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AT THIS HOUR
Victim's Mother: I Won't Speak To Trump After His Remarks; GOP Backlash Grows, Trump's Competence Questioned; Romney: Trump Made Racists "Rejoice" And Minorities "Weep"; Fox CEO Slams Trump's Response To Charlottesville. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 18, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. President Trump under siege from all sides, it seems, from Democrats, and now a growing number of Republican lawmakers, and now, Mitt Romney.
And also, now, this morning, a heart wrenching rejection of the president, it comes from the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed protesting the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
Susan Bro, of course, is here name and she spoke out this morning, and says, after the president's remarks Tuesday, she no longer wants to hear from the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN BRO, HEATHER HEYER'S MOM: I have not and now I will not. At first, I just missed his calls. The first call looked like it actually came during the funeral. I didn't even see that message.
There were three more frantic messages from press secretary through the day and I didn't know that have been on Wednesday. I was home recovering from the exhaustion of the funeral and so I thought I'll get to them later.
And I had more meetings to establish her foundation, so I hadn't really watched the news until last night and I'm not talking to the president now. I'm sorry. After what he said about my child.
It's not that I saw somebody else's tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters like Miss Heyer, with the KKK and the white supremacists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that is where you are right now because after his statement, after he read his statement on Monday, you thanked him. But now you have had a chance to hear his remarks from Tuesday and that has changed your position as far as the president is concern in wanting to hear from him?
BRO: Absolutely. You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying I'm sorry. I'm not forgiving for that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there something that you would want to say to the president?
BRO: Think before you speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That's Susan Bro, of course, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed.
Also, this morning, two Republican rejections that may leave a mark on the president. Senator Bob Corker, once on the short list to be the president's secretary of state, questioning the president's competency and stability. Those are his words.
Senator Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate saying that the president has compromised his moral authority. Where do they go from here now?
Let me bring in right now, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cilizza. Chris, it's great to see you. Add to the list, Mitt Romney, of course, weighing in saying that the president should apologize and is facing a defining moment. Where are we now?
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, the truth of the matter is, Republicans have to get together to the extent that they can and figure out what they do next.
I thought what Bob Corker said, you should circle and put a star next to, because I do think it is important. As you mentioned, Corker not a reflexive Trump critic by any means, someone who kept an open line of communication with the White House.
For him to use the words stability and competency not once, but twice in a Q&A with reporters I think is meaningful. Now, there are few actual legislative things that the Republican Party can do.
They could theoretically senture the president, sort of a nominal senture, it doesn't carry with it a real penalty, right. But, that would be a major step. A Republican Congress senturing a presient, I don't think we are there.
Obviously, if I don't think we are there for senture, I don't think the idea that a Republican Congress is going to begin impeachment on President Trump. I'm not even sure, necessarily, what the grounds would be there.
So, there aren't that many levers they can pull, but I would say, I think, doing what Bob Corker did on Thursday is an important step for the party to say it's not just about, OK, this is a one up and we wish he hadn't said it.
That there is a pattern of behavior here. We, as a party, need to think, consider, what we do. Do we walk away from him permanently because they kind of walked away in the past and shuffled back when no one else was looking?
BOLDUAN: And, here is the thing that a lot of folks are thinking about this morning. The comments from the president happened on Tuesday, the latest comments, right?
BOLDUAN: Bob Corker speaks out two days later. Mitt Romney now posts this lengthy statement on Facebook three days later. At the very least, it shows the president has not been able to turn the corner on this with his own party.
CILIZZA: No, he hasn't. And look, he's not going to be able to certainly in the near term, Kate, because he won't apologize or admit he was wrong.
[11:05:09] He will consistently say I was right. He'll try to change the subject marginally by trying to make this a debate over the removal of confederate soldier statues when really it's about his, I think advocation of moral leadership as president during and after Charlottesville.
So, the question is, what else comes up? He's clearly hoping something else comes up to change the subject. But I do think, look, Donald Trump was never a Republican prior to running for office.
He chose to run as a Republican. He -- the Republican party did lineup behind him, eventually, but now, I do think there needs to be some level of reckoning. I think Republicans would be whistling past the political graveyard if they simply said, well, maybe people will forget about this and they'll move on.
This is not an isolated incident. This is who the guy is and they need to decide how, if and whether they are going to create some distance between them and him or not.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Mitt Romney says it's a defining moment for the president and a defining moment for the country. Great to see you, Chris. Thanks for coming in.
CILIZZA: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Here with me now to continue the discussion. Keith Boykin, he is a former Clinton White House aide and Democratic strategist, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Ana Navarro is here and Ed Martin, former state GOP chairman in the great state of Missouri and also the author of the conservative case for Trump. Great to see all of you.
Let's get to the politics in a second. I do want to ask you, though, when everyone has been able to hear the comments from Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother. What is your reaction to her mother? I mean, if no other comment matters, if no one else's matters, shouldn't Susan Bro's comment matter? Shouldn't the president listen to her?
ED MARTIN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, MISSOURI REPUBLICAN PARTY: I think he will. Anyone who has buried a child, I know and viewers know it's beyond comprehension and deserves a lot of respect. And I think what we are seeing is a tragedy. I've heard the president say it over and over. I don't think anyone should -- of all the things that happened, all the terrible things that happened that day, the one that stands out is that woman losing her life. That's a mother. That woman has siblings and kids, and also sure.
On the other hand, I mean, you are saying we are not talking politics, it's being used as a political argument. I think her first response to the president's statement was thanks for reaching out.
Now her response was "I'm frustrated." I tell you this, I have been in this situation. You go through a lot of emotions that I don't know how I would handle them publicly and I think we deserve respect, but it sounds to me like he used it at the beginning of this hour as a political cajole, not as something about --
BOLDUAN: Who me?
BOLDUAN: I didn't take a political cajole? No, I played what a grieving mother said --
MARTIN: Well, CNN, I mean --
BOLDUAN: This is what she said. This is her explanation. She said she did put out that statement after his comments Monday when he named and disavowed and named and shamed white supremacist groups.
She said when she went then and looked at the clip of what he said Tuesday, this is now how she feels. You don't think we should play her comments?
MARTIN: No, I do. But you are saying we are going to put aside the political conversation until the later. If you buried a child, Kate, I can tell you this, when you first hear your child died, you don't think to yourself what do I think about what someone comments.
The first thing you say when someone comes up to you, Kate, and says, I know what you are going through when your child dies, you know what you think, you don't know what I'm going through and you whip back and forth in emotions.
So, the idea that CNN would put at the top of the hour this clip and say, look at that, isn't the president wrong? When you lose a child, you don't get to have a political calculation hoisted upon you by CNN or anybody else.
You are trying to recover, and yes, we ought to honor her, but not put it at the top of the hour and pretend that Cilizza is going to make it authoritative that the president is wrong. It's not fair to her.
BOLDUAN: Ed, Ed, I'm sorry, in no way, I'm going to bring everyone in.
MARTIN: OK. BOLDUAN: The fact that you don't think that Susan Bro's comments deserve to be at that the top of the show --
MARTIN: That's not what I said, Kate. That's not what I said.
BOLDUAN: Ed, you're also saying I'm using her comments --
MARTIN: Correct, that is what I said. Correct.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely not.
MARTIN: Kate, you prefaced your turn to me by saying we are not going to talk about politics, we are going to talk about something else.
BOLDUAN: Yes, it's emotion. I am not. You brought it in. We are talking circular now, Ed. Stick with me. Let's bring in some other voices. Ana, your thoughts?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That was hard to listen to as somebody whose parents have buried a child. I don't think any of us can label, you know, a parent's reaction at that moment. Not everybody acts the same.
NAVARRO: She was acting with composure. I think she is speaking from her heart. I think she is speaking as a mother.
[11:10:12] And I think she is speaking for so many Americans who today, are hurt, who today, are in pain for the death of Heather Heyer and everything that it represents, the symbol of it, and who feel solidarity for this mother, this woman who died in this act, protesting and defending American values.
So, I congratulate her. I commend her. I respect here and I hope we all remember her daughter, her daughter's name, and that she died in defense of American values.
BOLDUAN: Keith, your take on this?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with what Ana said. I think that this is a tragedy this woman just endured. I don't understand why we would judge or critique her or CNN for putting this on the news.
BOLDUAN: It's just -- this is what I have been getting now for a few days, no matter what happens, it's the media's fault.
MARTIN: You asked me to respond --
BOYKIN: Let me just finish my response. Ed, you spoke forever. Let me just speak for a moment. I recall, at the Republican National Convention last year, mothers from victims of Benghazi.
At least one mother who spoke and it was an emotional moment, but it was also a political moment. So, the idea that Republicans are now saying that the victim of a tragedy cannot speak about that tragedy --
MARTIN: Nobody said that. Nobody said that.
BOYKIN: -- Ed, let me finish then you can tell me why you think I'm wrong.
BOLDUAN: Let's Keith finish explaining then you can respond, I promise.
BOYKIN: The point is we have gone through a national tragedy. We are still living through this tragedy. We had a woman who was killed in Charlottesville, white supremacists, Nazis marching through the streets chanting blood in soil, Jews will not replace us.
And we had a president of the United States, we have a president of the United States with no moral clarity when he speaks about this, takes him days and days to talk about it.
And when he finally does talk off the cuff about it, he reiterates his initial statement that caused so much grief for the families of those people who were victimized. I don't think there's any leadership from this president and that's the more fundamental issue.
BOLDUAN: I do want to talk actual politics but Ed, you can respond.
MARTIN: Well, it's like Groundhog's Day to listen to Ana and you and everybody. Everything is the president's fault. I don't really. I never said --
MARTIN: You said I get to respond.
BOLDUAN: Right. Coming on my show to just blame and shame me, why did you do it? I'm just trying to ask questions.
MARTIN: All I said was that when you put up that quote and say we are not going to talk politics, we are talking about something -- we are talking about politics. That's all I said, and you guys are using her statement as politics. That's OK, but I -- you asked me to respond to a mother.
BOLDUAN: This is what Susan Bro -- this is the part of the statement -- yes, Ana.
NAVARRO: As your friend and your colleague, don't respond to this. They are babies because they want to change the subject.
BOLDUAN: It's not baiting.
NAVARRO: They don't want us to talk about the fact that this president lacks moral standing, that he lacks the moral compass --
BOLDUAN: This is what Susan Bro said. What Susan Bro said -- NAVARRO: That he does not know the difference between right and
BOLDUAN: We are going end this conversation. It really isn't a fight. You know when I fight what it looks like. Susan Bro's comment was think before you speak. Let's leave it there and move on, which is what Republicans are saying, not the media, what Republicans, Ed, are saying about Donald Trump.
MARTIN: OK. All right.
BOLDUAN: They are saying that he lacks competence. They are saying that he is lacking of competence and lacking of stability. That from Bob Corker. Tim Scott says he has compromised his moral authority. Mitt Romney says he should apologize. Do you agree with them?
MARTIN: No. I think what he should do is he should continue what he did when he hired a week ago, 10 days ago, General Kelly was hired. Everybody, every station and pundit said he's getting more stability. I think with we do need a president that is going to get better people all the time and improve people.
But let me be very clear, Ana Navarro's wing of the Republican Party is over. The people that wanted amnesty, illegals on demand, free trade, that party, Romney, you know, Ana, Huntsman, Romney, McCain and Jeb, they lost everything. So, we need to move on.
Corker is a serious man. He is expressing his concern. On the other hand, Corker and the Senate are still doing the work of Trump. Trump has put in more judges than Bush or Obama did at the same point.
He's moving ahead with regulatory reform in America, where I live, not where Ana and everyone talks to each other. We are seeing progress for America, first. It really looks good to us. It feels better to us, somebody is on our side. That's what's happening.
[11:15:11] BOLDUAN: Ana, you should probably respond.
NAVARRO: Honestly, I don't want to respond to this guy.
BOLDUAN: OK. Then let's move on.
NAVARRO: I do want to talk about --
MARTIN: She voted for Hillary. She voted for Hillary.
NAVARRO: Exactly, because I refuse -- you are not going to engage me.
BOLDUAN: Another day I'm losing control. Guys, let me try this --
NAVARRO: Can I go back to the initial subject of the matter we were talking about before we got distracted which is what Republicans are saying. I commend those Republicans that are speaking out because I think it's important for the country to see that there are Republicans standing up for what America stands for.
The most important thing that Bob Corker, a guy who has supported Donald Trump. He is a guy who has cut him a lot of slack on policy issues where -- foreign policy issues where Donald trump has been all over the place. Bob Corker has given him a chance and has come out and defended him.
But you see this isn't a policy matter. Enough! It was a matter of basic fundamental moral compass and clarity. It should not take a teleprompter. It should not take days and days for anybody much less the president who supposedly represents all Americans to come out and condemn white supremacists.
He failed on the basic moral test and Republicans need to condemn him vertically, over and over again.
BOLDUAN: But, what these two Republicans, Tim Scott, very serious, not a bomb thrower of any kind, Bob Corker, same thing. What they said, and it wasn't a statement, they said it to cameras, one said it in an interview, the other one to reporters in an event in Tennessee, do you think it was an attempted, maybe some kind of an intervention for the president?
MARTIN: Are you asking me?
NAVARRO: I'm asking Ana.
NAVARRO: Look, I actually think it came from deep inside them. You know, Tim Scott is a guy who has stood up at times and talked about race very personal, very emotional way. I think this very personal and emotional for Tim Scott.
I think it's very personal and very emotional for Bob Corker. Both of them are from the south and have lived this. This is, you know, this touches them in a personal way. I think Americans are torn up about what we have seen in the last week.
I think there is real hate. I think this is less about politics and more about human feeling and human empathy. I think Republicans need to realize this, this is happening seven months into this presidency. It is not going to stop happening.
Donald Trump is not going to change. If they don't stand-up to him now, if they don't think of doing something like senturing him right now, this is going to continue happening and they are going to have to find excuses and react over and over again.
This is very painful for the country and the country needs to hear voices that do stand-up in the Republican Party.
BOLDUAN: Unfortunately, we have completely run out of time because of where this -- I think everyone is guilty of the filibuster today.
BOYKIN: Today I didn't. BOLDUAN: You get to tomorrow. That's the joy of tv, we get to do it again. Thanks for coming on.
All right. Moving on for us, new pressure on the president's inner circle specifically his Jewish advisers. I'll speak live to the Anti- Defamation League making an announcement today.
Plus, confederate statues and monuments across America being defaced and vandalized, and the debate over whether to keep them is growing more and more intense.
And disturbing new video of police officers beating an African- American driver even as he lays on the ground. The story behind this and the fallout of the investigation under way right now.
BOLDUAN: James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox and the son one of President Trump's close friends is speaking out against the president over his response to the Charlottesville attack.
In an e-mail to friends obtained by CNN, Murdoch writes this, "What we watched this week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the president of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people.
I can't even believe I have to write this. Standing up to Nazi's is essential, there are no good Nazis or Klansmen or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this and it compromises nothing for them to do so."
James Murdoch also says that he is now pledging $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League in response to all of this.
Joining me now to discuss, Jonathan Greenblatt. He is the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, and also the Democratic mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler. Great to see both of you.
Jonathan, first to you, on what I was talking about Murdoch. He's announced this pledge to your organization. That's a lot of money. At the same time, do you have concerns over that money given that his family owns Fox News, the channel that has been a platform that has defended President Trump, some of President Trump's remarks?
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Sure, I understand the question, Kate, and I understand the concern. When I spoke to James yesterday, he reached out to me and said that he and his wife, Katherine (ph), were so upset and moved by what's been happening over the past week.
They felt compelled to make this gift and look, in the Jewish tradition, we believe this idea of (inaudible) or repentance. So, I don't think he's responsible for every straight comment or every piece of comment produced by his corporation.
That said, I think this is a step forward. This step forward to stay we need to change the tone in this country. We are going to put his million dollars to work to strengthen our center on extremism that fights violent right-wing extremists like those neo-Nazi's and Klansmen, who marched in Charlottesville this past weekend.
[11:25:02] BOLDUAN: Because you know, of course, folks like Sean Hannity on the channel, I mean, he has said in response to all of this, he thinks that the president has already set the record straight. That there are no problems.
GREENBLATT: Well, to be frank, I mean, as James said, as I've said, there are no fine people among the Nazi's. Just because you have legal permits doesn't give you moral permission to march and cry, we will replace you to the Jews, chant slogans lifted from Nazi Germany propaganda.
So, to be perfectly honest, the record isn't straight. We have work to do as a country to reconcile and combat --
BOLDUAN: Is that part of your conversation with James?
GREENBLATT: You better believe it. So, again, we are going to use those resources and the million dollars that Tim Cook from Apple gave us yesterday as well, to invest in fighting hate, to content in classrooms, training of law enforcement and to protecting the First Amendment, is good work to do.
BOLDUAN: Mayor, you are joining forces with Jonathan, with the Anti- Defamation League along with I think the latest count was some 200 mayors from across the country, signing a compact to fight hate, fight extremism and bigotry. How do you do that?
MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D), AUSTIN, TEXAS: Well, I think there are a lot of different ways you do that. The first is to really stand-up and be really clear. You know, for mayors, this is not a political or partisan issue. This is the work we do every day.
You know, we can tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. There are only two sides to racism, the right side of history and the wrong side of history. I think that governments and leaders need to be very strong and straight forward on that.
So, the compact talks about being clear about the message, education in schools for our children about respect and tolerance. It's talking about keeping the public safe in a way that protects First Amendment rights. It is talking about hate crimes, enforcement and education.
There are a lot of really specific steps that mayors are taking every day in cities because, again, this is about public safety. This is not a partisan, political issue that almost 250 mayors that are signing up are from all political parties.
In fact, most mayors don't even run in partisan elections. I don't. So, it's just being very clear about the message. BOLDUAN: Jonathan, it's been three days now since the president's press conference where he made the latest remarks. He's not backing down. There have been public calls for the Jewish members of the president's inner circle and his cabinet to speak out or resign. Do you think they should? What do you think of those calls?
GREENBLATT: Well, look, I think people have to follow their conscience. I know what I would do and frankly, I know what we are doing because we are not going to wait --
BOLDUAN: What would you do?
GREENBLATT: Well, we are pushing forward on the fight against hate. If I were the president, I would speak my mind and principles. You can influence things in front of the camera or behind the scenes. So, let's realize that.
I'm sure there's a lot of pressure being put. But with that said, we are not going to wait for the White House. We are working with mayors. You can see the pledge at mayorscompact.org.
We are working with the business community. You know, we have seen Google and Go Daddy and other companies take steps this week. We can't wait for the president to somehow, someway find moral leadership which he seems to be so lacking.
BOLDUAN: What sparked -- it kind of sparked part of this conversation, Mayor, has come to your city. You are debating right now to remove a confederate symbol from your city, renaming the Robert E. Lee Road in Austin. You support that move, but how does it play into the hate that you are fighting against?
ADLER: Well, I think it's a way to send a really strong message. There is no place for hate. This is not a gray area. This is a right and wrong kind of discussion. I really think that cities and mayors are standing up to be very, very clear about what is right and what is wrong to provide that kind of moral message that, frankly, I think our communities are looking for.
Here in Austin, yes, we are looking at that issue because it's an important part of the conversation. There's so much we should be celebrating that we don't need to celebrate a past that includes racist or segregation tendencies.
We have that history in Austin. It is important for us, while we are not responsible for that, we are responsible now for moving past that. So, I think it's an important conversation for communities to have. It's happening all over the country. It's really important that conversation take place in an unambiguous way.
BOLDUAN: Thank you both for coming on to talk about this conversation and talk about that compact that mayors and ADL come together to form. Thank you. I really appreciate it. Jonathan, Mayor, thank you so much.
As the president comes under fire, why have his predecessor and former opponent remained quiet? Should they speak out? We'll discuss. We'll be right back.