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Gordon Eyes the Gulf; Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings Begin Today; Trump: Don't Prosecute Supporters; Nike Turns to Kaepernick; Primary Day in Massachusetts; Federer Goes Down. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 4, 2018 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Tropical Storm Gordon barreling toward the Gulf. Two million people under advisories. It's expected to become a hurricane later today. A brand new update from the National Weather Service is just moments away.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings begin this morning. Democrats have a four-point plan to challenge the Supreme Court nominee. But can they lay a glove on it?

ROMANS: The president targets Jeff Sessions again. This time, the president slams his attorney general for not placing Trump allies above the law.

BRIGGS: And Nike throws its support behind Colin Kaepernick. The polarizing quarterback now part of the iconic marketing campaign.

And Twitter is lit up this morning. Everyone has a side in this.

[05:00:00] The NFL season starts in two days, folks.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday Morning, September 4th. It is 5:00 a.m. exactly in the East.

Let's start with tropical storm Gordon strengthening overnight, forecast to be a hurricane when it makes landfall later today, about 2 million people along the Gulf Coast under a hurricane watch or warnings. States of emergency have been declared in Louisiana and Mississippi. Officials in Biloxi have ordered the evacuation of city's four harbors and marinas. People along the coast turning to sand bags and other measures to keep their boats and property safe.

BRIGGS: In New Orleans, the mayor declared a voluntary evacuation for areas outside the levee system. New Orleans city hall now closed to nonessential personnel. Gordon has already lashed South Florida with rain and tropical storm force winds. And many schools from Florida to Louisiana closed or are closing early.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri up early with us in the CNN Weather Center.

What's in store for the Gulf Coast, my friend? PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, this system is really

going over warm waters over the next 12 hours. We think strengthening is possible. And you noticed, not very organized, not an impressive system whatsoever, just some thunderstorms on the western periphery there of Florida, 65 miles per hour.

The 5:00 a.m. update talks about the storm system being now still at 65, no changes made to the update. You notice 17-mile-an-hour winds to the north/northwest. That is the area we are watching carefully because that is a rapidly moving system that gives very little time to intensify beyond category one if it makes it there at landfall.

But when you talk about slow moving systems, remember, Harvey, five, six, seven miles per hour, they produced 20, 30, 40 inches of rainfall in some cases. But when you speed that storm system up, chances of rainfall drop dramatically, and that's really the good news with what is Gordon right now with rainfall amounts expect to be on the lesser end. Water temperatures, middle 80s, upper 80s out towards the western periphery of the gulf there.

So, all of this is conducive for development. We think it will try to develop just before it makes landfall around 7:00, 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. tonight across southern Mississippi. And again, you notice, this will pick up steam just before landfall. So, this could be a quickly developing system. We talk about putting these systems over the gulf and keep it there for another day or so. This could be a major hurricane.

So, we are fortunate it doesn't have enough time to develop beyond what we think might be a category one. But again, the steering environment is such that it will push it right to southern Mississippi. And the model guidance is confident where it will end up, near Gulfport or Biloxi as it moves later this evening and eventually rains itself out over portions of the Midwest over the next couple days.

Generally speaking, we are looking at four to six inches of rainfall. Some areas, isolated areas over 10 inches are possible. Notice the confidence in the models. You don't see this very often where just about every single model pushes it right towards areas in central or western Mississippi or eastern Louisiana. So, that's the highest confidence is with strong winds, the heaviest rainfall and storm surge threat just to the east of that. As much as five feet for coastal Mississippi, guys.

ROMANS: All right. Batten down the hatches. Thank you so much. Nice to see you, P.J.

Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begin this morning. Democrats will target four areas, portraying him as misleading and evasive. A senior Democratic source tells us they will take aim at Kavanaugh's candor. They're going to paint him as truthful. They'll highlight his skepticism of the Affordable Care Act and pre-existing conditions. Democrats will dig in to his views on abortion, Roe v. Wade, and they will probe his opinions on executive power and the investigations of a sitting president. BRIGGS: On the eve of the hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee

received an additional 42,000 confidential papers on Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House. Democrats complain they can't possibly evaluate all those documents in time, but committee chairman Chuck Grassley claims his staff has already done so.

CNN's Ariane De Vogue has a preview of the battle ahead.


ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Christine and Dave, expect today's confirmation hearing to be bitter. Brett Kavanaugh is up for the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy was the swing vote on so many hot button social issues -- abortion, affirmative action, LGBT rights.

Kavanaugh is not only more conservative than Kennedy, he's younger. He is poised to move the Supreme Court to the right for decades to come.

Democrats have several lines of attack. So, they will press him hard on his views. They say they have been denied thousands of documents from his days serving in the Bush White and citing his views that a sitting president shouldn't be indicted. They want Kavanaugh to pledge to recuse himself if any of the current investigations concerning President Trump make it to the Supreme Court.

Republicans on the other hand feel confident that he'll be confirmed -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Ariane, thank you so much for that.

President Trump is targeting his attorney general in a controversial new way, blasting Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice for indicting two of his earliest supporters in Congress. The president suggesting they should not be charged because they are Republicans.

[05:05:02] We get more from CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, President Trump has routinely gone after his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but doing so in an entirely different way, by directly questioning the Justice Department's role in the ongoing criminal investigation.

Take a look at this tweet from Monday when the president wrote this. He said two easy wins in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job, Jeff.

The president referring, of course, to the indictments of two sitting Republican Congressmen Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California. Both, of course, were key early supporters of the president. They have been indicted on separated unrelated financial matters. But the president for the first time really saying that the attorney general and Justice Department should take political considerations in mind when they make their cases.

The president also making clear he is worried about Republicans holding on to their majority control of Congress, particularly the House. Now, not many Republicans at least initially were weighing in over Labor Day holiday. There were a couple. Speaker Ryan saying justices' decisions should be apolitical.

But Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said this is not a banana republic. This is not a two-tiered system, one for the majority party and minority party. But we will see how the fallout today continues on this as Republicans and Democrats return to Capitol Hill from their long Labor Day weekend -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: OK, Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

"New Yorker" magazine has disinvited Steve Bannon as a headliner of its annual festival and the former White House chief strategist does not like it. Editor in chief David Remnick rescinded Bannon's invitation after several big name participants threatened to boycott the event. Remnick was preparing to interview Bannon at the festival. But after "The New York Times" revealed Bannon's participation, celebrities like Jim Carrey, Patton Oswalt and Judd Apatow all threatened to pull out.

Apatow tweeting, quote: I will not take part in an event that normalizes hate.

ROMANS: In a letter to the "New Yorker" staff, Remnick says he will interview Bannon in a more traditional, journalistic setting in the future if the opportunity presents itself.

In a statement, Bannon says he accepted the "New Yorker's" invitation so he could face-off against one of the most fearless journalists of his generation. And he says this: In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.

BRIGGS: The head of NBC News and Ronna Farrow both breaking their silence on a controversy over reporting on Harvey Weinstein. NBC News chairman Andy Lack e-mailing employees to dispute claims the network hindered or tried to kill Farrow's reporting. Thursday, "The New York Times" quoted Farrow's former producers, saying there were orders from, quote, the highest levels of NBC to stand down on the Weinstein scandal. "New Yorker" later published Farrow's scope which won a Pulitzer Prize.

ROMANS: Lack pushed back, providing NBC News employees of the document that describes Farrow's reporting as not yet ready for broadcast. It claims Farrow did not have a witness or any alleged victims willing to go on the record against Weinstein. Overnight, Farrow tweeted a statement, seeming to contradict NBC's claim. It says in part their list of sources is incomplete and omits women who were identified in the NBC's story or offered to be. The story was twice cleared and deemed reportable by legal and standards, only to be blocked by executives who refused to allow us to seek comment from Harvey Weinstein.

BRIGGS: OK. Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. Nike commemorating an iconic ad campaign with powerful words from Colin Kaepernick.


[05:12:46] BRIGGS: Tuesday is primary day in Massachusetts. One of the most closely watched races has two Democrats vying for a seat in the Massachusetts seventh congressional district. Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley running against 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano. Pressley trying to capitalize on insurgent wins from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

More now from CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, election here in Boston that a lot of people would be watching because of a bit of an insurgency from the left. Long time Congressman Michael Capuano has been here for 20 years, ten terms in a very deeply blue district, part of the area that he's represented here was actually represented by JFK way back when.

Ayanna Pressley, she's a counsel person here in Boston and she is making a run sort of at his left, even though she's been involved in Democratic politics and doesn't quite fit that insurgent candidate. She is an African-American, the first African-American female elected to the Boston City Council. She is trying to capitalize on some of that energy, that far left energy and we caught up with both in their last full day of campaigning.

AYANNA PRESSLEY (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I believe there is a paradigm shift changing.

REP. MICHAEL CAPUANO (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Democratic Party, like all party, Democratic Party is no different. We always have issues internally. That's what families do. It's always a struggle for the hearts and minds and the soul of the party.

MARQUEZ: Now, the polls all the way along in this have shown that incumbent Michael Capuano up by at least ten points. But no one is taking anything for granted here. It is still a huge X factor as to whether or not Pressley can get the turn out those sort of disparate communities, people that don't often vote here, African-Americans, other minority groups. This is a majority minority district, nearly 60 percent of the district here is nonwhite and she's counting on that, but it is not clear that she can get out enough of those votes -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ROMANS: All right. Miguel, thank you for that.

Aretha Franklin's family blasting the pastor who eulogized the queen of soul at the funeral last week, calling the message offensive and distasteful. Reverend Jasper Williams was criticized for a political address.

[05:15:03] It describes children in homes without a father as abortion after birth, and said black lives do not matter unless blacks stop killing each other.

The late singer's nephew says he spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her. Adding he used the platform to push his negative agenda which the family does not agree with. The family chose Williams because he had spoken at other family memorials, including for Aretha's father.

BRIGGS: Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin weighing in on the controversy surrounding the upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic "First Man". The film has been criticized by conservatives for not featuring a patriotic scene of Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon.

The 88-year-old Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon's surface appeared to tweet his own take on the controversy, sharing photos of himself and Armstrong on the moon next to the floor. It has #proudtobeAmerican, freedom, honor and one nation. We will let you draw your conclusion as to what that means.

Director Damien Chazelle tells "The L.A. Times" he was aiming to highlight the private, unknown of Aldrin's lunar trip. If you missed the controversy started over this, it was Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Shapiro, some prominent conservatives --

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: -- tweeting their frustration and anger.

ROMANS: I just watched the trailer. It seems this is about the private moments of him and director has said it is not about the public images which you have seen. This is about him with his family.

I mean, I was -- when I first saw this controversy, this American controversy. It's like what because Claire Foy and Ryan Gosling aren't Americans?

BRIGGS: Aren't American, right.

ROMANS: They're not Americans? That's not what people are freaked out about their outrage over.

BRIGGS: It's pitchfork politics. This is Colin Kaepernick, Steve Bannon, everything is a divisive issue today.

Ahead, a stunner under the lights at the U.S. Open. Roger Federer, the five-time champ, goes down to an unseeded opponent. Andy Scholes has the highlights in the "Bleacher Report", next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:25] BRIGGS: Nike making a big statement, signing Colin Kaepernick to a new multiyear endorsement deal.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.


This deal surprised a lot of people because Nike is the official uniform and apparel supplier of the NFL while Kaepernick continues to sue the league for collusion, Nike signing to a new multi-year deal to be one of the faces of their 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign. Kaepernick tweeting his first ad which said, believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.

Now, as part of his new deal with Nike, Kaepernick will appear on billboards and TV ads. They will also be making him his own signature shoe and apparel line. And Nike will contribute to Kaepernick's "New Your Rights" charity.

Nike's VP of brands telling ESPN: We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation who has leveraged the power of sports to help move the world forward. Kaepernick has not played the NFL since 2016 season, which is when he began kneeling during the national anthem.

All right. We had a shocker at the U.S. Open last night. Roger Federer going down to unseeded John Millman in four sets. This is the first loss for Federer at the U.S. Open against an opponent ranked outside the top 50. The 20-time grand slam winner said he could not overcome the heat.


ROGER FEDERER, 20-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: I just thought it was very hot tonight. And was just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn't get air. There was no circulation at all. I don't know. For some reason, I just struggled at the conditions tonight, you know? One of the first times it happened to me.


SCHOLES: All right. A huge win for Millman. He had never even made it to the fourth round in any grand slam. Now, he's on to the quarterfinals. The main concern now after the win was not even the tournament.


JOHN MILLMAN, PRO TENNIS PLAYER: Look, it's 1:00 now. Probably should try to get recovery. I have a 7:00 morning fantasy draft. So, I'm going to get up for that, and the other draft. I'm second pick. I don't know whether to go (INAUDIBLE). (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now, funny since no man is from Australia that (INAUDIBLE) fantasy football.

All right. In baseball, the Mets Jacob DeGrom continues to have arguably the best season ever for a pitcher with less than 10 wins. Last night, DeGrom six innings of one-run ball. And with that, he tied the Major league record of allowing three runs or fewer in his 25th consecutive start. The shocker, the Mets could not give him run support on the mound. They did end up winning the game, though, by final 4-2.

Finally, Reds star Joey Votto saw a shirt on a fan so much, he traded his jersey for it. So, the fan was wearing a shirt that says Votto for president on it. And during the game, Votto went over to him and traded one of his jerseys which he signed with the caption, more like prime minister. Because, guys, you know, Votto is from Canada. So, technically, he could not be president.

So fun. Joey Votto, what a good guy that he gave the guy one of his jerseys.

ROMANS: That's cool.

BRIGGS: Justin Trudeau, look out. Joey Votto coming for your job.

All right. Andy Scholes, thank you, my friend.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: All righty.

ROMANS: All right. The Gulf Coast is bracing. Tropical storm Gordon is expected to become a hurricane later today.

BRIGGS: And confirmation hearings begin for Brett Kavanaugh today. How Democrats plan to go after the Supreme Court nominee.


[05:29:03] BRIGGS: Tropical storm Gordon barreling towards the Gulf. Two million people under advisories. It's expected to be a hurricane later today.

ROMANS: The Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings begin this morning. Democrats have a four-point plan to challenge the Supreme Court nominee.

BRIGGS: And the president targets Jeff Sessions again. This time he slams the attorney general for not placing allies above the law.

ROMANS: And Nike throws its support behind Colin Kaepernick. The polarizing quarterback now behind an iconic marketing campaign.

Welcome back, everyone, to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. BRIGGS: It's good to have you back, my friend.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Some taking to Twitter to burn their Nikes. More on that controversy straight ahead.

I'm Dave Briggs, 5:29 Eastern Time.

We begin though with the weather and that Tropical Storm Gordon strengthening overnight, forecast to become a hurricane when it makes landfall later today. About 2 million people along the Gulf Coast under hurricane watch or warning. States of emergency have been declared in Louisiana and Mississippi. Officials in Biloxi have ordered the evacuation of the city's four harbors and marinas. People along the coast turning to sandbags and other measures to keep their boats and property safe.