Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Democrats Seek Common Ground On Voting Rights Bill, But Face Losing Battle Without 10 GOP Votes Or End Of Filibuster; Dozens Of Portland Police Officers Resign From Special Unit After Officer Is Indicted For Alleged Excessive Force; Bloomberg: Airbnb Uses Secret "Black Box" Team, Spends Millions On Payouts When Things Go Wrong. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 18, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Since then, lawmakers have voted to award he, and other officers, medals, for their service.

And tonight, Officer Goodman was given this honor as well. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at tonight's Washington Nationals baseball game against the New York Mets.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His pitch is Kyle Schwarber.


COOPER: I hear it's really hard to do that!

The news continues. Let's hand it over to Michael Smerconish, who's in for Chris, tonight. Michael?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: How cool is that image! Anderson, thank you.

I am Michael Smerconish, in for Chris Cuomo, and welcome to PRIME TIME.

And welcome also to the first official Juneteenth federal holiday, in our nation's history, complete with its own flag, hoisted in places like Wisconsin today, the single white Star symbolizing both Texas, where the last enslaved people in this country, were told they were free, and the freedom of all African Americans in this country.

And it was a Texas lawmaker today, who reminded us that while one battle for equality is finally finished, others are in limbo, right now in Congress.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): We steadfastly worked day after day for 12 years. And it says that you voted for this holiday. Now you can vote for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. You can fix the voting system to give us voting rights, to protect against those voter suppression laws.


SMERCONISH: But the sweeping voting rights bill, S. 1, it's frozen. While moderate Senator Joe Manchin waves the flag of bipartisanship, the fate of his new slimmed down counterproposal to his fellow Democrats might be a foregone conclusion.

That's because Minority Leader Mitch McConnell once again seems more intent on acting like a blockade.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Equally unacceptable. Totally inappropriate. All Republicans, I think, will oppose that as well, if that were to be surfaced on the floor.


SMERCONISH: Yet, Manchin's counter is gaining traction, on the Left, with voting rights advocate, Stacey Abrams, she's even signaling possible openness to his call for a voter ID requirement.


STACEY ABRAMS, VOTING RIGHTS ACTIVIST: What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible, no matter your geography.

Our point is simply that the restrictions on the forms of ID should meet the needs of the people. And what he is proposing makes sense.


SMERCONISH: Abrams' voice, of course, matters, but she's not in Congress. And even if Manchin can get his entire party, on board with his changes, that only gets the Democrats to 50 votes, 10 shy where this is not a matter of reconciliation. So, what is this really all about?

To put up a good showing and still lose, so that the public sees GOP obstruction on another major issue, like the June (ph) 6 commission? Or is it deeper, that this time it'll be a Manchin initiative that fails, so that he experiences the result firsthand, perhaps softening him on the filibuster? Is there a bigger objective here?

The Biden Administration has a vested interest as well, because this is proof that outside of reconciliation, they can't get anything done, and the clock is ticking toward the midterms, which might make matters even worse. With me tonight, another prominent voice in the voting rights battle, former Democratic congressman, and presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke.

Thanks so much for being here, Congressman.

You heard my observation that Joe Manchin gets you to 50, but he doesn't get you to 60. So what's really the purpose?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I like the progress that we've seen so far this week. I mean, the news story prior to this week was that Joe Manchin was a "No" on the "For the People Act," the major voting rights bill before the Senate.

Now he's back at the table. And he's talking and negotiating. And he's saying some things that are fundamental to the voting rights bill that passed the House. That's a good sign.

So, let's see what happens on Tuesday, when the Senate takes its first procedural vote, on the "For the People Act." Well, let's not just wait to see what happens after that. Let's continue to push those senators. It's why we are rallying at the Texas Capitol, this Sunday, 5:30 P.M. in Austin.

We want to get as many Texans together, where we're at the front lines, in this fight, for voting rights, and push not just our state legislators, but push those U.S. senators, who have the power to save democracy, at a time that it's under attack, unlike any other time in American history.

SMERCONISH: I'm trying to unpeel this onion. And what occurs to me is that maybe the objective this time is that it will be a Joe Manchin initiative, on the receiving end, of this sort of a failed vote. Maybe then, the purpose is if he feels the sting, he'll reevaluate his position vis-a-vis the filibuster.

How does that sound to you?

O'ROURKE: That might very well happen.

You go back to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And before that was presented to Congress, I think the conventional political wisdom was, it would never get past Southern Senate Democrats and House Democrats.


But when enough people stood up, stepped out, spoke out, it began to move the country, and it kind of engaged the conscience of America, none more so than John Lewis, of course, trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in March of 1965. And, and LBJ actually refers to that, when he's speaking that Joint Session of Congress, encouraging them to move forward on this.

I think what Stacey Abrams is doing nationally, by asking us all to call our U.S. senators, what we're trying to do here in Texas, by engaging the state, in this massive rally, on Sunday, at the Capitol, what folks are doing across the country, that's the kind of pressure that will help to move something.

Because, as you suggested at the outset, it's not enough to have a show or a symbolic vote. If we don't pass this, it's existential. You will lose the right to vote, in States like Texas, where it is already harder to vote than any other state in the Union.

They literally Michael, I know, you know, this, but, included in our elections bill that was proposed, here in Texas, is a provision that would allow the state to overturn elections based simply on the allegation of fraud. That is no longer a democracy. And the "For the People Act" can stop that.

SMERCONISH: What causes me to think in these terms, Congressman, is that leaked audio, "The Intercept" had it this week, where Senator Manchin was heard, on a call, and he suggested an openness.

Let's listen together.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I looked back in, I think it was, 1973, when it went from 67 votes to 60 votes, and also what was happening, what made them think that it needed to change.

So I'm open to looking at it, I'm just not open to getting rid of the filibuster, that's all. And right now, 60 is where I'm planting my flag. But as long as they know that I'm going to protect this filibuster, we're looking at good solutions.


SMERCONISH: What he's saying he's open to is the idea of reducing that number from 60, to something less, as in the past, it happened, when the number was 67. So maybe, if all of a sudden, it's a Joe Manchin compromise that's on the receiving end of a no-vote, from all the Republicans, maybe there's movement on the filibuster.

O'ROURKE: At some point, Michael, it's going to come down to this question. Is it going to be the filibuster or democracy, because it's looking like, as I count the votes in the Senate, that you can't have both.

And I know that Senator Manchin believes in this country's right to vote. And I know that he's said inaction is not an option. And so, I'd like to think that I know that he'll do the right thing, when that choice becomes that clear.

We're going to have to see what happens this week, when the Senate begins voting. But look, I think all of us who care about democracy can't just sit back, and watch. This is not a spectator sport. And the fight for democracy will not be air-conditioned.

You got to get out there and march, protest, and rally. You got to get in the faces peacefully and non-violently of those who represent you, and make sure that they do the right thing. Because 245 years in this experiment, there's nothing that guarantees us, another year, or another 245, for that matter, it's on the line right now. And we've got to win. It's this summer. It's really an all- or-nothing proposition.

So, we're all going to do our part, here in Texas. I feel like we've done as much as you could ask us to do. Now the Senate needs to do theirs.

SMERCONISH: Are you accepting of the compromise that he's put forth? I'll put up on the screen some of the critical components of it.

"Make Election Day a holiday." There's - it seems like there's universal Democratic agreement on that. "Ban partisan gerrymandering." That's a good thing. "Mandate 15 consecutive days of early voting."

How about this? "Require voter ID with allowable alternatives, utility bill, et cetera." How does Congressman Beto O'Rourke feel about that?

O'ROURKE: Well, that would be an improvement over what we have in Texas, where you can use your license, to carry a firearm, to prove who you are at the polling place, but you can't use your student ID or a utility bill to prove who you are at the polling place. So, it's better than what we have. It's not as far as I would like us to go.

And what's missing from this is automatic voter registration, and same day voter registration. There were 7 million eligible Texans who did not vote in the 2020 election, many of them unregistered or with other barriers in place.

The other thing I'd add, Michael is getting the power of big corporate donations, out of our politics, by elevating the power of everyday citizens, to donate, and have that matched at the federal level.

That ensures that insurgent candidates have a chance to challenge the incumbents, and that those who are locked into their positions can be effectively competed against.


When you add non-partisan redistricting commissions to that, so there's no more gerrymandering, and I think that's a reference in his compromise, then you really begin to approach a level playing field in our elections, going forward. So, I see some good things in there. But I'd like to see much more progress in that going forward.

SMERCONISH: And finally, Senator McConnell, I think, believes he has a winning issue when he presents this as the federalizing of the running of elections, traditionally a very local practice. Your thought on that is what?

O'ROURKE: That was exactly the argument in 1965. But luckily, logic prevailed. And we understood, as a country, you can't trust Mississippi, and Georgia, and Texas, to guarantee the right to vote to Black citizens, because they were denying it, in practice and in outcome. So you get the '65 Voting Rights Act which, yes, is federal mandates that affect how state-run elections are held. So, there's a longstanding precedent for that.

And at this moment that we face the second emergence of Jim Crow, we need to meet it with the force that we did with the first Jim Crow, a voting rights act of our time. And that's the "For the People Act." The Senate must pass that.

SMERCONISH: Appreciate your being here.

I'm convinced there's more afoot than just a vote that perhaps is going to take place, as soon as Tuesday.

Congressman O'Rourke, I appreciate your time.

O'ROURKE: Thank you so much.

SMERCONISH: Even more disturbing new video, now coming out of the Capitol riot, hard to watch, Trump supporters taunting, stalking, even punching officers. Question, why aren't these images moving the needle? I've got a theory.

And nearly six months later, we learned former Vice President Pence being ostracized, yet again, by some conservatives.









SMERCONISH: New videos, released by the Justice Department, give us a deeper look into the violence displayed at the Capitol on January 6th.

The video, which I must warn you is disturbing, and contains profanity, comes as Republicans continue to downplay the dangers of that day. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you an American? Act like (BLEEP).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand up for America, goddamn it! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't touch me, don't.



SMERCONISH: Harrowing, but is there any amount of evidence that will get Republicans to get real about what happened that day?

Let's discuss with Natasha Alford, and Charlie Dent.

Charlie, back in the days, when I was a Republican, the party boasted of its status as being supportive of law enforcement. What happened?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASPEN INSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRAM: Well, Michael, I - me too. I was always endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, and the State Troopers Association. I was always proud of those endorsements. I still think most Republicans will receive those types of endorsements.

But given what happened with, in recent days, with that vote, and with a lack of defense of law enforcement, with respect to January 6th, I think just certainly tarnishes many Republicans' images with the law enforcement community.

It's a problem. I am frankly stunned that so many will yell about defunding the police, but are reluctant to defend the police, in this case. That's not true of most of them.


DENT: But specifically (ph).

SMERCONISH: Natasha, I don't get the drip, drip, release of these videos. And I know that CNN has been very aggressive in trying to get it all into the public domain.

It does make me wonder, if we had seen all of this imagery, back at the time of the impeachment vote, would it have mattered? Would it have changed anything?

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, VP, DIGITAL CONTENT AND SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, THEGRIO: Unfortunately, I don't think it would have changed anything. And that's because so many members of the GOP are loyal to whatever keeps them in power.

And in this case, it was supporting a narrative that Donald Trump did nothing wrong, that he was only fighting for freedom. And so many, of their constituents are these individuals, who are rioters, who see themselves as freedom fighters.

And when I, I'm sorry, when I look at that video, I'm terrified. That is someone who is juiced up on conspiracy theories, and someone who thinks that there are no consequences, essentially that he can be violent and he will be protected.

And so, I think it's that ideology that these folks see themselves as patriots, doing the bidding of what it takes to protect American democracy that allows them to continue this lie, and it allows the GOP to come around then, and play along.

SMERCONISH: So, I was watching Wolf Blitzer earlier today. And Wolf was interviewing our colleague, Drew Griffin, talking about his special that will air, on Sunday night, all about the events of January 6.

And they ran a piece of tape that I think had a most telling comment by someone who allegedly reportedly was caught up in this high jinks.

I want to roll the tape, and then make a comment about it. Do it.



DONOVAN CROWL, FORMER MARINE: No, thanks, man, I'm good.


CROWL: Have a good day.

GRIFFIN: I've been talking to your mom, and your sister. They mentioned that you might want to say something to us about.

CROWL: About what?

GRIFFIN: About your case, and whether or not you feel bad about it.

CROWL: I feel bad about my case?

GRIFFIN: Feel bad about what you did?

CROWL: Well, actually, the things I did, I was hanging out with some of the wrong people, it seems like. But I didn't really do anything. So, I feel pretty good that my case is going to come out, and show that, so.

GRIFFIN: Do you feel like you were manipulated into going to the Capitol?

CROWL: No. No. I really got nothing to say to you. I don't watch your garbage anyway.



SMERCONISH: So, it's that last line that I wanted to play, on this network. He doesn't "watch our garbage," and that's when the lightbulb went off. And I said to myself, it's telling half the country, right, is watching an outlet, where they don't show this footage.

So, we look at it, Charlie Dent, and we say "Holy crap!" like who could tolerate that? That guy, by the way, is a former Marine. And half the country, I think, is oblivious to what we are watching routinely.

Charlie, you go first.

DENT: Yes, sure, Michael, what's so scary about all of this is that there are so many people in our country, right now, who don't believe that our democratic process is fair or legitimate.

And because too many elected officials have denied what happened on January 6th, I fear that many Americans will simply say that, "All elections are rigged." And because of this, the public confidence has been undermined, in our democratic process. That's what's happened here.

And you're right. We have a tribal society. People get their information from the sources that they're comfortable with, and that reinforce their existing opinions or biases. And that's what's happening, so. But there's not an agreed upon set of facts anymore, or agreed upon truths, sadly.

SMERCONISH: Natasha, that is my point that we're so siloed that we're so hunkered down with adherence to particular outlets that unless you're clicking around, man, you're not getting the whole story.

ALFORD: Yes. And I think certain outlets play to us being siloed. There's a saying that "He who controls the media, controls the message, and controls the minds," right?

So, the folks who are withholding this information, who are spinning the narrative, and trying to convince people that they have legitimate protest - there was actually a poll that said that there was a 47 percent of Republicans thought that this was a legitimate protest, even though we saw bloodshed, and we saw people losing their lives.

So, if you're able to repeat a lie again, and again, people will continue to believe it. And what is so disappointing is that politicians, elected leaders, are complicit in this. Rather than being independent, and sort of being those protectors of democracy, over party, they are willing to go along with the lie, in pursuit of power.

SMERCONISH: I'm not defending any of the conduct. But when I look at their faces, I think they believe they are Washington, crossing the Delaware, in revolutionary times.

Natasha Alford, thank you so much.

Charlie Dent, as always, good to see you.

DENT: Thanks, Mike.

ALFORD: Thanks. SMERCONISH: CNN also has new details about what happened on January 6th. As I just mentioned, Drew Griffin interviews those who were at the Capitol, for a special report, "ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY: THE ROOTS OF TRUMP'S INSURRECTION." It's Sunday 9 P.M. Eastern.

We turn from police officers, attacked at the Capitol, to officers in another city, accused of going too far, during protests, last summer. One has just been indicted, after this video surfaced. But his colleagues are taking dramatic action to show their support for him, by walking away from their elite unit.

The Head of the Police Union is here to defend this drastic step. And that's next.









SMERCONISH: About 50 police officers in Portland have resigned en masse, in protest, after a fellow officer was indicted, for alleged excessive use of force. The officer, Corey Budworth, was part of a special team responding to demonstrations.

Video posted on social media shows Budworth shoving a photojournalist to the ground, and using a baton against her head, during a protest, last August. A grand jury indicted Budworth on a fourth-degree battery charge. That's a misdemeanor.

Portland Police Union leader Daryl Turner says political venom demonized these public servants. And he joins me now.

Mr. Turner, thank you so much for being here.

I am totally sympathetic to what these cops have had to go through, a 100 straight nights, I read your October letter, Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosive rocks, bottles, urine, feces, et cetera, et cetera.

However, when I see that video, I just can't justify it. How can you?

DARYL TURNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORTLAND POLICE ASSOCIATION: So, I think one of the things you have to understand is we're one of the largest agencies in the country, are one of the largest cities in the country, who do not supply, equip their officers with body cameras. So, the event is actually longer than what you see. What you see is a

short segment of what happened. You don't see the young lady trying to help unarrest somebody that's being arrested, involved in criminal activity.

You don't see the chaos, the violence. The sustained violence is not just that night, but over 150 days of sustained violence. That was night number 67 or 70 that we have been facing.

Night in, night out, our officers on the Rapid Response Team, and other officers, have been out there on the front lines, again, like you said, having objects thrown at them, being threatened, threatening their families, being doxxed, and actually people announcing their home addresses, out on loudspeakers, as they stay on, on the front lines, without any support from our elected officials.

And as a matter of fact, our elected officials would chastise and criticize our officers, on a daily basis. These officers are frustrated because they cannot--


TURNER: --they cannot keep the community safe, in a way that they should be, when the tools are taken away from them, when the ability to do their job is taken away from them.

And so, in this case, again, we have a District Attorney, who has declined 80 percent of the criminal activity, 80 percent of the cases that are brought to him, from the criminal activity, during those riots. 80 percent!

SMERCONISH: So, I accept - I accept everything--

TURNER: Well, how--

SMERCONISH: --I accept - I accept everything you're telling me. But it doesn't alter when you subroutine (ph), as I like to say, the tape. I get - let's run it. I mean, you tell me what you see, as I'm showing this to the rest of the country again.

Play it.





SMERCONISH: There's shot number one.

TURNER: I cannot see it.

SMERCONISH: Oh, OK. You don't have what we call a return. Well, there are two - there are two uses of the baton. The first, knocking her to the ground, and then another shot to the head.

TURNER: Right.

SMERCONISH: Can that be justified?

TURNER: And clearly what the officer articulated in his report that he thought she was going to move in a different direction, and it was an accident.

So, with that said, in the - in the administrative and internal investigations, that's where it should be combed out. But it's not a malicious, it's not intentional, and it's not criminal.

SMERCONISH: The District Attorney said "In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth's deployment of force, and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances."

I also took a look at the Portland Police Bureau policy on use of force, which says members striking or jabbing with a baton shall not deliberately target the head, or throat, neck, spine or groin, unless deadly force would be authorized.

You and I can agree that deadly force would not be authorized in this case, right?

TURNER: And as I said, he had also admitted it was an accidental strike, as to the area of the body that it did hit. He anticipated her trying to stand up again. And she did not.

And so, like I said, in an administrative investigation, in an internal investigation, they could comb that out. But is this criminal? No, it's not intentional. It's not malicious. So, it had no criminal intent whatsoever.

This is the same D.A. that doesn't follow the law, but, like I said again, declines 80 percent of the criminal activity, criminal cases that are brought to him, through those riots, through those 150-plus days of rioting.

And so now, on another case, where it's clear that it was an accident that also wrote it in his report. He wrote a report that night. He didn't try to hide anything.

He wrote in a report exactly what he did. There was no hiding what he did. He did not know it was on video till later. So, he wrote exactly what he did. It was in conjunction with what the video said.

However, that video was taking a short snippet and not a longer one, because again, our elected officials refused to equip our officers with body cams, which would have shown a longer event.

SMERCONISH: OK, I have another question. What about the decision to resign en masse? Why not let the process address this? Do you think that that was a wise move, from a public relations standpoint? TURNER: And so, this is not just - this was not the only incident. Like I said, and like you said, there was a letter that we sent in October, stating all the concerns, all the issues that the Rapid Response Team had.

They stayed on because they believed vehemently they're there to protect the community. They're the buffer between the rioters and the resident (ph) community, the business owners, the residents, who are been threatened in the city.

The board up, the cities have been boarded up, it has been burned, it has been looted. And they are - they believe they're the buffer. They were doing this. This is a volunteer unit. This is not a unit that gets paid any extra money.

SMERCONISH: Understood.

TURNER: This is a volunteer unit that has the skill and the strategic subject matter experts to be able to handle crowd control issues. There is no police agency in the country that dealt with the violence like we did, the sustained level of violence, over 150-plus nights--

SMERCONISH: I get it. I get.

TURNER: --like they were--

SMERCONISH: Mr. Turner, I get it. I've been watching. 3,000 miles away, I've been watching it with great admiration for the people who are the thin blue line.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate your time.

TURNER: Thank you very much.

SMERCONISH: With three Supreme Court Justices picked by former President Trump, you might have thought that you'd know where the conservative super-majority would go on big cases. But think again!

Our High Court Expert is here to show us how some key rulings are revealing a different kind of split. And that's next.








(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: When Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court, last October, Democrats seemed all too sure that she'd torpedo Obamacare, and that the 6-3 conservative majority would transform SCOTUS for good.

But if yesterday's rulings are any indication, from leaving the Affordable Care Act in place, to their now ruling on religious freedom, the fault lines aren't between the Left and the Right, but within the Court's own conservative wing.

Let's get some perspective from CNN Legal Analyst Joan Biskupic.

Joan, you and I have had conversations in the past about what will Kennedy do? It'll be a 5-4 decision. But what will Anthony Kennedy do? I read your great piece, and it seems like you believe that Anthony Kennedy's legacy has been replaced by a triumvirate. Please explain.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure. And it's great to be with you on a Friday night, and not just a Saturday morning, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

BISKUPIC: I think that we're still going to see, overall, a more conservative court, because Anthony Kennedy was to the left of both of these two new justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh.

But what these two justices are doing now with Chief Justice John Roberts is putting a brake on the three conservatives to their right, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. Those are the three, who want to overturn precedent. And they want to do it fast. They want to do it now. And they want to do it as extreme as possible.

But these three conservatives, who are in the middle, and they are all Republican appointees, they're all three people, who we think would generally be against abortion rights, would generally be against gun control, so they're still - they're still conservatives. It's just that they don't want to move as fast as the others do.

And let's just take these two cases. First of all, the Affordable Care Act challengers really had such a poor case. Even many conservatives thought it was never going to fly. And it didn't, not at all.


The court outright dismissed it, didn't even entertain the questions on the merits. So, this was a little bit of an easier one for Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

And even Justice Clarence Thomas, Michael, joined the majority there to say, "You challengers, from Texas, and other Republican States, you have no injury here. You can't come up and complain about the individual insurance mandate, when there's no penalty for it. There's nothing that your States have suffered, in terms of a loss, because of the law now." So that was an easy one to get rid of. But Michael, the one that was really complicated, and different, was this religious freedom one, because justices Barrett and Kavanaugh have both wanted more, more accommodation for religious believers.

SMERCONISH: Does the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, end as a trilogy for the Supreme Court of the United States, or is there some possibility, there could be a part four in the future?

BISKUPIC: Oh, yes, there - I'll tell you there will always be challenges. There are still challenges percolating up, toward the justices. But as far as the Supreme Court is concerned, they don't want them. They don't want to see any kind of broad scale challenge anymore. That's for sure.

So, we can say, Michael, tonight for our viewers that the Act, as a whole, is here to stay. It's not going to be thrown out in total, the way the Republican States have been trying for, and what former president Donald Trump had pushed for, for his entire campaign had been built around that, back in 2016. And so, that's not going to happen.

But will parts be - individual parts be challenged? Yes. I'm sure. Maybe some things will be picked off. But for right now, this law that has had such a sweeping effect for some 31 million more Americans getting health insurance, that's here to stay.

SMERCONISH: A lot to talk about, in the fall, with some big cases, after they take the summer off, to be argued.

Joan Biskupic, thank you as always.

BISKUPIC: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: For the first time, New York City changing the way it votes for Mayor.

Early voting in the primary's now underway, and voters are making their decision, using a ranked-choice system. What exactly does that mean? Well, instead of voting for a single candidate, people can choose up to five candidates, in order of preference.

Our Wizard of Odds Harry Enten is here with more.

Harry, what's the purpose? What is it that people hope this type of system will do?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: They're hoping that it will first save money because there won't be the traditional run-off that you would have, if no candidate reaches 40 percent of the vote.

But it's also trying to give voters more options, so that they can fill out their ballot, and especially in a primary with eight candidates, who major candidates, who all have similar ideologies, certainly compared to Republicans, it gives them an opportunity to express their preferences, in a more complete way. SMERCONISH: So, is there a front-runner? And does that front-runner necessarily benefit from ranked-choice voting? In other words, maybe you'd rather be everybody's number two, on their dance card, than a handful of number one?

ENTEN: Sure. So look, if you look right now at the first choices, right, we had a Marist College poll that came out earlier this week.

Eric Adams is well out in front of the pack with 28 percent, Kathryn Garcia, the former Sanitation Commissioner, at 19 percent, and then Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang, close behind there, at 17 percent and 15 percent.

What I should point out is pretty much all of the polls have Eric Adams out in front, in the first choice preferences. But as you pointed out, Michael, we have to go through this entire process.

And I'd like to take you through that if we flash forward to slide two here. And what essentially they have to do is number one, if we flash forward to slide two, look at this, first, voters can rank up to five choices. We mentioned that.

The candidate with the lowest vote total after a round is then eliminated. And then voter choices are then allocated to their next higher - highest preference, if the current choice is eliminated. And what essentially we do is we go through all these different rounds.

This process continues until one candidate has 50 percent plus 1. And as you saw in slide one, there's not going to be any candidate who has 50 percent plus 1 in the first round. So, this is going to go on and on for a number of rounds.

SMERCONISH: And unless anybody think that someone very intelligent, like Harry Enten, is sitting there with an abacus, it's all done automatically, and people only cast that initial ballot, and rank their five. It's just going to take a while perhaps, for a tabulation.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. And look at this, look how many rounds that we might have to go through, in order to get to this. We have to go all the way to round 12! Round 12!

And you can see how this works across your screen, right? In round 10, Eric Adams is at 34 percent, and Garcia, 24 percent, Wiley 22 percent, Yang at 19 percent, in the Marist College poll, this is crazy.


Then Yang gets eliminated. Most of his vote goes to Eric Adams, who jumps up to 43 percent. But that's still not that 50 percent plus 1. So then Wiley gets eliminated, and then in this particular poll, Eric Adams gets up to 56 percent.

But to go back to your first question, could this change the winner? If we go to slide four, I think this is rather key, what you see in this - in this slide is that on all the first round, and all the polls, in June, first round, Eric Adams lead seven out of seven times. Kathryn Garcia lead zero out of seven times.

But in the final round, if we jump all the way through the simulation, Eric Adams led only five of seven times. Garcia actually won two out of seven times in those polls. So yes, it is completely possible that someone like Eric Adams could lead on the initial preferences.

But then you go through all of this math, and we could end up with a different winner. And it could, for Michael, to just tell you, this is going to take a week or more to figure out.

SMERCONISH: OK. Listen, it sounds confusing. But I like it because it's a means of watering down the fringe, and forcing candidates to appeal, to a lot of different demographics.

Harry Enten, thank you, as always. Appreciate your being here.

ENTEN: My pleasure, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Are you staying in an Airbnb this summer? Like any hotel chain, there are good reviews and horror stories, but you don't hear much about the latter. And there's a reason.

I'm going to talk with the journalist behind a fascinating new look at the lens to which Airbnb handles crisis management. Is it about putting the customer first or about damage control? That's next.










"THE WOLF", FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY HARVEY KEITEL, "PULP FICTION": I need you, two fellas, to do is take those cleaning products, and clean the inside of the car. I'm talking fast, fast, fast. You need to go in the back seat, scoop up all those little pieces of brain and skull, get it out of there, wipe down the upholstery.

Now, when it comes to upholstery, it don't need to be spic-and-span. You don't need to eat off it, just give it a good once-over. What you need to take care of are the really messy parts.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: Who could forget Harvey Keitel, "The Wolf?" In Quentin Tarantino's classic "Pulp Fiction," he was the fixer, who cleaned up gruesome crime scenes with a calm head.

I was reminded of that when I came across this stunning report from Bloomberg on how Airbnb has their own top secret team of fixers, who quietly wash away the company's nightmares, violent incidents that include sexual assaults, rape, even murder.

My next guest looked into how Airbnb utilizes this so-called "Black Box" team and even spends millions of dollars every year to keep things under wraps.

Airbnb told Bloomberg, "As much as we try, occasionally really bad things happen. We all know that you can't stop everything, but it's all about how you respond, and when it happens you have to make it right, and that's what we try to do each and every time."

Bloomberg's Tech Reporter, Olivia Carville, joins me now. She wrote the story.

So Olivia, tell me, what is the safety team?

OLIVIA CARVILLE, BLOOMBERG TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Yes, thanks so much for having me, Michael.

So, the safety team inside Airbnb is really an elite and highly secretive unit that operates for two specific roles. One is to protect the individual in crisis, when violent crimes occur, inside Airbnb listings. And the second is really to protect the Airbnb brand.

SMERCONISH: To be fair to Airbnb, they say, "Hey, we're talking about 0.1 percent." And as you pointed out in your piece, they are larger than the top seven hotel chains combined. So yes, bad things happen. But the odds are way against them ever happening. Fair?

CARVILLE: Yes, totally fair. This is the world's biggest hospitality company. When even on a night like tonight, millions of people are staying inside an Airbnb. So, when you're talking about numbers that big, things are bound to go wrong.

This is also a company that's based on trust between strangers. So, when you have strangers sharing the same space, sleeping under the same roof, sometimes things go horribly wrong.

SMERCONISH: Yes, there was a line in your piece, which was just tremendous, by the way, where you said, "People meet online, money changes hands, and oftentimes they end up sleeping under the same roof." Well, of course, every once in a while, there's going to be something bad happens.

I also remember that there was someone from Silicon Valley, who was offered an investment opportunity. And he correctly said, "I don't want to get close to this, because I can see these sort of circumstances happening." CARVILLE: That's right. That was Chris Sacca. In the early days, there were a lot of investors who were too afraid to touch Airbnb, because they felt that the business model was dangerous.

He actually said to them, like, "You know, guys, someone's going to get raped or murdered in one of your listings, and the blood could be on your hands." And I think that's a really important point here--


CARVILLE: --is like how much money is the company really spending, when things go wrong inside its listings?

SMERCONISH: This is important. What am I giving up, when I sign the service agreement?

CARVILLE: Right, so Airbnb has a terms of service. Any user who signs up for the platform has to sign this.

And essentially, what it means is, if you want to go into a dispute with Airbnb, over something that happened to you, during the stay, whether it's an emotional injury, a personal injury, you effectively sign away your rights, to take them to court, to sue them in court.

Everything is going to be handled in confidential arbitration behind closed doors. That's why you don't really hear much about these cases. They don't reach the courts, and they don't get in the public eye.

SMERCONISH: Well, and what I also learned from this piece is that it's very difficult to do a cross-reference between the addresses of the properties, and the local crime roll. You were able to do that, for example, in Miami. Take my final 30 seconds and tell me what you found.

CARVILLE: I mean, it's impossibly hard to get a sense of what kind, of an impact short-term rentals have on crime rates in neighborhoods. I spent weeks trying to answer that. And really, what we discovered is you just can't cross-reference the data.


And I think that's an important point here is transparency around the data, so users can understand how safe they really are, and law enforcement can understand what kind of a risk, and what role does short-term rentals play, in the crime rates in local neighborhoods.

SMERCONISH: I was always--

CARVILLE: No one really understands the scope of this problem.

SMERCONISH: I was also impressed with the caliber of individual, and the experiences that they have in crisis management, the CIA, or running political campaigns that they've hired to be involved in this process.

It's a great piece. Thank you for being here to discuss it. CARVILLE: Thanks so much for having me.

SMERCONISH: We'll be right back.


SMERCONISH: Thank you so much for watching. Please join me tomorrow, and every Saturday morning, at 9 Eastern, for "SMERCONISH," right here on CNN.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Michael, how are you?