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Texas Governor Bans Vaccine Mandates, Including Private Businesses; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Warns Democrats, Difficult Decisions Must Be Made Very Soon; NFL Coach Resigns After Homophobic, Racist, Misogynistic Emails. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 10:00   ET





We are following a number of developments at this hour. First, let's begin in Texas where GOP Governor Greg Abbott is reversing course, cracking down on vaccine mandates. On Monday, Abbott issued an executive order which prohibits any entity from enforcing those mandates, and that includes private businesses. It's a departure from Abbott's previous stance which left decisions up to businesses.

We're also monitoring some really stunning developments from the NFL Raiders, Head Coach Jon Gruden stepping down in the wake of an email scandal, a very disturbing one.

SCIUTTO: The New York Times reports that Gruden used homophobic, racist and misogynistic language in emails while he worked as an ESPN analyst, this over several years.

Another story we're following this morning, G20 leaders are convening today to discuss Afghanistan, the security situation there following the Taliban's rapid takeover. That's just one of the national security challenges facing President Biden. We're going to speak with General Stanley McChrystal. He commanded all U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He's retired now. He's got a new book.

Let's begin in Texas, however, with the new executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates. CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now from Dallas. And, Ed, you can reasonably have a little bit of whiplash here because the prior position of the governor was I'm not going to interfere with private businesses, let them make their own decision here. Now he's saying, even if you want to as a private business, and there are many big ones based in Texas, you can't do this.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jim. Well, you can imagine how this is going over in some circles, Republican circles who have -- on one side, you have extreme right-wing of the Republican Party in Texas who have been pushing Governor Greg Abbott in this direction, but there are a lot of Republicans here in Texas who are not comfortable with the idea of government essentially telling businesses what they can and can't do. So, all of this happening as Governor Greg Abbott here in Texas is facing two primary challengers coming up next spring. So, many people here in the state viewing what the governor is ordering through this prism of politics in his political future here in the state. Over the last few days, you've seen his opponents in the Republican primary for Texas governor have been saying that there should not -- there should be a ban on vaccine mandates.

And the question becomes now, Jim and Erica, how are companies going to react? We have heard from the CEO of Southwest Airlines who have said that they will continue complying with the federal vaccine mandate. American Airlines has said the same thing. We are waiting to hear from a number of other large companies that are based here. We have AT&T, Tesla, which is moving its headquarters here to Texas.

But the governor in Texas has been pushing vaccine bans for some time, this latest on private employers, there's also been a ban of government vaccine mandates and vaccine passport requirements. And if you remember, there's also been a ban on school districts requiring this as well.

And the question becomes now what are companies going to do? Are they even going to listen to this executive order or are they going to find a way around it? Remember a few weeks ago the governor issued a ban on mask mandates and many school districts here in the state of Texas ignored it and continued pushing mask mandate in schools.

HILL: Yes. It will be interesting to watch the fallout and the reaction there. Ed, we know you'll keep us posted. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right. Let's bring in CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson to figure out the law here. Okay. So, I'm not a lawyer like you. My understanding is federal laws trumps state laws. So, what happens here? Does the Biden administration mandate supersede and over what period of time?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, good morning to you, Jim. Good morning to you, Erica. Listen, the reality here is exactly as you stated. We know we have a series of states in this country, 50 to be exact. We also know that those states are governed by governors and you have a state legislature. That being said, states generally can deal with and handle their own affairs. By way of example, you have states very strong with respect to gun control, you have states that have lax gun control laws. You have states relating to death penalties are put in effect and states that don't.

What's my point? My point is states can very well control their internal affairs unless, Jim, as you said there is a federal mandate or some federal law that otherwise is in place, the doctrine called the supremacy clause, right? The supremacy clause means, not to get too legalese, but if the federal government says it, that's what we're doing. It's called the doctrine of preemption.


And so I think what government -- what it does to protect citizens, the state has to follow.

You can't have a patched quilt with one state that has an airline and it follows one rule and another state with the same airline follows a different rule. The federal rule controls. I think that's what you'll see here moving forward.

HILL: But moving forward, you know, Laura Jarrett, our colleague, was pointing out earlier, this is already being challenged legally. What does that look like in court?

JACKSON: Yes. I think what you do is there's a number of ways to challenge it. One is, is that they're going to say, of course, Texas, that we have a right to control our own affairs. We have, again, our legislature. We do what we feel is appropriate. We do what we think the political climate of that particular jurisdiction provides for. And we think these mandates are oppressive. We think these mandates are an imposition by the federal government. We think these mandates are something that we should not have to follow legally.

On the other hand, the federal government says, our main priority is to protect the citizens of this country. As a result of that, we're basing it on a science, we're not basing it on politics. We don't care if you're red. We don't care if you're blue, Democrat or Republican, we care that we have a public health emergency. And in that regard we believe will say the federal government that we have a right to impose mandates for businesses, for jurisdictions, and we don't care that you're a separate and independent entity. We care about our citizens.

SCIUTTO: A sad fact here, right, is that the science shows it seems, the data seems to show that mandates have been working getting people vaccinated. The other issue, right, that the politics have infused is this issue of mask mandates in schools in particular. So, an interesting development in Wisconsin, because you have a parent now, so more than one parent, suing their schools for not following CDC mask guidelines and the kids get sick.

I want to play the comments of one parent and get your thoughts, Joey. Have a listen.


GINA KILDAHL, SUED SCHOOL DISTRICT AFTER HER SON GOT COVID: I am just hoping that they will start masking and take some responsibility to keep our kids safe at school. On my school's website on all of their board, documentation, they say they want to provide a safe place to learn. And I think that to do that especially with the delta variant out there, they need to start masking kids.


SCIUTTO: So, this is not just about one parent there, because there's a super PAC that's raising money to sue every school board in the state that's not following CDC guidelines. Where does that go? I mean, it's quite an interesting strategy. Does that have legs?

JACKSON: Yes, I really think it does for the following reason. When you look at the issue of liability of the schools, you look at a few things, right? You look at one, duty, breach, causation, damages. What am I talking about? Number one, duty. The school system has a duty and obligation to protect the children. How do you do that? You do that with respect to following guidance, with regard to making decisions that are going to keep parents' children safe. I mentioned duty. Causation, as a result of your violation of that duty, meaning not having proper protocols in place, does that cause a particular injury, that is an illness or a sickness? And then you get to was a person damaged as a result?

And so I do think it has teeth. I think obligations of our school system are to protect our children. And to the extent you don't do that, you're going to make parents irate and they're going to do things like sue. And I think those lawsuits can be successful.

HILL: Gina Kildahl, who you just heard from, her attorney says -- has accused the schools are running a daily super-spreader event. There is high community spread though across the country, and several areas is Wisconsin as well. Would they have to specifically prove beyond reasonable doubt that a child, in fact, did contract the virus at the school? And how do you do that, right? Because if you're out and about in the community, how does that play into the success of this suit?

JACKSON: So, Erica, that's an excellent point. And I think with respect to the prongs that I mentioned, duty, breach, causation, damages, if there's going to be a pushback with respect to how you defend that lawsuit, it's going to be, well, what was the cause? Did it happen in school? Did it happen at some other activity? Did it happen at some other event? So, you have to nail down the cause. That has been problematic.

As to the standard, remember, it's not beyond a reasonable doubt because we're not dealing with a criminal case. When you talk about civil case, we're talking about a preponderance of the evidence standard, which means in English, did probably do it and is it probably because of that that you got it at the school. And that's going to be the issue.

SCIUTTO: We'll see if that's enough. Joey Jackson, great to have you on.

JACKSON: Nice to be here. Thanks so much, Jim and Erica.

SCIUTTO: Well, overnight, Speaker Nancy Pelosi penned a letter to House members, perhaps a little impatiently, saying that in order to keep President Biden's economic agenda afloat, quote, difficult decisions must be made very soon.

HILL: CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joining us now from Capitol Hill with the latest.

Difficult decisions, obviously this is going to be about which programs can stay in this reconciliation bill, which can't.


Where do things stand this morning?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and which members will agree to the ultimate price tag here, because, ultimately, that's what this is going to come down to, what will be left on the cutting room floor, which programs will be part of this final deal, and can they keep that very fragile coalition to get it through the House, with a three-seat advantage for Democrats, can't afford to lose more than three votes on the House side and on the Senate side can't lose any votes in order to get this massive bill through.

And there are still significant differences even as the Democratic leadership is trying to get this big bill, social safety net expansion, and that separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate, get both through both chambers of Congress by the end of this month. Big question about whether that can happen.

Now, as part of this package, there are a number of major social program, such as increasing of the child tax credit, dealing with universal pre-K, also tuition-free community college and expansion of Medicare to include dental, vision, paid family leave program. Will they scrap any of those to meet what Pelosi is calling for here?

Now, in the letter last night to her colleagues, she made that clear that they're going to have to make some difficult decisions to expand some of those programs and drop some other ones. She says, overwhelmingly, the guidance I'm receiving from members is to do fewer things well so that we can still have a transformative impact on families, in the workplace and responsibly address the climate crisis, a build back better agenda for jobs and the planet for the children. At the same time, we must lift the debt ceiling and hope we can have a unanimous Democratic vote and perhaps a bipartisan vote to do so.

Now, that last part referring to the fact that the House is coming back today after it had been scheduled to be out all this week in order to pass that bill that was approved by the Senate last week to avoid a debt default by just two months, an extension for up until essentially early December, increasing the national borrowing limit by $480 billion. There are big questions about whether they can avoid a default come the fall, a longer-term issue that they're going to have to deal with then. And that could coincide with the bigger effort to get the rest of the Democratic agenda through.

So, you're seeing a lot of big decisions leadership will have to make. Can they get it all done? Still major questions ahead. Guys?

HILL: Yes, that's for sure, quite a to-do list. Manu, Raju, I appreciate it, thank you.

Still to come this hour, more disturbing emails from one of the NFL's highest paid coaches. Today, that coach, Jon Gruden, he's out of a job. The latest on his resignation amid reports about his remarks that went far beyond a racist trope, that's next.

SCIUTTO: Plus, G20 world leaders, they are convening right now in a virtual summit. One of the top concerns globally for them is critical, of course, President Biden, that is Afghanistan. We're going to speak with retired U.S. Commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal. He has a new book out about risk.

And Netflix executives stand by Dave Chappelle's controversial new special, why he says it does not cross Netflix's line on hate speech. We'll that coming up.



SCIUTTO: One of the top paid and arguably the highest profile coaches in the NFL is now out of a job this morning. Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden resigned after reports surfaced of him using offensive language in a series of emails over a series of years.

HILL: According to The New York Times, Gruden's emails went beyond the previously reported racist language in one email that came out last week. He also, over a number of years, denounced women becoming referees, the drafting of a gay player, also the challenge of protests during the national anthem, and it goes on, frankly.

We're joined now by Bomani Jones, he's the host of The Right Time with Bomani Jones, a podcast on ESPN. Good to have you with us.

Look, there's a lot of talk about the reaction to not only emails but his apology, which I'm going to put in quotes, quite honestly. I think for a lot of people, too, though, is this pulling back the curtain on culture that is, you know, still very much at play today within the NFL?

BOMANI JONES, HOST, THE RIGHT TIME WITH BOMANI JONES: Well, I mean, I think the latter is entirely possible, and I think that's the part that is most interesting is that, look, there were 650,000 emails. Is Jon Gruden the person who said the most salacious thing in all those emails? That's probably not going to be the case.

Now, what if that becomes public becomes interesting because this is an NFL investigation, and you have reason to believe the NFL is the one who made sure that we knew these things about Jon Gruden. But, yes, when we start talking about the culture of football, I think what is interesting is just the level of comfort Gruden with using those terms. But he sent them to his buddy, who was a general manager for Washington. And since he sends that across there, then it gets caught into this dragnet.

He's on this email also with the CEO of a couple companies that are there and everything else. There is a remarkable level of comfort of all these people with this language and, by the way, also with sending images of topless cheerleaders, which is its own sort of problematic that -- I mean, if we find out everything that is in this treasure trove of emails, it could, in fact, be a reckoning for the NFL. It's just a matter of how much we're ultimately going to find out.

SCIUTTO: As you note there, part of the things that Gruden writes is the breadth of his targets here, right? He talks about gays, about women, blacks, concussion protocols in the NFL, protesting during national anthems.


I want to focus on the racist nature of his comments here because there's a dynamic. 70 percent of NFL players are black and here's a white coach to lead in that time, and there are only three black coaches, by the way. He's leading largely people of color. Here's how former NFL and hall-of-fame wide receiver Randy Moss, what he had to say about Gruden. I want to get your reaction.


RANDY MOSS, NFL HALL OF FAME WIDE RECEIVER: We talk about leadership, we give guys these big contracts because they want to be able to lead 70 men, coaches, equipment staff, and managers, to the number-one goal, and that's to win the championship, and for us to be moving back.

National Football League, this hurts me. The clock is ticking, man. I'm sorry.


SCIUTTO: Bomani, did Randy Moss hit it there, right, hit the nail on the head?

JONES: I think he did, particularly for himself. Now, I do not know Randy personally, but if you know his history, you know that when he was in high school, he had a situation with a fight that took place in school. He went from being basically the biggest star in West Virginia to being a pariah. And I have always imagined that in that time he probably learned a lot of white people that thought he was the bee's knees when he was catching the football and all of a sudden he wasn't going to the university of West Virginia and not playing for his high school, I imagine he heard a lot of things from a lot of people that he thought were cool in the first place. And I think that's happening with Jon Gruden for a lot of people is they did not think he was that guy.

And there's sort of a particular pain that comes from a person in the position of someone who's oppressed in this society when you find out that somebody that was in their ruling class that you thought might have been all right is actually might have been all wrong. And I think that that's the kind of emotion that I imagine that comes through for Randy Moss. And I imagine that for a lot of people, when you see like Tim Brown and Charles Woodson that had gotten on T.V. defending Jon Gruden, I imagine they did it because their opinion of him was so high to begin with. What do you think about the dude now that you see all of this? And when confronted with it, he's just kind of like, all right, I'm going to quit my job, sorry, didn't mean to hurt anybody? I mean, what do you think about a guy like that now?

HILL: I mean, that's the thing, right? This is the private that was happening while he still had a very public-facing role and clearly knew not to say those things on an open mic, right? I mean, so that's what it comes to. Who is the real person here, right? And who is the person that you're seeing?

JONES: Yes. My colleague, Marcus Spears, has made a very good point that I had not thought about because Eric Reid, who played with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, and was with him in the protest over a lot of this, Jon Gruden was never supremely critical of him on the air while talking about these things. He never said what he said in the emails, which is that this guy should be fired.

Remember, the term in the NFL is waived, released, cut. He went to fired, which gives you a whole different sort of connotation to what it is that he was talking about and he didn't say those things on television, which I think is a very interesting thing to note. He knew this isn't the way that you're supposed to get down. But when nobody was around, how he actually felt then came out.

And to go with what you said earlier about 70 percent of the players being black, it's one thing to talk about Gruden, you're supposed to lead black people, I would like to think that white people would be similarly offended by this, as you would expect the straight people would be similarly offended by the ways that he talked about Roger Goodell and the homophobic slurs that he used in that direction. Like that's what you should imagine.

Before black players, football especially, where the idea is so much about the coaches, not just being your coach but almost this borderline paternal figure that you don't just work for but you almost look up to, and then you find out if he's talking about DeMaurice Smith like that, it's reasonable to assume he'll talk about you like that if he gets mad at you, which means that's how he felt in the first place.

And I think that's got to be tough on a very human level for a lot of these guys, especially the younger players who didn't grow up probably nearly as cynical about race as people who are my age and older did.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's a great point, I got to imagination. Bomani Jones, it's so good to have you on, thanks so much.

JONES: All right. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, among the many challenges building up for the Biden presidency right now, a number of security worries from Afghanistan, the threat from China. I'm going to speak with a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. He has got a new book out. That's coming up next.



SCIUTTO: As we speak, President Biden meeting virtually in a special summit with G20 leaders this morning attempting to tackle the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, this following the Taliban's return to power. It comes as exclusive CNN reporting shows it is already clear the Taliban is returning to many of its old ways following the U.S.-led withdrawal.

Joining me now to discuss is someone who knows Afghanistan very well. He commanded U.S. forces there and has dealt with risk around the world. General Stanley McChrystal, Retired Commander of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and Author of a new book on risk, Risk, A User's Guide. General, good to have on this morning.


SCIUTTO: I want to begin with Afghanistan. Because in discussing your book, you speak about how U.S. leaders, in making this decision to withdraw, had to balance the risk of remaining with a force versus the risk of withdrawing versus specifically the risk of withdrawing quickly, as the Biden administration did. And I wonder which part, if any, do you believe President Biden got wrong? Which part of the risk management there with Afghanistan?

MCCHRYSTAL: Yes, one of the first things I'd remind people is you don't always judge the quality of a decision by the outcome because you can call exactly the right play in football and get unlucky and get a bad outcome and people say you're an idiot.


You can do the same thing and get lucky.