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Texas Senate Votes To Acquit Ken Paxton On Articles Of Impeachment; GOP Candidates Campaigning In Iowa; Florida GOP Scraps Loyalty Oath For Candidates; UAW Strike Enters Second Day; Interview With Representative Robert Garcia (D-CA) About House GOP Impeachment Probe On President Biden; New Report: Border Patrol In Texas Separating Children From Families; NFL's Aaron Rodgers Doesn't Rule Out Returning This Season. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 16, 2023 - 16:00   ET



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

We begin with the breaking news and the surprise outcome of a Republican versus Republican political fight in the state of Texas. Attorney General Ken Paxton is thanking his supporters and slamming what he calls the sham impeachment proceeding against him.

Just a few hours ago the state Senate voted to acquit Paxton on 16 charges of abusing his office to help a donor. The attorney general says now that the, quote, "truth has prevailed" he will get back to work defending the constitutional rights of Texans, so he says.

Ed Lavandera joins me now from the Texas statehouse in Austin.

Ed, tell us more.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim. Well, the last few hours as reaction has been pouring in reacting to the acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton, it is really exposing what can probably only be described as an all-out civil war between various factions of the Republican Party here in Texas.

As we've mentioned just a short while ago, Ken Paxton was acquitted by the majority of Republican senators in the Texas Senate on the 16 articles of impeachment that were brought against him. The remaining four were dismissed. So this is from the Paxton camp is seen as a full-on vindication and a resounding vindication for the embattled attorney general.

Despite all of that, Ken Paxton is still facing serious legal issues. He still has an upcoming trial for state financial securities fraud, a trial that is perhaps -- could be starting here in the coming weeks. And he's also believed to be under federal investigation with FBI agents stemming from the very investigation that brought these articles of impeachment against him. But his attorneys say that this acquittal today should send a strong message to his supporters.


DAN COGDELL, PAXTON DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He still has the pending state case. I expect that in light of today's verdict to have some serious -- those people ought to think about going forward on that case. That's been a BS case since day one. That case like this one should have never been brought. They ought to dismiss it. If they don't dismiss it, we'll try and beat them there just like we beat them here.

TONY BUZBEE, PAXTON DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The attorney general is excited and ready to get back to work, and that's what he's going to do.


LAVANDERA: As Ken Paxton is saying, outside of the statement, he said he's planning to travel to the state of Maine next week to interview with Tucker Carlson. And really what this has exposed, Jim, to kind of get into the nitty gritty of the reaction of all of this, is that after the verdicts were read the Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, spent several minutes just absolutely with a scathing critique of the House Republicans that brought and voted on these articles of impeachment, and that caused the speaker of the House, Dave Phelan, to issue a statement here this afternoon saying that it is clear that this is -- the result of this trial was orchestrated from the get-go, essentially accusing senators of having these votes pre-determined before listening to the evidence, and that the voters of Texas, in his words were, quote, "cheated out of justice."

And one of the House impeachment managers said that this vote by Republicans is essentially condoning corruption at the highest levels.


ANN JOHNSON (D), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: Our lawyers, the board of managers presented overwhelming evidence that Ken Paxton is the most corrupt politician in the state of Texas at this time, and the Republicans in the Texas Senate just returned him to the office of top cop. I will rely on what I said on the floor of the Texas House. God help us.


LAVANDERA: And Jim, so what happens next, you know, many of right-wing organizations in Texas, the political groups, grassroots groups that have been supporting Ken Paxton have been vowing to go after Republicans who voted against him. He only got two Republican senators to convict him in these charges today, but this is expected to become a very tense situation for Republicans, especially in the House, that voted to impeach Ken Paxton. So it will be interesting to watch Texas politics in the next couple of years -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.


Now to a big win for former President Donald Trump in his quest for the GOP nomination in the crucial battleground state of Florida. Last night Republicans in that state scrapped their own GOP loyalty pledge which mandated that candidates support the party's eventual nominee. A promise Trump simply refused to make. The move by the Florida GOP is seen as a major defeat for Trump's closest rival in his home state, Governor Ron DeSantis.

This comes during another key battle involving the former president as federal prosecutors ask for a narrowly tailored gag order on Trump citing his social media attacks on people in the case, including the Special Counsel Jack Smith. The order would prevent Trump from making statements that could be considered disparaging and inflammatory or intimidating.

Let's go to Des Moines and our Jeff Zeleny who's in Iowa for us covering the latest on the GOP race.

Jeff, just four months away from the Iowa caucuses. Prosecutors and politicians are having trouble reining in the former president.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there is no question the former President Donald Trump does hold a commanding lead in this Republican presidential primary. As you said, four months exactly until the Iowa caucuses open the Republican nominating contest. Every candidate is in Iowa this weekend with the exception of the former president. Of course he has a strong lead, but his rivals believe that there is an opening because voters are still making up their minds, they believe.

And anecdotally talking to voters, that certainly is the case. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in the church behind me here, the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ. He'll be speaking with a group of evangelical voters, and that is a central constituency, of course, in this Republican Iowa campaign. But earlier today as the Florida governor was campaigning in western Iowa, he made a pointed critique of the age of candidates in the race, as well as a bit of a veiled swipe at Donald Trump.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think the presidency can be successfully discharged by somebody that's 80 years old. This is nothing against 80 -- I'm the governor of Florida, for Pete's sake. I've got a lot of great 80-year-olds. We do need a two- term president, by the way. One lame duck is not going to cut it.


ZELENY: And that two-term president is something that he's been talking about for a while. Of course if Donald Trump was re-elected, he would only be able to constitutionally serve one term. So that is one of the arguments the Florida governor has been making. But there is no doubt, Jim, he and the rest of the Republican field have their work cut out for them over the next several months here.

There is a gathering of evangelical voters tonight in Des Moines where all of the candidates, with the exception of Donald Trump, will be making their case to Iowa voters. We will see if the indictments, the charges have any effect on his support. The polls would suggest they have not. But electability is a central concern in every conversation we have with Iowa voters here, Jim. So the history of Iowa shows things can change late in a campaign.

Of course history is perhaps not our best guide. This year we'll see. But for now, four months until Iowa opens the 2024 campaign -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Jeff Zeleny on the trail in Iowa for us. Thanks, Jeff. Great to see you as always. We appreciate it.

Joining us now with more is Marc Caputo, a national political reporter for "The Messenger" and expert on Florida politics.

Mark, great to see you. Thanks for doing this. Let's starts with what we were talking about just a few moments ago. Florida Republicans scrapping this loyalty oath. I mean, this is a big win for Donald Trump months before they even start voting in primaries like Florida.

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE MESSENGER: Right. It's just a show of power and a show of force for Trump. He didn't want the loyalty oath they instituted in May. He had his allies, a state senator who had run afoul of DeSantis actually months, maybe years ago, carry his effort to undo this loyalty oath. DeSantis' people decided to fight it and keep it. So DeSantis made it a test of wills, and Trump cleaned his clock.

And one of the difficulties that DeSantis is having is notching any wins anywhere. It's not happening in the polls in Florida or in early states like Iowa or nationally. He's saddled with frequent bad headlines, you know, he had problems with his campaign, he had a shakeup, money was tight. And then you have this, which is just sort of a symbolic vote. It's just a symbolic issue that was only fraught with sort of the emblematic battle between these two guys. And Trump won it handily at the grassroots level in Florida. Really sent a message.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Marc, and it just -- it shows yet again that Trump can do whatever he wants inside the Republican Party. What does this episode say about the national Republican Party's loyalty pledge? I mean, we've said it before about Trump, loyalty is a one-way street when it comes to Donald Trump.

CAPUTO: Right. The other thing is is like Trump doesn't like to be told what to do. He likes to fashion himself as the alpha male. So if a national party or a state party wants him to do something that he doesn't want to do, he's not going to do it, and he's going to make it a show of force, and he's going to try to win. And so far that's happening.


One of the things that was interesting is in talking to the Republican Party of Florida members who voted to scrap the very loyalty oath that they instituted in May at Donald Trump's behest, was one of the things that changed their mind is one of the things that you were talking about earlier. The indictments of Donald Trump. In the Republican view, especially the grassroots view of the people I

spoke to, these indictments have produced this kind of rally around the chief or the future chief or the past chief effect, where they said, look, everyone's out to get Donald Trump, the DOJ's out to get him, we need back him. Our party can't be seen as fighting him. So that's a good example of how the indictments perversely, ironically, unexpectedly, at least in the primary, have been beneficial to Trump's political goals. Now obviously his legal situation is a whole other kettle of fish.

ACOSTA: Well, and I just want to ask you about that. Let's talk about the other big development. Federal prosecutors asking the judge in the federal case pertaining to January 6th to place a court order on Trump limiting what he can and can't say. Predictably Trump reacted on social media and in a speech last night. Let's listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They went to court to get an order that I can't speak -- you got to understand, I'm the leading candidate by 50 points, and I'm leading Biden by a lot. And they want to see if they can silence me. So the media, the fake news, will ask me a question -- I'm sorry, I won't be able to answer that. How do you think we do in that election?


ACOSTA: Trump is claiming his First Amendment rights are being violated. It's good to hear him standing up for the First Amendment. That's not always the case. But, Marc, it's hard to see how Trump abides by any kind of gag order limited or otherwise.

CAPUTO: Right. I mean, we were just talking a second ago about, you know, someone tries to pass a rule or limit him, he endeavors to defeat it. Back in June when he got indicted in the classified documents case in Miami, I talked to Roger Stone who is a friend of his, who was pardoned by Trump, who was gagged before his trial. And I asked Stone, hey, look, most defendants are told to shut up when they get indicted. Donald Trump does the opposite.

What do you think is going to happen? And he basically predicted this. He said Trump is going to say what he wants to say, and he's essentially going to dare the federal government to try to gag him to prove that this is a political prosecution and persecution, not a traditional prosecution. Again, that's their perception. But what's instructive about what Roger Stone said there is Stone knows the mind of Trump.

So on one hand this looks completely insane. On the other hand, there might be some sort of sick genius at play here. It's one of those debates for people who watch Donald Trump like, is he a master chess player, or is he eating the checkers? You know, we're going to find out at the end of both of these, both the primary, the general election, all three of these, and the various criminal cases.

But I mean, the chances are, judging by what Judge Chutkan has said so far, I could see her -- I can see this being more likely than not that she's going approve some sort of gag order, and I can see more likely than not Donald Trump breaking it. But, you know, that's just speculation. Who knows what's going to happen? If you would have told me in 2015 that a -- or before, that a presidential candidate would be indicted four times in four separate cases at the state and federal levels, and that his support level would increase in his party, I would have told you were insane. But that's what we're looking at.

ACOSTA: Yes. No. There's no question about it. And Marc, what are you hearing from your sources down in Florida about whether or not anybody in this field can stop Donald Trump? And getting back to this Florida loyalty pledge situation, what does this say about Ron DeSantis? Because Ron DeSantis in just about every poll is the closest Republican candidate in the polling in terms of being able to take out Trump.

In his own state, if the Florida Republican Party in his own state isn't going to side with DeSantis, that says a lot, doesn't it in?

CAPUTO: That's one of the reasons that this symbolic vote was so important to both sides, but especially Trump, and why it's sort of mystified people like me that DeSantis decided to put some skin in the game by having lieutenant governor, the Florida House speaker, and another ally of his try to whip votes and kind of keep the loyalty oath.

Another surprising thing was that some of these grassroots Republicans on the Republican Party of Florida executive board, a 39-member board that voted in favor of stripping the loyalty oath on behalf of Trump, a few of those said on the record Ron DeSantis needs to drop out of the race and endorse Donald Trump. All of them did. It's very surprising in a state where Ron DeSantis in 2022 -- I mean in November, however many months ago, 11 months ago, what, eight months or 10 months ago --

ACOSTA: Yes --

CAPUTO: -- he won this state by almost 20 percentage points. A massive margin. And now he's trailing badly both in his own state and nationwide in early states.


ACOSTA: Yes. And they're bending to Donald Trump. I mean, there's just no question about it, what's taking place in Florida and other crucial states around the country.

Marc Caputo, great to see you as always. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

CAPUTO: Thanks, Jim. I appreciate it. Bye.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

All right, still ahead, close to striking a deal. That is the question. An update on where talks stand to resolve an unprecedented autoworkers strike. Plus, President Biden facing an impeachment inquiry and his son Hunter indicted on gun charges this week. We're going to talk about that. We'll ask a member of Congress how the president and the Democratic Party should navigate all of this.

And later on, better luck next year? What quarterback Aaron Rodgers is saying about his season-ending injury and questions over the 39-year- old's ability to make a comeback. The legendary Bob Costas will join us for that discussion. That's coming up in just a little bit.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: We're seeing new signs of progress in the historic autoworkers strike that's now in its second day. Negotiators for the United Autoworkers Union and the big three car makers are back at the bargaining table, and the union said it had reasonably productive talks with Ford Motor Company earlier today.


Our Gabe Cohen is outside a factory in Toledo where workers are picketing right now.

Gabe, what's the latest?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, you touched on it there. The first sign of really any progress that we have seen in negotiations with any of the big three. This was between the union and Ford who met this morning, and a source with the union told our CNN team, quote, "We had reasonably productive conversations with Ford today."

Reasonably productive. Certainly not a deal, Jim, but given the hostile words that we have heard between the sides in recent days, reasonably productive is definitely progress here. Ford putting out a statement, as well, saying, "We have said all along Ford has bet on the UAW more than any other company. We are committed to reaching an agreement with UAW that rewards our workers and allows Ford to invest in the future."

We understand the union was set to meet with Stellantis and General Motors, as well, today. No word yet on those negotiations. But just yesterday we heard from the head of the Autoworkers Union who said up to this point, 80 percent of the members' demands, 80 percent, had not been met by any of the automakers' deals, offers, that they had put forward. And so it does seem, Jim, that there's been this big divide.

And until those deals are reached, this is what we're going to continue to see. These picket lines like the one here in Toledo, Ohio, outside of the Stellantis Jeep factory. These workers, 5800 on strike here. 13,000 -- almost 13,000 across the country making just about $500 a week in strike pay. But so many have told me they are prepared for the long haul, to strike for as long as it takes. So I want to bring in Robert here.

Robert, you're the strike captain for this group. ROBERT VASQUEZ, AUTOWORKER, STELLANTIS: Yes, sir.

COHEN: First I want to get your take on the news that we're just getting this afternoon of at least a little bit of progress in the talks with Ford. To be clear you work for Stellantis. But to hear about the progress between the union and Ford, what goes through your mind?

VASQUEZ: Well, I mean, no one wins on a strike, you know. The company doesn't win. We don't win. We're all losing out on money. So to hear progress, we're all for it. We're all for it. As long as President Fain is behind it because we're 100 percent behind President Fain. Whatever he can negotiate, we know that's going to be the best contract that we're going to get. And we're all willing to fight the fight for President Fain. We're 1,000 percent behind him.

COHEN: Why are the workers here in Toledo out here? What are the issues that you have seen and these members have seen that's brought you to the picket line?

VASQUEZ: I mean, you know, everyone says, you know, wage, wage, wage. I mean, obviously we all care about our money. But the biggest thing is the tiers. Everyone should be on the same pay scale. There shouldn't be someone making, you know, like $15 an hour versus someone that's making full scale wage. Everyone should be on the same pay scale. And that's the biggest thing. Because we don't want any animosity while we're all in there making, you know, a prideful part.

COHEN: Well, Robert, thank you so much for your time. Really Appreciate it.

And Jim, the head of the autoworkers' union has said it is possible additional facilities will go on strike in the days or weeks ahead depending on progress or lack thereof. And we do know that we're starting to see this ripple effect with GM and Ford announcing 12,600 workers who are going to be laid off in the days ahead separate from the ones who are on strike because their facilities can't operate as long as these three are on strike.

ACOSTA: All right, Gabe Cohen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

In other news, this week Republicans took their efforts to impeach President Biden to the next level, bowing to pressure from GOP hardliners. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into the president's son, Hunter Biden's business dealings. McCarthy cited what he calls allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption by the president.

At least one House Democrat is calling it hypocrisy saying Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, should also be investigated.


REP. ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA): We have records of a $110 billion arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that was inflated at the direction of Jared Kushner. The grift from this family is breathtaking. It's breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walked out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis.


ACOSTA: And the congressman you just saw there is Democrat Robert Garcia of California. He joins us now to talk about this.

Congressman, thanks for being here. I think if you boiled down the Republican argument here on impeachment, where there's smoke there's fire, they're claiming there's smoke so they think that there might be some fire. What is your response to that?

GARCIA: I mean, look, this impeachment inquiry is a total sham. The truth is is that Kevin McCarthy has completely lost control of his caucus.


He has essentially given leadership in his caucus to folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and George Santos. That's what controls now the Republican caucus. And so they are driving the agenda. There's been numerous members within his caucus that have said there's no evidence to link the two.

We know that Hunter Biden did not work in the White House. Hunter Biden had no direct business relationship with his father when his father was the vice president. There's been zero evidence, as has been noted by multiple people, multiple witnesses, folks that have been deposed, that have linked the president to Hunter Biden. But the hypocrisy is what's really crazy.

We have at the same time the Kushners and Jared Kushner who actually received $2 billion for his investment firm from the Saudis when he was the head of -- essentially Middle Eastern affairs for the White House, when he was there with his father-in-law. So that's what we should be investigating. And really that right now is the big American scandal.

ACOSTA: Well, and I know that Democrats have been howling about that Kushner deal with the Saudis ever since the days right after the transition to the Biden administration when Trump left office in disgrace. Have you talked to any Republicans even privately in the House who have expressed some solidarity with you on this point, that yes, that doesn't look right either?

GARCIA: Yes. Both privately and publicly. Look, James Comer, the head of the Oversight Committee, even said publicly I believe on your network that he thought that this Kushner mess probably passed the ethical line. And he said that. It's a public record. Yet at the same time, he does not want to launch or really work on getting any sort of subpoena or investigation going.

Let's also remember that Jared Kushner from day one was incredibly problematic as it relates to foreign policy. He helped get rid of the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, he immediately begins doing deals with the Saudis. Makes sure that President Trump makes his first visit to Saudi Arabia, builds this relationship and then now is benefiting in enormous amounts of money. And so the link, the information that we're seeking is really, really important.

The Oversight Committee has a job to do, and let's remember that Jared Kushner and Ivanka were in the White House. They actually were employees of the White House. They worked for government. And so this is a really important investigation that we think needs to be launched. And Jim Comer should stick by what he said publicly, and that he agrees with us there's an ethical issue here, we should investigate them.

ACOSTA: And let's say the Democrats take control of the House in 2024 and come to power in early 2025, is that something that you would be in favor of investigating, investigating Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and what took place with that deal with the Saudis?

GARCIA: Well, we are going to investigate Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. I mean, we are going to ideally win back the House. That is the goal. We're committed to that. We've got the right ideas to do so. And the Oversight Committee, I think our ranking member, Jamie Raskin, has been very clear this has been a priority. This is a huge scandal that deserves serious investigation.

The abuse of power and possible criminal activity here is immense. And so I think we have a responsibility to the American public to find out why Jared Kushner received $2 billion two months after leaving the White House. And that's a serious issue, and it's one that I think we're committed to on the Oversight Committee.

ACOSTA: And Congressman, this week we saw Hunter Biden become the first child of a sitting U.S. president to be indicted. The special counsel, David Weiss, charged Hunter Biden with making false statements on a federal firearms form, lying to federal -- licenses on those gun dealer licenses. Obviously can come with it serious problems.

Do you think that these charges harm the president in trying to run for re-election next year? And what do you think, do you think Hunter Biden needs to come out and speak out on some of this?

GARCIA: Well, look, I think what's really important is that we let the justice system and the process play out. You know, no one is shying to shield Hunter Biden for whatever mistakes he's made and whatever the justice system ends up deciding. I think that's really important. I think everyone including the White House has been pretty clear about that. So we should let that process play out. I do not think it's going to impact the president or it's impacting the president at all.

Hunter Biden is a private citizen. Obviously President Biden is a loving father, and this whole situation is very different considering Hunter Biden never worked in the White House. There's no link there. And there's been zero evidence, as we know, linking the two. As far as what Hunter says to the public, that's really up to him, you know, and his process. I just hope that the legal process plays out. And just all that interest that folks have in Hunter Biden quite

frankly Republicans should not be hypocritical and have that level of interest if not more on what the Kushners were doing in the White House.

ACOSTA: And what are House Democrats planning to do, to respond to this House impeachment inquiry? Might we see Democrats in the House put together a war room operation? Do you need to ramp up the way you talk about that investigation, that inquiry?

GARCIA: Well, first -- I mean, trust our leader in the House. Hakeem Jeffries, he's done a great job of being a spokesperson for the House.

I think, at the end of the day, I think everyone understands that this impeachment inquiry is essentially a political stunt to help get Donald Trump elected.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has said as much. She is linking essentially this just insane possibility of a government shutdown, which would hurt so many people across this country, to impeaching President Biden.

So this has been a political stunt from day one. They telegraphed that already to the public.

They're out there linking not just Marjorie Taylor Greene, folks like Matt Gaetz, linking Kevin McCarthy acting on impeachment to the government shutdown.

And so it's -- it's both laughable and sad that this is where the modern-day Republican Party in the House is at this point.

And it's because Kevin McCarthy, unfortunately, has no control over his caucus. So that is what we're now seeing, essentially the Marjorie Taylor Greene Republican caucus in Congress.

But Democrats are prepared. We'll continue to put out the truth. And we need to push back and we need to, most importantly, focus on actually delivering results and stopping this insane government shutdown.

ACOSTA: All right, Democrat Congress Robert Garcia, we'll be talking about that in the days to come. I'm hopeful we can have you come back and talk about that.

Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

All right, still ahead, a new legal filing claims the Border Patrol is separating children as young as 8 from families while in custody. What a juvenile care monitor says he saw when visiting a facility earlier this summer. We'll talk about that in a few minutes.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Now an alarming report accusing Border Patrol agents of separating children as young as 8 from their parents. A court- appointed juvenile care monitor filed the report and says children are not even being informed of their rights.

Let's go straight to CNN's Priscilla Alvarez with the details.

Priscilla, what more are you learning? This is very disturbing.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Jim, this underscores the reality for the Biden administration, which is that they are facing operational and humanitarian challenges on the U.S.- Mexico border.

Now this is happening amid overcrowding in these short-term facilities where, in some cases, and in limited instances, children are temporarily separated from their parents as they undergo processing and then are later reunited and released from custody.

We should note here, Jim, this is different from what happened under the Trump administration where families were separated, in some cases, parents deported without their children. That is not what is happening here.

But what this filing detailed overnight is instances captured by a pediatrician who was interviewing children, and these children had been separated from their parents after being apprehended at the U.S.- Mexico border and undergoing processing.

Some of those children, as young as 8 years old.

Now Border Patrol officials shared that it was because of overcrowding. So these facilities have holding areas for families, single adults, and unaccompanied children.

And when one of those holding areas are overcrowded or just crowded, they have to put the children together with children to avoid, for example, a situation where children are with single adults.

But either way, this pediatrician, this monitor, was calling this, quote, "profoundly traumatic for children."

Now in a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said the following, quote, "The health and safety of individuals in our custody, our work force, and communities we serve is paramount."

Going on to say that, "DHS and CBP prioritize keeping families together at every step of the immigration process and have protocols to that end."

But, Jim, the handling of the U.S.-Mexico border has been a delicate issue for President Joe Biden. And over the course of the last few weeks, numbers have increased, including families.

All of this making it increasingly difficult for officials on the border -- Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, Priscilla Alvarez, keep us posted on that very important story. Thank you very much.

In the meantime, a player for the Minnesota Vikings shares the racist messages sent to him after his team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles this week. Can the NFL do something about this?

Legendary broadcaster, Bob Costas, is here to talk about that and much more, next. There he is. He'll be here in just a few moments.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: New York Jets fans are still coming to grips with what happened to the newly acquired star quarterback during his first regular season game with the team on Monday.

Aaron Rodgers tore his Achillies tendon on just his fourth snap when his foot appeared to get dragged and snagged on the artificial turf as he was being sacked by Buffalo's Leonard Floyd.

The four-time NFL MVP is recovering following surgery and trying to stay positive. During an interview on ESPN on Friday, the 39-year-old had this message to those who believe his NFL career may be over.


AARON RODGERS, NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK: So give me a -- give me your doubts, give me your prognostications, and then watch what I do.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You trying to say you're coming back this season?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes, what's happening? You coming back for the playoffs this year?

RODGERS: I'm not going to make any of those statements. I don't feel that's fair to myself. I'm just --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it a possibility?

RODGERS: I think, as Kevin Garnett said, anything's possible.





(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: All right. CNN contributor and Hall of Fame broadcaster, Bob Costas, joins us now.

Bob, is that some wishful thinking on his part?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it was suggested by the other guys, by McAfee and the other guys.


COSTAS: He didn't reject it but didn't exactly embrace it.

This is basically a year recovery. So the best hope is that he's ready to go opening day next season. An Achilles injury is difficult.

A couple of things he does have going for him here. A, he's Aaron Rodgers. B, surgical techniques have improved. They're less invasive. And he'll have the most sophisticated possible rehab regimen.

And he's a determined athlete. Think Kob Bryant, who, A, was younger, in his 30s when he suffered an Achilles injury. And basketball's a different sport.

But a lot of people wrote him off. And he was so determined. So I wouldn't say that Aaron Rodgers can't do it.

The other important thing is this. The injury is to his left Achilles. He's a right-handed quarterback. He plants on his right leg when he throws. So if it had been his right leg, it would be even more serious than what this one is.


ACOSTA: Gotcha.

And you know, Bob, I don't know if you saw, this, but the former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who famously lasted less than two weeks in the Trump White House, had this to say about Aaron Rodgers:

"Aaron Rodgers lasted one -- 1,584th of a Scaramucci. That's not Mooch (sic)," or much. He had a good one there.

COSTAS: The Mooch had a good one there. But is it time for --


ACOSTA: Funny for the "Mooch." Not for Jets' fans.


ACOSTA: But when is it funny for Jets' fans?

But anyway --

COSTAS: Never. ACOSTA: Is it time to hang up the cleats for Aaron Rodgers, do you

think, honestly?

COSTAS: No. I wouldn't say so. Could it be career ending? Yes. Does age complicate -- advanced athletic age, that is -- 39 is young in any other walk of life.

Does advanced athletic age complicate the recovery? Sure, it does. But he's Aaron Rodgers, and he wants to play. And he has more history to make in his own mind. I wouldn't bet against him.


And the NFL players union, Bob, is renewing its call for replacing artificial turf with real grass following this injury. What did you make of that? Could the turf be part of this?

COSTAS: It could be. I wouldn't say it was in this instance.

J.K. Dobbins, running back for the Ravens, the same weekend, week one, was injured, an Achilles injury. That occurred on natural turf.

About half the stadiums in the league are synthetic, and half are natural.

The Green Bay facility at Lambeau Field, which is said to be one of the best surfaces in the league, is a hybrid. Mostly natural, but a little bit of synthetic. The NFL Players Association wants it 100 percent natural, including practice facilities.

And there is a lot of data that says that, especially noncontact injuries, in other words cutting, planting your feet, jumping rather than contact, that especially those injuries are more likely to occur and more likely to be severe on a synthetic surface than on natural grass.

If you're an owner, you say, wait a minute, synthetic turf, which has improved dramatically since the days of multipurpose stadiums for football and baseball in '70s and '80s when the artificial turf was laid over literal concrete, and that was just completely unacceptable.


COSTAS: The synthetic surfaces are much better and have more give than they used to have. But they're not generally as good as natural grass.

But let's say you're MetLife Stadium, right, the Giants played there on Sunday and the Jets played there on Monday, and there was heavy rain in between. Synthetic surface is better in that sense.

And a lot of these stadiums are used for other purposes -- soccer games are played there, high school games, college games, or a concert.

Let's say you have a piece of the stadium and you want to put Taylor Swift there or Rihanna or whatever it might be, or Beyonce, that's a lot of money. And synthetic turf makes it easier to transition to non- football events.

So there's going to be some pushback from ownership. But the NFL P.A. is insistent they want all facilities, practice and game facilities, to be natural grass.

ACOSTA: Interesting.

I wanted to ask you about this, Bob, because it's another sign of the times and it's just so ugly despite the progress that we've made in professional sports.

Minnesota Vikings running back, Alexander Mattison, says he received messages following the team's loss to the Eagles on Thursday night.

Some of those messages calling for him to kill himself. He shared two screen shots of these messages and then took them down.

And he responded on Instagram, saying:

"I really could care less, but this blank is unacceptable, really reflected on WTF you say and how it could affect someone. Under the helmet, I am a human, a father, a son. This is sick."

You know, we still have a long way to go in society, don't we, Bob?

COSTAS: Yes. This is vile. It's loathsome. You can't overstate the level of condemnation.

But we also should say this. The number of people who act like this, which can't be discounted, is greatly exceeded by the number of people who are revolted by it and condemn it.

Including most fans and certainly everybody within the league. But you've got a witch's brew of factors now.

For all the wonders of the Internet and some of the positives of social media, social media is open to every creep and cretin on the planet.

And when you yourself have an Instagram account or Facebook -- or Facebook is different, but let's say Twitter -- you open the door to these clowns. Clowns is too kind for these vile racists.

You open the door for them to respond to you directly. It's one thing if they have their own Twitter account. They can respond to you directly if you open that door.

And then we have legalized gambling and fantasy leagues coupled with all the fanaticism and craziness of the worst elements of fans who are upset now that the Vikings are 0-2, and Mattison fumbled in the game and didn't have a particularly good game against the Eagles.


ACOSTA: Right. COSTAS: So you put all those things together and it's kind of a witch's brew of factors and opens the door to some of the worst elements.

ACOSTA: Yes. And fans, I don't know -- maybe I'm wrong about this, Bob. I feel like fan behavior is getting worse, not better. And the person who sent this is obviously a loser.


ACOSTA: But we're just seeing more and more ugliness in the stands. Apparently, there was some of this that went down --


ACOSTA: -- during the Cardinals game. And people just need to understand this is a game.

And I know the poetry you put to it makes it a lot more fun to cover and watch and witness, Bob. But at the same time, it is incumbent upon fans to act like grownups, act like human beings.

COSTAS: Yes, we got a crisis in civility in the culture in general. But in sports, you got large crowds, and it's all televised, and people act out.

And they have been encouraged to act out by the Internet and other factors, what they see and hear on cable TV and whatnot.

It's almost sanctioned, at the very least tolerated and, in some cases, sanctioned to act like -- act upon our worst impulses.


Well, Bob, great as always to talk to you. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it. Hope to get you back soon.

COSTAS: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Good to talk to you again. Have a good weekend.

COSTAS: You, too. Bye-bye.

ACOSTA: All right, thanks, Bob. You, too. Thanks.

Be right back.



ACOSTA: And here's today's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD."


DENNIS CHESTNUT, URBAN ECOLOGIST: On a hot summer day, and this is where we would be able to go into the river and swim and cool off.

When my children became old enough to start going down to the stream to play, I noticed that it was trash and the toxic sediment, the floatable trash and debris, it just made for a toxic soup.

I wound up organizing cleanups in my own neighborhood, which eventually led me to found a nonprofit organization that led to the installation of a litter capturing device, the first one in the whole western hemisphere.

That allowed us to create a work force development program, and we engaged youth from all around the city who would take responsibility for cleaning up the litter traps.

We've also closed down a major polluter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just have to collect the data.

CHESTNUT: The river has improved tremendously over the last decade. One real indicator is eagles are nesting again. There are fishable days. And there are swimmable days.

You see, kayakers. You see crew teams now. Residents who used to see the river as a place to stay away from now view the river as a place to come to.