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Kneeing for National Anthem; Kaepernick's Collusion Case; Arlington's Section 60 on Memorial Day; Veteran Running for Congress. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 28, 2018 - 08:30   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The NFL's new policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem or their team faces fines provoking strong reaction. One Republican congressman, New York's Peter King, raising eyebrows with this tweet, saying, quote, disgraceful that Jets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for national anthem, encouraging a movement premised on lies versus police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? Time to say good bye to the Jets.

Let's bring in our guest, former Green Beret and NFL Seahawks player with -- Nate Boyer, CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos.

Mark is, by the way, representing Colin Kaepernick in a battle against the NFL regarding collusion.

Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being here.

And, Nate, of course, thank you for your service.


BRIGGS: We'll start with you because you encouraged Colin Kaepernick in the very beginning of this movement to take a knee and not to sit during the national anthem. When you see the tweet from a congressman, Peter King, equating it to a Nazi salute, what's your reaction?

BOYER: Well, I mean, that's -- that's a little -- that's a little farfetched. I -- a lot farfetched, I should say.

You know, it's important to note that that -- that taking a knee was sort of born out of compromise from two people that, you know, maybe didn't agree on necessarily on everything, but people that were willing to listen to one another. And, you know, I wanted him to stand because of what it means to me with the flag, the anthem, all -- everything means to me. And he didn't want to. And, you know, through our conversation, through listening and respecting one another, he agreed to take a knee. So I mean that's from somebody that served his country, and it was a way to demonstrate -- I thought that, you know, he was showing that he was willing to listen to people that maybe he was hurting and affecting in some way. And so, yes, it's -- it's not a -- you can't compare it to a Nazi salute. That's just ridiculous.


Another congressman, a senator in this case, who served their country, Senator Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee, Iraq War veteran. She tweeted this. One day our nation's flag will drape my coffin, just as it did my dad's and will my husband's and brother's. I will always stand on these legs for the flag and anthem, but it's also my honor to defend people's right to free speech, including those who choose to take a knee, to express outrage at the glaring disparity and how Americans of different races are treated.

This -- sentiment has turned against taking a knee. It's not necessarily popular with the American people. But is that the common ground, Nate, that Americans could find on the issue?

BOYER: I mean, you know, one thing about this whole situation is, you can say all day what a -- what a protest or a demonstration is about, but you don't get to choose how people perceive it, right? So, you know, we have to respect that, as well.

But, you know, I sat down with Colin almost two years ago now and, you know, I know where he was coming from and where he is coming from is not a place of, you know, of hate and of, you know, utter disrespect for the flag or the anthem or our country. So I know that because I sat down with him, you know? And people that have certain feelings about that, until you really listen to somebody and sit down with them and take the time, you know, whether you agree with them or not, it's just not right to make those judgments and attack people in any way, regardless of what they believe in.

BRIGGS: Colin Kaepernick, like Eric Reid, still out of work at this time. And, Mark, you represent them in this collusion case towards the NFL. Their new policy which requires players, stay in the locker room or stand during the anthem or their team faces a penalty.

You tweeted this -- quote tweeted with the hashtag NFL collusion. Does it help your case?

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I certainly don't think it hurts the case. In fact, you know, part of why the frustration of this case is that we're under a protective order for many of the depositions and the evidence we've developed. But clearly I think when we originally filed, we said the owners colluded. We alleged they did it because of the president. Nothing that we've seen has taken away from that. In fact, everything that we've seen and that we've developed during the discovery shows that this was a concerted effort by the owners because they were afraid that President Trump had hijacked the message and they were going to do this.

And, by the way, when you say that this is not a popular message in America, that's actually not true. The NFL knows that the -- that it's a polarizing message. They've actually done polling on it. And the polling was leaked at one point. But, clearly, the polling breaks down along, believe it or not, demographic and ethnic lines. And it is extremely correlative to who you are, what age you are and what your ethnicity is based on their own internal polling, which they did not share with people. But the -- but, frankly, what -- as one of the witnesses has said in

this matter, if they could collude to keep you out, they could collude to bring you back in.


GERAGOS: And what they're doing here by having this policy is colluding.

BRIGGS: Well, just to be clear about some of the polling we're looking at. "Washington Post" Kaiser Family Foundation found 53 percent of the American people said, no, it is never appropriate to kneel during the national anthem.

And, Mark, it's -- it was a business decision for these owners. It took a hit in the bottom line. Their ratings went down. Even in some cases the attendance went down. Why is that collusion to keep these guys out of the league to protect their bottom line?

GERAGOS: Well, the evidence that you cite, Chris, is not the evidence that they have testified to. I mean, internally, they've got all kinds of documents that say, no, they don't have a revenue problem. They've got all kinds of documents and they've got the opinion that, no, they haven't taken any hit whatsoever. They are worried about perspectively taking a hit.

And, ideally, in this situation, they're trying to do anything to make this go away, including what they -- this kind of failed program they had, protest to progress. They don't want to deal with this. I mean the other sports leagues, like the NBA, have dealt with this head on, having kind of curried favor with people who don't understand that this is a core political speech issue. And, you know, I would tell you, when you look at polls, you say 50 percent say it isn't. I think in the same poll, 38 percent or 35 percent said it was OK, 15 percent or whatever it was were undecided.


GERAGOS: Remember going back into the '50s, 95 percent of Americans said that it was not appropriate for couples to interracially date. So when you just take a straight polling -- in fact, if you -- you know, I would -- I would suggest to you, if you polled on an of the amendments, you'd find a polarizing nature of the American public. That doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it constitutional.

[08:40:15] BRIGGS: Well, then let's -- let's end, Nate, on something -- on something not polarizing, your message to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day.

BOYER: Yes. I mean I think my message is more to the American people than to just the men and women who paid that ultimate sacrifice. I'll say this, what most of them died for, you know, is not the right to protest. It's not for patriotism. It's not for the Constitution or the American flag or the national anthem or any of that. What they died for is the man on their left and right. And if we can't live for the man on our left and right back here at home, you know, respectfully, despite our differences, then what in the hell did they die for?

BRIGGS: And that we can all agree on.

All right, Nate Boyer, Mark Geragos, thank you both for being here. Appreciate it.

Nate, thanks for your service.

GERAGOS: Thanks.

BOYER: Thank you very much, sir. Appreciate that.

BRIGGS: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Dave, now -- next, remembering our fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery.


[08:45:11] CAMEROTA: Today, President Trump will honor the lives of fallen service members at a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at Section 60. That's the final resting place for those who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Good morning, Barbara.


Memorial Day 2018. We are here again. We are seeing so many families, battle buddies arriving so early in the morning. And as we look around here at section 60, you can see that people are -- many of them planning to spend the day with their loved ones. We have mom and dads. We have other soldiers, marines, military members, small children, grandparents. This is what we see every year here at section 60.

In just a couple of hours, President Trump, of course, will be laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. And everyone here, down the hill, will be watching to see if he comes and visits and pays his respects down here.

It's already, I must tell you, been for me an emotional morning. A friend of mine is off in the distance visiting a battle buddy that fell in the war zone. And he comes every year to visit him. We will leave him to his privacy.

But another couple, a gold star mom and dad, came up to me a short time ago to say good morning. And this is a couple that we have seen here every year. And I said to them, remind me, you know, what year did we first meet? We met a short time after their son fell on the battlefield. And the mother said to me, it's been 13 years. So we have been coming to section 60 here at CNN for 13 years and more. And we will come every year. Here is where the respect is paid.

Enjoy Memorial Day. Go to the beach. Go to the mall. But take a moment and pay your respects to those who have served the country.

Dave. Alisyn.

BRIGGS: Indeed. Thank you, Barbara Starr.

All right, he is a West Point grad who served two tours in Iraq, now wants to serve in Congress. His new release campaign ad takes on gun control, and it's going viral. What's the message? We'll speak with Democrat Pat Ryan, next.


[08:51:37] CAMEROTA: An Army veteran running for Congress in upstate New York is getting a lot of attention with a campaign ad that seems to defy some of the interests of his own possible gun rights constituents.


PATRICK RYAN (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I approve this message because if our children are going up against this, they should have the same protection we give our soldiers, or we could just get rid of assault rifles. What makes more sense to you?


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Iraq War veteran Pat Ryan. He's a Democrat running for Congress.

Great to have you here, Pat.


CAMEROTA: So that's -- those are striking images. What's your goal with that ad?

RYAN: My goal is to stand up for the students, parents, the teachers who have come to me over the course of this campaign -- we have been at this for a year now -- and I cannot tell you the number of times that I have heard from them, this feels wrong. My kid's going to school feeling unsafe and me having a feeling in the pit of my stomach when I drop my kids off. So, you know, we know what the policy solutions are on this.

CAMEROTA: Do we? Because, you know, as you know, I mean I'm sure you get the pushback from people who are real gun enthusiasts, you know, if you outlaw AR-15s, only outlaws will have AR-15s. I hear it all the time.

RYAN: So the way I think about this is, with all the rights that we have in our Constitution come responsibilities, right? And, you know, you can't stand up in a crowded theater and scream fire. We have to have reasonable limitations for public safety. And the line to me is, the weapons that I carried in combat for 27 months should not be in our streets, period. That's an easy line for me. CAMEROTA: And you think that in your district, which is a big hunting

district, gun rights district, you think that you can win with that?

RYAN: I mean, I grew up there. I grew up around responsible gun owners. I understand what that's about. I understand that farmers need it on their farms and hunters need guns to do what they need to do. But these are weapons -- assault rifles are designed purely to kill humans en mass. And I know that that's strong language, but that's the reality. And so that's where we have to draw the line.

And I think what people want to see right now on this, I believe we do know what the policy solutions are. What we're lacking is the moral courage to stand up and do what's right. And that's why we put out this ad.

CAMEROTA: As we've said, you are an Iraq War veteran. There is a state of veterans running for Congress this year in 2018. And, according to "Politico," 51 percent of them are Democrats. What's going on?

RYAN: You know, I'm 36 years old. I feel like our -- in my lifetime this is the most existential crisis I've seen in our country. And I know a lot of my fellow veterans who are running, and others who are running around the country as first time candidates feel like, if not now, when? If not me, who? I mean we need to stand up and take our country back.

CAMEROTA: When you say this existential threat, you mean gun violence?

RYAN: Gun violence is one of the existential threats. I mean, I look at the community that I grew up in, that's always had my back. We're cutting people's health care. My opponent voted to cut 60,000 people's health care. We're rolling back environmental safety protections. We're caving in to the gun lobby. This is not what our country is about.

CAMEROTA: And so you think that all of these things -- you think that veterans -- I mean, as a veteran, you're particularly equipped to tackle these things? What's the connection between politics and fighting war?

[08:55:07] RYAN: Well, I think the connection is this idea of service and selflessness. And especially on a day like Memorial Day where, you know, I can still picture the faces of the 12 soldiers that I served with in my two deployments who gave their life. And they gave their life because they realize they were part of something bigger than themself. And that is what we've lost in Washington and that's what we need to restore to bring our country together again, to fix these intractable problems that mean we need to unify to fix these tough issues.

CAMEROTA: You know, we hear a lot about this alleged blue wave that is going to happen in 2018, yet the numbers in terms of the polls, the graphs, sort of bounce around. We have one here from "The Daily Kos," (INAUDIBLE), that shows that it goes up and down in terms of how Democrats are expected to do. Are you counting on a blue wave? RYAN: So I've been out there for a year campaigning. There is just

tremendous, unprecedented energy on the ground in my district. The key is, how do we channel that into a victory? How do we build a movement to actually achieve a win in a tough battleground district?

I think a big part of it is not taking that for granted. We're going to have to take this sort of house by house, town by town, and that's what we're out there doing in the campaign.

I think the other key thing is, candidates matter. Having the right candidate, a candidate who's a fit for the district, a candidate who can take a unifying message to everybody across the district is key. And that's what I think I bring to the race.

CAMEROTA: We want to end on live pictures from Arlington National Cemetery. So what does this day mean to you?

RYAN: It's a solemn day where I -- I think that all those who gave their life would want us to celebrate, would want us to say Happy Memorial Day to each other, would want us to recognize that they gave their life so that we can march in parades.

CAMEROTA: Pat Ryan, thank you very much for your service. Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts and your positions with us today.

RYAN: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow will pick up after this very quick break.