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Les Moonves Is Stepping Down As The Head Of CBS; Florence Is Now A Category One Hurricane; Serena Williams Is Being Fined $17,000 For Code Violations; White House Still In Panic Mode Scrambling To Uncover The Mystery Op-Ed Writer Claiming To Be The Resistance Inside The Trump Administration; Washington Whodunit; NFL Anthem Controversy; "State of the Cartoonian." Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 9, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:14] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And thank you very much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with breaking news. Les Moonves is stepping down in the coming hours as the head of CBS. His departure is part of a corporate settlement fight for control of the network. It also follows a series of accusations by women of sexual harassment and assault going as far back as the 1980s, including claims of physical violence and forced sex.

Last month, "The New Yorker" Ronan Farrow published an article detailing accusations of sexual harassment and assault against Moonves by six women who spoke On the Record. And today six more women have come forward with similar allegations including prominent executive Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb which Ronan Farrow details in a new article.


RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: The reason, Brian, that these women are coming out now is that they have been extraordinarily frustrated by what they perceived to be inaction on the part of CBS and its board. And that really is integral to what prompted this follow-up story.


WHITFIELD: Senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter joining me right now.

So Brian, you broke the story and what more can you tell us about this departure?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: In the coming hours, this will be announced by CBS and Moonves stands to earn an enormous amount of money even as these Me Too allegations loom.

Fredricka, this is the first time we have seen a Fortune 500 CEO stepping down amid allegations of harassment and assault. In this almost year that has passed, when we talked about the Me Too movement, we have seen Hollywood stars and journalists and others lose their jobs. But this is different. This is a CEO who runs a giant company who

makes hundreds of millions of dollars. And were he not leaving amid harassment allegations, he would stand to make $180 million. When this is said and done, he may earn $100 million through stock and other forms of compensation, but all of that is up in the air because two law firms are still investigating the harassment charges against him.

So stepping back six weeks here, that is when Ronan Farrow came out with his first story about Moonves, there were charges of harassment and groping. He admitted to some mistakes in the past, but said he had never abused his power. Farrow kept talking to other women, other sources who might have been reluctant to come forward in July. They were frustrated but the board didn't take more serious action against Moonves. They were surprised Moonves was not suspended or pushed out right away. So that is why as a result, more women came forward On the Record in this new follow-up story today.

So as all this is coming forward, as all of these allegations of harassment are coming forward, there is also been this incredible corporate drama at CBS for several months. You know, Moonves might say this is all a result of a coup, a corporate coup, having nothing to do with the Me Too allegations. But I think what we are seeing is an extraordinary confluence of events.

Two things are true at the same time. There was this corporate battle over the future of CBS which Moonves has lost and there have been these harassment allegations that piled up against him. And as a result of both things happening at the same time, he will be stepping down as soon as tonight.

WHITFIELD: So Brian, is there a feeling that his departure also means that others may follow?

STELTER: That's an important question because one of the other men accused in "the New Yorker" story by Ronan Farrow in July, was "60 Minutes" news magazine executive producer Jeff Fager. But Fager's future kind have been up in the air because no one knew it was going to happen to the big boss, to Les Moonves, you know. What a strange and awkward situation when the CEO of the company is accused of misconduct. And then you got other staffers in the ranks also accused. Nothing has been decided about Fager until the situation of Moonves is handled.

But what I am told is that these exit talks for Moonves have been finalized in the past few days. They now have been finalized. And this announcement will come either tonight or before the market opens on Monday. Like I said, having seen this before in the Me Too era where a giant corporate CEO is stepping aside and now the debate will be is it because of the corporate battle or is it because of the Me Too allegations? It may be end up being a mixture of both, but it's the end of an era for CBS. And it is an important moment of accountability for the women who accused him of harassment.

WHITFIELD: Yes, sizable confluence of events there.


WHITFIELD: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk about weather and a pretty dangerous - potentially dangerous threat. The east coast now bracing for the wrath of a major hurricane. Florence is now a category one hurricane and is currently churning over the Atlantic Ocean. It is expected to rapidly gain strength as it barrels towards the eastern United States.

Meteorologist Tom Sater is tracking the storm from the CNN weather center and Kaylee Hartung is joining us from Carolina beach, North Carolina.

So Tom, let's go to you first. Florence, how potentially serious is it?

[14:05:13] TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Very, very serious.

Fredricka, we had a quiet first half of the Atlantic hurricane season. In fact, the peak is tomorrow. We had too much Saharan dust, kind of keeping it suppressing any development. Temperatures in the ocean have been cooler last year than they were this year. But now things are changing. We have an uptick.

Even though the storm is far away, in fact if you go back look at history, at any other storm, any other year where the position is of Florence, not one came to the U.S. coastline. They all went to the north. But the effects are already starting to be felt and we are going to feel them each and every day. Landfall and where exactly that may be is too soon. But the impacts are going to be broad. Up and down the entire coastline. We are looking at Thursday night into Friday morning.

Now that the storm is getting into warmer waters, Fredricka, we expect in the next 24 hours, a major hurricane. That means significant explosive development to category three, four, or five. And again, we are still watching the Carolinas. This is going to change throughout the week. So again, each time we get the information from the hurricane hunters, it goes into the computer models and we be able to break it down. But on a larger scale, just to give you an idea of the impacts that we are seeing in this uptick, this is not the only storm in town.

We have got -- take a look at this. Helene, by the Cape Verde Islands, tropical storm will become a hurricane. No effect that (INAUDIBLE) moves into the open water. Isaac will be a hurricane as well. That heads for the Lesser Antilles and maybe major rain for Puerto Rico on Friday.

Now let's go to the pacific where again, remember, hurricane lane giving 50 inches of rain to Hawaii. Now we got Olivia. Most likely in a category one dropping down to tropical storm status. But it is going to make landfall soon in the days ahead coming in from the north. So again, an uptick in activity, not just the pacific, but the Atlantic. But Florence is really going to pack a punch in the days ahead.

WHITFIELD: All right. Keep watching. Let us know. Thank you so much, Tom.

All right. So because of that ominous forecast, governors in Virginia, north and south Carolinas have all declared states of emergency.

And let's go now to Kaylee Hartung who is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

So Kaylee, of course, about this juncture. Everyone is still on the beach enjoying themselves. You see the crowds behind you, but what are they bracing for?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, preparations here at this point are not much more visible than folks picking up some extra cases of water and maybe extra batteries and flashlight when they stop at the grocery store. You mentioned, the scene behind me, people if anything, taking this as one last opportunity to enjoy these beautiful beaches before the bad weather sets in. Make no mistake, people are well aware of the forecast headed their way.

I spoke with local officials here in New Hanover County who summed it up maybe best. She said they told their employees over this weekend, go home, get your families organize and prepared, come back to work on Monday ready to hunker down for the long haul here.

A lot of people here, Fred, telling me the most recent storm they remember preparing for was hurricane Matthew about two years ago. It was anticipated that it would hit this area of the coast but it turned at the last minute and it didn't. People, of course, optimistic. That could be the case here, but the longtime residents here, they remember 1999. Hurricane Floyd, still the storm that did the most costly damage to the state, $6 million. One local official is telling me many lessons were learn there. They want to get ahead of this one.

WHITFIELD: And I covered that hurricane Floyd and largely that kind of damage came from the way the system just kind of sat over land for a really long time and just became such a soaker even after it lost its hurricane status.

All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

All right. Still to come, Serena Williams calls out sexism at the U.S. open. And now she has been fined. Details are straight ahead.

And the vice President said he would take a lie detector test. This as the White House frantically searches for the anonymous author of a scathing op-ed detailing life inside the White House.


[14:13:14] WHITFIELD: All right. Just in, following a U.S. open defeat to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams is being fined $17,000 for code violations. During the women's final, Williams challenged an umpire after he issued a warning after of what he thought were hand signals from her coach and then later on, Williams was docked a point for smashing her racket. But the controversial call that cost her a game came after a heated exchange with umpire Carlos Ramos when she called him a thief.


SERENA WILLIAMS, U.S. TENNIS PLAYER: You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in my life! I have a daughter and I stand with them. I never cheated. You owe me an apology. You are a thief, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Serena was watching her coach give her hand signals.


WHITFIELD: Fans and players were quick to respond. Tennis legend Billy Gene King tweeted thank you, Serena for calling out this double standard.

All right. Joining me right now is Wimbledon champion and five-time grand slam finalist Pat Cash.

Pat, good to see you. Hey, first let's listen to Serena and what she told reporters after the match.


WILLIAMS: I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff. And for me to say thief and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. I mean, like how -- he has never took a game from a man because they said thief. For me it blows my mind.


WHITFIELD: So Pat, was it too much? Did the umpire Carlos Ramos go too far? Three violations and $17,000 fine.

[14:15:06] PAT CASH, WIMBLEDON CHAMPION, FIVE TIME GRAND SLAM FINALIST: Well, in my opinion I think the very first coaching violation, the one that started it all off. Carlos has a reputation to be an antagonist on the - as an umpire. He likes to have an argument. It was a huge surprise to me and my fellow commenters when we saw him walk on the court for that match and we thought --. If something goes on here, he is going to create it.

He certainly started the trouble. Whether there was a really coaching violation or not, I don't know. But I never heard of anything like that happening so abruptly in a bug grand slam final.

Afterwards, Serena lost her temper. There is no doubt about it. She got upset. But I think the whole incident really, really, upset her to the core. I have never seen a player that upset in my life, even in junior days. I never had seen somebody so upset as Serena was on a court.

She did, I think by her admission I think she would say today that she, you know, she took it a little too far. She got a bit too upset and then it goes out getting a little personal. The umpire probably, you know, calling him a thief because he stole that point away from her. Stole a warning from her and a point. So, he wasn't -- she was not sort of throwing out you are -- whatever else. He sort of in a way stole a point from her and then he said, well, that is enough. You are calling me names now so you get a warning.

So I supposed by the strict rules of it all, I suppose that he was perfectly within his right to do that. But boy, it's really, really harsh.

WHITFIELD: Well, the stakes are high, you know. Players, I mean, you can speak to this as a player, you know. There is a lot of passion. Being upset, whatever you want to call it. But you see it on so many different levels for so many players. And even recently, Roger Federer challenged an umpire in Cincinnati and then he actually got an apology out of the umpire. If you go back a few years, there is Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. There were certainly name calling there as well. So to Serena's point, is there a double standard? She actually saw a penalty, a hefty one, in point, in game and financial fine.

CASH: I don't think so. She may have felt that at the time, but certainly I'm a coach of one of (INAUDIBLE), who is one of the top American girls. And Cocoa has been fined and more than lost points in grand slams before. So, you know, it's not something to do with girls or men. I think it was just by the rules. The umpire is very, very harsh as I have said, very -- advised strictly by the rules as oppose and he was within his right to do that. And I suppose, you know, Serena felt that was unfair.

WHITFIELD: I mean, she has called it sexist, you know. She called it sexist. And here I'm talking to a man and asking you about your, you know, definition of what is sexism and did it play out, but you did go as far as, you know, telling BBC radio that, and I'm quoting now, "this was the most bizarre match and presentation I have ever seen." What do you mean by that? And do you think, you know, sexism does play a role here?

CASH: I don't think sexism has anything to do with the present day. The fact that the crowd were booing completely during the presentation. But this is taking the shine off a young girl, 20-year- old girl who is an absolute superstar. She is potentially the world number one. She was convincingly beating Serena at the time. Serene got started getting back into the match when the incident had happened, but she was still pretty much in control. It took the shine off of it and here was a little girl crying on the presentation stage. Serena is telling the crowd, please, no more booing. We had enough of this.

It was just absolutely bizarre. It was a very unusual. It was quite emotional for us watching it too to see this little girl crying and saying I'm sorry this happened this way. It took the shine off her win - he performance. But you know, this of course, it's emotional and passionate and that's the way it goes.

WHITFIELD: Yes. For this young woman, you know, Naomi Osaka, I mean, this was a big moment. She was playing her, you know, childhood, you know idol at the same time. You know, she won, you know. And tearfully, you know, she is happy. Do you feel like this moment did take away, you know, from, you know, the shine of winning or, you know, do you think her interpretation is, you know, I get it, people get passionate on the court, but this is still my moment?

CASH: Well, I think it probably did a little bit. But look, in the end, I think she realized and everybody realized by the look the way she performed during the tournament, she outplayed everybody, including the Serena, the great Serena. And Serena is not 100 percent back to her fitness. She probably got a bit more to go. But you know, I think, you know, $3.5 million or something will make her feel a lot better about it. She is a superstar. She is "headline news" back in Japan. She is a star already. She is going to be a future number one, two, or three. And she deserved to win. It was just unusual circumstances that helped her a little bit and only a little bit towards that win.

[14:20:07] WHITFIELD: Yes. In back of Serena real quick. Do you feel like it also cumulative - I mean, that you know, she has this exchange with the umpire and this comes off the heels of, you know, the French open changing the rules, not approving of her cat suit which, you know, which is more of a compression suit which is beneficial before, during, and after pregnancy. Do you feel like, you know, Serena might feel a bit of a piling on?

CASH: You know, and I don't blame her for feeling upset. I think she has a right to be upset and I think it was very unfair. I don't think she did - she didn't do anything wrong, really. She lost her temper and smashed the racket, but that happens regularly on the tennis court and tennis tour you see it every day and every tournament. But players lose its temper a little bit. But that was about it. But she just got to where she was so upset about being, you know, accused of cheating or coaching. And it just sort of bubbled up. And you know, she, to be honest, she probably just overreacted and it just got to her in the end. It was quite disturbing scenes in actual fact.

WHITFIELD: All right. Pat Cash, Flashing Meadows, thanks so much. Of course, near LaGuardia's, hence the airplane. All right, appreciate it.

Still to come, as the White House hunts for the anonymous administration official behind a scathing op-ed, vice President Pence said he is willing to take a lie detector test and he is not ruling out other administration officials doing the same thing.


[14:26:00] WHITFIELD: All right, the White House still in panic mode scrambling to uncover the mystery op-ed writer claiming to be the resistance inside the Trump administration. The parade of denials and rebukes still in full swing reaching the highest levels of the White House. Vice president Mike Pence and presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway furiously defending themselves and the President while even floating the possibility that criminal activity could be involved. They are also showing the great lengths that they would go to to prove they are not the mystery writers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should all top officials take a lie detector test and would you agree to take one?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would agree to take it in a heartbeat and would submit to any review the administration wanted to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the administration should do that?

PENCE: That would be a decision for the President. But look, I think the honorable thing to do here is for this individual to recognize that they are literally violating an oath. If they are that senior administration official, they are violating an oath not to the President, but to the constitution.


PENCE: Look, it's un-American. And I think that's why you have seen Republicans and Democrats condemn this.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us at the White House.

So Kellyanne Conway, you know, told CNN that the goal of the author was to create chaos, but of course, the writer is blaming the chaos on the President.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you just have to look at what is happening publicly to see that this is obviously made like difficult for members of this administration.

Keep this in mind. We are now on day four since this op-ed was dropped in the "New York Times" and we are still talking about it. It dominated the conversation this morning on several the Sunday morning talk shows. And it seems as though from what we are being told the President is obsessed with trying to find out who the author of this op-ed is. And to your point, Kellyanne Conway was pressed on the impact this is having on the west wing by Jake Tapper this morning. And this is how she responded.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: What does concern me though, Jake, apart from everything the President and others have said, is that for a media that is constantly talking about facts, accuracy, transparency, authority, the authoritativeness to this anonymous writer was indeed automatically because of the content. As long as the message is anti-Trump, it seems, the messenger has credibility. That should concern everyone. I'm with the vice President on this. He has said that the person should resign if the person truly is an appointee who has taken oath to the constitution.


NOBLES: So it seems as though, in many ways, Kellyanne Conway, vice president Mike Pence, both echoing the same comments that they feel as though, they have a traitor in their ranks to some extent. And the question now becomes to what links will the President go to try and figure out who this person is. You heard many members of the administration, including the President himself, suggest that this may be a criminal act and should involve the department of justice. So far, 25 different administration officials have strongly denied that they had anything to do with this op-ed writer. So here we are, Fred. Day four. We still have no idea who this person is and the White House is still trying to spin everything having to do with it-- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles at the White House, thanks so much.

All right, let's talk more about this. Joining me right now, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart and CNN contributor and former director of the office of government ethics, Walter Shaub. Good to see you both.

All right. So we have the vice President agreeing to take a lie detector test to prove that he is not the anonymous author. So Alice, what does it say about the level of trust in the White House when you got the vice President among those saying I will take a lie detector test?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Fred, it says there is zero level of trust. And you have a man with the integrity of the vice President, Mike Pence, having to even go public and deny writing this op-ed and then going so far as to say he is willing to take a lie detector test, that's really concerning.


But more concerning is the fact that we have someone working in the White House and availing themselves of all the perks and privileges of working in the White House and riding around in Air Force One, for all we know, with such concerns about how this president is operating.

We all knew he was irrational and impulsive and insulting when he ran for office. And the will of the people nominated him and put him in the White House. If you have such concerns about this, don't flatter yourself that you are saving the world from Donald Trump from within.

Come out, be public and speak up and go before Congress and air all your grievances and do it the right way. Resign immediately and air the information publicly just like Walter did. Walter had the courage to see that there were concerns in the White House.

He spoke up and he did it the right way by coming out forward and putting the information out there so we can all deal with this in an open and honest forum.

WHITFIELD: Walter, does this merit the president calling on the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to investigate?

Because Mike Pence seems to be in the camp of that. Take a listen.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we will find out if there was criminal activity involved. I think the president's concern is that this individual may have responsibilities in the area of national security.

And if they've now published an anonymous editorial that says that they are misrepresenting themselves, that they are essentially living a lie within this administration and trying to frustrate and subvert the agenda the president was elected to advance, that's an important issue.


WHITFIELD: So is that substantive enough to have the attorney general investigate?

WALTER SHAUB, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let me preface my answer by saying I don't have a lot of respect for the writer of this op-ed. I agree with Alice that this is not the way to handle this.

That said, I think the real disturbing part of this story is this talk of getting the Department of Justice involved. I think it was a silly theory that people have floated, that it was Mike Pence. Of course, it was not the vice president who wrote this.

But I wish Mike Pence had come out and said he that would give us his reassurance that the criminal investigative apparatus of the state will not be misused to pursue a personnel matter. Toby from the office in human resources should be the one investigating this and not the FBI or the Department of Justice.

And that's very scary because one of the things reflected in Mike Pence's comment was a sense that, if you are not loyal to an elected political official, you are somehow not loyal to the Constitution.

To the contrary, I think that appointees and career staff in the government have a duty of loyalty to the American people, to the Constitution and to the laws. So if this person was concerned, they should have spoken out publicly, resigned and demanded an opportunity to testify in front of Congress.

But there is no crime here and it's very disturbing that, once again, this administration is threatening to use criminal investigative processes to go after political rivals.

WHITFIELD: The White House wants this to go away but, at the same time, keeps calling attention to it. Jake Tapper talked to Kellyanne Conway.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: As a responsible member of the media, I would like to ask you, on behalf of the White House, would you at CNN feel comfortable granting anonymity to somebody who may be a mid-level staffer?

What -- what would have been the comfortable criteria?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You know, it's a totally good question. I don't know who --


CONWAY: Yes, because I see people in the media very upset with this. They're -- they're saying, if it's not somebody in the cabinet, if it's not a senior staffer --


TAPPER: I don't know who it is. If it -- if it's somebody significant, then I think that that was -- that -- then printing it is responsible. If it's somebody completely irrelevant and powerless --

CONWAY: Then why are we giving this person authority?

This person obviously is motivated by conceit and deceit.

TAPPER: I can just tell you, as an anchor, that I gave the story more attention after Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo and the entire cabinet came out and gave the op-ed credibility.

I -- it never even crossed my mind -- I have told this to you privately. It never even crossed my mind that it was Vice President Pence --

CONWAY: Right.

TAPPER: -- until Vice President Pence was out there saying it wasn't him. He and the administration gave this op-ed credibility.

CONWAY: Well, I want to -- I want to say something else. This person obviously is motivated by conceit and deceit and I don't think should be imbued with credibility.


WHITFIELD: So, Walter, is the White House fueling all of this chatter about the anonymity, who it might be, vice president or anyone else?

SHAUB: I think they are. I think Jake Tapper was right in saying nobody would have thought it was Mike Pence until Mike Pence came out and gave it some credibility by denying it.

One of the things that I find a bit silly is all this talk of using a polygraph to find out who did it. I spent a lot of years as a manager --


SHAUB: -- in the government and my advice to President Trump is he should ask himself, whose word would he trust if they say, I didn't do it?

If there is anyone who he wouldn't trust at face value saying I didn't do it, he should fire them because he doesn't trust them anyway. Maybe he is going about this the wrong way. Instead of talking about investigating who it is, he should get rid of everybody he doesn't trust. For those who he can't trust, because they have concerns about him, they should speak out publicly.

WHITFIELD: Alice, publicly is that there is a real lack of trust on so many levels.

STEWART: And there has been for quite some time. Another thing I find troubling is that a lot of what we are hearing from the administration is questioning the author of the op-ed and not the authenticity of the information contained with it.

In find, as a Republican, I'm concerned about some of the information we found in there. Those are the issues that we need to be looking at, more importantly than, the person who wrote this. This goes back to I don't blame "The New York Times."

I think clearly if someone came forth with this op-ed on any other president, they would have done this. It is not on them. It is on this person who, if they truly believe this president is a threat to our nation, they need to come forward.

Personnel is policy and if this person is part of this administration and claims they are trying to protect us to further these policies, that's not how you go about doing it.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Alice Stewart, Walter Shaub, good to see you both.

Next, it's the first Sunday of the NFL season and there are some protests. At least two players have taken a knee during the national anthem. The backlash and the support, coming up.

But first, here's a preview of CNN's original film, "RBG," airing tonight at 8:00.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad to be nominating this pathbreaking attorney, advocate and judge to be the 107th justice to the United States Supreme Court.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: We are living in trying times. But think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, quite literally, changed the way the world is for American women.

GINSBURG: What are has become of me could happen only in America.




WHITFIELD: The first Sunday of the NFL season is kicking off and eight games are underway and so is the league's national anthem controversy. The player protests have been minimal. The only public protest CNN can confirm took place in Miami, where Dolphins wide receivers Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills took a knee during the national anthem. Miami defensive lineman Robert Quinn stood with a raised fist during the anthem.

Colin Kaepernick just tweeted his support, saying, "My brothers K Stills and I think I see 12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed. They have not backed down even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward. Love is at the root of our resistance."

Tyrone Poole is a former NFL player and a two-time Super Bowl champion. Also with me is Wes Lowrey, who is a CNN contributor and a national reporter for "The Washington Post."

Good to see you both.

Tyrone, just two players took a knee so far today that we know of. You have the raised fist as well.

What does it say about the movement and the motivation to keep it going or dial it back among players?

TYRONE POOLE, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I want to thank you for having me on the show, that God may gave me the opportunity to be here. But I think what it shows is momentum. It shows that people are beginning, kind of like in a classroom, where you have one student who raises their hand. Then everyone else starts to raise their hand because they understand and see the same problem.

So I think this has given great legs to a situation. Let's remind everyone. It's not about the flag or the military. I love the military. I love this country. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

But we also understand there are problems from top to bottom in this country. There are people who have been put in situations to make a change. They have a platform. I thank Colin Kaepernick for using that platform and I'm behind him. And this is something that needs to be addressed, the injustice in the country.

WHITFIELD: That message, the message of social injustice -- and that was what the protest was all about -- has gotten lost along the way. Some thought it was protesting the flag, protesting democracy, et cetera.

Do you --


WHITFIELD: -- believe that message has been made more clear now, that there is less confusion over the motivation behind the kneeling?

POOLE: I think you always will have people who are going to see things the way they want to see it. Even if you tell them the truth, they will still do a great job of trying to deflect what it is you are trying to talk about.

But I do believe that people are beginning to see about the truth of the movement. It's about the injustice. And it happens every day, every hour, every minute.

WHITFIELD: So Wes, the season starts with no agreement on an anthem policy between the league and the players. There was real complaints coming from the player's union that they were not invited to the table the last time the NFL talked about it and entertained a policy change.

Where does it go from here?

What's needed?

WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do think this is actually a pretty clear victory for the players' association. If we remember back in May, the NFL announced a new anthem policy that would ban players from protesting.

The players' association complained about that and said we haven't been consulted on that. And what ends up happening is the NFL announces today they are not having any policy whatsoever during the season.

That means that players are free to protest the way we saw today in Miami and the way others might. This is only the first week of the season. We don't know what is going to happen moving forward.

I do think this speaks to the NFL trying to figure out what it's supposed to do and how they should best handle this. We saw the NFL being very reactionary to the president previously, very -- attempting to try to soothe its fan base, some of which did not like these protests and that only riling up the players even more.

In reality, I think we are seeing what could be termed a victory for these players. They always asserted they have the right to the protests. The NFL waffled all over every side of this issue and evenly came down on the side of, if you want to kneel, go ahead.

WHITFIELD: This Nike ad campaign, Colin Kaepernick weighing in via tweet and, of course, through this ad, very powerful messaging, really of standing with conviction, playing with heart, all of that. How helpful is it or do you believe it galvanizes the movement when

you have a huge marketing giant, a product giant like Nike, seemingly behind it?

LOWERY: What I think it speaks to is the staying power of Colin Kaepernick as a symbol and an athlete. I think at the beginning people thought could wait him out. He wasn't on a roster. This would all go away.

What we have seen now as we enter the third season of discussing these demonstrations is that Colin Kaepernick is not going away and this energy among the players is not going away.

WHITFIELD: Tyrone, how do you see that ad campaign, Nike's endorsement of this message?

POOLE: I see it as a big victory. Nike understands two sides. They get an opportunity to be a part of the future change and get an opportunity to see it from their supporters that buy their products.

So I look at it as a win-win for them. I will also go back to history and get into the time machine and go back a little bit. Back in the day when Afro Americans and Negro Baseball League were not allowed to play baseball.

I look at Colin Kaepernick as the Jackie Robinson. He has given a platform and he has opportunity to change the future of something that we know has been happening from the present to the past. So I see him as the Jackie Robinson. No one put all that pressure on him.


WHITFIELD: -- people make comparisons, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos for taking a stand. Tyrone, good to see you. Appreciate it.

Tyrone Poole and Wes Lowrey. Much more right after this.





WHITFIELD: Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they are not after you. A classic line from "Catch-22." A fitting for a week that appeared to send the president down a rabbit hole. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonian" by Jake Tapper.


TAPPER (voice-over): Bob Woodward's new book about Trump and that anonymous "New York Times" op-ed hit the world like meteors. And now the presidential hunt for the sources behind them begins. ELMER FUDD, CARTOON CHARACTER: Be very, very quiet. I'm hunting rabbits.

TAPPER (voice-over): Now every White House has had leakers.

RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You mean that was leaked out of the Pentagon?

TAPPER (voice-over): But this is something else entirely. After all, when it comes to attacks on the president, it seems the classic thriller, "When A Stranger Calls," had it right.

DAVID DENMAN, ACTOR, "OFFICER BURROUGHS": We've traced the call. It's coming from inside the house.

TAPPER (voice-over): It will be a complicated task to figure out who has been trashing Trump.

As former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is quoted in the new Woodward book, quote "When you put a snake and a rat and a falcon and a rabbit and a shark and a seal in a zoo without walls, things start getting nasty and bloody."

Denials have been issued, of course, but even those are telling. Chief of staff John Kelly is quoted in the Woodward book, telling staffers, "He's an idiot, he's gone off the rails, we're in Crazytown, this is the worst job I have ever had."

But Kelly's denial simply said, "The idea I ever called the president an idiot is not true."

Still the show continues with operatic intensity --


TAPPER (voice-over): -- and the desire for vengeance. The president is determined to find out who betrayed him.

MARLON BRANDO, ACTOR, "VITO CORLEONE": Tattaglia's a pimp. He never could've out-fought Santino. But I didn't know until this day that it was Barzini all along.


WHITFIELD: Still ahead, new details on a former "Apprentice" star's lawsuit against President Trump. We are now learning the president will provide written testimony as the case moves forward. Details are straight ahead.