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A Tropical Storm And Two Hurricanes In The Atlantic Ocean; Serena Williams Slapped A Fine After Finals Loss; Leslie Moonves In Talks With CBS As He Exits Company Over Harassment Allegations; Mike Pence Offer To Go On Lie Detector Over Op-Ed Mystery; Former Trump Aide Knows Who Wrote The Op-Ed; Former President Obama Criticizes Trump; No National Anthem Policy This Season; North Korea Celebrates 70th Annivesary. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 9, 2018 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: -- and here let's take a look you can see, there is a third major system also making its way west in the Atlantic. That is tropical storm Isaac. So hurricane Florence, as you can see on the map there, is the closest. Forecasters fear it will become a Category 3 storm or worse before making landfall later this week.

Meteorologist Tom Sader is in the CNN Weather Center with more. Tom, just the fact we have these three storms, pretty powerful in the Atlantic at the same time, is that unusual?

TOM SADER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This time of year, Erica, these little lows come off the coast of Africa, and they typically develop. Tomorrow is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. We've had an extremely quiet first half. Too much Saharan dust, temperatures have been too cool but everything is warming up.

Notice on this imagery, we're starting to lose the picture it's because it's a visual satellite. The sun is going down. But I want to point out before we give it a break for the night, there is no eye yet. NOAA aircraft just reporting, however, that it's strengthening.

By tomorrow, it could be a Category 3 and then further strengthening as we see a possible landfall late Thursday into Friday, maybe as early as Thursday afternoon. The entire east coast of the U.S. will see the surf start to churn, the rip currents are going to become dangerous. And to pinpoint it, really for a landfall, this is going to be tweaked all week long.

But it looks like somewhere late Thursday South and North Carolina coastline. It's possible it could it stay off the coast and just spin for a couple of days. But when you look at the position, Erica, of where Florence is right now, getting into warmer waters, you can assume it is going to get stronger.

But going back in history, with a latitude and longitude, every tropical system we've had where Florence is now has never made its way to the U.S. coastline. They always move north. The steering currents are going to be interesting this week. Again, this is several days away, so the models are going to fluctuate so we're going to have to keep up with it.

There's a broad impact here. So we really can't focus on what we think landfall is going to be just yet. But that cone of uncertainty is the entire coastline, all the way up to Delmarva. Some of the models want to keep this offshore and spin it for a while. That could be catastrophic flooding.

Isaac is going to become a hurricane. That moves toward the Lesser Antilles. And then heavy rain in Puerto Rico, we'll watch that later this week. I'm not so worried about Helene right now which is good news. It should start to move north, stay way from any landmass in the central Atlantic. But Florence, it's going to be a beast.

HILL: All right, that's going to keep you busy for the next few days. My friend, Tom, thank you.

Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka is a grand slam champion. The bulk of the headlines today, though, are not focused on her victory. Instead, it's the controversy that erupted in the second set of her championship match between her opponent and idol Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos.

The 23-time grand slam champion has now been fined $17,000 for three violations, including smashing her racket. Here's how it all unfolded. Serena, who was already down a set to Osaka, is issued a warning over illegal coaching from the stands. Well, that's when Serena approached the umpire for the first time.


SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: We don't have any code, and I know you don't know that and I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I'm telling you it's not. I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose. I'm just letting you know.


HILL: I don't cheat, she says. I'd rather lose, just letting you know. Serena's second violation was for smashing her racket in frustration. So that's when the ump hit Serena with a point penalty for abuse of equipment. Serena then approached him a second time.


WILLIAMS: You stole a point from me. You're a thief!


HILL: The ump then penalizing Serena again, citing verbal abuse for calling him a thief. And because it was her third offense, Serena was docked a full game. At this point, Serena is in tears. She was pleading with officials, noting men do and say far worse on the court without punishment.


WILLIAMS: It's not right. That is not right. That's not right. This is not fair.


HILL: The final score, 6-2, 6-4, Osaka. Andy Scholes joining me now from Flushing Meadows, New York. A lot of reaction after this happened of course, yesterday, Andy. Has it cooled down at all? I mean, what are people saying today?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you what, Erica, you know, this was one of the wildest sporting events I've ever attended and I never thought I would say that about the U.S. Open women's finals. The fans were getting so emotional in the stands last night watching what was unfolding with Serena on the court as she was breaking down, just pleading her case.

They were booing at the top of their lungs ever since Serena had her first spat with the umpire Carlos Ramos. They were even unhappier as things unfolded. And I caught up with a lot of the fans as they were leaving here at Flushing Meadows last night. And many of them very proud of the way Serena stood up for herself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it is so hard to stand there and speak your truth in a moment where you also have to show humility and class and grace, right? It's a challenge. And she walked that line perfectly.

[17:05:10] SCHOLES: Do you feel what happened to her was sexist?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. She's an athlete.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Courageous. I would venture to say that there's a racial divide that continues to show itself. As a corporate woman, I experienced it in the workplace. To me, Serena was just at work today and she had an experience that happens whether you're in the political space, whether you're in the entrepreneurial space or you're in the corporate space. It's what happens.

SCHOLES: And are you proud of the way Serena handled it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incredibly. I learned a lesson today. I was not handling it like that in the stands.


SCHOLES: And so that was the way many of the fans felt. And some other fans felt differently, you know, when the news of her fine for $17,000 for those court violations came out earlier today, one fan tweeting on social media, "rightfully so, she should also apologize to the ump, the fans, and Osaka. What's even more shameful is the fact she then hid behind sexism. As far as I'm concerned, a fine wasn't enough."

Now, Erica, the WTA did put out a statement last night saying they were going to look into what happened in this U.S. Women's final, but for the time being, they were going to celebrate Naomi Osaka because that's really what got lost in all of this.

It was supposed to be, you know, one of the most special days ever in this girl's life, beating her idol, first grand slam title, just 20 years old. And yet, she didn't really get to celebrate it because of what was unfolding in the match.

HILL: Interesting, we saw Serena make that point, of course, as they were about to -- at the end when they were presenting the trophies. That she really wanted the focus to be on Naomi Osaka as well. Andy Scholes, appreciate it. Thank you.

Serena Williams was upset but gracious in defeat. She very clearly said she didn't want to take the spotlight from Naomi Osaka at the trophy presentation, knowing that moment belonged to her. Williams, though, did open up more in that post-match press conference.


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, he's never took a game from a man because they said thief. For me, it blows my mind.


HILL: Well, hers wasn't the only mind that was blown. Plenty of people looking at what they see as a double standards and talking about it online, a double standard in how the rules are applied. It certainly resonated with another tennis legend.

Billie Jean King tweeting, "When a woman is emotional, she's "hysterical" and she's penalized for it. When a man does it, he's outspoken and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same."

Joining us now, retired professional tennis player, James Blake, who is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Breaking Back" and a commentator for the tennis channel. And you're one of those voices, James, who did speak up. And you actually tweeted afterwards, "I'll admit I've said worse and not gotten penalized." That you've been given a soft warning and not the violation like Serena saw. So, is there a double standard in tennis today?

JAMES BLAKE, FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER (via telephone): Well, you know, I think Billie Jean King said it accurately. I think there's always been a double standard in terms of perception. I was hopeful that in the actual policing or penalizing of the sport that the umpires would do a good job of keeping it consistent.

Here I didn't really feel like there was that consistency at the U.S. Open. I mean, the rules for Alize Cornet changing her shirt on the court was to me ridiculous. And then for Serena, in the finals of a grand slam, to have something that really -- she called him a liar and a thief, and didn't cuss at him, didn't do anything, in my opinion, that was overly demonstrative to make it that he would he -- he should give her a game penalty.

I just saw it was more the line who says that he -- she needs to control her emotions or show restraint. I feel like, yes, she should, but so should he. He needs to give her a chance to know that, OK, if she keeps going on that talk, then he's going to have to take a game away.

I feel like it's the same at the end of a basketball game or the end of a football game. You got to let the players decide. You don't want the refs, you don't want the umps to be the one, you know, the big story in a championship game and I feel like unfortunately this is the case.

HILL: Meaning that you think the umpire made this about him?

BLAKE: Yes. I think if the set and a break, it's getting towards the end of a match possibly and he makes that critical of a decision, and then he knows that's going to affect the match, that's going to affect the story line.

And instead of letting the players play and maybe telling her, if he had told her, look, Serena, if you continue doing this and attacking my integrity, if you're attacking my integrity and you continue down this path, then I'm going to have to give you a violation.

[17:10:02] If he does that and she then continues and keeps going with it, then I'm totally fine with it. But for him not to give her warning, not to give her that opportunity, I just think it was too much and he stepped over the line in my opinion.

HILL: So Serena was fined $17,000 today. Not a lot of people very supportive of that. I'm interested in your take on both the fine and what you think should happen to this umpire.

BLAKE: The fine is -- I don't have a problem with that. She was always going to get fined for smashing a racket. And you smash a racket, it depends on the scene, how many viewers are watching, that's -- I mean, lucky enough for Serena, I don't think she'll have trouble paying that fine, but --

HILL: Well, I don't think anybody thinks it's about the money. It's more about the principle. The one point was the racket, but you know, it wasn't just about the racket in the fine.

BLAKE: Yes. The fine, any time you're given a code of conduct penalty and it's on a stage like that, you're going to get a fine. I don't have a problem with that. And what should happen to the umpire, that's interesting because I've always been a fan of accountability. So, if the WTA goes back and reviews it and feels that Carlos Ramos didn't do the right thing, then there should be an accountability.

Whether he's demoted from being a gold medal standard umpire or if he's just taken off of a few big matches, whatever the case may be. I do feel there should be some accountability. If they feel like he let the moment get to him, then okay, take him off these big moments. HILL: What else needs to change here? I mean, you mentioned the issue

with Alize Cornet, right, and then we see, you know, Djokovic sitting for minutes on end without a shirt while his opponent is changing his shirt. You know, the cat suit, I mean, it's a controversy in quotes here, and the calls from the umpires. What needs to change in tennis overall? Can this double standard go away?

BLAKE: Well, as I said, I always feel like the perception was there. So that, I hope, is changing. But the way the sport is refereed, that absolutely needs to be consistent. It can't be that if an umpire feels like they're being shown up by a female as opposed to being shown up by a male, if there's going to be different repercussions.

That's something where I don't know if the IPF or the ATP and WTA need to get together and start making a much more clear sense of what is showing someone up because there is a very big gray area. There are different umpires doing it different ways. So that could be the case.

But whether it's in the ATP or a WTA event, they need to really make sure that they're going to get in line with each other so that there is consistency because that's generally what players want in all sport.

HILL: You know, the same rules for everyone on the court. Wouldn't that be a novel thing? James Blake, I always appreciate you taking some time for us. Thank you.

BLAKE: My pleasure. Thank you, Erica.

HILL: Breaking news, Leslie Moonves, the embattled head of CBS who has faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct in recent weeks, including six women whose stories were shared publicly today, is stepping down. His exit, part of an ongoing corporate battle for control of CBS.

CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources" Brian Stelter broke the story and has not stopped including your sources from that moment. So what do we know right now?

BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right now we know that Moonves has agreed to the terms of his departure. This will be announced either tonight or first thing tomorrow morning. It's one of these situations where there might have to be some paperwork signed, but it's a done deal.

And as you alluded to, this is sort of two stories at once. This is a corporate boardroom battle that's been going on for months, but this is also a serious #MeToo case. In fact, it's the first time a Fortune 500 CEO has taken leave in the #MeToo world. Of course, there was Ronan Farrow that helped bring this road into fruition.

This time last year, it was his reporting about Harvey Weinstein and the "New York Times" reporting about Harvey Weinstein that started this movement. And now here we are almost a year later with questions about whether he's going to make a lot of money on the way out the door. But one thing is for sure. He is stepping down. HILL: Well, there's also, you know, in these new accounts, we should

point out to have come from Ronan's latest article for "The New Yorker," which came out today. But you talk about these two stories playing out at once. So, you know, there was the battle for control of CBS that was already happening before we heard about these allegations, but they are inextricably linked at this point.

STELTER: Yes, like an incredible confluence of events and there are a lot of theories about what exactly is happening and what the timing is. But if you talk to Moonves' side, they're saying this is just about the corporate -- courtroom, you know, a boardroom battle. You talk to the other side they're saying he was taken down by these allegations against him.

Finally this is a moment of accountability. And you think about what Farrow has, he had six women back in July. He has six more women in today's story. A dozen allegations of harassment and assault, some of them quite disturbing. They're up on for folks to read. And I don't think it was tenable for him to remain in charge of CBS.

HILL: There's also a lot of outrage about what we were hearing initially, he could walk away with in terms of money. What do we know about that?

STELTER: Well, you know, here is Moonves, part of what Moonves is saying in his defense today, he's saying the new stories in "The New Yorker," the most appalling accusations are untrue.

[17:15:03] And he said he did have consensual relations with three of the women that are named, but he's saying he never abused his power, for example, by trying to take jobs away from women who rebuffed his advances. And he ends by saying anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.

It's really interesting how he's saying this is part of an effort to destroy his career and destroy his name. He might be implying its part of that boardroom battle where Shari Redstone was trying to fight him in court and it is somehow her fingerprints are on this. Her camp denies that.

HILL: Right.

STELTER: But ultimately, this is about money. As you're saying, this is about money. Unlike a lot of the #MeToo cases where there are millions involved or tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars are involved in this case. If Moonves have been removed today for no good reason because CBS felt like it, he'd be owed $180 million, according to the terms of his contract.

Now, today with these accusations of harassment and assault, he might still get $100 million or he might get zero or he might get somewhere in between. This is what the lawyers are going to be negotiating and fighting about for months.

But you know, we've heard from Time's Up advocates today saying he shouldn't get a dollar. He shouldn't get a penny of this. So I think we are now moving into a new phase of #MeToo. The question is how much money is Moonves going to walk away with?

HILL: Yes, that is fascinating in all of this. Oh, the palace intrigues. Brian, appreciate it. We know you'll stay on it as well.

STELTER: Thanks.

HILL: As the White House scrambles to finds the anonymous author of that scathing op-ed, Vice President Pence says he'll take a lie detector test to prove it was not him. Now, one former Trump campaign adviser is speculating that he does know who's behind it and dropping clues.

Plus, opening Sunday for the NFL. Did any players decide to take a knee? Also, why those who do may not face punishment after all.


HILL: The vice president of the United States says hook me up to a polygraph. He's talking about the big mystery which is still hanging over the White House, the one the White House won't stop talking about. Who is the high-ranking insider behind that anonymous op-ed?

The one that set off a five-alarm scramble in the West Wing. Here's a look at all of the people, and by the way, there are more than those you see on your screen, but these are the ones -- some of them who have said, not me.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: 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 of the administration.


HILL: Whomever wrote that opinion piece says they're part of a, quote, "resistance" inside the administration, one that's actively working to contain what he or she calls half-baked and ill-informed decisions made by President Trump. So is there a name? Now, one former Trump campaign official says he's fairly sure he knows who it is.


MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Let me tell you, Fredricka, I'm fairly certain I know who it is. I've been, you know, going through this parlor game just like everybody else has. And I'm also completely 100 percent certain that the person who wrote this is on the list of people who said they didn't write it.

FREDRICKA WHITFIEL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So who do you think it is?

CAPUTO: I'm not going to go into that. My attorney tells me it's a bad idea. But I can tell you this. I believe, first of all that this person --

WHITFIELD: So you've talked to your attorney. You've consulted your attorney. You've said, I think I know who this is based on certain language that was used, and you've consulted your attorney and your attorney says don't reveal it.

CAPUTO: Based on language. Right, I mean, based on language, based on the fact that I believe that these kinds of people leave a trail of crumbs when they're trying to deceive people around them. That's the way it always is.


HILL: CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the White House. The good old trail of crumbs just like Hansel and Gretel apparently, which we know that the White House has been trying to follow as well. They're talking about it a lot, Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they really are, Erica. And, you know, the question as to whether or not this is dogging this administration is answered pretty simply just by the amount of time White House officials are being forced to spend talking about this particular issue.

The simple fact you have the vice president of the United States on television today saying that he'd be willing to take a lie detector test to officially rule him out as a potential suspect shows just how difficult this process has been for the White House. And just take aside what we've seen publicly. We also know that behind the scenes, the president himself is obsessed with the search for this author and with good reason.

Many of his associates believe that this person is essentially a traitor to the Trump administration and they are very concerned with the fact that this person is involved in meetings on a daily basis and could be actively working right now to undermine the system. The problem is it doesn't seem as though they're getting any closer to figuring out exactly who that person is.

The "New York Times" has gone to great lengths to protect this person's identity. And even though more than 25 different people have said that they're not the person who wrote this op-ed, as you can see, Erica, from what you played in that clip from Michael Caputo, that doesn't necessarily mean that those in charge here or those close to the president believe all of those people.

HILL: That is for sure. Ryan Nobles, appreciate it. Thank you.

NOBLES: Thank you.

HILL: Well, as Ryan was pointing out, Trump White House officials today hitting the Sunday news show circuit to talk about that anonymous op-ed. Keeping the speculation and story alive. Patrick Healey is politics editor for the "New York Times, Kelly Jane Torrance is deputy managing editor at "The Weekly Standard" and they join me now. So Patrick, our own reporting here to is that staffers, including

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, have really been trying to get the president to move on. And yet, they're not. I mean, they're putting themselves out there and they are talking about it. Are we stuck in this news cycle until the writer is unveiled?

PATRICK HEALEY, POLITICS EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, until President Trump, you know, calms down over it. I mean, he has been, you know, saying on twitter that this is meaningless, you know, this is not a reflection of the White House.

You know, at the same time, suggesting that Jeff Sessions should launch an investigation. And then internally, this goes, Erica, to two sort of, you know, core vulnerabilities for President Trump, and that's around loyalty and control.

[17:25:07] When he feels that either is getting out of his grasp, he can get -- and we saw this during the campaign, over the years with his business, in the presidency. He can get very frustrated, very angry, and he wants answers. And he feels like whoever wrote this, you know, violated both loyalty to him and his ability to sort of control things on the inside.

Now, we know that that ability has been, you know, getting away from him for a long time now in the White House, but how this sort of settles down, it all sort of begins and ends with the president's mood and discomfort with it.

HILL: Also, it will be interesting to see. When we hear, Kelly Jane, from ex-Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, and he's saying, well, it's a female, you know, I can't say much more because of my attorney, does he have any credibility here?

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Absolutely not, Erica. I'm glad you asked that question. I mean, I watched the interview, which by the way I mean, Fredericka was great, wasn't she? You know, coming down hard on him. He says that he can figure it out based on partly the language used.

Well them later in the interview, he said that it was probably a ghost writer and you couldn't look for sure at the language and know who it was. Well, which is it? Michael, make up your mind. And you know I think he's obviously, you know, in saying well, my attorney told me I can't say, come on. That's just unbelievable.

Of course he's hinting very much at who he thinks it is by saying that the person is a she and by saying there's a trail of crumbs left because whenever someone tries to deceive, they do that. I personally think he must be talking about Nikki Haley, and the trail of crumbs he is referring to is that fact that Nikki Haley wrote an op-ed in the "Washington Post" saying it wasn't me and I would never do something like that and this is why that person shouldn't have done it.

So, you know, he's being very disingenuous and trying to claim that his lawyer told him not to. I mean, my guess is he must have some kind of grudge against Nikki Haley and is using this. But again, that's what happens when you have these sorts of stories. Everybody plays the parlor game, to use the words he did.

HILL: Right.

TORRANCE: And, you know, using their own motivations to try to turn the narrative in the way that they would like and that would make them look good.

HILL: In terms of the narrative, what's fascinating is the media blitz that we're seeing from the White House is not focused on refuting the claims in the letter. In fact, here's what White House Senior Counsel Kellyanne Conway told Jake Tapper earlier today.


KELLYANNE CONEAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: What really was the motivation too? If the motivation is what they state it is in that ridiculous op-ed, they failed miserably. They missed the mark completely. I think the motivation was to sow discord and create chaos and I refuse to be a part of that.


HILL: Discord and chaos. I mean, let's be honest, these are words we've heard before associated with this administration, long before there was a letter. Do you buy that? That this letter is not about exposing these concerns that the author talked about and the dysfunction? It's about instead creating chaos in the west wing?

HEALEY: No, I think the essay is very clear. It's someone from a senior administration official inside the Trump White House who is in a lot of ways validating a lot of the reporting that "The Times," CNN, "The Washington Post," Bob Woodward has done over the last year and a half, is basically someone who was saying that they are supportive and sympathetic to traditional Republican policy agenda, to some of the aims that the administration has pursued and has made achievements on.

But who is really underscoring the fact that all of this is coming about in spite of sort of the daily paroxysms and chaos that President Trump from when he starts going on twitter, stomping on the message that the White House would like to focus on that day, from his rallies when he could be talking about job growth and the economy, you know, and instead is trying to sort of settle scores and judge it.

You know, the person is trying to say, you know, we're trying to do sort of the best that we can, you know, in spite of him and in some ways trying to sort of contain the chaos.

HILL: All right. Here we go. Get ready for day six of the Washington parlor game, who wrote the op-ed. Kelly Jane Torrance, Patrick Healey, I appreciate it. Thank you both.

HEALEY: Thanks, Erica.

TORRANCEL: Thank you.

HILL: When President Obama left office, he said he wanted to stay out of the spotlight. His scathing speech slamming President Trump on Friday though, has put him squarely back in its focus. We'll speak with his former speech writer next in the "CNN Newsroom."


HILL: Before leaving office, President Obama told reporters, quote, "I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much." Well, the time for quiet appears to be over. Accepting an award on Friday, the former president didn't mince words.


BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.


He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years. It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say we don't target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. We are Americans. We're supposed to stands up to bullies.


Not follow them. And we're sure as heck supposed to stands up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad? And if you thought elections don't matter, I hope these last two years have corrected that impression.


[17:35:02] HILL: Joining me now is David Litt, former speech writer for President Obama and author of the book "Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years." David, obviously you spent a fair amount of time with the president. You know how things work with speeches. When you hear what he had to say on Friday, that fiery speech, really no holds barred, just curious of your reaction.

DAVID LITT, FORMER SPEECH WRITER FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on, and it is always fun to talk about President Obama's speeches especially since now I don't have to do the hard work of helping being on the team that's working on them.

When we were in the White House, when we were writing President Obama's speeches, the question that always came up is what do we want the headline to be? I would say the headline here, one of the things President Obama said is this moment is different. And I think that in all sorts of ways was the message of his speech top to bottom.

As you pointed out, he said, I would like to be quiet, but he had also said around the same time, if things get really out of hand, if things are anti-Democratic as we fear they might be, I may have to say something and this is him saying something.

HILL: That would not be the headline, though, that you would see for what he had to say at his first campaign event in California yesterday. So the day after that fiery speech, he didn't mention President Trump by name. He was not nearly as forceful in his language. There was a lot of hope in there, but that doesn't always work in terms of getting voters to the polls.

And we saw that, you know, even what he had to say in 2016 didn't help Hillary Clinton in terms of getting voters to the polls. So if the Saturday speech is what he's going to give on the campaign trail, what needs to change for it to be effective?

LITT: I think the most important thing you need to remember, the number that you need to keep in mind when President Obama is out campaigning this fall is 60 percent. That was about his approval rating when he left office. Unfortunately, it was not his approval rating the last midterms or when I was still on the White House staff. He would have loved that.

But his approval rose dramatically in those years. So, a lot of what he's doing is saying you trust me, you trust me more than just about any figure in American politics today. And if you do, then look at these other candidates, tying both himself to the Democrats who are running and reminding peopling people, if you want to bring some decency and sanity back to politics even if you are Republican, vote for these people.

And also saying, you know, if you're concerned about Trump -- he called out Trump on Friday, but more than that, he said Trump is a symptom. He tied Trump to the Republican Party. So what he is saying if you're concerned about the craziness in the White House, if you're concerned about the lawlessness, then here are seven people if you live in southern California. You may be able to vote for one of them.

HILL: Right. So you think that message is going to work. I do just want to get your take on this. The palace intrigue that we can't get away from in Washington, this op-ed in "The New York Times." It's interesting a former speech writer for former President Clinton said he thinks it could be a speech writer because of the alliteration that's used in there. Anything that stands out to you on that op-ed. Do you think it could be a speech writer or anyone else?

LITT: Well, the sentences were coherent, so I don't think it was the president.

HILL: Ouch.

LITT: Outside of that -- well, we've read his twitter feed. I would say outside of that, I just don't care at this point. I don't think it was telling us that much we don't already know. I mean, this was an op-ed saying basically President Trump is not fit for office. We've seen a lot of evidence. If you don't agree with that now, you're probably not going to agree with that piece of this op-ed.

And so my view for all the people in the White House who are running around playing private detective is just go do your job. You have an important job when you work at the White House. There are people counting on you in all sorts of ways whether we're Democrats or Republicans or independents. Go to work. Think about something else for a change.

HILL: A lot of people have said it and I need to -- just your real quick answer -- on both sides of the aisle have said, you know, there's kind of a lack of credibility here if you can't even put your name on it. Would you agree?

LITT: I don't think there's a lot to be credible about someone saying Trump's not a great president, not fit for office, OK. You know, I don't think we need a signature behind that. I think we all can see it or we can make up our own minds.

HILL: David, appreciate it. Thank you.

It is opening Sunday for the NFL. So what happens? Protests during the national anthem? Who took a knee? Up next, you'll hear from one football player who was also a Green Beret before he became a player, who met with Colin Kaepernick in the early days of his first protest. He joins us next.


HILL: The first Sunday of the new NFL season happening right now. Two Miami Dolphins players taking a knee during the national anthem. Wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson become the first NFL players to kneel in protest this season. Don't expect a big response, though, from NFL officials. And here's why.

The new NFL policy on the national anthem isn't a policy. Yes, you heard that correctly. A source telling ESPN the league won't implement a rule this season after initially saying it would. Joining me now is Army veteran and Green Beret, Nate Boyer who played college football at the University of Texas.

[17:45:03] After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was also a member of the Seattle Seahawks. So Nate, as you know, there has been much back and forth here from the league in terms of what the NFL plans to do. What's your take on this latest news that the league says nothing to see here, there's not going to be a rule?

NATE BOYER, RETIRED ARMY GREEN BERET: Well, I mean, I think they've been talking about that for the last few weeks. You know, there was a big backlash when the news came out that they were going to implement a rule. And it's an interesting, you know, debate, seeing as the NBA has implemented a similar rule years ago, right. But, you know, the way we see the NBA I think they have got such a better relationship with their players and their association office.

So, the NFL is doing what they can, I think. I think it just took a little too long, you know, a year and a half initially from when they really started to address are we going to make this a policy or not after Colin's initial protest.

But I will say this in defense of the league. I think through this, they're doing a better job more and more, working with the players, really hearing them out, taking them into account and not just ownership because, you know, without players, there is no league. There is no football.

HILL: No, and that is so important. You know, from the beginning, you have talked so much about how you and Colin Kaepernick first came together and talked in those first days after his first protest. And also, you talked about supporting Colin Kaepernick and other players and their right to protest during the anthem, even if you may not agree with the method.

Nd this week you wrote, "that's an unpopular place to stand these days, in the radical middle, defending someone you somewhat disagree with. It's hard for me to grasp why this is so difficult for people from both ends of the political spectrum to understand. It's OK to be different. It's what makes us the same -- embrace it and remember that nobody's a perfect patriot, especially not me."

And it's sad and it's true that it is, for some reason, so difficult for people to understand. Do you think anything or anyone can change that, Nate?

BOYER: Yes. I think every one of us can. You know, and I've been saying this more and more lately, and I really want to emphasize it. I think we need to take more responsibility on ourselves as citizens, as individuals, you know, to not only be good to our neighbors but be good to those people that we don't consider our neighbors.

Too often we're blaming people, whether they're in political power or whether they're people that are very outspoken like Colin and some of these other players. You know, we let their words affect us way too much, and the way that sometimes their words are maybe spun. We need to look in the mirror and take on responsibility and just be bigger than that.

Like we are smarter. We're smarter than we're acting right now. And we're choosing to be ignorant on both sides of the aisle, and we're choosing to be divisive. You know, we don't have to be that way. I think you can be very patriotic and open-minded at the same time, and we're sort of losing that in our country today.

HILL: I think there are a lot of Americans who would agree with you. And that's why I love the saying nobody is a perfect patriot. That word I think has become so politicized and really become a political pawn, which is so unfortunate.

And sometimes people are even throwing veterans and active duty military in on that. I'm just curious, how do you feel when people get upset on your behalf? When they don't know you?

BOYER: Exactly. And, you know, and I want to be the first to say that, look, I don't speak for every veteran, obviously. I speak for myself and that's it. I don't want to pretend to do that because I've had a lot of people, you know, that have been upset with my opinions and feelings on things and they have every right to do that.

And I want people to understand that just because I support all of these players' right to speak out and what I believe is a First Amendment right that I fought for, whether I agree with it or not, it doesn't make it the end all. You know what I mean? I mean there is plenty of people that wore the camouflage that disagree with me, and they have every right to do that and I love them just as much, you know.

I fought for the man on my left and right. Some of them didn't even wear American flags on their shoulders. Some of them were Afghans and Iraqis and I don't agree with every custom, culture, and, you know, opinion that they have, but, you know, we bled together. Ultimately, we're good in our Corps, almost everybody in the world.

And we want the same things for our family, for ourselves, for our life, and for our future. And so, we need to realize that. I mean, I think we do. And yes, we just need to smile a little bit more. My dad tells me to always smile more when I do these things and, you know, everything is going to be all right.

HILL: Well, you're doing a fine job. So I hope your dad will approve today. And also, listen, I think this goes back to a lesson that we learned from you early on when you started talking about the conversation you and Colin had, which was that you listened to one another. So hopefully we can all do a little more of that as well. Nate, we're out of time, but I look forward to speaking with you again. Thank you.

BOYER: I appreciate you. Thanks for the time.

HILL: North Korea is celebrating its 70th anniversary with a big parade. This one, though, is a little different from others we've seen. Something was left out. President Trump likes it. We're live in Pyongyang, next.


HILL: Good stepping soldiers, colorful flags, tanks and flyovers. It was all there for North Korea's 70th anniversary celebration except that this time there were no ICBMs on display. Instead, Kim Jong-un playing off an economic message and even earned praise from President Trump in the process.

CNNs Will Ripley joins us now live form Pyongyang. Will, so in the past, North Korea has really put these long range missiles as we know on full display. What's the strategy behind leaving them out?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly this is a message to the United States specifically and the world that North Korea, you know, they still have the nuclear weapons. They haven't denuclearized. They haven't destroyed any of their missiles or warheads. According to U.S. intelligence, they believe they don't have any intention of doing that any time soon.

[17:55:07] What they're not doing is putting them on public display. They are kind of keeping them hidden which perhaps is good enough at least for now for President Trump who did tweet after the parade footage aired that he appreciates Kim Jong-un's attempts to move toward denuclearization. The problem is that North Korea hasn't actually done anything towards

denuclearization significantly. They haven't been transparent about what they possess in terms of their arsenal. What they did do is they blew up their nuclear test site earlier this year which a lot of analyst wondered whether that actually had a substantial effect on their nuclear program. And they have said that they are willing to work towards denuclearize if the United States takes reciprocal steps, Erica.

HILL: Will Ripley with the latest for us. Will, thank you.

The east coast is bracing for a major hurricane that by landfall could be a Category 3 storm and we have the latest forecast for you, next.