, where Paul Ryan is.

Are companies going too far to lure these businesses, offering too few jobs?

ROMANS: Well, the companies, you know, they'll do -- they'll get as many tax breaks as they want. The question is are these legislators going too far, you know -- BRIGGS: Really?

ROMANS: -- because by giving it up -- we'll have to see.

Fifty-eight minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: All right. I'm Dave Briggs.

Hurricane Harvey strengthening quickly, about to hit the Gulf Coast. Millions facing days of potentially deadly conditions. "NEW DAY" has it all covered for you.

Have a great weekend.


NIRENBERG: The storm has the potential to be a weather event that we talk about for years to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could be the first major hurricane to make landfall in the last 12 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no need to panic. Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For our friends in the Senate, oh boy.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Any time you threaten a government shutdown is dumb.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He's not the first president to use the bully pulpit to try to push the country in a particular direction.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the ability nor some of the competence he needs.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: That's a ridiculous claim and doesn't dignify a response.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, August 25th, 6:00 here in New York.

Chris is off, David Gregory joins me. Great to have you.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to be here. Always on a big news day when I come around.

CAMEROTA: It always is and we have breaking news this morning.