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Trump's New Retweets Fan Flames Around Race Response; Three CEOs Quit Trump Jobs Council Over Charlottesville; Trump's New Retweets Fan Flams Around Race Response; Confederate Statues, Monuments Targeted Across U.S.; Dad Writes Damning Letter To Son Who Attended Racist Rally. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 15, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, John. Hello, everyone. I am Kate Bolduan. President Trump is back where it all began today, back in his New York apartment for the first time since inauguration, but his political baggage, not far behind.
Crowds of protests greeted his arrival at Trump Tower railing against his initial refusal to call out the white hate groups behind the deadly weekend rally in Charlottesville.
Even the president's second try yesterday when he explicitly denounced the KKK and neo-Nazis did very little to tamp down the outrage. Three major leaders in corporate America have now stiff armed the president quitting the presidential advisory panel in protest.
Overnight, symbols of the confederacy in multiple states being pulled down in protest as well.
Let's begin with Jeff Zeleny who is outside Trump Tower right now here in New York. So, Jeff, the president may not have spoken yet today, but he is not keeping quiet on Twitter, to say the least. Things posted, things deleted, what's going on?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Well, the president, yesterday, delivered that address from the White House by teleprompter, a carefully scripted response to the events of the weekend in Charlottesville, a much-delayed response.
Well, today, he is tweeting up a storm. It does not appear that there is a teleprompter on his account. He was going essentially a bit of a different message today than yesterday when he called the hate rally over the weekend repugnant.
He called out these groups individually. Kate, today, he started out last night actually by retweeting a tweet from a known conspiracy theorist, who has gone after a variety of hoaxes in the country from pizza-gate in Washington to other matters. He retweeted that.
And then, the president also essentially blamed the media for his response -- the criticism for his response to the Charlottesville rally over the weekend. Finally, he retweeted and deleted a cartoon, as you can see here, of a Trump train driving over a -- or riding over a CNN reporter.
The White House did respond to that. An official told us that it was inadvertently posted as soon as it was noticed, it was deleted. Of course, that is the president's Twitter account that is run by the president.
Dan Scamino (ph), one of his assistants there. So, clearly, the president not being quiet today in Trump Tower, stewing a bit over the still controversial reaction to his Charlottesville speech.
Again, you mentioned earlier, those three CEOs from his manufacturing counsel resigned and the White House trying to keep them in check. Later today, Kate, the president is going to be meeting with key officials to talk about infrastructure.
We'll be hearing from him this afternoon in the lobby of the Trump Tower behind me. He will be making one of the speeches that he made so often during the campaign. Several White House officials are here.
Steve Bannon is not here, the White House chief strategist. He has an uncertain future as the president goes forward on this working vacation here in New York City -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Seems like old times. Press conferences in the lobby of Trump Tower. Jeff Zeleny, great to see you.
As Jeff was talking, while President Trump is in New York, two more CEOs have now defected from Trump's manufacturing jobs council, delivering a stiff rebuke to the president's response to the Charlottesville violence.
The leaders of Intel and Under Armour announced their decisions last night following the CEO of drug maker, Merck. All citing concerns over the nation's divisive political climate, though, none of them calling the president out by name.
CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, has a closer look.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kate, these are the companies who advise the president on his manufacturing council. These are companies, a trade union, a trade group, a trade lobby. These are the voices helping the president make manufacturing great again in this country.
But now you have three notable CEOs who are leaving, the Merck CEO, Intel CEO, and Under Armour CEO. They say the president's response to Charlottesville was not good enough and in fact, they are not going to be advising this president anymore.
This is what the president said right away about the CEO of Merck, Ken Frazier. He shot back very quickly via Twitter, "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from the president's manufacturing council, he will have more time to lower rip off drug prices."
Many noted business leaders remarking that quite frankly the president reacted more swiftly to Ken Frazier leaving his board than he did to white supremacists in Charlottesville.
Here are the companies who are staying. There's a big social media push, by the way, to get Campbell's Soup to leave that. You can see that online. These are the companies who have said they are staying.
Interesting, a few of these are off the list, though. These have had management changes, the red there, and the Tesla CEO, you might recall, after the president backed out of the Paris Climate Accord, he left.
He is no longer advising this president. So, what does it mean, really? You know, the president we are told have been reaching out today trying to encourage CEOs to stay on his board.
[11:05:11] But this is what Larry Somers, who advised a Democratic president on these issues has to say, "Any CEO who thinks attending a meeting, a monthly advisory meeting, is moving the nation is engaged in egotistical self-delusion of a higher order."
He is advocating for all of these CEOs to leave the president's advisory council -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Christine, great to see you. Thanks so much for laying it out.
All right. Joining me now to discuss all of this is Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, and Georgetown professor and author, Michael Eric Dyson. His latest book is "Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon To White America."
Gentlemen, great to see you. Thanks for coming in. Treasurer, first to you. What do you think of these CEOs and their announcement?
JEFF DEWIT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: Is that to me? Sorry. I thought it was to the other guy.
BOLDUAN: No, go ahead.
DEWIT: I'm sorry. You know, first I will say that hate, bigotry, and racism have no place in America. Diversity is our strength. It's what makes America great is we are a melting pot of every race, religion, orientation. That is our strength and what we need to carry forward.
So, everyone should be denouncing these groups like the KKK and white supremacy groups, the neo-Nazi. They are awful and despicable, and have no place in America. When you look at the groups departing the manufacturing council, it makes me sad that they don't want a voice in this discussion.
I would think that if people don't like the way the discussion is going, they would line up to get more involved, not be less involved. So, I think it is sad that people are removing themselves from the discussion.
And part of it I think is because the discussion is being so politicized, but there should be nothing political about the fact that hate, bigotry, and racism have no place in America.
BOLDUAN: Do you think that these CEOs and their companies should be attacked by the president on Twitter for their decisions?
DEWIT: Well, again, I think a lot of people are disappointed in the fact that they choosing to remove themselves from such an important discussion instead of trying to be involved. I mean, what our country needs --
BOLDUAN: Do you think that President Trump should attack Kenneth Frazier on Twitter for his decision?
DEWIT: Well, you know, it's certainly nothing I would have done. But again, it's just the fact that we need to come together and we need everyone to be involved in the discussion to figure out, finally, how to solve this for our country and move forward as united people.
BOLDUAN: Michael, yesterday, you said -- I want to read you, you know what you said, but for our viewers, what you said in response to the president's remarks after his clarification, his additional remarks he made about what happened in Charlottesville.
You said the fact that it took him two days to be forced and coerced into saying this, it brings false and you also said these are hollow words. The president not responding directly to you, but to the sentiment in a tweet saying that #fakenews will never be satisfied, truly bad people, he wrote. Michael, is that the case?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "TEARS WE CANNOT STOP: A SERMON TO WHITE AMERICA": The case is that we know who the bad person is. It's the person at the head of the food chain, so to speak. In disagreement with my fellow guest here, respectfully, when you are in a marriage and a domineering male who is abusing his partner, and she should stay to try to argue her case or leave, the divorce is necessary.
These people who are on the manufacturing council understand that if they stay they are not part of any significant conversation. His daughter can't stop him from tweeting. His daughter can't move the needle of his own conscience. What will these, if you will, temporary advisers do?
They make a bigger splash, a bigger echo of their conscience by removing themselves from this council. They have no power. They have no strength. They have no influence.
What they are suggesting is that their removal from this particular, if you will, atmosphere of bigotry is a bigger statement about the values they embrace and ci significantly enhance their bottom line.
The president, himself is a radically immature person who is incapable of engaging people who disagree with him. He is attacking Ken Frazier? Why did you have him on the counsel if what he was doing is what you claimed he was doing. So now your immaturity manifests itself, and now we see why these CEOs if they are responsible to the bottom line, to fiscal integrity and to the broader, if you will, moral sweep of this nation must disavow this president and distance themselves from this acrimonious bigotry that we see manifest.
BOLDUAN: Treasure, is the president's anger here at all misplaced? I mean, he's attacking the news media for covering bipartisan outrage over his failure initially to condemn not the ideology. Is this anger misplaced when he says that the fake news is never going to be satisfied?
[11:10:05] DEWIT: You know, let's not forget that the first response the president had on the same day of these awful tragic events was that he denounced all forms of hate and bigotry. He said that.
When he was criticized because, you know, the media criticized because he didn't name the groups. But he did come out and denounced all forms of hate and bigotry --
BOLDUAN: It wasn't the media, it was elected Republicans who said that he did not go far enough. Those are the people that you should be responding to. What do you say to your fellow Republican Lindsey Graham? I mean, I'm not going to go through the list. Cory Gardner, all of them saying the president did not go far enough in denouncing hate groups. What do you say to them?
DEWIT: Well, I say, that I don't know if any of us can ever go far enough in denouncing hate and bigotry. I don't think there is a far enough. The fact that --
BOLDUAN: OK, then the president didn't go far enough.
DEWIT: -- this country that believes those awful things. We all need to be denouncing that. So, I don't know --
BOLDUAN: So the president didn't go far enough in his initial statement, correct?
DEWIT: I'm saying I don't know that any of us can go far enough because we have to fight like crazy, as a country to come together to push these hateful ideologies like the KKK and white supremacists out of our country. We moved -- we need to come together and there's never a time that we can ever say --
DYSON: If the president --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Michael.
DYSON: If the president had said what you just said, if the president said what you just said, then that would be far enough because he would, number one, enunciate clearly what he is opposing.
Two, articulate the groups that he is opposed to. Three, cite their vicious ideology in specific fashion as he has warned us to do in other cases of terror, and then four, call it an active domestic terrorism.
His failure to do so suggests that he is incapable of imagining a country where the division of race is being (inaudible) by the very bully pulpit that he occupies. So, his lack of courage to say, look, this is wrong, this is what I think is wrong. This is what we have to do about it is part of the failure of the moral imagination of this president.
Let's be honest, since he tweets what is on his mind and says clearly all the time what is on his mind, that's not on his mind. He is not as disturbed by the acrimony, bigotry and hate that we see manifest in our country as many others are. Shame on him for that.
We have to stop making excuses as our guest is making for a president who is a fully-grown man. Grow up. Take responsibility for your actions. Republicans and conservatives are always telling us in this nation, pull yourself up by your bootstrap, be responsible for what you do.
And yet you make excuse after excuse for a full-grown man, who is intemperate and violates the fundamental principles of American democracy and decorum that should occupy that highest office in the land.
DEWIT: I didn't hear myself making excuses for anybody, but I will tell you this and the reason I agree to came on and talk about this topic is that I know the president personally and I know what is in his heart.
And I know that he is a man, who is a loving man, who wants to bring the country together, and there is no racism in his heart. It kills me to hear the people come on tv and say that he is what he is not.
I will tell you that he is not someone with hate in his heart and not a racist. He wants to see opportunity for every American of every background in this country have a chance to succeed.
That's what he is. He is a businessman first that wants to see jobs and the economy do better in this country. So, that's why I agreed to come on and talk about such a hard topic is I know what is in his heart because I know this man, and he is a good man.
BOLDUAN: Well, this is what I wonder, though. You talk about he is not racist --
DYSON: Prosecuting the birther of Obama, was that in his heart when he was making racist comments about the first black president of the United States of America. Was that in his heart when he attacked Mexicans as rapists? Was that in his heart when he has prosecuted a war against transgender people?
So, you say, you know what's in his heart. It's not what's in his heart that makes a different. It's what's on his mouth and public policy and public statements that make a difference here.
It's not his personal sentiment and his emotions which are private, it's his public expression of reprehensible emotions against vulnerable people. That's the problem we have with the president of the United States of America.
BOLDUAN: In the face --
DEWIT: You are ignoring the countless times he's denounced those very things. You're ignoring that.
BOLDUAN: Ignoring the countless times he's denounced what?
DEWIT: That he's denounced racism and the times that he stood up for Americans of all backgrounds -- you're ignoring all of that.
BOLDUAN: I don't know if we would put it in the category of countless, though. We don't need go back and relitigate how long it actually took Donald Trump to get to a place where he begrudgingly denounced David Duke and racists like him. I don't think we need to go back to that time.
OK, silence. Great. Perfect. Let me go on. I'm sorry. What, Jeff?
[11:10:05] DEWIT: There are old interviews from Donald Trump from decades ago where he's denounced those very things. He denounced it over and over.
BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. That was 2016 when he refused to denounce it.
DEWIT: But there are interviews from before that where he had already denounced it and people forget those.
BOLDUAN: Right. There's always a tweet for everything you can find on his Twitter feed that contradicts almost every position the president takes today and the White House tells us to believe what the president says today. Which are we going to go with now, Jeff?
DEWIT: I'm sorry, tell me what thing, what tweet he made that does not denounce hate and bigotry in this country because he has said so very clearly that that's where he stands on the issue. What tweet has said the opposite?
BOLDUAN: Go back to the David Duke interviews. All the interviews --
DEWIT: You just said he had tweeted something recently that said the opposite. That's not the case.
BOLDUAN: I was talking about how there is almost -- on many issues that the president takes a stand on. Today, there is a tweet that contradicts. It's a constant segment in almost every news.
DYSON: We are told to --
BOLDUAN: It is not a -- what I'm saying is not a controversial thing. This is fact checking. I want to give one final question to both of you.
Treasurer, why did the president, when we talk about how to bring the country together, right? You say you know what is in the president's heart and he is not racist and has love in his heart, and he wants to bring everyone together.
Why then just days after this hit and run that killed this woman, why did the president tweet, it has nothing to do with CNN, let's be honest, why did the president tweet an image of a train running over an image of a news organization like CNN?
How does that bring the country together? They deleted it, so they knew it was wrong. How does that bring the country together?
DEWIT: Well, again, you know, I think some of it is just the frustration that no matter what statement he makes it seems like there are people that are trying to politicize the issue and no matter what he does, they want to attack him.
What we should be attacking are these groups, these terrible, terrible groups that are perpetrating hate and bigotry in this country. That's where we need to focus anger and attacks.
The hyper politicization of our society right now is what's tearing us apart. We need to come together. You know, I think that some of these things may be the anger of the American people. He didn't create that. I'm sure it has a bunch of retweets.
BOLDUAN: You and I retweet something, it doesn't carry the weight when a president retweets something.
DEWIT: I'm sorry, I haven't seen that, I don't know.
BOLDUAN: I can explain to you exactly, it's a train and it's hitting an image of a CNN image on a human body. That's what he is doing. The White House now say they have deleted it because it was inadvertently posted and then deleted. That's my point.
DEWIT: If they came out and took care of it, then I think that answers itself.
BOLDUAN: Great. Michael, final thought. In general, do you allow the possibility -- do you allow for the possibility that the president can evolve on the issue of race? A lot of folks allowed for the possibility of President Obama evolving on certain issues. Do you allow the possibility of this president to evolve on the issue of race?
DYSON: The reason people believed that Obama could evolve on race is because Obama proved to be a highly intelligent, immensely cerebral, you know, extraordinarily poetic president, who was able to touch basis with common human beings in understanding their crisis and their predicament.
So, yes, even if you disagreed with him, he was a stable personality, who was able to listen to the other side, reach across the aisle in order to try to achieve some kind of comity or balance in American politics. This president, as our guest has shown today by the excuses he's made for him is a man who wants to traffic and excuse mongering even as he excoriates those through the discourse of political correctness, who he feels are sensitive to victims in this country.
The bottom line is, Donald Trump is not to be believed because he has exhibited no basic fundamental premise of human decency or political awareness of the other side, and those who are victims, he is an immature adolescent president who can't grow up.
We are seeing him tow a temper tantrum every morning when he gets on his Twitter and says whatever is on his mind. No discipline. No deferred gratification, just the immediacy of his belief.
That is a danger, not only for this country, but for the world. Certainly, if we are talking about somebody who can lead us morally and politically down a pathway that would unite the races and those who are divided, he is certainly not the figure that we can trust.
[11:20:02] BOLDUAN: In short, Michael does not leave over that possibility. I do want to make point out the very important point here as I close. Treasurer, I really appreciate your strong statement condemning these hate groups as an important point.
I want to make sure we have on there as we continue this discussion. Thank you both for coming on. It is not difficult to condemn these hate groups as we hear right from the treasure and from Michael Eric Dyson. Great to see you both, Gentlemen. Have a great day.
Coming up for us, activists targeting confederate statues and monuments across America, this as the white supremacist groups are announcing their next stop. That's ahead.
Plus, disturbing new details about the suspect in the Charlottesville car attack. Why his mother called 911 nine times in the past.
And we have some new CNN reporting that key White House adviser with connections to the alt-right. He knows he is on thin ice. Hear who is now telling the president to fire Steve Bannon.
BOLDUAN: The horror in Charlottesville triggered race-related chain reaction across the country, reopening controversies and in some cases old wounds.
[11:25:05] From Durham, North Carolina, where protesters showed their solidarity to the Charlottesville by toppling a confederate statue to Gainesville, Florida where another confederate statue was removed from outside a government building.
And Baltimore where a confederate statue was vandalized with red paint. A similar case of vandalism was also reported at a confederate memorial park near Tampa.
In Boston, a 17-year-old is facing charges after the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized. That's the second time that happened since June.
Joining me now, CNN's Tanzina Vega, with much more on this very important conversation and one that is opening a lot of wounds. So Tanzina, when it comes down to it, you have all this going on across the country, the chain of reaction of responses that you are seeing with these statues. Is the conversation over?
TANZINA VEGA, CNN MONEY NATIONAL REPORTER FOR RACE AND INEQUALITY: Absolutely not. I think we are just in the middle of it. In fact, I think this weekend was a wake-up call for a lot of white Americans to get involved in what we are seeing happening.
For people of color, especially black Americans and Latino Americans and immigrants, this is a conversation that's been happening for quite a long time. So, we are just beginning in this conversation.
I think also the extreme right, the white nationalists that we are seeing are just getting energized. There was a front-page story in the "New York Times" today that said exactly that.
They are planning on running for office, people continuing with marches. So, this is just the tip of the iceberg, I think.
BOLDUAN: This has been part of this, the reaction of family members to what they are seeing. It's a huge part of the story. Hang with me for just one second. For our viewers, I want to read you something.
This is a letter a father published in his local paper. It was published yesterday, about a son who is at the Charlottesville rally. I should say several news outlets has spoken to the father about this letter. CNN has yet to get in touch with them.
Here is the letter. "My name is Pierce Teft (ph). I'm writing to all with regards to my youngest son, Peter Teft (ph), a vowed white nationalist who's been featured in a number of local stories over the past several months.
On Friday night, my son traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, was interviewed by a national outlet while marching with reported white nationalist who allegedly went on to kill a person.
I, along with all his siblings and his entire family wish to loudly repudiate my son's vile, hateful, and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs, he did not learn them at home.
I have shared my home, my heart with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender, and creed. I have thought all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.
Evidently, Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons much to my and his family's heart break and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake.
It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazi's to flourish the first time around and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now.
Peter Teft (ph), my son is not welcome at our family's gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast.
His hateful opinions are bringing hateful rhetoric to his siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, as well as his parents. Why must we be guilty by association? Again, none of his beliefs were learned at home. We do not, never have, never will accept his twisted world view.
He once joked, the thing about us fascists is not that we don't believe in freedom of speech, you can say whatever you want, we'll just throw you in an oven. Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into the oven, too. Please, son, renounce the hate and accept and love all."
That's from a father, Pierce Teft (ph) to his son, Peter Teft. It's remarkable.
BOLDUAN: Powerful. What does it say that this father felt so compelled to come out, not just to say it and tell his friends, but to publish it in the newspaper?
VEGA: I think it shows us how in pain a lot of Americans are today whether they are black, white, Latino, Muslim. There's a lot of pain in our society. We are seeing that with these protests.
We are seeing people who are saying wait a minute, this is not the country that we want to be. Now, again, there was a hashtag where people were saying this is not us, right?
And a lot of folks that actually this is us, and part of what I think the pain is stemming from is the fact that we are looking really deep into American history and saying, wow, we haven't come as far as we thought we did.
If we are seeing these protests, losing lives in the process, seeing such hatred in America today, how far did we really come? I think that's where you are seeing white Americans saying, wait a minute, I thought we were way past this.
You know, we are used to seeing images on television from the '60s and these sort of, you know, mythical images of America where people are protesting for civil rights. We kind of thought, I think largely people thought we were past this. We are not past it. That's what this parent is addressing today.