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New Day

New Comic Features Superman as Bisexual; Jon Gruden Resigns as Head Coach of Las Vegas Raiders after Report about Homophobic, Misogynistic, and Racist Emails He Sent Over Seven Years; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Interviewed on Possible Consequences for Steve Bannon for Not Cooperating with January 6th House Committee Subpoena; North Lt. Governor Stands by "Filth" Remarks Describing LGBTQ+. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 08:00   ET



TOM TAYLOR, SUPERMAN COMIC BOOK WRITER: All those things are part and parcel of Superman, and this is just something extra that that very important symbol can now represent.

And I have to say, having seen the reaction today, having seen online what it has meant to people, I've seen so many messages from all over the world in so many different languages, people saying that they saw this news and burst into tears, people saying they never thought that they would be able to see themselves in Superman, that they wish other people who -- older people, all the people who said they wish they had this growing up, and they're so happy that younger people, or people who haven't come out yet, have this today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's wonderful that you're getting that reaction. There's also some of the other type of reaction, particularly here in the U.S., political reaction, because everything has got to be political now, including Superman, apparently. This is from Wendy Rogers, who is a state legislator in Arizona, who wrote, "Superman loves Louis Lane," she writes. "Period. Hollywood is trying to make superman gay and he's not." I cannot stress the level of ignorance in this tweet. First of all, because she spells Lois Lane, Louis, to begin with, a. And, b, she says that superman loves Louis Lane. Lois Lane is his mom. How depraved is this Wendy Rogers from Arizona?

TAYLOR: Right. Look, I think -- I don't know whether it is just being a strain, but I actually read that as Louie Lane. And I just hope whoever Louie is, I hope he's a wonderful man and very happy. Look, we're going to get some backlash for this, but the key for me isn't the people that are upset. It's for the people welcomed in by this that say today this is more powerful than a locomotive, that this is literally the most powerful superhero in comics, and one of the best known all around the world is now bisexual. And I think that's a really big and really strong statement.

BERMAN: Tom Taylor, I appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you very much.

TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman, and it is Tuesday, October 12th.

Breaking overnight, Jon Gruden gone as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, resigning after a "New York Times" report about homophobic, misogynistic, and racist emails that he sent over the course of seven years.

BERMAN: The emails were discovered as part of a workplace misconduct investigation. In them, Gruden denounces the drafting of a gay player and calls for the firing of players who protest the National Anthem. Gruden, who won a Super Bowl nearly 20 years ago with the Buccaneers, was in year four of a 10-year $100 million contract.

KEILAR: And joining us now to discuss this is Ryan Russell. He's a free agent defensive end who has played with the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he came out as bisexual in 2019. Look, Ryan, thank you so much for being with us to talk about this. I just wonder what your reaction was when you first heard what Gruden had said.

RYAN RUSSELL, NFL FREE AGENT DEFENSIVE END: My first reaction was heartbreak. No player -- no person that loves football wants to hear that -- the sport that we love and the organization that is held at the highest standard is kind of reinforcing and allowing this behavior, this un-comfortability for players, for staff, for fans, for viewers alike. And seven years is a long time. And giving someone that length of a contract, that type of support, someone who is known to me and others as kind of football royalty, is very disturbing, disheartening, upsetting on so many levels for so many people.

KEILAR: So he resigned. And I wonder if you think that is enough? Is that accountability to you?

RUSSELL: I don't think it is enough. I think it is reactive of the investigation of what is happening. I think the next step that the league needs to take is being proactive and making sure that the coaches that they hire, the players that they draft, the organization that they form are being inclusive, are being supportive, and are held to that standard, not just when things come to light, but all the time. That's accountability, is doing the right thing when no one is looking. The integrity level is what is being challenged here.

And, Jon Gruden wasn't sending those emails to himself. There were other people that knew about it, there were 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 in the very least that the league can do.

KEILAR: He was sending this email to someone in a leadership position at the time with the Washington football team. Gruden has apologized. He said, well, in his way, I'm curious what you thought of his statement.


He didn't acknowledge the content of the emails, which we should be clear, he pretty much offended everyone here, right? Black players, female referees, that would be offensive to many women in general, to gay players. So, what did you make of him saying that he was sorry if he hurt anyone?

RUSSELL: There's -- we talk about accountability, the level of accountability. That right there is being unaccountable. He didn't intend to hurt anyone, he's sorry if he hurt them. That's unacceptable at this time. We have seen so much in our country, we have seen so much in the National Football League with Colin Kaepernick, with the Black Lives Matter movement, with Carl Nassib coming out and being on his team, a player on his team, the first openly gay player to take the field on his team. And to say that he didn't mean to hurt anyone, he's sorry, that's -- that's not acceptable. You know in this day and age what those words mean, what that says to your character, what that says to your organization, what that will do to your legacy, and you hurt people. You hurt -- like you said, literally everyone. And there is no statement that you can put out that will take that back.

KEILAR: Gruden also called for the blackballing of a kneeling player, right? He spoke out against tolerance of players, black players, who are protesting during the National Anthem. Do you think that's why the NFL settled with Colin Kaepernick?

RUSSELL: I'm not sure about that situation exactly. I will say that we can come to assume that more people in the league have the same like mindset that Gruden has showed. The email isn't just the rants of one person to no one. It's a conversation with multiple people with similar views in leadership positions, in positions of power in the league. And this needs to be checked. Not just from the standpoint of the public opinion, because we can't change the league, but internally. And to hear that a protest about police brutality, about lives, about the equality of black and brown people and people of color would be met with firing, with hostility, with rage and anger, is exactly what those protests, exactly what Colin Kaepernick was fighting against, and exactly what we all need to take a look at and really self-evaluate, but also make sure that the organization that we love is being held to the highest standard.

KEILAR: Ryan Russell, thank you so much. Really appreciate your words this morning.

RUSSELL: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Members of the January 6th committee say they are ready to push back hard on witnesses who defy subpoenas. Last Thursday marked the deadline for four former Trump officials to produce materials. Here's what we know. Mark Meadows and Kash Patel are so far engaging with the committee. But an attorney for Steve Bannon said he will not cooperate, citing former President Trump's claim of executive privilege. It's a strange claim because Bannon left the federal government long before January 6th. One Democrat on the committee, Jamie Raskin, suggested Bannon could be jailed, saying, quote, he's completely exposed.

Joining me now is a member of the January 6th committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. He's chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and author of the new book "Midnight in Washington, How We Almost Lost our Democracy and Still Could." Chairman, thank you so much for being with us. I want to ask you a couple of questions on the select committee before we get to the book. We just mentioned the committee has said they are engaging, engaging with Mark Meadows and Kash Patel. What does that mean, exactly?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I can't go into the communications, but we have engaged with lawyers that are representing them to try to secure their testimony, but also to make it very clear that those who don't cooperate with our committee are going to be the subject of criminal contempt. We will vote on it in the House at the appropriate time, and we will refer to the Justice Department for prosecution.

So we're not fooling around. We expect people to fulfill their lawful duties. If there are legitimate questions that are raised, we will answer them, respond to them, but we want to make sure that we provide all this information to the American people. And these four witnesses in particular are really in a position to know exactly what the president was doing, what the response was like, why we weren't better prepared, and the role of the administration in this attack on the U.S. Capitol.

BERMAN: So engaging with Meadows and Patel, no more information on that. Steve Bannon, his team has already said he's not cooperating, he's not coming. So have you already started drafting the criminal referral?

SCHIFF: I can't comment on that, but let me tell you what I think exactly is going on with Steve Bannon. This is one thing I write about in the book. During the Russia investigation, which was led at the time by Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, we subpoenaed Bannon. And he came in with 25 questions that were written out for him by the White House, and said these are the only questions I'm going to ask, I'm going to allow you to ask, and I've already written out the answers, and the answer to each is no.


And the Republicans allowed that. And Bannon knew he could get way with that both because Republicans would allow that kind of obfuscation, but they knew that the attorney general, Bill Barr, or before him Jeff Sessions, neither of them would enforce the law. They would both support and protect and cover up for Donald Trump. That's not the situation anymore. We have a new attorney general, a new Justice Department dedicated to the principle that no one is above the law. So Bannon is in a completely different situation now. I agree with Jamie Raskin, he's exposed.

BERMAN: Look, it will take a referral to the Justice Department, but how can you reassure the American people you're not taking a butter knife to a gunfight here? You can do the referral, but this can all take over a year, there could be a new Congress, this could all just go away.

SCHIFF: Well, look, we hope and expect that the Justice Department will act with expedition. But these are the tools that we have to enforce the law, tools that we didn't have in the last four years. So we're going to use them. We're going to use whatever tools we have. And at the end of the day, it will be a test of our justice system and our democracy, and whether we're living up to that principle that no one is above the law.

BERMAN: Days, weeks, months in terms of when the criminal referral will come?

SCHIFF: It will come very fast if people refuse to cooperate, have in basis for their refusal, it will come very fast. I think that's all I can say.

BERMAN: You write about the insurrection a lot in your book, and all of this in the book. And there is an episode that I had not heard which is that day, when it was all happening, you were -- there was outreach from your Republican colleagues, some of your Republican colleagues were telling you, "You can't let them see you, a Republican member said to me, he's right, another Republican member said, I know these people, I can talk to them. You're in a whole different category." They were telling you, you were in particular risk for your life. Now there have been threats against you for some time. But it's different when there are people pouring through the building, banging on the doors there. What did that moment feel like for you?

SCHIFF: It was I think a harrowing moment for all of us. There were people breaking down the door. It wouldn't be long after this that Ashli Babbitt would be shot climbing through the glass to try to break in. And I kind of hung back. I think everyone was reacting differently, and there was a real scrum to try to get out the doors, and the Capitol police were telling us you need to get out, you need to get out.

And so I was waiting, and I have to say, my first reaction when these Republicans came up to me to say you can't let them see you was to be touched that they were concerned about my safety. But my next reaction was to think, if you all hadn't been lying about the election, let alone lying about me for four years, I wouldn't need to be worried about my security, none of us would need to be worried about it. And in that sense, what angered me the most I think about that day were these insurrectionists in suits and ties who were still, even after the bloody insurrection, after all the shattered glass and the death of that day, were back on House floor trying to overturn the election.

BERMAN: You're saying insurrectionists in suits and ties. You're talking about the Republicans in Congress?

SCHIFF: I am, because unlike those people climbing outside the building, they knew it was a lie. The true believers were out there attacking the building. But inside the chamber, my Republican colleagues know it's a big lie. When Steve Scalise appears on TV like he did on Sunday and can't answer the question whether the election was stolen, it's not because he doesn't know the answer. It's because like all of the GOP leadership right now in the Congress, they are deathly afraid of crossing Donald Trump. And that is what has our democracy so fragile, that people are not living up to their oath of office.

BERMAN: Is Kevin McCarthy an insurrectionist in a suit and tie?

SCHIFF: Absolutely, absolutely. And Kevin McCarthy, I talk about in the book, this is someone who I had a private conference with years ago, went to the press, completely misrepresented it. And I confronted him about it on the House floor. And he says to me, I said, Kevin, you know that I said the exact opposite of what you told the press. He says, yes, I know, Adam. But you know how it goes. And that's how he operates. And this to me is one of the most corrosive things of the Trump presidency, which is the relentless attack on the truth, the idea that they're all entitled to their own alternate facts.

BERMAN: What happens if Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker?

SCHIFF: Disaster, because he will do anything that Donald Trump tells him. And we cannot have someone with absolutely no reverence for the truth, no willingness to uphold his oath in that position, in line to the presidency. Donald Trump doesn't need to be appointed speaker if Kevin McCarthy is because essentially Donald Trump will control whatever he does.


BERMAN: The title of your book is "How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could".

But hasn't a lot already been lost? Isn't it on the way to being lost if everything goes as you fear it might and as it looks like it might?

SCHIFF: I'm going to ask that question because one thing I wanted to do in the book as well is show people the stories of courage of this period. Robert Caro, a historian, once said power doesn't corrupt as much as it reveals. Exactly.

And while it revealed Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalises and others, it also revealed people of great courage. It revealed Liz Cheney, of great courage. It revealed Adam Kinzinger to have great courage. It revealed Dan Coats and Mitt Romney and Maria Yovanovitch and Alexander Vindman, and all kinds of people of conviction, who rose to the occasion, and, you know, looking at those stories ought to give us inspiration. All of us right now have a role to play in the saving of our democracy.

We can't all be Marie Yovanovitch, this wonderful former ambassador to Ukraine, who defied a president and came and told the truth. We can't all be in her position, but we can in our own way play a role in saving our democracy when it is at maximum risk.

BERMAN: Chairman Adam Schiff, "Midnight in Washington" available now -- thanks for joining us this morning. Appreciate it.

Lieutenant governor of a state calling homosexuality filth, his comments caught on camera.

KEILAR: Plus, a mom suing a school after her son got COVID from a classmate. And the new revelations expected just hours from now in the Gabby Petito case.



KEILAR: North Carolina's lieutenant governor is doubling down on anti-gay and anti-transgender comments that have drawn strong criticism and led to calls for him to resign.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is joining us live with the latest.

What has he said, what has he not apologized for?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's not apologizing, Brianna. He really is stepping down on this, doubling down. Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, he is the state's highest ranking Republican, he is -- this is his first term, he made a name for himself as an outspoken critic of critical race theory, Black Lives Matter movement, calling activists socialist liars and nitwits who lack truth and God.

And as we here now, his target is also the gay and transgender community. His offensive comments were made back in June at the Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove, North Carolina. But they have gone viral over the past week after they were posted on a social media right wing Twitter account.

Just listen to part of his message.


LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON (R-NC): I'm saying this now and I've been saying it and I don't care who watches. Those issues have no place in the school.

There is no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. And, yes, I called it filth. If you don't like it I called it filth, come see me and I'll explain it to you.


MALVEAUX: Now, politicians, activists and North Carolina residents they are in an uproar over whether Robinson should keep his job. Robinson over the course of the last few days says he is not backing down, but doubling down on his comments.


INTERVIEWER: Would you have taken the words filth away, the word garbage away?

ROBINSON: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. When I see children in this state having this stuff forced on them, it is time for strong words and a strong response. Again, we are not going to be intimidated from backing down on this issue.


KEILAR: I mean, his opponents must be having a field day with this.

MALVEAUX: They are. They are. There is a lot of pressure for him to step down.

And a number of his opponents, Democratic opponents including North Carolina State Senator Jeff Jackson, Wiley Nickel, Erica Smith, they have all called for his resignation, calling Robinson's message openly discriminatory and hateful.

North Carolina's Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has called Robinson's comments abhorrent. And Allison Scott, who is with the campaign for Southern Equality and Transgender says this is why local laws are needed in North Carolina to protect the community against discrimination.


ALLISON SCOTT, CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY: It just impacts me on such a deep level that an elected official would call me and people like me such a horrible name. There are real impacts to words. And the real impacts from that are the damage and hurt in people's lives. More than a dozen cities have now passed nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBTQ people and if you want to know why we need them, our lieutenant governor just proved it to us.


MALVEAUX: And faith leaders from nearly 20 organizations protested outside of Robinson's downtown office Monday evening, demanding that he apologize for his remarks and also asking him to meet with them and members of the gay community. Robinson says he was not speaking in his official capacity when he was at church, only as someone expressing his religious beliefs.

Robinson in a Facebook video says his focus is on removing three gay friendly themed books from North Carolina's schools.

KEILAR: Sorry, buddy, you're the lieutenant governor, right? This is everything you say is sort of done in your capacity. That's what we learned when it comes to public officials.

MALVEAUX: That's right. And they're holding him accountable and they are trying at the very least to have a dialogue with him.

KEILAR: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much for that report.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

KEILAR: A top cop once called the Tom Brady or Michael Jordan of police chiefs now finds his job in jeopardy. We'll have more from Miami next.

BERMAN: And F bombs dropped in a new political ad.


BERMAN: Ah, New Jersey.



BERMAN: Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended by the city manager with the ultimate goal of firing him. A memo cites Acevedo's apparent support of a COVID vaccine mandate for officers in a recent no confidence vote by the police union.

CNN's Ryan Young live in Miami, with the latest on this.

Art Acevedo is a household name, a well-known police chief who was brought in to Miami specifically because he is seen as a rock star.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John. When you think about this, is it house of cards or game of thrones, you think about this, when he was brought in, they called him the Tom Brady, the Michael Jordan of policing. That's the kind of fanfare they brought Art Acevedo into. On top of that, he put a survey out for the police department early on, trying to get officers' opinions. But there were a lot of changes that were going to be made and that didn't go over very well.

This really played out in the media, between Art Acevedo and the commissioners. They went back and forth, and a lot of people here in Miami say this is a nasty as they have seen politics in some 25 years with this playing out.

We did just obtain this memo from the chief and I'll read to you in part what the quote says. It says: I promise to continue to fight the good fight, to rid MPD of the political interference from city hall which continues to negatively impact this organization.