Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Calls CEOs Who Quit His Council "Grandstanders"; DOJ Demanding User Info from Anti-Trump Web Site; Police Reports Show Charlottesville Attack Suspect Has Violent Past; Man Beaten by White Supremacists at Rally in Charlottesville. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:34:01] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just in to us here at CNN, another American CEO rebuking President Trump for his response to Charlottesville.

Let me read for you now. This is the Walmart CEO, Doug McMillan's statement in full. Here you go. He writes, "Respect for the individual is one of our core beliefs at Walmart and the role we play in communities around the country to build a more diverse and inclusive society is more critical than ever. As tragic events in Charlottesville over the weekend painfully reminded us. Our prayers are with the victims and their families. As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we, too, felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists. His remarks today were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future. Our country's facing some very difficult issues that require our elected officials, business leaders, and community-based organizations to work together. Representing a company with the largest and one of the most diverse groups of associates in the U.S., and an even more diverse customer base of tens of millions of customers, we believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together. I will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our associates and customers and urge our elected officials to do their part to promote a more just, tolerant, and diverse society. Thank you for representing Walmart and our values today and every day."

[14:35:31] Again, this is from Doug McMillan, the CEO of Walmart, who's on the president's Economic Advisory Council. It is worth noting that McMillan is -- now makes five major executives coming out against the president's response just in the last 36 hours. More on this in just a moment.

But first, as demonstrators plan a second night of protests outside of Trump Tower, the Justice Department appears to be escalating its effort to quiet and maybe even punish anti-Trump activities. CNN is learning the justice officials are seeking to learn who visited a specific Web site designed to organize an Inauguration Day protest just this past January. Federal prosecutors issued a search warrant for the I.P. addresses of what could be up to 1.3 million people who visited the Web site, But lawyers for the company that host the protest site say this is

pure prosecutorial overreach and privacy advocates say this is entirely unconstitutional.

Our justice correspondent, Jessica Schneider, has been digging on this for us. Chris is with us as well. Chris Ghazarian is the general counsel for DreamHost, the site that provides the platform for disruptj20.

So, Jessica, let me begin with you on some of our reporting these I.P. addresses.

From what I understand, it doesn't matter if you went to this protest or not, if you looked at the site, they want your information. And what exactly -- what information do they want?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's part of the problem here, Brooke. The search warrant, it was signed by the U.S. Attorney in D.C., and it states that part of its aim is to get information on the people who organized or who participated in the riots on Inauguration Day, January 20, right here in D.C. Protesters there were caught on video smashing storefronts and clashing with police. But the problem is, and DreamHost have blogged about it and written about it in the legal files, they say that the search warrant is asking for all of the information about everyone who visited that Web site, The search warrant asks for names, addresses, and even financial information like bank accounts and credit card numbers. So DreamHost right now is pushing back in its legal filings and it' refusing to hand over that information. They say it would amount to about 1.3 million people, the detailed about all of them, who may have just visited that Web site and maybe really had nothing to do with the actual protest. So that's the problem here.

BALDWIN: So, from the DreamHost perspective, Chris, you know, you all are still pushing back. They want all this information. You guys are pushing back. What's happened? What are you telling them? The Justice Department.

CHRIS GHAZARIAN, GENERAL COUNSEL, DREAMHOST: Thanks, Brooke. The one thing that we did last Friday evening was file an opposition to the motion that the DOJ filed against us first, and so we're currently putting together arguments with our outside counsel and prepping for a hearing in D.C. on Friday to make sure that this doesn't happen.

BALDWIN: Do you know, Chris, what prompted this judge to grant the search warrant in the first place?

GHAZARIAN: We really don't know, Brooke. And, you know, we're trying to keep out of that position in terms of politics or why this happened, you know, our main concern now is to protect the users and the visitors of the Web site. We think it's a huge issue to have, you know, this many I.P. addresses, tens of thousands of people going out, and finding, you know, a place with the DOJ for all of this stuff to be handed over, you know, because of a search warrant that's this broad. BALDWIN: So, Jessica, back over to you. DOJ wants all this

information. What do they plan to do with it?

SCHNEIDER: So far, we know that 200 people, they were indicted on felony rioting charges for those protests in downtown D.C. So presumably, federal investigators want more information about those people who were being prosecuted, or potentially they want to go after more people who they have yet to prosecute. And the worry is that maybe they'll get some clues as to identities of people by going on to this Web site,

But really, Brooke, free speech advocates say that the search warrant, it's just far too broad and it could potentially chill people's right to speak out about their political views because, presumably, many people went to this Web site just to voice their concerns or to see what was going on. And maybe they weren't involved in these protests.

[14:39:46] BALDWIN: Stay on it, please, Jessica. Let's follow up with you.

And, Chris, thank you so much. We'll see where this goes in your fight to not release all this information.

Coming up next, we'll talk to the friend of a man who was savagely beaten by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists over the weekend in Charlottesville. Cuts in his head are being held together by stitches and staples. His friend was with him when it all happened. We'll talk to him next.


BALDWIN: We're learning new details about the man charged in a deadly car attack in Charlottesville. Police dispatch logs obtained by CNN affiliate in Cincinnati reveal this volatile past for the suspect. According to these logs that Samantha Bloom, James Alex Fields' mother called police to her home nine times between 2010 and 2013 when they lived back in Kentucky. And on at least two occasions officers responded to alleged violent activity against this mother who was in a wheelchair. And in 2011, a 14-year-old boy was arrested during one of those instances. Now, the boy's name is redacted when you look at all these different call logs, and the police haven't explained how that case was resolved.

But Fields is the man now charged with the murder of Heather Heyer. Just days after his daughter was killed, Heyer's father is saying he forgives her killer.


[14:45:35] MARK HEYER, FATHER OF HEATHER HEYER: I don't hope ill will toward this fellow who did this. He's stupid. He's only 20 years old. He doesn't have sense enough to make a life-long decision about nothing.

You know, I forgive him, flat-out. I forgive him.


BALDWIN: Charlottesville city leaders are asking anyone, imploring anyone who witnessed the violent attack during the white supremacist rally to please come forward. And that includes information about an attack on this counter protester, Deandre Harris.

Warning, these are tough pictures to look at. The video is disturbing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of here! Get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of here.



BALDWIN: The high school Special Ed assistant was marching with friends when he was savagely beaten over the weekend with poles and sticks.

And so with me now is Vonzz Long. He is Deandre Harris's friend, and saw a little bit of what happened there this weekend.

Vonzz, thank you so much for being with me.

And can you just first tell me, Deandre, he's out of the hospital? How's he doing?

VONZZ LONG, FRIEND OF DEANDRE HARRIS & ATTENDED COUNTER PROTESTS: He's doing a lot better right now. He's actually awake with his family right now.

BALDWIN: OK. Can you just take me back a couple days or even a couple weeks, you tell me, you all had heard about this Neo-Nazi rally taking place in your town of Charlottesville. Why go?

LONG: Say that again?

BALDWIN: You had heard about this white supremacist rally happening in your city of Charlottesville. Why did you want to go?

LONG: Just to stand up for our community. We live here. I've been living here 23 years and just to stand up against the Neo-Nazis, the Klan, whatever you guys want to call them, you know? The white nationalists. They already been here once before, and we just wanted to come out, take our ground, and just stand for our rights. So that's why we wanted to come out here.

BALDWIN: So, I understand you went, Deandre went, a couple other friends, you go and you get separated and is that when Deandre is beaten. LONG: Yes, as we were leaving, going up past the library here where

it happened at the park, we were just walking. The Neo-Nazis, the Klan, just the different hate groups, they were walking up also, and they were saying just bad things to us, you know, throwing stuff, saying the "n" word. I'm not going to say that on national tv because I really don't like that word. As we got closer to the garage, it just got a lot of -- just a whole bunch of chaos and chaotic. All I remember is seeing a lot of orange mace go everywhere and just see hundreds of people just running around going everywhere.

BALDWIN: And so you see Deandre, and he's got this bloodied head?

LONG: When I eventually find him, he's in a stairway by the elevator of the garage. When I find him, he's surrounded by the KKK, the Neo- Nazis. When I approached them, they threatened to beat me. I turned around. I walked around to the police department, which is literally 0.1 seconds away. They seen everything when it happened. They could have stepped in and did their job, which is to protect our community, which they're not really doing very well here at this time. I walked up in front of the police department where it's about 20 to 30 officers right there at that time and I told them to come help me, my friend is nearly bleeding to death. And they just looked at me. I told them to call the ambulance. They did not call the ambulance. A protester actually had to call the ambulance. I was just in shock and disbelief and I'm very disappointed in Charlottesville police department.

BALDWIN: We reached out to the police department just to try to understand how they couldn't have helped. The city sent us a statement saying they're aware of the beating of Deandre and that they're imploring people, you know, if you recognize any of the -- these racists beating your friend to please come forward.

Deandre, I understand, there were reports that he and his mom, who's been with him in the hospital, as have you, have talked about, because of that, suing the city of Charlottesville. Will they?

[14:50:10] LONG: I hope they will. Then again, I'm not really going to, you know, talk about that right now. You know? I'm going to leave that to him and his family to discuss that part.

BALDWIN: Vonzz, these racist groups say they're coming back. If they dare return to Charlottesville, what do you do?

LONG: We're going to keep standing up for our community. They can keep coming, and we're going to keep coming. We're going to stand up for our community. It doesn't have to be violent. They can talk. It's freedom of speech and we have freedom of speech also. But I mean, they came here with the intentions of violence. Rest in peace to Heather. Really rest in peace to her and I'm sorry to her family also of that death. But if they come here, we're just going to keep having our voices heard, and it does not have to get violent.

BALDWIN: Vonzz Long, thank you. I'm so sorry.

LONG: Yes, ma'am. Thank you. BALDWIN: Thank you.

Let's get you back, more on our breaking news today. Walmart CEO, the latest executive coming out against President Trump over his response after Charlottesville. But what about the rest of his advisory councils? Stay here.


[14:55:50] BALDWIN: All right, you're watching CNN. Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

After taking 72 hours to condemn racists by name, President Trump had a much quicker response in calling out his own peers, fellow business leaders, who are now parting ways with him. The president tweeted now, "For every CEO that drops out of the manufacturing council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. Jobs."

Moments ago, the CEO of the largest private employer in the world, Walmart, just gave this public pan of the president. Doug McMillan said the president, quote, "Missed a critical opportunity when he failed to bring the country together after the deadly violence in Charlottesville."

It is not clear if McMillan is leaving the president's Economic Advisory Council or not.

So far, I can say four executives have. Scott Paul is just the latest to leave the president's manufacturing council. He joins the leaders of Merck, Under Armour and Intel to leave. These executives are protesting the president's initial failure to call out the racists responsible for the atrocity over the weekend.

So, let me begin with David Chalian, our CNN political director.

And, David, just, you know, let's just start with the flood of executives rebuking him. How are you reacting to that? Are you surprised?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There are two different things I see happening here, Brooke, that I find really interesting. One, that these executives are still doing so even after the president's attempt to sort of clean up Saturday's remarks with his remarks yesterday, which were widely seen as stronger remarks, more hitting the right notes. But as these executives and their actions are pointing out, that doesn't erase what happened saturday. So, to me, it shows Donald Trump still has work to do, not just about these individual executives but still has work to do in terms of leadership moment in the country, because the one set of remarks on Monday that he read from the White House yesterday doesn't erase the fact that what he neglected to say on saturday still caused a lot of pain for a lot of Americans. That's one. The second thing, Brooke, is, you got to remember what these CEOs, they're mostly concerned -- I don't say this callously -- the bottom line is sort of what a CEO is all about.


CHALIAN: And so they're making a calculus that their customer base, their employees, are requiring them to take this position. So, that, to me, also means they're hearing from people who sort of are voting with their pocketbook and their jobs in this moment that they need to display this kind of leadership.

BALDWIN: Sure. But then you also look at it from the president's perspective. This is someone who on Twitter at least says, hey, essentially, I can replace you. You're grandstanding. But at the same time, we've seen all the CEO round table pictures, right, at the White House. I mean, David, these are the men he seems to admire the most.

CHALIAN: Yes. And it's a little ironic to hear Donald Trump call people grandstanders, right? I feel like he has perfected that art. Before he was in politics, since he's in politics, the use of his Twitter feed and all those things, so he certainly knows grandstanding. There's no doubt about that. But you are right. And he can replace them. So I understand, listen, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear throughout the entire time we've been covering him as a public official that if you're going to hit him or throw him an elbow, he's going to hit back so it's totally expected that he is going to try to brush back these CEOs that are leaving him and it's not everyone. You just mentioned Walmart, who issued the statement, but said, staying in this conversation is how he chose to play it out so there are different ways that different CEOs are going about this.

BALDWIN: Moving past the executive news, though -- and, you know, you talk about the president's Twitter page, but you know, he condemns racism outright, you know, essentially, two, three days after the fact. But then you look at his tweets and it might give you a different impression. We talked about this yesterday morning. He quickly goes after Ken Frazier, the African-American CEO of Merck. He then shares a tweet from someone known for pushing conspiracy theories. Then he retweets and deletes before someone grabs the freeze frame, you know, this train running over a CNN reporter.