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New CNN Poll Raises Concerns For Biden's 2024 Hopes; Mar-a-Lago Worker Strikes Deal In DOJ's Classified Docs Case; Judge Rules Powell & Chesebro Will Be Tried Together On Oct. 23; Prosecutors: Trial To Take 4 Months, Have About 150 Witnesses; American Explorer Trapped 3,000 Plus Deep In Turkish Cave; D.C. Police Searching For Homicide Suspect Who Escaped Hospital; Video Shows Inmate Crab Walk Up Prison Walls To Escape. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired September 07, 2023 - 09:00   ET




MARCEL SPEARS, HIS FIRST BABY WAS BORN ON BEYONCE'S BIRTHDAY: I want to make sure I'm doing everything right. I may or may not have sped past some red lights on accident.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to ask the dad at the table, said every dad always.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well that -- I mean, I definitely identify with that energy. That was my energy like over for all four kids. And I'm like, I'm terrified. What am I supposed to do? I'm terrified, I'm terrified.

HARLOW: 100 percent. So Sarah and Marcel decided to name their newborn Nola after Marcel's hometown of New Orleans. And that is one cute baby. And we're glad she didn't miss the rest of Beyonce.

MATTINGLY: I love that story.

HARLOW: Who wins.

MATTINGLY: Thanks for staying with us. CNN Central starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Brand new this morning, a CNN poll, that is a huge flashing warning sign for President Biden. Supports sagging among Democrats. Plus the one Republican who holds a clear lead over him, and it might not be who you think.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: The flipping has begun. A worker at Mar-a- Lago strikes a deal with the top investigator overseeing the federal documents probe. A closer look at what the man known as Trump employee number four has to offer and how much it might hurt Trump's case. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Pennsylvania authorities are still on the hunt for the inmate who's been on the run for a week now. That is despite multiple sightings and even his escape being caught on tape.

I'm Kate Bolduan alongside John Berman and Sara Sidner. This is CNN News Central.

An incumbent Democratic president losing support among Democrats. Voters, including Democrats, with concerns about his age, his handling of the economy, and his son's alleged criminal activity. That is what President Biden faces this morning as he prepares to leave for a major trip abroad. His approval rating is near an all-time low with 39 percent.

Nearly 70 percent of Democrats say they want someone else running for president. 58 percent say Biden's policies making economic conditions worse. And that is just a small snapshot.

With me now, CNN Political Director David Chalian. These are tough numbers.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: They are tough numbers. It is a snapshot of this moment, 14 months out, but it shows the work ahead that President Biden and his team have if he's to be successful every election. You mentioned the approval rating at 39 percent, John. I just want to put that in a little bit of context of where that stacks up against his modern era predecessors.

I just want you to see here. He, Biden, is hanging down here with Trump and Carter. Well, guess what? Trump and Carter, they didn't win their attempts at re-election. So that is a danger zone there for the President.

You noted the economy piece. I mean, look at the sour mood of Americans. Only 30 percent of Americans in our poll say things are going well in the country. Seven in 10 say they're going badly.

BERMAN: And that is with inflation slowing down, with jobs numbers good, with economic growth good. He still, or they still, Americans still think things are going badly besides the economy. What are voters saying?

CHALIAN: I mean, you mentioned it at the top. It is the age factor. I mean, we see 49 percent of Democrats. We asked an open-ended question. What concerns you about Joe Biden and his candidacy? Age, number one, OK.

Then we asked more broadly to the American people overall in this poll, are you seriously concerned that Biden's age could negatively impact his ability to serve another full term? Three quarters of Americans are seriously concerned about that.

When have you seen three quarters of Americans agree on anything? This is a real problem for the president. Current mental and physical competence. 73 percent of Americans say seriously concerned that his age has a negative impact on that and that his age has a negative impact on his understanding of the next generation's concerns. Nearly seven in 10 Americans say that.

BERMAN: It clearly is an issue. And it's an issue that he will have to deal with in the campaign and in the White House per se.

Let's talk about how he stacks up against the potential Republican field.

CHALIAN: Yes. So take a look. This is our first time, this cycle, doing these potential general election matchups. And what you see here, Joe Biden is in a margin of error nearly tied race with every Republican except one, Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador is an outside margin of error, 6 percentage point lead. 49 percent to 43 percent.

But look at this, it's a 1 point race with Donald Trump tied with DeSantis, it's Pence, Tim Scott, Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, all within the margin of error. There are no clear leaders in this race. He is going to be in a real battle for re-election.

BERMAN: This is interesting to me because in polling terms, all these are exactly the same.

CHALIAN: Correct.

BERMAN: And there's one thing that's not like the other.

CHALIAN: Yes, Nikki Haley, and I'm sure her campaign, when they see these poll numbers today, will start to make hay of this. But this comes off of that positive debate performance, where you also saw her trying to broaden out her appeal a little bit, which may be having some positive impact here.


One final note, I just want to show you on energy in the electorate and motivation, 61 percent of Democrats or Democratic leaners tell us they're extremely motivated in the election. Compared to Republicans, that's 71 percent. So there's a deficit here that the Biden team is going to need to make up well in terms of motivation.

BERMAN: And it's different than it was in June --

CHALIAN: Correct.

BERMAN: -- in case you're wondering. Republicans are getting more motivated Democrats, not so.


BERMAN: David Chalian, great to see you.

CHALIAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Thank you so much. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, let's talk more about just this. CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis is joining me now, political anchor for Spectrum News and host of the You Decide podcast. Take the numbers but then set them aside for a moment, Errol. What is the trend that you are seeing in this snapshot of a moment?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, look, the trend is that people are upset. Elections are always about the future. And so, if you're the oldest president ever to have served and you've been in politics for 50 years, you can make a lot of claims, but you don't necessarily come across as the guy who's going to lead us to the future. That's a big hurdle for the incumbent president.

It also says to me, Kate, that inflation is really taking its toll.


LOUIS: We know because we hear from the economists, the business reporters that inflation is coming down, but it's a rate of change. So prices are high, and they're not getting higher. They're not necessarily getting lower. They're not getting high as quick of a rate, but they're still pretty high, and people are feeling it.

BOLDUAN: Because I was going to ask you what -- from what a campaign and a group of -- what a campaign would think is more concerning right now. The fact that voters think that Biden, any candidates' policies have made the economy worse in this moment, or how concerned Democrats are about Joe Biden's age.

LOUIS: Age is the issue that really is haunting this campaign and this candidacy. This is something that we've seen before when he was running for re-election, Ronald Reagan had to encounter the same thing, although he was a good deal younger than Joe Biden is. But we'd never had that old of a president before, and people were really concerned.

And so, this campaign and this president, they're going to have to fashion a response to it. When you dive into the poll, people are not saying so much that they dislike the policies or even that they just like the candidate. They're just saying that they're concerned and something like 60 percent are saying that they're concerned that he won't have the energy to either finish and properly and vigorously campaign or won't have the energy and stamina to govern properly.

Those are absolutely valid concerns. And I'm not sure what the answer is going to be. We've never been here before. But Joe Biden is going to have to answer that question.

BOLDUAN: On the hypothetical match ups, there's one bit kind of inside of this that I think is really interesting, which is they're -- you know, Biden and Trump are within the margin of error. Independent voters, they break in Biden's favor, 47 percent to 38 percent, as do suburban women. 51 for Biden, 44 for Trump. Is that -- in terms of kind of the makeup of where the support is or where there's room for more support, is that the saving grace for Biden in this moment do you see?

LOUIS: That's very much the good news for Joe Biden and for the Democrats. I mean, democracy -- demography is destiny in a democracy. And the fastest growing groups of voters in this country are college educated voters, younger voter, communities of color. And so, you know, that's where Joe Biden, according to this poll, is doing better than almost all of his Republican challengers.

And so that's what he's going to rely on, to try and go back to those communities, get them excited, get them to the polls. And every day that passes, there are more in those categories, younger people, college educated people, women than there are any other group. And so he's, you know, he's going to really try and ride his strength. The key is to get people energized, motivated, and out to the polls.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And I truly cannot believe you pulled it off or even attempted it. You like genius of demography is destiny in a democracy. That's some varsity stuff right there.

Errol, it's good to see you. Thanks, buddy. John?

BERMAN: All right, this morning, we are learning a lot more about the Trump employee who testified against him in the classified documents probe. According to a new court filing, Special Counsel Jack Smith struck a cooperation deal with the Mar-a-Lago IT worker they described as Trump employee number four in their indictment. Trump employee four is the witness who claims he was told, quote, "the boss wanted surveillance footage deleted".

CNN's Sara Murray is with us now. Talk to us about this deal, Sara.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, this is interesting because we had known something was going on behind the scenes with Yuscil Taveras. He is this IT worker because he had switched attorneys and now it's clear what was happening was that he was changing his story.

He was now agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors under the agreement that he would not face charges as part of again, this Mar-a-Lago documents investigation where Trump and a couple of his employees are facing charges.


And as you pointed out, we learned from the indictment that Carlo -- or that Yuscil Taveras is in conversation with Carlos De Oliveira, the property manager, about what to do about the security footage at Mar- a-Lago. De Oliveira is explaining that the boss wants the servers deleted.

And you can sense in this exchange the hesitation from Taveras, who says he doesn't know if he has the authority to do that. He doesn't even know how he would do that. So again, this could be a very interesting cooperator for Jack Smith team, not necessarily about direct conversations with Donald Trump, but about conversations with other employees around Mar-a-Lago at the time about efforts to carry out Donald Trump's wishes, John.

BERMAN: Sara, with some of the most compelling television yesterday besides this show right here, was watching this Georgia hearing play out before our eyes? Because there were cameras in the courtroom for the first time. And actually, there was a fair amount laid out for everyone to see. What were the most significant takeaways?

MURRAY: Yes, there was a decent amount of action and we saw what was a very decisive state court judge in that hearing yesterday. So Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, two of the attorneys who worked on, you know, allegedly helping Donald Trump try to overturn the 2020 election results, didn't want to go to trial together.

The judge decided they did not make a compelling argument and that they would both move ahead to trial in October of this year. But he sounded pretty skeptical about the possibility of the district attorney's office getting what they want, which is to put all of these 19 defendants in the case, including Donald Trump on trial in October this year.

He said, it seemed a bit unrealistic. You know, he raised the issue about Mark Meadows and other defendants who are trying to move their case to federal court. We also learned from the district attorney's office a better sense of what their case could look like.

They said that it would take at least four months to lay out this case that's excluding jury selection, and it would include roughly 150 witnesses. So a sprawling case at trial to go along with what was this sprawling indictment.

We also heard from former president, you know, the most famous defendant in this case in another interview saying that his team plans to put forward motions to dismiss in this case. We have not seen those motions yet, but they do still have some time, John.

BERMAN: Yes. So, Chesebro and Powell late next month, everyone else, not so much, probably.

Sara Murray, great reporting.

MURRAY: We'll see.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

MURRAY: Thanks.

BERMAN: And Sara?

SIDNER: With us now is a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, Jessica Roth, to discuss some of this. Let's start with this testimony, this flipping, if you will. How damaging might this be to Donald Trump's case? Obviously, he is the target here, the ultimate target here as a former president.

JESSICA ROTH, PROFESSOR OF LAW, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW: According to the allegations in the superseding indictment, which is the one that included, for the first time, Mr. Oliveira, who was the property manager in Mar-a-Lago, this individual, Taveras, who apparently struck a non-prosecution agreement with the special counsel, has direct information about contacts with Nauta and Oliveira, including their request that he delete the surveillance footage, including also their statements.

I think it was Oliveira who said to him, the boss wants the surveillance footage deleted. Understood to be, in context or reference to Mr. Trump. So he doesn't appear to have had direct communication with Trump, but he does offer evidence of communications that would likely be admissible in court, as a statement of a co- conspirator of the president against him.

And I think the fact that he's cooperating now really strengthens the special counsel's hand vis-a-vis Nauta and Oliveira. Because although it was clear from the superseding indictment that Mr. Taveras was providing information that was used in that superseding indictment, the fact that he's now entered into an agreement shows that he's working in a more cooperative, steady, consistent fashion with the special counsel.

And the special counsel has agreed not to prosecute him if he continues to cooperate. So he's now more sort of solid witness for them, and he helps because of that increase the odds that perhaps one of the other two defendants named with Trump might themselves flip. So that's what we're really waiting to see in terms of the next domino that could really strengthen the case directly against Trump.

SIDNER: One domino has to fall. Somebody has to be the first. And so he is at least one of the first to decide to change attorneys. His attorney, by the way, was also not his attorney.

ROTH: Yes.

SIDNER: And now he has decided to change. I do find it interesting because he retracted, according to the DOJ, prior false testimony. That could have been a charge against him, correct?

ROTH: Yes. If he, in fact, perjured himself before the grand jury when he said he had no information about any efforts to delete surveillance footage or any incriminating information in that Mar-a-Lago investigation. If he said that under oath, which according to DOJ, he did the first time he testified before the grand jury, that constitutes a federal crime of perjury.


And so my -- we haven't seen the non-prosecution agreement yet that was referenced in yesterday's filing. But my understanding is that he would probably be promised not to be prosecuted for that perjury, and perhaps any other crimes that were uncovered in the investigation, in exchange for his truthful cooperation and testimony, if needed at trial, against the others who have been charged in the Mar-a-Lago case.

SIDNER: And he has to be able to do that throughout, because the minute that stops, they could then bring charges.

ROTH: Exactly. That's the leverage now that the special counsel has against him.

SIDNER: I want to just further, you know, move to the case in Georgia. You have this enormous trial. I've seen -- I think, the most number of people I've seen tried is five at all at once. And each of them had at least one attorney, sometimes two.

Nineteen people, including the former president, who you know will have more than one attorney in there. I don't even know how they're going to fit them all. 150 witnesses we're hearing from D.A. Fani Willis, that that's the number of witnesses that they have.

These are the 19 that you're seeing on the screen who could potentially be going to trial potentially together. Is this possible to put this on over a four-month period?

ROTH: Well, the four-month period, I think everybody at this point acknowledges is unlikely in terms of the entirety of the case --


ROTH: -- when we include defense presentations of witnesses and cross examination. There is precedent for having what's known as a mega trial with this many people, but it's extremely rare. It's very unwieldy and it's certainly not preferred.

But there are a couple of things that are likely to happen between now and any trial date, including that we might see some dominoes fall in this case as well. We may see some people enter into guilty pleas. They may flip. We also may see some people removed to federal court.

We're waiting on the judge's decision in federal court. And so I think it's too soon to say whether, in fact, there will be 19 or 17 even if we take out the two who seemed to be going first in October. I think it's too soon to say exactly what other decisions need to be make about cutting it down into multiple trials.

SIDNER: We do know that we have seen Fani Willis do a mega trial, if you will, with 12 people when it comes to the teachers' situation there in Georgia. But this is a bigger case with a lot more people who would be testifying.

Thank you so much. I appreciate you coming on and sort of getting us through all of that. There's a lot to get through. Thank you, Jessica.

ROTH: Right.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, an American is trapped in a cave more than 3,000 feet below the Earth's surface. And now the new details coming in of the complicated rescue operation underway to save him.

Plus, first, he scaled a prison wall to break out of prison. And now he's been on the run for a week. The big question this morning is, how could this happen at the same facility twice in one year? And the wild allegations also in a new book about tech billionaire Elon Musk, claims that Musk cut communications to his Starlink satellites near Crimea to disrupt a Ukrainian attack on the Russian Navy. We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Right now, rescuers in Turkey are racing to save an American man stuck deep inside a cave. This cave right now. Mark Dickey is more than 3,000 feet below the Earth's surface.

He's 40 years old. He's an experienced cave explorer and caving instructor even, who has been doing this for more than 30 years but he fell ill and now can't get himself out. Officials say the rescue operation could take days. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has the very latest on this complicated and risky mission.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't really know the full details of what really happened, but what we do know from the Turkish Caving Federation is that American caver Mark Dickey, who was part of a local and international research team, fell ill last weekend or early this week, more than 3,000 feet or 1,000 meters from the entrance of Turkey's third deepest cave.

The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service that is involved in his rescue operation right now say he's lost a lot of blood as a result of gastrointestinal bleeding. He got six units of blood and was stabilized according to the Turkish Federation. They say his condition is continuing to improve. The bleeding has stopped. He's stable.

He's able to walk on his own, and he is right now at base camp, and that is still more than 3,000 feet from the surface. And it's a real logistical challenge to get him out of there. There are more than 150 rescuers and personnel from Turkey from its Emergency and Disaster Management Agency, AFAD, and rescuers from countries including the U.S., Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Croatia, and many others that are involved in this complex rescue effort.

Mark Dickey, according to his own bio, is a very experienced caver. He's been caving in 20 U.S. states and 10 countries since the 90s. He's a rescuer himself and a rescue instructor and the chief of the New Jersey initial response team focusing on cave cliff and abandoned mine rescue.

The Turkish Caving Federation says it takes 15 hours for an experienced caver to reach the surface in ideal conditions. And this cave has really narrow and winding passages, making it hard for them to get him out on a stretcher, and they're consulting with doctors on moving him out. They expect that this effort could take days.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.

BERMAN: Thanks to Jomana for that. My goodness days. A murder suspect is on the run in Washington, D.C. Metropolitan police are searching for 30-year-old Christopher Haynes. They say he escaped custody at George Washington University Hospital. Haynes is described as a black man with shoulder length dreadlocks and a W tattoo on the front of his neck.

He was last seen with handcuffs hanging from his right wrist. Police say he probably threw away his jail issued jumper and is now wearing a black t-shirt and gray shorts underneath a white bodysuit.


A D.C. government emergency alert says to use caution as Haynes is considered armed and dangerous. And there are some temporary road closures around the White House as police search for him. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. It is day eight in the search for a convicted murderer who escaped prison last week in Pennsylvania. Despite leaving footprints, Danelo Cavalcante remains elusive as authorities navigate dense terrain and extreme heat. His breakout, seen here on surveillance video, as he crab walks between two roles in a prison. I mean, he looks like Spider-Man going up that thing.

The Tower Guard now on leave after Cavalcante's bold escape.

CNN Correspondent Danny Freeman is live outside the Chester County Prison. Danny, what more are you learning? That is just incredible video showing how he was able to escape.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara, truly astonishing video right there. It was a shock to many of us when we first saw it yesterday afternoon. Sara, since Cavalcante escaped the Chester County prison behind me last week, there have been two big questions. First, of course, where did he go? But second, how did he escape? And then yesterday we got that answer again and more than we expected.

So let's go through this video that we've been playing for you all morning. This was released by local law enforcement. You can see Cavalcante has his arms pressed against one side of the wall, his legs against the other, and he crab walks right up to the roof. He then ran across that roof.

He actually pushed through multiple layers of razor wire, and then ultimately escaped the prison. And Sara, you mentioned that tower guard. Well, law enforcement officials said yesterday the tower guard did not see or report the escape, which is why law enforcement officials say Cavalcante got about an hour head start on the run once he got out of that prison.

Sara, there's also another important note here, though. This escape, law enforcement officials said, is actually very similar to another escape at this very prison that happened four months ago back in May. Well, prison officials said that after that escape, they put in security measures to prevent any future escapes, but clearly that did not work. So now to that second big question, where is Cavalcante at this time? Well, in short, police are still searching the area that they've been searching in this area of Chester County, has expanded even into parts of neighboring Delaware County. It's been challenging for a number of different reasons, certainly, the terrain.

But listen, Sara, this manhunt is still ongoing and police are hoping that it gets to a peaceful outcome and that they don't have to use violence to take this inmate in. Sara?

SIDNER: We know the dense wooded area and the heat causing more problems. Danny Freeman, thank you so much for staying on this story. We'll check back with you if there's any update. John?

BERMAN: All right, former Vice President Mike Pence says Donald Trump and those like him are leading Republicans down, quote, "a road to ruin". And the influx of asylum seekers affecting the first day of school here in New York. We'll tell you how.