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Trump Blames Both Sides For Charlottesville Violence. Aired 11p - Midnight ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:00]DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: a little bit disingenuous.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: If it wasn't for that vice media film footage Don 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, I appreciate it. President of the United States openly defending neo-Nazis and White Supremacist insisting both sides are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is the top of the hour, this CNN tonight, I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

President Trump making no attempt to hide his true feelings about what happened.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible inexcusable thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That being said, the alt-right is behind these attacks and he linked the same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Well I don't know, I can't tell, I am sure Senator McCain must know what he is talking about. But when you say the alt-right, define it for me. You define it. Come on, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain defined them --

TRUMP: Ok. Excuse me. What about the alt-left that came charging at as you say the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you putting what you're calling the alt-left

and white supremacists on the same moral plain?

TRUMP: I'm not putting anybody on a moral plain, what I am saying is this, you had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There is a group on this side. You can call them the left -- you just called them the left that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want but that is the way it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there was hatred and violence on both sides.

TRUMP: Yes, I think there's blame on both sides. You look at both sides, I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say.

Excuse me. And you have very bad people in that group but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures that you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them a very important statue and the rename of the park, from Robert E. Lee to a new name? George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So was George Washington now losing his status? Are we going to take down, excuse me, are we going to take down statues to George Washington?

How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? 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, you're changing culture and you had people and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally, but you had had other people besides neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.

Now in the other group also you had some fine people but you also had trouble makers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?

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 rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people there to innocently protest and very legally protest because I don't know if it 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 of the group.

[23:05:21] LEMON: Still just as shocking as the first time when I saw it live. I want to bring in CNN Political commentator Matt Lewis, Senior Columnist of the Daily Best and Scott Jennings a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, David Swerdlick Assistant editor at the Washington Post and political contributor Michael Nutter, the former Democratic mayor of Philadelphia. So, David, how are you?


LEMON: As you watch that, who was he the President of? What is he talking about?

SWERDLICK: Yeah. Don, look, I think we've all said a few times tonight that clearly the President was not acting like we, the people, would expect the President of the United States to act. Can I stop myself and say I've been on CNN a couple times today and not said anything about Trooper Cohen and Trooper Bates from the Virginia state police. I think our thoughts should be with their families. They died on Saturday.

LEMON: Thank you for that.

SWERDLICK: It was a tragedy. Let me just zero in on a couple of things. I don't know who the reporter is but someone asked are you putting these two groups on a moral plain and the President's answer was I'm not putting anyone on a moral plain. Guess what, that is exactly why he is being criticized tonight and since Saturday is that the country, the majority of the people in the country, look at that situation and say white nationalists and white supremacists are not on the same moral plain. They are on a moral plain that no one should be on. Their views are racist, reprehensible and un-American. He is sort of did it yesterday but not in a way, certainly now, that anybody is convinced.

The other thing I wanted to point out and this is a small point, but I just want to get it out there Don, is that when he was trying to do this what about the two sides, both sides weren't following the rules and as an excuse, he wanted to lawyer it and say one side, the quote on quote alt-left didn't have a permit. They don't need a permit. Their permit is the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. No side in any side in any situation of demonstrators has the right to use violence but you don't need a permit to go out there and express as those people were doing when they were run over by a car that they are unhappy with white nationalists descending on their town to sort of terrorize them, when the Democratically elected city council of Charlottesville -- whatever side you are on, in the issue, already voted Democratically that they were taking that statue down.

LEMON: Scott Jennings?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sometimes when you're the President your job is to comfort the nation. It's not in the constitution. You know they don't give you a thing that says here are your duties but being a comforter of the nation in the time of trouble is part of your job. You have to verbalize the moral clarity that is required of the office and we all seek as Americans. You have to reassure people goodness is going to triumph over hatefulness and so to go out today and try to relitigate some people were good and these people were bad. There's no use in relitigating this. The only thing the President should be doing is reassuring the nation that at the end of the day, in our core we're Americans and we're good and hateful people are not going to rule who we are and to try to relitigate it to me absolutely was the wrong move today.

LEMON: Scott listen and I've been hearing you all evening on the network but this is what he believes. This is not relitigating, this is what he believes. There's no teleprompter. He came there ready and he had his response in his pocket. He talked about it. And then there's also reporting tonight. No word in the Trump lexicon is as wanted 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 President had long expressed in private. This is what he believed.

JENNINGS: I agree with you and I am as stunned by it as the White House staffers who quoted it. I'm as stunned as any Republican. I've verbalized the night that he is made it near impossible for some reporters to stand with him. I support the Republican agenda but I'm having a hard time right now supporting his use of the office and the office is so much bigger than what he made it today. And as somebody who worked for a President who had many occasions to comfort the nation and reassure the nation and try to unify the nation, it's difficult tonight.

[23:10:10] And I have been somebody who has come in here and stood by Donald Trump when a lot of folks where all over him and I still the Republican Party policy agenda is the right agenda but he is going to stifle that agenda.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not stunned by it because he is who we thought he was. This is what I was always afraid of with Donald Trump. And the danger is -- a big danger to America, obviously. But there's a specific danger to the conservative movement of the Republican Party which is that he tarnishes the reputation of the Party of Lincoln, maybe Rubio. The alt-right very well might not have been in the position they were in.

LEMON: And Steve Bannon wouldn't have been in the White House.

LEWIS: Good point. Let's assume this did happen I would love to see a Republican President in Marco Rubio, let's say, have the bully pull pit.

LEMON: He is not the President. This is the President. I'm going to get to you, mayor, stand by just a second. What were you thinking?

LEWIS: He was incredibly passionate. And he wasn't passionate when he read the great statement yesterday. The statement he read yesterday was a teleprompter, yes, it was fine but lacking the passion. There's something interesting in the clip you played Don, I wanted to bring up. You remember when Trump is talking about there were good people there. When I first heard it I thought did he mean a spattering amidst the Nazis there were god fearing people? But he is talking about the alt-right. He is talking about Richard Spencer. Those are the people.

LEMON: The night before.

LEWIS: He cares about looks. So if you look like a red neck, have a black Hitler t-shirt, you're the bad people. But if you're wearing khaki pants and polo with a torch, you're the good people.

LEMON: The people were the same who wore sheet or who didn't, not the sheet, you're still the same person. This is from the vice video, right. He is talking about the night before. This is from vice and we'll play some of it and when we think you've seen enough we'll come back. But these are the nice people according to the President.


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: White lives matter.


LEMON: So that is part of it, mayor. You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig.

MICHAEL NUTTER, FORMER PHILADELPHIA MAYOR: Absolutely. First let me say David is absolutely right. Let us try to keep our focus on hither higher and the two state troopers and continue to send condolences and our heartfelt prayers to their families and those who are injured and the entire city of Charlottesville. Not that bad but I've been to touch situations. That has a traumatic effect on all of the citizens who have to experience that and continues to hear the name of their town mentioned the way it often is. If the President claims that he saw that last night and somehow discerned among all the torch carriers and people saying the things they were saying which I would never say that somewhere in the midst of all that, there were good people. That is complete insanity and only operates in the parallel universe that he functions in by himself.

I want to go back to something that Matt said earlier. You indicated that the President today was passionate. I might have a slightly different take on it. He seemed angry. He was angry about not having put a period at the end of the sentence on all of this by the well scripted teleprompter read remarks that he made and somehow wanted an atta-boy pat on the back and can we now move on? Talk about unemployment or jobs or whatever. Donald Trump as isolated himself from virtually every good person in the United States of America and he is being slammed morning, noon, and night by Republicans and give our Republican friend, whom I've debated a few times before and I have to give him credit.

[23:15:16] Even tonight, I'm appreciative of what you said. Good people can't stand with that. I don't know where they got all those tiki torches from so quickly, but there was nothing good about that. You can't give the Nazi salute in Germany. You cannot have a swastika in Germany and so it's been said a couple times and Anna said it earlier about Maya Angelou said it best when had someone shows you who they are, believe them. He showed the real person. He associates himself and has in his heart these values and he is not going to change and he is upset that somehow he is not able to control the situation. I feel sorry for the people who work for him. They are working hard to trying to contain each and every day. You look at General Kelly.

LEMON: Did you see the picture of him at the press conference?

NUTTER: I read the Marine Corps basic training manual. There are sections in that manual about diversity, cultural diversity, how people are to be treated and I have to believe -- I've only met the general once -- but I have to believe that he is embarrassed as a military person, because if someone was saying or doing many of the things that Donald Trump was doing that person would be thrown out of the military and he must be wondering tonight how am I going to continue to serve under these circumstances? He must be embarrassed.

LEMON: This is personal for the President and his family which is flabbergasting, because his son in law, David, his daughter, his grand children are Jewish. His daughter converted to marry the man she loved. This is from some of the nice people the President -- that is how he qualifies them. This is a leader -- one of the leaders of the group.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here to spread ideas, talk in the hopes that somebody more capable will come along and do that, somebody like Donald Trump who does not give his daughter to a Jew.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Donald Trump but a lot more racist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a lot more racist than Donald Trump. I don't think you could feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl.


LEMON: David.

SWERDLICK: Yeah, so Don, you're absolutely right. The President, if nothing else, has a personal reason. His daughter, his son in law, his grandchildren, are Jewish Americans and the idea that he would, in this presser today, not support but make excuses for this white nationalist rally or white supremacists is mind boggling. As you know I'm African American and Jewish American. But don't do it for your daughter, don't do it for me, or all of us here on this panel. Do it because what the people of the United States expect the President of the United States to do is provide some moral clarity around these issues and the President simply has not demonstrated up to this point that he can do that and it should be, as many of us have said, it should be a no brainer for the President of the United States to simply say this world view is repugnant and then pivot to whatever other secondary issues that he wants to cover in the press conference. He can do that if he wants.

LEMON: There have been lots of protests about how the President has handled this and what happened in Charlottesville. After the break, one of the people that the protest, by the way -- thank you everyone, I appreciate it, thank you panel. Michael Moore is going to join me. f the President happens to be watching and Trump supporters watching tonight, anyone at the White House watching tonight, remember that Ivanka Trump, Jewish woman, her husband, Jewish man, her children Jewish as well. Her father having said today there were some nice people out there in that crowd, one of those nice people said this about his family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here to spread ideas, talk in the hopes that somebody more capable will come along and do that, somebody like Donald Trump who does not give his daughter to a Jew.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Donald Trump but like more racist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot more racist than Donald Trump. I don't think you could feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl.



[23:22:28] LEMON: The President insisting that both sides are to blame for it deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, equating white supremacists on one side with the other side that he calls the alt-left. Michael Moore is here, award winning film maker who is currently on Broadway and "the terms of my surrender," thank you. You were out there tonight at Trump tower with members of your audience from the Broadway show, right?


LEMON: Candlelight vigil?


LEMON: What was the scene?

MOORE: I invited my audience at the end of the show, it is only 12 block away and I had bus for people who wanted to bus. And it was a candlelight vigil in memory of Heather Hair, the one who was killed in Charlottesville and -- but also we just wanted to remind the world that Trump does not speak for this country. He hasn't since day one, because he doesn't represent the majority of this country. But I think -- I got to tell you. I watched this afternoon and saw after the press conference and you came on with the others. It was very powerful. You talk about African American kids who have to walk in to a high school under name Robert E. Lee, pass a statue of a man who wanted them dead or enslaved. I don't want to hear this. I don't want any fellow American regardless of their color or religion or their culture or anything to ever feel the way you describe how so many black kids grow up in this country having to feel. This has to stop. And I say this knowing that I am had -- the minority that I am is I'm one of the 1/3 of the white guys who didn't vote for Donald Trump. 2/3 of white men voted for Trump. 63 percent of white women voted for Trump. David Duke's tweet this weekend was maybe one of the most oddest things I saw online. When he said to Donald Trump, look in the mirror. White America elected you and never forgets it and Mr. Duke, you've got that right on. He was elected by white America.

LEMON: You came on before election night and said you believed Trump was going to win and talked about the support in your area. How do you think those people where you live and you know who supported him, how do they feel now?

[23:25:00] MOORE: Honestly, I spoke to a few of them after that press conference, because I wanted to know the answer to that question. They voted for Trump because they were angry. They voted for Trump because they wanted to throw a bomb into the system that hurt them. They're no longer part of the middle class I really thought about this the last time you and I were on the show. I've said this to them since. You have every right to be upset that the system has let you down, the American system. But black people have every right to be upset that the American system let them down. They don't go to the polls and vote for the hater. Black Americans, by a large margin, vote for the person who doesn't hate, who's trying to love. So you can't bring yourself to yes, you have a right to feel this way, but the way you're going to respond is by voting for the hater and I'm not a racist, even though he may be, I'm not, really? If you vote for a racist, what are you then, because it sure sounds like racism to me?

LEMON: Complicit or you're an enabler. You think he is a racist?

MOORE: He is absolutely a racist. He knows exactly -- I've said this before on your show. He is not as stupid as people want to believe he is. He knows exactly what he is doing, he knows the words to use and I'm certain the 63 million people who voted for him actually -- vast majority of them love that press conference.

LEMON: Well, not all Trump supporters.

MOORE: Not all. I said vast majority.

LEMON: And they take offense to people calling them racist.

MOORE: If you hold down the woman while the rapist is raping her but you didn't rape her, are you a rapist? If you vote for a man who says what he said today, that the white nationalists were the victims, that he equated George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with Robert E. Lee and said that the people there trying to stop the racism, the antiracism protesters, that they were the violent ones. That is just -- it just went so far --

LEMON: That is a very powerful and uncomfortable anecdote you share and people will think you're comparing Trump voters to rapists.

MOORE: Yeah, it's uncomfortable, isn't it? Because enablers of immoral behavior of criminal behavior is absolutely criminal to stand behind the people that killed Heather Hair, that beat the heads in of people who were trying to speak their minds in Charlottesville, if it you are there and if it you participate, even though you're not the actual person doing it. If you helped to put Donald Trump in office, you need to think about this before you kneel down and say your prayers tonight. Think about this person that you now have leading this country and there is redemption in this. You can stop tomorrow morning. You can stop supporting him and you can say I can't take anymore and this was probably a mistake, me voting for him. You can change.

LEMON: You're going to get a lot of blow back for him, right?

MOORE: I hope I do. I had it, Don. At the end of the press conference today, I wasn't angry. That wasn't my first response. The first thing I did, honest to god, was frankly what I saw you and Chuck Todd over on the other cable channel doing was almost in tears. And you can't -- the white people watching this, the 2/3 of the white men who wanted Donald Trump that had voted for him for president, you have going to have to take a long hard look in the mirror right now.

LEMON: I thinking the -- you have to own your own words. I think Donald Trump is responsible for his own words as well. I understand what you're saying, but again it's an uncomfortable comparison and listening is tough.

MOORE: Well, it was uncomfortable watching this today and anyone who supports that -- if you still support the racist, you are the racist. That has to end. I'm not sorry. I'm not letting anybody off the hook here. White people who voted for him, white people who made him happen, very strange that -



[23:30:00] MICHAEL MOORE, ON BROADWAY IN THE TERMS OF MY SURRENDER: are the racist. That has to end. I'm not sorry. I'm not letting anybody off the hook here. White people who voted for him, white people who made him happen, you know very strange that -- oddly, ironically enough, Jeffrey Lord fired from this network called this a week ago with his (inaudible) tweet and you had to fire him for that. But I mean -- the man was ahead of his time and a week later his boy, Donald Trump, right there today. America has to stand up. We cannot any longer mealy-mouth about this. If you want me to say it again, I will say it again. Not the first time. Anybody who enables, anybody who votes for and supports a racist is a racist. You are culpable white America, I'm sorry. But there is redemption for you.

LEMON: Thank you, Michael Moore, never one to hold his words in your thoughts. Thank you very much.

MOORE: Not today, not anymore.

LEMON: Straight ahead, my next guest spent time with one on one with Richard Spencer. One of the men behind the Charlottesville rally, W. Kamau Bell joins me next.


[23:35:03] LEMON: President Trump causing shock and alarm tonight among Americans blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville. I want to discuss it now with W. Kamau Bell the host of CNN "United shades of America." Thank you so much, how are you doing?

W. KAMAU BELL, HOST OF UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA, CNN: I mean it is an honor to be here, it's like the dream team. I feel like Christian Latener.

LEMON: What went to your mind when you heard the president speaks today?

KAMAU BELL: It's the Maya Angelou thing. President Trump has been telling us these things for a long time. He is been revealing himself to be this person for a long time. So for me I was like there it is in its full splendor and glory. My friends have known who this dude was and now he is showing it to us and now the challenge is for people who have been supporting him to finally speak up, the way some Republicans have spoken up tonight.

LEMON: you know that there are words coming up, right? Is he racist?


KAMAU BELL: Is he racist? Yes. Yes. And I'm not saying that as somebody padding it with a brush -- the evidence shows that. The first time he ever appeared in the press in The New York Times was because he was not renting his apartment to black people. Then he takes out a full page ad about the death penalty for a crime. He never apologized. The birther controversy is one of the all-star hits of racism in this country. Accusing President Obama of not being a citizen of this country, all of that stuff is racism. It's all racism. I'm not as scared of the word racism as some people are.

LEMON: I'm not either. People always say you can't call somebody a racist. You can call someone a misogynist, sexist. You can say they're a womanizer, but when you say racist, even if the evidence points to that -- I'm not saying you said it. But even if it the evidence points to it --

KAMAU BELL: Evidence points to --

LEMON: I don't know what's in his heart? Do you have to know what's in someone's heart or is it by your actions that prove what you are?

KAMAU BELL: This is not -- I mean it's not arguable to me. I'm not saying people who have always been a racist will always be. I tried to recover from sexism every day. So these -ism's are things we deal with. But he is proving time and time again, by seeing two sides to that thing that happened to Charlottesville that is racism, because right now the alt-right is celebrating.

LEMON: Can we stop saying alt-right. They're white supremacists.

KAMAU BELL: All right. You're right.

LEMON: The white supremacists with hipster haircuts and skinny jeans. They may as well wear hoods. I'm glad they're showing their faces now, because at least we know who they are.

KAMAU BELL: Although they might stop doing that because a lot of them got fired. The white supremacists are celebrating right now because they feel that Donald Trump has gotten they're back. Some saying if they're celebrating and the people on the other side aren't celebrating, what does that mean?

LEMON: You have on your show, "United shades of America" you have met with members of the KKK. I tell the story of how I grew up in the KKK would pass out literature on the corner of my high school. My high school was across the street from a church, I think a Baptist church. And there was a lot of KKK in the area. And so people would walk amongst you and you see all these people and you wonder where are all these people? What do they do every day?

KAMAU BELL: One of the people who got fired from going to his job for going to that rally works at a restaurant in Berkeley. It's supposed to be the most liberal place in the country and yet they're always walking among us.

LEMON: Do you thinking the President has emboldened? The president has?

KAMAU BELL: There's no question. He brought David Duke back like it's the '80s again. David Duke suddenly is relevant again. Trump and by Trump not speaking against him specifically, it only further emboldens him.

LEMON: You mentioned Richard Spencer, you interviewed him?

KAMAU BELL: Yes, I did.

LEMON: Let's play some of it.


RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE SUPREMACIST: We're here to talk about white privilege. We want to bring it back. Make white privilege great again.

KAMAU BELL: So you're a fan of white privilege?

SPENCER: Oh, yes. It looks great. I mean the people are good looking and nice suits and great literature. I just want to bathe in white privilege, the greatest, most awesome thing.

KAMAU BELL: It's working out for you?

SPENCER: Well, yes, I want to expand white privilege. We live in a world where every spring, Google and Facebook and Apple release these diversity numbers. Look, it's great we're hiring less white men this year. We think it's great for white people to inherently have less power.



[23:40:09] LEMON: Here is the thing, so he is in a suit, rather than a sheet and they're the same thing. He is talking about not hiring fewer white people. So the President comes out and talks about the economy and jobs. So why are all these people mad that he is helping out? Why are they so upset? It makes absolutely no sense.

KAMAU BELL: The more that people try to -- my thing is this. I understand you voted for Trump. There were two main choices and you have to pick in the other, but if you're still standing by him after today. I talked to my dad. My dad, like I said he knows what that means.

LEMON: Spencer tweeted today. He said he is proud of the President for speaking the truth.

KAMAU BELL: So Spencer feels like this is a victory. Spencer doesn't think Trump goes far enough. And so the more Trumps embolden Spencer, they push their thing further. If you think Charlottesville is bad, they are coming to your city.

LEMON: In the vice video, the racist who was interviewed said Donald Trump isn't racist enough, because he let his daughter marry a Jew.

KAMAU BELL: Yes, so it only gets worse if you don't stop it now.

LEMON: Thank you.

KAMAU BELL: Thank you.

LEMON: Wish we could have seen each other under better circumstances, seriously.

Up next, despite a new White House chief of staff, it doesn't appear any of the President's aides are able to control what he says.


[23:45:31] LEMON: President Trump addressing the violence in Charlottesville and blaming both sides. I want to bring in now CNN Senior Media Correspondent Mr. Brian Stelter, our senior correspondent Sara Sidner, Political Commentator Alice Stewart and Bakari Sellers. I'm so glad to have all of you on, because you have such unique perspectives. Let's start with the reporting because you have been reporting on this and other issues like this, right? And so when the average American hears and sees what the President did today, what do they see?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what? Who's the average American? It depends who you're talking to, but I think as a whole if you look across the board and there are different groups of people saying different things clearly just look at social media right now, but as a whole, the majority I think look at what happened today and said this President just basically boosted people who were white supremacists. He refused to go after them in a very pointed way and I can tell you from talking to a few people who had started talking to me when they saw it. They are writing me I am doing stories by people affected by hate in the worst possible way. They have lost family members to hate. The word I kept seeing over and over is oh, my god I'm so afraid. This might happen to us again. He is normalizing this. And that is the fear, over arching, for anyone who has faced any kind of racism, any kind of hatred there's a fear now that he has just normalized it and by speaking to his so-called base that he is basically just said to everyone those views are okay there, are some good people carrying tiki torches, which is basically a new age KKK rally, screaming horrible things about gays and blacks and women and you name it and he is just said well, there are good people in that crowd. Where were they?

LEMON: Bakari?

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well I mean let's talk about that crowd for a moment. For me, when you hear people scream blood and soil, when you hear them scream that Jews will not replaces us, when you hear them scream -- they're using terms like faggots. I mean, when you hear all of this collection of people why not disavow them? But for me I think a lot of people who look like me, a lot of people who talk about, who suffer under the thumb of oppression in every single day under different systems. We're talking about all of these different things. This is not new. And I'm not surprised by Donald Trump's reaction. But what I do want people to understand, what I hope everyone watching around the world understands. These people are not fringe. These people work at banks, they're loan officers, this people are physician assistants, and this people are teachers, this people make your lives living had hell every day and you didn't even know it. And they had the fortitude to not even decide they were going to wear a mask. They were so emboldened that they decided to be proud of their ignorance, hate, xenophobia and bigotry and there's one man you can thank for that.

LEMON: And that is?

SELLERS: The white supremacist in chief.

LEMON: Go on.

SELLERS: The President of the United States has coddled White Supremacy to a point, where I have no hesitation and saying that he is the white supremacist in chief -- and I think anyone who patronizes that, anyone who allows that type of rhetoric to live in this country is not a true patriot. But pedals in prejudice and I have a real problem with that and until someone decides to stand up who doesn't look like me and you and Sarah with all due respect to Alice and Bryan at this table, until my wife in the south, until the millions, the 64 percent of white male whose voted for them, until people who look like Donald Trump decide to say that enough is enough, Democrat or Republican, I could care less.

LEMON: I didn't want to ruin the moment.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now we have a very good point. If you grab a tiki torch and go to a clan rally, you're a racist or a bigot and for anyone to say someone who shows up during these rallies there are some good people in there and there is problem in that and look, I commend the president for yesterday denouncing racism and hatred.

[23:50:06] But that being said, it should have been unequivocal, no questions asked, no apology about that. And to provide a moral equivalency between what happened with those that attended the rally and others who came for peaceful protest in opposition to that, there's a serious problem. Here's my thing. As a Republican, I support this President 100 percent on his policies across the board. But it's the principles that many of us are having a hard time standing up for now. That is where things need to change.

LEMON: Can you commend him after what he said today? You said you commended him for the second statement.

STEWART: Over and over again, he denounced racism and hatred. However, when it comes with a -- but, but also it, cancels it out. So I think his intention yesterday was to clean up the mess that he made over the weekend. But today he was speaking from the heart. I think what happened is when you have the titans of industry come out after giving you the thumbs out, now they are giving the middle finger, he is going hold on a minute, I need to stand up.

LEMON: Was it as painful for you to watch as.

STEWART: It was simply because he represents not just all of America but he is the leader of our party. And a lot of Republicans don't support what he was saying today. And it's very difficult as a Republican to continue to go out there and fight the fight which I will do on policy. However, on this issue it's very difficult.

LEMON: Brian as we discuss a lot here and you discuss on your show, I said last night, these things don't happen in a vacuum. There's historical context to what's happening. If you -- to what's happened and what is happening, if you looked at the President's statement today and listened to him and everything he sort of defended and made excuses for and talking about statues and monuments, he doesn't really have a grasp of history.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He was devoid of historical context. The passion not came when he was denouncing the KKK but when he was denouncing the media calling the press biased and unfair for raising these questions. He was critiquing the media and through that, he was giving this support somehow to white supremacists. I think we talk a lot about what happens to this President in a crisis. What happens in this White House when there's a crisis? But this is the crisis. The crisis is every single day. You hear on television now conversations that happen usually just in green rooms or coffee shops. They're now happening on air not just this network but others about his fitness for office, whether we have a President in that traditional sense of the word. I think those conversations have been happening privately. They're starting to happen publicly.

LEMON: What about the language though, talk specifically about what you do about the media, what about the language? You heard what Bakari said, Kamau Bell, a number of people have been asked on the air if they think this President is bigoted or racist and they said absolutely yes, they do. Stop saying falsehoods. A number of people have said lie tonight on the air. Last night I said lie in regards to David Duke, because of my colleague Jake Tapper 2016, he said he didn't know who David Duke was. I showed the clip from 2000 where he mentioned David Duke as Trump was considering a run for the reform party. What do you think of the tone of that has changed and the respect level?

STELTER: There is a change. I don't think it's a respect level issue so much as a more free acknowledgement of what we see -

LEMON: Of the truth.

STELTER: --as the months go on and as is more and more examples. The President said today he likes to wait until he knows all the facts.

LEMON: That is not true.

STELTER: A lot of folks just laugh when they heard that, white nationalists versus racists, for example.

LEMON: White nationalist.

STELTER: A lot of different terms here.

LEMON: White nationalist is a way of dressing it up, like Richard Spencer are those guys wearing suits are getting a haircut and wearing skinny jeans. That is dressing up racism, bigotry, neo-Nazis. That is all that it is.

STELTER: You know why they do it.

LEMON: They want it make it look cool.

SIDNER: Not only people. They're trying to recruit young educated people and get their minds to sort of go to this place that they are under threat. I'm talking about white young educated people. They're going on college campuses like they've never gone before. I've sat down with some of these guys. You know what they say to me? You know what my biggest fear is.

We white people, particularly white men are, going to become the minority in our country. That is how they see this. It's based on fear. It is based on fear of having less. I said what about me? You mean what I've been through? You know what he said? He looked at me and said you probably haven't been through that. Other people might have. It's that weird conversation. Like oh, well, not you but other people.

LEMON: There's a lot in that. Maybe they should talk to Native Americans.

SELLERS: More importantly, that is why there's such a divide in the conversation we're having and there is a, and I don't want to say just a pleasure but seeing these images on Saturday is such an educational moment for part of the country.

[23:55:06] You know, there are a lot of us who I am not -- I'm not surprised at all by what happened Saturday. I'm not surprised by the President's response, his clarification or his further response. I am disappointed though, Don. I think you're disappointed, as well. I think the reason we share in that disappointment is because we know how hard -- we know the people who cried tears when they saw the first black President, because they suffered through their friends being lynched and going to segregated schools. We saw the relief in their faces on that January day in Chicago when the President walked out and said although we're not there yet, we've made progress. And so the disappointment that I feel is for them because I don't want their lives and efforts to be in vain and Donald Trump makes it in vain or attempts to throw that in your face every single day. I feel bad for a lot of those good people in the White House.

LEMON: Thank you all. I've got to go. We'll continue the conversation. I appreciate you all being on. Thank you so much. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.