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Russia Warns U.S. Of Pending Attack In Syria; Chaos In Trump White House Fuels Uncertainty Around The World; CNN Reality Check: How The Democratic Party Is Changing Ahead Of Midterms; Five States Investigating Catholic Priest Sex Abuse. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 7, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:32] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we are following breaking news.

Happening now, the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Turkey are meeting to discuss the war in Syria. This, as fears grow of a military operation against the last rebel stronghold there.

This comes as CNN has learned that Russia is warning the U.S. military that its forces are ready to attack an area where dozens of U.S. troops are stationed.

Our Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with the very latest on this -- Barbara.


First, to northern Syria where that meeting is, discussing what is happening there. U.S. officials saying they do see evidence that chemical weapons could be used in that area.

Down in southern Syria, in the last week, Russia has notified the U.S. twice, as recently as Wednesday, that it is planning to move against militants in an area of southern Syria where there are dozens of U.S. troops protecting this enclave in southern Syria where the borders of Syria, Iraq, and Jordan all come together.

The Russian warning obviously not going over well with U.S. troops. The Pentagon says its troops are not leaving this area.

Here is the concern. If the Russians move against the militants there, U.S. troops could be caught in the crossfire. The Russians have aircraft, they have missile ships. They have ground troops that they support regime forces down there.

This is something that the U.S. is very strongly warning the Russians today not to do. They don't want U.S. troops caught in the crossfire and they don't want this all, obviously, to come at the point of a gun -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Barbara. Thank you for bringing this important warning to us. Meanwhile, the news of this op-ed and the Woodward book have spread internationally. So how is the rest of the world responding?

CNN's Clarissa Ward is live in London with reaction. What does it sound like there?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, there's no question that both the Woodward book and this anonymous op- ed have made real ripples on this side of the Atlanta and particularly, here in Europe -- in France, in Germany. These are two of the U.S.' closest traditional allies. They very much felt cut off though under the Trump administration.

If we take a look at some of the headlines from the front pages of those newspapers.

France's magazine "Liberation" says "The White House Civil War." Also, looking at "Le Monde" which is one of the French newspapers, "Donald Trump: A President Out of Control." And also, one of the German daily newspapers -- "Trump Enraged By Betrayal in His Government."

[07:35:03] Now, the word you don't hear in the coverage of this is shock. A lot of people concerned but not necessarily shocked. There is a sense Alisyn when you talk to particularly allies of the U.S. that they have now come to expect this kind of dysfunction from the White House.

They understand that there is a disparity between the rhetoric we hear from President Trump and the policies we're actually seeing enacted on the ground.

Now, just because you don't hear shock being registered that doesn't mean that there isn't a great deal of concern. And we're seeing that play out particularly in Germany. A new poll that came out in Germany saying that 69 percent of respondents said they were very worried about President Trump's policies.

And just to give you a comparison, only 59 percent of people said that they were very worried about terrorism. Sixty-three percent said they were very worried about the refugee crisis in Germany.

But, 69 percent saying they were gravely worried about Trump's policies. This gives you a sense they may not be shocked but they are certainly upset -- John.

BERMAN: Fascinating. All right, Clarissa Ward. Great to see you. Great to have you back.

Thank so much, Clarissa.

You want something new to worry about? Meteorologists watching the tropics very, very closely. The storm, Florence, is expected to regain strength to a hurricane this weekend and it could affect the entire East Coast.

CNN's meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us with the forecast -- Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's right. So let's take a look.

In the last 24 hours, it has weakened down to a tropical storm. It's basically hit a higher shear environment.

But that's going to change and it's also going to be entering much warmer water. That, in turn, will give it much more favorable conditions to strengthen again back into a hurricane, and that's what we expect it to do.

The question then becomes -- OK, where does it go from there once it strengthens? There is a little bit of discrepancy with some of the models in terms of where it would it.

You have some that head towards South and North Carolina; others that go a little bit northward -- say, Jersey or Virginia. However, one thing that has started to come into much better alignment is now almost every model has it hitting south of Bermuda, which tends to put it a little bit on a better track towards the U.S.

Now, we're still talking very far out, at least about Tuesday to Wednesday of next week, but we still want to keep an eye on it.

In addition to Florence, you also have these two invests right here that just came off the coast of Africa that could, in turn, Alisyn, be our next two named systems here within the next 48 hours.

CAMEROTA: All right, thank you for the warning. Obviously, you'll be keeping an eye on that and bringing us the news.

And I like your idea for a new segment -- something new to worry about.

BERMAN: Yes. Well, if that's going to hit the east coast mid-next week, that is something genuine we should worry about.

CAMEROTA: Oh, for sure. We need to know about that.

So meanwhile, will the blue wave take the Democratic Party farther left? We're going to get a CNN "Reality Check" with how it looks.


[07:41:03] CAMEROTA: OK, it's time for a CNN "Reality Check."

We are now 60 days away from the midterm elections --

BERMAN: But who's counting?

CAMEROTA: -- set your alarm clocks -- and one clear trend is emerging for Democrats.

CNN senior political analyst John Avlon joins us with more. What are you seeing, John? JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Let me tell you, Ali.

The Democratic establishment did pull off a primary new win last win with Sen. Tom Carper fending off progressive Kerri Evelyn Harris. But, Delaware is not the norm this year.

There's a revolution going on inside the Democratic Party. The energy is on the populist left and establishment incumbents often haven't seen it coming.

Now, this past Tuesday saw the stunning primary win by Boston city councilwoman Ayanna Pressley taking out 10-term House incumbent Michael Capuano, who has a very liberal voting record. She beat him by 17 points. Just days before the election, Pressley trailed Capuano in one poll by 13.

Now, here's another example.

In Florida, Andrew Gillum ran hard to the left for governor on a platform of legalizing weed, abolishing ICE in its current form, and impeaching Trump. Gillum's victory over centrist Gwen Graham was even more remarkable because just one week before the election, one poll showed him trailing by nearly 20 points.

I'm going to kick it over to Gillum -- Maryland here. Florida, Maryland -- easy confusion.

Ben Jealous positioned himself to the left of Rushern Baker in the gubernatorial primary. Now, they went into the vote roughly tied but in the end, Jealous beat Baker by 10 points.

And all this comes on the heels of Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez' win in New York -- a victory so surprising even she couldn't believe it. She beat 10-term House incumbent Joe Crowley whose internal polling had her down 36 points. In the end, she beat the fourth-most-powerful Democrat in the House by 15 points.

See a pattern? In politics, the establishment can suffer from overconfidence and learn from conventional wisdom.

Now, over the past decade we've seen the GOP's takeover by the Tea Party and then Trump, reducing moderates to one-quarter of the party.

On the other side of the aisle, 50 percent of Democrats now identify as liberal, with many candidates taking more radical positions than we've seen in recent decades.

Now, whether you call it identity politics or simply representing your district, as "The Nation" pointed out there are, quote, "currently 19 white Democratic members of Congress that represent majority-minority House districts."

And being male doesn't seem to be an asset this cycle either, with men and women winning Democratic primaries by a two to one margin, according to "FiveThirtyEight." There are still a few big-ticket primaries to go, notably in New York where progressive activists have rallied around Cynthia Nixon over Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A Quinnipiac poll in July showed him leading by more than 35 points, but in a recent debate, Nixon got under his skin.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Can you stop interrupting? Can you stop interrupting?


CUOMO: Yes, as soon as you do.


AVLON: There's some bad blood there.

Now, winning congressional primaries is one thing but when it comes to the general election Republicans will try to paint Democrats as extreme.

Steve Bannon was pretty clear about this, saying quote, "The longer they talk about identity politics, I got 'em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats."

Looking ahead to 2020 -- still a long way away -- friends indicate that Democrats may be tempted to nominate someone who plays to the left, like McGovern in 1972. At the expense of reaching out to the center, like Bill Clinton in 1992.

If history is any guide -- and that's always a question in the Trump era -- that could help Republican reelection efforts in must-win Midwest swing states.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: John Avlon, thanks very much. The establishment taking control a little while -- of the SmartScreen right there but you rested it back. Very nice.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, John.

All right, so listen to this.

One person has been arrested in the stabbing of a top presidential candidate in Brazil. This attack was actually caught on video. We want to warn you it is very disturbing to watch.

You are about to see Jair Bolsonaro. He was attacked as he was carried through a crowd on the shoulders of supporters.

[07:45:07] He was rushed to a nearby hospital. He is in stable condition -- or very serious condition this morning after undergoing surgery.

And the front-running far-right candidate is known as the Brazilian Trump. He's notorious for racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks.

BERMAN: All right.

The Trump administration is trying to keep some undocumented immigrant children in detention far longer than currently allowed. Right now, children detained at the border must be released within 20 days.

But the Trump administration is proposing a regulation which would sidestep that settlement that has set standards of care for the past 20 years. Critics say these common-sense protections exist to protect children.

The proposal set to be published in the "Federal Register" today, which will kick off the 60-day window for public comment before the administration moves to certify the change as final.

CAMEROTA: Well, Twitter has permanently banned far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Web site "InfoWars" from its platform. The company says it took action based on new reports of tweets and videos that violate its abusive behavior policy, in addition to the account's previous violations.

This decision comes a day after Jones accosted a CNN -- our CNN reporter Oliver Darcy on Capitol Hill and live-streamed the encounter through Periscope, which Twitter owns.

BERMAN: Well, if only there had been some sign that this guy was a kook. If only there had been some kind of signal -- say like, suggesting the shootings at Sandy Hook was a false flag operation. If only Twitter had had home signal earlier.

CAMEROTA: No, honestly, everybody says what took so long. And I mean that one that you're talking about is just one of the -- possibly the most repugnant of a whole series of repugnant things that this guy has stood for and behind.

BERMAN: All right, the White House insider's blistering "New York Times" op-ed inspired some scathing punchlines last night. Here are some late-night laughs.


STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": The hunt for the author is on. The op-ed has sent tremors through the West Wing and launched a frantic guessing game as opposed to the other Trump games. There's "Collusional Chairs", "Charade of a Marriage," and "Pin the Crime on the Don, Jr."

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": We were all shocked to learn that there is a secret group of senior officials in the White House who say they are trying to stop Trump from being Trump. That's right -- they're taking him down from the inside to which KFC replied, I thought that's what we were doing. COLBERT: Here's the thing. People think it's Pence but Pence is pushing back because right after the speculation started he denied writing the op-ed. He also denied having a closet full of bumper stickers that say "Mike Pence 2020: I Wrote the Op-Ed."

SETH MEYERS, NBC HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": A spokesman for Housing Sec. Ben Carson said today that Carson did not write the anonymous "New York Times" op-ed by a senior White House official. Hey, don't worry -- literally, no one thought it was you. We didn't even know you were awake.

COLBERT: But if you're surrounded by snakes, Mr. President, you've only got yourself to blame. You hired them. And if you find out who they are, I think I know what they're going to say.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.


CAMEROTA: That's funny.

BERMAN: He went to the snake. Colbert went to the snake.

CAMEROTA: But he tells that because the president touts that allegory very often, we've learned, at his rallies.

But I think the Ben Carson one is so funny. If you look at the vocabulary of the op-ed and the syntax, you can narrow -- you can rule some people out. And I would say Ben Carson is one of the people that you could rule out. He doesn't speak the way the op-ed is written.

BERMAN: I have to say, talking about that, the president just tweeted before that the Woodward book -- it quotes me saying things. I never talk like that. I never talk like that.

Oh, really? Interesting -- interesting.

CAMEROTA: All right.

Meanwhile, we have to give you an update on this story because the Catholic Church, as you know, has been under the microscope. There's a new investigation popping up across the country now into allegations of sexual abuse by priests and decades-long cover-ups. That's next.


[07:54:03] BERMAN: It is time for "CNN Money Now."

Wall Street focused on the upcoming jobs report which means we get a double helping of Romans today because there's also some trouble in the tech sector.


BERMAN: Chief business correspondent Christine Romans with all of that.


Well, how hot is the jobs market? We're going to find out.

The government releases its monthly jobs report this morning. Economists expect 187,000 new jobs created in August. The jobless rate is likely to be below four percent.

What we really want to see is wage growth. It's been hovering around 2.7 percent for years. That's not much of a raise for workers.

But the real concern on Wall Street this morning is the tech sector. The Nasdaq riding a 3-day losing streak. It's set for more losses John at the open.

A big drop in Twitter stocks sparking some anxiety. Shares there are down 12 percent in the past two days. That's after the CEO, Jack Dorsey, faced those lawmakers on Capitol Hill earlier this week.

And check out the losses for the so-called FAANG stocks. Facebook, Netflix, Google all with big losses to start September.

[07:55:01] The concern here is regulation. The big question, will the government put new regulations on social networks and tech firms that collect user data or will internal policing be enough to stop the threat of misinformation and potential election interference -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, that is the big question and we will look forward to seeing those jobs numbers. Thank you, Christine.

So, New York's attorney general has subpoenaed all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a civil investigation into a potential child sex abuse cover-up. New York is now one of at least five states investigating the Catholic Church.

CNN's Rosa Flores is here with us in the studio with more. Rosa, what's the latest.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the attorney general here in New York issuing -- launching an investigation into the Catholic Church's review and quote "potential cover-up" of child sex abuse.

Now, this is a civil investigation led by the Charities Bureau at the attorney general's office because here's the thing. The attorney general has jurisdiction over civil matters, not over criminal matters. But she is working with district attorneys across the state on the criminal side of things.

Now, as you mentioned, she has issued subpoenas to all eight archdioceses across the state and we've reached out to them. Here's what they had to say. Quote, "The Archdiocese of New York and the other seven dioceses in the state are ready and eager to work together with her in the investigation."

Now, in nearby New Jersey, the attorney general there also launching a task force that's going to be headed by an expert prosecutor on sex crimes. Now, those folks there -- they will be issuing subpoenas, also collecting evidence, and they will be presenting that evidence before a grand jury.

Now, all this comes on the heels of the Pennsylvania grand jury report which was explosive, which revealed systemic child abuse and also cover-up.

Now the attorney general there responding saying, quote, "Our work in Pennsylvania has spurred a movement. The time for institutions to place their own interests above protecting our children is over."

Josh Shapiro, the attorney general there, saying that he's been contacted by more than a dozen attorneys general from across the state and he's also been contacted by the U.S. DOJ.

And, Alisyn, from talking to survivors they feel that all of the action by attorneys general around the country gives them hope that justice has a chance.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Rosa, we've heard you speaking to these survivors. We have as well, and they keep saying they want action. So thank you very much for the update on that story.

We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.


TRUMP: Nobody knows who the hell he is. "The New York Times" should publish his name at once.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Other officials started scrambling, tripping over each other to put out denials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This whole White House has mastered the art of deflecting attention and they do it very well.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think it would be acceptable to use a lie detector test and ask people whether or not they are talking to the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's stretching our democracy to a breaking point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No country can survive a president who lies like this.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I broke the Senate rules by reading from that e-mail.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: It would be a mistake for any prospective member to say here's how I will vote on a case.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINEE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Roe v. Wade is an important precedent in the Supreme Court.


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

CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is September seventh, 8:00 here in the east.

We begin with President Trump's hunt for the author of the op-ed. "The New York Times" reports the White House has a list of 12 suspects they think could be behind that blistering piece.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul suggests perhaps everyone should be forced to take polygraph tests. According to the "Times," that proposal was actually discussed by the president's advisers.

Meanwhile, one administration official after another has come forward to say they didn't do it. You see all of their pictures there. The president is said to be closely watching their denials.

BERMAN: At a rally last night in Montana, the president claimed again that this "New York Times" op-ed amounts to treason. It does not. It does not meet any definition, in fact, of treason.

He also tried to frighten his supporters about what could happen if Republicans don't win in the midterms.


TRUMP: You know what? You're going to have is you'll have a country that's going to turn into a third world country because if the opposite party becomes president, every time -- before it even starts -- before you've even found out whether or not he or she is going to do a great job they'll say we want to impeach him, and you'll impeach him.

It's so ridiculous. But, we'll worry about that if it ever happens. But if it does happen it's your fault because you didn't go out to vote, huh?


CAMEROTA: Joining us now we have CNN political commentator Van Jones, host of "THE VAN JONES SHOW." And, CNN senior political commentator Rick Santorum.

Rick, I just want to start with you because I want to get your take on this. Should everybody who is suspected in and around the White House be given a lie detector test?