The lawyer representing Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, told CBS that NFL owners were “clearly colluding” against his clients because they were “intimidated by President Trump.
In an appearance on the podcast Straight Aim with Amy Dash, Kaepernick’s lead attorney Mark Geragos said that his case hinges on the president’s influence over NFL leadership.
Geragos explained, “They were clearly colluding because they were intimidated by the president. The only reason — and the owners will admit this — that they haven’t signed him is because of Trump, and they’ve colluded because of Trump.”
According to SB Nation, “To prove collusion, Geragos’ team will seek to show that Trump improperly impacted NFL owners’ decisions regarding Kaepernick, and that owners then advised one another not to sign the quarterback.”
It’s unclear what would constitute an improper impact, in terms of President Trump’s influence on the owners. While as the leader of the free world, the president certainly enjoys more influence than most. Unless there’s a rule which states the proper levels of influence and, more importantly, who is allowed to assert it. Then it’s hard to see how Trump’s influence could be deemed legally improper.
However, it appears such a rule may exist.
Geragos referenced a statute that, he says, makes it illegal for Trump to influence an employment decision in the private sector.
“There’s a specific code section that says if you — for a political, partisan reason — take an action to affect somebody’s employment in the private sector that that is, not only a criminal offense, but actionable, as well.
“Under the plain language of the statute, clearly, both Trump and [Mike] Pence have violated it. Not only are they covered persons under the statute, but there is irrefutable evidence — that I won’t quote right this second — but there’s irrefutable evidence that it was done for partisan, political purposes. ‘Fire that son of a bitch’ was at a campaign rally.”
While “Fire that son of a bitch” may have occurred at a campaign rally, Trump wasn’t speaking directly to NFL owners when he said it. He referenced NFL owners, but that would seem extreme if Trump’s mere statement of what he would like to see owners do — especially at a campaign rally — would constitute illegal employment influence.
Geragos would seem to be on firmer ground by pointing to the president’s phone conversations with owners.
All of this raises the very incredible scenario of Trump actually getting deposed by Kaepernick’s attorneys. Or, indicted if they’re able to show enough evidence of illegal employment influence under the law.
Though, even that wouldn’t be enough to prove collusion completely. As SB Nation states above, Kaepernick’s lawyers would still have to prove that NFL owners “advised one another” not to sign the quarterback.
In order to prove that Geragos would have to either produce evidence of such a communication, or provide convincing evidence that it’s impossible for 32 people to all come to the same conclusion.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn