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Trump Under Fire For Refusing To Condemn White Supremacists; Car Ramming Suspect Due In Court Today. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired August 14, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:00:06] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Nobody is arguing with their right is, just because they have right, it doesn't make it right and this is about moral leadership from the President.
BRUNELL DONALD-KYEI, FORMER VICE CHAIR OF DIVERSITY OUTREACH FOR THE NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITON FOR TRUMP: Correct.
CUOMO: But Professor, final word to you.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR "TEARS WE CANNOT STOP: A SERMON TO WHITE AMERICA": Yes, yes. This false equivalency that's been introduced this morning is part and parcel of the problem. Our guests -- our other guest's viewpoint reenforces the status quo which reenforces white supremacy.
And your point is that, look, there's no false equivalency between those who opposed to hate and those who full minute. Those who are articulated conception of American democracy that is full and vibrant versus those who are narrow and pinched in their conception of what it is.
That's why even a black person can reenforce white supremacist ideology while people who are white can undermine it. And what we have to understand, it's not about white versus black, it's about right versus wrong. White supremacist ideology undercuts the value of American democracy for all of us.
And unless the President stands up to suggest that, this notion that Black Lives Matter on one hand and white supremacist groups on the other are equal, is part and parcel of what we have to fighting in this country, and until he says that. We will continue to have this problem in America, a domestic terrorism.
CUOMO: All right. An ugly situation to be sure.
DONALD-KYEI: Extremist on both side is wrong.
CUOMO: An ugly --
DONALD-KYEI: Extremism it doesn't matter.
DYSON: Martin Luther King, Jr. said extremists for good, extremists for evil. Extremist for good, extremist for evil.
CUOMO: Brunell, Professor. This is an ugly situation. It demands conversation and I'm happen that we're able to have some of it here this morning. Thank you to you both.
All right, there's a lot of news to get after. The President is up and tweeting, going after people he thinks he needs to be criticized. Is it the neo-Nazis? No. Why not? Let's get after it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car just plowed into an enormous crowd of people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are concussed, people are bleeding everywhere.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand what he meant by both sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is being moved into chaos by people on both sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both sides are not using ISIS tactics, mowing people down with cars in the streets of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect appeared to be infatuated with Nazi propaganda even in high school.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We have no tolerance for hate and violence by white Supremacists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need the president to determine in this country that this will not be accepted, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning and welcome to your "NEW DAY." Alisyn is off, Poppy Harlow joins me. Thank you very much for that.
President trump refused to condemn hate groups by name, and that continues. He's up this morning. He's tweeting, but not talking about this. Republicans and Democrats are blasting the President's response to the deadly violence sparked by white supremacists in Virginia.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Now the Vice President Mike Pence is defending the President while at the same time saying what the President seems incapable of saying, at least yet, single out white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK by name.
Meantime, the suspect accused of driving his car into that crowd and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer will be arraigned this morning. We have it all cover. Let's begin over CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Bridgewater, New Jersey near with President is. And you have more breaking details on what the President plans to do next.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. President Trump is traveling to Washington a little bit later this morning for a brief visit, interrupting his working vacation here.
But I am told by a White House official that the President is expected to address the Charlottesville attack in some form. He's not planning on holding a press conference as he suggested he would late last week, but he is planning on addressing this. When I asked this official, if he planned to condemn the white supremacists directly, they said it's his call.
PENCE: We have no tolerance for hate and violence. White supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK.
ZELENY (voice-over): Vice President Mike Pence doing publicly what President Trump did not over the weekend, directly condemning the white supremacists by name after the deadly violence in Charlottesville.
TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
ZELENY (voice-over): The Vice President coming to the President's defense in the face of growing backlash over Mr. Trump's response.
PENCE: President Trump clearly and unambiguously condemned the bigotry, violence and hatred which took place. I take issue with the fact that many in the national media spend more times criticizing the President's words than they did criticizing those who perpetrated the violence to begin with.
[07:05:01] ZELENY (voice-over): The White House releasing the state from unnamed spokesperson on Sunday, 36 hours after the protest began, insisting President Trump's comments decrying bigotry includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.
Top aides to the President also pushing back on the Sunday shows.
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The President has been very clear. We cannot tolerate this kind of bigotry, this kind of hatred.
TOM BOSSERT, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: The President not only condemned the violence and stood up at a time and moment when calm was necessary and didn't dignify the names of these groups of people but rather addressed the fundamental issue.
ZELENY (voice-over): President Trump ignored multiple questions from reporters after a statement on Saturday. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you want the support of these white national groups, to safe and support you Mr. President? Have you denounced them strongly enough?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE) this is the people, would you call it terrorism sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just aren't seeing leadership from the White House.
ZELENY (voice-over): The President's refusal to denounce the groups by name drawing fierce backlash from his own party.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And I would urge the President to dissuade them of the fact that he's sympathetic to their cause because their cause is hate, it's un-american, they are domestic terrorists and we need more from our President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call this white supremacism, this white nationalism evil and let the country hear it, lets the world hear it. It's something that needs to come from the Oval Office and this White House needs to do it today.
ZELENY: So we will find out in a few hours if the President decides to address this directly from the Oval Office when he's back at the White House.
Now, it's so interesting. We've seen the President be blunt and outspoken when he wants to be. But on Sunday, yesterday, was only the fourth day of his presidency. He did not tweet at all. He's tweeted three times this morning about a variety of topics, so far this attack is not one of them, Poppy.
HARLOW: Not at all. It is confounding to say the least. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.
The Ohio man accused of plowing his car into that crowd of protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer will be arraigned in just a few hours. And this morning we're learning more about him from a teacher who claims he idolized Hitler among other things.
Kaylee Hartung is live in Charlottesville. Good morning Kaylee, you were there to protest. You've been covering this when the beginning. What more do you learned about this man?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy James Alex Fields Jr., will be arraigned just a couple blocks from here at 10:00 a.m. this morning.
We expect this hearing to be very brief. He's being held in the Charlottesville Albemarle regional jail. He will appear in the court room only via video teleconference. A initial charges against him will be read, which include one count of second degree murder among others. And the DOJ and the FBI have also opened to civil rights investigation into that deadly vehicular assault. Investigators will be looking to learn more about Fields' past as they look for his motive. And while his mother said shortly after learning of the charges against her son, she'd never really discussed his political beliefs with him.
We are learning from his high school social studies teacher that this is a man who had radical views on race to idolized Hitler with infatuated studying Nazi history and that of World War II. And U.S. Army confirms where our Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr that in August of 2015 Fields reported for basic training, he didn't meet training requirements and then left the service in December of that same year.
We're also learning more about victim Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman from the Charlottesville area. There was a vigil planned in her honor last night but it was canceled due to perceived threats. Add it mourners continue to lay flowers on the makeshift memorial at the site of that crash.
She was a paralegal for a Charlottesville law firm. Her mother says she was someone always passionate about helping others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF WOMAN KILLED IN CHARLOTTESVILLE: It was important to her to speak up for our people that she felt were not being heard, to speak up when injustices were happening. And she saw in the lives of many of her African-American friends particularly and her gay friends, that's equal rights were not being given.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: And the law enforcement community also mourning the loss of two of their own, it was on helicopter crashed as it was serving the violence in the area on Saturday. Now the barricades that were in this park over the weekend are gone, the streets are open. There's still a lot of healing to do in Charlottesville. Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Kaylee thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Joining us is the mayor of Charlottesville, Michael Signer. Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us this morning.
MICHAEL SIGNER, MAYOR OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Hi Chris.
CUOMO: So we hear that the barricades are down. What do you believe the security situation is in the city?
SIGNER: Well, I mean we are -- let me just tell you about Charlottesville first. We are, you know, still grieving. We spent the weekend doing that but we're getting back to work now. This city is one of the most loving cities in the world I think, we were recently ranked America's most charming city.
[07:10:01] This is a city whose spirit and who's, you know, culture of generosity is supported by this spirit of diversity and tolerance that we have here. We have a major office the International Rescue Committee here, for instance, you've got several hundred immigrate and political refugees from around the world who have settled here. We love them. They are our neighbors.
They happen to mostly be Muslim. We've got a very large historic African-American population here, and something the city can be is called the dialogue on race where the city actually leads us to get together and talk about these challenging issues in the past.
This city is also because of those two things, our generosity and our diversity, we're one of the most successful cities in the country, in our AAA bond rating lowest unemployment of any city in Virginia. We have the highest venture capital rate of any city in Virginia and we just had 50 biotech companies launch an organization here.
My point of saying all this, if they figured they had some city to intimidate away from progress, to intimidate away from the hard work on telling the truth about race in our history as a Southern city, they picked the wrong city.
I think if anything, we're going to come together, we're going to press the gas on all the values that have made us a success story, and I think we're seeing that.
You know as we speak, there were 600 rallies last night around cities in Virginia in support of Charlottesville against this wave of hatred and intelligence and outright bigotry. We saw this weekend, I mean groups like, you know, Nazis and the KKK in our streets feeling comfortable to show their faces? That came to a head in weekend. I think the nation as one rose up and just turned the page on it and it happened here in Charlottesville.
CUOMO: What do you make of the President this morning continuing to not address specifically who was there and what they did, calling out Nazis and white supremacists? Do you think he still needs to do that, or is the moment gone for him?
SIGNER: You know I've already spent enough time talking about Donald Trump. He is our President, with respect. But, you know, I think it speaks for itself. He had his moment. I mean these are times for leadership. He already seems -- thinking about working families and solutions which I have to do all the time as a mayor of a city like this, it just kind of, you know, put action on the table, get things done. He kind of had his opportunity and he whiffed, and I think that speaks for itself.
CUOMO: Let me ask you about something else while I have you here. The situation down there was anticipated to be one thing. The police assessed it as something else, and then it grew into the ugly conflagration that we saw down there.
Do you believe you had the resources in place to deal with that situation, or do you believe you were playing catchup from jump?
SIGNER: Well, let me tell you a couple things. For months this was anticipated to be a very large gathering, and those numbers, those predictions kept on growing and growing and growing. We had on the ground here the largest deployment of law enforcement professionals in Virginia since 9/11. As I understood it, almost 1,000 officers were on the ground. We're a city of 50,000 people surrounded by a county of 120,000. So an area of, you know, couple hundred thousand.
Second thing, because the numbers were looking like they were going to get so large and predictively so violent, so armed, our city manager made a decision last Monday to move the rally to a much larger location where the level of policing could be easier to maintain.
It was a park within city borders of about 100 acres where you could have had two separate groups, protesters and counterprotesters a lot more speech a lot lower likelihood of declaring unlawful assembly which is happening. You know what's happened unfortunately.
This is regrettable in my view, a federal judge at the 11th hour on Friday night, you know, the late hours, the 9:00 and night about right before the day of the rally and joined, prevented the city. Prevented the city manager from moving the rally to what he thought was that much safer area where, you know, those that all those 100 of law enforcing could add an easier time dealing with people who clearly we now know came here for violence, came here for incitement.
So, it was, what it was. You know as it happened, they were force to declare unlawful assembly because there where so much violence. Before the rally even got started, our job as a government is to set the conditions to prepare so that people can peaceably assemble, peaceably express themselves.
And, you know, they didn't even allow that to happen for their own rally.
CUOMO: Well, Mr. Mayor, thank you for the perspective on that. It's one of the continuing questions. And as you start to see what often happens in situation like this, where people don't just condemn the hate, they counter it. As those results come up in your community, let us know. We want to report that as part of story as well.
CUOMO: Thank you for joining us.
[07:15:03] SIGNER: I'll tell you a story right now. Yes, OK. That's where it's going to go.
CUOMO: All right, thank you, Mr. Mayor, I appreciated it.
HARLOW: And we'll have the mayor back in due just that. Our thanks to him.
Let's bring in our panel CNN Political Analyst John Avlon and Karoun Demirjian, and CNN's Political Analyst Ron Brownstein.
So, we've just learned the breaking news from our Jeff Zeleny, John Avlon that the President will speak about Charlottesville later today. And the question become, if he does choose to condemn the racists, if he does choose to call out like even his own vice president has and his daughter has, white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazis, is it too late? Do you judge someone from what they say first?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I'd say it's better late than never. But, you know, it doesn't erase the history. We're dealing with --
HARLOW: You heard the mayor just how quick he had his moment and he whiffed.
AVLON: Yes. And he did. There was a conscious emphasis to not call out neo-Nazis and the KKK and instead to try to broaden the criticism with a moral equivalence that even neo-Nazi sites took as validation of their perspective.
And there's a larger problem here too that I think the President needs to take ownership of as it position as if he wants to be a true leader of the nation rather than leader of a political faction.
Normally the way these things have worked is that we've seen arise in malicious when they were Democratic president particularly over the course, the last 30 years. It was under Clinton, under Obama, the Christian Nationalist, militia movement gets energy from the Democrats when they feel in opposition.
What's stunning about what's happening now that in particular troubling is that these numbers are rising now with a Republican president who some of them feel have empowered them, right?. And you heard David Duke say it from the rally yesterday.
It is never too late to condemn hate, but Trump and his administration can either do a lot of soul searching because a couple of band-aid tweets aren't going to deal with the problem that they have been empowered these folks or seen by these groups as to have been empowered and given them license.
CUOMO: Karoun Demirjian, it would be interesting to hear the President taking opportunity to do a little bit of what John suggesting there, may be even saying why he didn't say it in the first place, maybe even owning a little bit of that. That is not what we have ever seen him do before. It's more likely that he will take a page out of what was given to the vice president, that he was going to attack us and everybody else and suggest he did something wrong.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean the President is not the best at apologizing and saying I'm sorry that, you know, was not communicating that properly or correctly, assuming that he actually it is an agreement with everybody else in the GOO that's criticizing him, right?
It wouldn't be that hard to say, I'm sorry, I didn't choose the right words. But he doesn't do that as a matter of course. And you've seen exact (ph) of it that his surrogates have been pointing to the media. I mean its many people in his own party that have been calling him out with the strongest terms and saying you need to name these people and see what they are. You need to name these groups. It's not doing anybody any favors to not say the words neo-Nazis or white supremacists, please do. And so, I mean, if the President released a statement where he does use those words, it means he heard those criticisms. If he doesn't, it means that his doubling down and making this more about him than the country, which is kind of the problem in first place.
I mean, there's a lot in that statement he made on Saturday that would have been completely laudable. It was just the context in which it was presented by adding that on many sides. And then the self references to him and Barack Obama and everything else that kind of took it away from what the message could have been.
And if he had only then gone the one sentence further to say no, these are the groups that are the problem.
HARLOW: You know, I do think as Karoun just brought Ron, what isn't getting as much attention but it is very important is when he tried to, it seems like, absolve himself of any blame when he said not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, as if he didn't start, you know, his political life, if you will, years before the campaign on birtherism.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, whatever he says now and I think inevitably he will go further. He communicated exactly what he meant to communicate. And we can say that because, you know, he has done this before.
This is exactly what he did around the David Duke issue, the Sunday before the biggest concentration of southern primaries during the Republican contest where he sent the message by what he didn't say and only after the fact, after that message had been sent and received, did he kind of give in to the bipartisan condemnation and mouth the words that everybody was demanding he announce and they do the same thing again.
By the way, what you heard from the Mayor I thought was an incredibly precise encapsulation of the central fault line in American politics. We're talking in the last hour about whether the Trump vote was driven more by economic or demographic and racial unease.
In fact, what you saw was a mayor talking about a community, a university town that is diverse that, you know, prizes tolerance and is also thriving economically with kind of a big biotech. He talk about the big biotech emerges. That's what's happening in many urban centers.
[07:20:01] And then outside of that you have large portion of the country that feel completely left out from both of those trends. And it is there that Trump drew his strongest support. And while there may be a very small percentage of people who align themselves with the views of the KKK or the Nazi party, what you have seen is a reluctance on his part to isolate those groups because there's a continuum of Americans who aren't easy about demographic changing. From the beginning he has appealed most strongly to them.
CUOMO: Well, I've got to tell you, just from where he grew where just same place that I grew up, I can't believe the President of the United States, Ron, can look at his Twitter feed this morning and look at people who are supporting him, and how they're supporting white supremacy, and how they're supporting thing have make, you know, a mockery of what this country about and not come out, even if he was somewhat shamed into it. And say these people need to stay away from me, they're not who I'm about.
But we'll see. Thank you very much, lady and gentlemen. Appreciate it.
Calling for this to happen, for the President to come out, it's not just about the media, it's not about the left, its not about the right. It's about a whole group coming at the President.
We're going to talk to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. They're going to talk about what is simply not OK in America next.
[07:25:14] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Lawmakers on both of side of the isle calling on President Trump to denounce white supremacist and other extreme group like the KKK and neo-Nazis. Will he do that today. We know he will discuss it.
Joining me Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, he is the ranking member of the foreign relation committee. It's not to have you here Senator. And we've the President well talk about what happen in Charlottesville.
Unclear though if he will denounce the racist, the neo-Nazis, the KKK, the white Supremacists by name. What is your response to what the President has chosen to say and not say thus far?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well Poppy, first, it's good to be with you. The President has to be clear this is about moral clarity. What happen in Virginia was a tragedy. It was act of terror by white Supremacists and he needs to very specific about those responsible for that tragedy.
HARLOW: So what he does today Senator, is it enough, right? Because the question becomes the measure of the man, the President who represent this country to the world and did he mean what he said at the off right away? Or what he later says after this condemnation from members of both parties?
CARDIN: Well, there's no question in this opportunity by the President. And he's reactions have been I think very problematic in many times. The things that he does not say or the things that he leads off the table.
Look, the President of the United of States needs to be very, very clear about how we will not tolerate white Supremacists or the KKK or neo-Nazis. These are hate groups and he's got to clear about that. And yes, now if he changes that's why at least he made it clear but it was a missed opportunity. And we see this happening way too often with President Trump.
HARLOW: You know whose praising him and he know this stuff. He reads Twitter all the time and he sees these statements. You have this neo- Nazi website the Daily Storm are saying his comments were good. He said he loves us all. He refuse to answer a question about white Nationalist supporting him.
No condemnation at all when asked to condemn he just walk out of the room really good, really good. God left him.
That's from a neo-Nazi website praising the President.
CARDIN: You can't help with other people will say or extremist say. But the President needs a separated himself from these groups. And he missed that opportunity. So he's got to be very, very clear about who's responsible for the tragedy of Virginia. Our hearts go out to families that were victimized by this act of terror.
But you got to call what it is. And he missed that opportunity. So, moving forward I would hope that the President would be much more sensitive to these types of issues and show leadership. But I must tell you I have not seen that at all. Didn't see it during the campaign and that's not seen during his first month since President.
This clarity about our values in this county and that's disturbing. This country strengthen in our diversity and he certainly distance himself from the traditional values of America.
HARLOW: Do you believe that this is at all being push as well, not to observe the President of any responsibility. But do you believe there are those around him that are in his ear are pushing this. Now you had former White House Communications director Anthony Scarmucci yesterday in an interview calling it Bannon-bart stuff has to go.
And then you have Sebastian Gorka an adviser to the President who said this in an early interview this month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's this constant. Oh, it's the white man. It's the white supremacists. That's the problem. No, isn't Maggie Haberman. Go to Sinjar. Go to Middle East and tell me what the real problem is today. Go to Manchester.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Are there people around the President, close to the President making this increasingly problematic.
CARDIN: Do the President responsible for the policies of development of the administration, and his policies of immigration. His policies on civil rights, his policy as it relates to these of acts of violence. It shows his lack of commitment to the values of America, and that is extremely disturbing. I don't blame that are around him, the President has made these judgments.
HARLOW: His lack of commitment to the values of America. Just before we go Senator, just as American citizen, how do you feel this Monday morning?
CARDIN: Well, first of all, I'm saddened by what happened in Virginia. This is a tragic moment for our country where see the acting out of violence. I want to see our leaders speak out very clearly and strongly against this form of hate and be willing to identify those responsible and take action to prevent this from happening and making it clear that this is not acceptable in this country.
[07:30:10] It's not about political support of any one group.