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Shipping Restrictions in Puerto Rico; Trump's Tax Plan; Trump's NFL Feud; Kabul Rocket Attack; Packers' Display of Unity; Family Wants Release of U.S. Citizen from Iran. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 27, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] REP. TERRI SEWELL (D), ALABAMA: Get the goods and the products and the help that the folks in Puerto Rico need, absolutely.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I mean it would help by definition because it would expand who can supply the stuff there and it will help on pricing.

SEWELL: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Let me ask you about something else. You were with the president. In terms of Ways and Means falls into the tax situation, what did you hear from the president in terms of willingness to work with you and on what? Is this really tax reform? Is this about changing our fiscal structure? Or is it about tax cuts and for whom?

SEWELL: Yes, yesterday, Chris, a bipartisan group of Ways and Means members went to the White House to speak with the president. You know, I've always been a believer that you go to the table, otherwise you'll be on the menu. So I did attend that meeting.

And I have to tell you that I was -- we heard a lot of talk. It was very long on promises and very short on details. I know that as Democrats, our Democratic caucus of Ways and Means are really looking at whether or not it's going to be revenue neutral, deficit neutral and we want to make sure that it's about the middle class and not about a tax cut for the wealthy.

I have to tell you, though, what we heard from the president was, like I said, long on talk and promises and short on details. And it's my fear that what we'll end up with is not comprehensive tax reform, which will really require bipartisan support, but rather a tax cut for the wealthy.

Now, I have to tell you that the president ad nauseam went on and on about why he thought it was important for us to have bipartisanship. He also said that this was definitely not going to be about the wealthy. He promised that it was not going to be a tax cut for the wealthy. And you know what, Chris, we have to hold him to that.

CUOMO: Well, that will be an interesting deal for him, because his party isn't going to like that and it's going to be an interesting compromise. It's going to take a lot of people to put people before party. So we'll see what happens. Terri Sewell, thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY.

SEWELL: Thank you.

CUOMO: You're always welcome.

SEWELL: Thanks.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, former director of the CIA and the NSA, General Michael Hayden, is going to weigh in on the president's feud with the NFL. Why he says put me down with Kaepernick. That's next.


CAMEROTA: President Trump continuing his feud with the NFL, the players who kneel during the national anthem. The president now calling on the league to set a rule forbidding that.

Joining us now is CNN national security analyst and former director of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden.

If you wonder why we have the former CIA director weighing in on this topic --

[08:35:01] CUOMO: The yellow tie betrays his affinity.

CAMEROTA: You -- this is an issue that is near and dear to your heart. Give us your own history with this.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I grew up in Pittsburgh. In fact, they tore down my boyhood home to build Three River Stadium several decades ago. We didn't mind. It was -- it was for the Steelers and for the Pirates. I worked for the Steelers when I was in high school and college. Dan Rooney, the patriarch of the family, was my coach in the catholic grade school football league of Pittsburgh. I stayed with the Steelers for all of my life. I've been in the Super Bowl owners' box for the last two Steeler wins. So I've got some connective tissue.

CUOMO: Well, the team came into focus on this late anthem controversy that's going on. Villanueva, one of their players who's a veteran, got caught up in it. He says he wasn't looking to make a big statement. The team didn't come out for the anthem. What is your take first on what's going on here with the president, what he's doing and why?

HAYDEN: Well, with regard to the president, Jake, he's -- Chris, rather, he's creating an artificial crisis. He's trying to create tension by dividing the American population on an issue, playing to his base, I suppose, but he's doing it for raw, unadulterated political advantage.

You know, the week before last, there were about half a dozen NFL players who did something other than stand at attention during the national anthem. This wasn't a national crisis until President Trump decided to demonize, single out that group and amp it up as something far more important than any of us should believe it to be.

CAMEROTA: Is it fair to say that at first you weren't necessarily a fan of what Colin Kaepernick was doing, but because of all of this, now you would lock arms with him and take a knee?

HAYDEN: Sure. Let me be very clear, all right. I go to football. And I mention in my article, I, you know, would drive up the turnpike, even as CIA director, because when I got to that seat in Heinz Field, the only thing that mattered for about three hours was the stuff that went on between those white lines. It was tremendously relaxing for me and I think for everyone else who was there.

And so when Kaepernick was doing his thing, I actually think he was imposing on a moment of celebration, a moment of unity for the American people. So I was no big fan. And so put me down as suggesting, I wish that didn't have to happen.

But the president changed the calculation. He demonized those young men, as I said, and then began to impose on their rights to free speech, and then wrapped himself in the flag and said all of this was about the flag and the anthem and patriotism and the armed forces, rather than fundamentally what it was about, which was political advantage for Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Well, but he is playing to political advantage because I think that if you did a poll, most people would say you should stand for the anthem and that -- forget about the whole rich thing. You know, the problem with that argument that's made is that, oh, these guys are rich, they shouldn't complain. Look at where they come from, so many of these players, the places where they grew up, what they experienced. They're making money now, but certainly so many of them have more than just a toe hold in the realities of a lot of communities with African-Americans and poverty around the country.

But his new move, the president, to say the league should pass a rule saying you stand at attention. This is an employer, like any other. This isn't a state agency. They should make that rule. What do you think?

HAYDEN: I think it would be very, very hard and id' be shocked if Roger Goodell would entertain such a rule or would try to enforce such a rule. This isn't a normal employee/employer relationship, all right? This -- the organizations that comprise the National Football League -- and I know this because I know how the Steelers work, that's a family that has to be built. This can't be them and us, front office and players, and expect to survive in the National Football League. Teammates, teamwork, unity means just about everything.

And, Chris, to come back to the earlier question, what the Steelers tried to do, and, you know, it's not totally popular in Pittsburgh, what the Steelers tried to do was not allow them to be forced to make a choice in what they viewed to be, correctly, I think, a false dilemma. There was nothing they could do if they went out for the anthem that would have been unifying and satisfying for the team and the fans. And so they simply decided to back away, to not go out there and be forced, which is what the president wanted them to do, be forced to make that choice.

I, frankly, think everyone did the right thing. The team hung back. The coaches went out to represent the team, the institution and the organization. And then the starting left tackle, an Army Ranger, came out modestly from the runway and put his right hand over his heart and a lot of the teammates have said they were supportive of that, you know? I can't rule out the possibility here that everybody did just the right thing.

[08:40:18] CAMEROTA: General Michael Hayden, sports analyst and man of many hats. Thank you very much for that.

CUOMO: The yellow tie is the Steelers' color.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: I kind of put two and two together. (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: That's Hayden's terrible towel he's got tied around his neck. He knows ten ways to kill you with that thing.

Thank you very much, general. Always a pleasure.

A rocket attack in Kabul hours after the defense secretary made a surprise visit there. Tough timing. Details in a live report, next.


CAMEROTA: We are following some breaking news right now out of Afghanistan. Rockets fired at Kabul's international airport just hours after Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived there.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon with more for us.

Barbara, what you have learned?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we are now learning from U.S. officials, approximately 40 rounds hit at the Kabul International Airport earlier today. This was after Defense Secretary James Mattis had left the airport. He was not there at the time. He is on a trip in Afghanistan talking to President Ghani there, to the NATO secretary-general about U.S. troops, the security situation in Afghanistan.

About 40 rounds hitting the south side of the airport. That is mainly where civilian traffic comes in. Afghan forces moving in very quickly. You see the video there in the aftermath looking for the perpetrators.

One of the constant security issues at this airport for both civilian and military traffic there is it is near neighborhoods, it is near some hillsides that makes perfect launch points for rocket attacks. The Taliban claiming credit, claiming that they were attacking Mattis, even though he was long gone and he is continuing with his program there. [08:45:06] Another 3,000 or more U.S. troops are on their way to

Afghanistan to help improve the security situation there. But this event today shows the Taliban, they may be trying for a show of force on their own, they may not be successful, but they can still move plenty of firepower in and around the capital.


CUOMO: And they definitely have high ground positioning around that airport. I remember it very well. Second only to Baghdad.

Barbara, you remember how you used to have to do the helix to get down there because they were so worried about RPG fire from the ground? That was the only situation in that region that was worse than Kabul. But now that problem continues.

Thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting on that.

STARR: Sure.

CUOMO: All right, so, the Green Bay Packers are planning a display of unity during the national anthem for tomorrow night's game against the Bears. What is that going to mean? Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."

And you know what, right, wrong, good, bad, the president has raised the stakes of this situation now and we're seeing an entire kind of re-imagining of what to do and why to do it by teams and players.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and a lot of thought going in with the teams, the players are figuring out how they want to address this issue, Chris.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Now, last Sunday in Cincinnati, a few Green Bay players sat on the bench during the national anthem, but a majority of the players stood, linked arms in arm, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers says the team is going to do that again tomorrow at Lambeau Field in front of their own fans to promote equality. They want those fans to join in.


AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK: We're going to continue to show love and unity. And this week we're going to ask the fans to join in as well and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together.


WIRE: Now, the Packers' players got together and wrote a statement which they released last night, Alisyn, saying that they represent all individuals with diverse backgrounds who desire equality, tolerance, justice. That's the reason they want to display solidarity tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: OK, Coy, thank you very much for all of that reporting. Now to a desperate appeal. An Iranian-American family trying to get their loved ones released from a prison in Tehran. Will President Trump intervene? A family member joins us, next.


[08:51:36] CAMEROTA: The family of American Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released by North Korea, is speaking out about their son's suffering. And now another American family is speaking out about another dangerous detention. The family of two Americans held in Iran is begging for their release. Siamak Namazi, a businessman who says he was trying to promote closer ties between the U.S. and Iran was detained in Tehran in 2015 and convicted of espionage. His father, 81-year-old Baquer, went to Iran to try to fee his son and then Iran jailed him, too. Baquer has a serious health problem and his family is terrified that he could die in prison.

So joining us now is Baquer's other son, Babak Namazi.

Babak, thank you very much for being here.

Your dad went to try to free your brother on what you all believe are false charges. Your dad is 81 years old. He was just rushed to the hospital last week. What is -- what's his condition today?

BABAK NAMAZI, SON AND BROTHER OF AMERICANS HELD IN IRAN: The conditions are extremely worrisome. My father has been unjustly jailed for the past 18 months. His health condition was not well to begin with. He's had triple bypass surgery before he went and he was unjustly detained.

Since then, the deterioration has been extremely rapid. He has been hospitalized on three different occasions. And, in fact, last week he had to undergo a heart surgery to get a pace maker installed.

We are extremely concerned for his well-being. And I urge that he be released immediately.

CAMEROTA: And -- understood. What about your brother? What do you know about his condition?

NAMAZI: His conditions are deplorable as well. He has spent most of his time, for the past two years, he's spent in solitary confinement. He's been mistreated. He's been abused. For a lot of the time he had no bed to sleep on. He's in an utter state of despair. And we are just desperate. We're just desperate as a family to get the release of my father and my brother before we face a horrific tragedy.

CAMEROTA: So what are you calling on President Trump and the U.S. government to do?

NAMAZI: I am calling on President Trump to spare no efforts in getting my family released. He -- this administration has been highly engaged, and I'm grateful for it. But given the rapid deterioration of my father's well-being and as well as my brother's, I would urge the president to double his efforts to release -- to seek the release of my family.

CAMEROTA: Yes, look, I know that you have a real sense of urgency obviously because of the medical and all of the emotional challenges that your family is enduring right now. Has the Trump administration given you any hope that progress is being made?

NAMAZI: If I don't have hope, obviously, there is no option not to have hope. Yes, I have been getting hope. I have been getting assurances. And I've had a number of high-level meetings at the White House with various officials.

However, every day, as I'm sure everybody appreciates, as a desperate son and a desperate brother, as the situation of the health of my father worsens, every day that goes by is a day too late as far as my family's concerned. And I would really appeal to everyone to seek the release of my family before we face an irreversible situation.

[08:55:21] CAMEROTA: What do you want our viewers and Americans to know about your family and your situation?

NAMAZI: Well, they've been unjustly detained for the past two years on unsubstantiated charges. The United Nations body, as well as the secretary-general, have found the detentions unlawful and have called for their release. Obviously the U.S. administration and President Trump has been engaged, but this is a situation that if it's not resolved and it's not resolved rapidly, we'll be facing a horrible situation that will not help either country.

I am horrified. I am horrified as a son and a brother on the nightmare that we're facing. Honestly, I had no idea a heart could break so many times over and over and over again. But we need to get action. We need expeditiously to resolve this situation. And this really is a humanitarian issue and a desperate one.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Babak Namazi, we hear your desperation. We hear your plea. Please, please keep us posted when you get any news about what's happening with your family. Thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

NAMAZI: Thank you. Thank you.

ASC: CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman is going to pick up after this very quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.