Colin Kaepernick’s legal team that orchestrated his collusion case against the NFL is hunting a really, really big fish — President Donald Trump.
According to a report from Yahoo, Kaepernick’s team is “expected to seek federal subpoenas in the coming weeks to compel testimony from Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other officials familiar with the president’s agenda on protesting NFL players.”
Trump has a long history of disparaging remarks about Kaepernick and NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem. With that in mind, the legal team for the former NFL quarterback will have to convince arbitrators and a federal judge that Trump influenced NFL owners and their decision to not employ Kaepernick.
Recent statements from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will likely help Kaepernick’s team, as he said Trump’s involvement with the kneeling movement affected how he interpreted the actions of select NFL players.
“I think initially I totally supported the players in what they were doing, because it’s America – people should be able to really speak about their choices and show them [in] doing that,” Ross told the New York Daily News in March. “But I think when you change the message, about, is it support of our country or the military, it’s a different message. When that message changed, and everybody was interpreting it as that was the reason, then I was against the kneeling.”
Ross added: “[Trump’s] message became what kneeling was all about. From that standpoint, that’s the way the public is interpreting it. So I think that’s really incumbent upon us to adopt that, because that’s how I think the country is now interpreting the kneeling issue.”
Kaepernick’s team may also point to a March 2017 meeting between Trump and Patriots owner Robert Kraft aboard Air Force One. After sharing that flight with Kraft, Trump said in a speech the following day: “Your San Francisco quarterback, I’m sure nobody ever heard of him … There was an article today that was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.”
Ross, who was later deposed in the Kaepernick case, offered a sworn testimony and said Kraft told NFL owners he spoke with Trump about players kneeling. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones testified in his deposition that Trump said to him in a phone call: “This is a very winning, strong issue for me. Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
Even if Kaepernick’s team is granted a subpoena, it’s unclear if Trump would honor the motion or actively refuse to be deposed.