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President Trump Defends neo-Nazi And White Supremacist; CEO's Quit President Trump Manufacturing Council. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 15, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Did you ever think you'd see the day that the President of the United States would actively and openly defend neo-Nazi and white supremacists? I know didn't. Well, there's a first time for everything. Today, what was that day? It's a shameful one. This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. If anyone doubted how President Trump really felt about what happened in Charlottesville Virginia, doubt no more. Standing in the lobby of Trump tower, the President lashed out in his own words and showed us what's in his heart and his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What about the alt-left that came charging as say the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President.
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs. Do they have any problem? I think they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Usually in America we're all on the same side when it comes to Nazis, usually, but not today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before, if you look, there were people protesting very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad people. Neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know, I don't know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. So I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: I want to remember, I want you guys to remember, we're going
to play the scene in Charlottesville on Friday night. The images along with their torches, seared into the American psyche over the last five days, the images burned the words chill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALLYIST: Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Blood and soil, blood and soil. Blood and soil. Blood and soil.
White lives matter. White lives matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White lives matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jews will not replace us. Those are the innocent people peacefully protesting according to the President. And on Saturday, who was driving this car? Well, today the President seemed reluctant to label the deadly violence terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country. And that is -- you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That is what I'd call it, because there is a question, is it murder, and is it is terrorism. Then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible inexcusable thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: President Trump insisting not all the white supremacists is neo-Nazis that some where there to protest the removal of a statute of a confederate general who he then compared with two of the nation's founders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've condemned neo-Nazi. I've condemned many different groups but not all of those people were neo-Nazi, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there, because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. Excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you know it if you were honest reporters which in many cases you're not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop then? And George Washington was a slave owner, was George Washington a slave
owner. Will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down -- excuse me, are we going to take down -- are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? You like him.
[22:05:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do love Thomas Jefferson.
TRUMP: Ok, good. Are we going to take down the statue, because he was a major slave owner, now are we going to take down his statue? You know what, its fine. You're changing history, changing culture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Mr. President, I would say that you're the one who changed history today when the President of the United States traded away the moral authority of the office and lent support to those who would destroy the values of this country. It's awful. I want to turn to Mark Preston, senior political analyst, senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, local analyst April Ryan, White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio networks contributor Salena Zito, columnist for the "New York post" and Republican Strategist Rick Wilson. Jim, I don't know how you do it. I mean --
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.
LEMON: What was that like? This President needs to go back and have an elementary history lesson.
ACOSTA: It was disturbing, Don. I think we saw the President's true colors today. I'm not sure they were red, white, and blue. The White House put out some talking points tonight. This is what they say. The President was entirely correct. Both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately and bear some responsibility. There's another one that says he has been a voice for unity and calm. This is Alice in wonderland stuff. How the White House could put out talking points saying the president was in the right here, it is just baffling, it is strange and in one respect. He has united the country against the views that he espoused today which were right there on the edge of white nationalism.
LEMON: I was watching today with my colleagues here at CNN and listening to you trying to get in and him saying again, disparaging things about the media.
LEMON: We couldn't believe it, Mark Preston. My first e-mail to one of the producers here is that this is his true colors today. He reputedly blamed both sides. There aren't both sides here. One of them is a white supremacist group, Mark Preston and the other one is a group that protests fascism. Their tactics are not always perfect but coming at this from two different angles. One wants to extinguish blacks and Jews and anyone who is not white, the other one is fighting against fascism regardless of what you think are their tactics. Is this the finding moment for this president? Is this presidency out of control?
MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: A couple things. I do think it's a defining moment when it comes to. You really learn a lot about somebody when they are faced with adversity. What we saw today just a few hours ago, President Trump took those questions. We saw that he is really unable to face adversity in a way and to be able to answer questions in a way that allows him to move on. The idea that you know, you're assuming that he was ever in control of the White House, as well, Don, I would suggest that you know, from day one that this has been a White House that has been really in chaos. The chaos is driven from the top.
We put a lot of criticism on the aides that surround him. Really this is about Donald Trump. But from a greater perspective, Don, this is so much bigger than this news conference today. And the reason being is we're seeing a lot of Republicans come out, who in the past have the not been as vocal in their opposition to Donald Trump who are coming out against him. We saw in recent polling including CNN's most recent poll that he is at an all-time low of any President in modern times in polling of his standing with the American people.
How does he plan on getting his agenda through? How does he plan to work with world leaders? There are several world crises that we have to address right now. And Donald Trump can't seem to get over something as simple to show some empathy and not create a false equivalency with something as abhorrent as we've seen with this protest down and the subsequent deaths.
LEMON: Look, the buck stops with him. You're not letting the people in the White House who, you know, spin his lies. You're not letting them off the hook, are you?
PRESTON: Absolutely not. I mean, look at, no question about that. I just think that when we're talking about Donald Trump and talking about the White House, it really should start with Donald Trump. And then trickle down from there. We saw the pictures of his chief of staff today. The chief of staff didn't look very happy what was spinning out of control in Trump tower this afternoon.
LEMON: Did you see him there?
ACOSTA: I was about ten feet away from General Kelly. Could you just -- that picture captures it all. Arms crossed staring down at his feet. This was not one of those atta-boy back slapping high five moments.
LEMON: Do you think he was a show boy?
ACOSTA: Yeah, he was brought in to bring control and discipline to the White House. You can't do that when the President is disorderly and uncontrollable.
[22:10:00]LEMON: You don't think they put him out there knowing what he was going to say? Because he is like I brought my statement like -- ACOSTA: He was ready. My understanding, Don, and this is what
happened. They came downstairs and they told the reporters the President is going to come down with a couple cabinet secretaries and talk about infrastructure, go back in the elevator, go back up Trump tower and his cabinet secretaries will come out and take your questions. Then he can't resist it. He can't pass up the temptation. As soon as a question was asked what happened a couple days ago, he had to go off. And not only did he go off. He went way off script to the point where, his own people -- we saw people in the room in Trump tower today sort of like putting their hands over their face or their jaws dropping and so on.
ACOSTA: I came in early to do the Baldwin show and said I'm going to go for a run and saw the press conference and I'm not going anywhere. Then wolf's the producer said come on the show and let's talk about this.
LEMON: Speaking of pictures, because we showed the picture of General Kelly. Let's show these pictures. April this is for you, this is video showing a young African American man being been down by white supremacists. When you see that and hear the President talking about there being fine people, fine people on both sides, I mean, what are you thinking? What is he thinking?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: He is thinking about himself and what he actually feels. What he is speaking is from his heart. That is what is in his heart. The bottom line is that this President is saying things to basically allow his base, the David dukes and those like David Duke too, to feel free to do what they want. Don, I mean this started Friday. And if he can't see that this is terror, when you have white men brazen enough without hoods to carry tiki torches like they were doing back in the day, it wasn't tiki torches back then, with hoods to scare slaves, to scare blacks and other groups, if that is not terror, it's to incite intimidation, fear and to do what else they were going to do, like strange fruit hanging from a free, lynching's, things of that nature.
And then talk about negative things about Jews in this country. The Jewish community is hurt. The black community is hurt by this. And then to say that that man who rammed that car into the other cars and killed that poor young lady, that was murder? It was more than murder. It was terror. And the President says the media is dishonest? Well, Don, I don't use the "l" word much but the President lied. You know, Monday when he came out, that is not what he wanted to say. He came back and said what he originally said. The President lied about his feelings. He said indeed, he gave his heart today saying that all sides started it. Were involved and created this. No, it was one side that started this.
LEMON: And the question is, this President has been fighting for so long people calling him racist saying he is saying I'm not a racist because of the central park five, because of the whole birther thing he led for years, at least five years and on and on, my African- American.
RYAN: Housing discrimination issue in New York. LEMON: And all of these things.
LEMON: Salena is this President racist.
RYAN: Make America great again, that is code. I don't know if he is racist but his mind is not in 2017. He is not Barack Obama. He is not Bill Clinton. Even George W. Bush when he tried to reach out, people thought he was -- George W. Bush went to Dr. King's grave site to lay a wreath. People booed him. He said he made a mistake with Katrina and continues to this day to fix the problem. He went to the NAACP convention. I mean some of those things, people may say some of those things ring hollow but even had you someone who tried.
LEMON: Even Bob Dole said at a convention, when he was running for president of the United States, I don't want you. There's the exit doors get out of here. Salena, I will ask you the same question, is this President racist.
SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: Well, I mean, I can't speak to his heart, right? But you know, today's press conference was awful. You know? And here's the problem as someone who covers, you know, the people who voted for him. He is making his grudge with the press more important than the policies that he promised that he was going to do. And the people don't benefit from his grudge. Only he does. And he will eventually let that down if this continues. You know, I mean, this is all about -- it's not all about but a lot of this is about sticking it in the eye of the press because he is, you know, he is pissed, and felt that we have wronged them and while his voters don't particularly care for our profession, they're not all in. I mean, they don't win from a grudge. They win from policy. This was supposed to be an infrastructure.
[22:15:07] RYAN: This is not about the press.
ZITO: Event, right? And you know, and look what it turned into. It was a mess.
LEMON: April Ryan.
RYAN: This is not about the press. This is about race, this is about hate. This is about hate. This is about -- I mean, I'm all with you about the President stuff when it comes to the press. This is not that. This is bigger than this. This is something that is intrinsically a piece of this President. He is talking about his feelings about matters of racism instead of healing. He created more of a chasm. He is saying the racial issue is better now with him. It's not. The divide is more so now than ever before. There's spillage happening around this country and people are taking a look at the wink and nod. This is not about the press.
LEMON: This isn't even a wink and a nod. I think you're right. I understand what you're saying Salena. But today, this day was not about -- because I could talk to Jim Acosta all day calling people fake news. That is not what this was about. The words coming out of his mouth were shocking. It was like -- does he realize there are TV cameras there?
ZITO: It was so uncomfortable.
LEMON: Rick, I've got to ask you, you're agreeing with April it's not about the press. What do you think? You were never a Trumper. This is the same Donald Trump we've seen all along because he attacks this Judge Curiel and his Mexican heritage, called for a Muslim ban. Re- tweeted -- made fun of a disabled reporter. He used racial dog whistles throughout his campaign.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, Don, this is why folks like me on the conservative side of the equation looked at Donald Trump from the very beginning as somebody who is morally unfit to be President. Because he doesn't understand the things he is talking about and the depth of the potential danger to our republic of allowing these kinds of people on the alt-right and in the Klan and the white supremacist movement, he doesn't understand the danger of allowing them to get oxygen. He doesn't understand the danger of allowing the virus they represent to fester.
And so today, when he went back and spoke from his id and his heart and his gut, you heard the real Donald Trump. He really wants this to be a stark contrast between you know, Donald Trump's sort of vision of this '50s America and probably 1850s if you get right down to it, he wants it to be that stark contrast between the dirty hippies on the one hand who are just as bad as the Nazis on the other. There is no moral equivalence. There never can or will be. I don't care what elaborate gymnastics you go through as a Trump supporter to say he was just calling out the press or this was just him trying to have both sides be heard. No, you don't get to play that. The Klan is unacceptable in American political life. Neo-Nazis are unacceptable in American political life. Anyone who embraces them is unacceptable in American political life. There are no good people at these kinds of rallies. The fact that Donald Trump is still sending them signals that he thinks they're morally equivalent to everybody else in the process is a condemnation of the man, harsher than anything I could possibly express.
LEMON: To help you make your point, not to cut you off Rick, here's what the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke and White nationalist Richard Spencer praising the President's press conference today. Duke tweeting, thank you President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about the Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists and BLM Antifa and Spencer tweeted I am proud of him for speaking the truth. I mean, he is getting praise from bigots. He is literally alone on this bigot island.
RYAN: It's not true. It's a lie.
LEMON: To something that is not true. Rick, I'll let you finish. I asked April and you know, if this President was racist. What do you think and Salena, as well.
WILSON: Yeah, no, like I said, duh. (LAUGHTER)
This is a guy who engages in behaviors that you know, if you're supporting racists and condoning them and you're giving them room to grow and you're giving them nods and winks and retweeting white genocide.com or whatever and you're telling them that they're just the same as the other people that are protesting there, you're giving them aid and comfort. These people are the equivalent of a domestic terrorist group and they need to be treated as such and instead, he is giving them this constant you're morally equivalent. It's ok. Don't worry about it, guys. Yes, I have to condemn them because the normal people have to hear me say that but wink-wink. It's a repulsive behavior. As I said, the man is morally unfit to be President.
WILSON: It's categorical.
LEMON: And now we'll talk about the fallout, so stay with me, everyone. I'll let you make your point on the other side. When we come back, six CEOs quitting the President's manufacturing council in protest of his response to Charlottesville are they doing what the Republican Party has so far been incapable of doing, leaving the President.
[22:23:35] LEMON: So breaking news. There's a source telling CNN that the White House is asking Trump surrogates to support the President's assertion that both sides are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. Back with my panel now, Jim, to you first, I want to play more of the President's presser today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I didn't know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts as they started coming out were very well stated. In fact, everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn't have made it sooner, because I didn't know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don't know all the facts. It was very important, excuse me, excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly, because if I would have made a fast statement and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing. The second statement was made after with knowledge, with great knowledge. There's still things -- excuse me. There are still things that people don't know. I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts. Ok.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jim, does that even make sense?
(LAUGHTER) LEMON: Who is that laughing?
ACOSTA: Short answer, no, because it's Rick.
LEMON: Because I'm watching at home.
LEMON: And you know, as the car had hit the person by the time the President gave the press conference. How many times though has he gotten out of the ahead of the facts to call something a terrorist attack?
[22:25:06] ACOSTA: For years he said the President Barack Obama wasn't born in this country. He said Barack Obama wire tap me at Trump tower. Didn't have all the facts when he made those statements, there's a litany of examples where he made statements without having the facts. That is ridiculous. The other thing he said was I didn't know David Duke was there. But later on, almost on the same breath, he said I watched this more closely than probably you guys did. Time and again, there were contradictions in what he said all day long. You know, I don't think it's really a surprise to anybody that he is espousing these views. You know, we've been talking about dog whistles all day today. These were loud speakers blaring at Trump tower.
LEMON: This is something that is in the "New York Times." I want to read this quote. "There's no word in the Trump lexicon is a thread worn as unprecedented but members of the President's staff stunned and disheartened they said they never expected to hear such a viable articulation of opinions that the President had long expressed in private." April Ryan, he said this in private. Things like this. They were shocked that he would say it publicly. That is what that line says to me.
RYAN: What does the bible say as a man think, so is he? It comes out eventually. He is got African-Americans on his staff. I wonder what they're thinking about this today. And I'm not even going to mention names. I wonder. But then you also have black Republicans who I'm hearing from who are very, very, very upset. I hear there's supposed to be some kind of early morning call with the RNC in the morning about this. Then you have dopers who are upset who are very, very upset saying things to the people that are supporting them and their donations saying you need to control your President.
They're like we can't do that. So the fallout is great. But the question is, when and how will this stop. There has to be someone who I guess as the leader of the free world we have to say this has to stop and can put the blame directly on where it goes. The David Dukes of the world and whoever else. This President today basically is laying blame on the people who wanted to fight against this ugliness against this nation.
LEMON: And Mark Preston, again no, word in the Trump lexicon is as tread worn as unprecedented but members of the President's staff stunned and disheartened said they never expected to hear such a viable articulation of opinions that the President had long expressed in private. This is who he really is. They were shocked. They didn't expect him to go out there and say it in front of TV cameras.
PRESTON: Let me just go back to this is being a much bigger problem than whether or not inside he harbors racial views. You know, or that he is supportive of that. It is a much bigger problem for us certainly on the world stage, certainly here as we have all these problems that we have to address. Donald Trump is using up all this valuable oxygen to try to defend the indefensible. It makes no sense. In fact, just as you were playing the clip of Donald Trump's news conference, just as you were playing the clip, TRUMP: 's news conference a min or so ago, I received a text from a pretty prominent social conservative that said make him stop. And that just says it all right there.
We're a community that supported of President Trump, you know, part of the Republican Party that got behind Donald Trump. You're having this prominent social conservative say make him stop. An hour ago, I spoke to a very prominent lobbyist downtown who said, that he can no longer watch television anymore. You know why, because the news is always bad. Just think of it in terms of getting things done. Donald Trump able to have conversations here in Washington, having conversations with world leaders, there's so much on his plate. And yet, he always seems to create a smoke screen for himself and he can't work himself through it.
LEMON: Republican lawmakers are speaking out. Here's what speaker Ryan tweeted, we must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity. He didn't mention anything about the President. He just, you know.
WILSON: Don, I'll believe that Republican leaders are taking this seriously when they not only condemn the President by name and tell him he is wrong, I also believe they're serious about this when they go to the President and say we are members of a coequal branch of government. Unless and until you dismiss Steven Bannon, Steven Miller and Sebastian Gorka and this other, you know cat and dog cast of Pepi the frog team alt-right sympathizers inside the administration, we are going to stop the presses. You're not getting anything until we see you take a markedly different direction. That is when I'll take the Republican members seriously. All this behind closed doors, all these phone calls I get from members, I'm so upset. It's horrible. I'm so concerned. Show that you have some moral standing as members of a coequal branch of government and get out there and tell this guy unless he corrects his behavior -
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:30:00] RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: All this behind closed doors, all these phone calls I get from members, I'm so upset. It's horrible. I'm so concerned. Show that you have some moral standing as members of a coequal branch of government and get out there and tell this guy unless he corrects his behavior, they're going to be consequences. They have that power. And if they choose not to use it, they're abandoning their moral responsibility as leaders in this country.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Listen, GOP leadership, Jim, sources telling you that the President's abilities to effectively govern is dwindling by the hour.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, that is pretty strong stuff. That is from the leadership of the Republican Party and congress. And I think it goes to Rick's point and that is, you know when do they stop saying this anonymously and start saying this point pointedly about the President. History offers these moments' to our leaders. History is kind of issuing that call right now. Who is going to have that moment of courage inside the Republican Party to stand up and say, no, Mr. President, you're wrong. You can't do this anymore. We have not reached that moment yet. There have been Senators here and there Jeff Flake and so on who, have made strong statements but until Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, until a prominent member of the Republican Party steps forward and says it's time to stop, Mr. President, I don't think his behavior is going to change.
LEMON: I mean business leaders too are upset. They've reached that point. Six executives have resigned from President Trump's manufacturing council. And I'm wondering how many it's going to take. I'm wondering, Salena, when you look at this, this has to be devastating. I know he won't admit it. For someone who calls himself the ultimate dealmaker and businessman that these business leaders are rejecting him.
SALENA ZITO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF: Oh, yeah.
LEMON: I'm wondering beyond that, what about the base? Again, I call you the Trump supporter whisperer. When they look at these images and look at the President's response and I'm sure many of them don't want to be labeled racist or be put in the same category as these folks. What do they feel about this?
ZITO: Right. That is -- first of all, you know, when the President did not immediately say something on Saturday, correct, he opened -- there were all kinds of egregious things that happened because of that.
LEMON: What about this unhinged moment today?
ZITO: It began on Saturday where the Trump supporters are starting to feel like if he doesn't say something, it makes us all look like we support this and we don't. And that then becomes the fault line for him you know, going forward from today, right? He is letting his -- as I said before, he is letting his grudges and grievances get ahead of him. He has completely misunderstood his base, his coalition.
They elected him to do things. They elected him, you know, like the politics of conflict have been going on for the past few presidencies, right? If he can't stop this continuation of the politics of conflict, they want the politics of results, right? They're going to start walking away from him if he doesn't right this ship. If he doesn't start to the, you know, behave. I mean, I know he is elected as a disruptor, but there is a decorum that he needs to adopt. What he said today and Saturday, he not only makes him look like a racist, but he makes it seem as though his supporters are. That is the thing they've sort of fought against.
LEMON: I've got to go, Salena. Listen. There are enough people out there with those torches to elect the President a President of the United States. He is got to start increasing his base and these racist comments aren't going to work. Thank you all. Appreciate it. Breaking news in, in today's Alabama Republican senate primary, the senate projects former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Senator Luther Strange will head to a run-off election next month. Moore was leading in the vote count but will fall short of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Strange was appointed to fill the seat of Jeff Sessions when he became the Attorney General. Senator strange has the backing of President Trump.
When we come back, everyone has been waiting for this President to change. To well, act more Presidential. But is it time to accept that this is just who he is?
[22:38:24] LEMON: The President insisting that there were a lot of innocent and quiet protesters in Charlottesville. Let's discuss that now. Jan Brewer is a former Republican Governor of Arizona and Senior Political Commentator Anna Navarro, they are both here. Hello to both of you, Governor, I'm going to start with you. You were a prominent Trump surrogate from the early days of his campaign. Were you ashamed of the President today?
JAN BREWER, (R) FORMER GOVERNOR ARIZONA: No, absolutely not. I was not ashamed. I think that he took the bull by the horns. He spoke from his heart. And you know, this relentless reporting and this relentless attacking of him, is not serving our country or the issues that we talk about well. And it's getting a little over burdensome. I'm feeling that the people of America, the people of the United States particularly have about had it. You know.
LEMON: Governor, with all due respect, the words came out of his mouth today. He said it. The words came out of his mouth on Saturday. He said it. So what are we supposed to ignore it? And how is it the news fault?
BREWER: He said this hatred and this bigotry.
LEMON: He equated a racist Nazi group to protesters, people who were protesting fascism. That is what he did.
BREWER: He has denounced.
LEMON: He appears to be ignorant of the history of this country. It's those are the facts.
BREWER: Don, you're just saying that doesn't make it true. It doesn't make it the facts because we know.
LEMON: Tell me what's not true. Tell me how, governor, tell me how the protesters and the anti-protesters how are they equivalent?
[22:40:05] BREWER: They -- he has denounced, he has denounced the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis. He has done it over and over and David Duke. And you people just keep on reporting that he hasn't done it. I mean, it's just unbelievable.
LEMON: No one has reported he hasn't done it. That is not true, governor. He denounced them. Each time he does it under duress and it takes him days later to do it.
BREWER: That is not true.
LEMON: We're not reporting he hasn't denounces. That is true. You are not watching or reading?
BREWER: Well, I am watching. I'm watching a lot. But today I've been quite busy. But it's from morning to night. We keep hearing all these mistruths about what's going on and people reading things in to a situation that are absolutely not happening. And so you're forming all this stuff in people's minds without them being allowed to make their own decision. I thought his speech on Saturday was fine. I thought the one on Monday was terrific. I thought today he came forward and spoke from his heart. He doesn't want this. We need to bring our country together.
You know, Don, I am old. You know, I'm 72 years old. I've lived through a lot of this. And I denounce the Ku Klux Klan. You know, I think they're terrible. I think what happened in Charlottesville was horrible. But the fact of the matter is, is that there were groups there to the far left and to the far right, call them what you want. To the left you had Antifa. They were there with clubs, too. I listened to this now tonight waiting to come on. No one ever talks about the left. I mean, it was a bad situation. It's not America. We have got to come together and we've got to stop all this.
LEMON: Governor, just for the sake of time, I and Ana to get in here. There are a couple facts you got wrong about it. Anna, what do you say to the governor and what's your response?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Honestly, I don't have anything to say to her. Look, I think that Trump apologists are going to justify and pretend that thing he says and that they are seeing and say did not happen. And so I frankly think that it's a waste of time and useless exercise to try to convince them otherwise. So let me instead of talking to about that, let me talk to Donald Trump. And explain to him that as President of the United States, he represents blacks and Jewish people and Hispanics and people of every color and every creed. And it is his job as President of the United States to stand up for each and every American, to stand up vertically against racism and bigotry.
Pedaling to racism is just as bad as being a racist. Donald Trump is either a racist or peddling to it and both are frankly unacceptable and make him unfit to be President of the United States. If you can't be President, if you cannot stand up and represent Americans, you should not be president. And to my party, to the Republicans speaking out today, my question is what the hell took you so long? When someone shows you who they are, the first time, believe them. For too long, Republicans in congress elected leaders have looked the other way while a misogynist racist bigoted pig is in the White House.
Let me tell you, we cannot capitulate the office of the President of the United States. We cannot capitulate moral clarity of or principles. We cannot capitulate Republican values and American values. No piece of legislation, no bone that he may throw on policy, no regulation is worth cheapening the office of the United States this way. It is breaking us apart. It is not news that is breaking us apart. It is the President of the United States who is causing this news. So Republicans need to stand up, need to grow a spine. And need to reject him.
They don't -- I'm tired of hearing Republicans say they're disappointed and disturbed by something he says. You know what? When he invites you to the White House, don't go. When he invites you to dinner, don't go. Do not stand next to him until he starts behaving in a Presidential manner. And if he can't, you've got to confront him over and over and over and over and over again.
LEMON: And governor -- and here's what folks are saying. Those comments today that were at Trump tower, in the same place where he launched his Presidential campaign in June of 2015, by saying this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Mexico sends its people they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems. And they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists and some I assume are good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:45:00] LEMON: So governor, you know, the folks his critics are saying he showed us who he was in those comments over two years ago. At least he is consistent. He hasn't changed. And people shouldn't be surprised by his behavior today. They expected it all along.
BREWER: What do you take -- what issue do you take with him by saying just what he said? The fact of the matter is being a border governor we know we're not getting the best what Mexico can send to us. We know that the drug cartels are down there. We know that the rapist are coming across and then go to sanctuary cities and head back and come back here again. You know, this is America. And American people ought to be protected also.
LEMON: Ana, I'll let you respond to that.
BREWER: All this negative rhetoric.
LEMON: As a Latina, -- NAVARRO: Again? Again, don, life is too short for me to respond to
something like that. What I will say is that you're exactly right. He showed us during the campaign over and over and over who he was. We saw him boast about sexual predatory behavior. We heard him attack Judge Curiel. We heard him attack the Khans. We heard him attack Mexicans. We heard him attack women over and over and over again. He showed us who he was. But Republicans so many Republicans, look, I have friends here in Miami who voted for him because he was going to change Cuba policy and he did. But that is not enough. That is not enough because the harm he is causing this country is just too great to look the other way.
And many people thought that when he entered the oval office, he would become Presidential, that the magnitude of his office would make him change and become a Presidential figure. Well, six and a half months have gone by, seven months have gone by. You don't change a 71-year- old man. He is not going to change. And it is time that Republicans start realizing that and stops giving him a damn chance. He is not going to change. He will continue embarrassing us and making us feel ashamed.
LEMON: Governor, and governor, you're ok with everything he said today?
BREWER: I am -- I am -- from everything that I heard, I don't have a problem with it, but the fact of the matter is, is that all of this rhetoric is all sour grapes, because it's coming through the networks across our country. And he was duly elected. He is the President of the United States. And for people who use some of the verbiage they've used.
LEMON: Ana is a Republican, a long-time Republican, by the way.
BREWER: Is destroying our -- I understand that. Now, you've lost my train of thought. Bottom line he is our President. We need to --
LEMON: You said strong --
LEMON: I was trying to help you complete your thought.
BREWER: The -- it comes across -- sincerely comes across that everybody's candidate didn't win. So they just want to go after the President on every little issue. There are code words, there's dog whistles. There's, you know, this and there's that. I mean, my god, I've lived a long time. And I've never ever seen part of our country behave in this manner to this extent. It's over the top. It's disturbing. And so many --
LEMON: There are people who are watching governor, who will say it sounds like you're talking about Donald Trump and those people who are out there with torches the other night.
BREWER: Well, those are bad people. Those are bad, bad people. I mean, nobody is going to say that the Ku Klux Klan carrying tiki lights are good people. Nobody should say that.
LEMON: The President said that today. He said there were some good people in there.
NAVARRO: Let me just say this. I do not think --
BREWER: You can ask.
NAVARRO: -- any American -wait, Jan, I don't interrupt you. Please give me the same respect I've given you which has taken enormous restraint on my part.
BREWER: I haven't interrupted.
NAVARRO: You let me finish my thought because I can actually keep my train of thought. One of the things he did today, by the way, was come after and attacks the senior Senator from Arizona who is battling brain cancer, right now. I find that offensive. Not only as a friend of John McCain's but as an American. I find it offensive as a human with empathy. I find it offensive for my friend Cindy and Meghan McCain. I find it unacceptable.
If anybody is going to ask me to respect Donald Trump, because he is President, first I would say to them, tell him to respect the presidency. Tell him to respect the American people. Tell him to treat his office with the dignity that it deserves. Do not hold me to a higher scrutiny than you hold him. Do not hold me to a higher scrutiny when it comes to rhetoric that you hold him. He is the one who is dividing us. Not us. Believe me I got over Jeb Bush years ago. He ran a terrible campaign. If you think this is sour grapes over Jeb Bush, you are sorely mistaken.
[22:50:00] This is pain over what is happening in the United States of America. A country that embraces me and that is today my homeland.
LEMON: I will let her respond. Governor, go ahead, I will give you the last word.
BREWER: I heard something today where he said yes, that Senator McCain was the one that voted against fixing health care. Is that outlandish? Everybody knows the President and the congress --
NAVARRO: I don't think you saw the video.
BREWER: Ana, let me finish. I am a friend of John McCain. I have known him for a long time. I know his family. I respect him. He is an American war hero. I have defended him. But for you to take that statement -- if that statement is the one you're referring to, out of context of the way it was said, it's not realistic and it's not right and it's not fair.
NAVARRO: Here's the problem you have. There's actually video. I'm not making this up out of thin air. There's video, there's audio of what he said. And he absolutely attacked John McCain. I think maybe you didn't see the video. You've been busy. Maybe you didn't see the video, because if you're a friend of John McCain -- BREWER: What did he say, Ana?
NAVARRO: You -- before you come on TV to discuss and respond to what Donald Trump's press conference, maybe you should have watched. Because if it you had watched you would be as offends as I am.
LEMON: Here it is, play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Senator McCain, the one who voted against Obamacare? You mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good health care?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And then he went on to talk more.
BREWER: I can hear that, preventing people from getting good health care. Well, we know exactly what I said previously, Don.
LEMON: You think he meant that in a kind manner?
BREWER: Are you kidding me? Are we going to say a mean manner or a kind manner or was it a statement?
LEMON: You can say yes or you can say yes. It depends on the context of what you're saying. I'm just wondering. It didn't sound like he was saying something nice. He was treating John McCain nicely in that moment. It seems like he was being sarcastic and condescending to the reporter about John McCain.
BREWER: Probably, maybe he was a little sarcastic, because of the fact is he wanted to get his health care bill through and it didn't happen. So we move on and we need to move on and -- all right.
LEMON: No, I didn't cut you off. I didn't say anything. But thank you, governor. We'll end it there. That is a good moment to end it. Thank you Governor. Thank you Ana, I appreciate it. When we come back, the President comparing Robert E. Lee to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson today, we'll explain what he is getting wrong about the confederate states next.
LEMON: August 15th, 2017, could go down in history as a possible turning point in the Trump presidency. I will discuss this now with CNN Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley the author of Rightful Heritage, Franklyn D. Roosevelt and the land of America and Michael Eric Dyson the author of Tears we cannot stop, sermon to white America. What a day, what a day, gentleman. My goodness, this press conference earlier today, President Trump described the events in Charlottesville over the weekend. For the sake of giving our viewers an accurate picture of what actually occurred over the weekend. We're going to show you what was going on at that time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There were people in that rally and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group there to innocently protest and legally protest. I don't know if you know they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. So I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:55:36] LEMON: Michael, what's your reaction to Trump's version of the weekend events?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, G.U. SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR: Um, it's a stunning distortion of the truth. It is not a radical departure from what he has historically done since he has been President and before. He has bought into universe that is an alternative description of the world we see before us. He has bent the facts to his own tortured reasoning and he has been incapable of acknowledging his own wrongness. So what we see here Don is an extension of everything that made him President that we don't want to face up to that millions of people bought into. Here you were and your previous guests.
You had a woman, Governor Jan Brewer, who put her finger in the face of the first African American President, asked to treat him like a boy on the tarmac in Arizona. The tree doesn't fall far from -- the apple doesn't fall far from the tree from which so much pains. So for me, I think what Donald Trump did today was create a false equivalence between warring sides. On the one hand we have the alt-right which full of white supremacy, white nationalism, the detestation of Jews, African -Americans, Latinos and other peoples of colors and other sexual orientation, verses those who had been protesting the outrageous resurgence of fascism in this country.
That doesn't suggest there couldn't be any possible or potential wrong on the protesting part of those on the left. What it suggests should draw a parallel between people who would subvert the very democracy that we find precious and those who are trying to preserve its egregious and outrageous. And further more at the end of the day, when he goes into talking about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, neither of those men, unlike Robert E. Lee, were secessionists. They were the ultimate patriots, because despite the undeniable legitimacy of the claim that they were slave owners, they at least provided a bull work for us to be able to reinterpret the constitution and the declaration of independence to the advantage of African-American people and women and others who are left out. Robert E. Lee wanted to divide this nation up and to make it something not whole. E pluribus unum out of many one, he sought to undermine the very creed and motto of this country.
LEMON: I am going to bring in Douglas, Douglas I want to ask you about comparing these generals to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, his confederate generals.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It is typical Donald Trump, he just spins conspiracy theories. I mean remember the whole birther movement that he became the mega phone from. I'm the white Donald Trump and you're not white so you're not a real American. He is embracing kind of neo-confederate history revisionism, for a President of the United States, 21st century today championing Stonewall Jackson almost crying. You're going to take Jackson down next and somehow trying to tie in Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, two great men who did so much for our country to people in the south, they have ripped down the American flag and wanted to keep the institution of slavery. But the real history that was important to me today Don, was what vice media did with the film footage. Dwight Eisenhower demanded people during the holocaust film to show the reality of what was going on. These were thugs with tiki torches saying the most vicious thing about Jewish Americans, spilling anti- Semitism and hatred into streets and Donald Trump tried to pat them on the back today. It's a very low moment in U.S. Presidential history.
LEMON: I think it is Trump supporters Scott Jennings said it best about there being good people there. If you see people next to you carrying swastikas and confederate flags and saying horrible things with horrible writings about Jewish people and African Americans and you've already checked your decency at the gate. So for him to make that argument is a little bit I think disingenuous.
BRINKLEY: If it wasn't for that vice media film footage, that is how history gets distorted but we have the documentary evidence. To show just how wrong Trump is to say that.
LEMON: All right we have so much to get to, and I am sorry guys, our time is short. Thank you so much.