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Trump Says Removing Statues Rips Apart U.S. Culture; Kelly Frustrated with Trump's Lack of Discipline?; Inside White Supremacy in America. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired August 17, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- say you can't change history, but you can learn from it, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
For the record, I have never heard him talk about the role Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson played in the civil war or whether or not, you know, their role in slavery and whatnot. But what do you think can and should be learned from these men?
PROF. DAINA RAMEY BERRY, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN: Good question. There's a lot that we can learn. First of all, we can learn about what the civil war was about, what the different sides were, the political arguments, the social arguments, the labor arguments. The ramifications of the results of the civil war.
I mean, we've been spending time celebrating the 150th anniversary of the war for a number -- for the last few years. But I still think there's a lack of understanding of what this means and what these particular statues represent. They represent white supremacy. They represent an era in which history where African-Americans and Native Americans were completely marginalized, dehumanized and treated poorly, for a lack of a better word.
BERMAN: And it is interesting because one can make the case the president is trying to shift the argument. You know, he's in hot water over how he has handled the Charlottesville violence and his response to that shifted from comments like they were very fine people marching alongside the neo-Nazis, saying Jew will not replace us. Shifting it from that to an argument over Confederate statues and the role they play in American history.
Do you see a distinction between these two issues?
BERRY: Well, I think part of the issue is that we're not -- the larger American population does not know as much about this history. And so when you're looking at distinctions between other leaders, we need to look at both sides of the war. We need to understand some of the union members that fought in the war who fought to save our union and to keep the country unified.
And I think that's missing from this conversation. We are celebrating people that left the country that seceded from the union. We're celebrating their statues which have been up for 50 or 60 years. And we're not talking about when they came up, why they came up, some of the justification as why people wanted these statues up. BERMAN: Correct.
BERRY: It was so that we can remember the South. The South is not going to be forgotten. There's no way we're going to forget the South.
BERMAN: No. Most of the statues went up during Jim Crow in 1900 and 1920 and then again in the 1950s when the civil rights struggle was going on.
And just lastly, the comparison the president makes repeatedly and some of his supporters between General Robert E. Lee and President George Washington. How apt of a historical comparison is that?
BERRY: Well, first of all, we are looking at two different historical moments. And I think that's the problem. We're looking at -- you know, if you look at George Washington, you know, he was a person that was an American revolutionary war general. There's a difference between someone that was fighting to end the union, to break up the union in the civil war and someone who was trying to break the ties from England and create a unified country, which is what George Washington did. So I think that's what's missing from this conversation. You cannot conflate those two periods of history.
BERMAN: Interesting that we are talking about this so much in 2017, the president is choosing to talk about it in 2017.
Thank you very, very much for being with us, Professor. I really appreciate it.
BERRY: Thank you for having me.
BERMAN: All right. This morning, a new -- the question, you know, do the president's statements on Twitter, could they backfire on his presidency? We have a special report. "TWITTER AND TRUMP," tomorrow night 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.
All right. So he's been chief of staff now for about two and a half weeks and already General John Kelly is reportedly frustrated by the lack of discipline.
Who could see this coming? We'll discuss, next.
[10:37:49] BERMAN: All right. New report that White House chief of staff, General John Kelly is dismayed, frustrated and shocked by the president's lack of control. General Kelly went into the job with the goal of implementing discipline but he seems to be learning the limits of that inside this White House despite his attempts to bring order to the West Wing.
And joining me now, CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
General, you know General Kelly obviously personally. Based on your knowledge of how this man operates, how do you think he assesses his first two and a half weeks, his attempt at implementing order inside the White House?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He's probably treating it the same way we treated an insurgency together, John, and that's, you take three steps forward and maybe two back and hope for gains every day. But you're not going to completely change the environment, change the enemy, if you will, in an insurgency all in one week or two weeks.
John Kelly is a very disciplined, loyal patriot. He's -- in 42 years in the Marine Corps, he probably worked for all sorts of leaders, very good ones, mediocre ones and probably a couple of toxic ones. But when you're in the military, you have to sometimes work for people you don't enjoy working for or those who may hold different opinions or different views than you.
And what you're trying to do is lead the environment, do your job, lead up when you can and make the changes that you think will further the mission and the objectives.
BERMAN: How far --
HERTLING: And I think that's what he's doing.
BERMAN: How far do you think his loyalty extends here? And I suppose the question here becomes, does he see himself as working for the president of the United States or see himself working for the United States of America and where or do those two interests diverge?
HERTLING: Well, you heard what he said when he pulled the staff together on his very first day. It was widely reported that he gave the priorities. Number one, we work for the advancement of the United States. We do the things for our country, then we work for our president. I mean, he said that outwardly and I would expect him to say anything less. So his -- or not to say anything less.
[10:40:03] But his loyalty is to the country. That's part of what John is all about. Now the other thing I just kind of throw out there, you know, every one of the services have their own values that we proclaim. The Marines have three values, they are honor, courage and commitment. So he is going to be committed to try and make things right, to do the best he can to contribute to the furtherance of national objectives.
And I'm sure he's contorted right now in terms of seeing the things that he's seen, being thrust in with a bunch of ideologues and folks that had very different views of the future of the country than he does.
HERTLING: And he's dealing with an individual that may not have his same value set.
BERMAN: Doesn't impress me as the type of guy who would ever give up. HERTLING: No. Well, that's part of the commitment piece. And in the
Marine's case, it's commitment to the country, commitment to the mission. And again, I think that's what his conundrum is right now. He's seen some things go off the rails. He's seen some things happen that I know for a fact, knowing John, you know, you may have different political views. We worked together in combat for 15 months. I saw the person and how he worked.
You know, I don't know what his political views are, I didn't know what they were then but boy, he was a great guy to work with. And, you know, he bent the rules when they needed to be bent, but he made things happen. So I do know what his values are and his values are geared toward patriotism.
BERMAN: You know what I love. I love a retired lieutenant general talking about the benefits of bending the rules. I hope my kids were not listening to that.
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling --
HERTLING: We do that more than you would think, John.
BERMAN: I know, I have seen it. Thanks, General. I appreciate your time. I do appreciate it.
All right. Just in to CNN, we are hearing from the White House right now that they are working on getting the president together with the family of Heather Heyer. Heather Heyer, of course, was the 32-year- old woman who was killed protesting the hate of the neo-Nazi groups and the white supremacists in Charlottesville.
Let me read you the statement from White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters.
"We appreciate the unifying words that Heather's mother spoke yesterday. We are working on identifying a time that is convenient for the family to speak with the president. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
All right. Inside white supremacy in America, passed down by generations or learned online? An in-depth discussion, next.
[10:46:57] BERMAN: All right. We have breaking news. Has to do with the president of the United States and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. You will remember, it was only a couple hours ago when President Trump basically endorsed the Republican primary opponent of this sitting U.S. senator because Jeff Flake has been critical of President Trump on many fronts but specifically and most recently in the wake of the president's response to the Charlottesville violence.
Well, moments ago, the senior senator from Arizona, John McCain, he weighed in. John McCain, "Jeff Flake is a principled legislature and always does what's right for the people of Arizona. Our state needs his leadership now more than ever." So, you know, if you are keeping score at home, it's John McCain and
Jeff Flake in Arizona against the president of the United States and Jeff Flake's primary opponent. Stay tuned for that one because that is going to be fascinating.
In the meantime, white supremacists and neo-Nazi's marching through the streets of Charlottesville with torches and anti-Semitic chants. But what leads these people to hate and fascism. The nephew of one of the white supremacists says it happens on the Internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB SCOTT WEBER, NEPHEW OF WHITE SUPREMACIST PETER TEFFT: We think that he was radicalized online. Around the time of Ron Paul's presidential campaign back in 2012, he started spending a lot of time on these sort of fringe Internet spaces like Fortune and getting all his news from, like InfoWars and other places like that. And over time he just started to move further and further right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. Joining me now to talk about this is Julia Ioffe, a staff writer at the "Atlantic," who wrote an article called "Road to Radicalism in Charlottesville."
And Julia, what's so interesting about your article is you compare some of these white supremacists and neo-Nazis. You compare the path they take to those of jihadists. Explain.
JULIA IOFFE, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: So this is actually very interesting. Scholars who study radicalization often study these two phenomenon together, despite the different content of the ideology of jihadi ideology and neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology they might be different. But structurally, psychologically they're very similar.
There's an in-group so that's your brothers and sisters in Islam or your brothers and sisters in the white race fighting against a sea of enemies. People who are not white, Jews, blacks, minorities, political correctness, infidels, non-believers, crusaders. And this ideology is very -- you know, it's very constricting. It cuts you off from your family, it cuts you off from your circle of friends. And also cuts you off from a sense of normalcy.
So you constantly feel like the walls are closing in and you have to act. You have to act soon. This is -- and that the only way to solve this because it's such an emergency is violence.
BERMAN: And both ideologies, you note, promise sort of rewards in their recruitment.
IOFFE: Sometimes it is an overtly sexual reward. A lot of the recruits are young men. Young men obsessed with warrior culture on both sides so for example ISIS, says if you or used to say, if you go to Syria and you become an ISIS warrior, we'll give you a wife or a Yazidi sex slave. [10:50:10] And you saw, for example, the "Daily Stormer" or white
supremacist site on Saturday posting on their blog that all these girls are now going to want to have sex with you because you're the ultimate bad boy.
BERMAN: So what about the president's words this morning? The president talked about the Confederate monuments which are a symbol to many -- look, to many people around the country but specifically to members of the white supremacists and neo-Nazi movement. He referred to them as beautiful and used a buzz word, culture.
IOFFE: Mm-hmm. You know, I think it's interesting. On one hand, it's these dog whistles, right, to these groups. He said on Saturday, for example, that we need to cherish our history, that's also a buzz word for these groups. But I think it's interesting you had a guest earlier, a professor talking about how the history is more than these monuments made out of metal. It's absolutely true.
But you have a president who thinks visually, who loves maps, whose briefing materials are not so much verbal as they are visual. So for him, you know, if you are tearing down a statue, that's like you're erasing it from history as opposed to maybe provoking a debate or moving people to read, for example, which we know this president doesn't do.
BERMAN: It is interesting, yesterday he referred to Heather Heyer, the victim there, as beautiful. Today, he is referring to Confederate statues as beautiful. Interesting juxtaposition there.
Julia Ioffe, really interesting discussion. Thank you very, very much.
We'll be right back.
[10:55:59] BERMAN: All right. Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett taking a page out of Colin Kaepernick's playbook, refusing to stand for the national anthem. He explained his decision to CNN.
Andy Scholes with more on the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. You know, even though Colin Kaepernick is not on an NFL team, some of his peers are following in his footsteps of not standing for the national anthem to protest social injustice.
And Michael Bennett says, "I thought about what to do all summer long. And after the events in Charlottesville, decided it was time to take action." And when speaking with CNN, Bennett credits Kaepernick for starting the movement and he wishes more players would speak up for what they believe in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BENNETT, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I think Colin Kaepernick was one of the best fighters in sports history for wanting equality in my generation and I think we've got to continuously fight the good fight, and that's to fight for everybody to have equality, everybody to have freedom. And I think that fight is something that we all should be fighting.
I wish more players would stand up and say what they really believe because this is the truth that we all believe. But I think everybody is fearful of what would happen. Nobody wants to be Kaepernick. I think that's what we call it now. Nobody -- I mean, silence is what we have to do. I can't do it anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: General manager of Kaepernick's former team, meanwhile, has a different view then Bennett and players not standing for the national anthem. John Lynch, who's in his first season as 49ers' GM, says when a player decides to sit, it's divisive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN LYNCH, 49ERS GENERAL MANAGER: I think this game brings people together, so, I think personally when I see that, I can't get -- that's divisive. You know, and I understand, guys see things that they're not happy and they have that right. And I think we'll always respect people's rights. That doesn't mean I believe that. You know, I believe that this game should actually be celebrated for what it is. I think a tremendous unifier for our country and for what -- for what -- you know, the way things should be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Finally, Red Sox hosted the Cardinals. This may be the best worst first pitch ever. Jordan Leandre, a cancer survivor, throwing out the first pitch. And his face says it all. It goes wide right and hits that poor photographer below the belt. And get this, Jordan later tweeted out, to make matters worse, "I'm a pitcher."
But props to Tony the photographer for hanging in there to get this awesome photo which he put, "Feel free to caption this." America (INAUDIBLE) says, "You know, I'm sure he's always going to remember that moment and the pain that followed afterwards."
But what's up? I thought you Red Sox fans knew how to throw a first pitch.
BERMAN: So I have been putting a lot of thought into this, Andy, because, you know, you don't want to be, like, the 10th person to make a bad joke over this so if you're going to do it, you should make sure it's a good one.
SCHOLES: OK. You got it.
BERMAN: So here is mine. This picture gives new definition to the term "throwing junk."
(LAUGHTER) SCHOLES: Pretty good. I had not heard that one this morning yet, John.
BERMAN: All right. I did it OK.
BERMAN: A lot of laughs there. Fantastic to see that.
Andy Scholes, Aaron Judge last night hit a monster homerun. Is he going to break 60?
SCHOLES: No. Aaron Judge? No. Maybe Giancarlo Stan. But Aaron Judge has no shot.
BERMAN: All right. Andy Scholes, thank you very much for us. I really appreciate it.
A lot of breaking new this morning. The president of the United States making very clear where he stands on Confederate statues calling them beautiful, talking about their contribution to our culture. This goes much further than his statements on Tuesday.
What is the significance? We're getting new reaction from Democrats and Republicans.
All right. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
Despite criticism from his party, Democrats, military leaders, former presidents, his own staff, world leaders and the Pope, President Trump is defiant about his remarks about the violence in Charlottesville right now.