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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Becomes First American President With A Mug Shot; Judge To Weigh Meadows' Argument About Moving Georgia Election Subversion Case To Federal Court; Russian Investigators Say Flight Recorders Recovered; Russia Denies Involvement In Prigozhin Plane Crash; The Political Impact Of Trump's Latest Arrest; Study: Weight-Loss Drug Helps Reduce Heart Failure Symptoms. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 25, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: If you have the most famous mugshot in the world, you might as well try to cash in on it.

THE LEAD starts right now.

And Donald Trump is doing exactly that. Selling T-shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with his first mugshot, this one coming, of course, after his fourth arrest. All 18 of his co-defendants now booked at the Fulton County jail ahead of today's deadline, including one who is likely that is spending the entire weekend there.

The drama is far from over. On Monday, Mark Meadows will make his case for a move out of Fulton County and into federal court. And he's not alone if that effort. Why that hearing next week could have major implications for all of the defendants including Donald Trump.

Plus, Russian investigators now say they have the black box from the plane crash that likely killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group Wagner. We are live on the ground in St. Petersburg, Russia, home to Wagner's headquarters.


HILL: Welcome to THE LEAD on this Friday. I'm Erica Hill, in for Jake Tapper.

We begin with our law and justice lead, and a picture that will live in infamy. The first mug shot of an American president splashed across the front pages this morning. While that picture does mark a historic inflection point, Trump's legal saga is really just beginning. Today, the last of Trump's 18 fellow co-defendants surrendered before the noon deadline charged along with Donald Trump for their efforts to sabotage the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.

On Monday, we will see the first hearing in this sweeping Georgia case. This, of course, is the hearing for Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows and his attempt to get his case moved to federal court. Two weeks from now, Trump and his co-defendants will then participate in the Georgia justice system's next step. That is the arraignment and between now and Election Day 2024, the former president will spend days on end in trials and hearings for the multitude of other civil and federal cases against him.

Let's get straight to CNN's Katelyn Polantz who's outside the Fulton County courthouse.

So, Katelyn, just walk us through here. What is next for Donald Trump and for his co-defendants?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: What's next is the answering of a series of initial questions. How long is it going to take for this case to go to trial and how many defendants will be tried together? Will they be split up? Will this case go into different directions, different courts?

And so what happens next, now that all but one of the 19 defendants have been arrested and released on bond, there's one defendant here still waiting to see if he does have some sort of bond agreement that is made or a bond order. But they will have to discuss what happens for a trial date. We know that the D.A.'s office has wanted a speedy trial for all defendants. They're getting it for one, having a trial date already set on the calendar for Ken Chesebro, a lawyer that worked for Trump, who did want to go to trial pretty quickly.

Donald Trump, he doesn't want that. He wants things to go as slowly as possible, just like he's asked for all of the other (AUDIO GAP) he is facing. But that process begins once each of the defendants is arraigned. That could be happening in the coming days. It could be a very low fanfare with what happens. Essentially, that's when everybody enters their initial pleadings, very likely not guilty at this stage so early in the case.

And then the other piece of how this gets split up, if it could be split up, that speaks right to what is happening on Monday in this hearing related to Mark Meadows. Mark Meadows and four others right now are all asking to have their cases moved to federal court because they say they were acting at the behest of the federal government somehow. Either they were Mark Meadows, chief of staff, Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official or they were fake electors essentially acting at the direction of Donald Trump to be his fake electors after the election.

And so, they are going to make those cases to the federal judge in court individually. Mark Meadows hearing those is going to have some witnesses and really going to be a litmus test for the rest.

HILL: Yeah, it's so interesting to hear what we hear in that hearing.

I also want to ask you, Katelyn, about Harrison Floyd, the former leader of a group called Black Voices for Trump. So, he's the only defendant to spend the night at the Fulton County jail. What's happening with his bond hearing at this point?

POLANTZ: Well, we are waiting to see if he does appear in court this afternoon, at a bond hearing. We believe that that is a possible on the table right now. And Harrison Floyd, he is the leader of Black Voices for Trump, or was

the leader.


And he is charged in this case of attempted to influence a witness, namely Ruby Freeman, the election worker here in Georgia that had many, many things publicly said about her that were just untrue, and that there was an effort as there was disinformation spreading about, about issues related to ballot counting. It was about her.

Now we're going to see if he sees a judge and when he sees that judge, if that judge will release him on bond. The reason that he wasn't released as quickly as everyone else was because he didn't have an agreement before he went to jail to turn himself in.

HILL: Katelyn Polantz, appreciate the reporting, as always, thank you.

And from scowling for mugshot to swirling away campaign cash, former President Trump started fundraising off his Fulton County jail memento, less than an hour after it was published.

CNN's Alayna Treene joining us now from Bridgewater, near Trump's New Jersey golf club.

So, probably no surprise to most folks in how this photo is being used. Trump calling the process a, quote, terrible experience in an interview last night, though.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Erica. I think two things are happening at the same time here.

One is that Donald Trump is privately very frustrated about this. He did not want to go to Georgia yesterday. He did not want to have his mugshot taken. And he's been pretty vocal about that behind the scenes in conversations with his advisers and he even admitted as much during an interview with the Newsmax where he called it terrible.

At same time, his team does recognize the monetary benefit of that mug shot, how they could fund raise off of it, how they can use it to rally up his base and his supporters, in light of these charges. And we are hearing the former president use the same rhetoric that we've heard him to describe the past three indictments that he had faced. He's calling this election interference.

He's directly attacking the District Attorney Fani Willis. And I think you're going to continue to hear him doing that. But then behind the scenes, he is quite frustrated.

Now, Erica, I do want to share some reporting about the mug shot in particular. I'm told from his team that they had talked about it in advance. And they had tried to game out what he should look like if he had to take a mug shot and the former president himself settled on wanting it to look, quote, defiant and that's according to one of his advisers. But again, I think that is the public image that Donald Trump and his

team want everyone to see, even though behind the scenes he is really frustrated and disappointed about how this is played out -- Erica.

HILL: Alayna Treene, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining us now, former DeKalb County District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming, a mentor to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

It's good to have you with us this afternoon. As we look at what will be playing out, in the next -- in the coming weeks, I should say, there is also a new commission in Georgia that could give lawmakers the power starting in October to sanction or oust prosecutors such as Willis. There is one state senator who actually vowed to file a complaint, even accusing Fani Willis of trying to become a, quote, leftist celebrity.

Do you think that this is possible? That we could see perhaps pro- Trump Georgia Republicans actually push the D.A. out?

GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, let's step back for a minute. Let's remember that D.A. Fani Willis was elected by a majority of the residents and voters in Fulton County and upon gaining their confidence, when she took office, she took an oath to investigate and pursue cases without fear, favor, or affection. And that's on top of the ethical guidelines that she follows as a lawyer.

So, there is a strong sense and really the law indicates that she had to investigate this case. She's required to do so. When there is sufficient evidence of a crime, whether a crime occurred or whether there is a question about whether a crime occurred, and when she finds enough evidence to go forward, she has to proceed.

And so, any attempt that tries to suggest that she should not have gotten forward, would actually mean that she would have had to either violate her oath or violate the confidence of the voters that put her in office.

HILL: So it doesn't sound like that is something that you're concerned about. When we look moving forward, you mentioned, of course, the oath without fear. When we talk about safety concerns, though, we know that the D.A. actually made, local law enforcement, aware of some of the threats that folks in her office had faced. That had been coming in ahead of the indictment.

How concerned are you for her safety and for the safety of others in that office?

FLEMING: Well, I have it on good authority that she is taking these safety concerns very seriously. And I'm very grateful for that that, for herself, as well as for her team, and for all of the employees in her office as well as the courthouse. I think it's a sad day that folks that come forth and put themselves forward to serve the public. Whether it is as a member of the D.A.'s office or whether it's as a grand juror or possibly even the jurors going forward, it's a sad day when that service is attacked. [16:10:10]

And so, I applaud law enforcement for keeping everybody safe so far. I hope and pray that they will continue to do so.

HILL: To that point, if a potential juror arrives and is part of the questioning says, I don't believe I could serve on in jury because I'm concerned for my personal safety.

How would that play out?

FLEMING: Well, I think that is something that we would have to see. Again, those are just decisions that are going to be made by the judge in terms of as he's handling the voir dire, as well as the parties involved and certainly the sheriff and other law enforcement agencies going forward.

HILL: Do you think that that could be an issue, seating a juror? Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was on this morning on CNN talking about how difficult it has been to seat a jury in the YSL, Young Thug case that's happening now. It's my understanding part of that because it's expected to take so long. So the time that jurors would need to be there to give up.

But do you think that's the only reason?

FLEMING: Well, I think there's plenty of considerations and part of that is really depending on when the trial starts, and how many defendants will be at the table. We've already started to see how that number of 19 will begin to get narrowed. Obviously, there is a trial for Mr. Chesebro coming up at the end of October, as for the discovery occurs for the remaining defendants, the number that re actually seated when a jury is sworn could also be reduced further.

All of that will play into how long it will take for the trial to occur. Obviously, the more defendants that you have, that have to be cross-examined or have the opportunity to cross-examine each witness, that will extend things. But these are questions that really will fall squarely on Judge McAfee, as well as the D.A.'s office, as well as the multiple defense teams.

HILL: Gwen Keyes Fleming, really appreciate your time and your insight today. Thank you.


HILL: Donald Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows has the first hearing in Fulton County, Georgia. That is set for Monday. Just what could we learn from one of the witnesses? That's next.

Plus, Maui County now placing blame for the deadly wildfires that wiped out an entire community.


[16:16:11] HILL: We are back now with our law and justice lead. And the fallout from the Georgia indictment involving former President Donald Trump and his fellow 18 co-defendants all charged in the state's election subversion case, including, of course, Trump's former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows, though, has a hearing on Monday. That hearing to see whether he could get his case moved to federal court and a hearing that could also prove rather revealing about the state's case.

Joining me now to discuss, former Georgia Democratic state senator and attorney Jen Jordan, and former prosecutor for the U.S. Justice Department, David Aaron.

It's nice to have both of you with us.

So, David, what are you -- what are you expecting here in terms of witness testimony, and evidence that could be presented that shows us what is in Fani Willis's case on Monday?

DAVID AARON, FORMER DOJ PROSECUTOR: It is going to be very interesting to see how this proceeds. Mr. Meadows's team is going to have to describe why Mr. Meadows was acting in his federal officer capacity. I'm not entirely sure what evidence they've going to offer of that. They probably don't want him to testify and the judge may allow them to proceed based on an attorney proffer.

HILL: In terms of what -- what this sets up for me too is this fascinating look, we know that Brad Raffensperger has been subpoenaed, along with those on the infamous phone call where Donald Trump said he just wanted to, quote, find the 11,780 votes. Fani Willis has indicated that she really believed that's political activity on that call. Mark Meadows is saying, no, no, no, I was acing in my role in government capacity.

It does set this up, right, this division. Do you think we will have -- I mean, ultimately, the ruling will give us the answer. But how much do you think will get insight into that?

JEN JORDAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we're going to get some pretty -- pretty significant insight and let me tell you why in terms of who they've subpoenaed. Specifically, the district attorney's office had subpoenaed two lawyers that served as lawyers to the Trump campaign who were on that infamous call, in part of all that was going on with respect to Trump back then.

So, if you think about it from the place of, well, if Mark Meadows was acting just in his capacity as a federal employee, well, then anything he heard or talked about with these lawyers who represented the Trump campaign, the attorney/client privilege doesn't necessarily endure that point, right? It doesn't stick.

And so, they're bring these attorneys in who normally could not speak about what their conversations were with Trump, what was going on behind the scenes, but if Mark Meadows is there and he's really not there as part of the campaign, and he is this third party, you know, that could throw away any kind of privilege they have and we could learn a lot in terms of what was actually going down behind the scenes.

HILL: So, David, if you are on the Meadows' legal team, do you bring in witnesses? Do you put Meadows under oath? How do you play this?

AARON: I think it is best and probably his lawyers are thinking this way, it is best to keep him off the stand. You don't want your client testifying over and over and over again on the record for a variety of reasons.

I would imagine that if they have to put on evidence, it would come from other witnesses. But they're going to have to try and show those, that not just that Mr. Meadows was acting in his official capacity, but also that the thing that he was trying to do was within federal responsibility. And I think that's going to be a core argument here. Not just whether he was acting in his official capacity, but whether he was trying to do was a state function as opposed to a federal function.

HILL: There is -- we're watching this intently for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Mark Meadows is not the only one who wants his case moved to federal court, not the only cove defendant, I should say, and we're waiting to see if other co- defendants may actually follow along those lines.


A lot is going to depend on what we see.

If the judge does rule in favor of Mark Meadows, what does that do to the other co-defendants?

JORDAN: Well, every one of them has to go through a very specific fact presentation and that's what judge has to look at.

Look, Mark Meadows probably has the best shot at it, just in terms of his role at the White House, because the way they're trying to say -- the way they're framing things is that everything that he did wasn't criminal per se, right? Setting up a call. Setting up a meeting. Going to Georgia on behalf of the president.

If you frame it that way, then, yeah, it seems like it is part of what he's supposed to be doing. What the district attorney is really going to try to focus on is fact that really this was part of the campaign. And this fell outside of the purview of what he really was supposed to be doing. And really it violated the Hatch Act, too.

And I think the good example is you could case a bank, for example, or if you're going to rob somebody, you could drive by their house a lot. Driving by someone's house or a bank isn't per se criminal, but if it's done in furtherance of a bigger scheme, then that's when things start to get a little sticky and that's where Mark Meadows is finding himself.

HILL: David, what will you be listening for and watching for as -- from that hearing on Monday? AARON: So, I'll be particularly interested to see what the judge

makes of these arguments that there can't be a basis for removal to federal court because the things that Mr. Meadows is charged with are not actually done in the course of a federal responsibility. That, you know, choosing electors, certifying elections and counting votes, these are all state functions and to the extent that he was trying to involve himself in that, that just by definition is outside of any federal responsibility. And so, removal is inappropriate.

And I'm going to be interesting to see how much the judge makes of that argument.

HILL: There is -- talk about a focus and it was a busy week and it is going to continue to be so on Monday down there in Atlanta.

David Aaron, Jen Jordan, really good to have you both here. Thank you.

AARON: Thank you.

HILL: New reaction to the Kremlin to the presumed death of Yevgeny Prigozhin. We are live inside Russia, next.


HILL: In our world lead, Russia now said it has recovered flight recorders from the crash that may have killed Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. This is as the Kremlin is calling any speculation that it was involved in the crash an absolute lie. The denial coming nearly 48 hours later.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also weighing in, calling Prigozhin a talented man who made serious mistakes.

CNN's Matthew Chance has more on the reaction inside of Russia over Prigozhin's presumed death.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shocked if not surprised. Supporters of Russia's Wagner mercenary leader have been paying their respects. Laying flowers and lighting candles at makeshift memorials across the country.

For all of his violent and foul-mouthed outbursts, often critical of Russia's military leadership, Yevgeny Prigozhin struck a chord, especially with people like Daria here in St. Petersburg, who told me how strong and interesting she found his personality.

He always stood up for his fighters, she said, in the special military operation. What Russia calls the conflict in Ukraine.

Are you sad that he's gone?

I'm sad they were so vile to him, she says. It's a bitterness many Russians now share. This photograph here, I think probably one of the last ones of

Prigozhin. And it says in Russian, in this hell, he was the best -- speaking about him in the past tense.

Some people have laid patches, Wagner mercenary group patches from the side of the uniforms. Because a lot of the people that are paying respects here today are either members of Wagner or their families of members of Wagner. The organization's known for its cruelty.

And this hammer here, it is very heavy, I'll pick it up. It has got Wagner written on it. It is a potent symbol of just how ruthless Wagner was because it was with a tool like this that they executed someone they regarded as a traitor and they filmed it happening, absolutely gruesome.

But that video consolidated Wagner's image as a ruthless hyper violent organization that would do anything to protect the motherland.

Even stage that dramatic uprising in June, marching troops toward Moscow in the biggest challenge to Kremlin authority for decades.

Many Russians suspect Prigozhin's presumed death in this plane crash was cold hearted revenge. But the Kremlin denies involvement. And few Russians there say otherwise, at least publicly.

Some of my closest friends are Wagner, says this man, who asked us to hide his identity at the memorial.

It was just Russian people, he tells me, who thought they were doing right thing. They can't talk for Prigozhin, he adds.

Who do you think is responsible for his death? Who killed him? No comment?

These are dangerous times in Russia to throw allegations around.


HILL: And our thanks, again, to Matthew Chance for his reporting there on the ground in St. Petersburg.

Joining me now, former NATO supreme commander and retired general, Wesley Clark.

Always good to see you, sir. You know, you jut published a piece in "The Daily Beast" titled: Prigozhin's death must alert the West to Putin's true nature, and you know that in the West we too often imagine our opponents are mirror images of ourselves. There has been some reluctance to acknowledge what Putin views as himself being at war with not just the West, but NATO, with the U.S.

What changes now?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, he's been very clear since 2007 at Munich security conference that Russia has a beef with the West. And it is gotten deeper and deeper and he's using force. He was very clear in December of 2021 before the invasion of Ukraine what his demands are. He wants NATO rolled back and he's part of the BRICS' effort to de-dollarize the economy.

He just sees the American hand everywhere. He's a little paranoid about it. Believes it is directed specifically at him. But really, it isn't. It is just about the belief in the rule of law and the international order.

But that's not what he wants. He doesn't believe in law or order. He believes in the interest -- what's in his interest and Russia's interest. He wanted to re-establish the Soviet Union or control over that space. This is why the European allies are so concerned. And in the United States -- we're doing our best to handle the situation without escalating it diplomatically.

HILL: What do you think Prigozhin's death means then moving forward in terms of Putin's power?

CLARK: Well, we're not quite sure still. I think the consensus opinion is that there was some kind of a breakdown in control. Putin and his team should have known what Prigozhin was up to. Maybe they didn't. Maybe there was an intelligence failure and suddenly Prigozhin and in a two, three, four-day spasm of anger decides he's going to march on Moscow and then it was stopped.

And now, the repercussions are unfolding. Generals have been relieved who were accommodating with Prigozhin. His force in Belarus is possibly being dismantled. They're looking for what else to do to maintain the momentum in Africa that Prigozhin established and of course there is a picture of Prigozhin's final resting place there with the aircraft that went down.

And it's the way Putin handles things. He's an intelligence operative. He used a force of intelligence jujitsu, and in this case, he took advantage of the chaos that was briefly there to figure out who is on his side and who might not be.

He may have used it to develop an effort into Belarus. He brought Lukashenko in and made him feel more responsive to Putin. Made him kind of a hero. He's always wanted to try to get Lukashenko to open a northern front against Kyiv which Lukashenko has resisted.

But it is just -- this is just jujitsu. He took a move that could have been harmful to him and he's tried to make the best out of it.

And that's my -- my point, we have to be very careful in simply saying oh, this is a failure, Putin is weak and just keep this up and he'll collapse. That is our wishful thinking and he looks at us maybe the same way, looking ought all of these people in America who can't agree. He doesn't maybe understand American politics. But we don't understand him and we have to be very careful taking him seriously.

HILL: It is such an important point. You mentioned Africa, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting over the past days both Prigozhin and Russian defense officials are there crisscrossing, trying to shore up support. As we look at this, as you mentioned Belarus, and we talked for many folks in country the first thing you think about is the war in Ukraine.

What will you be watching in the coming days and weeks to give you a better sense of what the potential impact is here on that war specifically?

CLARK: Well, I think the impact in -- on the war in Ukraine is actually minimal at this point. It's -- you know, in war, we say everything is simple. But even the simple is very difficult.

Putin has been trying to establish a northern offensive against Kyiv to separate Kyiv and Lviv from the very beginning. It doesn't work out in the first days of smashing down on Kyiv.


And it hasn't worked out yet because he can't generate the extra forces. He can't quite hold on to what he's got in Ukraine.

And, so, where they are now is the Russians have thinned out their forces in the south. They anticipated that Kyiv's counteroffensive could be blunted by the obstacle belts there and by some combination of air power, helicopters and the remaining forces. The 58th combined army commander probably complained about this so they fired him. This is the Russian way.

And they concentrated forces in the north and they're attempting to break through and regain the terrain that Kyiv seized from Russia last September. So, it's -- we have to be very careful. There has been some talk about the Ukrainians didn't put enough forces in the south.

But they've got the balance right in my view. They're making gains in the south. They're holding in the north. I think they're going to be successful.

HILL: General Wesley Clark, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

CLARK: Thank you.

HILL: President Biden just weighed in on Donald Trump's mug shot. Stay with us to hear what he said.



HILL: Talking a little politics with our experts.

Up first, the mug shot, a carefully crafted expression to maximize its impact for campaign fundraising tool. And an image that is defining of the 2024 presidential came and also eclipsed important conversations about policy and the future of the country.

Republican strategist Alice Stewart and Democrat Karen Finney joining me now.

Nice to see you both.

President Biden was just asked about the mug shot. Here's what he had to say.


REPORTER: Have you see Donald Trump's mug shot yet?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did see it on television.

REPORTER: What did you think?

BIDEN: Handsome guy.


HILL: He's a handsome guy. We know from our Alayna Treene's reporting that this was a carefully crafted expression. This was a lot of discussion about how he should look in that mug shot.

Alice, what do you make of this moment?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first off, Erica, there is no disputing the fact, this is a sad and bad time for American history. We have a former president indicted for the fourth time. And look, I think it is really ironic that here we have this campaign now the central focus of the Trump campaign is on these four indictments.

And the mug shot merch is going to ring him in millions of dollars to help his legal fees and it is quite ironic that the merch says never surrender, and he has surrendered four times on these four indictments.

And I'm not one to give out advice to Democrats, but I know Democrats in the general election don't like this and independents don't like this. So if I was a Democrat, Karen, I might recommend putting up the mug shot and put never -- always remember. Always remember what happened here. Because independents don't like this and this is going to have a bad impact on Republicans in the general election if he were to be the nominee.

HILL: So to that point, I was going to ask Karen that. But you nailed that, Alex. So let me phrase it this way. You know, Karen, my colleague, brilliant colleague Steve Collison who also such a great take on things. He noted this morning that a mug shot honestly for any other politician would be the end. But he says for Trump here, it's actually a spring board.

I wonder, Karen, do you think it is much of a springboard beyond his base, though?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. It's not. I think for the one-third base that 35 percent that loves him, that where he could do no wrong, that is where he's raising the money. That's who is buying the merch.

Two things. One, that broader image that we've seen of Trump and all of the other -- those others who have been indicted in the Georgia case in particular, that is devastating. I mean, with you see that -- because that is a reminder of the breadth and depth of the accusations and the potential criminality that I think is just really stunning for people. And I think it -- it really kind of shocks people to see that.

And the second thing I mentioned is there's a YouGov/Yahoo News poll out that points that actually -- that's the image right there. That actually when they ask people about their support for Trump, not just if he were indicted but if he were actually found guilty, his support actually starts to decline.

And so, you know, I think that kind of suggests again with the independents, moderate Republicans, that's where in a general election folks are -- can see those fractures coming, where people just -- it's so unsavory. And it is. It's not normal.

HILL: Well, look, we're also at the point where at this point, a lot of voters aren't excited, full stop, about this potential Biden/Trump rematch. In fact, this recent AP poll, the numbers are sort of staggering, 75 percent say they don't want to see President Biden run again, 69 percent, really not very far behind, don't want to see Trump run again.

You know, Alice, as we look at the potential -- that potential impact could be on voter turnout, who do you think would feel that anemic turnout more, Republicans or Democrats?

STEWART: Look, I think it's going to be an across the board impact given that right now people are learning more about these indictments and that is certainly going to hurt Donald Trump. And people are reeling from an economy that is not positive for American people.

So, if those two issues continue to move as they are, voters are not going to be very excited. And historically in presidential campaigns, when you have a positive brand image, that helps you. Both these candidates, Biden and Trump, have about an approval rating around 40 percent. The good thing for Republicans is that it's still early.

I was in Milwaukee at the debate, and there was a roomful of Republicans who were wide open and accepting of someone new, someone aside from Donald Trump and we heard a great debate from eight candidates who have a positive, bright vision for the future, and they're open to that.


And a new poll that came out just today shows that Ron DeSantis is closing the gap, the more people learn about these indictments, the more they say they're ready to turn the page.

FINNEY: You know, I guess I would disagree on that is a couple of things. We also on that stage saw extremist perception -- extremist ideas that are not going to play well in the mainstream electorate of this country. And so, I think, when we get to a general election context, I think the only person on the stage who understood that was Nikki Haley particularly on, for example, the issue of abortion.

I think where people are going to be -- also remember, President Biden is wildly popular with Democrats. He remains that very strong support. And I do think that the more the president is out there, not just talking about the economy and, you know, job creation and we're seeing positive economic numbers, but reminding people that the other part of the job of the Build Back Better is about personal financial freedom and addressing keeping money in people's pockets.

That's why he wanted to talk about universal pre-K and childcare. So I think the more the president and the administration people are out there talking about here is what we've done and here is the way we're trying to keep money in your pocket, I do think we're going to see a shift.

HILL: Karen Finney, Alice Stewart, good to have you both with us today. Thank you.

FINNEY: Thanks.

STEWART: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Yet another new study about the benefits of a popular weight loss drug. So what could it do now? Stick around.



HILL: In our health lead, new benefits tied to Ozempic and Wegovy, the popular diabetes weight loss drugs. This latest benefit found in patients with a common form of heart failure.

CNN's Meg Tirrell joining us with more.

I feel like every week there is a little something, mostly positive, right? So what did this study find?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean, this is the second heart study we've seen of Wegovy just this month of August that showed positive benefits. And so, what they did is they looked at Wegovy and this really common form of heart called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, which is commonly found in people who are obese or overweight.

And what they found is that not only did the drug help people lose weight, 13 percent of their body weight over a year versus about 3 percent on a placebo, but also really improved the symptoms of heart failure like shortness of breath and fatigue, help with exercise and exerting themselves and improved their quality of life. So doctors are very excited about this as a potential new treatment for heart failure.

But as you said, it was recently shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart related death in people with obesity and who are overweight. And they're also testing this chemical called semaglutide for things like liver disease, it is called NASH, non- alcoholic steatohepatitis.

HILL: It rolls right off the tongue.

TIRRELL: It really does. And Alzheimer's disease. I mean, these drugs are really being tested widely.

HILL: And it is remarkable.

I also did want to, just get some more information. So, there's a new initiative that we're learning about today from the CDC that is focused on combating sepsis. People probably are more familiar with it than they realize. It's life-threatening.

One in three people who dies in a hospital has sepsis during that and it's for anyone who is a fan of the show, they know this is near and dear to the team here at THE LEAD because Jake's daughter in 2021 when her appendicitis was misdiagnosed, right, she was dealing with this. She's now also actively working to spread the word and to spread awareness about sepsis.

So, what are these new CDC guidelines that are out?

TIRRELL: Yes. She is actually teaming up with the CDC on this new initiative and in the announcement about it. And so, the CDC is trying to improve the standards at hospitals for recognizing sepsis and improving the treatment of it. It's our body life-threatening reaction to an infection and it can be treated if you know to look for it and you catch it early.

And what we're learning from Alice's story is that often does not happen and she and her family really advocated for their good treatment. But the CDC did a survey of more than 5,000 hospitals. They found three quarters of the hospitals had dedicated sepsis teams, but in more than half of those cases, the leaders didn't have dedicated time to actually focus on that work.

HILL: Wow.

TIRRELL: So they're calling for all hospitals to have sepsis teams and to really step up the bar here. And we heard from Alice Tapper at the CDC's press conference about this really advocating for better recognition of what this is. Here she is.


ALICE TAPPER, SEPSIS SURVIVOR: The education of sepsis is so important for patients and their parents because many people don't know what sepsis is. I'll tell my friends and they're like, I've never heard of that before. But it is a lot more common than people think.

And recognizing the dangers of just the ticking clock of how short the span is when you have sepsis and how bad it could get and how quickly it could get bad. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TIRRELL: She and her mom Jennifer were saying the question they wished they asked and the CDC is now saying to ask, could this infection be turning into sepsis and the signs and symptoms are a high heart rate or weak pulse, fever, shivering or being very cold, confusion or being disoriented, shortness of breathe, extreme pain or discomfort and clammy and sweaty skin.

And, of course, those things can be confused for other things, so asking the question and having the awareness, and as we learn from the Tapper family, being persistent in advocating is important.

HILL: Yeah, it really is. It's such an important update. Great to see you, Alice, doing all of that great work. Thank you.

TIRRELL: Thank you.

HILL: In our national lead, 388 people remain missing in Maui after the devastating wildfires there. County officials releasing that validated list which was put together by the FBI. It is a significant drop from the more than 800 people. Maui County's mayor had said were still accounted for this week, but it is also a heartbreakingly large number and a stark reminder of the scope of this tragedy.


Maui County is placing the blame, by the way, for the wildfires directly on local utility companies. In a new lawsuit, officials alleged the utility company's negligence caused the massive loss of life. Hawaiian Electric expressing disappointment with that decision to sue, and saying that its focus is on supporting the people of Maui and Maui County.

Be sure to tune in this Sunday for a special two-hour edition of "STATE OF THE UNION". Dana Bash is speaking with 2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson.

Again, the special two-hour "STATE OF THE UNION" from 9:00 to 11:00 Eastern, and then catch it again at noon.

The Republican governor of New Hampshire weighing in on Donald Trump's latest arrest and the future of the GOP. That's coming up next in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with wolf Blitzer.