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Special Counsel Seeks Limited Gag Order On Trump; Automakers And Unions Return To Bargaining Table Today; Texas Attorney General Survives Impeachment Fight Brought By Fellow Republicans; Scholars Warn Outdated Constitution Has Put Democracy At Risk; Will Early Polls Correctly Predict The Future?; Talks Resume Between UAW & Big 3 Auto Companies; Inside The Fight To Curb San Francisco's Open-Air Drug Market. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 16, 2023 - 17:00   ET



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

Prosecutors in the 2020 election meddling case against former President Donald Trump want the judge to place new restrictions on what Trump can say publicly about the matter. The special counsel has asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan not for a gag order specifically they say but for what they call a narrow well-defined restriction, arguing that Trump continues to make, quote, "disparaging and inflammatory attacks" against people involved in the case including the judge herself, which could lead Trump supporters to threaten or intimidate witnesses.

During a campaign speech last night here in Washington, D.C., Trump lashed out at the Special Counsel Jack Smith accusing him of infringing on his rights.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a deranged individual, and he wants to take away my First Amendment rights. 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.


ACOSTA: Previously in an August hearing, Judge Chutkan warned Trump against making inflammatory comments and told him his First Amendment right to free speech was, quote, "not absolute," arguing that in a criminal case such as this one, the defendant's free speech is subject to the rules.

Here now to discuss this is defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.

Shan, what do you think? I mean, it's good to hear the former president showing some affection for the First Amendment. We don't always see that. But do we see enough reason here for something along the lines of a gag order, restrictions, limitations on what Trump can say?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, he's already under these restrictions. Originally --

ACOSTA: He's supposed to be, yes.

WU: Right. He had been warned to do that. So the prosecution is kind of laying some foundation here for the record to be set hoping the judge will warn him again in writing this time, and then, you know, he could be subject to sanctions. Theoretically, a normal defendant might find himself behind bars for that, possibly financial sanctions, but they have to lay the record here for it, and it's actually a tough call for the judge because of the whole presidential campaign First Amendment issue.

Trump is really playing into that. I mean, at this point, you know, his defense and his campaign are absolutely one and the same. But there is a pretty clear, bright line that she can use that he could follow which is say what you want about there being no evidence against him, he's innocent, but you can't name people. You can't target people. And that would be a bright line.

ACOSTA: But in that video, you saw, and he's done this repeatedly, refer to the special counsel, Jack Smith, as, quote, "deranged." Can the judge say to Trump, you can't say that anymore? Because it seems to me, and I have to think that the judge is mindful of this, that Trump is almost setting a trap, you know, the more restrictions they place on him, the more eager he is to want to violate those restrictions to see if he can draw the judge into a situation where she's punishing him, and then he could use that to rev up his supporters more and more.

WU: Absolutely. I mean, that clearly crosses the line.


WU: And he --

ACOSTA: You think it crosses the line for him to call Jack Smith deranged?

WU: Absolutely. Because originally what she's always said is you can't be targeting particular people, you can't talk about the court, court personnel, government personnel including the prosecutors. No question that's over the line. Calling the prosecutor deranged has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence. I mean, you're not saying I have a right to be heard, they don't have any proof. It's a personal attack on the prosecutor.

And when you do that, the special counsel's point, that prosecutor's point, is that it makes other people worried that they'll be attacked personally, and there's already been violence, you know, from his supporters. So I think that's going to be pretty clearly crossing a line. The question is what kind of sanction do you impose, and to your point, luring her into imposing sanctions, not only good for him politically but maybe it will cause some delay in the trial. Maybe things look a whole side show on whether he has to be held in contempt or held in jail.

ACOSTA: Because theoretically -- I was going to ask you this.


What can the judge do about this specifically? But if she goes down this rabbit hole of setting up hearings, OK, let's talk about what Trump can or cannot say publicly about this case, that is a delay mechanism.

WU: Yes. That certainly could be a delay mechanism. She's very experienced and savvy with criminal defense tactics, having been one herself. I think she won't go down the rabbit hole too far, but any hearing, any litigation is further incremental delay.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you this, she had previously said that if Trump continued with this rhetoric, she would be forced to move quickly to hold the trial sooner. Could she do that? Is that a card she could be played here?

WU: It is a card she could play. I was -- been a little bit skeptical of that card because you can't say I'm not going to give the defense time to prepare because your client is violating his conditions.


WU: Right. Kind of apples and oranges. So I think she was kind of using that as maybe some pressure against Trump. In reality, she's still going to have to make the same findings that there's been enough discovery, enough time to prepare.

ACOSTA: And what do you think, this legal team request from Trump to have the judge recuse herself? He's pointing -- they're pointing to comments that she's made in the past involving January 6th Capitol rioters and talking about how, you know, Trump remains free and so on. They say this is an example of bias and all of that. What is your sense of it?

WU: That seems really weak. I mean, looking at the actual comments, they seem very weak. She's not indicating some sort of, you know, prejudgment bias towards him, so --

ACOSTA: It almost sounds as though when they put forward that kind of request, they're almost channeling him. That really his legal team is just speaking on his behalf. That's not really a good sign, is it, for the legal team if he is going after the judge and so they're going to go after the judge?

WU: Yes, they're really not doing their job. I mean, granted, tough job to control him, but your job as defense counsel is not to cave into everything the client says, and potentially get the client in worse trouble where some years down the road, the client comes back and says, malpractice, you did a bad job. ACOSTA: Yes. And we know the special counsel has some of Trump's

private Twitter communication, which is very interesting. The social media platform turned over more than 30 direct messages from his account, apparently, after receiving a search warrant from prosecutors in this probe. What do you think of that? I mean, that is fascinating.

WU: Yes, it's -- we always talk about the state of mind and how would they prove Trump's state of mind. This is actually great evidence of that. I mean, he's actually doing that himself. It's not some staff doing social media promotion for him. So it gives some insight into what he was thinking, and importantly, who he may have been talking to during those critical periods and what is he expressing about his real views of both the election as well as his real views of what they should be doing.

ACOSTA: Yes, I mean, theoretically speaking, these are communications that we just didn't even know about before, and if they are revealed, could be some of the evidence, we've talked about this or speculated about this, that maybe the special counsel has evidence or has information that the public is just not aware of at this point, and potentially this could be part of that, I suppose.

WU: Absolutely. And for a man who's supposedly famous for not, you know, keeping a written record of everything, this is like an electronic journal he's keeping.

ACOSTA: That's true, yes. And it's another example of how he spent too much time on Twitter.

WU: Yes.

ACOSTA: In the documents case, the judge ruled that Trump will be restricted on how and when he can look at and talk about classified information, if I have that right. That may play a role in this evidence against him. Trump's team is trying to downplay the significance of this, the seriousness of how he handled those records. What do you make of that?

WU: It's very significant. They basically wanted to put together the secure compartmentalized information facility, the SCIF, right back at Mar-a-Lago, which to anyone's common sense, my goodness, this is where he was keeping stuff.

ACOSTA: Right.

WU: He probably would let him set that up again. And the judge didn't really go along with that. The judge is saying, look, you have to go with the court security officers' rules about this, like in any case with sensitive classified information. There will be a place for you and your team to view it. But it's going to be particularly carefully controlled. At least on paper.

Judge Cannon is saying we're not going to be making this a very easy generous situation where you can let anybody you want look at these documents. It needs to be carefully controlled, and she even pointed out that mishandling these documents, these are documents that don't belong to you. These are the property of the United States right now, and you have to handle them appropriately. That's significant.

ACOSTA: And apparently he's saying in this "Meet the Press" interview that's going to air tomorrow, and we've already seen clips of it, that he continues to maintain that he can just declassify documents unilaterally. And that is just not the case. You know, especially when you're an ex-president, I mean, you can't declassify anything when you're an ex-president. What do you make of that, the fact that he's going out there making these kinds of comments that I would think are detrimental to his cause?


WU: It's just him continuing the only path he knows how to do, which is that's his defense, that they're my documents. He kind of puts his argument out and then lets the lawyers figure out, is there something we can do with that, can we come up with the legal theory to support that? It's not looking good for that.

I mean, one genuine confusion he seems to have is he's very used to the world of civil litigation. You'll hear him talk about I could have fought them in court, they're mine, there are suits going on.

ACOSTA: Right.

WU: He's not in civil litigation. And you know, he's right about one thing, when you're a defendant, a target in a criminal prosecution, the government is coming after you with their tools, their power. He doesn't quite get that. He's not the government anymore.

ACOSTA: No, he's not. That is not the case. All right, Shan Wu, as always, thank you so much.

Coming up on the strike, the big three auto companies and the UAW are still at the bargaining table today so that is some progress. But the walkout is already having a big cost. We'll talk about that in just a few moments. We'll take you live to the picket line next.

And acquitted on all charges at least down in Texas. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is cleared of 16 articles of impeachment in the state Senate, but he's still in major legal jeopardy. We'll explain that.

And later, San Francisco is trying to crack down on drugs in the city's tenderloin district, considered ground zero of open drug market. But residents say it's not working. The details ahead on that as well.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Two days after it started, we are seeing some signs of progress in the historic autoworkers strike. Negotiators for the United Autoworkers Union and the three big carmakers are back at the bargaining table, and the union said it had reasonably productive talks with the Ford Motor Company earlier today. But the strike is already costing some workers dearly.

Our Gabe Cohen is outside a factory in Toledo where workers are picketing as we speak.

Gabe, what do we know?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is significant. This news this afternoon, it's really the first sign of any progress that we have seen in negotiations between the union and any of the big three. As you mentioned this between the union and Ford, they met this morning and a source with UAW tells our CNN team, quote, "We had reasonably productive conversations with Ford today."

Reasonably productive, Jim. Certainly not a deal, but it is significant given the hostile words we have heard between these sides over the past couple of days. We know the union was set to meet with Stellantis and General Motors as well today. No word yet on any progress in those negotiations. But, look, there have been really, really, a lot of hostility as I said between the sides, and just yesterday, we got a better sense of how big the divide has been, where the head of the union said 80 percent of the members' demands, 80 percent, have not been met yet in any of the counter offers they have received from these big three carmakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

And until a deal is reached, we're going to continue to see this. These picket lines, 24 hours a day like the one here in Toledo, Ohio, outside this Stellantis Jeep factory. These striking workers are making just $500 a week of strike pay.

I want to bring one of them in right now.

Ryan, you brought your daughter here today.


COHEN: Talk to me first about your take on this news that there has been some progress -- I know you work for Stellantis, but some progress in the conversations between the union and Ford. What do you think?

AKENS: I mean, it makes me hopeful that they're getting the message that, you know, we're on strike and we're ready for this, and we have been preparing and, you know, bring a good offer to the table.

COHEN: And why did you want your daughter to be here today?

AKENS: I mean, I just brought her out just to kind of get her involved, just so she knows, you know, what's going on with dad at work. You know, she doesn't know a whole lot. She's only 6, so she doesn't know about the union, she doesn't know about UAW and what we stand for and everything.

COHEN: And what do you hope comes out of this here in Toledo? AKENS: Just getting enough better pay, and then a lot of our TBTs, our

part-time people just getting them on a path to full time so that they can get in and, you know, work like we've been working.

COHEN: Well, thank you so much, Ryan.

AKENS: Thanks.

COHEN: And again the first sign, Jim, of any progress. We'll see what happens with those talks with General Motors and Stellantis.

ACOSTA: Yes, Gabe, that dad doing a good job there. I'm sure the kids of a lot of these workers are wondering what's going on with their parents, they're not at work. And to that point, Gabe, what is going on with two lawmakers say they might be laying off some workers as a result of the strike? What do we know about that?

COHEN: Yes, that's right. We know that 2,600 workers, 600 of them are Ford employees, 2,000 of them General Motors employees in Kansas, are now going to be laid off because essentially their facilities can't operate as long as these three facilities are on strike. They can't get the proper parts in or maybe they can't distribute their materials.

The big concern again is that there's going to be this ripple effect. That's the ripple effect, and look, there has been talk from the head of UAW, the union, that there could be additional facilities that strike in the days or weeks ahead, depending on progress of the negotiation. So either way, we are starting to see that ripple effect, those 2,600 employees that are going to be laid off.

The union saying they won't go without an income, those workers who are not officially on strike. That presumably that may mean, Jim, that they're going to get strike pay, that $100 a day or $500 a week, but we really don't have a ton of details but we know there could be more layoffs we're going to see in the coming days.

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

In Texas, a victory for the state's Republican attorney general who just survived an impeachment fight brought by members of his own party. The state Senate in Austin just voted to acquit Ken Paxton on 16 charges related to using his office to help a prominent donor. He's now thanking his supporters and slamming what he calls the sham impeachment proceedings against him. Paxton says now that the, quote, "truth has prevailed," as he says, he will get back to work defending the constitutional rights of Texans.


Our Ed Lavandera joins us now from the Texas statehouse.

Ed, was this a big surprise that it ended this way?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there were a lot of people here in Texas who thought that given the super majority that Republicans have in the Texas Senate that an acquittal was very likely. But, you know, it's still very dramatic and still a lot of uncertainty as to exactly how this was going to play out. And if people are surprised by anything, perhaps in the end was just how overwhelming the amount of Republican support turned out being in the state Senate.

There were 18 of the 19 Republicans that were eligible to vote. The 19th being Angela Paxton, Ken Paxton's wife, who was not allowed to vote. Ken Paxton needed 10 votes to survive. He got almost all of them. Only two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for conviction in this case. And Paxton's lawyers say this is total vindication.


DAN COGDELL, PAXTON DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is a trial that should have never happened. Period, full stop. The right result happened, but it shouldn't have gotten this far.

TONY BUZBEE, PAXTON DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We are proud of the case we put on. We should not have had to prove our innocence, but that's what we did, and we believe that the court reached the right verdict. We're very proud of the work we did.


LAVANDERA: Now as soon as all of these verdicts were read and these votes were counted, it has really erupted into a political civil war here among Texas Republicans, and what this case has really done is expose the deep divide between the extreme right wing of the Republican Party in Texas, which is represented by Ken Paxton, and other Republicans.

You know, in the House of Representatives, there were an overwhelming number of Republicans who voted to impeach him, and now there are threats of going after those Republicans as political retribution. The lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, ripping into the House speaker for bringing these articles of impeachment forward.

The House speaker says that this was all orchestrated from the very beginning. This result was something that was inevitable, and essentially accusing the senators of cheating Texans of justice in this case. And one of the House impeachment managers had this to say.


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: So, Jim, all of this really isn't over for Ken Paxton. He is reinstated as the attorney general of Texas, so he can go back to work. But his legal troubles are not over. He still faces state security criminal charges that have loomed over him since he took office as attorney general years ago, and he's also facing federal investigation for some of these very same issues, and crimes that he was accused of in these articles of impeachment. So all of that still looming over him as well -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Ed Lavandera in Texas for us, thank you very much.

Coming up next, the tyranny of the minority. What two Harvard professors found when they looked at why the democracy that we have here in the United States is under attack. They join me next live here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: A new book warns America is at risk facing an authoritarian backlash as it moves toward a multiracial democracy. In "Tyranny of the Minority," two Harvard professors take a look at why they believe America's democracy is being attacked from within. They argue the country lags dangerously behind other modern democracies, and issues like January 6th, but also because it hasn't taken any steps to eliminate minority rule, and that they say, has allowed the minority to thwart the will of American voters.

And joining us now to talk about this are the authors of the book, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.

Steven and Daniel, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it. It's a very important book, and I think a lot of folks have been people are trying to figure out what is going on with our country, why is our democracy in peril, it feels like to a lot of Americans. But let's get to the title because that, I think, we just need to get that out of the gate. What does "Tyranny of the Minority" mean, and I'll start with you, Stephen?

STEVEN LEVITSKY, CO-AUTHOR, "TYRANNY OF THE MINORITY": Well, we are the only presidential democracy in the world where the president can lose the election, lose the popular vote, and become president. We are one of the few democracies in the world where the -- a major legislative body, the Senate, the party that loses the popular vote can control and routinely does control the Senate.

We are the only established democracy in the world where justices have lifetime tenure, there's no term limits, there's no retirement age. So this set of institutions and others allows political minorities to systematically thwart, and sometimes even govern over majorities. Very quickly, think back to 2016. Donald Trump lost the popular vote and won the presidency. In the U.S. Senate, the Democrats won the popular vote and the Republicans came away with control of the Senate.

That president and that Senate went on to nominate and confirm three justices which totally transformed the nature of the Supreme Court. We have one of the very few democracies in the world where minorities, political minorities, can routinely block, thwart, even rule over majorities. ACOSTA: Right.

And, Daniel, let me ask you this. You both argue in the book that the Republican Party has turned away from democracy.

And rather than expel these anti-democratic extremists from their ranks, the GOP has essentially accepted and made room for them, starting with the former president, of course.

How big is the authoritarian movement in the party, would you say? Is it the party?

DANIEL ZIBLATT, CO-AUTHOR, "TYRANNY OF THE MINORITY": You have to think that to be a political party that's committed to democracy, you have to do three basic things.

First of all, you have to accept elections, win or lose. Second of all, you have to never use violence to gain power or hold on to power. And most critically, in some sense, you have to also distance yourself from political actors who engage in the first two behaviors.

What's so shocking and troubling about the current dynamic in the United States is that we have a political party that's violating increasingly all three of those, especially the third category.

When you think about mainstream politicians, people who wear business attire, suits, that look like normal democratic politicians, they look like they're committed to democracy. They sound like they're committed to democracy.

But if they know their allies are engaging in violence or election denialism, to accept that, to not condemn it, to not say we have nothing to do that, that's unacceptable, is to enable an authoritarian strand in the final party.

Just a final note, we have studied democracies and democratic breakdowns. We have discovered the enablers, those who look like democratic politician, but who are not, are the ones who get democracy into trouble.

ACOSTA: And one of the things we're covering today is how, down in Florida, the Florida Republican Party has said they're not going to have this loyalty pledge anymore.

That was what Donald Trump wanted. He didn't want to have a loyalty pledge in order to get on the Florida ballot.

Let me ask you about this, Steven, that takes me to my next question. Is a lot of this about Donald Trump? If he becomes the president next year, what does that mean for the country?

But if he loses, could that mean that some of the problems you're talking about might be alleviated somewhat? What do you think? LEVITSKY: It's only partially about Donald Trump. As Daniel just said,

what's really critical, a single leader, even a very popular demagogue like Donald Trump, cannot destroy a democracy by himself.

It takes the enabling of a political party, a major political party, the toleration, the support, the protection of a major political party to enable him to do a lot of damage.

And so the problem is that the Republican Party leadership, even though in private they will speak very badly of Donald Trump, continue to support him in public.

And one reason that they do that -- and this gets back to the minority rule side of our book -- is that the Republican Party, as a whole, nationally, doesn't have to win national majorities. It can win the presidency through the Electoral College.

It's lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight elections, and yet it's won three out of the last eight elections.

Same thing in the Senate. They don't need to win the popular vote to win control of the Senate.

A party that doesn't need to win majorities, that's protected, in a sense, by the Constitution, can get away with playing around with Donald Trump, rather than looking for a candidate or a platform that can win national majorities.

ACOSTA: And, Daniel, that takes me to my next question. You write that the Constitution is part of the problem here.

You're proposing the elimination of the Electoral College, noting we're the only democracy in the world -- and I do think it is worth underlining, we're the only democracy in the world that has an Electoral College.

Let's talk about that.

ZIBLATT: Of course, our Constitution is a remarkable document, and there's many great virtues to it.

But one of the things we have to remember is that, since its founding, we have improved the Constitution. We have done the hard work of making our Constitution more democratic.

You know, women got the right to vote at the beginning of the 20th century by amending the Constitution. We began to elect Senators rather than appoint Senators at the beginning of the 20th century.

And our democracy has strengthened itself over time through amendments, through improving it.

What's tragic, in the last 50 years, we have stopped doing that work. Other democracies have continued to make their constitutions more democratic, since the 1970s, we've abandoned that. So we propose in the last chapter of the book, we laid out 15

proposals for institutional reforms that we think are not only essential, but at some level, are possible and would help us restore the faith we feel like we need to have in our democracy.


ACOSTA: And didn't we get close to getting rid of the Electoral College or there was some movement towards this?

And correct me if I'm mistaken, Richard Nixon, of all people, sounded favorable to the idea?


ACOSTA: That might strike people as being very strange.

Steven, let me have you take that one.

LEVITSKY: Yes, we got very, very close to abolishing the Electoral College. As Daniel said, we have stopped doing the work of trying to make our system more democratic over the last 50 years.

Most of us can't remember a period anymore where we actually thought seriously about reforming the Constitution but we used to do it. And we tried and came very close in the late 1960s.

The leaderships of both political parties supported abolition of the Electoral College.

Richard Nixon, the AFL-CIO, Chamber of Commerce, American Bar Association.


LEVITSKY: The House voted overwhelmingly to abolish the Electoral College. There was a majority in the Senate and something like 70 percent, 75 percent of Americans in polls supported it.

But it didn't get the two-thirds that it needed in the Senate, and so it died.

ACOSTA: Minority rule was protected there, I guess.

Finally, Daniel, one last question to you.

What do you say to critics out there who might, you know, put forward the argument that, in some cases, you need to have the power of the minority protected.

If the shoe is on the other foot, and Democrats were in the minority across the board, might they want to have at least some say in how things are governed?

ZIBLATT: I would ask, is it partisan to think that the person who wins the most votes should win office? And no other domain of our life do we think majorities shouldn't govern. But we have this one single carve out in our political system.

So, you know, sometimes the Electoral College has benefitted Democrats. Sometimes it's benefitted Republicans. Sometimes the filibuster benefits Democrats, sometimes it benefits, Republicans.

The point is that it's unfair. And that's why we have a set of proposals that we think ultimately will help American democracy as a whole.

ACOSTA: All right.

You need to check out the book. It also reminds me from the line with the "X Files," "This is America, the guy with the most votes doesn't always win."

But Steven and Daniel, thank you very much for your time. Really appreciate it.

Check out the book.

And we'll be right back.



ACOSTA: The former president versus the current commander-in-chief, Trump versus Biden, 2024 might play out a lot like 2020, if the early polls are correct. At the moment, Trump appears to be slightly ahead.

CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten, joins us to run the numbers.

Harry, I asked you last week whether these early polls really mean anything in terms of what will actually happen. What do you think? Do they?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, so you asked me that question last week. I decided to deliver the goods this week.


ENTEN: Like UPS or FedEx, personally for you, Jim Acosta.


ENTEN: Yes, right.

Here's the situation, I looked back at how much the presidential polls missed since 1960s. You look at on average, 11-point difference between where the polls are at this particular point and where the results actually ended up.

To put that into some perspective, look where it was a week out. The polls missed by about two points on average.

You can think of races like 1992 perhaps where of course George H.W. Bush was well ahead at this point. You could think of races like 1980, right, where you basically had this back and forth between Reagan and Carter, and it only broke in the final seconds of that campaign towards Ronald Reagan.

Even an election like 2008, where, at this point, the race was very close, and ended up that Barack Obama blew John McCain out.

The fact is, if you look to the long arch of history, the polls sometimes are right, but very often don't tell you very much of what's going to happen a year from now.

ACOSTA: Well, and I feel bad putting you on the spot, Harry, because it does appear to show that, at this point, you have to take some of these polls with a grain of salt.

And I know you, as a numbers guy, you don't mind that so much. What about the last few years. Have they told a different story?

ENTEN: Yes, I think this is the real question. In our age of polarization, is the electorate more static than it is, say, 20, 40 years ago?

Look at this. How much have the polls missed by an average in 2020. A year, just two points. That's as accurate or predictive of the polls at one week out on average, right?

Go back to 2012, Barack Obama was slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, that's what happened. You look at 2016, Hillary Clinton in the popular vote was slightly ahead of Donald Trump. That's what ended up happening.

Last time around, Joe Biden had a clear lead over Donald Trump, and that's what ended up happening.

So I think the question is, do we look like we did over the long-term or are we in a new term of polarization. In which case, the polls might be pretty predictive this time around.

ACOSTA: And they're deadlocked right now. So if that's where we are going to be in a year from now, that might be what we end up with.

And speaking of looking forward to elections, a lot of Democrats are joining the UAW picket lines.

Do we have any idea where Americans are coming down on this strike or is it too early? What can you tell us?

ENTEN: This is a poll before the strike took place. We knew the vast majority of Americans were on the side of UAW. Look at this, 75 percent to 19 percent. You rarely ever see anything like that in politics.


ENTEN: So I don't think it's -- yes, right, exactly, that's the word. I don't think it's exactly surprising that these Senators, Democratic

Senators in the sort of midwestern swing states are on the side of UAW, especially ahead of the elections next year.

Because I think they believe it's a vote getter for them and it lines up for the policies. And that's sort of the sweet spot, right, when something lines up with where you want to be the case, and lines up with where the electorate is.

Not much of a surprise you'll be joining the picket lines.

ACOSTA: There's a general sense, I think, that people think CEO pay is totally out of control in this country, and that might be feeding into this as well.



ENTEN: I think -- I think that's exactly right.


And let's switch to football. You know, I know you and I like to talk about this. We're one week into the NFL season. The Washington Commanders here in the nation's capital, they were victorious. Your team, not so much.

What are the numbers showing us, so far, where things stand in the NFL?


ACOSTA: I thought the Bills were going to be closer than that, but, you know, wow.

ENTEN: I would just note that, you winning in the opening week, me losing, it's the first time that's happened since 2018.

The Bills better get their tushes on the right lane and figure out what's going on in western New York tomorrow. Otherwise, I might have to join a picket line against Josh Allen.

But I'm faithful, I believe in it. Let's go Bills tomorrow against Las Vegas.

ACOSTA: And I think the other thing we have to adhere is that the Commanders just haven't been winning a whole lot in recent years. It's a bit of an anomaly that it's working out this way.

All right, Harry, we'll check back with you as the season grinds on.

Harry Enten, thanks so much, as always. We appreciate it. Good to see you, sir. Thank you.

And be sure to check out Harry's podcast, "MARGINS OF ERROR." You can find it on your favorite podcast app or at

Stay with us.



ACOSTA: This just into CNN. A heartbreaking update. The United Nations says the catastrophic flooding in Libya has killed at least -- get this -- 11,300 people in the eastern city of Derna.

That's more than 98 percent of the fatalities nationwide from those devastating floods. At least 10,000 remain missing. Rescuers are still searching for survivors at this hour.

The U.N. is also warning, there is a risk that those displaced could be exposed to leftover land mines from years of conflicts in the region. Just devastating what has taken place in Libya. We'll stay on top of that for you.

Back here in the U.S., in San Francisco, the Fentanyl crisis is under a spotlight right now as a multiagency effort to crack down on drug dealing shows mixed results.

CNN's Vernoica Miracle has the story.


VERONICA MIRCALE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Tenderloin of San Francisco considered ground zero for the city's open-air drug market.

Within these 50 square blocks, you will see people using and selling drugs. You'll likely step over human waste and used needles.

These tourists spotted bullet casings along the sidewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I knew the condition of this area, I probably would have taken a much longer path around it.

MIRACLE: The situation has become so acute that this has become a regular sight.

California Highway Patrol officers, normally on the state's freeways, now patrolling San Francisco's streets.

During our ride-along, they arrested a suspected drug dealer accused of selling meth and Fentanyl. What appears to be a tiny amount of white powder in this bag, officers say, in a worst-case scenario, could kill thousands.

UNIDENTIFIED CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL OFFICER We're looking at around 16,500 fatal doses of pure Fentanyl.

MIRACLE: This new crackdown in the concentrated area of San Francisco involves federal, state and local agencies and is spear-headed by Governor Newsom.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The CHP will allow us about 560 hours a week, which is not insignificant.

MIRACLE: Newsom says those CHP officers, in the first two months of the operation, seized so much Fentanyl that, at its worst, has the potential to kill more than two million people.

But some residents and business owners aren't seeing the results, telling us the situation seems to be getting worse. No one wanted to go on camera for fear of retaliation.

Except for Martha Hughes.

MARTHA HUGHES, SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENT: I'm not scared. I'm not scared of them. I'm not scared of anything.

MIRACLE: A resident who has watched the neighborhood deteriorate over two decades.

HUGHES: Drug addicts, more drug dealers. It's just bad.

MIRACLE: She supports the police crackdown but doesn't think it's working.

HUGHES: I blame this all on the politicians. They don't really seem to care. They are a lot of big talk but there's not enough action.

MIRACLE (on camera): They're blaming people like you. They're saying it's your fault.

BROOKE JENKINS, (D), SAN FRANSICO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We do. We appear to be failing as city leaders.

MIRACLE (voice-over): For Jenkins, San Francisco's district attorney, elected last year, after voters fed up with crime recalled the previous D.A.

JENKINS: Since I took over a little over a year ago, we filed almost 1,000 drug dealing cases. Unfortunately, they're cycling back out on to the street almost immediately.

MIRACLE: The problem, Jenkins says, lies with local judges.

In the past year, she said her office has filed motions to keep 200 of the most egregious suspected drug dealers behind bars while they await trial. Of those 200, only 17 were held in jail.

San Francisco county superior court judges, she says, allowed the rest to walk free.

JENKINS: I'm not going to take the blame when my prosecutors are going in and arguing that these people have to remain in custody.

Unfortunately, like I said, the judges are not doing their part and that has to be revealed. MIRACLE: CNN was unable to independently confirm Jenkins' claims.

We asked the San Francisco Superior Court to respond but it had no comment.

Jenkins acknowledges new California laws have decriminalized lower- level drug offenses. But she argues, these 200 cases involve reoffenders and people dealing significant amounts of Fentanyl.


In one of those cases, prosecutors say the amount of Fentanyl one dealer had across all four of his arrests had the potential to kill 38,350 people.

(on camera): Do you think you will ever get to the point where you will call these judges out by name?

JENKINS: I've tried to maintain a level of decorum as a former prosecutor and not do that but only time will tell.

MIRACLE: And San Francisco Mayor London Breed just announcing local agencies have arrested 300 suspected drug dealers over the last three months.

But is it making a difference in the quality of life for the people that live and work here? According to those we've spoken with, not yet.

Back to you.


ACOSTA: All right.

And now meet this week's "CNN Hero."



MIKE BALL, CNN HERO: They all have different stories. The point of what we do is to let them tell that story.


BALL: Sometimes they're silly. But beneath the silliness, they're really revealing. Sometimes they're really heartbreakingly real.


BALL: You'll think about being in a position where nobody has ever really cared what you feel. And instead now, you talk about what you feel and a whole bunch of people go, yes! It's life-changing.

(APPLAUSE) BALL: We can plant a seed in that child of self-confidence, self- worth. It's just so powerful.


ACOSTA: And to learn more, go to

We'll be right back.