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Gabby Petito Autopsy Set For Release; NFL Head Coach Jon Gruden Resigns; Brooklyn Nets Bench Kyrie Irving Over Vaccination Status. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 13:00   ET







UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aww, that's kind of nice.





JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Ciattarelli is challenging the Democratic governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy. Jersey voters, like those in Virginia, go to the polls in just three weeks. We will be counting them.

Thanks for joining us INSIDE POLITICS.

Ana Cabrera picks up right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Kyrie benched. That is the new breaking message from the Brooklyn Nets on their seven-time All-Star shooting guard Kyrie Irving, the team saying Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant. And in New York City, that means he can't play at an indoor sporting venue until he's had at least one COVID vaccine shot.

Let's talk about this with CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers and Dr. Paul Offit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's ultimately going to be up to him.


CABRERA: We will work on getting that SOT back in just a moment.

But I want to bring in Dr. Paul Offit, along with Jennifer Rodgers, to discuss all of this.

Dr. Offit, first, your reaction to the Nets drawing this kind of hard line?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, I think it's the right thing for the Nets to do.

What I think is most amazing about this story is how committed some people are to not getting a vaccine. I mean, because he's unwilling to get a COVID vaccine, he's going to lose millions of dollars. He's not being asked to get a heart transplant. He's just being asked to get, say, two doses of an mRNA-containing vaccine or a single dose of J&J's vaccine.

And he's unwilling to do that. The other part that amazes me about this story, about -- that some teammates will say, well, that's really his personal choice. But it's not a personal choice. It's a choice he's making for all of them and for anybody with whom he comes in contact. It's remarkable.

CABRERA: Jennifer, Irving has been digging in hard over New York City's vaccine mandate, which it was the city rule that made him ineligible to play during home games.

But this just took it to a different level, with the team saying he can't even practice.


But these kinds of vaccine requirements have been upheld by courts again and again for decades now with all sorts of different vaccines. So he can do whatever he wants. He can sue. He can take whatever remedy he feels he's entitled to, but he's not going to win in court.

So his choices are either sit out and lose the money or get the vaccine.

CABRERA: However, it's this local law that prevents Irving from playing at home games, but it doesn't apply to members of visiting teams. There are exemptions for out-of-town teams.

So does that make it more messy legally, Jennifer?

RODGERS: I don't think so. I mean, employers are allowed to put these kinds of requirements on their employees.

And the contract between the Nets and Irving is complicated. They have a lot of rights to change the compensation and to bench him, like they have done, depending on what he does. It's all kind of spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement and his contract.

So I haven't seen those documents. So I can't say for sure that they're on strong legal ground, but, of course, they have very good lawyers. So I suspect that not only is the requirement going to be on strong legal ground, but my guess is that their actual contracts with him are as well. They have a lot of leeway to do those sorts of things if he violates a provision of the contract.

And this sort of thing would tend to fall under some of those provisions.

CABRERA: Dr. Offit, do you think it was necessary to go this far?

OFFIT: Yes, I think if you if you're saying that it's important to be vaccinated, not only for yourself, but for everyone with whom you come in contact, yes, I think that's right. Mean it.

If you're going to say you have a mandate, then mean it and bring it bring it to its -- in this case, it's sort of the logical end. It just is remarkable to me, though, that he is that firm on this.

I can understand that if he was like the first person being asked to get a vaccine. I could understand that. But he's not -- he's like the -- that we have hundreds and hundreds of millions of doses out there. These vaccines stand on a tremendous safety and efficacy platform. And even very, very, very rare side effects now have been picked up because it's been in so many people at this point, yet still he persists.

There's an old line, which is that, if people don't use reason or logic to reach a certain conclusion, reason or logic won't talk them out of it. And I think that's where he is right now. There's just no talking him out of it. Data are not going to talk him out of it.

CABRERA: I mean, we know there are still tens of millions of people here in the U.S., right, who haven't got that first dose of vaccine no matter how much information has been put in front of them. So how do you break through with somebody like a Kyrie Irving?

OFFIT: You compel them to do it. That's the only way to do it, is that you have to mandate it, sadly.


I mean, you can do everything you have done at this point. The vaccine is available. It's free. It's clearly safe and effective. Influencers have tried to make a difference. But when it comes right down to it, in this country, there's 60 to 65 million people who have said: I don't want to get a vaccine. I'm going to continue to be fertile ground for this virus to spread and cause harm and mutate and create variants that may become more resistant to the vaccine.

And what do you do when they say that. You can't just stand back and let it happen. It's not fair. It's not right for the society. And so you mandate it. It's not like mandates are new. We have had mandates from schools since the 1970s. Mandates are not a new phenomenon for vaccines.

CABRERA: Jennifer, there are some vaccine exemptions, though, religious and medical. We know the NBA already denied one of its big stars, Andrew Wiggins, a request for a religious exemption, and he went on to get vaccinated.

But what does someone have to prove for one of these exemptions, legitimate exemptions, to apply to them?

RODGERS: Well, that's an interesting question.

And if Kyrie Irving is going for one of those exemptions, he could try with the team then, ultimately, at the commissioner level, but typically you would have to prove a good-faith reason to get it that is religion -- based in religion or something moral. You can't just say, I'm against it because of political reasons or because I don't trust it.

Those, historically, at least, have not been good enough. It typically has to be based in some sort of religious or moral belief system. And that will have to be backed up. You can't just say that. You will have to find some sort of religious authority figure to write a letter or somehow communicate that, in fact, this is a good-faith belief of yours.

And people have been trying those all over the country with mixed success, depending on whether they're sincere, whether they can be backed up with documentation. So we will see if he tries that. We could end up with a dispute in the commissioner's office at some point.

CABRERA: Right now, here in New York City, people 12 and older beyond the court are required to show proof of at least one dose of the COVID vaccine for these following activities, indoor dining, indoor fitness and indoor entertainment and certain meeting spaces.

And it's that last one that applies to professional sports arenas and indoor stadiums.

Dr. Offit, how effective are these rules? And how long do you think we will be in a state of needing requirements like this?

OFFIT: Well, certainly, in some situations, mandates have been very effective, in other situations, not.

I think, in terms of how long we're going to need to have these mandates in place, I think it's when we get to about 90 percent population immunity. Right now, we have about 55 percent of this country that is that is fully vaccinated. You have probably another 100 million people who've been naturally infected who are also now protected against serious illness.

Those are not two separate groups. They're overlapping, but you probably heard about 75 percent population immunity now. You need to get to 90 percent. I think we need to vaccinate another 30 to 35 million people at least to sort of start to see a clear decline in the spread of this virus, so that we can put this pandemic behind us.

It's all in our hands to do that. If you look at countries like Portugal, which is a smaller country, about 10 million people, they are at about 85 percent vaccination rates for their entire population, and they have had a dramatic decline in the incidence of hospitalizations and deaths.

We can do that. We're just choosing not to.

CABRERA: It'll be interesting to see how these mandates or these requirements end up playing out and where that brings us as a country when it comes to that herd immunity, that elusive herd immunity.

So far, we know United Airlines implemented a mandate. They now say they have more than 99 percent of their work force vaccinated. Tyson Foods is another one that went from less than 50 percent of their work force vaccinated before their mandate to now 90 percent. So there is some proof there that the vaccine requirements have been effective.

Thank you so much, Dr. Paul Offit and Jennifer Rodgers, for the discussion.

We have other bombshell news, this time out of the NFL. Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigning abruptly amid scandal.

And CNN's Omar Jimenez has more on the stunning downfall of one of the league's biggest personalities.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned overnight after "The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal" reviewed e-mails from Gruden that used homophobic misogynistic and racist language.

"The Times" reviewed e-mails from Gruden spanning 2011 to 2018, while he was an ESPN analyst, where he used a homophobic slur while referring to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. They further report Gruden denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of the gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem.

A league source confirmed to CNN the accuracy of "The Times"' reporting.

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS: This is a pattern of retrograde notions, not confined to race, not confined to sexual orientation. All of that is in there. Retrograde notions about the nature of football. All of it obviously reaches critical mass very quickly, to the point where either Gruden decided himself that there's no way out of this and has to resign, or he was pressured to resign.


This is a pattern of behavior, apparently. There's a lot here and it can't be rationalized. EMMANUEL ACHO, SPORTS ANALYST: Jon Gruden was homophobic. He was

misogynistic. He was racially insensitive. Jon Gruden, he needed to resign. It's imperative that he did resign, and I'm glad that he resigned.

JIMENEZ: Gruden announcing his departure in a statement, writing: "I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff and fans of Raider Nation. I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone."

Last week, a "Wall Street Journal" report revealed an e-mail sent by Gruden in 2011 where he used racist language while referring to DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL Players Association, during a contentious lockout over the collective bargaining negotiations. Gruden apologized for the e-mail after the Raiders game on Sunday.

JON GRUDEN, FORMER LAS VEGAS RAIDERS HEAD COACH: All I can say is, I'm not a racist. I don't -- I can't tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to De Smith. But I feel good about who I am and what I have done my entire life. And I apologize for the insensitive remarks.

I had -- no -- I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all. But, yes, they can. I'm not like that at all. But I apologize.

JIMENEZ: Smith tweeted in response to news of Gruden's e-mail: "The e-mail from Jon Gruden and some of the reactions to it confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over. This is not about an e-mail, as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less."

RANDY MOSS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: My civil rights were taken, were kind of messed with in high school over the color of my skin. And now I will have been able to play 14 years in the National Football League. To have something like this of a leader -- 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 is to win the championship. And for us to be moving back and not forward in 21st century, like I said, man, National Football League, this hurts me. The clock is ticking, man.

I'm sorry.

ACHO: You are saying that the vice president of the -- or, rather, the director of the NFL Players Association, a black man, DeMaurice Smith, has lips the size of Michelin tires. Jon Gruden, you can't plead ignorance. You're too grown. This is why there need to be more minorities in positions of power, more minority voices, because there was literal just rampant ignorance laced throughout that e-mail.

JIMENEZ: Omar Jimenez, CNN.


CABRERA: Let's bring in Jemele Hill now. She's a contributing writer with "The Atlantic." Jemele, I got to wonder, how long has the NFL known about these e- mails? How long have the Raiders known? And what if they hadn't been made public?

JEMELE HILL, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I think the question we should be asking is not really the existence of the e-mails, but what is the culture in the NFL, period?

And this culture has existed since the very inception of the NFL. Understand that this was once a league that didn't even allow black players to play. This was once a league where there were no black coaches, no black people in leadership. There still has not been a majority black NFL owner.

And we see -- what these e-mails expose is we see why, because as long as you have people like Jon Gruden -- and it's not just about him. It's about all the people he was e-mailing. And people realize that he was e-mailing back and forth with someone who was the president or the general manager of an NFL team.

So if this is the pervasive attitude, if this is the groupthink in the NFL, black people don't have a chance of being a leadership in the NFL at all, because this is not just about Jon Gruden. This is about the entire reflection and what this league really represents when it's behind closed doors.

CABRERA: Well, and it's not just allegations of racist e-mails. It's misogyny. It's homophobic e-mails that were part of these interactions online.

And, meantime, Gruden was coaching the NFL's first openly gay active player, Carl Nassib. And CNN spoke with openly bisexual NFL veteran Ryan Russell this morning. I want to highlight what he said.


RYAN RUSSELL, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Jon Gruden wasn't sending those e- mails to himself. There were other people that knew about it. There are other people involved across the league. And this went unchecked for years.

So, no, resigning, to me, is not accountability. It's not enough. It's something reactive and really kind of minimal and the very least that the league can do.


CABRERA: So, he touched on some of what you touched on regarding the culture and just this acceptance internally of this kind of dialogue.


But what about accountability? What else should happen?

HILL: Well, I mean, here's the thing, is that I don't know if a league that has this deep of a problem when it comes to racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, if they can correct themselves, because you still -- the ownership groups look like what they look like.

You still have probably a lot of people -- not probably. I think it's a safe assumption to say that there are a lot of Jon Grudens in the NFL. And I guess I just don't have the confidence that this league can really put itself in check, self-check, because this is the same league that wants people to buy that they're invested and attacking this issue because they have "End Racism" in end zones, because they have committed to social justice work.

And they have tried to sort of pay their way out of dealing with these very substantive, difficult issues. This is America as well. And what we have seen is what every black person knows, what every gay person, every member of the LGBTQ community knows, is that, behind closed doors, this is what we're facing on the other side of the table when we go in for job interviews, when we're considered for positions.

I mean, in the last three or four head coaching cycles, we have seen a number of very qualified black coaches passed over, over and over again. But there's always room, seems to be room at the table for people like Jon Gruden. And as long as that's the case, as long as they remain as committed as they seem to be to having this kind of culture in the NFL, it's going to be hard to get widespread substantive change across the league.

It's going to be very difficult, because, given the number of Jon Grudens in this league, I just don't know if that's a realistic task that they're going to suddenly weed out this entire culture that has been just a part of the NFL as much as a leather football for years.

CABRERA: Jemele, before I let you go, I want to pivot real quick and get your take on our breaking news from the top of the show, your thoughts on Kyrie Irving, your reaction to the Nets benching him over his vaccination status.

HILL: I don't think that Nets had any other choice. You can have a part-time player.

Kyrie Irving is -- he's scheduled to make $30 million this year. And he's made it clear. There's a lot of people when it comes to vaccinations saying, well, you have a choice. You should have personal choice. OK, Kyrie Irving has chosen not to be vaccinated.

The Nets then had to make a choice as well. Their choice is, we can't have a player in and out, we can't be disrupting everyone's schedules based off the fact that you can't practice. We can't pursue a championship legitimately if we know that you're not going to be available.

Availability is everything in sports. And Kyrie Irving has made the personal choice to not be available and the Nets have made the perfect -- the personal choice or the team choice, the organizational choice, to move on.

CABRERA: Do you think it'll make him change his mind? Will he choose differently, so that he can participate? HILL: You know, I have to be honest, and I don't want to misrepresent

our relationship but I know Kyrie Irving a little bit. And I don't know that he's going to back down off of this.

I'm sure the Nets have tried a lot of things, probably things that we don't even know about. I'm sure they have tried to get him to talk to medical personnel. Around the league itself, just looking at his peers, his team is vaccinated. So whatever information that he needed to change his mind is already there.

So I think he's just chosen to make this stance. And it seems like at this point he's willing to see this all the way through, even if it means him losing a great deal of money, and potentially his NBA career.

CABRERA: Jemele Hill, appreciate your time, as always.

Thanks so much for your perspective.

Pouring fuel on the fire. Police in Michigan slamming former President Trump for calling on supporters to protest the 2020 election results in the state capitol today, yet Republican leaders continue to stand by Trump as he launches new attacks on democracy.

Plus, it could give investigators new and crucial information on the killing of Gabby Petito. Officials set to release her autopsy results this afternoon.

Stay with us.



CABRERA: Just moments from now, we expect to hear more details about how Gabby Petito died.

Her death has already been ruled a homicide. But, today the coroner in Teton County, Wyoming, will reveal the official cause of death and offer more details on his findings.

All this while the month-long search for Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, stretches on with few new clues.

Bobby Chacon joins us now. He's a retired FBI special agent and a former leader of an FBI dive team.

And, Bobby, we mentioned the medical examiner already ruled the manner of death a homicide, but today we're going to learn a lot more. What will you be watching for?


Well the big thing, Ana, will be the cause of death. So, the manner of death, homicide, means she died from injuries inflicted by another person. That's the manner. The cause of death will be blunt-force trauma, strangulation, something like this. So we will be looking for the cause of death. And then, further than that, we're looking for how much detail we have on the cause of death.

So, for example, if the cause of death is blunt-force trauma, can we tell or can the medical examiner tell what type of instrument was used to cause that blunt force? So you're not only looking for the cause of death today, but the detail with which they can tell what caused those injuries that caused her death.

CABRERA: And so could anything we learn today change the investigation?

CHACON: Not really change, but it will definitely further, much further the investigation.


So do we know what type of instrument were used? Sometimes by the position of the body or the position of the injuries, you can tell whether the person, the killer may have used their left hand or their right hand. There's a lot that you can glean from the determinations by the medical examiner.

So it definitely furthers the investigation.

CABRERA: And how does that bring you closer to who the killer was?

CHACON: Well, that's the key.

So, now the team of investigators and prosecutors who are working with the grand jury have to tie those particular details and the information coming from the medical examiner, right, to a specific person. And that's the challenge of the investigation, because while all this is great information, tells us a lot about what happened, we, as investigators and as prosecutors, still have to tie that information to a specific person.

So, like I said earlier, if they can say more likely than not the person was lefthanded who used this instrument based on the angle of the injuries and things like that, then you start to be able to narrow it down, narrow your pool of people that you can tie this information to the specific person. It all depends on the detail that was able to be gleaned from the examinations during the autopsy.

Now, we have the extra added deficit in this case of a body that was out in the elements. Maybe animals could have gotten to it. Maybe the weather could have degraded it. So we're going to -- we're really interested to see how much detail that they can tell us as to the cause of death.

CABRERA: Because, right now, Brian Laundrie, the fiance, who's still missing, has not been charged in her death. Specifically, he faces charges for making cash withdrawals using her credit card, debit card, but not specifically charged in her death. Why is that, do you think? Is it simply they don't have the evidence?

Or is it because he's missing and it's not in their best interest to charge him until they have a bead on him? What is that all about?

CHACON: Well, it could be your last point.

But -- and, more likely, it's they're building the case against him. And the autopsy, when you have basically only two people present at a crime and one of them is deceased, really, you have to build it through your physical and your forensic evidence.

And so people should remember anything that happened after the death is not necessarily relevant to the murder charge. And so all of his running and his parents not talking or talking and all of this other behavior, while it's indicative of possible guilt, it doesn't relate to guilt in front of a jury.

So they have to be building a case on the actual details. So that's the difficulty here. And as much as people all around the country think he did it, he still has to be proven guilty. The burden is still on the government. Brian Laundrie and his attorney do not have to prove why he didn't come forward and talk to the police, why he ran. He doesn't have to prove anything.

The complete burden of proof is on the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is the person that caused this death. And that's a pretty big burden. And it's going to be a challenge in this case.

CABRERA: And it's been almost a month now that he disappeared. There are estimates that the search for Brian Laundrie has cost at least a million dollars, a lot of it going to the search of that Carlton nature reserve, which is twice the size of Manhattan, a huge area.

At what point, Bobby, does cost and overall limitations with resources start to factor into those search efforts?

CHACON: Yes, well, luckily, as a street level investigator, I never had to face that.

But the police chiefs and the people that run the FBI offices, the administrators and the executives in those agencies have to at some point -- and it's a very, very difficult decision. You have to sometimes call off a search, even though you want to go further and the investigators at the street level want to go further.

You're right. There is a matter of limited resources. And there are other cases to dedicate those resources to. And how you balance that and how you make those judgment calls is a job for the executives in those agencies. And, sometimes, it's an unfortunate situation where you do have to call off a search or you have to redirect resources to another area.

CABRERA: Well, obviously, today's announcement, whatever that is, which is set to happen within the next hour or so, will hopefully give us more information and lead the search in a direction that is substantive, we hope.

Bobby Chacon, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

CHACON: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Former President Trump can't quit the big lie, again calling on supporters to protest election results, this time in the state of Michigan. And Republican leaders aren't doing anything about it.