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Trump Denounces Removal Of Robert E. Lee Statue, Says Confederate General Would Have Won In Afghanistan; WAPO: Trump Calls Families Of U.S. Troops Killed In Afghanistan; Next Hour: DOJ To Announce Details Of T.X. Abortion Law Challenge; Tonight: NFL Kicks Off New Season With Packed Stadiums Expected. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 13:30   ET




S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: -- as corpus man.

POWERS: Yes. Exactly.

CUPP: You missed pronounce it and that somehow prove that he was not patriotic. I mean, just flip this to understand how far the Republican Party has fallen.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: And that's the other piece here, right? You know, the former President Trump puts himself out there as the most patriotic American there is, you know, because he's so hyperbolic about everything. But then he goes on to make this move.

He issues a statement, for example, following the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, and he says this, and I quote, "If only we had Robert E Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don't have the genius of a Robert E. Lee."

Now, I'd be remiss not to point out that, you know, Trump was president for four years, he oversaw the troops in Afghanistan during that time, and he did not successfully withdraw American forces during his time in office. But beyond that, Robert E. Lee is someone who led a rebellion against the U.S. government.

S.E., do you think Trump realizes this? What is he trying to accomplish with this statement?

CUPP: Oh, he doesn't care. I mean, this is clearly what -- where he would like to be, right, in terms of the conversation. He doesn't want talking about policies, he wants to talk about this kind of stuff.

But listen, I think, you know, patriotism comes in a lot of forms. And I'm not going to sort of - it's hard to judge people on their patriotism.

However, it's very clear, right, that love of country is not lying to your constituents and voters about what COVID is and how they can get rid of it or telling your constituents to go and march on the Capitol and literally break democracy.

And it's certainly not looking back with nostalgia at one of our darkest moments and celebrating someone who we all consider today who have been a traitor and championing such a terrible, terrible, you know, civil rights policy, anti-civil rights policy. So it's hard to see where President Trump pretends patriotism exists, and how his voters defend that.

CABRERA: And Kirsten, on Afghanistan, we have "The Washington Post" reporting that former President Trump is calling the families of some of the 13 service members killed at the Kabul airport. Some of these families have been very critical of President Biden.

You know, Trump's not the commander in chief anymore, why is he making these calls?

POWERS: Look, I mean, he's free to make these calls. I don't think that there's necessarily anything wrong with it unless that, you know, the purpose of it is to just, you know, further stir up more enmity, you know, where it already exists.

I think that the way that this has happened, where you have these families that are so unhappy with Joe Biden, just shows you how divided that we are, because it used to be that people didn't have go into these situations with such. You know, even if they didn't support the President, they still would be able to be in a situation like this and not be so angry at them.

And I just feel like, of course, when you've lost a child, that's the worst possible thing in the world. And it's a horrible moment. But it also could be a moment, you know, to try and talk to the President and try to find, you know, some sort of common ground. And we can't do that, you know, it's not possible.

And so, I feel like Trump is just getting into the middle of the situation. And just as he always does, pouring gasoline on the fire.

CABRERA: S.E., you said something earlier about the president -- for president being transactional. Do you think that in some way, this is transactional for him?

CUPP: Yes, yes, he wants attention. I think there's only one thing that motivates him, generally speaking, and its attention. I think running for president was about getting attention.

And so, I think everything he's doing since is also to consolidate power and, you know, keep his friends close, but it's to get attention. And he's getting it. We're still covering him. And I have mixed feelings on that. I think covering him is important, because we need to know where his voters are going and what they're thinking. But you know, he gets a lot of attention. CABRERA: And he's not all in the past, right? I mean, he is, what, presumptive GOP front runner for 2024.

CUPP: He is not. He is absolutely 100 percent for the front (ph) of leader of his party.

Absolutely. I wish he were past (ph).

CABRERA: And he continues that big (ph) influence.

Very quickly --

CUPP: I wish he would past part, you know --

POWERS: But then I just say --

CABRERA: I know you do. Go ahead, Kirsten.

CUPP: He's not and so I understand why we cover him. But there's a lot he does --


CUPP: -- just so that we cover him.

POWERS: Exactly. I mean, and I think that's the thing. It is -- it's a catch 22 situation where you have to cover the person who has so much control over the Republican Party.

At the same time, I do feel like almost all these things we've discussed is him trolling to try to get attention and to get condemned by the so called elites, right? Do just the most outrageous thing possible. Don't show up for 9/11 Memorial and go and do commentary.


You know, I mean, it's just guarantee --

CUPP: Yes.

POWERS: -- to get people. Any decent person is going to say that's not OK. And then he can use that to show, see the elites hate me because I'm, you know, was such a great president. And the fact of the matter is, it's just like anybody with just a modicum of decency will look at that and go, that's not OK. I mean, you're a former president --

CUPP: Right.

POWERS: -- show up for the memorial.

CABRERA: Ladies, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you so much.

CUPP: Thank you.

CABRERA: Kirsten Powers, S.E. Cupp, good to see you. Bracing for an ugly fight, the Justice Department about to launch a legal challenge to the controversial Texas abortion ban. What we know about the suit, next.



CABRERA: Next hour, the Attorney General is expected to announce details of the Justice Department's challenge to the Texas state's new abortion law. Law that effectively bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The DOJ's action sets up a major clash between federal and state rights with Roe vs. Wade now hanging in the balance. CNN Senior Legal Analyst and former Federal and State Prosecutor Elie Honig is joining us now.

Elie, where do things stand legally right now with this new Texas law?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, on a very much in flux. It has long been the law of this country ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade back in 1973 that States cannot pass laws that unduly restrict the right and the ability of a woman to get an abortion.

However, the state of Texas did just that earlier this year when they passed a law known as SB 8. Now this was really unusual and essentially makes it impossible for women to get abortions in Texas. What it does is create what some have called this private bounty hunter system when private people who have nothing to do with what's going on can sue anyone who's involved in giving, receiving or facilitating an abortion, it can be a doctor, it can be a driver, it can be the woman herself.

Now, a group of plaintiffs challenged that Texas law, they brought it to the Supreme Court. They said, you need to at least pause this. You need to at least issue what's called a stay. But the Supreme Court last week by a five four ruling said no, we're going to allow it to go into effect.

They did say, we're not ruling on the merits. We're not ruling on whether it's constitutional. However, they did allow that law to go into effect. The dissenter said, how can we do this, it squarely conflicts with Roe vs. Wade.

CABRERA: So as we await the details of this suit by the federal government or the DOJ, what do you see as the legal options for the DOJ or the federal government to get involved here?

HONIG: Yes, there really are three options that the federal government has. First of all, they can try to make abortion services available at federal facilities in Texas, Veterans Administration hospitals, military installations. It's going to be really hard for the state to say, no federal government, you can't do that on your own property.

Second of all, the federal government can try to cut off certain federal funding relating to healthcare and other related issues.

And third, and this seems like what we're about to hear, DOJ can file a suit challenging that Texas law. Remember, the Supreme Court is not ruled definitively, they've certainly given an indication on whether it's constitutional or not and look for DOJ to jump into that legal fight and to challenge that law in about an hour or so.

CABRERA: And the Supreme Court resumes its term on October 4, which is now less than a month away. What's the outlook do you think for Roe versus Wade?

HONIG: The outlook is frankly grim. The case to watch is a case coming out of the state of Mississippi. A different law with similar effect of the Texas law, it basically makes it impossible for women in Mississippi to get an abortion. It's a case called Dobbs.

Now, the Supreme Court will be hearing this case and deciding on it this coming term October of 2021. But you have to do just the cold hard math here, there is a six to three conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

So, even if one of the conservative justices flips over and joins the three liberals as Chief Justice Roberts did in the Texas case, that's not enough, you're going to have to see two of the conservative justices join the liberals in order to uphold Roe vs. Wade. So the stakes here are just enormous, Ana.

CABRERA: So Elie, do you think if, you know, the DOJ does challenge this Texas law that that would take longer to get up to the Supreme Court then the Mississippi case that you just mentioned?

HONIG: Yes, I think it helps when DOJ is involved, that tends to get the attention of judges and justices and let them know this is a serious issue that the federal government that the Justice Department is behind.

CABRERA: Elie Honig, as always, thank you very much for being with us. Always --

HONIG: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: -- appreciate your expertise.

Migrant children burn with scalding water, a lack of underwear and adequate clothing and threats of deportation. These are all allegations detailed in a third whistleblower complaint filed by the Government Accountability project regarding conditions at Fort Bliss in Texas. The military base is one of the facilities housing 1000s of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border and are now waiting to be relocated with a sponsor.

And when reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department issued this response, quote, "We act quickly to address any concerns and have proactively closed sites that didn't meet our standards. It remains our policy to swiftly report any alleged instances of wrong doing to the appropriate authorities." [13:45:04]

It's NFL game day where my Broncos Orange today. What's the strategy? I'm not talking about on the field. How are these football organizations going to keep the fans safe with packed stadiums?



CABRERA: The NFL season kicks off tonight. But with the pandemic still raging, one looming question is whether packed stadiums will make things worse. Dr. Fauci called it not smart to hang out in these large crowds even though research suggests outdoor environments are much safer than indoor venues.

Health officials in North Carolina say nearly half the COVID clusters they're seeing in middle and high schools are tied to sports. That headline is a reminder that vaccinations and vigilance need to be in the game plan to keep fans, players and staff safe.

CNN's Harry Enten is tracking how teams across the league plan to do that or don't do that. But let's go first to CNN's Andy Scholes, he is in Tampa, where the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers will host the Dallas Cowboys in tonight's season opener.

So Andy, what measures are in place there?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Ana, there really aren't any COVID measures here tonight at Raymond James Stadium. No vaccination is required to get in, you don't have to wear a mask when you're in the stadium.

They are recommending that fans wear mask in indoor areas, but again, that is just a recommendation. And they're expecting more than 65,000 fans here tonight for the NFL opener between the Bucs and the Cowboys. And all those fans are going to get to watch the Bucs unveil their Super Bowl championship banner. A big fun night for the fans here in Tampa.

Now the Bucs are one of two NFL teams that are 100 percent vaccinated amongst the players heading into this NFL season. But despite that fact, quarterback Tom Brady says he feels like this season is going to be even more challenging than last season because of where we are as a country dealing with COVID.


TOM BRADY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS QUARTERBACK: We're certainly at more risk this year than we put ourselves in last year. I mean, just look at all the different things that we're doing differently from last year at this time. So I definitely say the risk is up for everybody. It's just kind of our reality.

So, hopefully we can just navigate it as best we possibly can. I know every team's dealing with the same stuff. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, Tom Brady going into his 22nd season. He's 44 years old now.

And the fans here in Tampa have actually never been to a sellout game to watch Tom Brady. You know the Bucs, they were the first team ever to win a home Super Bowl last year, but there's only 25,000 fans at that game because of the pandemic.

And throughout last season, Ana, you know this stadium, it was, you know, limited capacity to watch Bucs games. But not anymore, full stadium this year. And again, they're attracting a full sellout crowd here at Raymond James tonight for the opener.

CABRERA: We've already seen a lot of that with college football underway already.

Harry, how does, what, Tampa is doing compared to the rest of the league?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Look, the idea that you're going to see fans without mask when you're watching on T. V., that is the vast majority of teams. What you see right now it's just five teams are going to require at least some fans to be wearing masks at their home stadiums.

Look at that, you see them on your screen now, the Bills, the Chargers, the Rams, the Saints, the Seahawks. Now, what I should point out, though, is it's not just about mask, it's about vaccine, right? And whether or not the fans will be required to have a vaccine.

Just one team, the Las Vegas Raiders are the only team that's going to require proof of vaccination. However, there are some other squads that are out there who are going to say, you know what, let's see proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, that's the Seahawks and Saints or in the case of the Los Angeles Chargers, they're basically going to have a Vax honor system or negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to the game.

CABRERA: So that's for fans specifically. What do the numbers look like for vaccinations among players in the league then, Harry?

ENTEN: Right. What we see right now is about 93.5 percent of players are in fact vaccinated. But here's the thing that I think is so interesting. The players have this perfect test case for showing that the vaccines work.

Look at this, the positivity rate among NFL players, among those who are vaccinated, just point 3 percent. Among those who are unvaccinated, 2.2 percent, seven times higher than among the Vax players. So this is just another example that the vaccines work, folks.

CABRERA: All right, guys, good to have you both. Thank you so much, Harry Enten and Andy Scholes. Fingers crossed that everything goes safely.

Go Broncos.

What's your team, Andy? Go ahead.


SCHOLES: Unfortunately I'm a Houston Texas fan. Not looking good this year.

CABRERA: I thought you were staying quiet because you cover sports and you couldn't say. But now we all know.

All right guys, talk to you later.



CABRERA: Thank you all for being with us today. As always, I hope you'll return tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern. And in the meantime, follow me on twitter @AnaCabrera.

The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor. Have a great afternoon.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to Newsroom.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

In minutes from now, Attorney General Merrick Garland will announce the Justice Department's challenge to Texas new abortion law.