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Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner Dead at Age 91; Puerto Rican Hospitals Struggle to Provide Care; Trump Pushes Tax Reform after Series of Defeats; Trump Backed Losing Senate Candidate Luther Strange; The U.S. President versus the NFL; The Murder of Kim Jong- un's Half-Brother. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:10] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:

Puerto Rico's three million residents are growing more desperate for water, food and fuel by the day. Now critically needed aid is just offshore.

Donald Trump says the NFL has to change or the business might go to hell. A former pro football player has a very different take. He will join us live.

And the man who introduced the world to Playboy, American icon Hugh Hefner has died.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner has died at age 91. He scandalized America in the early 1950s by publishing full color photographs of nude Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe.

But in the decades that followed he built an enormous entertainment empire of magazines, nightclubs and TV shows. Hefner became a symbol of the sexual revolution that swept the U.S. in the 1960s selling the Playboy philosophy, often appearing in silk bathrobes, smoking a cigar.

He once told CNN he wanted to be remembered as someone who has changed the world in some positive way.

We get more on his life and legacy from CNN's Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was one of the original American playboys, a magazine tycoon who helped spark a revolution, one that challenged the nation's views on sexuality.

HUGH HEFNER, PLAYBOY FOUNDER: I have celebrated the romantic connection between the sexes and that's part of what Playboy's all about.

ELAM: Hugh M. Hefner, who liked to be called Hef was born in Chicago in 1926 and raised in what he said was a strict household by conservative Protestant parents.

HEFNER: I felt there was something more to live than the world I saw around me.

ELAM: In 1953, with just $8,000 the aspiring publisher produced the very first issue of Playboy magazine on the kitchen table of his Chicago apartment. The cover featured a photo of Marilyn Monroe and sold more than 50,000 copies when it hit newsstands in December of 1953. Hefner now had the funds to finance another issue and the Playboy Empire was born.

HEFNER: Well, I have never really thought of Playboy as a sex magazine. What I've tried to do is create a lifestyle magazine for men.

ELAM: Hefner divorced is wife Mildred Williams in 1959 and during the early days of the magazine's success decided he would not only promote the fantasy he helped create but he would live it as well.

Audiences got a taste of Hefner's good life in an early 1960s television show called "Playboy's Penthouse".

HEFNER: Come on in and meet some of our guests.

ELAM: Having already established himself in Chicago, Hefner made the move out west. In the early 1970s when Playboy magazine was selling seven million copies a month, he made his permanent home at the now famous Playboy mansion in Los Angeles.

In 1989, Hefner uttered the two words many thought he'd never say again when he married Playmate of the Year Kimberly Conrad.


ELAM: The couple had two children but separated in 1998. Hefner said he realized he was much happier as a bachelor.

HEFNER: I am essentially a romantic so -- I think my life revolves and always has revolved around women.

ELAM: Hefner continued to live out the Playboy fantasy even in his later years, often seen in his trademark silk pajamas surrounded by busty, blonde, lingerie-clad women while hosting extravagant parties with celebrity guests.

He even returned to television in 2005, this time sharing the small screen with three live-in girlfriends in the reality show "The Girls Next Door".

In the late 2000s, he began an on-again, off-again relationship with Playmate Crystal Harris, 60 years his junior. They tied the knot on New Year's Eve in 2012. Hefner sold his beloved Playboy mansion for $100 million in 2016 on the condition that he be allowed to live there for the rest of his life.

Playboy and provocateur, Hugh Hefner wanted to make the world a happier, sexier place.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What is your definition of obscenity?

HEFNER: Racism, war, bigotry. But sex itself? No. What a sad and cold world this would be if we weren't sexual beings. I mean that's the heart of who were.


SESAY: Our thanks to Stephanie Elam there for bringing us the life and times of Hugh Hefner.

[00:04:55] Well, moving on -- critical aids that the people of Puerto Rico need are waiting. It's there but it has not been delivered to them. There's this challenge now of trying to get the supplies to those who need it.

One shipping company says it has 3,000 containers sitting at the port of San Juan with food, water, medicine, clothes, even cars but many of the island's roads are blocked by debris. There's a shortage of truckers and fuel so delivering those supplies is extremely challenging.

Other shippers are having the same problem. And some say their cargo is being held up at ports in the mainland U.S. President Donald Trump though says food and supplies are being delivered on an hourly basis. He is also thinking about suspending an old obscure shipping law called the Jones Act which says all goods ferried between U.S. ports must be carried on ships built, owned and operated by Americans.

Well, while much of that aid is sitting at port, many across Puerto Rico are struggling more than a week after Hurricane Maria hit. 97 percent of the island is still in the dark. Almost half the island has no running water. And there are long lines for food and fuel.

Gas stations and supermarkets are rationing what they have and the banks, well, they are running low on cash. The governor tells our Rafael Romo, the island remains in emergency mode.


RICARDO ROSSELLO, GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO: This has been the biggest catastrophe in the history of Puerto Rico in terms of a natural disaster. We essentially have lost all power. We have lost all telecoms.

You know, roads have been hampered. Human resources have been limited. And on top of that, we're in an island so different from this occurring in Florida or Texas where you can call on your neighboring state and solicit some of that help. Over here, you need to airlift it.


SESAY: Well, Governor Ricardo Rossello, who you hear there, answered one town's desperate plea by delivering supplies himself. He took action after seeing a photo of the words "SOS, we need water, food" written on the pavement. The National Guard helped him bring food and water to this small community.

Well, our team of correspondents is covering all aspects of Puerto Rico's humanitarian crisis.

CNN's Sanjay Gupta tells us about the hospitals being pushed to their limits after Hurricane Maria.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: In the middle of desperation, another potential crisis may be brewing.

DR. MARIA RODRIGUEZ, MEDICAL DIRECTOR: This is not a small place. This is the whole island. And the problem with the diesel and the gasoline we are trying to work with these people. We are trying to still provide services to these people.

GUPT: Dr. Maria Rodriguez has worked at this community health clinic for 24 years. It's one of 70 such places all across the island which serve as the front line for preventive health care.

Everything from broken bones to counseling to pharmacy services for many Puerto Ricans. But as fuel dwindles, so will care.

RODRIGUEZ: In a way that if we continue to provide these services in this area, we stop the patients go to the hospital that is already overcrowded.

GUPTA: They have been told that they have just six hours of fuel left. And at that point, without any help, they will have to close their doors.

RODRIGUEZ: What else we can do? The only thing we can do is go into the shelter. Do the medical evaluation. But we can't provide medications to those patients.

GUPTA: And that's in part why you're seeing tents like this pop up in place like San Juan. You see, even before Maria, a third of the population here was reported to be in poor health. More likely the older here, more likely to have chronic disease like hypertension and diabetes and therein lies the concern. What happens to all these patients if they don't get access to care within the next several days?

Getting health care services up and running is key but the only way to do that is to make sure clinics like this are powered with fuel and right now that's a big unknown.

Domingo Cruz, director of San Jorge Pediatric Hospital, knows just how critical it can be. Just two days ago --

DOMINGO CRUZ, DIRECTOR, SAN JORGE PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL: The hospital was dark. All of a sudden as you may understand, everybody was very nervous. And we were -- we started evaluating transfers, possible transfer to other hospitals.

GUPTA: They were running low on fuel, just two days worth, and a dozen children on ventilators.

CRUZ: We were ready to evacuate the entire hospital if we didn't get power somehow early afternoon.

GUPTA: A neighboring hospital brought 1,200 gallons of fuel. And then yesterday, a U.S. army tank provided three more days' worth to keep this generator going.

CRUZ: It was a close call. We thank God that it worked out.

GUPTA: It's bee trying, professionally as well as personally. In the midst of the storm, his mother passed away.

CRUZ: Very hurt the day of the storm. The day after the storm, I showed up here. We need to reopen. We have people looking for us.

[00:10:02] GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN -- San Juan, Puerto Rico.


SESAY: How incredibly sad.

Well, one celebrity makeup artist with relatives in Puerto Rico is using the power of social media to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis there. Here's Jamie Harper's emotional video that has gone viral.


JAMIE HARPER, CELEBRITY MAKEUP ARTIST: Just received a phone call. There's no water. There's no cash. There's -- the hospital is completely full with no generators so they have open windows. They cannot do surgeries and I don't see this in the media. The person that called me has three kids and has no water and no one has given anything to them.


SESAY: Well, her video was shared by many people, including Latino celebrities.

I'm pleased to say Jamie joins me on the phone now from New York. Jamie -- thank you so much for making time to speak to us.

This is a desperately difficult time for you and millions of others. Our hearts go out to you. First of all, tell us where you family members are in Puerto Rico and what their situation is like right now. HARPER: My family is in Isabela and Aguadilla (ph), also Humacao (ph) but volunteering, I heard so many stories of Mayaguez, Ponce -- you know different remote places that are not getting the help that they need.

SESAY: You know, it's hard, you know, sitting here on the mainland and for us to get a full sense of the scope of devastation there in Puerto Rico. I mean when you look at the pictures, I don't think it does justice to the suffering people are going through.

Have you accounted for everyone in your family? When was the last time you spoke to them?

HARPER: Actually, after one interview today, I heard from my brother and he was able to tell me that all the neighbors are gathering up and whatever food they have they share it with each other so they're taking care of each other and making sure that even if it's just a little bite that you get, that you get something.

And that's -- it speaks loud about the heart of Puerto Rico and our people. They're amazing. They have a great heart. But we cannot forget about them. We're U.S. citizens that are having all these issues for the past seven days. And help has not gotten to many places that they need to get there now.

I've been trying to -- since in the media we're starting to see some of these areas but not all of them and there's so many people that are not accounted for. And people want to know what is going on with their relatives that they even have a roof.

Where are they, if they're even having something to eat? If they're left stranded, if something could happen because of someone starving trying to break into their homes and if they don't have windows or if they don't have a door right now, you know, it's -- it's a time to take action.

SESAY: Yes. I mean, I think most people if not everyone agrees with you. So in terms of your family, I know you have three brothers and your mother there in Puerto Rico. Has any aid reached them yet?

HARPER: No. I talked to my brother today. He told me they were passing around some water finally today but it's like one gallon or two per household. So if you have three kids and two adults in the house and you're limited to one gallon -- and the problem is not the giving water, it's how to get to it.


HARPER: You have to walk sometimes miles to go to that -- somewhere where they're giving the little water. And make a line for six hours, seven hours with your kids. If you're a single mother with three kids, imagine you trying to hold them, walk a mile and have a gallon of water or two heavy in your hand to walk again. I mean, it's a humanitarian crisis that is going on with Puerto Rico.

SESAY: Yes. I mean, the suffering as I said. Those pictures -- I don't think those pictures drive home what people are going through.

Jamie, one U.S. lawmaker, you know, has said -- he said that, you know, with the warning for President Trump that, you know, this administration's response to what is happening in Puerto Rico could be President Trump's Katrina. Tell me.

I mean, what are your thoughts on how the federal government has responded. And what is your message to lawmakers? What is your message to President Trump? What is it they need to understand about what your loved ones are going through?

HARPER: That they look -- they're asking questions. Everyone is worried right now. They're trying to -- the people that do have service, they're posting things that I'm reading and it just breaks my heart because they feel like the SOS is not getting across and they have to change the laws in order for the food to get delivered.

[00:15:03] Because right now, there's tons of food, tons of donations that are sitting just waiting to get delivered and someone could be dying because they're dehydrated or because they haven't had food.

You know, there's a lot of places that they haven't even been able to get to, to see how badly it's damaged or how many people are ill or how many people need to get rescued, you know?

And it's 2017. I feel like it's not just Puerto Rico, it is Mexico. It is the Caribbean. It's everything that's going on in the world. We need to change our hearts and we definitely need to start doing better and uniting each.


HARPER: We are all -- Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. So please, like we are right across, right there. The help should have been getting there.

If you know the storm is coming, the next day have aid there so it doesn't become chaos. Because now we are in day seven and people will get desperate if they don't see -- you know? They're looking at us like -- please help us, please hear us. They need help.

SESAY: They need help. And you know, we're grateful that you have been able to come on the program and really give voice to that.

Jamie Harper -- I know this is a tough time for you and your loved ones. You are in our thoughts and prayers. We're going to check in with you, see how they're doing and, you know, wishing you the best in the days ahead.

Thank you so much.

Well, if you want to learn how to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and around the Caribbean, you heard from Jamie there. The situation is a desperate one. Go to You can donate to one of the charities we have vetted or you could volunteer your time. All of it is needed. We're going to take a very quick break.

And then after a string of political setbacks, President Trump looks for momentum on tax reform.


SESAY: Well, President Trump went on the road to launch his tax reform effort on Wednesday and it comes after a series of political losses that have made the President furious. Jim Acosta reports.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: These are strange days for President Trump. After backing the losing candidate, Luther Strange to hard right conservative Roy Moore --

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL NOMINEE: Let's go again and make America great.

ACOSTA: -- the President, GOP sources say, embarrassed and outrage blaming everybody but himself. Now, he's throwing his weight behind Moore.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we have a man who's going to be a great senator.

ACOSTA: Tweets from the President's Twitter feeds supporting Strange were deleted. A GOP adviser to the White House said the President is unhappy with the result in Alabama because losing is bad for his brand.

TRUMP: We have the votes for health care.

ACOSTA: That defeat in Alabama came hours after the latest effort by Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in the Senate. Today the President insisted the party would fulfill its pledge eventually.

[00:20:03] TRUMP: We will have to do it in January or February. But I feel we have the votes. I'm almost certain we have the votes.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump also hinted he may fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price over his use of private jets at taxpayers' expense.

TRUMP: I'm looking at that very closely. I am not happy with it. I will tell you, I am not happy with it.

ACOSTA: All of that overshadowed what was supposed to be the President's message of the day -- a tax reform speech in Indianapolis.

TRUMP: We need Washington to promote American jobs instead of obstructing them.

ACOSTA: The President's plan shrinks individual tax brackets from seven to three lower rates while eliminating some popular tax breaks and cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

Mr. Trump said reports he wanted an even lower corporate rate was simply a negotiating tactic.

TRUMP: I wanted to start at 15 to get there. We really had to start there because of the complexity of the numbers. But 20 is a perfect number.

ACOSTA: The President says his tax reform plan doesn't benefit him but that's impossible to know because the President has not released his tax returns. The President also says he has the votes to pass the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, that's despite the fact that one of the co-sponsors, Lindsey Graham says he doesn't have the votes.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- Indianapolis.


SESAY: Well, joining us now are CNN political commentators: Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas. Gentlemen -- welcome. Good to see you again.


SESAY: Listen -- the President out on the trail if you will putting his new tax reform plan in Indianapolis.

John -- to you first, this is a plan that was, you know, it was big on vision but kind of skinny if you will -- thin on the actual details of who's going to pick up the tab here after all these massive tax cuts are put in place. There are no answers forthcoming on that.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Grover Norquist has said that it's going to cause the economy to boom. So I think that's part of their plan is that the economy is going to pick up because of lower taxes. People are going to reinvest in the economy and it will start to pay for itself.

I think the federal government just recently collected a record amount of taxes but we are still in a massive deficit. But I think in order for thing to pass, which Trump absolutely needs a win here, they're going to have to explain how it's not going to put us in more of a deficit spending situation.

SESAY: I mean I hear what you're saying about Grover Norquist and his position but, Dave as you well know, most other economists don't buy that, that cutting taxes boosts the economy.


SESAY: Most economists say that's voodoo economics.

JACOBSON: It totally is. I mean, it was Bob Corker from Tennessee today who issued a statement basically saying health care is going to look like a cake walk essentially compared to passing this tax plan. And I think the fact is, like Republicans are going to have to get to the deficit issue. And the "New York Times" came out today saying that this tax plan as it's written today -- now this is just an outline -- but as it's written today we could anticipate $2.2 trillion added to the deficit.

Republicans are supposed to be about cutting the deficit, not adding to it. So I think that's the big --

THOMAS: As of now, the Freedom Caucus is saying they support the preliminary outline. But of course, legislation is messy and we're still a ways away. But they have to get it done quickly. So that's really the thing here is they have to get done before the end of the month.

JACOBSON: Well, here's the other challenge. Like Donald Trump campaigned on a platform for the underdog, for the little guy, right. This is a big tax cut written by millionaires and billionaires for millionaires and billionaires.

THOMAS: No, that's not true.

JACOBSON: It slashes tax cuts --

THOMAS: There aren't big tax cuts for the rich which was on the table --

JACOBSON: 39 percent to 35 percent.

THOMAS: No, no, no. That was under Speaker Ryan's plan. That was -- it was for the ultra rich. They took that off the table.

SESAY: But you have to admit on balance, to Dave's point, on balance, this is a good plan for someone --

THOMAS: Of course, it is.

SESAY: -- who's sitting in a position of wealth.

THOMAS: Sure. If somebody pays a lot of taxes, any kind of percentage cut they're going to benefit from that. And that's great because they're going to reinvest that money in the economy.

JACOBSON: But the cold, hard reality is this is trickle down economics and it didn't work in the 1980s. It didn't work in the early 2000s. And it's not going to work in 2017.

SESAY: We've got to move on because God knows we're going to have many more days to talk about this.

THOMAS: Yes, I think we will.

SESAY: And the President saying we've got the votes for health care. We could do this. But I mean if he had the votes, John, they would have put it to a vote.

THOMAS: That's a mistruth.

SESAY: It's a what?

THOMAS: It's a mistruth.

SESAY: What is that?

THOMAS: A falsity. They don't have the vote.

SESAY: You're not going to call it a lie?

THOMAS: I mean they don't have the votes. Mitch McConnell would have taken it to a vote if they had the votes. They're not there.

SESAY: Dave?

JACOBSON: Donald Trump is living in a fantasy land. He's totally divorced from reality -- period.

And that's why, you know, frankly Quinnipiac put out a poll today that said 60 percent of Americans believe that the President isn't honest and doesn't tell the truth. This is just exacerbated when he says things like this.

SESAY: I've got to get John to go from mistruth to falsity to lie. But he refused.

THOMAS: Is that what you were doing?

SESAY: That's what I was doing there.

JACOBSON: But maybe alternative facts.

SESAY: Alternative facts.

But moving on -- from health care to Alabama because I want to get that in and get your read on that. Obviously, the man the President backed, Luther Strange, did not win. And the man backed by Steve Bannon won.

[00:25:03] Take a listen quickly to what Steve Bannon had to say as they enjoy the taste of victory.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: You're going to see in state after state after state, people that follow the model of Judge Moore that do not need to raise money from the elites, from the crony capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington, D.C., New York City, Silicon Valley.


SESAY: John, Steve Bannon says there's a revolution coming and the feeling is that insurgent bids against incumbents are going to basically take a jump now, now that Roy Moore has beaten someone like Luther Strange.

THOMAS: He's absolutely right.

SESAY: So what does that mean for midterm prospects?

THOMAS: It means that what you are going to see is a lot more retirements on both sides now quite frankly. The Democrats' base is moving, shifting harder to the left. What we are seeing on the Republican side is -- what's interesting about Alabama is yes, Trump's pick lost.

The Trump's pick suffered huge damage in the primary prior to Trump endorsing. Let's not forget Trump's at 66 approval in Alabama. He's very well liked.

SESAY: And he won the state by 28 points.

THOMAS: Yes. The only reason Strange even stood a slight chance early on was because of President Trump. The reason he got tanked is because Mitch McConnell and the establishment's approval but specifically Mitch McConnell's -- approvals are at 16 percent nationwide.

SESAY: But they poured millions in there.

THOMAS: And it won't matter. And to Steve Bannon's point, you're going to all over the country that these Republican moderates are vulnerable to being primaried by these anti-establishment choices.

And the sad thing for Donald Trump is he did need Luther Strange in the senate because it may come down again to one vote if he wants to pass his legislative agenda.

SESAY: Dave, for the Democrats, what does this mean? I mean is this good news that Republicans, you know, across the country are going to be primaried by these insurgent types.

JACOBSON: Yes, I mean it is clear that there is a civil war within the GOP and I think that's a good thing for Democrats. The fact that the Democrats are now going to go up against an anti-LGBT, birther, extremist radical candidate in Alabama, the state where Donald Trump won 30 percent, we Democrats are excited about this. It's going to be steep hill for us to flip the seat red to blue but if you look at the facts that the Democrats --

SESAY: Do you honestly think you can turn Alabama?

JACOBSON: We'll see what the fundraising looks like. I think it's going to be a --


SESAY: But your candidate is struggling in Alabama to raise the money right now.

JACOBSON: Yes. Well, look -- I mean we just hit the reset button there with the primary going up against Moore --

THOMAS: Pigs could fly, too. It's possible. It's possible.

JACOBSON: Look, the guy I think is a former federal prosecutor. He went and he sort of took on the KKK. I think he's got a legitimate record that he can campaign. And the question is can he raise the resources and can he put forward a compelling message to peel off some of the Luther Strange votes.

And I think it's too early to tell. We'll see what the polling says. But I think long term like the fact these people like Jeff Flake in Arizona who are being primaried by an extremist, sort of fringe candidate, you're going to see more of that.

And I think that's good thing for Democrats heading into the midterms particularly in states like Nevada where you've got Dean Heller, who's a vulnerable Republican. I think Democrats obviously have to protect a number of seats but there's also a possibility we can pick up one to two seats and with such a narrow margin the Democrats need to win back the majority -- I think it's a 52-48 for Democrats. We only have to pick up a couple of seats to really make significant gains.

SESAY: All right. I could see chomping at the bit.


SESAY: But you got your pigs could fly comment in.

THOMAS: Next hour.

SESAY: Gentlemen -- thank you. Appreciate it.


SESAY: All right. Quick break here.

President Trump steps up his attacks on protesting athletes. Next -- why he says NFL is going to hell if players don't change their ways.

Plus we'll talk with one former NFL star who says it's wrong to call protesters unpatriotic.

You're watching NEWSROOM L.A.



ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

U.S. president Donald Trump is not letting up on his criticism of protesting athletes. He said if they want to make a statement, they should find a better place to do it, not during the national anthem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: The NFL is in a very bad box. You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, our country and that's what they're doing. And, in my opinion, the NFL has to change. Or you know what's going to happen? Their business is going to go to hell.


SESAY: NFL players got a chance to answer the questions about the protests during Media Day on Wednesday and it is clear, very clear, many of them think the president hasn't handled the situation well.


DOUG BALDWIN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS WIDE RECEIVER: If an American can't air their grievances to the republic for which it stands, then where can they air their grievances?

And when you have the president of our country basically saying, "I don't want to hear your protest, I don't want to hear your grievances," then I think that's where we have the challenge.

DREW BREES, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS QUARTERBACK: I think what you saw last weekend especially was a direct result of the comments that the president made, President Trump.

Unfortunately, I think he put -- he put all athletes, all black athletes, minority athletes, he put them in a corner and forced them to take action.

LESEAN MCCOY, BUFFALO BILLS RUNNING BACK: See, the type of words and things he's saying about us, I mean, it just -- it just got to me. It really did. You know and every week will be different.

You know, we talk about being together as a country and so it's the same thing with this team, we want to be together.


SESAY: Jack Brewer is a former NFL player. He's now the spokesman for the National Association of Police Athletic Activities League and he joins me on the phone.

Jack, thank you so much for joining us. The president is doubling down on his comments, his condemnation of athletes who kneel and protest during the national anthem. I'm sure you heard today and you probably just heard a few moments ago, the president said basically the NFL will go to hell if they don't stamp this out.

Why won't the president let this go?

JACK BREWER, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POLICE ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES LEAGUE: Because I think he -- for some reason he understands that he was off (ph). This all along ignited by his comment and call it this great man has asked the football league sons of bitches. You know, he disrespected the brotherhood; he disrespected freedom in America, free speech in America.

And you know, it's really sad that he won't let it go and can't apologize for it. Two weeks ago there wee six men out of the 1,850- plus in the National Football League that took a knee.

This past Sunday, we saw the entire league doing together and not that they were taking a knee or protesting but just America, no one was going there. No one was protesting against the military.

They were protesting against the president, who called them all out of their names and totally disrespected them.

And I want to make one important point, very important point. Most of those men that were on their knees were praying. They were praying to God. They were put in a situation where they're in front of millions of people. They want to fight for justice and rights and equality for all people.

And they did nothing but pray because that's all they could do. And as an African American man, I worked hard throughout my life to be a mentor and a role model for kids all across this country and the world. And many men in the National Football League have.

And to be disrespected over and over again, when we were the first to stand up for our country, we're the first to stand up in a time of crisis, in a time of need, we're community leaders, we're fathers, we're sons, we're husbands, and just to have a president to speak about you in the way that he has, it's absolutely ridiculous. And I just hope this country understands, we're going to keep standing them together. We're going to stand together in prayer and we will continue to get on both knees and pray to God that hopefully, America, we can get empathy back.

SESAY: So Jack, when you hear people say, well, OK, if athletes want to protest, that's their right; they can. And they're saying -- they're echoing what the president said, well, why don't they take it elsewhere?

Why don't they take it to Twitter and protest there?

When you hear that, what goes through your mind?

BREWER: I think athletes do go to Twitter and do go to social media. But when they're put in a box like the president put every athlete in a box, he backed them into a corner. And what no one decided, no one came out and said, hey, I want to protest today, the president called them sons of bitches. And it's -- most of these men had severed (ph) -- kneeled (INAUDIBLE) before during the national anthem. They didn't know what to.

Can you imagine having an entire country looking at you, after a president has called you out like that?

You have every media outlet, everyone's coverage you. And you're just standing for humanity and justice and the rights for all? This is the United States of America. We should be upset and fighting for people that didn't have the right to speak out. This is America. It's just free speech. And so to have a national uproar like this against men who have never -- you haven't heard one single National Football League player speak out against the military or anyone else against the flag, no one has spoke out against this country.

This is not a --


SESAY: So --

BREWER: -- Colin Kaepernick. Let's get that clear. This is not a -- this last week's protest was nothing about Colin Kaepernick. It may have been for a few. But the men that I talked to, there's been nothing with Colin Kaepernick.

SESAY: -- so, Jack, I want to ask you, as been calling Kaepernick up and, sadly, we're almost out of time but, you know, the -- when this started, with Colin Kaepernick, it began as his protest against police brutality and societal inequities.


BREWER: -- he started a protest in the way that he chose to.

SESAY: No, absolutely --

BREWER: -- there was not an entire league, that was not an entire --

SESAY: -- no, agreed.


BREWER: -- and he stood -- and he stood there after calling police officers pigs. And I stand next to police officers. I represent them all across this country and its great length (ph). But we have 99.9 percent of our police officers are good people and we have percentage that are not, that need to --

SESAY: -- but how do we go -- I guess my question is, to the point that he was trying to make or draw attention to -- in his own way -- how does this go from being a protest about such issues to actually seeing real, tangible change that makes things better for everyone?

How --


SESAY: -- Jack?

BREWER: -- I can tell you that we're going to go back to prayer. We're going to bring the focus back to where it needs to be on and we need to come together as a nation. We need to take our knees together and we need to bring empathy back in our country so that we can see things, not just through our own eyes but through the eyes of other people and allow those man, those players in the National Football League, come from neighborhoods and places where people do not have voices.

And they are the voices to the voiceless and we got to respect that.

SESAY: Well, Jack Brewer, we thank you for joining us and bringing us your heartfelt opinion. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

BREWER: Thanks.

SESAY: All right. We're going to bring you much more of the day's top stories after a very quick break. Do stay with us. You're watching CNN.




SESAY: We have new and alarming insights into why Kim Jong-un's half- brother was assassinated in public and in full view of surveillance cameras earlier this year. One expert tells CNN that North Korea's leader used his brother's death to send a message. Our Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a crime that has several spy novel plot twists, this was the most public and brazen of murders. And now, one analyst tells CNN that's exactly how Kim Jong-un wanted it.

February 13th of this year, in the middle of Kuala Lumpur's international airport, Kim Jong-nam, older half-brother of North Korea's dictator, has his face rubbed by two women.

Police say the substance on the women's hands was a chemical weapon, VX nerve agent. Kim Jong-nam suffocates and dies in less than 20 minutes.

Now, a professor named Nam Sung Wook, a former analyst with South Korea's intelligence agency, tells CNN in a phone interview, Kim Jong- un wanted the world to see his brother die.

NAM SUNG WOOK, FORMER ANALYST, SOUTH KOREA'S INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: By using chemical weapons and then smothering him in this grotesque public way, Pyongyang wants to send a worldwide message.

TODD: And what is that message?

NAM: Don't think about the post-Kim. Nobody controls Pyongyang without him.

TODD: Nam believes from the moment he left his home from Macao to travel in Malaysia, Kim Jong-nam was trailed by North Korean agents. And he says the regime's use of a powerful and internationally banned chemical weapon to kill the half-brother was part of the calculation.

NAM: Kim Jong-un wants to reign a long time and negotiate as a superpower. The only way to do that is to keep the world in fear of his weapons.

TODD: Some analysts agree with Nam, pointing out men who Malaysian police say were North Korean agents at the Kuala Lumpur airport didn't exactly try to hide their faces from surveillance cameras.

MICHAEL GREEN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The North Korean state has elements of a yakuza or a mafia family. When they do a hit, they want it to have effect. They want to scare and intimidate.

TODD (voice-over): Lawyers for the two women charged with Kim Jong- nam's murder say the women are innocent and were tricked into doing it by their North Korean handlers.

Malaysian police dispute that. Kim Jong-un's regime denies ordering the hit. One former CIA analyst says it's possible the North Korean leader didn't intend to send a broader warning to the world with his brother's death.

BRUCE KLINGNER (PH), THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Keeping the involvement secret would seem to be -- make more sense; they remove a potential threat to Kim Jong-un but then they don't risk the response by the governments around the world or the U.N.

TODD: What most observers seem to agree on is that, in the end, Kim Jong-nam's murder was a victory for Kim Jong-un. The North Korean dictator got his half-brother, a critic of his, out of the way. The North Koreans got the body back.

No North Korean has ever been held accountable for the murder and they likely won't be. The only people charged in the case are two young women, one from Vietnam, one from Indonesia, who will probably be hanged if they're convicted -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


SESAY: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. "WORLD SPORT" is up next then I'll be back with another hour of news from around the world. You're watching CNN.