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GOP Backlash Grows Over Trump's Charlottesville Remarks; Interview with Mayor Levar Stoney; Video Shows Ohio Officer Beating Black Man; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired August 18, 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] ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: They didn't detect these guys. And they have the best police equipment. They've got algorithms, they check social media and the rest of it and, still, these groups continue to operate in so many at once. So I think it's rather disturbing.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even when people are watching, they can pull off this type of attack, vehicle attack, so hard to stop which is maybe why it was their fallback then after the bombs didn't work.
Bob Baer, Mike Baker, again, the breaking news, one American killed, among the dead, in Barcelona.
Also happening this morning, a Republican lift. A new name added to the growing list of Republican leaders with harsh criticism for the president's response in Charlottesville. Mitt Romney on that list. And now a key conservative writer. You will recognize him, says it's time to pull the plug on President Trump.
I'll ask him what he means, next.
[10:35:17] BERMAN: New this morning, scathing criticism of President Trump from former Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Just last hour, Governor Romney posted this, "The president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong. Apologize."
This, of course, in reference to the president's Charlottesville remarks.
CNN political commentator and senior columnist from "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis, he goes even further. Matt says it is time for Republicans to pull the plug on President Trump.
Matt Lewis joins us now along with CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson.
All right, Matt. Pull the plug on President Trump, what does that mean?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not talking about overturning the will of the voters. The voters spoke, they elected him, I'm not calling on impeachment or anything like that. But what I am calling on is for us to give up hope. Those of us who hope that he would maybe, possibly pivot, that he would mature in office, it's not happened.
John Kelly, his chief of staff, a highly respected general, can't get him to do it. Donald Trump is 71 years old. He continues, whether it's Russia or the tweets or attacking Republicans, including his own attorney general, for failing to show moral clarity and specifically condemn, you know, white supremacism, he just doesn't have it.
It's bad for the country, it's horrible for conservatism. And so what I'm calling on is Republicans to do a few things. Number one, if you're an elected Republican, quit trying to, you know, appease Donald Trump. Quit worrying about his agenda and his legacy. Go about your business. If you want to pass tax reform, by all means do it, but do it independently. Go rogue. Don't worry about the president of the United States.
I would also urge Republican voters and conservatives to primary him. I think that -- you know, and not some perfunctory primary with somebody that nobody has heard of. I would love to draft somebody like a Ben Sasse, somebody who's credible, who's experienced, who's a thoughtful conservative, and I think conservatives should rally behind this person and unify behind him.
And I would also urge anybody who wants to preserve their own reputation, who is working for Donald Trump, to resign, leave. Quit working for him. He is not going to change.
Now I would make an exception I would grant away for a few people including John Kelly, H.R. McMaster --
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're giving out waivers now?
LEWIS: And general -- this is me. I'm a columnist. I would grant them -- I would grant them a waiver. And I would also say, please, please, please, General Mattis, stay on duty, your country needs you.
BERMAN: All right. So --
FERGUSON: OK. Well --
BERMAN: Ben Ferguson, your smile and your laugh --
FERGUSON: Yes, let me -- yes.
BERMAN: Is that kind of approval for Matt Lewis's plan?
FERGUSON: No, I mean, this is the part where it's just insanity. One of the things, Matt, and I love you, I genuinely do. But you said act like the president doesn't exist in your article. That's like a child-like mentality. You cannot act like the president doesn't exist when the president is going to be there. He's only been there six months, It's a four-year term. The idea that somehow you can govern without having the president
who's in your same party and you just act like he's not there is insanity. There are senators and congressmen. If there's any challenge that I would agree with you on, it's yes, do your job and not maybe let your personal feelings toward the president interfere with them.
Every Republican ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare. What we know is pretty clear, some of those that voted against Obamacare in the Senate, they made it personal, they made it against the president because they don't like the president. I think they should take part of your advice, which is do your job and don't worry about your personal childish spats you have with the president of the United States of America.
BERMAN: What about, Ben -- what about his call to primary the president of the United States? That's a pretty bold call.
FERGUSON: No. It's -- look, there are people that obviously, it's very personal with this president, they can't stand him, they don't like him, and they're rooting for him to fail. I think it's pretty clear that many of the people that would agree with this article want the president to be a failure so they can say look how right I was, I told you so, I warned you.
I mean, Matt, your entire article is I warned you, I told you so, I told you so.
LEWIS: I did. I did.
FERGUSON: And -- right. But my point is, to say six months in that we need to start pulling out random names to primary the president is also childish. It's not based in reality. You don't pick someone three and a half years out to primary the president when it's six months in.
I'm not saying everything has been perfect. I've criticized the president when he's done things I disagree with. I think he has to show better leadership on certain issues which I've said this past week.
BERMAN: Matt --
FERGUSON: But you can't just say -- because you didn't get your way -- to primary someone six months. That's not based on any good reality.
LEWIS: I think you --
BERMAN: Matt, this has got to be quick. Fifteen seconds.
[10:40:08] LEWIS: Look, I think you can say that when it's very clear that he's not up to the job. Donald Trump is not up to be president of the --
FERGUSON: It's six months in. LEWIS: And that's what's amazing is I know that with only six months
LEWIS: It's very clear.
FERGUSON: You desperately want to be right.
FERGUSON: And say I told you so that you're willing this president to be a failure, which is wrong.
LEWIS: I gave him tons of credit -- I gave him tons of credit with Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court pick. I thought he acted very decisively on the strike on Syria when they used chemical weapons against their own people. And despite all that, he's still a horrible president and he's destroying the conservative movement.
BERMAN: All right. Ben Ferguson, Matt Lewis, I will note, this is a two-Republican panel we have right now. That debate amongst Republicans.
Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.
LEWIS: Thank you.
BERMAN: Nationwide debate intensifying over the future of Confederate monuments. Are they the key beautiful piece of American history the president says they are? The mayor of one southern town says the violence in Charlottesville has changed his mind.
[10:45:12] BERMAN: An announcement expected in the next few hours from the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, in the wake of the violent protesters there. Mayor Mike Signer is expected to push for the removal of the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The mayor originally voted against taking it down.
Joining me now on the phone another Virginia mayor, Levar Stoney, the mayor of Richmond. Virginia is the state with the most Confederate symbols, 220 of them.
Mayor Stoney, thank you so much for being with us. I do want to note, you are on the phone with us right now because you are on the way to the funeral of Trooper Berke Bates one of the men who was killed in response in that helicopter crash, responding to the violence on Saturday. I want to ask you about him in just a moment.
First, though, about the statues, as recently as Monday, you advocated for keeping statues up and adding context. Now you say they should come down.
MAYOR LEVAR STONEY, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: Yes, you're right. I started a commission back on June 22nd that would provide context and interpretation of the five monuments we have on Monument Avenue. I thought that we could use those statues as a tool to enlighten and educate those who live in the city and beyond. But after Saturday, I have seen that there are others out there, evildoers, who would choose to use these statues, these inanimate objects, as a rallying point for hate, intolerance, and division. And those are not in line with the principles and values of the city of Richmond.
BERMAN: The president says, "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments." The president still suggests that you can learn from them. You disagree?
STONEY: You know, it saddens me that -- what happened in Charlottesville and there are people who would use these, you know, as ways to inject the political ideology of hate. I no longer see them as necessary as teaching tools.
I think our commission is going to consider removal, just like we have seen in places like New Orleans and Baltimore and that we'll go from there. I find them offensive. I was -- I'm a grandson of a woman who was born in the Deep South in 1923 in South Carolina, the low country.
I ask myself, how would my grandmother feel? The woman who raised me? And she would be offended by these statues and so we want to do the right thing. We want to be on the side of right. The right thing is for them be removed.
BERMAN: And as we noted, you are on the way to the funeral of Trooper Pilot Berke M. Bates. He was killed alongside Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, responding to the violence in Charlottesville. You know, at this time, as you are on the way to that funeral, after everything we've seen in the last week in this country and in your state, what's the message you want to send to people?
STONEY: Well, you know, John, I'm actually in the parking lot of the church where -- I'm about to enter the doors for Berke's funeral. Trooper Bates was a friend of mine. He was a definite protector of the governor but he's also -- he was also a friend of the family and he was a friend to all of Virginia.
I want folks to know that it's not -- they know that Virginia isn't a home for hate and intolerance and division. Here, we are welcoming and inclusive. And that's the same -- those are the same values of Richmond as well. And it's my hope that that's the way Virginia is remembered, and not the event that happened this past Saturday in Charlottesville.
BERMAN: All right. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, thank you so much. Our thoughts with you and to the families there at that event today mourning the trooper lost last week. Thanks very much.
We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:53:31] BERMAN: All right. Questions are swirling over newly released video showing the violent arrest of a black man near Cleveland. Police say this started as a routine traffic stop. Somehow it escalated to this. The driver on the ground, officer on top of him punching.
CNN's Brynn Gingras joins me now with more on this video.
Brynn, what are you learning?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's going viral, that's for sure. I mean, we know a lot. I'm going to tell you right now. We know that there's a police officer is involved with this, Michael Amiott. You saw him on the video, but we're not sure which one he is. We know he's on paid administrative leave, though.
He is an officer with the Euclid Police Department, which is a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Now Amiott was the arresting officer in a traffic stop which turned into that physical struggle with that man who is 25 years old.
Now I want you to take a look at different video, this is police dashcam video, which actually comes to us by the local newspaper there in the Cleveland area, the "News Herald." According to a police statement, this all happened last Saturday. Richard Hubbard III was the man behind the wheel and authorities pulled him over. Then police say Hubbard began to physically resist arrest and according to them it took several officers to control him.
But again, you see right there in the video, the kicking and the punching that was all part of this arrest. It's unclear again from the video, which Officer Amiott is, but he is not working. Again, he is on paid leave while this case is under investigation.
Now I want you to look at this picture. This is Hubbard, what he looked like after his arrest in this booking photo. Police claimed Amiott was treated for injuries as well and he is as well under investigation.
[10:55:06] Police also released a statement of what happened and the chief said separately on Facebook, quote, "I first want to sincerely apologize for not publicly responding in a more timely fashion. I want to personally assure everyone that this incident is being thoroughly investigated and reviewed."
We also know Officer Amiott worked for another police department in Mentor, Ohio, another Cleveland suburb.
He was there for only nine months, John. And he was forced to resign because he actually falsified a police report.
BERMAN: All right. Brynn Gingras, with us.
This video again, these new developments coming in. This violent video being seen by a whole lot of people. Thanks for the details on that. I really appreciate it. We also have breaking news we want to tell you about out of Finland.
We've been following this. Police say more suspects could be out there after several people were stabbed. This happened in Finland. Again, we're getting many more details in with warnings on people to stay away from these crowded neighborhoods.
CNN will have the latest, next.