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FBI Releases Declassified 9/11 Documents; Trump Skips 9/11 Memorial Ceremonies; GOP Opposition On President Biden's Vaccine Mandates; Vaccine For Young Kids Possible By Halloween; Governor Newsom Strategy For The Recall, Leave Half The Ballot Blank; Lawsuit Filed Over Texas Abortion Law By The Justice Department; Apple To Unveil New iPhones; Falling Cat Caught Using American Flag. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 12, 2021 - 17:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: The FBI releasing the first document since President Biden ordered the declassification of records last week. Even though the report is heavily redacted, it outlines the logistical support a Saudi national gave two of the hijackers.

The FBI is expected to release more documents in the coming days and it cannot come a moment too soon for 9/11 families. They've been waiting for answers on Saudi Arabia's involvement, their suspected involvement for years now.

And CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nic, what are your takeaways from this document? It is remarkable to see these documents surfacing so many years later.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It does add in another layer of information and detail that we -- excuse me -- that we didn't have before. Omar al-Bayoumi, the Saudi -- allegedly a student living in L.A. who the FBI and other -- excuse me -- and other agencies believe could have been a Saudi agent was handing money, helping with finances, with lodging, with transport, with flights for two Saudi nationals who arrived in L.A. who didn't have a command of English.

These were two of the hijackers who went on to attack the Pentagon, Nwaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar. That link, the details that the FBIS is releasing about that link is certainly giving encouragement to the families of victims who feel that there are a number of bombshell revelations here that highlight the connections of the Saudi government to this plot and attack.

So, you know, my takeaway when we look at this and we get that information, it's perhaps some solace and help to the families. It's just something that the Saudis are saying that they are happy to see. They are talking about, you know, they are saying that there was no connection. They really want to look forward to future counterterrorism cooperation.

But how does this -- how does this help our understanding of what happened? I think, Jim, it just puts details out there and it does seem to create a greater potential level of connection between money flowing to this Saudi student, Bayoumi.

The questions around why that money was flowing to him from Saudi officials, and also details about his perception of the Islamic fight in the world. In an interview the FBI did with two people in 2015, puts a shadow on his intentions and his mindset at that time. So, it does raise more questions, Jim.

ACOSTA: Certainly does. And we know those 9/11 families have lots of questions. We'll see if more document releases will get some answers for them. All right, Nic Robertson, thank you very much in Kabul, Afghanistan. We appreciate it.

Now to some brand-new CNN polling and some startling results. It finds that six in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think former President Donald Trump should be the leader of the Republican Party. But when asked whether he should lead the ticket in 2024, not so good for the former guy.

Just under half say their party would have a better chance of winning with Trump off of the ticket. This is the guy, the former guy who during a visit to New York City yesterday at a fire house on the anniversary of 9/11 continued to lie that he won the 2020 election. Let's watch.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You gave me great support. We won the election, but what you're going to do? We're fighting like hell and we're going to keep fighting and you see what happens because elections do have consequences. Nobody ever thought a thing like this would be possible.


ACOSTA: He has to make it about himself. This brings us to my favorite pairing each Sunday. John Avlon and Margaret Hoover. They're back. Thanks so much. You guys are like Oprah. You take the summer off or something like that. Is that what it is? I'm joking. I know you guys are busy --

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The first time (inaudible) compare to Oprah and I appreciate that.

ACOSTA: You guys are doing other things, I know. You're too busy for us. No, but it's great to have you back. What did you guys make of Donald Trump there at the fire house yesterday? I didn't want to talk about him on 9/11, but of course, we can talk about it now especially in light of this new CNN polling. It was sort of like the arsonist-in- chief going to the firehouse, John.

AVLON: Yes. Well, he's always been the arsonist who pretends to be a firefighter, but I think you hit the nail on the head in your commentary, which is he has to make it about himself. You know, one thing that 9/11, I think, absolutely means still to this day, particularly in a New York City firehouse is it's not about you.

It's about the firefighters. It's about the first responders. It's about those folks who showed us the definition of courage by sacrificing their own lives to help strangers which is the definition of heroism.


The definition of being a villain is putting yourself first always.

ACOSTA: Right.

AVLON: And we just saw Donald Trump's character or lack thereof shine through yet again, not standing with the other presidents who went to all the memorials just, you know, doing color commentary on a boxing match and going to a -- dropping by a firehouse where he tried to keep all the attention on himself. It's disrespectful of the dead.

ACOSTA: And so disrespectful. What did you think, Margaret?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All of that. "D" all of the above. Look, I actually think it was wonderful to have a 20th anniversary tribute, a reflection and solemn day with bipartisan presidents at each of the memorials. And it was bizarre that Donald Trump was almost -- it was almost like he was never president in the sense, as we were throughout (ph) the day, he never ever came up. He was never part of it at all.

ACOSTA: So true.

HOOVER: And, you know, you mention this poll, this CNN polling, and I think what it reflects, while it seems contradictory on its face, there is a bit of tension as you might understand between the power that Donald Trump still yields and wields over the Republican base. And the real reflection and understanding by most Republicans, a majority in your poll barely, plus or minus the 3 percent, that he lost.

And he lost Georgia -- not just himself. Forget his quibbles that he perhaps won. But he lost Georgia, he lost the Senate and most Republicans -- responsible Republicans, responsible Republicans, maybe even members of Congress who didn't vote to certify the election understand that he was a loser. And so there's a real tension between, you know, what people know is best for the Republican Party and where they know the political energy is.

ACOSTA: And you mentioned how we saw presidents from both parties yesterday, former President George W. Bush, John, used his speech yesterday to call out domestic extremists. I thought this was a really notable moment and I think it took a lot of people by surprise. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within. There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home.

But then there's disdain for pluralism in their disregard for human life. In their determination to defile national symbols. They are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.


ACOSTA: Such an important message, John. What did you make of that? It seemed to be aimed at Republicans, to get Republicans to confront this, to confront this demon in the party.

AVLON: It was aimed squarely at the January 6th Capitol Hill attack and all those Republicans who would excuse it or rationalize it or support it. And the fact that he did, it was a beautifully written speech, but to draw that very clear equivalence between the forces of extremism and fundamentalism and terrorism.

For the president who was in office on 9/11, to draw that line directly to the domestic terrorism we see today and the attack on the capitol is powerful, it's indelible, and Republicans should be asked about it. They should be confronted with it. They shouldn't just be allowed to ignore it because it's uncomfortable. It's true and it's important.

ACOSTA: Yes, Margaret, what -- I wanted to get your take on it, too. What did you think?

HOOVER: Look, I was so heartened to see President Bush speaking again. As you know, I worked -- had the privilege of being a junior staffer in his White House and working at his political campaign. And besides being beautifully crafted as John said, you know, he highlighted -- there is this subtext that the way we were brought together in the wake of 9/11 as a country and came together.

He's pointed to this hyper-partisanship that is so insidious that it is hard to imagine if another 9/11 happened today, we would be able to pull together as a country the way we did 20 years ago, and we have to tackle that. We absolutely have to take it very, very seriously. And it is, by the way, a result of many, many vectors, not just one.

It is not just Facebook. It is not just social media. It is not just -- so, but we have to be very serious about tackling it and President Bush is right and I appreciate his language.

ACOSTA: And John, what do you think about these warning signals that Justice Stephen Breyer has been sending out lately just to turn the page over to the Supreme Court. He was on Fox earlier today warning lawmakers about packing the court. He also would not reveal any plans for his retirement. He certainly has a lot of Democrats worried about what he's going to

do. They don't want a situation where, if they have the ability to fill that seat that they lose it to the Republicans. What did you make of that?

AVLON: Well, I thought the line, I have no plans of dying on the court, nobody does. That's kind of the point. You know, he's right to warn Democrats against overreach and packing the court. It didn't work out too well for FDR.


But he's playing a game of chicken. I mean, already this court is dramatically imbalanced because Republicans blocked nominees and then rammed through others. And so there is a danger that when Democrats -- Democratic nominees to the court or any high office start a thing that they are indispensable that, you know, they get tapped on the shoulder by larger forces and there are unintended consequences have dramatic impacts on our democracy.

HOOVER: And Jim, let me just say real quick though. There was a tell in that interview as well as if you watch the whole thing. When he said, I have no plans to die on the court. He was referring directly to a clip that had just been played of Justice Scalia. When Justice Scalia had been asked by Chris Wallace in a previous interview when he was alive, do you plan to step down or risk seeing, and Scalia said I don't want to see all the work I've done for 25 years be undone by replaced by somebody who doesn't agree with me.

So, I think what we saw is Justice Breyer who wants the court to remain independent but is grappling with a political question and recognizes that he doesn't -- he's not that political expert here, but there is a real question before him. And I think that's the most sort of tell we've seen from him yet.

ACOSTA: Yes, maybe the biggest question hanging over everything right now in our politics is, what is going to happen to the direction of the Supreme Court. Guys, we covered a lot of ground there. Thanks so much. Great to see you again. John Avlon, Margaret Hoover. Let's do it again soon. Thanks so much. All right. Take care.

Coming up next, kids ages 5 to 11 may be able to get the COVID vaccine by Halloween. How about that? Here's what we're learning after the break. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: President Biden has announced a sweeping new vaccine policy that could cover 100 million Americans. Why? Because less than 54 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID. A long way from herd immunity. This morning the surgeon general said he expects the vaccine requirements to boost the number of people getting the shots.


VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We know that these kind of requirements actually work to improve our vaccination rates. Tyson Foods, for example, which put in a vaccine requirement recently saw that its vaccination rate went from 45 percent to more than 70 percent in a very short period of time. And they're not even at their deadline yet. So this is the next step.


ACOSTA: But some experts fear the coming legal battle will -- over the policy -- will ultimately slow vaccination and with me now to talk about it is CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Dr. Reiner, you have advocated for these mandates for a while now. How do you see this playing out?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I see the administration potentially going even a little bit further. I think the big bullet left in the vaccination gun is to ban travel by unvaccinated people. Again, remember, you know, flying on an airplane remains a hazard. No one knows the vaccination status of any of the fellow passengers. You're locked in this tube. And it's a privilege to travel.

And we can't travel without an I.D. You have to follow certain rules. You have to turn off your cell phone. And there is a no-fly list. And I think we're -- we can potentially get to the point where the administration will require vaccination status, verified vaccination status for every air passenger in the United States. That's how you get us over the top.

ACOSTA: Because you have to sort of jar people out of this sort of contrarian mode that the people are in right now, essentially.

REINER: Right. Look, there are two reasons to ban air travel by unvaccinated people. You know, one is the obvious incentive to get people -- to get people big incentive particularly before the holiday season. And the other is that this is how the virus travels around the United States, through unvaccinated people.

So, if we don't see a big acceleration in the number of people getting vaccinated, I think the administration is going to have to do that. Canada has done that.

ACOSTA: Yes. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb is now on board for Pfizer and this morning he gave a timeline for their vaccine being available to children under 12. Let's watch.


SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Pfizer has said that they're going to have data before the end of September. They can be ready to file within days of having that data. So they'll file very quickly with the FDA. FDA has said it's going to be a matter of weeks, not months in terms of their evaluation of that clinical data to make a determination whether they're going to authorize vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11.

I interpret that to mean perhaps four weeks, maybe six weeks, but I think in a best case scenario given that timeline that I have just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children aged 5 to 11 by Halloween if everything goes well.


ACOSTA: How significant would that be to get that authorization for these kids do you think in that age group because we've been waiting for them to get, you know, into the system?

REINER: It's the other big reservoir for the virus in the United States. So, about 25 percent of adults are unvaccinated and all children less than 12. The problem is, parents have to be willing to give the vaccine to the kids. Only 50 percent of adolescents who are eligible for vaccination are currently vaccinated and that's a decision the parents are making.

So, even though we are waiting with great anticipation for the FDA to approve these vaccines for younger children, parents have to give it to them. The other piece of that is will school districts around the United States mandate vaccines -- COVID vaccines for children once they are approved for younger kids and I hope they do.


Look, every state in the United States requires vaccinations for children, for instance, in Florida. There are about 10 vaccines that are required before we can go to school. So this is nothing new.

Once these vaccines were approved for children I hope states mandate them because I am not convinced enough parents will actually get their kids to the doctor to get it.

ACOSTA: Yes. And I want to talk about something you shared with your followers on Twitter.


ACOSTA: A tweet that you tweeted out yesterday on the anniversary of 9/11. It says it takes over four hours to read the names of all the victims killed on 9/11. It would take 37 days to read all of the names of the people we've lost to COVID.

I've talked to survivors of 9/11 in the last few days. A lot of them would like to see the kind of unity that we saw after 9/11. It seems to me trying to tackle COVID together as a nation could be one of those rallying the nation moments. And I think you were trying to get at that as well. What are your thoughts on that?

REINER: Right. So, we lose the equivalent number of dead as we lost on 9/11 every two days in the United States to COVID. And the one thing that was notable to all of us in the aftermath of 9/11 is that there were no Democrats, there were no Republicans. There were just Americans. There was really -- it's really the one time in my life where I have felt that we were really one people.

And now I feel that we are a divided country at a time where we are at war. You know, we've lost 660,000 Americans. My cousin, my friend's dad, my colleague at work's mom. Everyone is basically one degree of separation away from someone who's died from this virus and we need to come together.

You know, I watched all these, you know, incredible stories yesterday about the amazing heroism of people running into the fire, you know, to save people, total strangers on 9/11. And I'm looking for that same kind of locking of arms now. Let's lock our arms. Let's put this fire out. It's cost the lives of 660,000 Americans. No one needs to die anymore and we need that kind of unanimity in the United States.

ACOSTA: And some states are reporting higher hospitalization rates than at any other time during the pandemic. How much worse would this situation be if a majority of Americans were not vaccinated right now?

REINER: Oh, well, we would see what's called crisis standard of care all over the United States which is physicians in E.R's and ICUs basically looking at folks and having to decide who is worthy of advanced care because we don't have, you know, ventilators, we don't have ICU beds. We have already seeing that in some parts of the south in limited places where they are really crushed.

But if we weren't as vaccinated as we are now, you would see many thousands of dead per day, hospitals being crushed. No availability to treat people with heart attack or stroke. There'd be no elective surgery in the United States. Having said that, if we can vaccinate another 15 percent of this country, we can get back to living the kind of lives that everyone wants to.

ACOSTA: And you were just talking about unity. Unfortunately, we know that that's not the case. And when it comes to mask requirements, for example, that is what causes people to just be at each other's throats. There's a segment of the population that just will not accept this and we were seeing this earlier in the past week at one school board meeting. A student was advocating for masks in Tennessee and he was being abused as he was trying to make the case. Let's watch.


GRADY KNOX, HIGH SCHOLL STUDENT: I'm worried about my family. If I get COVID, I'm going to bring it to my family. And I talk to my grandparents a lot. They are higher risk than me so, I don't want to give them COVID. This time last year, my grandmother, who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County School System died of COVID because someone wasn't wearing a mask. This is a very --


KNOX: This is a very --

UNKNOWN: Shut up.

UNKNOWN: I don't know. UNKNOWN: Shut up.


ACOSTA: That absolutely broke my heart when I saw that, Dr. Reiner, because here is a student, a school student talking about a relative who had died, he thinks because of mask issues and so on. And you can see the people behind him laughing at him.

That, to me, is, in a nutshell, what is wrong with this country right now. What the hell is going on when people are laughing at a kid pouring out his heart like that?

REINER: We don't respect each other. My daughter is a law student in a school that requires vaccination for all students and requires masks. And about a week ago, she sat in class next to a student who turned out to actually have COVID. They both were masked. No one else in the school contracted it. Masks work.


Look, we're just trying to protect kids and there isn't anything I would do to protect my children. Most parents feel that way. It's just a mask. And when you talk to kids, kids don't care. Kids are -- as long as they can be in school amongst their friends and do the kind of work they want to do, they're happy to wear the mask.

It's the parents that are making a big deal out of it. We have to get over it. This has been politicized. It was politicized by the former president. That was the original sin. It's time to move on.

ACOSTA: Yes. It really is. And to be decent, I mean, if somebody is pouring out their heart about something like that, please just be decent. My god. All right. Dr. Reiner, thank you so much. We appreciate it as always.

Coming up, how California Governor Gavin Newsom is fighting for his political survival with two days and counting until a recall election.



ACOSTA: California Governor Gavin Newsom is getting big-name back backing in the final stretch before Tuesday's recall election there in the state. President Biden will campaign with him in Long Beach tomorrow. Newsom is also starting to push hard on another strategy focusing on the ballot and telling voters to leave one question blank. And as CNN's Kyung Lah reports, the strategy could sink or save Newsom's job.


UNKNOWN: No on the recall! No on the recall.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There has been one message from Democrats in California about the recall election. From the foot soldiers knocking doors in neighborhoods --

UNKNOWN: Vote no. Vote no. That's all you got to do.

LAH (voice-over): To the ads on T.V.

UNKNOWN: Vote no.

LAH (voice-over): To Governor Gavin Newsom himself. Ignore half the ballot.

GAVIN NEWSOM, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: Don't even consider the second question.

LAH (on camera): Tell me what this is.

LAH (voice-over): But there are two questions on the recall ballot.

LAH (on camera): Question one is quite simple.

DARRY SRAGOW, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. You either want to keep the governor in office or you want to kick him out.

LAH (voice-over): More than 50 percent of voters need to decide to keep Newsom on question one for him to survive. Here's what's a potential concern for Democrats, whether you vote yes or no.

SRAGOW: Question two, if you choose to answer it has 46 names, front and back. And you get to pick one.

LAH (voice-over): Among the more than 40 colorful challengers on question two, there is a millionaire running ads featuring a bear. A YouTube star running as a Democrat but not backed by his party.

KEVIN PAFFRATH, YOUTUBER: My name is Kevin Paffrath and I'm running for governor.

LAH (voice-over): And reality T.V. star CAITLYN JENNER.


LAH (voice-over): Ignore them all says the Democratic governor. Keep it simple. It's Newsom or nothing. Why? This. 2003, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated then Democratic Governor Gray Davis in California's last recall election.

Davis wasn't the only high-profile Democratic choice on the ballot. Then Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante also ran with this slogan. Vote no on the recall and vote yes on Cruz Bustamante. It didn't work and helped usher in a Republican to the governor's mansion and his eventual re-election.


LAH (voice-over): Not this time. Democrats rallied behind Newsom keeping party-backed Democrats off this year's ballot. But that could also backfire warns Sragow.

SRAGOW: This not the Gavin Newsom party. It's the Democratic Party with no serious viable Democratic candidate on that second question. If the recall wins, we're going to have -- we're likely to have a Republican governor.

LAH (voice-over): Polls show the leading candidate on question two is conservative radio host Larry Elder. But the second question only matters if a majority of voters don't back Newsom. Some Democrats dropping off their ballots are following the Newsom strategy.

LAH (on camera): How many questions on this ballot?

UNKNOWN: I just answered one.

LAH (voice-over): But not everyone. Ellie Choate got lost thinking beyond yes or no.

LAH (on camera): What happened on question two for you?

ELLIE CHOATE, CALIFORNIA VOTER: I had to stand there for 29 minutes and decide if I -- how I was going to vote because it's just an absurd, absurd system.


ACOSTA: And joining us now is former Democratic California Senator Barbara Boxer, of California, the great the city of California. Barbara Boxer, thanks so much for being with us. This recall election in your state is just two days away now.

Senator, I wonder what you make of this Newsom strategy of voting no on the recall and leaving the second question blank. Doesn't it just -- that part of this in particular, doesn't it just go to the fact that California has a wacky recall system?

BARBARA BOXER, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You're right on that one. It is -- and there's a lot of moves to reform it, but we can't talk about that now because we've got to --

ACOSTA: No, I know.

BOXER: -- you know, that we talk about what's in front of us, which is your question. If -- how do I advise people? I tell people just vote no on the recall. Just vote no on the recall. A couple of reasons. One, you heard from that woman who said, I don't know who else to vote for. There's 46 names. If you like Governor Newsom, vote no on the recall and forget the second question.

And I have to admit, the thing that politicians hate to admit, I was wrong all those years ago. I felt it was good to have a qualified Democrat on the ballot, Cruz Bustamante. It got people so confused that some of them decided to vote for the recall because they liked Cruz Bustamante better than they liked Governor Davis. It was a mix-up and it was a loss.


So I think that, you know, Newsom has been right. And, frankly, he's made this a race, really, between the far right and pragmatic progressives. And in many ways, it's like a Trump versus Biden race because Larry Elder who has come out on top of the Republicans in every single poll is practically off the right wing cliff.

He believes in a zero minimum wage, can you imagine? He says that women know less about politics than men, even though we had -- we were the first state to have two female U.S. senators and Nancy Pelosi was on her way to the speakership when he said that. And the latest things that I --

ACOSTA: And now the vice president, too.

BOXER: Yes, of course. Of course. She was my -- she succeeded me. But how about the last thing that he said that I wanted to share with you. He said a lot, Larry Elder. But this one really got me. He said that he could have made the case for reparations for slave owners because their property was taken away from them. I mean, this guy does not deserve to be the governor of California.

ACOSTA: That one was certainly baffling, but I want to ask you, Senator, Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by nearly 2 to 1. Newsom won the governor's office in 2018 with 62 percent of the vote. Why is he in this trouble? Why does he need the president to come out there right before this recall?

BOXER: I don't think he's in trouble. The latest polls show him winning nicely. But let me tell you why it's important and we're so excited to have our wonderful president come out. Because we can't take this for granted at all. I'll tell you a very quick story. Every time I ran for statewide office, my pollster would come and say, I've got good news and bad news.

The good news is, if a lot of people vote, you win because you're a Democrat. When a lot of people vote, Democrats win. And if they don't, you lose. And that's just as simple as it gets. So all the polls aside, we need that enthusiasm and I'm very sure that having President Biden here will be another wonderful, a wonderful reminder to everyone to get out and vote just as the Barack Obama ads are. They're terrific. Running here all the time.

ACOSTA: And Larry Elder seems to be setting the table to challenge the recall results if Newsom emerges victorious. You're hearing other Republicans talk about, you know, maybe there's going to be voter fraud or it will be rigged. That sort of thing. Let's listen to this and let me get your comment on that on the other side.


LARRY ELDER, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: To the all sorts of reasons why the 2020 election in my opinion was full of shenanigans. And my fear is they're going to try that in this election right here in the recall.


ACOSTA: Obviously, he's wrong on what happened on 2020. But Donald Trump was asked this week about it and he said that it will probably be rigged. What is happening? Senator Boxer, how do you counter what seems to be, you know, an unmistakable strategy on the part of Republicans to blame every loss now on rigged elections?

BOXER: Well, this is unhinged. And you could just hear it in their voices. They are just unhinged. If you want to win an election, stop being crazy about COVID and take care of things. Stop being crazy about climate change. Stop trying to take away woman's right to choose and respect her. It goes on and on.

So they can't do anything about that. They won't do anything about that because they have a small base. It doesn't let them. So, all they can say is next step we'll try to suppress your vote, and if we can't, then we'll claim the whole thing is rigged. It's just nuts.

And I think, you know, most of the people will see through that. In advance, they say, if we don't win the election, it's rigged. Listen, I wish I could have done that back when I lost my first race. It would have been a lot nicer for me to say, oh, I know I won it. No, I lost it. Just step up to the plate and do better the next time.

ACOSTA: Yes. Sometimes you lose. That's what happens. All right, Senator Barbara Boxer who won a lot of races, we should say. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

BOXER: Thanks.

ACOSTA: Coming up, Texas governor Greg Abbott vowing to fight a DOJ lawsuit over his state's near total abortion ban. Does the Justice Department have enough legal ammunition to win?



ACOSTA: The DOJ is moving to block the six-week abortion ban in Texas in a lawsuit filed this week. The Justice Department is arguing the Texas law violates Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights. This won't be an easy legal battle, though. The way the Texas law is written makes it difficult to fight in court because it doesn't ask government officials to carry out the ban. Instead it asks private citizens to act as the enforcers.

CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig joins us now to answer your legal questions. Elie, I bet you've done some hard thinking about this. And we should mention, Elie is also the author of the great book "Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor's Code and Corrupted the Justice Department."

Relevant in that, we have a different attorney general now with a very different mindset. But, Elie, one viewer wants to know regarding Roe v. Wade, doesn't -- and I think this is a great question. Doesn't established federal law from the Supreme Court supersede any conflicting state law? Or does the Supreme Court declining to block the state law supersede what happened before?


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Jim, it's a great question. So, the viewer is exactly right here about how our system is supposed to work, if you have established Supreme Court precedent like Roe has been for the past 48 years, it is supposed to prevail against a conflicting state law like the one we're seeing out of Texas.

Now, two weeks ago, the Supreme Court said we're not going to block the Texas law. They said we're not ruling right now on whether the Texas law is constitutional or unconstitutional. There is just these procedural complications as you just mentioned, Jim, so we're going to leave it on the books for now. That led to last week where the new DOJ filed the lawsuit.

They said, now, we're bringing a substantive challenge to the Texas law. We're arguing it as unconstitutional. It is in "open defiance of Roe v. Wade." The big question of course is, is the Supreme Court now positioning itself to reverse Roe vs. Wade. The case to watch there is actually not this Texas one. That's going to take a long time time to work its way back through the courts.

But a Mississippi case that the Supreme Court will be hearing this term, that could determine the future of Roe vs. Wade. Like you said, it could be an uphill battle here. It's a 6-3 conservative majority on the court. So that's going to be the big case to watch.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Texas was just a huge signal on the issue.

HONIG: Sure.

ACOSTA: And the other big issue that folks want to talk about, Elie, earlier this week, President Biden announced or last week I should say, President Biden announced new vaccine mandates which could apply to more than 100 million Americans. And a viewer wants to know whether or not the federal government can require private companies to have a vaccinated workforce.

HONIG: Almost certainly, yes, Jim, going back to the founding of this country. One of the fundamental powers of government is to protect public health and public safety. We have Supreme Court opinions going back over 100 years saying the government can even require people to get vaccination.

Now, the questions here are going to be reasonable medical need. We have of course got the delta variant. We know that vaccinations work and they are efficient and effective. On the other hand, the question is going to be, is there an undue burden on these businesses. Look, vaccination are free. They're not required under the Biden policy. You can opt for testing. And Biden's policy as he's announced, will only apply to large companies, not to medium and small companies. And so on balance, I think it's very likely courts will side with the administration here.

ACOSTA: And the Biden administration is appealing a Texas court ruling which found DACA, which is the dreamer program, unlawful. One viewer asks, how much jeopardy is DACA in given that it was created by executive action and not by congressional legislation? We don't talk about DACA enough. It's very important.

HONIG: It's true, Jim. Over 600,000 people are impacted. DACA has seemingly been in legal jeopardy ever since its inception. Last year the Supreme Court rejected the Trump effort to rescind DACA. But just a few months ago, a federal judge actually ruled that DACA is unconstitutional without congressional action.

The Biden administration is now appealing. Keep in mind, Congress can fix this. They've had nine years. They've done nothing on it. So, this is going to be another uphill climb but an important step that the Biden administration is taking.

ACOSTA: That would be very difficult to get through Congress, especially in this environment. But you're right. That is where it should be dealt with. All right, Elie Honig, thanks so much.

In the meantime, proof they really have nine lives. We're not talking about Elie. We're talking about this. Take a close look. That is a cat hanging from an upper deck during a college football game. The clever way fans worked together to save the feline from free-fall. That's ahead. But first, here is Matt Egan with your "Before the Bell" report.

MATT EGAN, CNN HOST: Hi, Jim. You're paying more for just about everything. This week, we find out how quickly prices are rising. The August consumer price index comes out on Tuesday. Consumer prices have been rising all summer. The fastest annual pace since 2008. The good news? Prices cooled off a bit, rising half a percent between June and July.

But inflation worries have not gone away. Prices for producers in August jumped a record 8.3 percent over the past 12 months. Beyond economic news, investors are also watching Apple. On Tuesday, the tech giant is expected to unveil four new iPhones. The company could also reveal its next generation watch and AirPods.

Shares of Apple have rallied ahead of the launch. The stock is up about 16 percent this year. In New York, I'm Matt Egan.



ACOSTA: Finally tonight, the video of the week. Take a look at this. A stray cat was hanging on for dear life from the upper deck at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami last night. All the fans in the area below were trying to save the cat, some grabbing an American flag they brought to try to catch it.

And amazingly, they do. Look at this. Wow. Just unbelievable there. The entire crowd going crazy. Hard Rock Stadium where this happened tweeted that they were happy to report that due to the heads-up nature of the fans and those sections, the cat landed safely after a harrowing fall. Guys, show this video again.

I mean, this is just unbelievable on the part of the cat, first of all, the way it was hanging in there. But also, just the quick thinking reaction of the fans here to get these flags to catch this cat. I can't think of a more patriotic display on the part of these football fans in getting out the American flag to catch this poor little kitty. Look at that. My goodness.

And we're happy to note, look at him at the very -- look at the cat at the very end there, how he's just -- he's just scratching the bejesus out of all these fans here. Poor little guy, he had a scare there, but it looks like he's safe and sound. Look at that. Yes, he's like let me go. I got to get out of here.


Anyway, in the meantime, I'm feeling a little frisky tonight myself. That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 3:00 p.m. eastern. Pamela Brown takes over the "CNN NEWSROOM" next.

And don't forget to tune in tonight when Jake Tapper presses top U.S. officials on what went wrong in Afghanistan. His CNN Special Report on America's longest war airs at 9:00 p.m. eastern. I'm Jim Acosta, nine lives. Have a good night.