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Kaepernick Files Grievance Against NFL; 18 States & D.C. Sue Trump Administration over Obamacare Subsidies; Pentagon Investigates Niger Ambush that Killed 4 U.S. Green Berets. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 16, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:10] KATE BOLDUON, CNN ANCHOR: Former NFL quarterback at the center of the national anthem controversy says team owners are working together to punish him for his protests. Colin Kaepernick has now filed a grievance against the league and team owners saying they colluded to keep him out of a job since he took a knee in the 2016 preseason. This, of course, back in the spotlight after President Trump reignited the debate calling players SOBs and saying they should be fired if they kneel during the anthem.

Joining me now to discuss, Donte Stallworth, a former NFL player and a CNN contributor. Defense attorney, A. Scott Bolden, is here, as well.

Good to see you.


BOLDUAN: Scott, first to you.

Does Colin Kaepernick have a case?

BOLDEN: He has an arbitration claim and, if you have an arbitration claim, you certainly have a case. The real issue here is whether he can substantiate the claims. Witnesses, documents that show conspiracy or collusion between the owners and then even bigger issue is this. Under Article 62 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if he can show that the owners did collude, whether silently or understood or verbally, then this could have negative impact on the whole CBA. The CBA could be thrown out. And while the NFL players, while they have not joined the lawsuit, they're watching it closely, and you ought to watch and see whether other players or the NBA players association join this lawsuit. It could have big ramifications --


BOLDUAN: Do you see that happening?

BOLDEN: It is not clear. A complaint or grievance is just that. Now you have to wait for the NFL's response and that will be key, too. Does the NFL fight seeing a broader issue in keeping the CBA agreement together, or do they try to resolve it? How do you make Colin Kaepernick whole based on him barred from the NFL if he is able to prove that or they share evidence that shows that he's got a significant opportunity to recover here?

BOLDUAN: Donte, independent of all this, if it can be independent of all this, should Kaepernick be playing right now, do you think?

DONTE STALLWORTH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Without a doubt. Aaron Rodgers, the great quarterback from the Green Bay Packers, said it best. He specifically noted earlier this year that Colin Kaepernick, only reason why he is not on a NFL team today is because of him -- of his peaceful protest and kneeling. And so, you look at the player like Aaron Rodgers, he obviously knows that Colin Kaepernick is a very good quarterback, much better than I would say half of the quarterbacks in the NFL right now. And so, the fact that he is not on the field right now is a true testament.

I won't say to collusion or clear collusion but it is a true testament that his talents alone are not the only reason why he's not on the NFL team currently.

BOLDUAN: And, Scott, the complaint also points out that the President Trump -- calls out President Trump in the complaint saying, "The president points out that the president is being an organizing force in the collusion among team owners and conduct towards Mr. Kaepernick and other NFL players."

What could that mean here?

BOLDEN: That certainly means if the published reports are true that Donald Trump was calling the NFL owners, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and probably others owning the teams, and saying it's not about social justice but offending the flag and the soldiers that fought for them. We certainly know that's not true. These protests were about social justice.

Here's the deal. Based on how the grievance is drafted by Mr. Geragos, a really great lawyer, every NFL owner, player, gm or coach who talked about this issue, talked to Colin Kaepernick and his people, could be subject to the witness stand and they have to be under oath if you will. That's a pretty powerful mechanism and interesting to see whether this is just a big headache for the NFL and they want it to go away or whether we're going to have a long arbitration process document review and documents exchanged. Who is on the witness list? Because that tells you a lot. Potentially if you name Donald Trump, he potentially could be a witness. We're a long way from that right now. But I got to tell you, this is a thunder bolt to this social injustice issue, and the NFL is going to want to get away from this. Because now you have parallel tracks, a legal case, a political and social case playing out every Sunday on the NFL and across the country with sponsors.

[11:35:45] BOLDUAN: Donte, real quick, what are you hearing from players?

STALLWORTH: The players, I think, the players are keeping an eye on everything and they want to know exactly what it is that the NFL is going to talk about in these meetings. The NFL wants or the players, I'm sorry, wants the NFL to help them promote their causes and the things that they care about personally and not just on a level of being able to do it during the offseason but doing it during the season. The NFL has a huge platform, a mega platform that the players want to be able to stand on and promote their causes.

BOLDUAN: Donte Stallworth, Scott Boldin, great to see you both. Thank you so much.

STALLWORTH: Thank you.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, 18 states taking President Trump to court after his controversial decision to defund Obamacare subsidies, to cancel the payments to health insurance companies that was supposed to go to helping low income Americans afford health insurance. The next major legal drama for the White House, that's next.


[11:41:00] BOLDUAN: It was just Thursday night when the president announced that he was canceling payments to health insurance companies. These are subsidies that help low-income Americans afford insurance. This is a big part of Obamacare. By Friday, the president had a lawsuit slapped against him on this. Now, 18 states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration for those payments for the president's action, with California leading the charge.

Joining me now, the state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra.

Mr. Attorney general, thank you for coming in.


BOLDUAN: A federal court, as you, of course, well know, ruled that the payments were illegal. House Republicans brought that lawsuit. They ruled the federal court ruled it was illegal. The president following the court here they say. No matter the harm you see this is causing, where's the standing to fight this?

BECERRA: That's strange because the president has never chosen to follow what a lower court said in the last eight or nine months with a Muslim travel ban, which was found unconstitutional by the lower courts. We have a case through a lower court. It made a decision, a ruling, that we were appealing and we were on appeal on and so was the administration appealing and so this is not a done deal. Plus, we also know that the law requires that these payments, the cost sharing payments, be made so people afford health insurance. Not only premature on behalf of the White House but misrepresenting what is occurring.

BOLDUAN: That's true. That part written in the law. You were in Congress. I actually struggle to call you Mr. Attorney general. Apologies.

BECERRA: Yes. BOLDUAN: You were there when Obamacare was there negotiated and

passed. Not appropriating the funds, written in the law.

BECERRA: I believe that the law's pretty clear and we had premium subsidies for people directly so that their premiums every month lower so they could afford the insurance and the cost sharing subsidies for deductibles, co-payments worked together, worked tandemly. You can't take one without risking the ability to pay the other. In the law it makes it very clear and why both are required and even though Trump says he won't pay for the stuff, we're still going to have to pay because it's in the law.

BOLDUAN: I want to play for you what the president had to say after he had made the announcement. Here's what he said just on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Democrats were smart, what they'd do is come and negotiate something where people could really get the kind of health care that they deserve being citizens of our great country.


BOLDUAN: So, if this leads to the dismantling of health care system, do Democrats have an obligation to come to the table here?

BECERRA: Well, no doubt that what President Trump is doing to the Affordable Care Act is leading to the dismantling or as he put it, exploding the Affordable Care Act. The difficulty is this, Kate. While he is doing that, he's hurting everyone. All those people, who got health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, lose it. All the people who are taxpayers to help pay for it would pay more. The federal deficit would go up with what President Trump is trying to do.

BOLDUAN: Right. You say there's a lot of harm to the citizens of California and what the president is doing. Does that mean Democrats just in order to alleviate that harm should come and be at the table with the president as he says to try to negotiate something else?

BECERRA: I believe Democrats said from the very beginning we would be willing to talk about the things to improve the Affordable Care Act, not explode it. That's still the case. The difficulty is everything the president is trying to do explodes the Affordable Care Act and makes it more expensive, loses people's health insurance. And Democrats are about getting more people covered, not few people covered, and at lower expense, and what Trump is doing and costs the federal taxpayers more money. There's -- everyone loses in the Trump proposal of this past Friday. I don't understand why anyone would want to do this unless they're ignorant of the way the law works.

[11:45:03] BOLDUAN: Can I turn to politics really quick with you, if I could? Senator Dianne Feinstein, long-standing senior Senator of California, running again for re-election. That was a question. She finally announced it to everyone. She is now facing a challenge from the left for her Senate seat. Do you support Dianne Feinstein?

BECERRA: I think you're going to be a lot of support for both Senator Feinstein and the idea that we want to continue to move the country forward. There is no doubt someone like Dianne Feinstein has the experience it takes to be a great Senator. She's proven it in the past. There are people who are going to go out there and make challenges and I think that's one of the healthy things about our democracy. You see people coming out to put the best foot forward and we'll see Senator Feinstein, could be a state Senator goes out there and contests her. I think California's going to wind up with a great Senator.

BOLDUAN: Not picking a side, though, for Senator, Dianne Feinstein yet?

BECERRA: Well, remember, you just said I was a member of Congress up until recently, and I have to get re-elected and focus on the race for attorney general right now.

BOLDUAN: Got it. Again, I almost called you Congressman again.

Attorney General, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

BECERRA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the Army sergeant held captive by the Taliban for five years, now pleading guilty to two charges this morning and could face life behind bars. We'll be live from the military hearing in Fort Bragg. Be right back.


[11:50:56] BOLDUAN: This just in to CNN. Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty to two charges, desertion and misbehavior with the enemy. For that, he could face life behind bars. This is a major moment in what has been a long ordeal. Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in 2014 after being held captive in Afghanistan for almost five years after he walked away and left his base in Afghanistan in 2009.

Let's go to CNN's Martin Savidge who is in the court room and joins me from Fort Bragg.

Martin, what happened this court?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, we know he was likely to enter a plea of guilty, but to hear it coming from his own mouth and to hear him stand up and say, without any real reason or justification, he was guilty of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. It sounds random, but it references the fact that as a result of desertion and walking off post, which was in Afghanistan, in a war zone, it triggered a major search and recovery effort to try to find him. That disrupted the tempo of the war, not to mention, put many, many soldiers at risk. For that one, the most serious charge, the misbehavior, he could get life. That was made plain by the judge. The judge queried him over and over, are you aware of what are you admitting to? This was Bowe Bergdahl confessing to it all exactly as the prosecution had laid out. It was felt that maybe he was doing this because there was some kind of plea agreement, a PTA, pretrial agreement. Then he stunned the court by saying there was no agreement. He was getting no break or consideration for making what was a confession that he deserted his post and put many, many other soldiers in jeopardy as a result of his actions. He did point out to the judge, he said, at the time he left, he was going to report what he thought was a serious flaw in the leadership of his unit, and he did not expect -- and this was considered naive on the part of the prosecution -- by walking off post, it would trigger a search or the massive search that it did. He said, looking back now, he knows why it was wrong and he is confessing to it. He seemed like a man throwing himself at the mercy of the court and that may be what he has done.

BOLDUAN: Martin, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Right here for a second. It has been 13 days since an ISIS ambush in Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead and left 2 wounded. It's been 13 days without a public statement or even a tweet about this tragic incident from the commander-in-chief himself.

The Pentagon is investigating the attack that killed Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sergeant Bryan Black and Sergeant La David Johnson.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, there has been a lot of mystery around this ambush, first and foremost, and this also comes as the first of these men has been laid to rest over the weekend.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Kate. Let's start with the president with no public statement or tweet that we have seen. We do not know, of course, if the president has offered private condolences to the four families. We want to make that point. But this is a president who often speaks publicly in very glowing terms about the U.S. military, and he is choosing no the to speak publicly about this, which turned out to be the single deadliest killed in action incident of the Trump presidency. As you say, the funerals have begun over the weekend. Sergeant Wright, one of those killed, he was laid to rest in his hometown. And it was very public. So many people came out to pay their respects to him, Sergeant Dustin Wright. His family, these people are so dedicated to their service. His family has nearly 200 years of service in the U.S. military.

And his brother talked about all of that and what it all meant to them.


[11:55:11] UNIDENTIFIED BROTHER OF STAFF SGT. DUSTIN WRIGHT: To our records, we have not lost a single member until Dustin. That's 205 years. That's a good run. It's been great to hear and share that history. And if once every 205 years, this is the price we pay, then that's what it takes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Sergeant La David Johnson, 25 years old, he worked the produce counter at Walmart before he joined the Navy. He leaves a widow and two children and she is expecting their third -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thank you very much for bringing their stories and their names. We thank them for their service and sacrifice.

Barbara, thank you.

We will turn back to the White House. All eyes on the White House where the president will soon be holding a cabinet meeting. And they are going to welcome cameras in. We will bring you that as soon as it happens. What could possibly come up? That's coming up.