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Trump Defends White Supremacists at News Conference. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired August 16, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back to NEWSROOM L.A. I'm Isha Sesay.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm John Vause. We're continuing our coverage of President Donald Trump's contentious Q&A with reporters where he once again blamed both sides for Saturday's violence Charlottesville, Virginia.
In what could be one of the memorable presidential news conferences in history, Mr. Trump was combative; at times, seemed angry and said members of the alt-left, armed with clubs, charged at protesters, who were simply marching to save a Confederate statue.
SESAY: Many of those protesters were actually white supremacists and neo-Nazis, some armed with guns. Mr. Trump said some of the protesters were "fine people" who just wanted to preserve history. Take a listen to some of the president's remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement but you don't make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don't know the facts.
Before I make a statement, I need the facts. So I don't want to rush into a statement.
Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.
Frankly, people still don't know all of the facts. It was very important -- excuse me, excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly.
There are still things that people don't know.
What about the alt-left that came charging at the -- as you say, the alt-right?
Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this.
What about the fact they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs?
Do they have any problem?
I think they do.
You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I'll say it right now.
You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.
I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
So -- excuse me -- and you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not. But, many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?
But they were there to protest -- excuse me -- you take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you against the Confederacy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How concerned are you about race relations in America and do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?
TRUMP: I think they've gotten better or the same. Look they have been frayed for a long time. And you can ask President Obama about that because he would make speeches about it.
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 it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.
But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the Left. You have just called them the Left, that came violently attacking the other group.
I think there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don't have doubt about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say. You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.
But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest.
Because you know, I don't know if 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 to the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Joining us now Democratic strategist Matt Littman and CNN political commentator John Phillips, a Trump supporter and talk radio host.
VAUSE: Also with us here in Los Angeles, entertainment journalist and social commentator Segun Oduolowu.
So, John, I would like to start with you. Up until this point some have debated that Donald Trump is a genuine racist or he just plays one on television simply to get votes.
Did this news conference, this train wreck of a news conference, did it answer that question?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think Donald Trump is a racist. I think on this subject there are four points that should be made and made in this order.
The first point is the groups that were behind the Unite the Right march are horrible people, all of them, the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, the white nationalists, all of them.
Number two is that they have a constitutional right to be there. They have a constitutional right to spew their hatred. We've seen the courts reaffirm this over and over and over to, going back to Skokie and the KKK; to this particular case, with the ACLU defended their right to be there and they had the proper permit.
Three, any one of those members of those groups that broke the law when they were there, that attacked police officers, that attacked counter protesters, that ran someone over with their car, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
And four, counter protesters who were there, who break the law and committed act of violent, acts of violence should also be prosecuted.
I think the problem that he made today was he overemphasized four instead of going through one, two, three -- (CROSSTALK)
VAUSE: -- fine people, though, in that group --
PHILLIPS: No, I don't believe that. I think that if you went to that rally and you saw one swastika, you would turn around and leave. It's like if you go into a women's restroom by accident, you look around and you don't see any urinals except for the sinks and you say, whoa, those are some really high urinals, you turn around and leave.
SESAY: And Segun, to you, let me bring you in. Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said, "By the president not taking sides on Tuesday, he showed what side he is on, where you stand on this issue."
You just heard John say that he doesn't believe the president is racist.
Where do you stand?
SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Well, I agree with Chuck Schumer on that point; again, I know John pretty well and we've spoken on the radio before. So let me measure these comments correctly.
John, you can't be serious. I mean, what President Trump did today was probably the dumbest, most idiotic thing I've ever actually see a sitting president do, where, just like you said, they are fine -- they were "fine people" in the march?
If you're marching alongside swastikas and the Nazi flag, I don't care what your point is anymore. You lost me at Nazi. And I saw Confederate flags marching side-by-side with neo-Nazi flags.
So when the president is going to say that the people that protest Nazis and are violently opposed to Nazis are just as bad as the Nazis themselves, he loses that argument, he loses me and, quite frankly, he should lose all credibility and the power to govern anymore because what he's doing is dividing a nation and doing it piece by piece.
He's got Bannon in his cabinet, who is an alt-right contribute to Breitbart and a former editor. So white nationalists have infected his party. He had a Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke, absolutely say that they voted him into office and they support his measures of making America great again.
And those people that are trying to say that the Confederate flag is heritage, not hatred, I just watched with my own four eyes -- because I have glasses on -- with my own four eyes your flag march alongside a neo-Nazi flag.
ODUOLOWU: -- no forgiveness. VAUSE: Let's take a look at some of the images of those "fine people," as the president -- or some of the "fine people," as the president described them, taking part in the Unite the Right rally. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us! 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! Blood and soil! Blood and soil!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Matt, they say you're judged by the company you keep. But what it is truly remarkable about these images, in the past, the Klan wore hoods. The neo-Nazis were sort of in the shadows. It was always sort of covert element of this.
These guys are out and proud for everyone to see.
MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. And now all over the Internet.
I just want to say, it's no wonder Trump hasn't been able to hire a new communications director.
I mean, who would want this job at this point?
When he goes out there to speak, they should just pull the fire alarm and let the water come down and pull him out of the room.
You know, they were saying "Jews will not replace us," by the way, I don't want to replace them. Jewish, I don't want to replace any of those people. Let them stay where they are. Trump's friend, Alex Jones, said that those were Jewish actors playing those people.
Which is -- I saw Billy Crystal in that crowd. (LAUGHTER)
LITTMAN: But you know, like you said, these people went out there. They're walking around and they're proud of it.
And why have they become so proud of it?
Why have they felt that this was OK?
Because of what Trump has enabled. And when we say that Trump's not a racist, let's remember he has a long history of racism. In the 1970s, sued by the Justice Department for not allowing black people to live in his buildings, which he settled, right.
In the '80s the Central Park Five, which he called for the death penalty for five people who were exonerated; when they were exonerated, he still called for the death penalty.
The first African American president he said was not from this country. So he has a long history of racism going back decades. There is no reason to believe he's not racist. He's quite clearly racist.
SESAY: So, John, listen, I know you're going to -- I know what you are going to say. You're going to say he's not. You've made your point clear.
I do want to put up on our screens the response from David Duke and Richard Spencer, leaders of the far-right movement. Let's put it up and show what they're saying because they are applauding the president's stance.
You see David Duke there saying, "Thank you, President Trump, for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemned the leftists terrorists and Black Lives Matter and anti-FA" -- anti-fascists.
Let's put up Richard Spencer, also said -- and Richard Spencer also sharing his point there, again, he was saying -- basically thanking -- "Trump's statement was fair and down to Earth. Charlottesville could have been peaceful if police did its job."
Anytime you have far-right leaders applauding you, that's a bad day.
PHILLIPS: These people are trolls. They're the most condemnable possible people and they latch on to anyone or anything that they think can generate publicity for them.
I would refer back to a guy by the name of Tom Metzger, who was the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan here in the state of California, who won the Democratic nomination for a congressional seat, Darrell Issa's congressional seat in Orange County, California, in the 1980s. So we're not talking about ancient history.
And every so often he tries to find a way to make himself relevant again. So his last big splash was during the recall election of Gray Davis. He endorsed Chris Bustamante's candidacy for governor because Chris Bustamante, when he was a college student, was a member of a group called MEChA, which was accused of bullying and racial separatism.
And he said this is my guy; this is my candidate. These guys will do anything they possibly can to get in the headlines because they are obsessed with the publicity.
VAUSE: But Trump, though, doesn't -- he takes everyone, except Vladimir Putin and white supremacists.
LITTMAN: Right. In this case, it's not the -- Trump is very clearly equating the people who are Nazis with the people who are against the Nazis and saying they're basically the same thing, that there are some really good Nazis marching today.
So obviously these people feel empowered. That's why the marching without their hoods and their masks on and that's why they feel that this is OK.
And by the way, this isn't the end of this. This is the beginning of this, now that these people feel empowered. We're going to see more of this. And my concern is Donald Trump's a horrible president. I think everybody admits it. That's fine.
When Donald Trump goes away, this problem is necessarily going away and I just think that we have a long-term problem because now these people are basically -- they're out of the closet. They've got the sheets off and they're marching around the streets.
SESAY: And to that point, Segun, I want to go to you. As a black man, living in America, at this point in time, who listened to his president say what he did on Tuesday, what is your feeling about where we go from here?
What happens next?
And the wounds that have been resalted by the president's statements?
ODUOLOWU: Well, I think, as a person of color a person -- all minorities should be a little bit more afraid because, to that point, you're absolutely right that the hoods have been pulled off. And he's made hatred -- he's made hatred fun. He's made it safe. He's made it -- I can take my hood off; I can march their the street.
He said there were very fine people marching that day, the same people that said -- that were saying no to Jews and blood and soil and radicals and carrying tiki torches -- which I'll never understand, I mean, why not co-opt Polynesian culture?
That makes no sense. But what I'm tired of is I'm tired of the measured responses by the people that support Trump, when the devil and these repugnant people, these white supremacists, these white nationalists, when they support the president, for me, it's not a far step to say, I don't need to support this guy. When the only people that seem to retweet him and say what a good job he's doing are the people that want to kill anybody that's colored or ban them from having a job or stopping them from achieving the American dream, I don't understand how right-minded conservatives, smart people like you, John, I can't understand how you can still defend not only your party but what heads it.
And if fish rots from the head down, your party should be dead and buried with what you're doing to America. And you guys should be ashamed of yourselves because you guys know better.
SESAY: Strong feelings.
VAUSE: Yes. We will take a short break. Appropriate time for a break. A lot more on Donald Trump's speech with our panel. Stay with CNN.
SESAY: Welcome back, everyone.
President Donald Trump shows no signs of regret after blaming both sides for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
At a news conference Tuesday, he slammed those who protested against the neo-Nazi rally and he defended some on the other side, saying not all of them are neo-Nazis or white nationalists.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) source tells CNN White House aides have been asking Trump surrogates to reiterate the president's talking points from that news conference but leaders are now questioning Trump's ability to lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I talked to a top Republican congressional source, who said tonight that the president's ability to effectively govern this country is, quote, "dwindling by the hour."
So clearly, Anderson, the Republican Party is losing patience with the president tonight but if they don't really do anything about it, Anderson, this is really becoming the party of Trump, not the party of Lincoln.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Jim Acosta there, speaking to Anderson Cooper a little earlier.
SESAY: Back with us, Democratic strategist Matt Littman; CNN political commentator John Phillips and entertainment journalist and social commentator Segun Oduolowu plus joining us now, CNN senior correspondent, Sara Sidner, who is in New York.
Welcome to you all once again.
Sara, to you first. We have all seen those terrible, terrible pictures of that car just driving through that crowd on Saturday. We know that it claimed the life of a young woman; it injured some 19 people.
We know that said two people in security forces also lost their lives. But what hasn't necessarily been really talked about in a huge amount is the fact that there was other violence that took place there in Charlottesville.
I want to show this video to our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY (voice-over): This is of Deandre Harris, who was being beaten there in Charlottesville. Let's put up the video. He is being set upon by a mob there in a parking garage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of what --
Get the (INAUDIBLE) out of here!
SESAY (voice-over): It is truly shocking. You see them setting about him; he was terribly injured after all of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo!
SESAY (voice-over): And, Sara, I guess my question to you is, when you see these pictures, which the president obviously has, and then you hear what he said on Tuesday, it does beg the question, does he want to be the president for all Americans?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is such a good question. I think what you are seeing play out is that he definitely wants to be the president for the alt-right and make sure that he doesn't lose that base.
And in so doing, he's willing to sacrifice the feelings and the morality of the country. That is what's playing out here. It's very obvious to many Americans who watched what he did today.
He was emotional, he was passionate but for all the wrong reasons. He was wooden and he had a hard time just reading through very starkly the day before his comments that condemned the KKK specifically and that condemned neo-Nazis specifically.
But when it came time to see how he really feels, that's what we saw today I think a lot of the people in the country saw him today and put their hand on their head and thought, I thought you figured this out and you corrected yourself. And here you turned right around and spoke again to your base. Now
it's a small percentage of his base. But they are rabid and they are very vocal. And you will see and hear from them, no matter what.
And I think the country's looking at him, going, OK, I guess you're no longer the moral leader of this country. And that is a problem because he is the president of the free world.
VAUSE: There was this hope that General John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff maybe ought to bring some discipline, might be able to rein the president in. Take a look at General Kelly as Donald Trump delivered those comments during the news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: -- and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing. The second statement was made after -- with knowledge, with great knowledge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were the many sides you were talking about, sir?
TRUMP: There are still things that people don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the other side?
TRUMP: I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you say on many sides, Mr. President...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two questions: Was --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Matt, that's a former Marine Corps general who doesn't really show a lot of emotion or reaction.
LITTMAN: Well, you know, I've been hearing a lot of people say today that he should resign immediately. And my feeling is that he shouldn't because I think that if it were up to Donald Trump, we'd be at war with North Korea and that some of these people, Kelly and McMaster, they do need to stay.
I'm sure that they're conflicted. But somebody responsible needs to be around.
I just want to say a couple of other things.
One is I don't believe that Trump called the mother of the woman who was killed.
How is that even possible? And the other thing I would say is, you know, these marches, this is all happening when the economy in the United States is actually pretty good. I mean, imagine what is going to happen in this country when the economy starts to go south, as it inevitably will, because it goes in cycles?
I just -- and Donald Trump is going to be the president during that time?
What is going to happen to this country?
SESAY: John Phillips, a lot of people looking to the GOP, who have come out and expressed their displeasure, a lot of them, including Paul Ryan's, because the House has put up the tweet that he posted earlier on.
And basically in that tweet he effectively, as we see it there, "We must be clear, white supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands. There can be no moral ambiguity."
Yes, that's Paul Ryan there, who says we must be clear, white supremacy is repulsive. But he doesn't call the president out by name.
PHILLIPS: Yes, look, Paul Ryan's 100 percent right with what he said in that tweet. John McCain and other Republicans, who are leaders in the legislature, have done the exact same thing. That's what they all should be doing.
There is a big disagreement when it comes to politics between Republicans in the legislature and the president. We've seen that not just when it comes to stylistic politics; we've seen it come down to policy. We saw it with healthcare. We've seen it happen with certain foreign policy issues.
We're going to see it with tax reform. This is not something that's going to go away. They're going to butt heads.
SESAY: Can I push back on that just for a second?
SESAY: This is bigger than politics. This is about what this country is. It's about who this country -- what it is, where it's come from, where it's going --
PHILLIPS: Right, and they're making their --
PHILLIPS: -- they're making their position very clear and, by the way, the position that Trump had earlier in this week was the position that he should have just left it at, because that was the right tone. That statement --
LITTMAN: That's not the position --
PHILLIPS: -- this week.
LITTMAN: -- that's not --
VAUSE: That was like a hostage video.
LITTMAN: -- yes, Trump's position is that he actually agrees with these people who were protesting and marching. He agrees with them.
PHILLIPS: I don't believe that.
LITTMAN: That's Trump's -- I think it was pretty clear today on the fact that he thinks that some of these people are really terrific people.
That's actually Trump's position. As for people like Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan is saying the absolute least that he could possibly --
VAUSE: -- because we heard from Paul Ryan a very tepid statement. Mitch McConnell was, according to Politico, was spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell said the Kentucky Republican had no new comment in response to Trump's remarks on Tuesday.
So that's the leadership of the Republican Party. Yes, Republican lawmakers have condemned Trump. But the leadership is not really taking a stand here.
ODUOLOWU: Right. And so I just wanted to address this to Sara.
While I was shaking my head while you were talking, I think -- I mean no disrespect by it. What I was doing was you said that that base, this rabid base of white nationalism, alt-right that support Trump is a small one.
But I think it's larger than people really actually realize because when the leadership of the Republican Party are turning their heads and looking the other way when all of this is going on shows almost tacit agreement.
I know what Trump is. That really -- it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. What bothers me is when a Mitch McConnell has no new comments. It bothers when Paul Ryan won't call out what he says to be wrong and repugnant.
These people that are surrounding him remind me of the old slaveowners in the South, who knew that lynching all of that stuff was bad. But they preferred to turn their head and look the other way as long as they weren't the ones who were taking the Front fire and they weren't the ones actually saying what Trump is saying. So I don't want to read the body language of generals anymore. I don't want the statements to be measured. I want to call those people who say that they are conservative but that they don't agree with the racism and the bigotry how they can keep -- how they can still keep supporting this man.
Because to me, it looks like that old Southern gentleman turning his head while the black people got lynched.
And that kid that got beaten in a parking garage didn't get any -- didn't get the type of news coverage he was supposed but a white girl that got run over by a car did.
VAUSE: I want to very quickly go back to Sara.
ODUOLOWU: Can I just say that Trump is a liar and a coward?
Because when you can't even remember the girl's name, the mother of the girl, say her name as if you actually spoke to someone. I call it cowardice and I call it hypocrisy.
VAUSE: Very quickly, Sara --
SIDNER: -- Heather Heyer.
SESAY: Heather Heyer.
VAUSE: Yes, we saw with regard to Deandre Harris, he -- eight staples in his head, a broken wrist, chipped tooth -- this all apparently happened in the proximity of a police station -- were there any similar or equivalent attacks carried out by members of the counter protest on the white nationalists?
SIDNER: Look, the counter protesters, there is a group within the counterprotest because some of the protesters who were there to say no to this were students. They were unarmed and they were getting beaten. They had bookbags, OK.
So there's a whole bunch of different people that were out there on the other side of this.
But, yes there is a group of people known as the anti-FA within that group, the anti-fascists, within that group. There is a smaller group known as Black Block. They are the people that you see in Berkeley, that have covered their faces out with black so you can't tell who they are.
They're wearing black clothes and you see them often and they are about trying to sow destruction because, in their minds, nonviolent action hasn't worked. And so they have decided that violent action is the next best thing.
So was there -- was there violence perpetrated by the counter protesters?
Yes, there was. That should be unequivocal. We saw it there.
However, if you look at the totality of this, first of all, they wouldn't have been there had these white supremacists not shown up and, to be fair, terrorize some of the people in Charlottesville. There were people that were afraid, seeing what looked like a New Age KKK rally with tiki torches in khakis, as opposed to hoods and burning crosses.
That is what you're seeing play out there we should be very clear.
VAUSE: OK. We're leaving the conversation there. And we'll take a short break. From the very beginning, Donald Trump promised to be a very different kind of president. His response to the violence in Charlottesville is proof that is what he is. But why his words could also prove damning -- in just a moment.
[02:30:13] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody, watching CNN NEWSROOM Live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines at this hour.
President Donald Trump is back to blaming both sides for the violence at Charlottesville, Virginia, they left one woman dead. Just 24 hours of condemning the police and white supremacists, the President held a combating impromptu news conference saying, "Alt-left protesters were also responsible".
VAUSE: Both Republicans and Democrats have been quick to criticize President Trump's remarks. The Anti-Defamation League says the President went beyond the pale in equating white supremacist with kind of protesters. And the Republican leadership source says, "Mr. Trump's ability to effectively govern is dwindling by the hour".
SESAY: At least 30 people were killed and more than 80 others wounded in a triple suicide attack in Nigeria's Borno State. Three female bombers targeted a market and a camp with people in the place (ph) that run and support by Boko Haram militants. So far no group has claimed responsibility.
VAUSE: And Sierra Leone is having a week of mourning for the victims of this week's mudslides. The number of dead has risen to at least 245 as group search responded. Hundreds of others remain missing. This season's rainfall is more than twice as heavy as usual.
Well, Donald Trump's off the rails news conference on Tuesday was like nothing we've ever seen before. On national television, the president of the United States defended Nazis and white supremacist.
SESAY: It is no surprise as remark like this. Next one will met with out rage from nearly all five.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
VAUSE: With us now, CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ronald Brownstein and CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley.
Doug, first to you, in the past Republican President's Reagan and Bush 41, Bush 43, you know, go out of their way to publically condemn white supremacist. At this news conference, Donald Trump, (inaudible) but there's also the tone and the way he did it, it was just so incredibly combative.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well it was. This was a great low web in American history. I mean, Donald Trump, I think today has now earn the score of zero moral authority.
It was horrendous rambling conversation that he gave. He ended up praising Stonewall Jackson and denouncing activist on the left as being somehow the equivalent of neo-Nazi and Klansmen. It was really a despicable performance and the question is where do we go from here? So many curious to see how the polls treat Donald Trump in coming days is up 33%. Will he dip lower than that?
And I'd like to see well, if more CEOs today, you know, we had six major corporate leaders trying to distance themselves from Trump, will you get more CEOs. And when we starts seeing some courage of Republicans like Mitch McConnell for example who's so quiet, so mum, finally stepping up and saying "enough is enough" with Donald Trump kind of fueling hatred in this country.
SESAY: Ron, to you, I mean, as we said, the press conference was a train-wreck. I mean it went off the rail so quickly. It was stunning to be whole. And amongst the things the President said, we know when it was pushed on this issue of the delay and making the comments on Saturday. He said he had been waiting for all the facts which enormously like a (inaudible) moment. This president who weighs in so instantaneously on everything, and here he is saying that he was waiting for the facts.
RONALD BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes and you could also see the contrast between the passion with which he made his case today versus what he read yesterday from the White House as people said almost seem like a hostage video. You know, Lord Acton, same statement that power corrupts as Doug knows Robert Caro and his biography, Lyndon Johnson amended that to say power reveals. And that is rarely been more true than in this episode with Donald Trump.
And I think what we are seeing is an almost unprecedented realtime shredding of a president's legitimacy and capacity to govern. I mean, Doug mentioned is the CEOs who quit his advisory council, you just think about that. I mean, these are business leaders by and large support the economic vision of the Republican Party of lower taxes and less regulation, that's been concluded but have concluded that Trump's approach and a style and rhetoric on racial and social issues is so toxic that they cannot be associated with it.
[02:34:06] And you mentioned, the polls, you know, President Trump yesterday in Gallop reached 61 percent disapproval. That was higher disapproval than was ever reach by the last two one-term presidents, Jimmy Carter or George H. W. Bush and he reached that incredible low point at a moment when the economy is doing pretty well. Unemployment has been declining for several years, the stock market is soaring. This is a personal judgment on the part of the American people. And when you look at this, both the elite level, kind of the business leadership potentially more Republicans in Congress and the public, I think you're seeing a President faces a risk of isolation that is unlike anything we have seen in the modern presidency.
VAUSE: And, Doug, you -- another remarkable thing about this news conference. Standing next to the President, all-night stage, was the chairman of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, both Jewish. They didn't say a word at the end of news conference about what Trump had said. And, you know, to your point, when will Republican speak up against this president? When does it no longer become worthwhile the tax cuts and the cuts to Medicare, all the rest that they're hoping for from Donald Trump because of his behavior and if he's like this?
BRINKLEY: You know, in the civil rights movement on April 16, 1963 famously Dr. Martin Luther King wrote the letter from the Birmingham City Jail. And Dr. King scolded really Southern Christian leaders, pastors, ministers, where are you? How can you be staying mute with this kind of evil going on around you?
We're at that moment now. I mean, this is not about being a Democrat or Republican, it's about being an American, and wherein the Republican Party has to now denounce and distance themselves from Donald Trump. I think they're going to have to start envisioning, can we have a president pants down the line about suggesting impeachment coming soon? But at least it's got to be started to look on the drawing board.
We are now looking at a presidency that is a wreck, it's dangerous, it's reckless, it's getting boos and hisses from around the world. And today is an important day because it's -- your starting to get, I think a whole new wave of people that are saying enough is enough.
SESAY: Well, Mr. Trump also defended those attending Saturday's unite the riot rally, who are protesting, the removal of the statue of a confederate general. To make that argument, he brought up America's first president take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose 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.
REPORTER: I do love him.
TRUMP: OK. Good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner, now we going to take down his statue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Can help international viewers understand why for many people in this country to hear the President invoke the names of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington in this controversy surrounding the taking down of the Robert E. Lee statue. It basically made some people's heads explode. Can you explain what is at stake here and why the parallel is so offensive to many or just wrongheaded to many?
BRINKLEY: That was extremely wrongheaded. Donald Trump has no sense of history. He submitted. He's never read book about the American Revolution or about any president. He knows nothing about George Washington.
Washington and Jefferson both were presidents. They represented the United States. They were -- they -- were the, you know, went through Valley Forge. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. They were Americans through and through.
With Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson who were confederates, these are people that ripped down the American flag, that left our country, that wouldn't give up slavery that, you know and, it's the crucible of Americas, our Civil War with over 600,000 people died. The confederates lost, my goodness, because they were they were a backward step in the march of humanity.
And for Donald Trump to try to re-litigate the Civil War to give a kind of equal status of George Washington and Stonewall Jackson who was so really a murderous confederate general and kind of giving equal weight in history on just tells you, you know, how foolish he really is and it's dangerous because we have history and the history deficit disorder in the United States. And he's confusing people by equating George Washington with Robert E. Lee.
VAUSE: And it seems that this talking point by the President originated on Fox News on Monday night. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Where are you going to stop it? You want to say, "What if you weren't sensitive enough to the Holocaust, we should take down all the statues of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?" You could make an argument for that.
MACCALLUM: You could make an argument for Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Are you going to change the name of the Washington Monument?
GINGRICH: You want it take a slave owners.
MACCALLUM: Absolutely. That's my point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:40:01] VAUSE: Ron?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, look, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were flawed human slave owners who built the country as Douglas Brinkley said. I mean, Thomas Jefferson wrote American Scripture, the Declaration of Independence and George Washington built the nation.
Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee tore, you know, sundered the nation and sought to divide the nation. I mean, the idea that this is equivalent is absurd but it is a far-right talking point. And it does go to a larger kind of truth here which is that the president from the beginning, if we talk about many times, you know, these are relatively small percentage of Americans who ascribe to Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazi ideology. But there is a much wider circle of Americans who are uneasy to varying degrees about demographic, cultural and even economic change. And from the beginning that has been the core of the present support.
There was one post-election poll. They found three-quarters of Trump voters believe discrimination against whites is as bigger problem in the US today as discrimination against African-Americans. And he has always been reluctant to in any way divide himself from those voters. And what he, you know, what he did up until today, what he did on Charlottesville, was very similar to what he did about David Duke last year with Jake Tapper, where he sent the first clear signal by what he didn't say not repudiating him, and only later under intense bipartisan criticism kind of made a pro forma denunciation.
This year, he went even -- this time he went even kind of further in the opposite direction by not only through as valley of tweets yesterday but by essentially today invalidating what he said yesterday and giving, you know, the party and idea what he really means. And I just say real quickly finally, for the Republicans, this is not only a moral test. This is a political challenge.
I mean, Donald Trump is identifying the party with these forces of racial backlash at a moment when the millennial generation which is the most diverse in American history is becoming the largest group of -- generation of eligible voters in the country and right behind them are the post-millennials who are even more diverse.
VAUSE: Doug Brinkley and Ron Brownstein. Thank you so much for being with us.
SESAY: Thank you. We appreciate it.
Up next, new details on the man accused of killing a woman when he plowed (ph) his car into crowd of protesters in Charlottesville including his pass run-insurance with police.
VAUSE: Also ahead, Britain's most alpha warship receives a warm welcome at home, details on HMS. Queen Elizabeth's explore (ph) and its journey to England. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[02:45:18] VAUSE: A memorial service will be held Wednesday for the young woman killed in Saturday's protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Thirty-two-year-old, Heather Heyer was remmed down by a speeding car as it plowed through crowd of protesters at the white supremacist rally.
SESAY: Well, CNN visited the law firm where Heyer works as a paralegal. Co-workers made a memorial at her desk those with flowers and cards. One that reads also had desk that's empty today will never forget how much she impacted our lives.
VAUSE: And we are learning more about the man accused of killing at Heather. A 20-year-old James Fields has a history of run- ins with police.
SESAY: The records show police report his mother to nines times between 2010 and 2013. CNN's Brian Todd has the latest from Charlottesville.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The violence between white nationalist and counter protesters has only led to five arrests, and now there are new questions about whether additional charges will be made.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still receiving reports of assaults and additional crimes. The city tracked approximately 250 calls for service on Saturday along and many of the conflicts, individuals which strike and then disappear back in the crowd.
TODD: Authorities are asking for witnesses of this incident. Attackers armed with clubs and poles (ph) beating an African-American man on the ground. The victim is Deandre Harris barely conscious. He stumbled away from the mob.
DEANDRE HARRIS, ASSAULTED DURING PROTEST: And I had to get eight staples on my head to seal it back up. I broke my risk right here. I bust my lip. I took my tooth. I was losing so much of blood like the people at the hospital told me I was lucky.
TODD: Deandre Harris' his friend Vonzz Long who was with him at the time told us a group of white supremacist seemed to track them as they walked back to their car.
VONZZ LONG, ASSOCIATED WITH THE MAN ASSAULTED IN PROTEST: We were listening to the plan, neo-Nazi whatever. Everybody want to call him, call us niggers, throw stuff at us. As we approach the garage, out of no where, just chaotic.
You see orange maze is very aware. It's like almost a hundred of those people in neo-Nazis once again whatever you want to called them. They started attacking everybody. At one point, I'm crying. I mean, I see my best friend is nearly died.
TODD: Investigators are also learning more about the suspect, James Fields, was now being held on multiple charges including second- degree murder for allegedly ramming his car into a crowd of people on Saturday.
CNN has obtained Florence Kentucky 911 logs made between 2010 and 2013 from the home of Fielder's mother Samantha Bloom. Bloom claimed her son was names is redacted from logs, smacked here in the head with a phone and put his hands over her mouth. She said she locked herself in the bathroom because she was afraid of him.
A former neighbor who wished not to be identified told CNN that Bloom live alone with Fields in their Kentucky home before moving to Ohio.
Attorney Charles Weber Junior has been appointed by the judge to defend Fields. Earlier this year, Weber was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city of Charlottesville to stop the removal of the Robert E. Lee's statute.
CNN has tried several times to reach Charles Weber for comment on the case. He has not responded.
The (inaudible) sparked in Charlottesville now emanating throughout the country.
In Durham, North Carolina protesters in solidarity with antiracist activist in Charlottesville toppled the Confederate statue outside the courthouse.
Here in Charlottesville the police are still coming under heavy criticism for the response to Saturday's violence. Vonzz Long that friend of Deandre Harris says, "In that beating that was videotaped, there were police officers nearby who are watching it" and he said "they did nothing to intercede". We could not get city officials responded to that specific criticism but the police have defended overall the response to Saturday's violence.
Brian Todd, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.
VAUSE: Well, next here on CNN NEWSROOM, Late Night Comedy in the U.S. takes a serious turn posses, even the jokes and they calling out the president.
[02:51:39] SESAY: Hello, everyone. And major moment for British Royal Navy, it's the largest and most powerful warship has arrived at its home port for the first time. Infamous Queen Elizabeth has just stopped in Portsmouth, England after getting a ceremonial escort of dozens of small boats and military choppers. It took eight years to build the 65,000 ton aircraft carrier. The vessel has undergone sea trials since leaving the shipyard in Scotland back in June.
VAUSE: Queen Elizabeth will have (inaudible) Prince of Whales, and that our British defense program worth more than 7$ billion. And Queen Elizabeth will carry a crew in the ship hold up to 1600 and will fly F-35 V Stealth Fighters, also become the Navy's flagship expected to serve for the next 50 years.
SESAY: All right. Well, President Donald Trump is the gift and never stops giving for late night comedians as they made jokes about pretty much everything he does.
VAUSE: But on Tuesday night they really went off about his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. Let's listen.
(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE HOST: It's supposed to be a press conference about infrastructure and it ended with out president making an angry and passionate defense of White Supremacists.
STEPHEN COLBERT, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT HOST: Some challenge the media to be fair.
TRUMP: Take a look the night before they went there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Not all f those people were white supremacists by any stretch.
COLBERT: OK. The night before, let's take a look at night before. Yes, just your average friendly civic-minded torch-wielding mob. You know, probably holding the torches so everyone could see them point out all the good people there. There is one, there is one over there. There is a good guy.
CONAN O'BRIEN, LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN HOST: In his press conference, just a couple of hours ago, President Trump referred to the neo-Nazis as history bus. Yes. And he referred to serial killers as population control experts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: LATE NIGHT hosts managing to get the laugh. But what happened in Charlottesville and the president's comments during that news conference Tuesday. That is not easy stuff to deal with.
VAUSE: The late night talk show host, just made jokes about it, also angry and they're upset. And they're sharing those feelings with their audience. Here's Brian Stelter.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: American's turn to Late Night hosts for laughs. But if you tuned it on Monday Night you saw united front against the events in Charlottesville and against the president.
KIMMEL: We went into the weekend worrying about Kim Jong-un starting a war. We came out of it wondering if our president is cutting eyeholes out of his bed sheets.
COLBERT: Trump tired to hill a new cycle by reminding us what we all have in common.
TRUMP: We all salute the same great flag.
COLBERT: No, we don't. I have seen their flags. They can't even agree which one they're going to salute.
O'BRIEN: Now, he did read a statement at the White House today that finally struck the right tone. But I'm sorry pencils down on this subject with Saturday Evening.
JIMMY FALLON, THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON HOST: It's important for everyone especially white people in this country to speak out against this.
STELTER: On the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon abandoned the jokes for an emotional monologue about the weekend deadly event. And he called out President Trump.
FALLON: The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racist and white supremacist is shameful.
STELTER: It's a stark change in tone for Fallon who was criticized last year for his chummy banter with then candidate Trump.
[02:55:03] FALLON: Can I mess your hair up?
STELTER: Now, Fallon and other late night hosts are using their shows to condemn the weekend's violence and to criticize the president for his response.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Trump has inspired something I think that's new. There's always been satirical commentary in Late Night about presidents. But this is reaching I think a form called comedy outrage. The comedians are not just being funny they're angry.
STELTER: Fallon's fellow NBC late night host Seth Meyers also skipped the jokes.
SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS HOST: Donald Trump did not immediately denounce the white supremacist movement when given the chance. And now, whether he knows it or not many of those people see him as leading that movement.
STELTER: On CBS Stephen Colbert had a well-timed (ph) interview with former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. And Colbert pushed back sharply when "The Mooch" defended the president.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI (R), FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Let's be fair in today though he did condemn the Nazis today.
COLBERT: Two days later, does he order his spy on Amazon Prime? Why did it take so long?
STELTER: Comics are making their voices heard in the Trump era by getting serious. They're speaking out where they feel President Trump has failed.
FALLON: I can't look at my beautiful, growing, curious daughters and say nothing when these kinds of things happen. We all need to sand against what is wrong acknowledged that racism exists and stand up for what is right and civil and kind.
SESAY: Really incredible moment.
VAUSE: Yes. I mean it was to wrap it up again. There has been nothing like that news conference held by Donald Trump. But, you know, what? There would be something else in the next day maybe sooner.
SESAY: But this the conversation with this will go on for a little bit.
VAUSE: Not ...
SESAY: With those North Korea.
VAUSE: Two days ago about nuclear war of North Korea.
SESAY: Well, you have been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I am Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please join us on tweeter @CCNNewsroomLA. They (inaudible) show. But in the meantime, the news continues with Rose Mitchell (ph).