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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Later Today: Goodell to Hold News Conference; Alibaba IPO; Alibaba IPO on NYSE; Former General Criticizes Obama for "Telegraphing" Plans; Clapper Says National Intelligence Underestimated and Overestimated in Iraq; No Disconnect Between Military and White House on ISIS

Aired September 19, 2014 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

The breaking news, finally, after a very long silence, the NFL commissioner himself, Roger Goodell, is planning to come out of the shadows and answer questions live on camera from actual reporters. Mr. Goodell is going to be holding a press conference this afternoon. The news has come to us. This is going to happen at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

That announcement comes after some pretty shocking details have been released on the NFL's latest big headache. You might even call it big nightmare. You think the Ray Rice domestic violence fiasco was bad? Wait until you hear the details on this one. The police say Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer head-butted his wife so hard he broke her nose after she refused his sexual advances. This happening back in July, allegedly. His wife says he later texted her a picture of a knife, threatening to kill her. And that the couple's son could be killed as well if she told police about the assault. In the attack that spanned two days, Dwyer also punched her, took away her cell phone so that she couldn't call for help, allegedly, punched walls and even threw a shoe at his 18-month-old son, striking him in the stomach.

In the meantime, the White House is now weighing in on the NFL's handling of its recent abuse controversies, saying that the league needs to, quote, "get a handle on the situation" since so many young people look up to these players as role models.

And we're also learning this morning that the military is now looking into its relationship with the NFL.

Joining me to talk about these latest NFL woes, espn.com columnist Kate Fagan and host of CNN's "Unguarded" Rachel Nichols.

First to you, Rachel Nichols. You and I have had several conversations about where is Roger Goodell. Now he's going to appear at 3:00. But what can we expect?

RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, CNN'S "UNGUARDED" I can't answer that. The Hilton Hotel. But we don't know what he's going to say. Look, no one still expects him to resign. This is a guy who is expected to hold on to his job.

However, he has a lot to answer for. And I went and counted, it has been nine days since we've seen him. This is a guy who makes $44.2 million a year. People have been asking him to earn that salary, lead through this crisis, and he says he's been doing that behind the scenes. We've gotten press releases about executives added, women who they've added at the executive level to the NFL, reports of, hey, Roger's working 24/7 on this. But people need to see him and they want to see what he's going to say this afternoon because he's got a lot to answer for, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Well, especially since this Jonathan Dwyer news is coming out.

Kate, this is just so disturbing to see these details. And I don't know - I was going to ask our control room, do we have that quote from the coach of the Arizona Cardinals? We do. Coach Bruce Arians had this to say about his own player, about Jonathan Dwyer. Have a listen because there's something else I want to talk about on the other side of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE ARIANS, ARIZONA CARDINALS COACH: We didn't look for this fight, but once you go into it, you don't tell your adversary in advance what you're -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That's not the right - that's not the right sound bite, unfortunately. I want to get that sound bite run down, though, because - we've got it? We've got it. All right. So, once again, this is Coach Bruce Arians - rats, we don't. I've just been told we don't have that handy.

Let me paraphrase. He was real rough on Dwyer.

KATE FAGAN, ESPN.COM COLUMNIST: Yes.

BANFIELD: He really decried what was going on here, Kate. But here's where I have a big problem. Our Sara Ganim did a spectacular report on something that kind of went under the radar, and that's the hiring of a young man by the name of Chris Rainey after the Ray Rice disaster surfaced. After. Chris Rainey, according to Sara Ganim's report, is a player who has a history thrice of some kind of abuse, including domestic abuse. And when CNN started to press and push and prod Bruce Arians about this, all of a sudden yesterday Chris Rainey is not on the roster anymore.

FAGAN: Right.

BANFIELD: He's released.

FAGAN: Right. BANFIELD: It sounds pretty darn suspicious.

FAGAN: Yes. And this is the problem the NFL has, they have no clue what they're doing when it comes to issues of domestic violence. And players who are controlling relationships, whether it's with children or with significant others through violence, they have no history of knowing what to do about this.

BANFIELD: Well, I just -- I can't understand the double-speak, though, Rachel. He's on camera yesterday. I'm sorry we don't have the bite. But let me assure you, he's livid about it.

NICHOLS: Well -

BANFIELD: But his vetting process of Mr. Rainey, according to our Sara Ganim, came from no one other than the young man he's actually decrying, Jonathan Dwyer.

NICHOLS: Right. Bu you have to look at the history here. That the NFL, as a whole, has told its coaches, has told its players, we don't really care that much about this. It's not that important. For years, right, there was all kinds of players who were let back on to teams with history of this. there's all kinds of players who had arrests and played the next week and next week and the next week.

And, let's face it, our society as a whole has told a lot of men in this culture, this isn't that important because look at Ray Rice. He wasn't put in prison for what he did. He was put into a pretrial diversionary program. Now with public outrage there is finally the messages being sent to these teams, to these players and to everybody else, this is not OK. We have reached a breaking point. And that's why I think you are seeing a change. We are seeing people wake up basically in front of our eyes and say, oh, right, OK, and we have to let them make that change because it's what we want them to do.

BANFIELD: So then there's just -- there's myriad topics I could speak about. I don't even think I can fit them all in today with the developments that are coming in fast and furious. You mentioned breaking point, Rachel. Kate, it's breaking point, tipping point, dominos. Now the military is stepping up. I'm not going to go as far as to say it's an investigation. Our Barbara Starr has tamped that down. But she said, Barbara Starr has reported, they are looking real carefully now at their relationship with the NFL. But what does that mean?

FAGAN: Well, it's huge. And then you throw into that the P&G backing out of --

BANFIELD: Procter & Gamble?

FAGAN: Procter & Gamble backing out of the -

NICHOLS: Huge.

FAGAN: The breast cancer awareness campaign that's about to launch. That was a huge investment they were making. And the signal that is sending is, the NFL, for the first time, is not a brand that you are universally attaching yourself to. It - it used to be -- Roger Goodell's not taking (ph) to question. You know he's not - he's not putting himself at the mercy of reporters and the American public. The NFL was above reproach. Now you're seeing Procter & Gamble, the military, Nike in some ways, the Radisson, this is huge. This is the biggest dent in that shield that they have ever had to deal with.

BANFIELD: There's a heck of a relationship between the military and the NFL.

NICHOLS: Absolutely. And the (INAUDIBLE) status -

FAGAN: Yes, the social relationship.

NICHOLS: That is huge.

FAGAN: The cultural issues that they both deal when it comes to masculinity and power over women and -

BANFIELD: They often have vets out on the field to the pregame shows and, you know, post-game shows, et cetera. It's a real critical appearance no matter what.

FAGAN: Right.

NICHOLS: And Kate was talking about that Teflon status the NFL has always had. They make so much money. They are so popular that any sponsor would basically forgive anything just to be associated with them.

BANFIELD: But not now.

NICHOLS: But that has changed.

BANFIELD: So, Rachel, real quickly about this memo that we're now hearing. Roger Goodell has sent out this memo, I think it was actually sent out yesterday and the media started getting wind of it, getting our hands on it from yesterday into today. Effectively, you know, he's saying to teams and staff and everyone within the league, I need to update you on some significant --

NICHOLS: Yes.

BANFIELD: I'll read it. Look, I'm going to read this part. It -

NICHOLS: By the way, there's been some news going on this week.

BANFIELD: Right. "Today I want to update you on some significant steps we're taking as part of our long-term commitment to help people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault." He lists out a couple of things, specifically what they're doing now to the domestic violence hotline, to make sure that they're able to answer calls, citing a massive spike in calls since the Ray Rice. Fifty percent of those calls couldn't even be answered because it's so under staffed. And a couple of other things as well. I just wonder, from your perspective, the things that he's listed -- and he says, by no means are these the final steps. Is this enough? Is this just the beginning? What does he need to say at 3:00 today?

NICHOLS: There has to be something big and definitive. They have taken a lot of little steps in a lot of directions that are all positive. I think we've been asking for some of these steps for a long time, so I don't want to say that they're nothing. They're not nothing. They are important. But they are not big enough when you compare to the big drama of these allegations.

BANFIELD: OK. Real quickly, guys, wrap it up, but what does he need to do? What's big and bold enough?

NICHOLS: Zero tolerance to me. I think that if -- once a player is charged, that says, hey, this is a public facing (ph), representative of this league, just like any public facing member of any business, and would say, once someone is charged, once the place say we have enough evidence to levy a charge, I think that player should be deactivated or sat and not be public facing anymore until things are worked out. Due process applies to the court. It doesn't apply to corporations.

FAGAN: Right. Right. And I would add from a cultural -

BANFIELD: Just quickly.

FAGAN: From a cultural strand point also, I would love to see him say, we're going to empower women in the league office, on teams. They have never done that. I would love to see him make a statement about that.

BANFIELD: Well, he's hired in four important people in this area. They're women. And maybe there will be more. But we'll wrap it there. We'll wait to see what he does. It's certainly going to give him his - his due. He'll have free air time at 3:00 and I'm guaranteeing --

NICHOLS: And a lot of it. There will be a lot of people watching.

BANFIELD: And a lot of it, particularly you, host of "Unguarded," airing tonight.

NICHOLS: Yes.

BANFIELD: You've got your work cut out for you.

Kate Fagan, thank you, again, as always.

FAGAN: Thanks.

BANFIELD: It's good to have you. Thanks.

CNN's going to bring you that live coverage, by the way, of Commissioner Roger Goodell's new conference live, 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Pop your popcorn and buckle up.

And then there's this. Coming up, the president's now got the green light for his plan to destroy ISIS. But here's what's weird. He may be at odds with the guys who have to carry that out. The military's top brass. What's the disconnect? Or is there really a disconnect? A live report straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Other big news this morning. And when I say big, it's very, very big. Alibaba, if you haven't heard of it, you're going to start hearing a lot about it because is the largest e-commerce company in China. It started trading today, becoming the world's biggest IPO. And it's trading just remarkably. You know, the IPO price was $68. It's already surged to $92. So if you got in on it, good for you. If you got in on it real early, better for you. It's breaking news and we're actually going to take you down to the New York Stock Exchange shortly. In fact, Alison Kosik has been collecting a whole bunch of great information on what's going on with Alibaba and the Dow in general, but I just needed to get that to you because that is a big ole number from a massive company, twice the size as eBay.

In fact, she is right on the money. There she is. I know you were just wiring up as I was getting to this. This is such an amazing story that so many people had no idea about until it just started making big headlines because of the IPO. Alibaba is a behemoth.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And now that it's trading on the public market, it certainly is. This stock opened at $92.70. That puts the valuation, Ashleigh, of Alibaba over $200 billion. So it beats out FaceBook. It beats out Bank of America. It beats out Intel and Amazon, you name it.

BANFIELD: Crazy.

KOSIK: It is nuts. You should have seen how it was on the floor just now. I actually had a chance to grab - or not grab but run into the co-founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, as soon as this stock prices and hit the market and I asked him, how does it feel, your baby went public? And he said, it's an honor. It's an honor.

BANFIELD: OK. So, Alison, I have to ask you this because, of course, people who hear about these stories, they want in on the action. But it's really important to know that when these IPO's hit, they can spike like mad and then tank like madder. And also that this company is tied to the Chinese government. You can never separate the two. If you're investing in Alibaba, you've got to be certain that the Chinese government absolutely loves every aspect of it.

KOSIK: What's even more interesting is, you look at the corporate structure of this company. You know 27 - there's 27 board members who are basically controlling this company. Control is not necessarily in the hands of the shareholders like many would believe and this actually one's thought to be unusual is now a growing trend where a lot of the control is kept at the top.

So, yeah, shareholders get a cut of the profits, but they don't have any voting rights so that actually rubs people the wrong way. It actually rubbed those in Hong Kong the wrong way, meaning Alibaba had at first wanted to list on the Hong Kong exchange, but Hong Kong said, no way, we're not going to go for that structure that you've set up.

And that's partially the reason why he took his company to America. But apparently he's not rubbing people the wrong way enough because we're seeing that stock, as you said, spike 35.5 percent at the moment, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: So you remember that crazy Facebook IPO, Alison? I did a fantasy stock investment. decided to keep my real money out of it, and at the time I was pretty glad, but now I kind of wish it weren't a fantasy.

But for the average investor out there, Alison, it's not an easy choice.

KOSIK: This is a risky bet, I mean --

BANFIELD: OK.

KOSIK: Volatility is king here, especially on the day. Any analyst will tell you, probably better off to sit this one out for a little bit and make sure things settle down before you consider investing in it.

BANFIELD: OK, good advise on a Friday. Have a good weekend, Alison.

KOSIK: Sure.

BANFIELD: Nice to see you.

When we come back, what is going on with the message about Iraq and Syria and air strikes and boots on the ground? Why is there such a disconnect?

Or is it possible that might just be a strategy, considering there's so much criticism of telegraphing actions while we're actually in the planning? That's coming up, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: In other news this morning, France is joining the fight against ISIS, and not in a small way either. France is launching air strikes against the terror group in Iraq.

That news comes as Congress gives President Obama the green light on his plan to destroy ISIS by arming and training moderate, vetted Syrian rebels, whatever that means.

In the meantime, the United States military has announced a plan for carrying out air strikes inside Syria's borders, but the problem continues to fester. ISIS has captured 24 Kurdish villages in northern Syria just this week.

So what's next? When is the president going to act in Syria? Is it imminent? And is he at odds with the military's top brass when it comes to this -- boots on the ground, no boots on the ground? The former commander of U.S. Central Command, General James Mattis, testified yesterday before Congress, criticizing President Obama for taking the boots-on-the-ground option off the table.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL JAMES MATTIS, FORMER COMMANDER OF U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We didn't look for this fight. But once you go into it, you don't tell your adversary in advance what you're not going to do.

We have the most skillful, the most -- the fiercest, and certainly the most ethical ground forces in the world, and I don't think we should reassure the enemy in advance that they will never face them.

I think it's good to leave that in the commander in chief's hands and should we need to deploy them, you do so. It also sends a reassuring note to the coalition that Secretary Kerry is trying to pull together that, on the military side, we're all in.

I'm not saying we have to commit them right now but certainly don't pull it off the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: So that was that.

But this is the director of national intelligence, James Clapper. He's also criticizing the United States' ability to estimate the will of ISIS, in fact, effectively saying they may have made a mistake.

He told "The Washington Post" this, quote, "What we didn't do was predict the will to fight. That's always a problem. We didn't do it in Vietnam. We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese. In this case, we underestimated and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army."

But the president is getting support from some heavy hitters. On "The Daily Show" last night, former president Bill Clinton defended President Obama's plan to combat ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason that I think the president's strategy to combat is has a chance to succeed is that the Iraqi government finally includes Sunnis who were representing those tribal leaders who are moderate and without whom ISIS cannot be defeated.

We can't wind a land war in Iraq. We've proved that. But they can. And we can help them win it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Let's bring in CNN's national chief correspondent Jim Sciutto, our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, and CNN military analyst Colonel Rick Francona.

Barbara Starr, first to you, this apparent rift, there are a lot of critics who are making a lot of hay about the difference in the messaging between the military and the White House.

Sometimes you've got to wonder if it's just because it's fine tuning in progress, as we talked about this week, or if there might be a different strategy to this, given critics are also upset that we're telegraphing plans effectively to the enemy.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ashleigh, the bottom line, the Pentagon says on all levels that there simply is no rift between the president, the White House, and his top commanders and generals, that everybody is on board.

Let me have you listen very quickly to what the Pentagon press secretary had to say earlier this morning on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: There's complete alignment between the White House, the president, and his military leadership here at the Pentagon from Secretary Hagel on down to all of the planners putting together the options for the president to consider.

As you know, he was in Tampa this week and had a chance to get an update from General Austin. He was very pleased with the work that they've done, very satisfied with the planning efforts.

There's still some work to be done to continue here, but I can tell you that all of the military leadership, civilian and military leadership alike, are behind the plan, behind the strategy, fully supportive, and we're ready to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: And, you know, U.S. commanders, generals, they always ask for more than they are going to get. They know they're not going to get everything that they ask for. That's a given.

They like to have as many troops, as much equipment and as much of everything as they possibly can. But it's very well understood. They are not going to get everything they've asked for, and this is a president who has set parameters and by all accounts wants to stick to them.

He's told General Dempsey, come back to me if something changes. Come back to me with more options if you need to. But right now don't look for a big change in the plan.

Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: So, Colonel Francona, weigh in if you would from the military's perspective here. There's a lot of cable news and there are a lot pundits who seize on every syllable of what's being said. But in the greater picture, is it as simple as this -- the military commanders say their opinion -- they say what they think might be needed -- and the White House says what actually is happening, and it's as simple as that?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICK FRANCONA (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's it. And General Dempsey did this the other day. He explained to Congress

He says, I will tell the president what I think, but the president will make the decision, and once the decision is made, then it's up to the military to execute that. So I'm not --

BANFIELD: Is that a disconnect?

FRANCONA: No. Not at all. I think that Admiral Kirby is exactly right. Everybody is in line with the president because he gave the order and said here are the parameters we're going to work on, and everybody is planning within those parameters.

Now, are there people who think those parameters are wrong? Yes. Of course there are. But the decision has been made and they have to carry it out.

BANFIELD: Jim Sciutto, if I could ask you about the comments that the director of National Intelligence made to "The Washington Post," I think they are very significant.

I quoted part of it. I want to be real clear on what I think might be the most significant part of it. "In this case," James Clapper says, "we underestimated ISIL and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. I didn't see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn't see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is imponderable."

Is this James Clapper trying to take some of the sting away from President Obama when he said the whole JV comment and when you put on the jersey it doesn't mean you're really the player?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I don't think it's connected to the president's comments.

I spoke to a senior intelligence official moments before you went to air, Ashleigh, about those comments, and I've been speaking to them for months about this. What they've told me is that they've issued multiple reports about ISIS capabilities and aspirations, including aspirations to strike as far south as Baghdad. This is even before they came across the border from Syria.

I think what you're seeing here from Clapper is 20/20 hindsight, saying, yes, we knew that they had increasing capability, we knew they had increasing, growing aspirations for the land that they wanted to capture, establish this Islamic state.

What they didn't predict was that the Iraqi army, which greatly outnumbered ISIS, would melt away so quickly, so overestimating the Iraqi army's willingness to fight and perhaps underestimating ISIS's just intensity and its ability to operate as kind of a standing army, as we've seen.

So I don't think it's connected to the president's comments. And I think -- this is what you hear from intelligence officials. They'll say, we are not clairvoyants, right? We can make the best assessments we can, but some things are going to surprise you and, in effect --

BANFIELD: Yeah. And if you slip up, you're going to hear about it. I mean, hello, 9/11. That was a big problem. We want to know when there's an enemy that's got a juggernaut speed like this enemy does so that we're not all caught unaware on this.

We could go on and on. But the three of you, thank you, Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr, Colonel Rick Francona. Thank you and have a great weekend.

So right now the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is speaking at a live Democratic National Committee event in Washington, D.C.. She's speaking out about empowering and helping women.

What exactly is she saying but, maybe more importantly, why is it that she's saying this? Does this have to do with maybe looking at a demographic that was overlooked before in case -- and a big "in case" -- Mrs. Clinton decides to run for president? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)