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CNN Sources Say Trump Without Regret Over Remarks; Obama's Former Faith Adviser on Trump's Remarks; Trump to Fund Obamacare Subsidy. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 16, 2017 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The breaking news, CNN reports President Trump has no regrets about his new remarks on race that have frankly put his presidency in a deep crisis. With me now to talk about this historic evolution, Jalane Schmidt, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She's also a local social justice activist, so professor, thank you so much for your time.


BALDWIN: So, let's go back. The day before the protest, it was Friday night, you were stuck inside a church watching, live tweeting about the protests, the alt-right protests near the statue of General Robert E. Lee. Tell me about that evening.

SCHMIDT: Yes, well, actually, the torch rally was just across the street from the church. The torch rally was around the statue of Thomas Jefferson on the campus of the University of Virginia. I, and several hundred others, were in St. Paul Episcopal church on the UVA corner. We were just concluding our mass prayer service when we were warned by the pastors that the alt-right had gathered outside and we needed to stay put. So, people were very alarmed. Felt very threatened. We didn't know at that time that there were students there that were being assaulted by the alt-right around the statue. But we were trapped inside for our own safety.

BALDWIN: And you still feel -- I mean, you're still worried about your own safety, is that correct to say?

SCHMIDT: Yes. I was advised to stay in a safe house this past weekend, and I had security with me 24 hours.

BALDWIN: My goodness.

SCHMIDT: I've been having to avoid certain figures and, you know, getting hate in the e-mail inbox and flyers under my windshield wiper and this sort of thing.

BALDWIN: Back in June, there was a KKK rally in Charlottesville, actually, Boyd Tinsley was telling us this had happened over the summer. And you wrote about this. SCHMIDT: It was July 8.

BALDWIN: Forgive me. July. You wrote about the lessons of that experience. You said that America's house is on fire. What do you mean by that?

SCHMIDT: Yes. So, what I meant when I said that America's house was on fire was that there was this encroachment of smoke and flames, and that too many people have been ignoring it for too long, but that people of color, Muslins, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, other marginalized communities have been having to flee the fire or go for cover for a long time now.

[15:35:00] We are calling upon all people of goodwill to stand up with us and to reject these messages of hatred, and we're trying to sound the alarm. This is not a drill is what I was saying. The house is on fire.

BALDWIN: Well, the word from the White House is that despite your saying the house is on fire, the president has no regrets today.

SCHMIDT: Yes, this has been distressing to many of us who are traumatized in Charlottesville and indeed many vulnerable people around the country who have suffered assaults in the last 18 months with the rise of the Trump campaign and subsequent presidency. This is part of a general pattern of minimizing and denying the power of white supremacy and how much it threatens vulnerable communities.

BALDWIN: Professor, just last question. Do you have any hope moving forward?

SCHMIDT: My hope is that what I saw in Charlottesville, which was a mass mobilization of many members of the community from students to clergy members to business owners, many different sectors of the community banded together. It was a great show of solidarity to reject this. I wish that the officials of the University of Virginia and the town had been more attentive and that the police would have intervened in many of the assaults that took place. But what I saw from kind of rank and file civilians gave me a lot of -- heartened me and I think it's an example to the entire country of what can happen when we join together.

BALDWIN: Jalane Schmidt there in Charlottesville, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a crisis of conscience for evangelical leaders who supported President Trump. Will they take a stand against him now?

And what is former President Obama thinking? We'll talk to his former faith adviser coming up.


BALDWIN: While many Republicans have spoken to condemn Nazis and white supremacists, very few have actually taken a step further and actually called out President Trump by name. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is one of the few tweeting out, Mr. President, you can't allow white supremacists to share only part of the blame. He then went on to quote scripture, posting this passage from proverbs, tweeting, "the violent deceive their neighbors and lead them into a way that is not good." With me now, Pastor Joshua DuBois, former religious affairs director in the Obama White House. Sir, it is always nice to have you on. How are you.


BALDWIN: So, I realize you probably don't have President Obama on speed dial. That said, you know, where do you think, just knowing him, where do you think his head is or the former first lady in all of this?

DUBOIS: Listen, I can't speak for the former president or former first lady, Michelle Obama, but I can say that they have shown us an example of what moral leadership looks like. You know, after the massacre at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, president Obama could have shied away. He could have avoided the big issues of race and hate in American history that were provoked, but instead, he went down to Charleston, and, you know, I was there in the audience, sitting behind the families as he gave that speech about American history and "amazing grace" standing just a few feet above the coffin of the reverend. This is a president, our former president, who has led in a moral way, and engaged the tough moral issues of this time. But unfortunately, in the memorial service that we had just recently after Charleston, President Trump wasn't there, and the reason he wasn't there is because he did not lead in a moral way. He did not draw a clear moral line, and I think that's a shame.

BALDWIN: I just want to share with everyone, on President Obama, he hasn't said anything today, specifically, we know bush 41 and 43 have. But he did tweet this whole massive Nelson Mandela quote. Everyone can see a piece of it. And you know, this is apparently now the number one liked tweet ever. That said, Joshua -- wow. Just last month, the picture circulated on Twitter of faith leaders laying hands on the president in prayer with the caption, such an honor to pray within the oval office for the president of the United States and the vice president. My question is, you know, you have these evangelical leaders here in this country who have these, you know, very important voices, who have supported, endorsed the president. What do they say to him now?

DUBOIS: Well, we need them to show moral courage, and you know, it's a shame when the president's now former manufacturing and business advisers are showing more morality and moral courage than the president's faith advisers. We did see them -- some of them write a letter, you know, speaking against racism and white supremacy, but have they directly confronted this president and made it clear that his actions, his normalization of Nazism and white supremacy are wrong? I have not seen them do that. And so, at minimum, they should catch up to the manufacturing advisers. But we really need them to speak with a clear voice and make it clear that, you know, particularly in an evangelical community that sanctioned slavery and Jim Crow and so forth that this is a new day in American evangelicalism. BALDWIN: Lastly, Joshua, you are a father. I don't know how old they

are, but --

DUBOIS: I have a -- my son will turn two next week, actually. So, we're in party planning mode right now.

BALDWIN: It's not like you would have had a conversation with a 2- year-old about what's happening.

[15:45:00] I keep thinking about parents in this country and conversations they're having for little ones but we'll save that conversation for when he or she gets a little bit bigger. Joshua DuBois, always a pleasure.

Coming up next, Baltimore becomes the latest city to talk down confederate statues in the wake to the deadly Charlottesville rally. Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein joins me live to discuss where we go from here as a nation and whether President Trump can come back. How does he come back from this crisis?


[15:50:00] Just in to us here at CNN, despite a threat from president Trump, White House spokesman says the Obama era subsidies payments to insurance companies will be made. Let's go to Manu Raju in Washington with more. What's the deal?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. In fact, the White House has been threatening that they would not actually make these payments to insurers in order to defray those costs that the insurers incur and to subsidize health coverage. What the Trump administration is saying is that they will move forward with their August payments. Now the one reason why, Brooke, they're moving forward thin this is because of a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office suggesting that by ending these payments would dramatically lead to an increase in premiums, up to 20 percent increase in premiums.

Now also, at the same time, doing so could potentially increase the budget deficit as well as that it could lead to fewer people having coverage. Now, the reason why the White House had been threatening not moving forward with these payments is because we heard President Trump say time and again that he wants Obamacare to collapse and one way to do that is not allow payments to go forward. Not allowing payments to go forward it could up end the individual insurance market, create chaos in the system.

Now, the White House is saying they'll move forward. It will still add pressure, Brooke, on Republicans and Democrats in the senate to come up with a deal as soon as next month to try to fix this on-going problem, they cannot repeal Obamacare but fix elements in the individual insurance market. The White House is saying they're moving forward with payments to prevent any further turmoil that we've seen from insurers pulling out of various states.

BALDWIN: Manu Raju in Washington. Thank you. Let's go to the story in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I have two analysts, Paul Bernstein, and Joshua Green, guys, good to see you both. Carl Bernstein to you. You say the president is in free fall. How do you mean?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He may be in free fall, the question is whether he has any parachutes left and if he does, can he land anywhere soft enough beyond his base, because right now the issue is before the country as it never has been in the congress, especially among Republicans, in the military, in the intelligence community where large numbers of leaders believe he is not fit to be the president of the United States.

And this is happening at the same time that he is under investigation by a special prosecutor who is closing in on him and his family, so it is a dangerous moment in American history, I've never seen such a moment really of peril in terms of the presidency, including in Watergate. We don't know how Trump reacts to things. Not well and not usually with an idea of what's good for the whole country. And what we are seeing for the first time is that members of congress who are Republicans are saying to each other he is unfit and we have to do something about it.

BALDWIN: But that's the thing. They're saying it to each other. The senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell told Manu, a source told Manu that Mitch McConnell is privately upset over how the president is handling this.

BERNSTEIN: He's more than upset.

BALDWIN: Should he do more?

BERNSTEIN: I can't tell those guys what to do.

BALDWIN: I know you can't, but should they?

BERNSTEIN: At the same time, they know that they're on shaky moral ground with this president and they're abandoning him. The question is how are they going to abandon him. They understand the constituencies they need beyond Donald Trump's base are coming together in a consensus that this president is not fit to be the president of the United States. Not ethically, not morally, and not in terms of being able to lead the country in a way that unites it and defends the constitution, the people, and the defense of the United States itself.

This is a crisis and it is being recognized and military leaders are particularly aware, talking to each other about it. There's not going to be a coup, but the idea that, let's say it strongly, nobody is having a coup, this is not about a deep state, this is about a consensus developing that the president of the United States is unfit. We've never been here, it's different than Nixon and it's dangerous.

BALDWIN: Joshua Green, what about his inner circle, you know, these are neo-Nazis we are talking about, we know that Gary Cohn and Mnuchin are both Jewish. Stood behind him yesterday and Gary Cohn, latest report is he is enraged and embarrassed, this has been devastating. Does he resign? Should he resign?

[15:55:00] JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a decision that he has to make. Until these things are said publicly, until senior officials come out and say this or resign on principle which people have done in the past, people did in Watergate, I don't think it counts. Leaking to reporters that you're unhappy is a pretty gutless way of expressing your opinion on something as serious as this. I think the decision that people like that have to make is at what point does this become untenable? At what point is my own reputation so tarnished by my association to Trump and what he's saying that I feel that I need to leave?

BALDWIN: Talking to Doug a second ago, proud Republican saying I don't know if I want Gary Cohns of the world to resign, who does that leave us with? We don't know who would the president replace them with?

BERNSTEIN: The real thing is Donald Trump is president of the United States, he has been governing the country and White House in his own image and the way he wants to, and it doesn't much matter who's there. He is not capable of being restrained as we can see, he is not capable of taking constructive advice, and he is who he is and always has been. I think that's one of the things that's evolving in this consensus, that he was perhaps able through some very smart campaigning and recognizing things about the conditions of our country that Hillary Clinton did not.

He is the legitimate president of the United States. But that does not protect him when he says things like he's now said to reveal who he really is, and now those who had backed him who are not his base have to do something about it, and I think they're coming to a realization of that. Remember, this is different than Watergate, in Watergate, we had a criminal president of the United States. This goes beyond criminality.

What is evolving in this consensus is a view that the president is not competent, that he is not ethical, that he is not capable of being the president. This is a very different, dangerous situation, and believe me this discussion that we are talking about is taking place. How rapidly it will evolve in terms of people publicly stating the things they're saying to us, and this is a real challenge for journalists because we in the journalistic community ought to be going to military leaders and congressional Republicans, to business leaders.

BALDWIN: We are.

BERNSTEIN: And saying on background, not saying it for the record, trying to get them to say it for the record. Look, I could be wrong. Maybe it is not as pervasive as my reporting would indicate, but I trust my reporting, and I think what we need to be doing as reporters is asking the people we cover what is going on here, what are you prepared to do? What do you think is happening? Is this man fit to be the president of the United States, as you are saying in private he is not?

BALDWIN: Jump in. GREEN: Two other points here. One is the business community interestingly did stand up and rebuke the president, and take steps. And people like Gary Cohn and Mnuchin haven't, but Trump's appeal, political appeal beyond just his base of hardcore nationalists was to independents and Democrats who believed this is a business guy who can run the government, create jobs. The symbolism of these two councils disbanding in disgust at Trump's failure to call out white supremacy is a moral blow to Trump, a business guy that can run the country in the way politicians cannot.

BALDWIN: 30 seconds left. Let me ask you, Joshua, on Jared and Ivanka, another massive blowup where they're MIA.

GREEN: They're on vacation. You can look at a couple of critical points. One I cover in the book when Manafort blew up. They were yachting with David Geffen in Croatia at the time. They often seem to be missing and on vacation during critical moments and you wonder if they were here, present, able to exert a little influence if things might not have gotten quite as out of control as yesterday.

BALDWIN: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have communicated with the president. Period. We have to go. Thank you both so much.

Coming up next, talked about the business advisory council, the president disbanded both councils today. Jake Tapper is taking over from Washington momentarily. Stay with CNN.