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Car Strikes Counter Protesters at White House Nationalist Rally. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired August 12, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Of course we will go to it live, that news conference with the governor of Virginia. Again any moment we'll bring it to you here on CNN.
Now the terror in Virginia is our breaking news right now. I have some confirmed casualty figures to share with you. One person is dead, at least 19 others were hurt after a speeding car plowed into a crowd of people during a chaotic day of protests and clashes in the college town of Charlottesville.
I have to warn you, what you're about to see is very graphic, very disturbing, it shows people being badly hurt and now we've learned one person was killed.
Again, the city of Charlottesville just releasing that one person died when the car suddenly plowed into a crowd of people and at least 19 others were injured in that incident alone, and that's in addition to at least 15 other people who were hurt in violent clashes throughout the day.
Take a look at this video as more violence took over the streets.
Here's what led up to all of this. Tensions spiked when white nationalists and other extreme right groups showed up to protest the removal of a confederate general statue at Emancipation Park. They clashed with counter protesters and the two groups went from shouting to fighting with sticks, with bottle, with pepper spray.
We have a group of people here about to weigh in, and first I want to go to CNN correspondent Kaylee Hartung who was on the scene.
Kaylee, it's calm there now. What are police saying?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, there is still a strong police presence in the downtown mall of Charlottesville. The men you see behind me, state police, still cordoning off what's being treated as a crime scene, the scene of that incredibly graphic collision that we've showed you. But police otherwise keeping a very tight lip about what their orders are, how long they will be posted up here.
It seems to me that they don't actually know the answer to that question. There's a lot of uncertainty here, tensions remain high, as we saw thousands of protesters and counter protesters dispersed earlier from that rally, still uncertainty about where they have gone and if the outsiders who have come to town have left.
There will be this press conference starting shortly here with Governor McAuliffe of Virginia as well as other state and local partners here in Charlottesville to address all that's transpired today.
CABRERA: Are you hearing from the people who actually witnessed that car plowing into the crowd of people?
HARTUNG: I did, Ana. It was a really eye-opening conversation as graphic as those images that we've showed you are, to hear the perspective of these two young men were startling. They were disturbed by the violence they saw, they described it as terrorism.
Now one of the men actually shot the video that we've been showing you on CNN and what they described to me in the moments before that video began was startling. Once we saw that video it seemed quite obvious that that was a very intentional act by the driver of that car to plow through that group of counter protesters.
They described a scene in which moments before that car came screaming down the street that that car sat at the top of this street and surveyed the scene ahead of him. They said the windows were very dark and tinted. They couldn't get a good look at him. Could only describe him as a white male with a closely shaved head.
Ana, the violence that we have witnessed here today truly traumatic for those who've seen it particular in the instance of that fatal crash that took the life of one and injured 19 others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MAHONY, EYEWITNESS: So we were walking down the road as Brennan mentioned. But we came around the corner and you can see the car just sat over the other side of the road, just sat there, looking down the road, and as he said, the protesters were coming down Fourth Street, so I don't know, I thought that's a bit strange, there didn't seem to be any other cars stopping him from going and then of course moments later we heard a car going incredibly fast, you know, down the road and saw it plow into the crowd and then it reversed back and then we were -- some of us ran after the car to take a photo and then followed it around down the road, alerting the police to chase it.
HARTUNG: What transpired in those minutes after the car left this block and left you? What was the scene like here?
BRENNAN GILMORE, EYEWITNESS: Well, there was almost an immediate response from first responders. There were state police right here on the mall. You know, I don't know if they actually witnessed it so we alerted them and said you need to get down there immediately, first aid crews came in, and then pretty quickly an armored vehicle came down to block the scene. So, you know, the response was quick, but you know, obviously I understand one person lost their life, and you know, it was a very, very violent attack.
[18:05:09] HARTUNG: And Brennan, you said that you helped administer first aid to a woman. What else did you observe in terms of victims of that crash?
GILMORE: There were a lot of victims around the scene of the actual crash, just half way down the block and then people coming up, you know, bloodied, shaken obviously, people hyperventilating, and then, yes, again, let the professionals take over and then we got out of the -- you know, got out of the scene.
It was obviously an increasingly violent day in Charlottesville. And I certainly agree with the mayor's recommendation that people just stay home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: The driver of that car has been apprehended, Ana, and we hope to learn more about what the police discovered in their investigation of that incident at the presser ahead.
CABRERA: All right. Kaylee Hartung reporting there as we await the words from the governor of Virginia, following this violent incident, a terrorist attack domestic terrorism.
I want to talk more about this with a whole host of people, including political commentator, Andre Bauer, Republican and former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, CNN law enforcement analyst and former public safety director Cedric Alexander, political commentator Van Jones, and "New York Times" contributing writer Anushay Hossain is back with us. Also with us former CIA officer Evan McMullin who launched a third party run against Trump in 2016.
So, Andre, let me start with you. I know you are from South Carolina, you've also been a strong supporter of this president. You've now witnessed white nationalist rallies in your state before, we're seeing it here today. One person is now dead after a car plowed into a crowd of Americans.
Andre, as a southerner, given your background, what do you say when you deal with people who share views with white supremacists?
ANDRE BAUER, FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I would say this. I'm right down the street from Mother Emmanuel Church right now, my house is. And I was a senator with Clemente Pinckney who was killed there. And we held -- we held everyone accountable and they were condemned by all.
This community rallied around those individuals and their families, and we became a stronger community because of it. I feel now, Van and I know differ, but we respect each other. I feel like the president addressed the situation but I also feel like we need more information. We don't know what the driver's intent was, who they were associated with. We also know that multiple people on both sides were hit. It wasn't just one side. It was a crowded field this individual drove into so I'm not sure it
was targeted to hit one person. I don't know. But I think before you run out and make a whole lot of accusations you ought to have more information. And we'll get that in due time. But it's dangerous to immediately say one thing or the other before we have all the facts.
And so I think the president was bold to come out and say we are totally against hatred and bigotry and violence. He's letting it be known we don't condone this type of behavior in any way but to say that the president is disingenuous or not doing his job as president I disagree with because I think he was very clear and precise in what he said about this type of behavior.
CABRERA: Evan McMullin, was the president clear and concise and bold?
EVAN MCMULLIN, LAUNCHED THIRD PARTY RUN AGAINST TRUMP: No, he wasn't any of those things. I think he did the bare minimum. He said things that we agree with, condemning hatred and violence, et cetera, but he also tried to equate all of the both sides with each other.
The reality is that that ambiguity in his statement, the failure to call out white supremacism, the failure to call out David Duke and others who are on the ground there, demanding that the president live up to promises to them, whatever they are, his failure to condemn that is the problem and it's a signal to these white supremacists that it's a positive signal to them. It's a signal that he's not -- he's not fully opposed to them or he's not willing to fully confront them and that only encourages them. And the evidence is the growing movement that they have.
Our leaders need to step up to this especially on the Republican side, and some are, many are today. I'm encouraged, but this is a bigger problem of Republican leaders not enough of them being willing to stand up regularly, not when it's so obvious, not when there's some huge incident or protest or violence, but regularly to fight for equality in America, fighting for equality in America is part of fighting for liberty in America and more of our Republican leaders need to do it.
CABRERA: And we have been reading some of the statements from other Republican leaders. I read the one from Cory Gardner, a representative from Colorado.
CABRERA: A Republican earlier. I have one from Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, as we all know, also a former presidential candidate. I can read those to our viewers as well. He writes, "Nothing patriotic about Nazis, the KKK or white supremacists. It's the direct opposite of what America seeks to be, #Charlottesville."
So, Van Jones, you do see people coming out, speaking out very directly against the kind of hatred that's on display there.
[18:10:06] VAN JONES, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: And that should not be remarkable. Somebody lost their life today, an American citizen woke up this morning, assuming that he or she had a long life to live, that said, I want to go and bear witness against Nazis marching down American streets.
You know, we lost a whole bunch of people in this country to stop the Nazis. Dr. King lost his life trying to stop the Klan. Every responsible parent raises their kids to hate -- to not hate based on color. So somebody wakes up in America and said I want to stand against that, and they are killed in America by a Nazi.
It should not be a surprise that there is universal condemnation specifically about hate groups, white supremacy, terrorism. That's what we're supposed to do. The challenge that we have right now is that this president is not Adelaide Stevenson. He's not some cerebral person who doesn't get worked up.
When he's passionate and when he's angry, you have no doubt. He is specific, he is clear, he names names, he points fingers, and yet today it was many sides, many sides, and a lot of positive, you know, admonition.
I am very concerned that he is not sending a strong enough signal to people who think that this is the right way to engage in politics in America, mowing people down, showing up to protests with shields and guns. I'm concerned that he missed an opportunity today to nip this in the bud and say, I'm making America great again, this is not great. I do not want this. It's got to stop right now. He said some good things but he did not say enough things and I'm worried.
CABRERA: Cedric Alexander -- go ahead, Anushay.
ANUSHAY HOSSAIN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: I just want to piggyback off of what Van said. I completely agree with what Van just and also Evan just said. And I just want -- just for some perspective here, imagine if these crowds weren't white, and they were black or they were Muslim, what would we be talking about now? Where would Donald Trump's statement be about right now?
So we need to be absolutely clear. The president needs to come out, label this as domestic terrorism. Whenever we try to wonder what Donald Trump is going to say, and this is a man who speaks in specifics, OK. He's not abstract about what he's saying. Today his statement about the riots in Charlottesville, he starts talking about a child's right to play outside and be happy and have fun with their parents? I mean, what is he talking about?
Why isn't he calling out these people by their names?
CABRERA: I think the broader question, Andre --
BAUER: There's no --
CABRERA: The broader question I have, Andre, regarding that, and you can answer and respond to those remarks is why do these people think it's OK to hold a demonstration that is promoting white nationalist values so boldly in the public discourse?
BAUER: Well, I don't -- you know, I'm not a member of that group but they have a First Amendment right like anybody and plenty of people have rallies that I don't agree with but that's part of their First Amendment right. But again we know nothing about the driver.
To speculate what the driver's intent was, who they were, we don't know. And so to immediately pass judgment or fault without any information --
HOSSAIN: But Andre, people were gathering before the driver. This isn't the first incident that's happened in Charlottesville.
BAUER: We're gauging --
HOSSAIN: You can't be zeroing in about the driver, Andre. This has been going on for 24 hours now. There was also an incident in May. Listen, the Southern Poverty Law Center has already stated that the candidacy and now the presidency of Donald Trump has electrified the right wing movement in this country. We don't need to focus on the driver. He is one part of a much larger story.
If you want to zero in on that, you can zero in on that. But the president is not speaking out strongly enough. If this was a group of Muslims or a group of blacks, this would be a whole different conversation and that's a fact. This is Trump's America.
BAUER: You didn't support the president from the get-go, I guarantee you that, with no question. So no matter what he does or says you're going to criticize him.
JONES: That's not true.
MCMULLIN: That's not true at all.
HOSSAIN: I think when he's speaking against Nazism, I have an issue.
CABRERA: Hey, one at a time. Finish your thought and then I want to get Cedric Alexander in here as well. OK, Cedric? I'll let you respond to what you've just been listening to. We talked earlier, you talked about crimes being on display before your very eyes. You have a law enforcement background.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA: Right.
CABRERA: And I know you were also critical of how the president has responded to these remarks.
ALEXANDER: Right. CABRERA: You believe that some of what he said is actually dangerous.
ALEXANDER: Well, let me say this. I'm going to respond as a law enforcement official -- former law enforcement official, been in this job for a very, very long time, and now being a public servant as a deputy mayor.
But let me talk in the perspective as a lawman, if I will, and a very conservative lawman. And as I've stated earlier, it's about being fair and being impartial to all people, period. Yes, each one of those groups had the right to be there under our First Amendment. They both did. But neither one of them had the right to be violent.
Now I think it's important to note that this is not any kind of way a slam against the president of the United States.
[18:15:04] When you're president, when you're in that position or any political position, you're always going to be a target. It comes with it. Ask President Barack Obama. So let's consider the fact of this. We had hate groups out there today, KKK groups, neo-Nazi groups, anti- Semitic groups, anti-anything that you can name groups which is not quite frankly representative of people -- the majority of people in this country, white or black, Christian or Jew, men or women.
That is not who we are as a nation. We are an evolving nation of diversity and any law enforcement official or any city official, nobody's going to come on this program or any program and tell you that is not the case. It is about being fair and impartial.
The president of the United States, he's our president, whether people like it or not. He is the president of this country, but he had a responsibility today to say to the history of the KKK, say to the history of Nazism, say to the history of anything that was hateful and call them out by name and say this is not acceptable.
BAUER: But he hasn't done that in the past.
ALEXANDER: This is not -- this does not in any kind of way, let me say this, this is not in any other kind of way but say to the American people, 300 million people in this country, this will not be tolerated by any group, period. As simple as that. This is not a cerebral debate I'm going to have on this program with anybody but I'm going to put it in a perspective that is very simple for people to understand.
We are Americans. And everyone has the right to protest, but no one has the right to violence, and in regards to the vehicle that crashed into the crowd, Mr. Bauer is right. We don't know who that subject was, but it does not matter. At this point, something very hateful happened, and someone was involved in it.
We're going to know, they're going to be dealt with under Virginia law, but collectively as a nation, we got to figure out how we're going to go forward and if we're not going to get the leadership from elected officials at a national level or wherever, then it becomes very important at a local level, at the state level, at the local level, that those communities take responsibility for their communities and they find a way to work through this, so that we can move forward as a nation.
This is horrible for this.
ALEXANDER: And the world is watching and as I stated and as I stated earlier our children are watching, Ana. They're watching us.
CABRERA: And we are watching for this news conference with one of those officials you just talked about, needing to send a strong message, needing to provide guidance as we move forward from this situation.
Governor Terry McAuliffe is going to address the nation in his remarks. We'll bring them to you live here on CNN on the other side of a quick break.
[18:21:49] CABRERA: Welcome back. Let's go live now to the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: In addition to many individuals who have been hurt, let me start off first by thanking all of our law enforcement officials. This could have been a much worse day today. I want to thank our local law enforcement individuals. I want to thank the first responders. I want to thank all the state police, to the National Guard, and everybody else who was involved in today's activities. We planned for a long time for today's incidents.
I also want to give a special thank you to the clergy who were here today who helped us on the streets. I also want to thank those courageous UVA college students yesterday who last evening surrounded the statue of Thomas Jefferson to protect that statue.
And I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came in to Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.
You pretend that you're patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots? Talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who brought our country together.
You think about the patriots today, the young men and women who are wearing the cloth of our country. Somewhere around the globe they are putting their life in danger. They're patriots. You are not.
You came here today to hurt people and you did hurt people. But my message is clear. We are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here, there is no place for you in America.
We work here today to bring people together, to unify folks. I'll remind you all that we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you're Native American, the first ships that came to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, and since that time, many people have come to our great country to unite us.
Our diversity, that mosaic tile of immigrants is what makes us so special, and we will not let anybody come here and destroy it. So please go home and never come back. Take your hatred and take your bigotry. There is no place.
And if I could give you a piece of advice, use your time and energy to help people. Come with me to a homeless shelter. Come with me to help a veteran find a job or a place to live. That's what we need help on, to bring people together.
I spoke to the president this afternoon, and we had a conversation and I told the president that there has got to be a movement in this country to bring people together. The hatred and rhetoric that has gone on and has intensified over the last couple months is dividing this great nation.
[18:25:07] We need to work together. I told the president that twice, be willing to work with you if we can work together to bring people together, but stop the hate speech. Stop the rhetoric in this country. We have got to bring people together. But we are a great commonwealth, and we are a great nation, and we are even stronger today because of those actions of those people who came with their bigotry and hatred.
I'd now like to introduce the mayor of the city of Charlottesville, Michael Signer.
MAYOR MICHAEL SIGNER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Thank you, Governor.
This is one of the world's truly great cities. We have been the home of a lot of history. We have overcome a lot in our democracy. We've overcome McCarthyism, we've overcome segregation, and we're going to overcome this.
This tide of hatred and of intolerance and of bigotry that has come to us and that has marched down with torches the lawn of one of the founders of democracy, it is brought here by outsiders and it's brought here by people who belong in the trash heap of history with these ideas.
They're going in be the trash heap of history. This day will not define us. We will define this day by the story that we continue to tell tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, the week after that, and the year after that.
There is a very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics that we've all seen too much of today. Our opponents have become our enemies. Debate has become intimidation. What democracy is about and we know this here because we're the birthplace of democracy, it's about deliberation, it's about action, it's about progress, it's about working together and it's about at the end of the day if you disagree with somebody, you don't try to take them down. You agree to move forward.
These folks do not want that. They do not agree with the rules of democracy and they are on the losing side of history. The work of rebuilding, of healing is just beginning today. Tomorrow will come and we will emerge, I can promise you, stronger than ever.
With that, I also want to thank the state government, I want to thank Governor McAuliffe and Secretary Moran for all their help. My colleagues on the council, all four of them are here today. I want to thank the Charlottesville Police Department and their law enforcement partners from around the state protecting their residents, visitors today at the University of Virginia.
I want to say our hearts break for the casualties and the injuries that are suffered today and our prayers are going out right now. Please send your prayers to these folks and their families and their loved ones. Thank you very much.
With that I'm going to turn it over to our city manager, Maurice Jones, I believe. Thank you.
MAURICE JONES, CITY MANAGER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
Hate came to our town today in a way that we had feared, but we had never really let ourselves imagine would. I wanted to start today by thanking the Virginia State Police and our law enforcement officers and all the first responders who are here in Charlottesville today to protect our community.
The Charlottesville Police Department and our state partners, the Virginia State Police, were on the scene in our community very early this morning, anticipating large crowds. Our law enforcement was on hand before 10:00 this morning, actually began around 6:00 this morning. And unfortunately, as we went through this day, we had folks who came here to cause mayhem and chaos and mischief, and it resulted in three fatalities here in the city of Charlottesville.
In the days and the weeks to come, our city will have many conversations in city hall and community centers, in our houses of worship, over our fences, and at our dinner tables. I would ask that in addition to sharing our grief and looking back at this difficult and extraordinary summer that we look forward. I would ask that we would consider the question of who we are as a city and who we wish to be.
I would ask that we each seek opportunities to seek people who share our home here in Charlottesville, but who are outside of our circles. I would ask that we work to build meaningful relationships and foster strong connections.
City hall will be working with the community to rebuild our structures and repair damages, and we will also work to provide opportunities for our community to come together to mourn, connect, and move forward. But city hall cannot build the bonds between neighbors or create new friendships.
I'm calling on each one of our residents not only here in the city of Charlottesville, but in the Charlottesville area, to come together and take all of this into our hearts and our daily lives today, and to begin healing as a community.
[18:30:09] If we all come together, we cannot fall apart. We'll be with you and we will be beside you, as together we write the next chapter in Charlottesville's history. Thank you.
CHIEF AL THOMAS, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you, Mr. Jones. Chief Al Thomas, Charlottesville Police Department, good evening.
The premeditated violence that our community experienced today was completely unacceptable. This situation escalated rapidly into violence and we had no choice but to deploy additional personnel in front of Virginia State Police, the Virginia National Guard to help disperse the crowd and move people safely through the streets.
None of the injuries sustained today were due to engagement with law enforcement. As of late this afternoon, there have been at least 35 people treated for injuries by city personnel. 14 people have been treated for injuries resulting from individual engagements, non- pedestrians were treated for injuries in a three-vehicle crash at the intersection of Fourth Street and Water Street here in downtown Charlottesville. Their injuries range from life-threatening to minor.
The crash also claimed the life of a 32-year-old female pedestrian at the intersection as she was crossing the street. We're still in the process of notifying her next of kin so we will not be releasing her information until that takes place as a courtesy to the family.
The suspect vehicle that left the scene of the crash was located moments later, and the male driver is in custody with charges pending. We are currently treating this as a criminal homicide investigation.
Also want to extend my appreciation to the many individuals who witnessed the crash for helping us by providing statements, photos, and video evidence. Again, the crash remains under investigation.
So where do we go from here? For right now, we're encouraging people to return home. Police let our city of Charlottesville, our home, start to recover from this. What the world saw today is not the place Charlottesville is. We love our city.
Let us heal. This is not our story. Outsiders do not tell our story. We will tell our own story. As is commonplace, we will be reviewing the events of the day over the next weeks and months. We are committed to providing our residents with a strong, safe city to live in, and be partners in our community. Thank you.
CABRERA: And that wraps up the press conference involving many leaders in the local community there in Charlottesville, but most importantly we heard at the very top there, three people have been killed in today's violence, including at least one person who was killed in the incident in which a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people in Charlottesville, Virginia, following the clashes that happened earlier in the day between protesters who were clashing with white supremacists who had gathered there for their own rally.
Back with us now our panel, Andre Bauer, Van Jones, Anushay Hossain, Evan McMullin and Cedric Alexander.
We heard some strong words from Governor Terry McAuliffe right off the bat. He says, I have a message to the white supremacists and Nazis who came into Charlottesville today, go home. He went on to say you are not patriots. You came here today to hurt people. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.
Van, those words were clear and direct.
JONES: I think those were the words that a lot of people needed to hear and want to hear continually from the president, from the governor and -- listen, there has to be a universal condemnation of the loudest sort. We now have three Americans dead all -- listen, Andre says we don't have all the facts. I'm going to go out a limb and I'm going to say that the person who rammed into that crowd did so for political reasons, so it's an act of political terrorism and I think it's going to be revealed that it was white supremacist terrorism.
So one of the things that has to happen now, you now have three people who are dead and there may be more, when Americans start being murdered and killed in our country for political reasons, by Nazis, if that country can't come together on that, we are in deep trouble. There is no political downside, folks, to condemning Nazis killing Americans.
[18:35:04] I promise you we're not that far gone. So this is the opportunity for to us come together, and the president of the United States should be leading the charge. If this president does not want to be sending dog signals and winks and nods to white supremacists and Nazis, this guy is one of the clearest communicators in the history of American politics. He should come out just as clear as the governor. If the governor can be that clear the president should be more clear because he's on the world stage and the whole world is watching.
This is an absolute outrage. I don't get it. When you have someone who says in one part of his speech he loves everybody, there are now -- it looks like if you look online that the Nazis are celebrating his speech. It's not been confirmed yet but they're saying he is saying he loves us. He is not being clear enough. He's got to be more clear.
CABRERA: But, Van, just to be fair for the president he's not a white supremacist himself. Is he being held responsible in a sense for something he didn't have control over?
JONES: Hey, listen, if there were a Muslim terrorist attack he's not a Muslim terrorist. If there were -- if the people who love science fiction started blowing stuff up, he probably doesn't like science fiction. It doesn't matter what the terrorist is about. He has to condemn terrorism. He has to condemn extremism, and I don't understand why he feels like if it's a white supremacist group he's got to tiptoe.
He has more authority as somebody who is on the right to say -- there is a clean right and there's a dirty right. The clean right has ideas I agree with. The dirty right incites violence and anti-Jewish bigotry and racism and it has no place in my party, my movement or my country. If he said that it would shock these people back on their heels.
The fact he hasn't said it and the fact we now have three people dead and nothing from the president, he has not said one thing about the person who died earlier. He hasn't said one thing about the person -- now we got three. I don't understand why or how the president of the United States can sit back and look at Americans being murdered in broad daylight and not come out and say stop killing Americans, you Nazis. If the governor can do it, the president can.
CABRERA: So, Andre, let me turn to you because you defended the president's comments earlier. The president's comments do stand in stark contrast to what we just heard to Governor Terry McAuliffe, who was very direct to going after people who were there to express hate. What is partisan about that?
BAUER: I don't think there was anything partisan. I thought the governor was fair in what he said, too. I don't have a problem with -- I'm not one of these every time somebody on the other side says something I condemn it. I mean, there's certain guests that come on this show that no matter what they'll condemn Donald Trump. I mean, that's a given.
JONES: Well, I'm not one of them. I'm not one of them, Andre.
BAUER: He said what he thought was right, when he gets more facts I feel like he'll speak again but it's very easy to go off and say things, you know, what are politically popular but I think you get the facts first. And look, I've got over 15 years of law enforcement experience as well. And I deal with -- I had to deal with certain things and you try to get the facts before you just immediately come to conclusions and I think tomorrow will be a clearer day for the president to make more comments but he went emphatically said there's no place --
CABRERA: Hold on just a second, Andre, though, let me stop you because the facts of the matter are, these people who were there, they were up front about their intentions of coming to the park, to the Confederate Monument, the statue that is being removed there in Charlottesville. They were there to promote their white supremacist ideology.
I don't think that anybody is questioning what their intentions were, and so for them to be there and the president not to say that isn't OK for you to have, it's OK for you to have that opinion, but it's not OK for to you bring that hatred into our country, to not call a spade a spade like that is where we're hearing the criticism.
BAUER: Again, he called out what he thought was fair and reasonable. He denounced it. He just didn't denounce it enough for a lot of folks on the other side, but again, he said what he thought was more than -- I thought it was more than reasonable. He said there's no place for this. He even tweeted out, "This is sad." You know -- CABRERA: He tweeted that out but he was asked specifically after his
remarks, what do you say to the white supremacists who are there? What do you say to people like David Duke? He did not answer.
JONES: Andre, listen --
BAUER: He didn't respond to any question. Maybe he didn't want to open it up for questions right now, maybe he had other things he was working on, maybe he didn't want to continue to answer questions --
HOSSAIN: How --
BAUER: -- without having more facts.
HOSSAIN: How much are you going to justify --
BAUER: As the president of the United States.
JONES: Andre --
HOSSAIN: Andre, what are you waiting for, Andre? What is enough facts for you? For the past 48 hours -- just in the past 48 hours, we have seen Nazis coming in, they have been chanting Nazi slogans, they have identified themselves very clearly.
Today David Duke said -- he came out of the protest, he said this is a turning point in taking our country back. He mentioned the president by name. He said this is why we voted for Donald Trump. What do you need? What needs to happen?
BAUER: The president has already denounced David Duke --
[18:40:02] HOSSAIN: For Donald Trump to say this is not OK. Just like the governor just said.
BAUER: What you need is we need to know who the victims were and who the driver was.
HOSSAIN: The victims were Americans, the driver was American and the victims were American. We are Americans.
BAUER: Again, if I could --
CABRERA: Evan McMullin, there have been a lot of Republicans who have come out and condemned what has happened there.
BAUER: And the president did.
CABRERA: And they've also come out -- I know, and that's my point, the president condemned what happened, but he did it in a way that was very different than what we've seen from some of the other Republican leaders. HOSSAIN: Generic.
CABRERA: Do you see a stark contrast in how the president has handled it or are we making a mountain out of a molehill, Evan?
BAUER: I see people that are going to cast stones about Donald Trump and just about every way he does it, they think they're going to continue to be --
CABRERA: Let me get Evan in here. That question was for Evan McMullin.
MCMULLIN: Yes. If I could just jump in here. If Donald Trump came out and said what we just heard or anything like it from Terry McAuliffe or from the mayor in Charlottesville, nobody would be criticizing him.
JONES: That's right.
MCMULLIN: In fact people like me would be elated and relieved.
JONES: Me, too.
MCMULLIN: What we just saw there --
BAUER: Evan, when was the last time you said something positive about Donald Trump?
MCMULLIN: Excuse me. I'm going to finish. No, I'm going to finish. Excuse me, sir. I listened to you for a long time and now I'm going to finish.
BAUER: I didn't think you want to answer that.
MCMULLIN: We -- what we just saw, what we just saw is the kind of leadership that America has been waiting for, for the last six or seven months, and I got to tell you, it was refreshing to hear it. We should hear more of it from Washington, D.C.
Now I've got to tell you another thing about this situation. I spent time in Republican politics, and with Republican leaders and Republican leaders tend not to speak out against racism in America, unless it's some disastrous situation like this, and then they come out. Not all of them. Some of them are good. Some of them do more than others but most of them don't say anything unless it's absolutely obvious like today. The reason for that --
BAUER: Evan, you tried to derail the Republican --
MCMULLIN: No, I'm going to finish. No, I'm going to finish, sir. CABRERA: Hold on, Andre, let him finish.
MCMULLIN: The reason why they don't do that and I know because I've been a part of it, I've seen it myself, is that there's a taboo within the Republican Party about attacking racism in America, and I know that that's the case because when you do it as a conservative, you get attacked by elements within the party, and that's where we are, and not all Republicans of course are racists.
I was raised by Republicans who are not at all and who welcome Americans of all backgrounds and are not at all like this, but there is an element of the Republican base that is racist, and our leaders are afraid to stand up to them because, if they do so, they'll be criticized, and they'll potentially lose votes. And so they don't do it, but that's not public service. That's self-service, and we need leaders especially on the Republican and conservative side these days who will serve the country and serving the country means standing up to these bigots.
This country is built on equality and liberty and we need all of our leaders regardless of party to stand up for those truths.
CABRERA: Andre, can you argue against that?
BAUER: Well, what I would say is I'm probably the most southern state in America and Democrats put the confederate flag on the dome and the Republicans took it off. Nikki Haley led the charge to take it off the monument as well so Republicans are taking the leadership on this to save it. They're scared of some certain group is totally untrue. And for him to --
MCMULLIN: That's one example. Nikki Haley is great, there should be many more of him.
BAUER: -- something positive --
CABRERA: Let me read you for a second what David Duke's tweeted after the president's remarks, and I don't want to give him any more air time to David Duke in terms of his comments but I think it's telling in terms of where so many people are standing in this country right now.
He writes, "I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror and remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists."
I mean, that was a direct message to the president following his remarks.
So, Andre, do you think Trump was in a no-win situation today, that no one would be happy with his comments after his remarks? BAUER: I think that is a fair assessment. However, he has
emphatically said, I don't want to be associated with David Duke or anything about him. I don't even want his support. And usually when you're a politician -- I was elected in 14 different elections you want anybody -- just because somebody supports you does not mean you support them. You want anybody's support you can get. He said not only do I not agree with him.
MCMULLIN: No, you do not.
BAUER: I don't want his support.
MCMULLIN: No, you do not. You do not want anybody's support. If you're a leader you stand for principles and if you're supported by white supremacists in America -- look, this is not difficult. This is not difficult. This is like hitting a beach ball with a bat. It's not difficult. If you're supported by white supremacists in America, you oppose that and you oppose them.
BAUER: He did.
MCMULLIN: And you fight against them every day.
[18:45:05] JONES: Hey, Evan, I think you may have misheard -- you may have misheard Andre. I think Andre -- and you are making the same point at this point. He's just saying that Donald Trump has denounced it, and I would just say to you, Andre, I think for a lot of us, a one-time denunciation when somebody is consistently stirring up the pot it falls a little bit short.
The problem that we have, Andre, is that he has no problem mentioning CNN multiple times to attack us, he has no problem mentioning, you know, every leader in the world he doesn't like or in the Congress he doesn't like multiple times but with David Duke and with the white supremacists I've never heard him say white supremacist terrorist.
I've never heard him say white nationalist terrorist, I've never heard him be specific about the white nationalist terrorists who just killed three people as he insisted that Barack Obama be about the problem we have with radical Muslims.
And so when you have those kinds of inconsistencies -- here's the problem that we have, Andre, you are somebody in the Republican Party who has been a leading light, you've been anti-racist. We all know that about you, but there are people who if you look at what's happening online right now, there are white supremacist groups that are saying hey, Donald Trump didn't attack us.
They're saying, God bless Donald Trump, because they expected to get some -- maybe some blowback from the president. They didn't get it. You might see the positive in his statement but people that you hate and don't like and people I hate and don't like saw what was not said and think that Donald Trump gave them a pass today and that is dangerous.
CABRERA: Cedric, jump in here. I know you have something to contribute to those comments.
ALEXANDER: Yes. The only thing I want to say, you know, a moment ago it was just stated by Mr. Bauer that the president has stated in the past that he do not want any affiliation with any group that promotes hate. And that is true when he was on the campaign trail but what needs to happen at this very moment in American history particularly from the demonstration of violence we saw today, he should have made that clear to the American people today, not as running for president, but as president of the United States.
CABRERA: Can you see any reason why he wouldn't have done that? Could it have been unintentional for this backlash to come because his remarks didn't hit the mark?
ALEXANDER: Well, you know what's at risk here quite frankly for the president and what the perception of the American people is, to be honest with you, he did not respond to it and he did not call this group out because many Americans, as many of your guests have stated here today, they believe that is much of his base, and not just his base that you saw out in the street of Charlottesville, but those who are at home hiding behind their Twitter and their e-mails, who are also making these horrible remarks, because there are people out there who unfortunately that support what they saw here today, and have supposedly supported this president.
So that creates an environment, quite frankly, in which the president himself had an opportunity today to denounce groups such as the KKK, that has been responsible ever since their inception, which nobody can refute, of violence, in groups like Nazi, neo-Nazi groups that are totally anti-Semitic, anti-black, anti-brown, anti-everything that is not white.
CABRERA: Do you buy the argument that perhaps he didn't want to address those groups specifically because he did not want to increase or escalate the tension and the violence that's already there on that scene?
ALEXANDER: That is no excuse because here very clearly, you just heard what the governor of Virginia just said. He just took a leadership position as a governor in his state, and said we will not tolerate violence of any sort from any group. We are not going to see ourselves as a racist state. We're not going to associate ourselves with racism and violence of this state, and anybody today that was involved in it, whether you're on the right or on the left, and you took the first punch or you threw the first brick, you are wrong.
But here again, we're talking about groups that were vividly clearly exhibited who they were today through their dress, through their makeshift attire of being military, which in my opinion is embarrassing to the U.S. Military, to even drag them in this with your makeshift military attire. This is not representative of our U.S. Military, and I take offense to that as an American, but those who wish to carry themselves out in the way they did today has to be acceptable -- unacceptable, unacceptable to all of us in this nation.
There's no place for it. We're not going backwards. It's not even possible at this point. We have to figure out how we're going to move forward as a nation, and move from blaming to resolving. We have a bigger threat that is upon us.
[18:50:04] It's called North Korea. And wherever we are in all of this from a global perspective, one thing we cannot do, we cannot fight anybody on this planet being divided and we have to come together as Americans and today was not an example of that because everybody was watching, everybody.
CABRERA: Van, I know you have taken issue with the president's comments in that he said he doesn't condemn the violence on any side and let me just look at these specific words. I don't want to misquote it here. He says, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides that's been going on for a long in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. Has been going on for a long, long time. It has not a place in America."
What is wrong with that statement specifically?
JONES: Listen, the thing is it's just enough good in the statement that some people are confused as to why those of us who are concerned are concerned. So I'm glad that you gave us the language. Let me tell you. The problem is the many sides. Can you imagine if at Ft. Hood when there was a Muslim shooter who shot down a bunch of Americans, a president came out and said, listen, there's been a lot of violence on many sides?
That would not work because you have dead bodies, you have people preparing for funerals, three families preparing for funerals today. That's only on one side. The murder, using the car as the weapon, showing up with the shield, all that sort of stuff, that's only coming from one side. And so when he then said many sides, what that does is it creates what's called a false equivalence.
Like everybody here is wrong, everybody here is kind of equally wrong, everybody, calm down, everybody be nice, but there's only one side that's murderous. And so I don't think he would do that in another context. Another act of terrorism. And so what's happening now -- and now, look, don't ask. You know, I don't want to quote anything, we're not quoting it on CNN, but if you look at what the white supremacists are saying online, they are praising this speech. They think it's a good speech because he didn't go after them. And so I think you've got a problem now which is that, yes, the president said some things that are good and Andre, you know, says no matter what the president says, we're going to attack him.
I don't attack the president when he says good stuff and liberals kick my butt from here across the street. I'm somebody willing to give him credit where it's due, but it's not due today, he owed the families more than he gave them and he owes the country more. This country that has fought against Nazism and Fascism. We shed blood over that. We lost Dr. King over that. And this president should stand as clearly against that kind of hateful violence in our country and he didn't do it today.
CABRERA: Why not? Why didn't he do that today, Andre, and come out with a statement that says, white supremacy is not OK?
BAUER: Well, again, I don't think he -- you know, when they had the riots during his inauguration, he didn't specifically name groups. He condemned it. And so I don't think today was about going to specific groups. He said he didn't agree with it. He thought it was bad. I'm paraphrasing now, but again he sent a message as president of the United States, he didn't agree with this behavior and wanted it to stop and I think as more information comes in, I think you'll hear from him again and he maybe -- I hope he can touch on ears of folks like Van Jones who are at least always fair and reasonable and get to the spot where they feel comfortable that their president, our president, said what needed to be said.
CABRERA: Does it bother you if white supremacist groups are praising the president's comments because he didn't call them out?
BAUER: Well, in a group of -- you know, in a country that has hundreds of millions of people, you can always find a few people that are going to say something. You don't see, you know, hundreds of people saying this is a very small group of people. I mean, most communities, my community would ostracize those folks. Nobody would have anything to do with those kind of people.
And so I don't think it's a large group of people. You're going to find a few crazy people. Always of different groups, but there's no mass group that I know of that's supporting any of these individuals.
CABRERA: Yes, but I do know that the Southern Poverty Law Center that, of course, monitors different hate groups has said that they expected this. The expectation going into today was this was going to be the largest gathering, hate gathering, their words, in decades in this country. That doesn't come out of nowhere.
BAUER: Do we know how many people that was that were there?
CABRERA: They were expecting up to 6,000 people. I don't think we have --
BAUER: OK, so --
CABRERA: That's how many they were anticipating.
BAUER: So let's say there were 10,000 and 5,000 on each side. So in a country with several hundred million people, 5,000 people in the biggest group ever assembled is all they could come up with? That's good news for our country.
JONES: Well --
CABRERA: How is that good news?
HOSSAIN: Right -- yes.
HOSSAIN: I'm so sorry, Ana, why are we trying to play this off, Andre, as if anything positive that came out of this? Can we just say that at the end of the day, the president had a perfect opportunity to speak out against white supremacists and white supremacy and he didn't? It's not enough. It's not enough.
BAUER: He spoke out against bigotry. He spoke out against hatred.
[18:55:05] HOSSAIN: The most general, generic tweet followed by a statement like that doesn't count. It's not enough. And thank goodness we had the governor stepped in the way he just did. We need leadership right now. Three Americans are dead and our president wrapped up a statement by talking about children and having the right to go play with their parents and have a good time.
CABRERA: All right. Guys, let's leave it there. I appreciate all of you for joining us and offering different viewpoints. Appreciate the discussion. Thanks.
We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CABRERA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
We begin with big breaking news out of Virginia where a driver is now in custody after a car plowed into a group of protesters during what began as a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. And we want to warn you the video you are about to see is incredibly disturbing. If you have small children in the room now it's a good time to take them away.