Colin Kaepernick has deposed NFL executives, owners and coaches in his collusion grievance against the league, but now he’s aiming even higher.
Kaepernick reportedly wants to drag the president of the United States into his employment dispute.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson, Kaepernick’s legal team is expected to seek a federal subpoena in order to question President Donald Trump.
The attorneys also want to compel testimony from Vice President Mike Pence and “other officials familiar with the president’s agenda on protesting NFL players,” Robinson wrote Thursday.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has remained unsigned since he opted out of his contract in March 2017, and he claims it’s because of a conspiracy to keep him out of the NFL in the wake of the national anthem protests he started in 2016. Kaepernick filed a grievance in October against the league and its owners.
His lawyers say pressure from the president is the reason Kaepernick hasn’t signed with another team.
“The only reason — and the owners will admit that — they haven’t signed him is they’re afraid of Trump, and they’ve colluded because of Trump,” Kaepernick attorney Mark Geragos said a week ago on the “Straight Arm” podcast.
Trump himself mentioned that possibility last spring during a rally in Louisville when he cited a report claiming he was responsible for Kaepernick’s unemployment.
“There was an article today, it 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,” the president said, referring to an article by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman. “I just saw that. I said, ‘If I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky — because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag, right?'”
He has also spoken out strongly against players who followed Kaepernick in protesting during the national anthem.
In a speech last September, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’? You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Geragos said one NFL owner admitted he decided not to offer Kaepernick a contract after those remarks.
Robinson wrote of “recent disclosures that multiple owners had direct talks with Trump about players kneeling during the national anthem,” saying, “The content of those conversations between Trump and owners — as well as any forms of pressure directed at the league by the administration — are expected to shape the requests to force the testimony of Trump, Pence and other affiliated officials, sources said.”
However, it’s extremely unlikely that Kaepernick and his lawyers will get an opportunity to grill the president of the United States. They face several substantial legal hurdles.
“Due to the nature of the rules in collective bargaining grievances, reeling in sworn testimony from the political sector will create at least one additional hurdle for Kaepernick’s camp,” Robinson wrote. “The quarterback’s legal team first must notify the system arbitrator of the need for targeted depositions beyond the boundaries of the agreement between the NFL and the player’s union. That would entail presenting a detailed argument to the system arbitrator overseeing the grievance, spelling out the relevance and impact that testimony from Trump or others could have on the grievance. If the arbitrator rules the testimony would be justifiable, that would open the door for Kaepernick’s attorneys to seek the subpoenas in a district court under the Federal Arbitration Act.
“Should the system arbitrator and a federal judge find there is a basis to force Trump or others to sit for depositions, it would raise an argument over whether the president can actually be compelled by the courts to sit for a deposition. Trump could choose to ignore the order or simply decline, leaving it up to the justice system to enforce the subpoena.
“Whether that would ever happen is a significant matter of debate.”
Several presidents have been subpoenaed, but it would be unprecedented for one to be forced to testify in a private employment dispute.
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