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Trump Retweets Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorist; Charlottesville Attack Suspect Denied Bond. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 07:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred. It has no place in America.

[07:00:15] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better late than never. I'm glad the president called evil by name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's too little too late. One's initial response is the most important response.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hours after condemning white supremacists, the president retweeting a prominent supporter and conspiracy theorist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump has no credibility on this issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no place in my party for neo-Nazis.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Three CEOs now say they want out of the president's manufacturing council.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just not seeing that maturity yet from the president, who is still in campaign mode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're carrying around a Nazi flag you're not in the Republican Party.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow is joining me this week. Thank you for that.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Happy to be here.

CUOMO: Just hours after caving to pressure to condemn white supremacists and other hate groups by name, President Trump raising eyebrows by retreating to the fringe, retweeting a conspiracy theorist who has pedaled baseless stories. The president back in New York, thousands taking to the streets to protest his arrival at Trump Tower.

HARLOW: Meantime, Charlottesville prepares for a memorial for Heather Heyer, killed for standing up to hate. In just moments we're going to speak to the man at the center of this horrifying picture that captures the deadly violence in that town. Marcus Martin pushed his fiance, Marissa, out of the way as this car rammed into them. He will share his story for the first time right here. His fiance Marissa, also a close friend of Heather Heyer, who was murdered, will join him. You will not want to miss what they have to say.

Let's begin our coverage, though, with our Jeff Zeleny. He is live here in New York outside of Trump Tower, where the president last night was met by apparently thousands of protesters.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. President Trump is waking up here, as you said, in Trump Tower for the first time in some seven months.

He left his home here two days before inauguration day and has not been back since. This is all part of his working vacation, but the controversy from Charlottesville and the tweets that he's sending out overnight are new ones for him to deal with.


ZELENY (voice-over): Only hours after attempting to quell the outrage over his initial response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, President Trump retweeting a prominent supporter and conspiracy theorist.

The president's retweet originated from Jack Posobiec, a prolific social media user the Anti-Defamation League says is a member of the so-called alt-right. The ADL says the movement rejects overt white supremacist views but embraces misogyny and xenophobia.

The ADL has also highlighted Posobiec's frequent anti-Muslim tweets and harassment of former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Posobiec was granted access to the White House press briefing in May.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President, Seth Rich, can we talk about Seth Rich?

ZELENY: Posobiec has pedaled a number of debunked conspiracy theories online, including a baseless story that the Democratic National Committee was behind the death of former staffer Seth Rich. The claim was the subject of a FOX News story that has since been retracted and deleted.

And the Pizzagate hoax, which alleges that top Democrats were operating a child sex trafficking ring out of a D.C. pizza shop during last year's campaign.

On Monday, the president caved to pressure, condemning white supremacists and other hate groups by name.

TRUMP: Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

ZELENY: CNN has learned that the president insisted on addressing the economy before making these additional remarks, which came two days after the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President, can you explain why you did not condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend?

TRUMP: They've been condemned. They have been condemned.

ZELENY: Hours later, shortly before leaving the White House, the president took aim at the media for the controversy that has now cost him the support of three CEOs on his American Manufacturing Council. The CEO of Intel becoming the third business leader to step down Tuesday night, saying in part, "I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem to be more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them."

The president's do-over also does not appear to have been enough for thousands of protesters who lined the streets outside of Trump Tower, ahead of Mr. Trump's arrival last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA. No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA. No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA. No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.


ZELENY: And Poppy, police here in New York are bracing for more protesters again today. The president will be here all day long, holding an infrastructure meeting. He's surrounded by many of his advisers. One adviser who's not here is White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. He is said to be on thin ice among the president's inner circle. Keeping an eye on him to see if he remains. The controversy from Charlottesville still lingering over this president -- Poppy.

[07:05:20] HARLOW: Absolutely. Jeff Zeleny in New York in front of Trump Tower, thanks very much.

Also this morning, new details are coming out about the suspect who allegedly ran his car into that crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville. The 20-year-old Ohio man is still behind bars after being denied bond after his court appearance yesterday.

Our Kaylee Hartung is live in Charlottesville with more. Yesterday you told us about his past, what his teachers have been saying about him. What else have you learned about this man?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Poppy, as federal and state investigators continue to search for motive in that deadly attack, we're learning more about James Alex Fields Jr.'s violent and troubled past. Our affiliate, WLWT, obtained police dispatch logs which tell us that

it appears he was so violent as a teenager against his own mother that she was forced to call 911.

Police responded nine times to his childhood home from 2010 to 2013, when he would have been a young teenager. Twice those calls were made for alleged violent activity against the mother, who's disabled, in a wheelchair.

Now the mother has never discussed -- said she never discussed her son's political views with him, but as a high school teacher told us, this is a young man who was infatuated with Nazism, and who bought into white supremacy as a young teenager.

I should mention, Poppy, one of those logs says that, in 2011, a 14- year-old boy was arrested, though his name was redacted from those logs.

Now, at 20 years old, Fields is charged with the murder of Heather Heyer; and Heyer's father has a message for Fields.


MARK HEYER, HEATHER HEYER'S FATHER: I don't hold any ill will toward this young fellow that did this. He's stupid, OK? He's only 20 years old. He don't have sense enough to make a lifelong decision about nothing. You know, I forgive him. Flat out, just I forgive him.

The thing is, he's going to have to live with consequences, and he's going to have to live knowing that he took somebody's life for the rest of his life. That's -- I wouldn't wish that on nobody.


HARTUNG: The local paper tells us there will be a memorial for Heather Heyer on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Paramount Theater right in the middle of downtown Charlottesville. Chris, we have seen an outpouring of emotion in this town in her memory.

CUOMO: All right, Kaylee, thank you very much.

It has become a flash point as well as a city, and people are going to keep looking to Charlottesville to see what happens next.

And the moment that really captured the country was seen in this one photo. What do we see here? This is the alleged attacker's car, the gray car you see there, the challenger, knocking over all of these different people, most importantly for our purposes, Marcus Martin.

Why? Well, he had just pushed his fiancee out of the way, putting himself in the path of that vehicle, and he got hit. He broke his leg. His fiancee was uninjured.

We're joined now by Marcus Martin with, once again, his fiancee, Marissa Blair, who joined us yesterday, a close friend and former co- worker of Heather Heyer, who lost her life in that same scenario. Marissa, Mr. Martin, thanks to both of you for being with us on this



CUOMO: Marcus, how are you feeling? How's your leg? How's your heart?

MARCUS MARTIN, MARISSA BLAIR'S FIANCE: Heavy. Heavy. It's just a lot of pain. It's a lot to cope with.

CUOMO: It is. We see that you both have the shirts on to support Heather this morning. What do you want people to know about why you were there with Marissa yesterday, Marcus -- over the weekend, not yesterday, why you were there?

MARTIN: Because I wanted to stand up and spread love. I wasn't going to attend the rally, but then I get on Facebook, and I see videos of them just beating them with torches. And that's what I stand for, like I stand for my black community. I stand for everything, what's right. And by me being able to see what was really going on, I couldn't -- I couldn't allow myself not to go.

CUOMO: Do you remember being on the street...

MARTIN: I just couldn't allow myself not to attend.

CUOMO: Do you remember yourself being on the street and the car coming?

MARTIN: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: How do you remember it?

MARTIN: Yes, sir. The only thing I remember is we was walking up the street and he was -- the car was just sitting there, just there. And then out of nowhere I'm looking down at my phone, and then you hear the tires screech, and then I look up and bodies are just flying. And I just thought for one split second, I didn't think about myself, I thought about my fiancee. I had to protect her. That's what I'm here for, her protection, and I put it all on the line for her.

CUOMO: Did you know you were going to get hit when you moved her out of the way?

MARTIN: There was a big chance of me getting hit, but I'd do it all over again just to make sure that everything's OK with her.

CUOMO: Marissa, we talked about this yesterday. People are so moved by your feelings and what you told us all about your friend Heather and what she was about, and about this bond that you have with your fiance, because, you know, sometimes in moments that are this ugly and this negative and this about the worst of human instincts, something like what happened between the two of you reminds everybody that there's an entirely different part of the reality of humanity, as well.

And I know how much it means to you that Marcus put it all on the line, like he says, and he really did. I mean, a car coming at you, that's a deadly weapon, and it took your friend's life. It could have taken a lot of lives. And how you guys feeling together since that moment?

BLAIR: I mean, we're just happy to be together. I was telling him last night, being at -- being at the rally, being at the counter protest, and seeing all the hate that was going on with the protesters, it made me not think -- that maybe the world isn't such a great place, maybe human beings aren't so great.

But ever since the event, we've gotten nothing but love and support and kindness from people all over the world, people we don't even know. And it just shows you that there is still good in the world, that I'm so lucky to have someone like him to be by my side to protect me. And we grew to love each other more and more each day, but this is unexplainable, how much our bond has grown since then.

CUOMO: You got an advanced look at "for better or worse," and you know where Marcus would be, when that moment comes.


CUOMO: For a lot of the rest of us we promise it, you know, the husbands of the world, but we don't know if we'd be able to deliver in that moment. And Marcus, you did. And I appreciate that, as somebody who was looking for something to restore a sense of virtue in humanity coming out of something so ugly. So thank you for that gift that you gave us, and we know it caused you a lot of pain with your leg.

I want to ask you about some of the ideas that are coming out of this situation. We just had on two people, and there's a debate going on about why the president was so measured in the first instance. And here's what a supporter of his will argue.

Well, there was ugliness on both sides. You had the white supremacists, and then you had the lefty extremists there, as well. And I kept making the point. So you see people like Heather Heyer as equally responsible as a neo-Nazi for what happened down there?

What do you make of that idea that people like you and your fiancee and Heather Heyer, who are down there to oppose the white supremacists, were somehow equally in the wrong for being there and for what happened?

MARTIN: The only individual that's in the wrong of this whole entire situation is the guy that ran the car into a peaceful protest. There was a lot of wrong going on down there, but that protest that I was in, and as my fiancee was in, it was peaceful. We wasn't spreading hate. We were spreading love. We was chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets." That's the only thing we chanted.

BLAIR: Racists go home.

MARTIN: We don't want you here. And that's all we said. And I guess that led to the tragic event that occurred.

And he took it upon his self to do, to walk out the rally, to get in his car, to find out where the good protest was going, and you find us and you run us down. Who -- and then I feel multiple times that people saying he's 20 years old; it was an accident. He knew exactly what he was doing. His intentions was clear. He wanted -- he wanted pain. He wanted hurt. He wanted blood. That's what he was after.

You come down to Charlottesville -- yes, everybody that was out there, we were out there at our own risk, it was at our own risk. But we was out there standing up for things we believed in, and we wasn't out there to protest hate or anything. The only we was doing was standing up for things we believed in. That's all. That's all.

CUOMO: Marissa, yesterday you said to me that, you know, listen, the president's got to step up. He's got to call this for what it is and do it. He says he did that yesterday. He came out, and he said it. And then afterwards he retweeted some thoughts from a known fringe supporter of conspiracy theories, and then today he retweeted an article that says he's thinking of pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has become a controversial figure in some circles.

Does it bother you that, after doing something that was supposed to bring people together, he then retweets a right-wing extremist, you know, playing to those kind of fringe conspiracies, or talks about Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Do you see a connection in those motives? Does that bother you or do you think that's just how it is?

BLAIR: It does bother me. It makes me question the president's motives. Was that apology, or was that calling out the white nationalists for what they were, was that -- was that real? Were you compelled to do that? What took you so long to do it?

And now he's blaming the media for starting the controversy. It was clear that that was an act of terror, an act of hate. It was done to scare the people of my city, scare the people of the world. And it's like he needed his advisers or he needed someone else to say, "You need to do this." And he -- I don't think he did it because he wanted to. He did it because he had to.

And his tweets and his comments and just everything he's been doing up until this point since this tragedy on Saturday, it hasn't been genuine. I haven't seen it as genuine. It just seems like something he needs to do as the president, and something that he needs to do to make sure that the world just doesn't -- just doesn't go crazy.

CUOMO: Wes Bellamy is a vice mayor down there in Charlottesville. We had him on the show this morning, and he was saying he likes what he sees in terms of how the people are coming together down there, that he believes that there's going to be a reaction to the negativity with positivity.

But he kept referring to the president as 45. And I asked him, "Why are you calling him 45? Yes, he is the 45th president, but why aren't you calling him by his name?" And the vice mayor said, "I don't think he's earned the respect of

being called president. He hasn't shown the leadership in this situation. He hasn't done what he was supposed to do."

Marcus, do you agree with that?

MARTIN: No comment. I feel no comment. I don't want to comment anything about Donald Trump, because I don't have anything positive to say.

CUOMO: All right, fair enough. Marissa, how about you?

BLAIR: I'm sorry, what was the question again?

CUOMO: Wes Bellamy, the vice mayor, referring to the president as 45. I asked him why, and he said, "I don't think he's earned the respect to be called president."

BLAIR: Right, yes, I don't. I personally have never called him 45. I have family members that do. I just call him Trump. I don't -- I don't see him as my president. You know, I hate to say, I'm an American. Yes, he's my president, but he is not acting like a president. He's not representing the citizens of America like he's a president.

He hasn't earned it. He hasn't. He hasn't shown us anything. He said that being a president is harder than he thought it would be. You're protecting the country. You're protecting America, its families, its safety. You're supposed to unite us and make us a better country; and you haven't done it. You haven't even started. You haven't even began to think about why you even wanted to be president other than a publicity stunt, and that's all I can think.

But no, 45, I will not condemn anyone from calling him that. "President Trump" will never come out of my mouth, in terms of showing any type of respect to him.

CUOMO: Well, we know the president watches the show. It's a powerful message from people who lived through a horrible event. He is the leader of all of us, so he'll hear you this morning.

Marissa, thank you for getting up again and for being with us again. And Marcus Martin, I know you're in pain, and there are injuries inside and out, but again I want to thank you not just for what you did for your fiancee, but for what you showed all of us in terms of what love can be when it takes action.

[07:20:11] Thank you very much, and the best to both of you for your lives together ahead.

MARTIN: Thank you, sir.

BLAIR: Thanks.

CUOMO: Poppy.

HARLOW: Wishing them all the best.

Ahead for us, it took two days for the president to finally call out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis by name. Did his comments, though, quell the outrage? We're going to dig into that ahead.


TRUMP: Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

CUOMO: A few hours after President Trump denounced white supremacist groups by name, the president retweeted a right-wing conspiracy theorist who pushed baseless stories about a DNC former staffer's murder and the Pizzagate hoax. Why did he do that? Was the timing a coincidence?

[07:25:02] Let's discuss the impact. CNN political analysts David Gregory, Josh Green, and CNN contributor Wes Lowery. It's great to have you all three of you gentlemen with us on this important morning.

David Gregory, is this a coincidence or do you think this was intentional timing by the president, and what is its relevance, if so?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you just see in the president someone who appears to be so reluctant to do the right thing. You know, when it comes to white nationalists, white supremacists who supported him in the course of the campaign and Vladimir Putin.

These are the two people, the two groups that he won't criticize frontally, and yet, he's so transparent about everyone else. He's so clear and unmistakable in his views about everyone else, including the media, and on and on, and yet he coddles these two, and I don't understand it. Except the understanding comes from why he throughout the campaign and even now gives space to those people who pedal this hatred and this filth, and he's done that throughout the campaign for fear, I suppose, of alienating a fringe part of his base.

I don't know what's in his heart. I'm not judging what's in the president's heart, but you have an opportunity as president to speak out forcefully against it. He hasn't done it. He didn't do it throughout the campaign, and then to equivocate on something like this, again, it defies description or understanding and got him in hot water with even Republicans, who said no, you can't do this. These are people who associate themselves with you or with the Republican Party, we as a party have to stand up and say, "No, thanks. We're not interested in you."

HARLOW: And Jeff Green, to David's point, he did this during the campaign, during the election, and he won. Right? So perhaps that emboldens him to believe that he can continue to do this as the president of the United States. Of course, what he says, what he does is on him, but questions are swirling about what role Steve Bannon may play in all of this in his position the White House going forward. You just wrote the definitive book on Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.

Here's part of it. You said that Bannon is said to have eagerly encouraged Trump to do everything he could to build a political involvement around white identity politics. Where do you see Bannon in this now?

JEFF GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Bannon was probably on the side of Trump's advisers saying don't give in to the pressure from the media and from liberals and apologize for this. I think in the event that turned out to be very bad advice.

But as you mentioned in the intro, during the campaign Trump also came under attack from Hillary Clinton, who gave a speech last August about the dangers and the menace of alt-right racism and Trump's association with it. It was an attempt to pressure Trump into either firing Bannon or dissociating himself with some of the white nationalists and anti-Semites.

Trump refused, and if you go back and look at the polling about a month later her lead in the polls actually narrowed. And I talked to Bannon for the book, and he said, "Look, we polled the race stuff. This attack Clinton is making doesn't matter."

And so Trump, of course, went ahead and won the election. And I think internalized the lesson that you don't necessarily have to apologize for this kind of thing, as appalling as it is to a lot of Americans.

CUOMO: Wes, we had Wes Bellamy on this morning, vice mayor of Charlottesville, and he kept referring to the president as 45. I asked him why. Of course, President Trump is the 45th president. But he said, "I'm not calling him President Trump. He hasn't earned that respect." How much damage do you think the president did to himself here?

WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: To be honest? Not that much because I think that most people who are calling him "45" a week ago or still calling him "45."

You know, the reality is you look at the president's poll numbers, it's difficult for them to go much lower. The types of folks who would be offended by this coddling of racist and neo-Nazis, in fact, were offended by Donald Trump's behavior around the Central Park Five, were offended by his comments about, you know, a Mexican-American judge or, you know, his sponsorship of birtherism and leading that type of racist movement.

And so what's difficult here is the politics of white America, is that when you look at President Trump's numbers as it relates to Republicans, the Republican base, as well as white Americans broadly, they are far higher than they are among minority Americans and continue to be there even as overall they are low.

I mean, I think that there was a piece in McClatchy this morning that was talking about you have all these GOP operatives condemning President Trump and you have some GOP-elected officials. The base does not care. They thought his initial comments were great. They were fine.

It speaks to while those of us who are, you know, in D.C., who perhaps move it in different political circles, have clarity about the -- why his initial comments were unacceptable and not condemning and, in fact, playing coy with dangerous racist ideas, the reality is that many Americans, many white Americans play coy themselves with these ideas, and also kind of coddle, whether it be friends and family members, who hold these types of views.

These weren't anonymous folks out in the streets of Charlotte.

HARLOW: Except, you know who was not calling him 45.