National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell strained to answer tough questions from CNN host Rachel Nichols during a Friday press conference announcing changes in league disciplinary policy.
“You mentioned on TV last week that you tried to get the Ray Rice video and any information,” Nichols said in video posted by CNN. “The Atlantic City prosecutors office in an open records check says they don’t have any electronic communication from the NFL asking for those kinds of documentation or the video. Can you give us sort of the trail of how you guys did that investigation so people can know really what you put into it?”
Goodell was widely criticized after the Associated Press reported earlier this month that at least one league official had seen security footage of Rice knocking his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, unconscious in a casino elevator this past February.
That report ran counter to Goodell’s statement to CBS News that the NFL had not seen the video after asking for it.
On Friday, Goodell did not provide much detail to Nichols other than to say league security personnel works with law enforcement.
“We gather almost entirely all of our information through law enforcement, and that’s something else we’re going to look at,” he said. “That’s something else, is that the right process? Should all of our information be gathered through law enforcement? We understand and respect what they go through and the job they have to do, and there are certain restrictions that they may be under.”
Rice was suspended indefinitely from the league, and cut from the Baltimore Ravens, following the release of the video. Goodell said in a statement on Friday that the NFL would be revising its rules on personal misconduct.
The league has also commissioned an “independent” investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller into its approach to Rice’s case. Mueller will reportedly have full access to league records on the matter. But Nichols pressed Goodell on his choice to have Mueller run the investigation, given that the NFL has worked with Mueller’s law firm, WilmerHale, in the past.
“You guys paid that law firm recently to help you negotiate some television deals,” she said, before referencing Ravens president Dick Cass. “The president of the Ravens, who will be key in this whole investigation, worked at that law firm for more than 30 years. Why hire someone with even the appearance of impropriety and how do you expect this to affect everything?”
“Well Rachel, I would respectfully disagree because you now are questioning the integrity of the FBI,” Goodell responded. “But part of the idea of this, I guess, is to restore public trust. So even if he does a flawless investigation, isn’t there an element here of your leaving the door open to doubt?”
Watch the exchange between Nichols and Goodell, as posted by CNN on Friday, below.
[h/t For The Win]