Return to Transcripts main page


Eleven Colorado Counties To Vote On Secession Tomorrow; Dolphins Suspend Richie Incognito In Bullying Case; Toronto Mayor Under Fire For Alleged "Crack" Video; Blackberry Tries To Find Former Glory

Aired November 4, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In politics news, election day in Colorado will be all about old school versus new school, as in making the old West new again. Tomorrow, 11 counties in rural and red northern Colorado will vote on whether to break off and form a new state called North Colorado. People in these farming towns, many of them, are fed up with policies which have led to tighter gun control laws and legalized marijuana, laws that might be praised more around the fireplaces in million- dollar ski cabins in Aspen. CNN's Ana Cabrera has more.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to northern Colorado, some 60 miles outside of Denver. No hustle and bustle of city life here.

SEAN CONWAY, WELD COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I saw the struggles that my grandparents, my parents went through to create what I believe is an oasis in the desert. And I see that oasis in the desert threatened.

CABRERA: Weld County commissioner Sean Conway is a third-generation Coloradon, raised on a ranch, fighting for his rural lifestyle and livelihood.

CONWAY: We're tired of being ignored, we're tired of being politically disenfranchised.

CABRERA: That's the message of the 51st State Initiative. Fed up with new gun control laws, expanded oil and gas regulations and increased renewable energy standards recently enacted at the Colorado capital, Conway is leading the charge to form a new state. He's wrangled support from across hundreds of acres of farmland. At least 11 rural counties north of Denver now threatening to secede, all set to hold nonbinding secession votes on Tuesday.

SETH MASKET, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: If they don't see a way to actually move the state back into Republican control, they figured maybe just leaving it is the only other option.

CABRERA: Political science professor Seth Masket says the movement is an example of Republicans who are the minority in this state taking desperate measures. In Colorado, Democrats have control of the Senate, House and governor's office. While supporters of the referendum know there's no practical implication from the vote, they say it's a sure way to get attention for their cause. But not everyone agrees with this strategy.

KEN BUCK, WALD COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The best strategy for dealing with political issues is through the political system.

CABRERA: Weld County D.A., Ken Buck, a high-profile Colorado Republican, is among those frustrated. But he plans to vote against the 51st State Initiative.

BUCK: I think what we need to do is make sure that we work doubly hard to get the folks who aren't listening out of office and to make sure that our voices are heard.

CABRERA: Governor John Hickenlooper says he welcomes more dialogue, saying quote, "If this talk of a 51st state is about politics designed to divide us, it is destructive. But if it is about sending a message, then I see our responsibility to lean in and do a better job of listening.

CONWAY: If urban dominated legislatures, don't begin to listen and address what I believe are the legitimate concerns of folks in rural areas of our country, I think this is going to be a wave of the future.

CABRERA: Ana Cabrera, CNN, Greeley, Colorado.


TAPPER: So in case you didn't know, the odds are against the Colorado secessionists. But it has happened before. West Virginia was the last state to do it, breaking from Virginia during the Civil War more than a dozen years before Colorado was even admitted to the union.

And a quick programming note, tonight a special edition of AC 360 LATER. From stop and frisk to Trayvon Martin. Our Anderson Cooper takes a look at race and justice in America. That's tonight at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Be sure to watch.

Coming up next, allegations of bullying in the NFL from harassing texts to getting stuck with a $15,000 tab. Is this what it's really like off the field for NFL players? I'll ask former running back Ricky Williams, who is standing by.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Now it's time for the sports lead. He's a guy who could probably tie me up like a pretzel around the goalpost if he wanted to, but sometimes it's just more complicated than simply manning up. Such is the case of 6'5, 315-pound NFL player Jonathan Martin, who left his team last week after reportedly suffering months and months of verbal abuse in the Miami Dolphins locker room. Now there are new developments. The team suspended fellow lineman Richie Incognito for what management calls "conduct detrimental to the team." This happened right after Martin filed a formal complaint against the Dolphins for alleged player misconduct. Martin reportedly received text messages and voice mails from Incognito that used racial slurs, according to ESPN and other media reports and also forced Martin to pony up $15,000 for a player trip to Vegas that he wasn't even going to go on. On Twitter, Incognito strongly denied any role in bullying his teammate.

But joining me now from San Antonio is former Dolphins running back, Ricky Williams. He abruptly left the Dolphins at the height of his career before eventually returning to the NFL. Ricky, thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it. How would you describe the locker room atmosphere with the Dolphins? Did you ever notice anything like this?

RICKY WILLIAMS, FORMER DOLPHINS RUNNING BACK: No. I mean, I played football in the NFL for 11 years, and I have never really heard anything quite like this occurring when I was in the NFL.

TAPPER: Tell us about your relationship with Richie Incognito. In an piece, Incognito talked about a conversation he had with you in 2010 when you guys were teammates in Miami, and he said that he wanted you to help him with his anger issues. Tell us about that.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Well, you know, Richie came to Miami in 2010, and I played a year with him. And he had a history behind him of getting in trouble on the field and off the field. Usually something, you know, people attributed to his temper, his anger.

And when he came to Miami, you know, I kind of put his history aside and tried to get to know him as a person, and I like Richie. He's a fiery guy, and he loves to play football. He's a physical guy. But as far as seeing him do anything that was problematic or troublesome, in the year that I spent with him, I never saw it.

TAPPER: Does it surprise you, this allegation from the team, suspended for being conduct detrimental to the team?

WILLIAMS: Well, not much surprises me in the things that go on in the NFL because a lot of what they do is really for public opinion. And you know, I think these allegations come out and you know, and everything is kind of blamed on Richie. It puts the Dolphins in a difficult spot. And this whole event is really a bit of a black eye to the team, definitely to Richie, and I think also to the NFL. So it seems like they go into save face mode to try to quiet things down so they can focus on the game they have this week.

TAPPER: How much is hazing part of the NFL culture? I know it's part of college football. I know it's part of high school football. How much of it shows itself in professional football?

WILLIAMS: Much less. Much less than people would think. My rookie year, 1999, there had been an event in the previous year in New Orleans, and Coach Ditka at the time got up in front of the team and he told us, he said there will be no hazing in this camp. He said if there's any hazing, the person that does the hazing and person who gets hazed are both out of here. And that set the tone for me right away.

And really, I haven't seen very much hazing. There are certain traditions like when rookies come in, especially if they're high draft picks, that they will take their position group or the offense or defense out to dinner and foot the bill. But that's more of a rite of passage. I wouldn't consider that hazing.

TAPPER: So, the idea that he was being made to pay $15,000 for a trip to Vegas he didn't go on, that wouldn't surprise you so much, nor would you necessarily think it was all that rough a thing or all that abnormal?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, playing in the NFL, the things that I've seen, none of it really surprises me. I mean, the one thing that jumps out at me is really, the NFL isn't for everyone. There are certain people --and I was one of the people, you know -- I had these ideas and expectations about what the NFL would be, and then once I got there, I saw that it wasn't what I thought.

So for me, I see this kid, very intelligent kid, you know, his parents are attorneys, he went to Stanford and he had these expectations about what the NFL would be. And if you look at his career, he really hasn't had as much success as he wanted to have, and things have been tough. And I'm sure things got out of hand with him and Richie, and now we are where we are.

TAPPER: I want to play for you some sound of the Miami Dolphins head coach, Joe Philbin, who had a press conference. Listen to this. I want to get your reaction.


JOE PHILBIN, HEAD COACH, MIAMI DOLPHINS: If the review shows that this is not a safe atmosphere, I will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that it is.


TAPPER: I know you think there's a lot of public relations going on here. What do you think the NFL and these coaches, what should they really be doing -- forgetting how it looks to the media and the public?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it's one of these things where the NFL, it's really like a closed fraternity. It's one of the things that it's really not made for everyone. There are certain people that can play in the NFL and certain people that can't. And once you sign that contract, there's a lot of rules, written and unwritten, that you're expected to follow.

So for me, this is something that should be handled internally. And I don't think the media, I don't think fans, I don't think anyone outside is really in a position to really fully understand what occurs inside of a locker room and inside of a football team.

TAPPER: Before you go, Ricky, what occurs? You have been alluding to the NFL being something of a surprise from what you thought it was going to be and that's one of the reasons why you took some time off, things going on behind the scenes. What are you talking about?

WILLIAMS: Well, actually, I wasn't talking about why I took time off. It's really, you know, you go through life and you're allowed to give excuses, allowed to wimp out of doing something, allowed to get away from doing your job, and once you get into the NFL, there are no excuses, there are no ways to wiggle out. It's preparing you for the game.

You get in the game, it's the fourth quarter, you're tired, you got this big guy across the line from you, who is trying to rip your head off and you have to be a man. You have to stand up and do your job. So you know, you can talk about bullying but for me, this whole idea of bullying, it makes someone a victim.

What I found with victims, victims are just usually victimizing other people. So you can't really have a victim mentality and be successful in the NFL. It just doesn't happen.

TAPPER: Ricky Williams, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

TAPPER: Still ahead in the "Money Lead," Google going off on the NSA in no uncertain search terms, the company furious over allegations that spies peeked at Google's data centers coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Buried Lead, usually the Buried Lead is a story we think has not gotten enough attention but that's partly the case for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was accused of smoking crack. But what is buried here is the video that purportedly shows him doing it.

Police told reporters last week they have recovered a video from a computer seized during a drug investigation that is quote, "consistent" with what news outlets have reported that Mayor Rob Ford was caught on tape smoking a crack pipe. Very few people have claimed to have seen the video and Mayor Ford is not one of them, but he took time on a weekly radio show that he hosts with his brother to say that he is sorry for his behavior.


MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I have made mistakes and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes. I sincerely, sincerely apologize. I want the Police Chief Bill Blair, to release this video for every single person in the city to see.


TAPPER: He received some sympathy calls from voters during a radio call-in show he did this morning as well, such as this woman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I support you 100 percent, Mayor. I don't know what's going on with the media and your council. I think I would be in trouble, too, if I had to deal with the council that you do every day.


TAPPER: But would you do hard drugs, madam? I think that's the real question. I want to bring in someone who has been covering this investigation into Mayor Ford. Robyn Doolittle, she is an investigative reporter at the "Toronto Star." Robyn, thanks so much for joining us. You have seen this alleged video. Why would he call for it to be released?

ROBYN DOOLITTLE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "TORONTO STAR": Well, it's obviously an interesting tactic. The video is part of an extortion charge against the mayor's friend, Sandra Lessie, who earlier last month was charged with drug offenses. He's recently been charged with extortion in connection to trying to get back the video after the media reported on it.

That video is now part of his court case, so I won't try to pretend what's going on in the chief's mind, but I think it would be unlikely for the chief to release it given the fact that it is in the court system.

TAPPER: The police have said that they can't charge the mayor with a crime based on what's on the video, right?

DOOLITTLE: Right. You don't know -- as his lawyer said after we published the story, you can't know what is in that pipe that looks like a crack pipe.

TAPPER: So what exactly did he apologized for today?

DOOLITTLE: So over the last two days he's been doing a media blitz. At first there was speculation he was going to step aside or say he was going to get treatment in a rehab center, but he showed up to his radio show, he does a weekly radio show with his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, blaring "staying alive" out of his SUV, which gave us a pretty good indication of what he planned to do.

He went on to say he's made mistakes, never claimed to be perfect, and he apologized for a couple high profile incidents that have happened in this city. One being he showed up drunk to a street festival in the east end of Toronto called "Taste of the Danforths" so he apologized for being hammered there, apologized for text messaging while driving.

He apologized for an incident in St. Patrick's Day two years ago where he was walking around the main floor of city hall with a half bottle of brandy, slurring, rambling. It was a security incident report that the star recently obtained. TAPPER: Could he be forced out?

DOOLITTLE: There's nothing that city council can do to force out the mayor. There's not sort of any impeachment legislation. The only way that he can be removed is if he misses three consecutive council meetings, presumably if he's in jail. Even if he's charged, they can't force him to leave. The one thing that is key, though, is in Toronto, unlike, say, a city like New York, the mayor does not have a lot of power. There's not the strong mayor system, they call it. The mayor doesn't have veto power. He really is just one vote in a council of 45.

TAPPER: All right, an amazingly, there was a poll that showed his approval rating going up five points over the last week. Robyn Doolittle, thank you so much. We appreciate your time.

DOOLITTLE: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Coming up next, forget selling phones. Blackberry can't even sell itself. What's next for the beleaguered company now that no suitors have come calling? Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Time for the "Money Lead," it once was hard for people to give up their Blackberrys. That was in 2006. Now Blackberry is giving up on a plan to sell itself, saying it will get a billion dollar investment from a financial holdings firm instead and try to reconnect with its former glory. Its future will not include chief executive Thorsten Heins, who is stepping down. Apple, Google and Samsung have been cleaning Blackberry's clock lately. The company reported a loss of $965 million in the second quarter.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll see you tomorrow from the garden state with an exclusive behind the scenes look at Election Day with Governor Chris Christie. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf.