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Death Toll Reaches More Than 2,000 In Powerful Morocco Earthquake; GOP Candidates Court Iowa Football Fans; Recent Iowa Poll Shows Trump With Commanding Lead; Lee Now A Cat 3 Hurricane; Judge Refuses To Move Meadows Case To Federal Court; Military Leaders: Tuberville Risking National Security; Teen Sensation Coco Gauff Wins Maiden Major Title. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 09, 2023 - 19:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. Good evening.

It is now midnight in Morocco. More than 24 hours after a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country, killing more than 2,000 people. 1400 people are said to be in critical condition at this hour. Here we see a rescue team pulling a woman out of the rubble. And as searchers continue, the death toll, we're told by officials, is expected to climb even higher as night continues to grind on there in Morocco.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins us from Marrakech.

Sam, what's the latest there. You're back I think in that location where we saw perhaps the ceiling above you giving way just a touch. How are things looking where you're at?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you put your finger on what everybody here is most afraid of here in the Medina, in the old city of Marrakech. An environment that really and certainly not in living memory and certainly for many people, not even in the history books has any recollection of being worried about an earthquake.

Here you have the direct results of it. It's the collapse of a roof, that blank space there is the night sky above it. So you've got a roof, a floor, two ceilings, all collapsed down on to the ground here where I'm standing. And then if you look at these buildings, we're in these very narrow streets, these very, very narrow streets, Jim. And all of these buildings have got enormous cracks down the side.

And the concern obviously is, if any of these cracks give way as a result of future tremors, then the death toll here in Marrakech, which is at least 13, possibly higher, is certain to go up. But elsewhere in the country, the scenes have been absolutely catastrophic, Jim, with large numbers of villages particularly in the foot hills of the Atlas Mountains been totally destroyed. We've seen aerial pictures of entire villages reduced to this kind of rubble with people across trapped beneath. Already, in some of the outlying villages, there have been burial

ceremonies in the Muslim tradition, getting people interred within 24 hours, almost before it's been possible to get relief to some of these villages because the communications systems, the roads such as they were have been cut or closed by landslides. Entire villages have been hit by mass landslides or themselves have slid down the sides of mountains.

Many of these environments only accessible by air. The king here has announced three days of national mourning. The army and other services have been involved in getting the aircraft out to try and assess the scale of devastation in this country. And of course, the aftershocks are continuing, or have continued within the last 24 hours to shake the area, particularly in the Atlas Mountains.

Mercifully, only very slight aftershocks have been felt here in Marrakech. But if one were to strike, then it's pretty clear that this entire building could fold in on itself into the street. And it's for that reason, Jim, that a huge number of at least 30 percent, we are told, by a lot of hoteliers here, people in Riyadh, the beautiful mini palaces that you have throughout the Medina here, they've all been evacuated.

All the restaurants closed. Many large numbers of ordinary Moroccans now sleeping out in the open, in parks, on the verges of roads, Jim. And that is in order to be away from any of the buildings which will be taking many, many months if not years to bring back to a point of repair at which they no longer pose a danger to the people who own and want to live in them -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And Sam, I mean, you addressed in part the question I was just about to ask. We were looking at some of this video earlier on this morning where it looks like you just have scores of people living in the streets right now. And I'm just wondering, what is it that's going to be done for those folks? I imagine that is where international relief efforts are going to be sorely needed in the coming days because it sounds as though, and we're looking at some of those images right now. Those folks just sleeping on the streets. It sounds as though these folks are going to be without housing for a very long period of time.

KILEY: It's not yet clear I think to authorities, Jim, the scale, particularly in a city like Marrakech of the people who are going to be permanently or semi-permanently homeless. Many people as a precaution are simply staying out of buildings, sleeping in the open because that might be the safest thing to do.


The weather is not so bad so that's conceivable for a night or two. But at the same time, of course, the authorities need to be able to supply water, get the water supplies going, and above all, make sure that these homes can be lived in. Many, many millions of dollars have been spent over the last decades, hundreds of millions in restoring this ancient city. And that now has got to start all over again -- Jim. ACOSTA: Wow. All right. Sam Kiley, they have a lot of work ahead of

them there in Morocco. We appreciate all the reporting you've done this evening. Thank you very much.

And last hour, I spoke with Carmen Moreno. She's a humanitarian worker who was vacationing in Morocco when the earthquake hit. And here's what she told me.


CARMEN MORENO, VACATIONING IN MARRAKECH: I heard people screaming and the lights were all off inside the infrastructure of the airport and the building. And then very quickly, I saw again these images I experienced earlier this year. And I realized it was an earthquake. But honestly I didn't think it was this hard. This high magnitude.


ACOSTA: And learn how you can help victims of the Morocco earthquake at or you can text Morocco to 707070 to donate and the people there desperately need your help at this hour.

In the meantime, tonight all eyes are on Iowa where several Republican presidential hopefuls are campaigning. And one of the biggest football showdowns is happening at the same time. So of course you're seeing former President Donald Trump crossing paths with his GOP rivals including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Joining us from Iowa is CNN's Kyung Lah.

Kyung, a lot of football, a lot of politic going on in Iowa this weekend. What's the latest?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Colliding all at once, and the game is just ending, Jim. You can see the fans here, 60,000 of them coming out of the stadium right now. And what this is, is yes, it is sport. It is what the entire state of Iowa is focusing on this Saturday. But for the candidates who are running for president in this first of the nation caucus state, it is for them a political opportunity.

As far as the response of, you know, what this crowd has been capable of and what we've heard throughout the day. I want you to take a quick listen as the former president, former President Donald Trump, exited the game just these students that you're seeing.


LAH: And you can their chanting. You can see the crowd. This is certainly an image that the Trump campaign wants voters here in Iowa to see. Ahead of this moment, both Trump and DeSantis, Ron DeSantis, his nearest competitor were sitting inside the stadium. DeSantis sitting beside Iowa's Republican governor. Donald Trump was next to -- was sitting in a box. Ahead of all of that, before they were inside the stadium, they were both tailgating. Donald Trump stopped at a fraternity where there was a tailgating

party. He signed footballs, he flipped burgers, he tossed some of those footballs into the crowd. DeSantis also tailgating but he also made this a campaign opportunity by talking about the number of visits he's had here in Iowa. A total of eight. He also says that he has been to more than half of Iowa's 99 counties. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm actually starting to hear a lot of people saying, because you're showing up, I'm supporting you. Because that's the way you've got to do it. Iowans don't want the campaign to be about the past or to be about the candidates' issues. They want it to be about their future and the future of this country, and that's what I represent.


LAH: So while people here are certainly excited about the sports and the spectacle of it all, the politics of it all, what they tell us, Jim, is that it's really the game that was really truly the focus today for them -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And Kyung, when you're around the former president and around those crowds, are people bringing up all of these indictments that he's dealing with? What are they saying?

LAH: No. You know, it doesn't matter what forum we seem to be in, it is -- they are really listening to what President Trump says. They believe what he has said. They believe all of, you know, his side but they don't talk about necessarily the details, the finer details of these indictments whether you're at the Trump rally or you're in an event like this -- Jim.


ACOSTA: All right. Kyung Lah on the campaign trail for us in Iowa, thank you very much.

Let's discuss further with CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein and Laura Barron-Lopez.

Ron, let me start with you. Can I just ask you a little bit to react to what Kyung Lah was saying just a few moments ago because here we are, four indictments in, Trump is out in Iowa, people are chanting USA. She's not hearing a whole lot of talk about the indictments and so on. Does this go to I guess what John Edwards used to talk about back in the day about two Americans, or perhaps we're in two universes, two worlds? What's going on?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Well, look, in the Republican electorate, within the confines of the Republican primary, Donald Trump has succeeded in convincing the vast majority of Republican voters to see the indictments the way he wants them to see it, which is an attack on them through him. Through whatever institution, the deep state, the liberal elites, they are trying to marginalize and silence you and they are doing that by going after me.

And of course that's an extension of his core message from the beginning, from the time he came down the escalator in 2015. That there are all of these forces in society that are trying to marginalize you, white conservative Christians, usually non-urban Americans, and I am your champion, and now of course he says I am your retribution. That has proven a powerful argument within the Republican context.

But, you know, there are yellow and even red lights out there in terms of how the broader electorate is responding to that. Not necessarily a silver bullet that eliminates all other problems that Joe Biden faces by any means because those are real and I think becoming more visible as the months go on. But the outside of the Republican electorate, Jim, there are signs that voters are in fact more concerned about this than the people you saw chanting as he left the stadium today.

ACOSTA: Yes. I mean, what about this conventional wisdom that the indictments have not yet hurt Trump? People could point to that video in Iowa today and say, well, there's exhibit A of all that. Could this change? And I want to ask Ron this as well, could this change once we see this play out in a courtroom? We've seen sketches of Donald Trump. We've seen a mug shot. We haven't seen the evidence laid out in court.

We haven't seen prosecutors make the case against Donald Trump. Might public attitudes and even inside the Republican Party change somewhat once they have a chance to hear this evidence?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I agree with Ron. And yes, I do think that ultimately, when we see potentially ours, days on end, not just if Trump's case in Georgia actually stays in a Georgia courthouse and doesn't move to federal and he's on television in front of everyone. But also, when we start to see the cases of his other co- defendants. Evidence is going to start coming out as soon as those cases begin, as soon as those trials begin. And I do think that it will have an impact on him among the general electorate.

I've talked to independent voters in states like Arizona and Republicans who don't support someone like Trump in states like Arizona, but had thought about potentially going back to the party this time around. And those indictments, his entire message around January 6th and around the election being rigged and continuing to be rigged, it does not welcome them back into the party.

And so it makes it very difficult to see how Trump or even a Ron DeSantis could add voters to the party if they continue to subscribe to this message of elections are rigged, as well as that the Justice Department is weaponized, and the Justice Department is just going after Republicans because they don't agree with them.

ACOSTA: Yes. I mean, Ron, last night in South Dakota, Trump was saying to his supporters, we're going to have to fight like hell. He's using language very similar to what he said on January 6th that got him into hot water. And, you know, when we go to trial here down in Fulton County, if he's sitting in a courtroom and wants to take the witness stand and so on, what does that do to the conventional wisdom that, oh, these indictments aren't hurting him and that sort of thing?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, like I said, I mean, I think there is already evidence that the indictments are hurting him in the universe of voters outside the Republican electorate. It does not, however, that cost to Trump does not eliminate the significant hesitation we are seeing in polling about providing Joe Biden another term. So to some extent, Trump's weakness is masked by Biden's weakness and vice versa, and the fact that they're kind of even in the polls right now.

For the Republicans running against them, though, the time frame is what matters here. I mean, Donald Trump has as big a lead in the national polling as any primary candidate has ever had. It is hard to see a scenario where they could, any of the other candidates could truly challenge him unless they can break through, probably in Iowa, maybe Iowa or New Hampshire. Most likely Iowa itself and change the narrative among Republican voters that he's a virtually inevitable nominee.



BROWNSTEIN: So it is to me unlikely that the indictments will do that work for them. They are going to have to find a way to make a stronger case against Trump than they'd be willing to make. And if they keep on the path that they are, I think even courtroom -- you know, televised courtroom events will not shake his hold on the Republican nomination.

ACOSTA: And Laura, this week, I mean, shifting gears a little bit, the House -- I should say, Senator Marco Rubio warned that the House Republican push for impeachment of the president could be dangerous. Let's listen to that.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): It's turned into a political weapon. Once you do that, you can expect the other side will do the same and before you know it, we're Peru and we're impeaching up whoever president is depending on who's in power in the congressional branch. So these are extraordinary measures and deeply damages the country.


ACOSTA: Yes. But what are the chances that the House Republican conference listens to Marco Rubio there?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, they're probably not going to listen to Senator Rubio or any of the other senators that are saying that the Republican senators, which there are a number of them, that are saying that they don't support this because they have said this week before the House comes back, a number of Republican senators have said, where's the evidence? And even some House Republicans have admitted that they don't have the evidence tying President Biden to his son's business dealings and any wrongdoings there.

But right now it appears that Speaker Kevin McCarthy is going to head towards an impeachment inquiry vote. Potentially because he has no choice, but also to try to get out of it. To show the rest of his conference, we may not have the votes even to start an inquiry, which I think is potentially the speaker's way of saying that we can't go down this path.

ACOSTA: Ron, could an impeachment process going after Joe Biden help Joe Biden?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it will hurt Republicans. I'm not sure it will necessarily help Joe Biden. And Biden's issues are the persistence of discontent over inflation and that three quarters of voters who are now consistently saying, including in the CNN poll, that he's too old to, you know, carry out the duties of the presidency in a second term.

But for House Republicans, sure. I mean, this is a problem. I mean, the best argument, in 2022, we were in an environment where a majority of voters disapproved of Biden's performance. Three quarters or more described the economy in negative terms. Those are usually the conditions for a rout for the party holding the White House. It was a lot less than that. Largely because many voters were unhappy with the way things are going to considered the Republican alternative too extreme.

And if they go down the route to impeachment without anything really to support it, that is an issue not only for the 18 House Republicans in districts that Biden carried but another -- you know, the next circle in districts that voted for Trump by only narrow margins. Not necessarily solved Biden's problems but I think compound their own problems.

ACOSTA: And just very quickly, Laura, I mean, is this why Republican strategists -- some Republican strategists are privately tearing their hair out? Because, as Ron was saying, the president is in a vulnerable position. If they put Donald Trump up as the nominee, they have almost, I mean, they have a difficult time of exploiting that.

BARRON-LOPEZ: That's right. I was talking to one Republican strategist recently who said to me that if Trump is convicted of even one of those crimes, you know, they can kiss the House goodbye, which they probably maybe already will kiss it goodbye given the dynamic heading into 2024, but also their chances of the Senate get worse of winning back the Senate for Republicans, and they certainly don't think they would win the presidency if Trump is convicted of one of those crimes.

ACOSTA: Right. We focus so much on the race for the White House, we don't talk about -- and this happens with Donald Trump almost every midterm or congressional cycle. He brings down -- he weighs down the party.

All right, Ron Brownstein --

BROWNSTEIN: Jim, very quick, very quick.


BROWNSTEIN: Very quick. ACOSTA: Do it.

BROWNSTEIN: 75 percent of dependents say in polling Donald Trump should not be president again if he is convicted of a crime, to Laura's point. So there's more out there that is now apparent in the way this is playing out.

ACOSTA: Yes. Yes, it's not good. All right, Ron and Laura, thank you so much. Really appreciate it as always. Thanks to both of you.

Still ahead, East Coast closely watching Hurricane Lee. An update on where the storm is headed right now. It's coming up. And a big night for American tennis star Coco Gauff. How she rallied to win her first career grand slam title. CNN is live at the U.S. Open, and you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: We are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Lee. It's a dangerous category 3 storm right now but is there a threat to the U.S. or elsewhere?

Let's bring back CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray with the latest.

Jennifer, what do you think?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still days away from really knowing at all what kind of impact this is going to have to the U.S. We do know this is a big storm. It's a major hurricane. We've got winds of 115 miles per hour. Gusts of 140.

Good news for the Caribbean, though. It looks like they're going to be spared by the storm. We will see some swells, some rip currents, things of that nature. But this is going to be a monster category 4 potentially by Monday, and slowing down considerably, so that's good news, too. That it's not going to be over any land mass when it does so.

So this is going to take a sharp turn to the north. That's not going to happen until Wednesday or so. And then determining when that happens is really going to give us a better picture of where it's going to go from here. Because once it takes that turn, it's really going to shoot north pretty much. So if that happens sooner, it's going to stay much farther away from the U.S. coast than let's say if it were to travel to the west a little bit farther and then shoot to the north.

But right now, none of the models have it making landfall across the U.S. Of course by Wednesday or so, we'll see what the picture holds. But nonetheless we still could see some rip currents, some high seas across the eastern coast of the U.S.

[19:25:01] So Lee is basically splitting this high and this low so there are several potential paths that it could go. But really where those computer models we were showing earlier are really all of the solutions based on what we have right now -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Thanks for staying on top of that for us, Jennifer. We appreciate it.

Still ahead, a judge rejects former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows' bid to move the Georgia election interference case to federal court. What this could mean for former President Donald Trump's trial?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: A significant setback for Mark Meadows. A judge rejected his bid to move the two Georgia criminal charges against him to federal court. Four other defendants have also filed motions to move the case out of state court, and Trump is expected to do the same.

And joining me now to talk about this is former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general Harry Litman, and defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.

Guys, great to see you. Thanks for joining us on this Saturday evening.

Shan, is this Meadows ruling a bad sign for Trump? This has not been just overall, it hasn't been all that great for the defendants, any of the defendants in this Fulton County case?


I think it's a bad sign for him and the others. I mean, they're all factually somewhat different. But this was certainly a test run and for Meadows to suffer this slam dunk is not a good sign. I also just think that the trial judge had the benefit of making a really strong factual record, because Meadows took such an unusual risk in testifying for that long.

And so that gamble obviously didn't pay off at least at the district court level, but it does give the judge a really solid factual basis upon which he made the ruling.

ACOSTA: Yes. Shan, is it possible if Donald Trump tries to, I mean, Harry, if Donald Trump tries to get his case moved over to a federal court, is it possible he'll take the stand like Mark Meadows did? What is that going to be like?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER US ATTORNEY: Axiom number one, Donald Trump cannot testify, never will testify, but -- so he'll try to do it with other things. He will try to move it over to federal court, probably not till the last day, which would be September 30th.

And his case, as Shan suggests, really much weaker than -- Meadows had the strongest claim, I was just being chief-of-staff. It is very hard for Trump to say, oh, I was just acting the way presidents act and there are already decisions out there involving executive privilege, which hold exactly the opposite.

So I think he'll take his shot, but lose it pretty quickly, and the same for the three Georgia electors who have really nothing much to say. And I would say Jeff Clark as well. Meadows was the best. He was the tip of the spear as it were. And as Shan said, he totally -- it was a total lost gamble. I think that's it for removals.

ACOSTA: But Meadows has said, he is going to try to appeal.

LITMAN: I am sorry, with one big caveat, with his automatic appeals. They will go --

ACOSTA: Well, I was going to say, yes, let's talk about that. Harry jump -- you can jump on that if you'd like and then, I'll go to Shan, but if Meadows is going to try to appeal this, what happens at this Court of Appeals, because it has been -- it has been said, not even by legal experts, such as yourself, is a fairly conservative court of appeals.

LITMAN: And it's a pretty liberal, if you will test for that is, it doesn't take much to get removal, but Shan makes the big point there are really good factual findings here. I don't think that a court of appeals will reverse.

The real issue is sort of a timing now, because the judge in Fulton County has suggested, every -- all six of them will need to go through that process, because it would be too perilous to put them on trial and then potentially have a court of appeals reversed.

So I think it has implications for the breakdown of groups and when the trials occur, especially for Trump.

ACOSTA: Yes. Do you agree?

WU: And that's exactly what you start to see now with this many people and this many different kinds of motions, it is these small places where the timing begins to drag down, and not for illegitimate reasons.

I mean, there is actual substance going on here and the judge's point there is, he wants to wait until this issue gets resolved. So you don't run into more complications after they start things, it does get removed.

So it's in spaces like that, that you'll see the delay really begin to build up incrementally.

ACOSTA: And Harry, what did you think of this? We got to see this Georgia special grand jury report recommending charges in that case down in Fulton County. A notable takeaway was that the jury did not have a unanimous vote in recommending charges for Senator Lindsey Graham or the other two senators who are no longer in the Senate.

What does that say about DA Fani Willis' strategy?

LITMAN: So yes, far from it, 13 votes not to recommend the indictment of Lindsey Graham. But the big thing here, Jim, I think and Shan will back me up on this, normally, a prosecutor already decides I can make this case beyond a reasonable doubt before asking a grand jury, they just go probable cause, just to sort of checkmark.

Here, because of the special grand jury, it went the opposite. They first said, hey, there's probable cause, but she had to determine if she could make the case. It is an ethical requirement. All kinds of reasons in here why they wouldn't go forward including evidentiary problems. Defense problems that are just like, man, we need another senator, all we have like a hole in the head, all kinds of good reasons that it wouldn't have happened.

And so, it is not so striking to me that she just decided about half the time I'm not going to go and seek indictments here.

ACOSTA: All right, Harry Litman and Shan Wu.

Gentlemen, thanks very much for your time. Appreciate helping us sort this out.

LITMAN: Thanks. Thank so much.

ACOSTA: Coming up next, another Harry joins us, Harry Enten is standing by to run the numbers, why a head-to-head matchup between Trump and Biden remain so close despite four indictments for the former president.

And huge news from the US Open. Did you catch this? Nineteen-year-old American tennis star, Coco Gauff, she rallied from behind to win her first career Grand Slam title. It was an amazing moment. We'll take you there next.


ACOSTA: Latest CNN poll in the presidential race shows Donald Trump and Joe Biden in a dead heat. Take a look at this. Trump has 47 percent, Biden has 46 percent. Considering the margin of error, there's no clear leader.

CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten joins us now.

Harry great to see as always. You know, is it too early to put a whole lot of stock in this stuff? I know I'm asking the poll guy, the data guy who wants to put stock in it like 20 years before the election, but why is this race so close? And does it matter what these national polls say at this point?


HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, Okay. I think there are actually three questions in there, Jim. So I'll try and answer all of them for you.

ACOSTA: And we're out of time. Just kidding.

ENTEN: Okay, number -- now, we will just expand the segment to the end of the hour.

Number one, I'll point out, look, the polls can change. These are a snapshot in time, right? And generally speaking, the polls at this point are not necessarily predictive of what will happen going forward, you know, 14 months from now, though, I will point out the polls that were taken at this point in the 2020 cycle, actually, we're fairly predictive of what would happen, especially in this age of polarization.

Two, yes, obviously, it's determinative of what happens in the swing states, right? That's what's most important. But oftentimes, what happens in the swing states follows what happens nationally. And if you look here, what do we see? Right now, we see a national environment in which look at this, very few Americans have a favorable view of Joe Biden, just 36 percent; Donald Trump 35 percent; 29 percent, nearly a third of registered voters have a favorable view of neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump, and that 29 percent is going to be very determinative in my mind, and that is why this race is so close, because there are a lot of Americans who don't like either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

ACOSTA: Yes. No, it's totally wide open and having said that, do we have data that shows who they would vote for?

ENTEN: Yes. This is part of the reason why, you know, Donald Trump has that very slight advantage, though, of course, it's so close at this particular point.

Look at this, Donald Trump slightly up amongst this group by six percentage points, but that 21 percent, that other, they'll say that they will vote for somebody else or won't vote. That's a key group I'm keeping out on and the other thing I'll note is remember, Donald Trump back in 2016 won a group of voters who didn't like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, he won them by 17 points.

ACOSTA: Right.

ENTEN: They made up 18 percent of the electorate. It seems to me that same group who don't like either Joe Biden or Donald Trump be determinative, and at this point, they slightly prefer Trump. And that's why he's ever so slightly ahead, though, again, no clear leader within the margin of error.

ACOSTA: And last night, Rudy Giuliani filed a new legal challenge to the criminal charges he's facing in Georgia and you have some data on what Americans think of Rudy Giuliani.

ENTEN: Yes, I specifically asked our pollsters to put this question on the poll because I was interested in how low Rudy Giuliani is favorability rating was.

ACOSTA: Oh my goodness.

ENTEN: Look at this, a drop off 60 points over the last 21 years. My goodness, I've never seen anything like this.


ENTEN: I remember when Rudy was a hero in the city of New York.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

ENTEN: And look at what he is now he is for most Americans, just a disgrace, at least according to the polling data.

ACOSTA: And what does the data tell you about the upcoming football season? That's what we really want to know.

ENTEN: Yes. Yes, this is what we really want to know, right? I am. So looking forward to this, and I will just say, look at all of these players who got signed 50-plus million dollar contracts. I wish I was making that type of money, Jim. But the truth is, I don't have the athleticism, the skill or the patience to go out and practice that much. So God bless them.

I'm going to leave the athleticism in my family and to my girlfriend who is going to be running the New York City Marathon, I think later this year. She's amazing.

ACOSTA: Way to work in the shout out to the girlfriend, Harry, well done.

ENTEN: Thank you.

ACOSTA: I hope that favor is returned in kind and I wish I had that kind of athleticism as well, and I just don't. But anyway, Harry Enten, great to see as always, thanks so much.

Great to see football back. We'll talk to you next week. Thanks so much.

Be sure to check out Harry's podcast, "Margins of Error." You can find it on your favorite podcast app or at

Still ahead, the Air Force Secretary had a reaction to Republican senator, Tommy Tuberville's hold on military promotions, you're going to want to listen to this. Why he calls it a national security problem, that's coming up in just a few moments.

And a dramatic comeback at the US Open, we will take you there in just a few moments. Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:48:22 ]

ACOSTA: As Alabama's Senator Tommy Tuberville continues to block more than 300 US military promotions, several leading military figures accuse him of risking our national security.

I spoke to one of those critics, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, earlier this evening. He talked to me about the effect this is having on people in the US military, how our potential adversaries are playing close attention.


FRANK KENDALL, SECRETARY, US AIR FORCE: Organizations will defend the country, there is not a grave risk there, but the organizations can't move forward. They can't do the things they need to do to improve their posture relative to the threat. They can't do things to increase efficiency. They can't put a strategy in place and it is very debilitating to the morale of our people, as you can imagine that these holds are in place.

ACOSTA: Yes, and has this ever happened before, something like this?

KENDALL: It's totally unprecedented. The Senate routinely confirms general officers and lower ranking officers by unanimous consent. But the way the process works, as we're seeing here, a single senator can stop that. It's never been done before.

Senator Tuberville has no experience in the military. This is his first time I think in public service, and I don't think he appreciates how much of an impact this is having, the negative impact it is for the military.

It is a national security problem. We need leadership in place that can be there and we can move our organizations forward. We are obviously watching closely what is happening, assisting Ukraine. China is becoming an increasingly severe concern over time.

We cannot be -- we cannot afford to stand still while our potential adversaries are moving forward.

ACOSTA: And can you speak to the strain and stress that this is putting on military families? Because I have to imagine if promotions are being held up, there might be a general in Colorado who thinks he is being transferred over to the Pentagon or to a different installation somewhere and the whole family has got to put everything on hold.


KENDALL: That's exactly right. Spouses who may have to move for their profession with a general officer or whoever is being transferred, they're caught in limbo. They can't work for a job in the new place, they may not be able to work in the old place. I know specific examples of that.

ACOSTA: And they probably have kids, too, in those situations.

KENDALL: Children cannot be enrolled in school. So they're stuck where they are until they have to move and they are potentially moving during the middle of the school year, which is a lot harder, of course.

We've had cases where and one officer who had a son who was going to live with him in his new quarters when he moved to his new position, but now he's having to pay for rent for that son to -- or for tens of thousands of dollars actually to go to college in the new location he was going to move.

ACOSTA: So lots of different unintended consequences.

KENDALL: Lot of consequences, all across the board.



ACOSTA: And our thanks to the Air Force secretary, Frank Kendall for joining us here on the CNN NEWSROOM this afternoon. We appreciate it.

Coming up next, a big night for American tennis star, Coco Gauff. How the teen sensation pulled off her first Grand Slam victory on her home turf. She had to come from behind to do it. We'll talk about that next, live at the US Open. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: Homecourt advantage might have been the secret ingredient for American, Coco Gauff after dropping the first set in the women's US Open Final. The 19-year-old took command to win her first major tennis title.

CNN sports anchor and analyst, Christine Brennan joins us now along with CNN Sports anchor, Carolyn Manno. She is at Flushing Meadows for us.

Carolyn, you were there. What was it like?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it was completely deafening. I mean, it's just the best crowd when there's an American in a Final at a US Open, and really, they were just jumping their feet any chance they could get for Coco Gauff.

I mean, she started out a little bit tight. The serve really wasn't there in the first set, and she was getting overpowered by Aryna Sabalenka, who is a big power hitter.

Then Sabalenka started to overthink a little bit in the second set, and you saw Coco's athleticism on full display. All of a sudden the defense was there. She started returning all of what Sabalenka was throwing at her. And immediately the confidence came in the clarity came, and the crowd just rose to their feet over and over and over again.

It's not that often you see a woman in a final of the US Open drop the first set and then come back to win. So in the third, as you might expect, you know in that last game, every single point the crowd just roaring in her favor. She was so emotional when it was over. Expectations have been so high

for her, Jim, but not only that, she also thanked the haters, the doubters, those who pegged her to win a Grand Slam when she was only 15, and in the last couple of months said we don't think she can do it. She said that's been fuel.

She has taken that criticism. She has retooled her game over the last couple of months. She has changed her coaching staff. So to see her with her parents who were emotional, which we don't always see, they are normally pretty stoic. It was just incredible to see it all sort of come to fruition and for her to finally relax. It was incredible.

ACOSTA: Wow. What a performance. And Christine, I guess winning is the best revenge.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND ANALYST: It certainly is. Well as Carolyn said, I mean it was remarkable what we were watching and you know, write down this date, write down this name, in 1999. Jim, Carolyn and I covered Serena Williams when she won her first US Open, I was there and we felt that there was something really big happening. Obviously, the greatest of all time was happening.

And it doesn't happen over one night, it happens over a course of a career. I'm not saying Coco Gauff is going to win 23 Grand Slam titles. She's even said hey, let me win my one and we'll see what happens.

But the point is, this is a turning point. We are seeing an incredible young athlete, 19 years old to win our national championship and as Carolyn said, just so self-effacing so kind, such a good person. And obviously, the speed, Jim, you're a sports fan, if you've got speed --

ACOSTA: Oh, yes.

BRENNAN: You can't coach speed. Coco Gauff has got speed and talent and obviously, there is so much more we think yet to come.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. I love tennis. I love when they have the City Open here in DC. I know Coco Gauff has been here in DC for that tournament, but I just want to touch on something you just said Christine and that is what does she do about these expectations? Because people are going to draw the conclusion, okay, now she's just going to go on this run. That's tough if you're Coco Gauff.

BRENNAN: Oh, it is and you know, Carolyn just witnessed this in person, so I'll defer to her as well. But I would say this, I think Coco just keeps playing her game. She is good enough.

And I think also she seems so grounded and her parents, right? Just wonderful. Both athletes, the mom and dad, both athletes in college and good athletes. They understand what is coming, and I do think we will see her stay grounded and not get too far ahead of herself.

I'm guessing this is exactly the right personality Coco Gauff has to be able to pull that off.

ACOSTA: Yes, and Carolyn, what is it about Coco's game that makes her so formidable? Why is she so special?

MANNO: Well, the athleticism is there, Jim, and she has worked on her forehand, which is now a strength of hers. But I love that she said after the match that she's going to drink a Diet Coke to celebrate. I mean all of this juxtaposed by the fact that she's a teenager.


MANNO: You know, she is 19 years old. She was trying to FaceTime her brother on the court right after the match was over and he didn't come to the phone. You know, it is so wonderful to see her blossom.

But to Christine's point, and I'll send it back to you with this. This is going to give her a tremendous amount of confidence.

ACOSTA: Yes. Absolutely. I want to be a teenager and win the US Open.

All right, Christine and Carolyn, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Thanks for joining me this evening.

Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta.

Special Report, "American Coup: The January 6 Investigation" is up next. Have a good night.