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NFL teams kneel, link arms in defiance of Trump; Steelers stay in locker room during National Anthem; Trump: standing with locked arms or kneeling is not acceptable; Gunman kills one, wounds seven in Tennessee church shooting; Kushner used private email to talk with White House officials; White House defends Trump's criticism of NFL; Ex-NFL player responds to Trump's NFL slams; Bon Jovi's soul Kitchen helps fight hunger. Aired 5-6 pm ET

Aired September 24, 2017 - 17:00   ET



[17:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: We're in the CNN Newsroom, thank you for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We begin with a stunning show of defiance from the NFL against President Trump.


CABRERA: In cities all across the country every single kickoff today, players, coaches and even team owners are kneeling or locking arms in solidarity after President Trump called for the NFL to fire any player who refuses to stand during the national anthem.

Now, this is the Falcons and Lions game here. Owners of both teams to who put -- they locked arms with their players and a singer who performed the National Anthem also took a knee and raised his fist in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Land of the free and the home of the brave

In Nashville, moments ago at the Titans-Seahawks game, both teams stayed in the locker room while the Anthem played, the Anthem singer at this game also taking a knee.

And earlier in Chicago, the Steelers stayed in their locker room during the Anthem as well. Only one player, Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva stood alone on the edge of the field with his hand over his heart.


CABRERA: President Trump is officially responding to these protests. But it's unclear if he supports them or possibly misunderstands them.

I'll let you decide. Here is his tweet, great solidarity for the National Anthem and for our country. Standing with locked arms is good. Kneeling is not acceptable, bad ratings.

Now if you are asking how we've got here to the NFL publicly protesting the president and the president publicly demanding that NFL players be fired?

Well, it all started on Friday when President Trump went on a tear during a rally in Alabama. Here is a reminder of what he said. And we want to warn you, you may find this language offensive.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now? Out, he is fired. He's fired!


CABRERA: So with one more NFL game kicking off this evening, the league is planning to air a message of unity during tonight's game, a one minute ad that was produced for the Super Bowl earlier this year.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen NFL franchises have spoken out in support of players and Commissioner Roger Goodell. CNN Sports Correspondent Andy Scholes is joining us now. And, Andy, what have we seen on the field today. Give us a larger sense.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, you know, every NFL team on Saturday nights have team meetings before they are -- you know, getting set to get on the field on Sunday.

And it is clear that in all of these meetings, the players and coaches discuss President Trump's comments and what they were going to do about them.

And as we saw across the NFL, each team had a plan whether that plan was to lock arms together or some players if they wanted to -- to kneel or some players wanted to sit, it was up to them.

And as you can see in that Titans-Seahawks game, both teams deciding to remain in the locker room during the National Anthem, the same thing done by the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the day.

None of them came out on the field with the exception of one player. And their Head Coach Mike Tomlin, he explained the decision of why they remained in the locker room for the National Anthem. Let's take a listen.


MIKE TOMLIN, HEAD COACH, PITTSBURGH STEELERS: We are not participating in the Anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the Anthem, to remove ourselves from this circumstance. People shouldn't have to choose.

If a guy wants to go by his normal business and participate in the Anthem, he shouldn't be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn't be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we are not participating today. That is our decision. We're going

to be 100 percent. We came here to play a football game. That's our intentions and we are going to play and play to win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be clear, that means your team won't be on the field?

TOMLIN: We will not be on the field.


SCHOLES: Now there was one exception of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Alejandro Villanueva did come out into the tunnel for the National Anthem. And he's a former Army ranger.

He did three tours in Afghanistan, graduated from West Point, so clearly coming out for the national Anthem is something that is very important to him and something he decided to do even though the rest of his teammates decided to remain in the locker room.

And Ana, something we did see that we had not seen before in terms of demonstrations and showing signs of unity before -- during the National Anthem was owners participating in that with the players, and that is something we definitely saw today.

You see there's Shahid Khan of the Jaguars in London earlier this morning then you see Arthur Blank arm in arm with his star Julio Jones, Martha Ford with their Head Coach Jim Caldwell.

Stephen Ross of the Dolphins, Jeffrey Lurie with the Philadelphia Eagles. Owners were down there with their players showing a sign of unity, Ana, and that is something we had not seen when it comes to these shows -- signs of unity during The National Anthem before today.

[17:05:00] CABRERA: Also note worthy that some of those owners like Shahid Khan donated to President Trump about a $1,000,000 million was his donation for his inaugural committee and yet he is down there on the field showing that solidarity. Is there anyone that we are hearing from the NFL defending the president?

SCHOLES: In terms of today, Ana, I saw no signs of anyone defending anything that President Trump said. It seems that everyone is in agreement that they wanted to show a sign of solidarity.

And you know, the NFL those players consider themselves brothers. And when the president said that one of their brothers should be fired, those guys -- they showed us today that they are going to stick together.

CABRERA: Andy Scholes, thanks for that. I want to bring in CNN National Correspondent Ryan Young live outside Soldier Field in Chicago now where the Bears play with the Pittsburgh Steelers today.

And Ryan, the big talker of course was that all of the Steelers except for one player who had served in the army chose to stay in the locker room for the National Anthem. What was the reaction from fans? RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what an interesting

conversation. I really thought when we arrived here a lot more people would be informed about why the Steelers were doing this.

We have learned from talking to people there -- there were some people who were not even aware of the reasons why they were even protesting or deciding to stay on the inside or why Donald Trump decided to aim some of his focus towards these players.

In fact, by each person that we talked to one after another they were sort of surprised that it had gotten this big. And we were kind of discussing with people what they would like to see moving forward.

Now you do talk about Soldier Field. This is a place that honors soldiers. Then you had that kind of back and forth with people in terms of maybe this wasn't the place to do it.

And according to a couple of some fans, some of the players were booed as they came outside. In fact, let's listen some of the fans on what they had to say about what happened here today.


DEREK ZUMBAHLEM, FOOTBALL FAN: It's a show of disrespect. Not only for those that have fought and died for our country, but those who are currently serving and I just -- I disagree with it.

JESSICA ARCE, FOOTBALL FAN: I think that the message you are sending is as a unit you are a team. You are a team player that is very awesome. At the same time, you are facing a nation. Like, it is nation versus team in their part.

AMIT SUD, FOOTBALL FAN: I think personally, you know, they should stand up for the National Anthem. That is my personal opinion. I do respect the players' rights to take the knee. Soldier Field has history, you know. When they didn't come out I was surprised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was disrespectful and now it's made into a bigger issue than it really was. It went from one person now to a whole team. And any type of funding or whatever happening with the government should be pulled away from the NFL.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, one, had a brother lost his life in the war. I need see somebody not be respectful to do that, I always have been a firm believer of two sides to every story.

But not to know their side of the story is killing me because of the fact it seemed to be disrespectful. So I'm going to get their side of the story to make my unbiased opinion.

But I will say this, for the sake of God, we are in Soldier Field. If you are going to not stand for the flag and for the National Anthem, this is where you do it at.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG: So just looking at my social media, I was surprised by some of the answers because of the fact that they were saying that they were informed about why this would happen here and today.

Then you have other people who do not want to be on camera. They said they came here to enjoy the game and they didn't want to talk politics, and they hated the fact that people were using the time or even the presidency to kind of weigh in on what was going on in sports.

So there is the split in terms of what is going on here. Of course, a bigger conversation will be happening across the sports world. Some people said they are fed up with it. One thing to remember, up until 2009, a lot of times NFL teams stayed in the locker room for the Anthem.

This only became a recent part of NFL history with teams coming out for the National Anthem. Some people were saying they would like to see it kind of go away all together. Some others are saying, it is time to stand. So look, people are split on this one. Ana.

CABRERA: Very quickly, Ryan, did anybody actually leave as -- again, the president had suggested that would be another way of affecting change and preventing the athletes from taking a knee.

YOUNG: I didn't see anyone leave. I mean these tickets are really expensive. And then folks we we've talked to were on the outside were trying to get in. They whole idea was they like see them stand by I have to give some folks credit, they wanted to learn more about the issues for why this was going on.

CABRERA: All right, Ryan Young, there in Chicago for us. Thank you. And as we mentioned briefly, two NFL teams, all the players and the staff unified for a dramatic pre-game protest.

I'm talking about the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans. Their game began just in the last hour. And take a look at what happened when the National Anthem began.


CABRERA: Not a single Titan or Seahawks in sight. Every player on two NFL teams choosing to stay in their respective locker rooms. And I want to read this from the Seattle players, the Seahawks, quote, we will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country, out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf.

[17:10:00] We unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed and continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.


CABRERA: Let's talk more about this with Tara Setmayer, a life long NFL Giants fan and ABC News Political Contributor with Giants color. Jeff Ballabon, member of Donald J. Trump for President Advisory Board

and Dave Zirin, Sports Editor for The Nation and co-Author of an upcoming book with Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett about the NFL and racism.

So before today, Bennett sat down for the National Anthem in every game this season. Dave, I will start with you writing a book with the outspoken Bennett, what have you learned? What is the message?

DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION MAGAZINE: I mean, I have learned that the NFL is a brotherhood and Donald Trump never played football, doesn't understand that. And I think that is why he really stepped in this in this particular issue.

The NFL is such a brotherhood that even though many players do not necessarily stand or kneel with Michael Bennett or Colin Kaepernick on questions of racism or police brutality, they do believe that the president of the United States should not use the greatest bully pulpit in the world to call for people to get fired.

And they also disagree that any player including Michael Bennett should ever be referred to as a quote, unquote, son of a bitch. Now Michael Bennett's mother, Penny Bennett whom I know is a teacher for over 20 years and a beautiful person.

And if you look at Michael Bennett's response to Donald Trump's speech, it was very short. All he said is my mother is a wonderful person. She is not a bitch. And this is what I think we need to hold on to if you will.

CABRERA: Let's be careful with the language here for you.

ZIRIN: I'm trying to be careful with the language but I am so deeply offended knowing Penny Bennett and knowing how upset these players are about what they we called.

And people have to understand and Trump needs to understand that you can't do that. And NFL players, they have a solidarity with one another that will not allow such a thing to go unchallenged.

CABRERA: And yet we heard from their fans that they didn't really understand the message from these players that are taking a knee during the National Anthem.

ZIRIN: Yes, and with all deep, deep respect to the reporter on the scene, he was asking Chicago fans about the Pittsburgh Steelers. I mean, honestly -- I mean that sort of -- that is just not exactly where you get -- it's like going to an army game and asking them about navy.

I mean you are not just going to get most unbiased thoughts on what players are doing from the perspective. And of course, fans are going to be divided. But I was very struck today watching all these games and surveying it top to bottom that even though some of the booing has reported, there really wasn't that much. I mean all in all when you seek about where we are in this country,

it's like yes, we are divided but Trump is on an island with about 35 percent of the country.

And I think most folks are just absolutely shocked that the president of the United States would use this kind of coarse language and would go after people who work for private corporations, and say that they should lose their jobs for expressing their first amendment rights in a ritual that's only been around as you have said since 2009.

CABRERA: Jeff, is President Trump on an island here as, Dave, suggested?

JEFF BALLABON, MEMBER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT ADVISORY BOARD: It's a big giant island that kind of looks like a continent actually. I mean you saw exactly what the report was. First of all, the reports were that it was massive going much more than this typical NFL game.

And second of all, your reporter couldn't find a single fan who didn't agree with the president in this case. This is a case of talking heads in media that was completely missing the vote here and Donald Trump understanding where the sentiments of the nation really are.

CABRERA: But (Inaudible) say that people were divided. He didn't say everybody...


BALLABON: Everybody yet on air seemed to say, they supported the president's position.

CABRERA: Do you think the president miscalculated the back lash?

BALLABON: I don't think so at all. I think the president...

CABRERA: When you see the protests and the NFL owners, some of whom are outspoken Donald Trump fans unite against the president's comments.

BALLABON: I think that the president exactly knows where the heart of the country is on this issue. I think this an issue that really unites people much more than it divides people, the flag, the anthem, it unites people.

People are trying to make it about all kinds of things, it is not. The reality is that the NFL is very hypocritical when it comes to allowing players to comment about -- they were planning about publicly.

Somehow, the flag and the Anthem, they have gotten away. The president called it out. Americans by and large agree with him. He sought with his fans. They really agree with him.


TARA SETMAYER, POLITICAL CONTIBUTOR, ABC NEWS: This is this security's logic that we get into all the time when Donald Trump makes these really classless divisive, disgraceful comments as president of the United States.

Citizen Donald Trump made a career of making a spectacle of himself and people watched him for that. Now that he is president of the United States, there are real-life consequences to the things that he says and does.

As much as I as the granddaughter of a World War II veteran, as the wife of a federal law enforcement officer who serves at the pleasure of this president and the flag, that the office of the presidency.

I am very proud of this flag. I am proud of this country. I don't agree with kneeling as a protest but I fully support their right to do it.

[17:15:00] And the president of the United States coming out and framing it this way has taken away the merits of any of the arguments on both sides.

We can have a discussion about whether it is that flag that represents the people who sacrificed for this country to give these often times poor young black men and a talent and opportunity to become part of the 1 percent in this country.

God bless America for that opportunity for them. But then, we can talk about why they are protesting. That has merit. But none of that happens now because the president of the United States is engaged in tribal politics. No, he is not -- he is on an island.

He is not representing the majority of the American people in the way that he came out with that classless language calling women that but then again, we are not surprised. We know how -- what he said about grabbing women by the genitals, so no one surprised that.


BALLABON: Let's not pretend -- let's not pretend that is about the woman or about the mother. It's nasty word...

SETMAYER: He is the president of the United States, Jeff. Respect for the office, OK? And that is not respectful of the office. It is beneath the office of the presidency and it's disgraceful.

CABRERA: The president just this afternoon said this has nothing to do with race. What your response to that?

ZIRIN: Donald Trump's last 40 years have had everything to do with race. And whether you are talking about the housing discrimination issue case in the 1970s, its treatment of Central Park Five in the 1980s, his behavior in the set of the apprentice, the people who he surrounded himself with in the White House, I mean the list goes on and on.

But I would really put a point on the issue of who Donald Trump always chooses to use his bully pulpit to attack. It is almost used exclusively for people of color and women because that's -- and I think when this particular case, he thought to himself in his lizard brain, hey wait a minute, I am going to go after rich young black men who are descanting against racism.

I'm in front of this Alabama crowd. What could go wrong? What he did not expect is that these young black men are part of a brotherhood that includes the billionaire owners who backed his campaign.

It includes coaches and it includes a hell of lot of fans. I'm sorry but interviewing four Chicago fans who are going to Steelers game and hearing their comments, expressing ambivalence and then saying Trump is on a continent, everybody supports him is absurd. It is living in a bubble.


BALLABON: Don't pretend like he doesn't know that -- like all the he cares is business. He is a billionaire. He literally owned a professional football team. Don't pretend like he doesn't know.

ZIRIN: He ran a football team into the ground. You want to debate of USFL.


BALLABON: This is not a racial comment. You want to turn it into a racial comment. It is comment about respect for the National Anthem, respect for the flag. By the way, respect for NFL.


BALLABON: He did say that.

CABRERA: Hold on. Hold on, guys. So I think it is important because you are expressing what we are hearing from one side of this issue certainly. There are a lot of people who agree with you, Jeff.

But there are others like Martellus Bennett who tweeted the idea of real Donald Trump, this is the tweet, thinking that suggesting firing me from football confirms that he thinks that it's all that I can do as a black man. People are interpreting this as a racist issue.

BALLABON: People are -- people are projecting it because it helps them to project this is a racist issue, that even makes sense.


BALLABON: That it somehow suggests that being fired from using the platform -- using a giant platform of the NFL pre-game during the National Anthem where the cameras are panning them to use that flag and show disrespect for the flag and for Anthem.

And say go find another kind of job where you are not in the public eye disrespecting it, that doesn't mean you can't get other work.

It doesn't remotely relate to that. I mean it is unbelievably contorted logic. So that's exactly the point. You try to find get work in logic to suggest that this racial motivation or amnesty behind it. There is no racial amnesty behind it. It is simple question of respect for the flag and them Anthem, and the NFL.

CABRERA: But these people are saying their voices aren't being heard. They are saying, you don't understand what it is like to walk in the shoes of somebody who is African-American.

BALLABON: I don't. They're not taking my shoes. But I understand how that tweet saying I -- you don't understand what it is like to -- he didn't say at all. He said that the president suggested that I couldn't get another job outside of professional sports.

But the president said nothing of the sort. The president said he thinks that people agree that they like to see these people fired who get up there and use the platform they have to dent great the United States of America there at the Anthem and the flag.

SETMAYER: Here is the bottom line. The bottom line is the president shouldn't be weighing in this capacity at all.

ZIRIN: Thank you.

SETMAYER: There is another way -- I mean there are people suffering in Puerto Rico.

ZIRIN: Thank you.

SETMAYER: Americans suffering in the Florida Keys. I mean people -- there's North Korea and Iran are testing missiles.

ZIRIN: Thank you.

[17:20:00] SETMAYER: There are other things the president of the United States should be focusing on. And I'll tell you what, you know, I actually shed a tear today watching the opening -- the opening National Anthem ceremony of the Giants-Eagles game and shed a tear after they lost.

But it was emotional for me because I look as someone who is an American, life long football fan and there are many Americans out there who want to go and enjoy the game, and the idea of saluting our flag, and respecting our men and women in uniform, and being able to go and enjoy that and what used to be national unity around our flag.

But I think of post 9/11 and how proud everyone was, you know, I look at that one player that came out and within -- west point was in the military. You know, good for him. We should never be ashamed of our patriotism.

So now we have created this environment where it's us versus them that we can't even enjoy a football game on Sunday and proudly stand up for the American flag and what the country represents flaws and all.

Because Donald Trump has decided to weigh into this like some citizen on the street at a bar and disrespecting the office of presidency, the core of the violence portray.

BALLABON: This delusion of what the country ever was because honestly, I remember 9/11 also and I remember was that literally one day after 9/11 on September 12th, a school in California was sued because they had had monarchy, god bless America. That;s religiously, the really is the you know, politicians come around the issue when it is convenient for them for a minute. Donald Trump...


SETMAYER: I remember for months that everyone had flags in their cars or their windows, and their front lawns. Come on.

BALLABON: Some people did and other people criticized.

SETMAYER: And that flag represents their freedom to do that.

BALLABON: And you know, that' right.

SETMAYER: And the freedom for those players as long as they want to, as long as way may think they are and the president seems to think that that doesn't apply.



CABRERA: Dave, go ahead, last word.

ZIRIN: No, the president did not say it was wrong. He said they should be fired from their jobs. That is wrong. The idea of using the bully pulpit to try to deny someone employment from a private company, if that happened in another country, we would be calling for some sort of economic or military intervention.


BALLABON: People express the sense of a liberal mentality.

ZIRIN: Don't interrupt me, Jeff.

BALLABON: About race relations or about gender relations. It was job in public, it happens all the time.

ZIRIN: Great cable news interrupting nicely done. What you do not understand is what Donald Trump did was wrong and to defend it, puts you on the wrong side of history and you sir, are defending the indefensible.

BALLABON: We disagree. Personally, I think you're wrong.


CABRERA: Well, guys, I appreciate everybody coming on and having this discussion. It's an important one. And we will have you all back to continue another time. Dave Zirin, Tara Setmayer, and Jeff Ballabon, thank you all.


CABRERA: Coming up, a gunman opens fire on church goers today leaving a service in Tennessee and telling Sunday school teachers to keep kids sheltered. We will have shocking details of how he randomly shot victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the time I got over there, he shot the first lady in the back in the parking lot by that green explorer and then he turned around, and rolled her over and shot her in the face.




CABRERA: Welcome back. You are in the CNN Newsroom. This is just moments ago. You see the president coming off Air Force One, this is at Joint Base Andrews.

He will board Marine One and head back to the White House after spending the weekend in New Jersey. And he did speak with reporters just before he boarded Air Force One. We are working to turn those comments for you. We will bring those to you as soon as we can.


CABRERA: Meantime, we're covering at big news today. Police are calling a 22-year-old usher who confront a gunman outside a small church near Nashville, Tennessee this afternoon a hero.

The violence broke out when the gunman shot and killed a woman in the church parking lot, and then went into the back of the church police say and started shooting before the usher stopped him.

The attack left at least seven people wounded including the young, brave usher. CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining us now here in New York. He has been looking into this violent attack. What more are you learning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These were services that were wrapping up there with in Antioch, Tennessee when the sound of gunfire eventually shuttered the peace. What we know now is that Nashville police are identifying the gunman.

A 25-year-old from nearby county by the name of Emanuel Samson, investigators now trying to determine a motive, what they believe happened is that Samson showed up at this church according to reports just after 11:15 in the morning, shot and killed a woman in the parking lot before eventually making his way inside the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee.

And opening fire inside wounding at least six other people who are expected to recover. And that is when he came face-to-face with Robert Engle. He is a 22-year-old usher who confronted the gunman according to police.


STEVE ANDERSON, POLICE CHIEF, NASHVILLE: What I would say about the Mr. Robert Engle, the usher, he physically engaged the shooter and during the struggle the shooter was shot.

At this time we don't know exactly how that happened, whether he shot himself or whether the gun discharged during the struggle. Mr. Engle, sustained serious injuries himself and he is a hero. He is the person who stopped this madness. We are very, very grateful to him.


SANDOVAL: So hero seems to be emerging from all of this. Again, 22- year-old Robert Engle who is said to be OK, he was licensed to have a firearm at the time when he confronted this gunman who is also recovering from injuries of is own.

We are told that he is currently in the process of being cleared by medical personnel, so he would be even handed over to authorities, who were then charge as individual with murder but the question that everybody is asking, a motive here.

CABRERA: Exactly.


CABRERA: Do we know if he had a relationship with any of these victims?

SANDOVAL: It's a good question. At this point, there are police are quick to say that they do not believe he is directly involved with this church. He is not related to this church with any racial perform.

[17:30:00] But they did say that they have found -- that investigators had found quote certain things that they encountered in this investigation.

They would not elaborate much more but that clearly indicates that police and investigators are on a track for trying to answer the question you just posed, why.

CABRERA: All right, thank you so much. Polo Sandoval, keep us posted. And still to come here in the Newsroom we have some news details about the how the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner used a private e-mail server to correspond with other White House officials.


[17:35:00] CABRERA: Breaking news, CNN can confirm Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser has used a private e- mail account to communicate with other White House officials.

It's a remarkable development considering the Trump campaign's unrelenting attacks on Hillary Clinton's e-mail used during the election.

So let's go straight to CNN White House Correspondent Athena Jones. She is live in Somerset, New Jersey near the president's golf club where he spends the weekend. Athena, what more are you learning?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, as you mentioned we know that Jared Kushner used his personal e-mail account to communicate with administration officials on occasion.

We have a statement from Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, who insists that Jared Kushner uses his White House e-mail address to conduct White House business.

But Lowell went on to say that fewer than 100 e-mails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal e-mail account.

These are usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal rather than his White House address.

So Kushner's lawyer saying that there is no story here really. There is nothing that was bad going on here. And it is important to note, Ana, that this was a private e-mail account. But what we understand, not as whole separate private e-mail server...


JONES: ... which is what the case was with Hillary Clinton. Now you will remember of course during the campaign, then candidate Trump spent a lot of time bashing Hillary Clinton over this private server issue.

Often trying to raise questions about her credibility and her trustworthiness on the campaign trail by suggesting that the use of a private server showed she was trying to hide something.

So this is not the same thing. This is a private e-mail account. Still it is odd given the level of focus on the idea that Hillary Clinton wasn't using government -- government accounts and government system to conduct this business.

It's odd to see a senior White House official even send whether only 100 e-mails, send any e-mails in this way. The concern about the use of personal e-mails because it could go against the Presidential Records Act which requires that messages about government business be preserved in some way.

Now the -- Kushner's attorney says this is not an issue here. Lowell says all non-personal e-mails were forwarded to Kushner's official address and all have been preserved in any events but this is still likely to be controversial in some quarters, Ana.

And given all of these investigations going on into the 2016 election and Russian meddling in the election, and whether any Trump associates or aides were directly involved it is possible that Kushner's private e-mail traffic could be of interest to investigators whether on Capitol Hill or in the FBI. Ana.

CABRERA: Athena Jones for us in Somerset, New Jersey, thank you. Just moments ago the president was asked about a whole bunch of different issues. We're going to hear from him in just a moment.

Straight ahead, he is firing back at football players, coaches and owners after that unprecedented show of defiance across the NFL. Today, we will have the latest in the escalating controversy right now. Let's watch.


TRUMP: I watched a little bit. I was not watching the games today. Believe me, I am doing other things. But I watched a little bit and I will say that there was tremendous solidarity for our flag and for our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your friend Robert Kraft said he is disappointed by what you said Friday.

TRUMP: That's OK. Look, he has got to take his ideas and go with what he wants. I think it is disrespectful to our country. I think it's very, very disrespectful to our flag. I like Bob very much.

He is my friend, but he gave me a Super Bowl ring a month ago, right? So he is a good friend of mine. But -- and I want him to do what he wants to do. But we have a great country.

We have great people representing our country especially our soldiers and our first responders. And they can be treated with respect, and when you get on your knee, and you don't respect the American flag or the Anthem that is not being treated with respect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying racist Anthem, sir?

TRUMP: It has nothing to do with race. I never said anything to do about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) finalize his tax plan yet, do you know?

TRUMP: We have a tax plan. It's totally finalized. I think it would be terrific. I think it is going to go through. And it's a very -- it will be the largest tax cut in the history of our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to discuss possible part of (Inaudible).

TRUMP: I never heard that mentioned. Really, I never heard that mentioned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the corporate rate 20 percent?

TRUMP: I hope the corporate rate is going to be 15 percent.

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: We'll see what happens. But I hope it's going to be 15 percent. But it's going to be substantially lower so we bring jobs back into our country.

[17:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Individual rate to be 35 percent?

TRUMP: We think we will bring individual rate to 10 percent or 12 percent, much lower than it is right now. This is a plan for middle class and for companies so they can bring back jobs.


TRUMP: I have been watching for seven years as the Republican just been saying, repeal and replace. Then you have John McCain voting no for whatever reason.

Bow by the way, Arizona is one of the biggest beneficiaries. Even the governor do see is totally program it. It is also great for Maine. It is also great for Alaska.

Every state you are talking about it happens to be particularly good for, so I don't know what they're doing but you know what, eventually we will win whether it's now or later.


TRUMP: We will see what happens but the Republicans have been saying for seven years repeal and replace. And now they have a chance. And the funny thing is in Arizona, it is up 116 percent. In Maine it is way up.

In Maine, if you look at what's going on with Maine, they get a tremendous amount of money with the grants. I mean if you look at the man, (Inaudible).

You look at Alaska, one of the biggest beneficiaries would be Alaska and these are the people that are against it. Eventually we will win on that.

My primary focus I must tell you and has been from the beginning as you can imagine is taxes. I believe we will be successful in the largest tax cut in our country's history. Thank you all very much, I will see you later.


CABRERA: Those comments moments ago from the president. And, of course, he hit on a number of different issues from taxes promising the largest tax cut in American history.

He was also asked about the health care plan saying we will win eventually win whether it's now or later, and he was asked about this developing controversy regarding comments that NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem should be fired.

I want to bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez standing by in Washington for us. Boris, the president on that last issue, the NFL and the National Anthem protests, he is not backing down. Instead he is digging in.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Ana. I should tell you the president has just returned here to the White House after several days in Bedminster.

He has a busy week ahead, not only on the legislative front with Senate Republicans trying to push for this latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare before the week is over.

But also this tax reform roll out that you heard him discuss there. It really draws into question why the president is choosing to focus on this issue of NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem.

It's something that he first brought up during the rally in Alabama on Friday. And he reiterated it this morning on Twitter telling NFL fans that they should boycott the league in order to force owners to do something to make the players stand during the National Anthem.

You heard during that gavel with reporters before leaving Bedminster saying that he really thinks that the owners should do something about this.

One of the curious things about that session with reporters is when he was asked about whether or not his comments inflamed race relations and he said this has nothing to do with race.

Of course, if you go back over a year back to August of last year when Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the National Anthem his reasoning was that he was protesting against the way that he feels police officers treat people of color.

So you have all of these players doing this in part to protest race relations and the president saying that this has nothing to do with race.

To highlight that, he did tweet out earlier today writing in part, quote, courageous patriots have fought and died for our American flag. We must honor and respect it. He also retweeted someone who wrote that if you boycott the flag, we will boycott you.

Again, calling for a boycott of the NFL, we have heard numerous players both in NFL and NBA, coaches, league officials and owners saying that they are disappointed in the president's comments including a friend of Donald Trump's, Patriots owner Robert Kraft who said politicians could learn something from the teamwork that players display on the field every week.

You heard the president during the gavel saying that Robert Kraft is still a friend that he has to do what he has to do. There are still more NFL games almost later today. We may see more statements made on the field and perhaps the president responding to them as he usually does on Twitter. Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Boris Sanchez, at of the White House. Thank you. Coming up, Former Green Bay Packers Player Eric Matthews is going to join us with his reaction to this developing feud between the president and the league. Stay with us in the CNN Newsroom.


CABRERA: President Trump's gripe with the NFL igniting coast to coast conversations about patriotism, race and power, how do these three topics intersect with one of America's favorite past times football.

I want to get perspective from a former NFL Player, Eric Matthews who helped the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl in 1997. Eric, thanks for joining us.

ERIC MATTHEWS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: When President Trump called for players who kneel to be fired what was your first reaction?

MATTHEWS: My first reaction was more of what he -- how he said it. And that to me was more disrespectful than anything to call somebody out, someone or whatever. You know, that was really like you are really doing this on national TV where we have kids who actually watch.

You know, our president is talking like this to a player that kids look up to and to me that was a slap in the face for our president, the highest level of government to come on TV and talk to people, citizens -- American citizens this way. So that right there to me was like a slap in the face for our president to do something like that.

[17:50:00] CABRERA: And as an African-American man seeing that these protests are primarily by African-American members of the National Football League, did you take it personally?

MATTHEWS: I did because I want to see -- it took so log for us to come together and you what Kaepernick was -- people don't realize this has nothing to do with the NFL. Kaepernick took a knee for what it going on in our community.

The injustice with the police and the brutality and everything, and I think a lot of people lost perspective of what was going on has now become an NFL this where this whole thing started where it was something that was going in our community with the police.

Now it's taken another leg with the president coming on talking about these, using foul language against American citizens again on what they're beliefs for. These guys are doing what they believe in and as Americans...

CABRERA: For their first amendment right?

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes. So for the president to say hey, you don't have -- the president tell us we don't have that right, and to me, that's like I say a slap in the face. You don't have that right.

CABRERA: What are you hearing from current NFL players?

MATTHEWS: We actually talk on a regular basis. I talk -- we have one of the largest NFL chapters in the country. It was so crazy. I just over a few minutes ago, I was just talking to our president, Bobbie Howard.

And we had a discussion about what was going on. Everybody's feeling the same way about how our president is, he's coming after us.

And we have more stuff in our -- ours right now, there's going on with Korea, these Texans, I mean, there's so much stuff even with the hurricane survivors.

We've got so much going on but still want to weigh in on NFL player. You know, standing for something that they believe in but we have something that's more, you know, needed from our president and he's taking his time out to just bad mouth Americans.

CABRERA: Eric Matthews, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We really appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: We'll be right back.


CABRERA: In today's Impact Your World, rocker Jon Bon Jovi's mission to change the stigma of homelessness was with his pay it forward style restaurant.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This may look like a trendy New Jersey restaurant, but it's actually a unique movement to feed those in need.

JON BON JOVI, AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER: I thought, how can we bring people together in an affordable, accessible way. And we focused on the issue of homelessness and then housing, and food insecurities. It was one soul at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the JBJ Soul Kitchen, with two locations. Here, each meal is a mission.

BON JOVI: We have created what we now call a pay it forward model.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that would be some way that you could participate and help us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A non-profit within rocker Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Foundation, this community kitchen welcomes everyone at the table, regardless of their ability to pay.

BON JOVI: There's no prices on the menu. If you are, in fact, in need, you volunteer. That pays for a meal for you and for your family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And there's some bread and butter. BON JOVI: Should you choose to enjoy a meal, we suggest that you buy a pay it forward card so that you not only affect change by paying for your meal, but the one next to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you don't know if somebody's dining here because they're in need or to pay it forward. Everyone's treated the same. Howard, how's that meatloaf?

BON JOVI: That's the key to our success, is empowering the individual.


CABRERA: Coming up, we are getting reaction now from NBA champion Kevin Durant. What he is saying about the president calling out his teammate Steph Curry and NBA players next.


CABRERA: You are in the CNN Newsroom. Thanks for being with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. We begin with a stunning show of defiance from the NFL against President Trump but every single kick-off today in cities throughout the country, players, coaches and...