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Violent And Deadly Protests In Charlottesville; Many Feel President Donald Trump Gave Weak Speech About The Protest In Charlottesville. Aired 7:00-8:00p ET
Aired August 12, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: A driver now in custody after a car plowed into a group of protesters during what began as a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. We want to warn you. The video we see is incredibly disturbing. If you have small children in the room, good time to take them away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That Nazi just drove into people. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. People are badly hurt. Oh my God, badly hurt. Badly hurt. We need paramedics right now. The car just drove into people causing a multi-chain accident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And now we have another angle of this incident showing that car hitting the ground. You see panicked people. They are running toward the scene. Moments later, the car reverses at a high rate of speed and front bumper barely holding on.
We know a 32-year-old woman was killed at that scene and a picture to show you now of the exact moment when people were thrown into the air. Virginia officials holding an emotional press conference in just the last hour. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into 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 are 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 are patriots. You are not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We have live team coverage. I do want to begin with CNN's Brian Todd on the ground in Charlottesville.
Brian, give us an update on how these protests started and how the investigation is unfolding at this hour.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, first, I can offer you a point of clarification that we just got moments ago from Governor Terry McAuliffe. He told me after the news conference had ended, we wanted clarification on the deaths involved today. And he did say that of the three fatalities that occurred today in Charlottesville, two of them occurred in a helicopter crash.
Now, there aren't that many details about that particular crash as to what kind of a helicopter it was, but we know two fatalities occurred in the helicopter crash. And that crash took place outside of the city a little bit. I'm not sure exactly how far outside, but it was outside the city. We are going to get more details about the helicopter crash as soon as we can. But two of the three fatalities today, I'm told by the governor occurred in that helicopter crash. The other one we were just told was a 32-year-old pedestrian who was killed right behind me. And I can set the scene because we now have a vantage point of the place in Charlottesville, this intersection where the car strike took place.
If you could see behind me, my photo journalist Jeremy Harlon (ph) is zooming in here. You can see the Honda minivan here, that maroon Honda minivan, that was one of the vehicles struck. That silver car behind it was, we believe, another vehicle struck. We are pretty sure that is the case because police officers have been basically swarming these two vehicles since the car strike this afternoon. They have been gathering evidence. They' have been taking pictures. You can see all the debris around those vehicles where the car strike took place and this is still a very active crime scene.
I'm right at the barricade now. We can't get any closer than this. But this is where the car strike occurred. And you saw the horrific video of the car strike. A 32-year-old female pedestrian we were told was the one person killed at this scene behind me. They did offer some clarification also about the injuries. A total of 35 people hurt today.
And one of the city officials who spoke said that these injuries, I believe it was the police chief who said these injuries range from life-threatening to minor. So you are going to get updates on casualties, probably throughout the evening and into tomorrow.
Another important piece of information here. The driver of that vehicle that struck right behind me is in custody. We are not being given a name yet. Trying to confirm that and get some more of that information as well, Ana.
And another thing, I just talked to the city manager, Maurice Jones. He said, you know, look, they are ready for anything that might happen tonight. They have got 700 law enforcement officers deployed throughout the city tonight. And, you know, there is some tension that is, you know, percolating around here as we near nightfall - Ana.
CABRERA: And what are you seeing, Brian? Are those white nationalist groups going home as the governor instructed? TODD: You know, we don't know that. One of the leaders, Jason
Kessler, apparently tweeted earlier today that they are going to be around all weekend. That this is quote "not over." But we don't know of any planned activities or planned rallies or anything tonight. That's what kind of adds to the tension here, just kind of the unknown as you enter the evening hours here. But city is confident that they will be able to handle whatever happens. But it could be a tense night in Charlottesville.
[19:05:24] CABRERA: Fingers crossed. Brian Todd, thank you for that report.
We are just getting an update now on those who are injured in today's violence. Five in critical condition. Four in serious condition. Six in fair condition. Four good condition. And of course, Brian mentioned one fatality from the car accident scene. This is coming from the University of Virginia medical center with that latest information on the injured.
Earlier, President Trump condemned the violence during a press conference urging unity. Here he is.
We don't have that sound, unfortunately. Let me read you the verbatim. He says, we are closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms that the egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.
I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones who is live in New Jersey near the President's Bedminster estate.
Athena, what more did the President have to say and what more are you hearing following those remarks?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi Ana.
Well, I want to make sure our viewers know that we have a new tweet from the President put out just a few minutes ago. He said he has offered deepest condolences to the families and fellow officers of the Virginia state police who died today. You are all among the best this nation produces. That's a tweet the President put out about 15 minutes ago.
Notably, does not mention the young woman, the pedestrian killed when the car plowed through the crowd. He also does not mention the nearly three dozen other people who were injured. But he does send condolences to the state police.
What is notable about that quote from the President that you just read, Ana, was the phrase On Many Sides, him condemning the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. That is something that has got a lot of attention and a lot of criticism from people who argue the President is drawing a moral equivalent between white nationalists, white supremacists and Nazis. We have seen confederate flags and also Nazi emblems during those protests today. People are arguing the president is drawing a moral equivalence between those folks and the people who are protesting against them.
What's also interesting about what the President said is that he said we want to get this situation straightened out in Charlottesville. And we want to study it. We want to see what we are doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen. What's notable there is the President did not address the facts on the ground. As I said, he has not spoken about the young woman who was mowed down when the car plowed through the crowd. He has not mentioned the Nazi symbolism, the confederate flag, the white nationalist took to the streets and stormed the campus of the University of Virginia last night carrying torches to protester of the Robert E. Lee statue.
He had not addressed the white supremacy that is behind these protests. And that's important because he has condemned a long list of other people, whether it's Hillary Clinton or fellow Republicans from Mitch McConnell to his own, not condemn but he certainly spoken negatively in recent weeks about his own attorney general Jeff Sessions and yet he hasn't condemned Nazis, he hasn't condemned white nationalism in recent weeks and he hasn't even condemned as we all have been talking about for months, Russian President Vladimir Putin. So he has reserved his condemnation in this case.
And I want to point out that several Republicans have explicitly spoken about white supremacy and Nazism. Senator Oren Hatch of Utah just tweeted a little while ago. We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.
Senator Marco Rubio said it's very important for the nation to hear Potus, the President of the United States, describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.
And finally, Colorado Republican senator Cory Garner took to twitter saying Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.
No word from several White House officials that I have reached out to on where the President stands on white nationalism and white nationalists and whether he plans to speak out against these groups -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones reporting with the President in New Jersey.
Let's listen to what the President had to say now. We do have that sound for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:10] CABRERA: I want to bring in my panel, CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to four Presidents, David Gergen, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago "Sun Times," Lynn Sweet, CNN political analyst and presidential historian Julian Zelizer and also with us, civil rights attorney Charles Coleman.
And David, President Trump did not call out a group or specific movement in the country as holing responsibility for this violence today. Why not? It seems like white nationalists and these far right racists are a safe group to condemn.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The President had a very hard time coming to grips with the fact that he has a lot of support from white supremacists. They were part of his campaign. He didn't - he refer gently about distancing himself from them.
But I think - I have argue last night, we don't know a lot things that's true. There are still some facts to come in. But we know it is one thing that's clear. The President saying we've had violence and hatred, bigotry on many sides, he repeated on many sides. Did equate, he placed a moral equivalency between the neo-Nazis and the people who showed up today to defend racial justice. He essentially -- and in doing that, and by putting an equivalence, in effect, defended the neo-Nazis.
That in effect was a defense, you know. Everybody does it. They are all - everybody out there is doing it. Everybody has to calm down. I'm sorry. What we have to be very clear about is, a second thing is, yes, there is a first amendment protection for freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, but it is not unfettered right. You do not have a right under the first amendment, courts have been quite clear. You do not have a right to use language that incites violence. And when you have groups marching through Charlottesville as they were with chanting anti-Semitic slurs, when they are going after blacks, when they are saying take this country back and make it a white dominated country again, that's an incitement of violence and that's what we then had. Primary responsibility then for the violence rests with those people who are the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists and the other extremists.
CABRERA: Lynn, your reaction to the President's response to the deadly violence? And even in the last tweet, he send deepest condolences to the families and fellow officers of this VA state police who died referencing those who were killed in the helicopter crash. But he still has not specifically even talked about the person who was killed in that car that plowed into the crowd that was involved in this event.
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: So if anyone thinks that with the new chief of staff, he is getting better advice if he wants to tweet or his communications team that he has now or anyone can influence him, I mean, we guess that's not happening.
Let me underscore that President Trump could have used his tweet to do a makeover, to remedy the criticisms that have been flowing on twitter and everywhere else that he did a moral, as David said, he made it seem as if both sides are equal and that is a false equivalency in this case. You have a protest started by white nationalists and anti- se anti-Semites and that is groups that you could and should call out when you are talking about an event that did lead to violence and where someone died.
In this country, you can respect first and second amendment rights and still call out racism and anti-Semitism when it occurs as it did in Charlottesville as senator McAuliffe was able to do in his comments. President Trump doesn't do it either because he knows he very deliberately that is what the situation is he's not doing it or he doesn't know and that's why he doesn't do it. Both potential reasons don't speak well now either for the President or the advice that he is getting.
CABRERA: Of course, when we have seen the President double down on comments in the past when criticized, do you think that he is making a point not to go there in these tweets specifically because he has been criticized for his initial comments?
SWEET: Well, yes. And one other thing. What I am saying is separate than what the political calculation could be because I'm sure what he said takes him as far as he wants to for his base who probably doesn't want, that he may fear he loses support if he specifically calls out David Duke. And there is staffers who must have been watching television today who saw David Duke embrace President Trump to say, we hope this kind of rally really shows, I'm paraphrasing, he needs to deliver on his promise. And I know, Ana, you have been hesitant about giving that man any more publicity, but certainly, if the President is advised, he needs to incorporate that if he chooses in his messages. And by not doing that, you come to the conclusion with the staffing he has now, it's an admittance that is done with perhaps some thought.
CABRERA: Charles, this rally today doesn't really sends a message that these white supremacists are emboldened right now.
CHARLES COLEMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Absolutely. I want to make a point that this is an egregious display of leadership from the White House inasmuch as when you compare Donald Trump's rhetoric throughout the campaign and early days of being President with respect to charging Barack Obama for saying radical Islamic terrorism and calling them up for what it is. And now him soft shoeing around being able to say white nationalism, being able to say domestic terrorism in instances where it's clear and present in front of all of our faces being what it is.
I think that when you compare his remarks to the tough talk he's given to Vladimir Putin, to Kim Jong-Il in North Korea and then you look at how he soft shoeing around the issue, it is beyond disappointed. It's deplorable.
And I want to make another point. One of the things as being lost in this discussion is who the targets of these white nationalists are, who the targets of these white supremacists are. These are people of color. These are people who are living on the fringes of America. And when we heard Donald Trump talk about law and order, when we heard Jeff Sessions talk about law and order, this is what we knew he meant. This is what white supremacists knew he meant.
David Duke tweeted out that he voted for Trump because of this. Because this is what they expected. We all saw this coming. And it reminds me about the quote that I love and that is, you cannot hustle controversy for profit or in other cases for political expediency because you are playing for forces which you cannot control and everyone who allowed dog whistle politics to go on unchecked with language we all knew it was about and we never stopped it to this point, we fertilized the ground or we watched other people fertilize the ground upon which this has actually happened and now it's ripe and I want to also make a point that there are Charlottesvilles all over the United States. And if we are not careful and we don't react to this the way that we need to as a country from our leadership on down, we will continue to see this sort of thing happen. And people of color have been watching this situation knowing that it was only a matter of time before this exploded.
CABRERA: Did you hear a dog whistle in the comments the President made today?
COLEMAN: I absolutely did. And that is when he refused to go there and when he refused to talk about white nationalism and when he refused to label this as domestic terrorism, for someone who has as much conversation on the issues of terrorism and foreign terrorism and Islamic terrorism that he wants to label, to not be able to talk tough about this and demonstrate leadership in this moment? That's absolutely a dog whistle that emboldens white supremacists to keep doing what they are doing.
And we have heard this dog whistle before today when you talk to law enforcement and you tell them, rough folks up, don't be gentle. Those are the type of language, the lexicon, the rhetoric that gives all the signals and all of the whistles to the folks who are emboldened in this instance to do what they are doing.
CABRERA: Julian, what kind of Presidential test is this situation right now for the President?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is already been a big test. And it has been a stunning display of Presidential indifference. And sometimes, you learn a lot about a President, not by what they say but by what they don't say. And first, he didn't even condemn the rally before the violence broke out. Here is a major rally of white nationalism in 2017 and you didn't hear anything from the President and this fits the pattern that we have seen all the way back through the campaign.
And then I think the statements he has made in the last few hours have explicitly been a choice about not talking about white nationalism, making it both sides, and both sides have to calm down. And so, this has been a big test. And I think at this point, he has come down on the side of really not making a strong statement about what's going on in Charlottesville and this will be part of his legacy.
COLEMAN: Ana, it borders on the offensive, if not to be all out operation for him to suggest we need to study what's going on. Let's put this in the proper historical context. Virginia was home to
two out of the three known confederate capitals during the civil war. This has been a ground, a space that the racial tensions in this state, in this area are well documented. They are well known. Anyone could have seen based off of what had been planned and based off of the events of last night where this weekend was headed and where this was going. And for the President not to get in front of this, for the President not to speak out on this, for the President not to clearly identify white nationalism and domestic terrorism for being what it is clearly shows his indifference. And it is part of his legacy. And then quite frankly, I think it is a legacy he is comfortable with.
[19:20:07] CABRERA: I appreciate the thoughtful discussion. Everybody stand by. I appreciate it guys. Got to squeeze in a quick break. We will be right back.
[19:24:19] CABRERA: Our breaking news right now. Deadly white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. We saw people wielding torches and confederate flags marching on the streets of this college town. A car slammed into a crowd of counter-protesters. One woman was killed. Nearly two dozen others were injured at the crash site. The driver of that car now in custody.
Now we have been getting a flood of reaction to the violence in Charlottesville. I want to read some of it for you. This is former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighing in saying, in part, now is the time for leaders to be strong in their words and deliberate in their actions. We will not step backward. If this is not who we are as Americans, let's prove it.
This from U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. I know all too well the pain hate can cause. The American spirit that binds us has no place for actions like this. Hashtag, prayers for Charlottesville.
Haley, of course, is the first Indian-American to serve as South Carolina governor.
And from Republican senator Marco Rubio of Florida quote "very important for the nation to hear president of the United States describe event in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacist supremacists.
And from House minority leader Nancy Pelosi writing quote, repeat after me, @realDonaldTrump, white supremacy is an affront to American values, #Charlottesville.
Now President Trump has been down the hatred and the bigotry on display in Charlottesville. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:25:47] TRUMP: What's vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent live lives. No citizen be ever fear for their safety and security in our society. And no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.
I just got off the phone with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe. And we agree that the hate and division must stop and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true effective -- really, and I say this so strongly, true affection for each other. Our country is doing well in so many ways. We have record, just absolute record employment. We have unemployment, the lowest it's been in almost 17 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: All right. Let's talk it over with our political commentators. Former congressman, Jack Kingston and Republican former national press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders, White House bid, Symone Sanders.
Jack, President Trump there pivoting from his comments on Charlottesville to accomplishment such as the record unemployment. Is that being sensitive enough to this situation?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER RO THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I think what he was trying to say is we have a lot going for us as a nation. We can come together. We can get over violence like this, but we have got to do it together.
CABRERA: Appropriate to toot his own horn though in that?
KINGSTON: Well, I think what he was saying is that things are improving. And we have the right to come together as a nation to enjoy the fruits of the good things that are out there. I don't think he was trying to brush past what is a very sad and violent situation. Certainly, all of our thoughts and prayers are with those.
CABRERA: You could argue things are not improving when it comes to racial relations though when you look at what happened today before our very eyes.
KINGSTON: Well, I believe that the President is attuned to that and he has addressed it. And I'm sorry he hasn't used some buzz words like white supremacists.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me --.
SANDERS: White supremacy is not a buzz word. I'm sorry, congressman. White supremacy is not a buzz word. It was real. This is not hyperbole. This is what's happening in America.
Last night, we saw white nationalists march through the campus of UVA in Charlottesville, Virginia with torches, lit torches. And that was to terrorize people in that community. What we are not talking about here is, look, this has been brewing in Charlottesville and places across the country for a really long time.
KINGSTON: Symone, this statement was very strong. And I'm sorry they didn't use the keyword, white supremacist, but --
SANDERS: It's not strong enough.
SANDERS: You have to use the term white supremacy because that's what it was. We have to be intentional with our words because, guess what? This country was founded on the backs of black people and African people and enslaved people. White supremacy is embedded in the fabric of who we are as a nation. We have overcome lots of this, but we have not overcome at all. And so when something like this happens, it has to be intentional.
KINGSTON: But when he condemns hatred, bigotry and violence --
SANDERS: No. I hate (INAUDIBLE). The white supremacy is unacceptable.
CABRERA: Hey, Jack. Just a second. Hold on. Because remember, this is the President who pillared President Obama for not using the term radical Islamic terrorism. It was very easy for him to say those words. Words matter. So why can't he say white supremacy is not OK?
KINGSTON: You know, I'm not saying that he can't say that. I'm not saying he won't say that. I'm saying he has not said it now.
CABRERA: Exactly, why not?
KINGSTON: The President isn't the evil here that has caused this hatred. And you know, one of the things that your earlier panel, somebody said why hasn't the President been up ahead of it? What about Terry McAuliffe, July 8th, they had another protest, 23 people were arrested. Where was his love leadership then?
[19:30:11] SANDERS: It was out there. Thank you for asking. Thank you for asking, Jack.
CABRERA: Hey, guys. We can hear you when you talk over each other. Symone, why don't you respond and then --.
SANDERS: The fact of the matter is this. The protest, the white nationalist rally that we saw last night and today was in response to a resolution that was introduced by vice mayor of Charlottesville, Wes Bellamy, to take down a statue of confederacy in emancipation park of Robert E. Lee. People are literally marching in 2017 protesting terrorizing communities because they do not want a statue taken down. That's where we are.
CABRERA: So let me read you the latest statement from the President on twitter just moments ago during this segment, he wrote this. Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today and best regards to all of those injured in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!
Jack, that statement says nothing, again, about white supremacy, about the hatred and the people who organized this event there.
KINGSTON: Ana, let me say this. I grew up in an integrated schools. I was in the first white class to go to African-American high school. I was the co-author, the lead author of the legislation that created the African-American history museum. It was the Kingston John Louisville.
I have been in race relations all my life. I have been on the front line of it because of Brown versus Board of education. I was among the first kids in the integrated schools. I can say this that you can't just sum up somebody's view because of the lack of a couple of words. I think that Symone has a point. I'm not going to give it to her, I think she's earned it. But the reality is it doesn't mean he is a bigot. It doesn't mean that he was a protester. It doesn't mean that he is out there with the white supremacists.
SANDERS: I want to be really clear because I don't want anyone to misconstrue my words on this panel. At no time did I suggest that the President of the United States was a bigot or racist or a white nationalist protester.
But one, I want to be clear. It is really important, words matter. Congressman, the reason you were able to do all of these rea great things you just talked about and help be on the front lines if you will is because people way back when in history, Presidents of this Congress used intentional language, felt called out white supremacy and bigotry when they saw it.
People did not hide behind statements and podiums. They stood on the front lines for what they believed in and they stood up for folks terrorized in their communities, people whom look like me.
The current President of the United States is not doing that and we have to hold him accountable. You should hold him accountable. I am happy to see folks like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush stand up and call this what it is. And I would hope that President Trump heeds their advice and takes their lead and follows behind them.
CABRERA: Jack, I will gave you the first words so I will get Symone the last. Got to get in and get a break. Thank you very much for staying on top of this breaking story.
We will be back right after this.
[19:37:44] CABRERA: We continue our breaking news coverage on the deadly hate-based violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, today. It ended with a car plowing into a group of counter-protesters who were marching into the street.
I want to bring in Republican representative Dave Brat who is joining us on the phone now to discuss.
And congressman, what did you think when you first saw those violent images coming out of your home state today?
REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA (on the phone): Yes. Well, it is right next door. And you are right, I mean, in the first place, I mean, I just want to totally condemn the hatred of the groups there and my son is at UVA. UVA is founded by Thomas Jefferson, one of the icons in our tradition. And James Madison is from my district who wrote the constitution. He went to Princeton seminary. I went to Princeton seminary. St. Paul, to clarify what are provisions stands for because they have provisions. I hope we all -- this informs our doctrine. But St. Paul sums it up well.
In our tradition, there is no black, no white, there is no male and no female. There is no Jew, no Greek. We are all brothers and sisters ultimately.
Today was a disgrace to that tradition. And I want to be very clear. Some people (INAUDIBLE), we aren't being clear. I want to be very clear. The KKK is not doing love. They are doing hatred and opposition. When it comes to fascism and neo-Nazism, the Nazis, I sense people know this when I make remarks and statements on this. I taught global extradition, I thought economic justice for 20 years. Nazism, Adolf Hitler claimed to be the third link, the third rightful, the first holy one. He painted himself as the third coming of Jesus Christ. It can't get any more clear. This is evil on earth.
CABRERA: Where do you think this is coming from in this day and age, congressman?
BRAT: I know, it's unbelievable. And passion of them for like in a big federal state. As Republican, I'm a small government guy with Jefferson and Madison. We are opposed 100 percent to the ideas, the hatred and the philosophy behind the movement.
CABRERA: Where do you think this is coming from in Virginia right now where these people chose to gather? Why in this day and age of hundreds, possibly thousands promoting white nationalists views?
[19:40:05] BRAT: Well, I don't know. I saw my colleague Tom Jerick (ph) from the district saying he doesn't people most people on the district for sure. And probably not from Virginia. These, we don't know that. And that is what is wrong, right? We have just people on liquid courage right behind key boards who are going to full my Facebook right now full of hate. I'm trying to be just as constructive as I can full calling on us all to love one another and there's hatred coming against me on my Facebook right now as we speak.
CABRERA: I'm sorry to hear that.
BRAT: (INAUDIBLE) right in this country. We should all be positive. I have never ran a negative ad. I have never said a negative statement about anyone. I'm calling on everybody. Get out from behind the key boards, face people face-to-face and we got to make it positive again. This negativity got to come to an end.
CABRERA: I want you to play what Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe said directly to those white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville today. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Congressman, that's a very strong message to purveyors of hate from your governor. Do you think we need to hear something similar from President Trump?
BRAT: Absolutely. I mean, he is in the Judeo-Christian tradition. He is from the strong rule of law. The rule of law is the constitution. So I hope he comes down in the strongest possible terms and I think he will. And so I haven't followed all of his comments today. But I heard him condemning the violence and this is not the way we live together. This isn't the way we work together and I think we all believe that. And so the governor is correct. I'm trying to be as strong as I can. But I urge, go out to my Facebook right now and see what's coming in against me for making statements that say we should love one another.
CABRERA: We will do that. Just to be clear, you do believe that it would be important for the President to call out white supremacists issue these racist bigots who have come here and have been emboldened to have this event today in Virginia?
BRAT: Well, absolutely. And that's what I mean. It is interesting that the mainstream media. At my town hall, to answer your question, but I got yelled at my 700 people swearing at me and no callout from the media about to my senators who are Democrats in my state say, do you condone the hatred? (INAUDIBLE) want this, not Democrats. But we saw last -- booed the preacher, (INAUDIBLE), yell at me, swore at me and never a statement, you know, from the governor or my Democrat friends on that.
So yes, the President needs to come out 100 percent. We used to have a social contract. It wasn't partisan. But we need a social contract that unifies us across race, gender. Everybody needs to love one another period. And so that goes without saying, right. The President needs to come out in the strongest terms to condemn fascism, the neo-Nazis, the KKK. It's straightforward, right. Fascism is a large, big enterprise. We are all opposed to.
CABRERA: You said the President and you haven't followed all his remarks today. You paraphrased a little bit about what we have heard. But you probably know the President has been criticized following his remarks a few hours ago because he didn't say the words you are saying which is calling out the KKK, Nazis, white supremacists saying that there's no place for those groups in our country. The President was not strong. He did not say any of the above language that you just said yourself. Is that a problem?
BRAT: Well, I think, I mean, I think we are getting a little too political here.
CABRERA: But wait a minute. What's political about saying a hate group is a hate group and there's no place for that in this country? I'm not trying to be political about it, but that's, as the leader of this country, the President has an opportunity to follow up on the remarks too assuming he's seen the criticism and people who may be misunderstood the President. That could have certainly been the case, but the fact the President did say those words, some people were offended by his remarks.
BRAT: Yes. If I could answer you, I will try to answer you. From my statement, sometimes we put out a remark right when we see the event on television. He will come out, right. When you see neo-Nazis, there's no one friendlier to the Jewish community and to the Israel than this President. So some of us just assume that everybody knows that this is an abomination to us all. We assume that. We don't think we have to say, we are against Nazi. I mean, that is (INAUDIBLE). This media political diatribe of going back and forth. When we say we are for freedom and liberty and equal treatment under the law, we think we are saying what needs to be said. And it's just striking today that you have to come out and say, you are against the KKK and against Nazi. Right?
[19:45:39] CABRERA: I guess the main reason for having to come out and say it is because, again, it's baffling this day and age for a lot of people to see this event being held with such great numbers. The southern poverty law center, they anticipated with the numbers expected somewhere between 2,000 to 6,000 people were the estimates. We don't know the final count that showed up today, but they said it would be the largest hate gathering of its kind in decades.
BRAT: Right. And so what we all need, let's get productive. So we could talk back and forth on politics. Let's be productive now. In K-12 education, I thought ethics for 20 years, (INAUDIBLE) Ph.D. in economics. What are we teaching the kids in K-12? What is the good? What is the right? And unfortunately, kids graduate from high school, they don't know the answer. We are not educating our kids on the fundamental rights we know and believe in. So let's be constructive right and let's define that.
What tradition, do we all believe in the constitution? Yes. Are all people created equally, endowed by their creator with equal rights? Yes. Are we teaching that in the schools now? No.
So I hope we come out of this negativity. And I hope we have a positive vision now. Let's get picky. I wrote a book called "American Underdog." I ended the book with what I called the end of the western tradition. That's not a good thing. And it ended in my view with Martin Luther King. That was the end of the Judeo-Christian tradition when we took philosophy seriously. And he was the icon at the end of that still has the positive hopeful education and spirit. And he is the guy we all ought to be looking at today. We judge people by the content of the character, not by the color of their skin.
BRAT: I don't think I could be any more clear in the comments, but we need to get back to that Ph.D. in theology.
CABRERA: Congressman, let me read you another comment from one of your Republican colleagues, Republican senator Oren Hatch who has been in the Senate longer than anybody.
We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.
Those are very strong remarks. People are passionate. Is the President showing that same level of passion?
BRAT: I hope he does. I haven't seen all the clips today. I have been trying to keep up as much as I can. But I think he will. I don't think there's any -- and I just said, sometimes actions, right? If you look at his stance on Israel and the Jewish community, there's no one stronger. I went to Israel last year. He is beloved there.
CABRERA: Then I think that's why it's so baffling that he hasn't been super direct.
BRAT: Right. And he should be. He should be. In the first place, it's not clear who exactly all these groups are, right. These alt right things?
CABRERA: These groups made it very clear what they were planning to do there. They put it out there well in advance.
BRAT: Right, and there's so many of these crazy groups, I don't even know what they believe, right? I mean, it's hard to deal with irrationality. One of the things Jefferson and Madison came out of was enlightenment, human reason. We need to get back to that tradition and all that make each other use rational language in public. None of the negativity and stuff. And so these groups, they --
CABRERA: So Congressman Brat, let me ask you what you can do because you keep on bringing about to we need to have unity. We need to show leadership. What are you planning to do moving forward to prevent something like this from happening again?
BRAT: Well, my whole life has been dedicated to that, right? I mean, I went to seminary.
CABRERA: I can appreciate that, but can you give us tangible action stuff?
BRAT: Let me answer the question. You cut me off when I get to the substance. What I'm going to do is make sure that we never get a government again that could be taken over at the federal level by Hitler. Right? The Catholic Church and the protestant church in the '40s in Germany was -- I wrote about that. You could go Google (INAUDIBLE). Because I'm willing to say what needs to be said. So what we need to do is get back to philosophy and the Judeo-Christian tradition and the rule of law. That's what my whole life has been so that can never happen again. And the way that it happen was he took over the federal government and he had weakness underneath him. So what can I do? I can make sure we never let that happen again.
[19:50:20] CABRERA: Let me read you this tweet from Marco Rubio saying nothing patriotic about Nazis, the KKK or white supremacists. It's the direct opposite of what America seeks to be, #Charlottesville. I'm hearing you say the same sort of things. It seems like there's an outpouring of remarks from you, and your Republican colleagues calling a spade a spade, and yet, we have not seen that from the President of the United States, congressman.
BRAT: Well, I don't think I can be any more clear. I hope he comes out in the strongest terms. It's a no-brainer. This is a 180 opposition to everything that's made us great, right. The Judeo- Christian tradition and the rule of law pretty much. That's it. That's the western cannon.
St. Paul, again, there's no Jew, no Greek, no male, no female, no black, no white. It doesn't just any clearer. I know Trump live in that tradition. I hope he comes out and names it right there.
And then you got Jefferson and Montello (ph), the founder of UVA and Madison, most proud, (INAUDIBLE). They were most proud of their statutes on religious toleration. But coming out (INAUDIBLE). They set us up on a great project. Now it is ours. And we have to save it and maintain it.
CABRERA: So very quickly, what lesson should be the takeaway if the President is watching right now?
BRAT: What I just said. I think we are unified on that ideologically, right. The Judeo-Christian tradition, even the Presbyterian tradition. So Madison who went to Princeton seminary (INAUDIBLE). The rule of law. Madison wrote the constitution. Jefferson in on a frame, he is strong on that. Free market freedom, never a centralized government. But I hope he comes out and just names it all. Hit the homerun. And we need to unify. But everybody talks about unity, right. But in K-12 education, that is where we define the life of a mind for the next generation.
CABRERA: OK, I'm sorry. I think we are going down a little bit of rabbit hole here. I'm a little confused how we jumped to that.
I have to take a quick break. Congressman Brat, I really do appreciate your time. Thank you very for joining us here on CNN and providing some leadership in your state.
We will be right back.
[19:54:48] CABRERA: Our breaking new this hour, violence in Virginia. After a speeding car plowed into a crowd of people during in already chaotic citywide protest, one another person was killed at the scene. Virginia's governor declaring a state of emergency. President Trump spoke out condemning the hatred and bigotry on display.
I want to bring back David Gergen. And he of course has been advisor to four presidents, Democrat and Republicans.
David you say Presidents have consistently stood up for what's best for this country. Is the President doing that today in his response to the violence in gentlemen of the
[19:55:25] GERGEN: Let's be very clear about the tradition going back some 70 years when there have been clear tests about moral leadership with regard to race and equal justice for all citizens.
President after President has come down on the side of justice and advancement of minorities. President Eisenhower during the 1950s, you know, sent troops to little rock. He was reluctant to do that but he thought it was right for the country, probably not good for politics. But it was very, very important.
John Kennedy was reluctant to support Martin Luther King in the beginning. But after the March in 1963 in (INAUDIBLE), he called martin Luther King to the White House. He embraced the views of Dr. King and put forward civil rights legislation.
Lyndon Johnson, you know grew up in a segregated Texas. And for many, many years, he was a son of Texas. But when he became President, he passed the test with flying colors. One of the biggest contributions of his life, the civil rights acts of 1964 and 65. That's been a consistent tradition.
This is a test now for Donald Trump. So far I think he has fallen short. And so s have been discussed here again and again, can he turn it around? Yes, I think he has still a moment to do that. I hope he reflects on how he leads this country. If he really wants us to unite, he has to stand firmly against hatred and he has to do it publicly. If he really wants to us unite, he has to run a more coherent and bipartisan administration that reaches out to people and not simply serve his base. He has become a divisive President. He cannot unify the country if he remains divisive. So I think this is an important moment for us as a country. It is also an important moment for the President.
CABRERA: What is the political risk of not making a more strong statement against specifically white supremacists, Nazis, racism?
GERGEN: I think it is a good question. I must say, I think that on Sunday we have seen these pictures, these horrific pictures coming out of Charlottesville, the hatred. We are in danger of coming apart as a people now. We are not unifying. We are moving in just the other direction. That's the danger if he doesn't move. If he simply, you know, side steps all of this and just treats it as something of yesterday and, you know, let's go back to the economy. I think he is missing a moment when, you know, views are going to harden on both sides. The white supremacists have already taken heart some things he said today. He must move against that. But he also has to reach out to people who are not in his base and convince them that he really truly means what he says. And he is speaking from his heart if he wants to unify us.
CABRERA: So when you talk about him falling short, as have been discussed, I'm curious how you see it. Why do you think he has fallen short in his response so far?
GERGEN: Well, I think this has been -- I don't think this is a dog whistle territory. I think dog whistle or something that subtle. This is not subtle at all. He has made it very. Very clear by equating the violence on both sides as being sort of equivalent to each other, a false equivalence of (INAUDIBLE) as Van Jones was talking about earlier. You know, he has made it very clear that he is going to defend to the extent that he feels he can, people who are radical extremists. And I think that is a terrible mistake on his part.
You know, we often know what Donald Trump really thinks. In foreign affairs, you know, he consistently nails people say in Venezuela or in Europe or in China, what have you. But it's solicitous of Putin. And here on this issue, you know, when we have protests in the street and around his inauguration, he called them out and he said they were thugs and said they were professional anarchists. And here he is won't say. He is reluctant to say we have extremists who committed a terrorist act today when the driver drove his car in the middle of those protesters.
You know, he has got to - you can't have it both ways. You have to be very consistent as President in order to persuade people that your heart is in the right place.
CABRERA: David Gergen, we always appreciate you. Thank you for being here.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us as we continue our breaking news coverage out of Virginia, the end of a very tense, very violent day. And as we have now learned, a deadly day. It started with furious clashes in the streets of the college town in Charlottesville --.