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Trump Retweets Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorist; Remembering Heather Heyer; Heading To The Polls In Alabama; Fired Google Engineer Speaks Out. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: -- 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 Charlottesville.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Except you know who was not calling him 45 in public, certainly at least, is these big-name CEOs who have now all three -- Intel, Under Armour, Merck -- all condemned what the president said and pulled off of his -- one of his panels as a result.

Guys, this has fallen into late-night, which was not laughing about this last night. Just listen to Jimmy Fallon.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, NBC "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful and I think he finally spoke out because people everywhere stood up and said something.

One brave woman in Charlottesville, Heather Heyer, died standing up for what's right at the age of 32.

I can't look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when this kind of thing is happening.

We all need to stand against what is wrong, acknowledge that racism exists, and stand up for what is right, and civil, and kind, and to show the next generation that we haven't forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights.

We cannot do this. We can't go backward.


HARLOW: David, what do you think? I mean, is this is a moment where things do change or do you agree with Wes' argument?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HOST, "THE DAVID GREGORY SHOW" PODCAST: Well, I don't know how much can change. I mean, things are changing and this is a conversation that people are having. I'm not sure the president is equipped or interested in leading it in a way that could be productive.

You know, it's shocking to me is you think about the fact that President Trump has Jewish grandchildren that he will not speak out more forcefully and did not against racism and anti-Semitism. What does he think would happen to those grandchildren if these anti- Semitic Nazis and their worldview would prevail in this country, which they will not because we've learned from history and that's why they're on the fringe.

But the fact that he gives them space and that they feel they have space in his America is actually disrespectful to the notion of who Trump's base it. I don't think they're part of Trump's base and he shouldn't want them to be there. But the more he coddles them, the more they will be.

There's a larger debate that the president or someone else who's responsible could have about this debate about our memory of Confederate soldiers and the Confederacy which we can get into if we had more time.

HARLOW: We will get into that. Not right now, but we will.

Thank you very much.

Ahead for us, she's the one who started that GoFundMe page for the Charlottesville victim, so what did Heather Heyer do for this friend that made her want to jump into action? Wait until you hear this interview, next.


[07:36:45] HARLOW: The entire country continues to mourn the loss of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, killed by that car as it plowed into the group of counter-protesters at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Heather's mother spoke with Anderson Cooper. Just listen to this.


SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF CHARLOTTESVILLE VICTIM HEATHER HEYER: You took my child from me and I'm going to be the voice that she can no longer be. And so, you gave us a national forum and maybe I should thank you for that, but I can't. I would rather have my child.


HARLOW: The pain of a mother.

Joining us now from Charlottesville is a lifelong friend of Heather, Felicia Correa. She's the one who started that incredible GoFundMe page for Heather's family.

Thank you so much for being here.

You've known her -- FELICIA CORREA, FRIEND OF HEATHER HEYER: Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: You've known here since you guys were 11. You lived on the same street, you played together, you went to elementary school together.

What do you want everyone to know about Heather?

CORREA: Right. She actually went to elementary school with my brother, but --

So, our bus -- everybody who is watching this from Greene County who knew about bus six -- there were a lot of loud voices and a lot of tension on that bus and people weren't going to be mean to other people around Heather.

Now, she wasn't one, you know, to get up and get in a physical altercation but she never minced words, even as a small child, you know.


CORREA: Even who got to -- she played with my brother a lot and as far as who was riding the go-cart first or -- because there were a lot of boys in our neighborhood.

HARLOW: She --

CORREA: But, I mean, she -- it's not fair. That's not fair.

HARLOW: She always stood up, it sounds like, from a young, young age for what is right and you've said she died for this country.

CORREA: She did. It's sad that the world lost a great person in order -- I mean, the world had to lose a great person in order to start a conversation.


CORREA: The conversation has not been as -- well, the topic has not been, you know, so vocal and so loud until now. And it's sad because you sit in history class and, you know -- I help my kids with homework and they learned about the Civil Rights Movement and you see those things and you feel horrible but you never had, you know, to live through it so you only know what you see. You only know the pain that you hear people speak about.

It's 2017. This should have never happened.

HARLOW: She helped you personally, Felicia, in one of your -- if not your deepest time of need in your life. You were struggling with all of these medical bills. It was very, very difficult and you were in desperate need of help --


HARLOW: -- and she came to help you.

What did she do?

CORREA: Well, one of my friends who also works at the law firm, you know, told me come out and talk to Heather and, you know, we can see what we can do for you. And she told me that -- you know, Heather said she knew me and I was like I don't know.

[07:40:00] So then I came in and I was like oh, Heather, and you know, it just went from there. And while we were, you know, doing paperwork, the paperwork took a lot longer than it should have because we were chatting and asking, you know, how this person was and how that person was.

And, you know, I was actually a closer friend with her brother because we were, you know, closer in age and closer in grades and Nick and I stayed in contact with each other after school.

HARLOW: Yes. You know --

CORREA: But it was -- she made sure paperwork got done and she, you know, she didn't --

HARLOW: She helped you.

CORREA: -- hesitate to call, like --


CORREA: Didn't hesitate to call, you know, that payroll department at my job several times to make sure that garnishment funds were given back to me in a timely manner so that, you know, my kids could eat, pretty much.

HARLOW: So, as someone who's known Heather, you know, since you were 11 years old -- it took the president days and a lot of condemnation from both sides to come out and say what needed to be said and to condemn neo-Nazis, the KKK, white supremacists. Everything that she was fighting against and gave her life fighting against.

We've now learned, according to the White House, he has no plans to visit Charlottesville in the wake of this tragedy.

What would Heather say about all this?

CORREA: She'd just be purely disgusted. I mean, you know, in the law firm in which she worked at she tried to help people of all races and, you know, sexual orientation.

And it disgusts me that, you know, he has no plans for coming here but he made a point to go down to Lynchburg to, you know, speak. You should be here at least paying a visit to a grieving mother, you know, to a grieving brother, a father.

She was somebody's child, and not just her. All the victims were someone's child. And just the simple fact that you have no plans on coming here, you shouldn't be allowed to sit in the White House.

HARLOW: In a word, leave us with this. How do you want us all to remember Heather?

CORREA: She -- I just don't want what happened to Heather and the others to be in vain. Things have got to change. It cannot be OK to be a racist behind your own doors. It cannot be OK to come out right and be a racist in public and I feel like that's what the presidency has done. It has made it OK to be a public bigot.

HARLOW: Thank you for your candor and thank you for sharing your memories of Heather. I wish we all could have met her. She sounds like a remarkable woman.

Thank you, Felicia.

CORREA: Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: Chris --


So it is Election Day in Alabama and President Trump has thrown his support behind a candidate that he wants to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate. Will voters agree?

We have a live report from Alabama, next.


[07:46:45] CUOMO: Alabama voters head to the polls today for a special primary election to fill Jeff Sessions' Senate seat.

The Republican race is one to watch. The field is crowded, it's also competitive. But only one candidate is getting the big endorsement from the President of the United States, who even tweeted about him this morning. Will that be enough?

CNN's Victor Blackwell has more.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY SATURDAY," "NEW DAY SUNDAY" (voice-over): Sweet Home Alabama, the state that handed President Donald Trump his biggest election night victory in the Deep South, 28 points.

Now, the frontrunners in the GOP primary race for the Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions are battling to prove who is the truest Trump diehard.

ROY MOORE, (R), ALABAMA, REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: The same Washington insiders who don't like President Trump are trying to stop our campaign. SEN. LUTHER STRANGE (R), ALABAMA, REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: I'm working with President Trump to drain the swamp.

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA,REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: I vote with President Trump 95 percent of the time.

BLACKWELL: Controversial former State Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore, northern Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, and appointed placeholder, Sen. Luther Strange are all cozying up to the president ahead of the August 15th primary despite Trump's slipping job approval rating nationally. That's because his numbers are much stronger among Republicans here.

STRANGE: In Alabama, which is what I most -- care most about, his numbers are closer to 90 percent.

BLACKWELL: Still, not as strong as Alabama's support for Sessions. He ran unopposed in 2014 and was reelected with more than 97 percent of the vote.

So when the president described A.G. Sessions as weak and beleaguered, candidates were forced to balance their support for a popular president with voters' dislike of the attacks against Alabama's favorite son.

BLACKWELL (on camera): Do you think the president should continue or should he stop the criticisms publicly?

MOORE: I -- that's not for me to say. I'm not going to judge the president's actions. I wouldn't want him judging mine.

BROOKS: Jeff Sessions is a personal friend of mine and in this family dispute I'm siding with Jeff Sessions.

STRANGE: It's possible for us to support both the president and our attorney general. It's a tough environment in Washington and I support both of them.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): After just six months in the Senate, Strange has endeared a powerful ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell's super PAC is flooding Alabama with T.V. and radio ads attacking Moore and Brooks.

T.V. AD: Roy Moore, there's so much more.

Mo Brooks even refused to endorse Donald Trump for president.

BLACKWELL: The move to aggressively endorse one Republican over others is an effort to manage the party's slim Senate majority to pass legislation.

These two have vowed to buck McConnell in the Senate and they say he's part of the swamp.

BROOKS: I believe the people of Alabama don't like being told by Washington special interest groups who to consider, and I believe that's going to backfire against Mitch McConnell's boy.

MOORE: I will vote to repeal Obamacare and replace Mitch McConnell.


BLACKWELL: Now, President Trump also recorded a robocall for Sen. Luther Strange that went out to voters across the state overnight.

Now, the threshold, 50 percent plus one. If no one reaches that, the top two vote-getters will go on to a run-off in September.

But the one to watch is Judge Roy Moore. You'll remember that he was removed from the bench twice. First, for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments. Then, for ordering the enforcement of an overturned same-sex marriage ban.

[07:50:07] The question here is can he reach that 50 percent? Some analysts across the state say it's possible and that will, of course, move him to the general election in December.

Polls open in 10 minutes -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Fascinating piece. Victor Blackwell, there in Alabama. Thank you very much for that.

Ahead for us, fired over a controversial memo, now the Google engineer behind it speaking out one-on-one with CNN's Laurie Segall. We will have that for you, next.


CUOMO: No break from severe weather for residents in the central part of the country. Once again, high winds, large hail, isolated tornadoes are possible today.

Chad Myers has your forecast. What do you see?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A lot of the same you just said. Hail and wind damage, I think, the major threat today.

This weather is brought to you by Purina -- Your Pet. Our Passion.

Let's get right to it.

It's part of the Central Plains. It's maybe where you'll plane will fly over today and the plane may have to fly around some of these very large storms.

[07:55:05] Not out of the question that some of these ranchers and farmers here could pick up baseball-size hail today. It's just that significant out there in the Plains. A spring-type day.

Now, there'll be rain in the Northeast as well. Into D.C., all the way into New York City it will be kind of wet day -- a slow day to fly. That is Hurricane Gert out there in the Atlantic Ocean. It will not get to the U.S but it will make very large waves. Thanks to our folks here at Surfline. Big waves already in Hatteras, North Carolina -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Chad Myers. Thank you, my friend.

The right-wing conspiracy theorist retweeted by President Trump already has big plans for the weekend. He's leading a multi-city march on Google to protest the firing of software engineer James Damore over a controversial memo.

In the 3000-word post, Damore argues that there are fewer women in tech jobs partly due to biological causes that he says, they are also less assertive and experience higher levels of anxiety. He also slams what he calls Google's politically correct monoculture.

He is speaking out in an interview with "CNN TECH"s Laurie Segall. He defends that controversial memo and talks about life inside of Google.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: I read that you said you felt misrepresented. How do you feel misrepresented?

JAMES DAMORE, FORMER GOOGLE ENGINEER: A lot of what the media has been saying is that I'm anti-diversity. I think that women are less capable of being engineers, and that's just really false.

I simply said that if we want to fix the gender representation issue then we should look at how the population differs and so we can make tech actually better for a lot more women.

SEGALL: Why do you believe you were fired?

DAMORE: Well, I think that it was a P.R. move by Google, primarily. There was a lot of pressure externally and by some of the very zealous followers of this ideology to get me fired.

SEGALL: It certainly seems so in the memo, or at least what a Google CEO said was you weren't fired for having different ideology, but you were fired for some of your statements on women.

DAMORE: Yes. I mean, he can say whatever he wants but that's not the true case.

SEGALL: Computer science -- it hasn't always been dominated by men. It wasn't until 1984 that the number of women studying computer science started falling. So how does that fit into your argument as to why there aren't more women in tech?

DAMORE: So there are several reasons for why it was like that. Partly, women weren't allowed to work other jobs so there was less freedom for people. And also, it was simply different kinds of work. It was more like accounting rather than modern day computer programming. And it wasn't as lucrative so part of the reason so many men go into tech is because it's high-paying. I know of many people at Google that they weren't necessarily passionate about it but it was what would provide for their family and so they still work there.

SEGALL: You say those jobs are more like accounting.

I mean, look at Grace Hopper who pioneered computer programming. Margaret Hamilton who created the first-ever software which was responsible for landing humans on the moon.

Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan, they were responsible for John Glenn accurately making his trajectory to the moon.

Those aren't accounting-type jobs.

DAMORE: Yes. So there were select positions that weren't and women are definitely capable of being top-end programmers.

SEGALL: Do you believe those women were outliers?

DAMORE: No, I'm just saying that there are confident women programmers. There are many at Google and the women at Google aren't any worse than the men at Google.

But I'm saying that there were many positions that were listed as coding that are different than what coding currently is.

SEGALL: Do you think there are more, almost undercover conservative or undercover alt-right folks -- I mean, people who are kind of afraid to speak up in Silicon Valley?

DAMORE: Yes, there are many conservatives that are in the closet, quite literally, in Silicon Valley. And, I mean, I'm a centrist and I still can't express many of my views.

SEGALL: All right. Are some of the, as you call it, in-the-closet conservatives reaching out to you and, if so, why? I'd be curious to know what are they saying.

DAMORE: I -- they largely agree with much of what I'm saying and many have either left Google because the culture is very alienating towards them or are thinking about it because it's so bad. They don't feel like they can bring their whole selves to Google and that that is a psychologically unsafe environment where you feel like you have to constantly self-censor yourself and you have to stay in the closet and mask who you really are.


HARLOW: All right. First of all, hats off to Laurie Segall for getting him to talk and try to explain what he meant there.

In response to his claim that Google is psychologically unsafe for conservatives, here's what Google said. An important part of our culture is lively debate. But any workplace -- well, that doesn't mean that anything goes.

And, Damore also told Laurie he doesn't support the alt-right and says he's not likely to participate in that upcoming anti-Google protest planned for this weekend.

All right.

CUOMO: Interesting situation.

All right. There's a lot of news going on. Let's get after it.