Return to Transcripts main page


Steve Banished: Bannon Out as Chief Strategist; Source: Bannon: The Trump Presidency that We Fought and Won is Over; Bannon Firing has Kushner's Fingerprints on it; Mar-A-No-Go: Charities Cancel Events at Trump Resort. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 18, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, I'm Chris Cuomo, in for Anderson Cooper, and we have breaking news up and down the line tonight after one of the most tornadic weeks in the Trump presidency. And that, friends, is saying something.

Let's remember where we started, the country rubbed raw after the violence, hate, terror and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia, the president stepped up and made it worse in just about everybody's opinion, except the White supremacists.

So all week, continuing it to this evening, we've seen people backing away from the president and the idea that Nazis and those protesting against them are equal in any way. Corporate CEOs, artists, tonight, the first member of his evangelical advisory board and billionaire investor, Carl Icahn, who the president name dropped during the campaign like a kid at a cast party, all backing away from this president. We've seen Republican lawmakers slowly but steadily increasing criticism.

Here is the latest tally on your screen of all the people who've called out the president from his own party by name so far.

We've seen Mitt Romney scold him, not a surprise perhaps, but also military commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff implicitly rebuking the president. That is a major surprise.

And today on top of it all and perhaps in a matter more of convenience than coincidence, the president fired his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Take a look at this picture. First, it was Michael Flynn, then Sean Spicer, then Reince Priebus, then the meteoric rise and fall of the mooch, and now finally Mr. Bannon as the president called him the other day, Mr. Bannon gone.

And we're being told more heads could roll, including perhaps talking head Sebastian Gorka, Dr. Gorka, for you and me.

Now, while firing, Bannon has shifted focus away from the flames of hate, the president help to fan the relief maybe short-lived. Bannon has already back at his old website, Breitbart, and apparently trying to sever Trump's ties to his all-important base, one of the cronies of Breitbart, for Bannon tweeting the word, war. Bannon himself telling the "Weekly Standard," the presidency that he and Donald Trump fought for and won is now over. Think of that.

All right, a lot to cover and to talk about. So let's bring in CNN's Jim Acosta joining us first with the very latest from the president's vacation spot in New Jersey.

Jim, what are we finding out about the timing here? How this went down with Bannon?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, it was alt-right, stage left you might say for Steve Bannon from what we understand from talking to our sources. This has been building for sometime.

And according to sources I talked to earlier today, Steve Bannon was supposed to be fired a couple of weeks ago and that did not happen. And he was given a chance to resign, which apparently he took the opportunity to do. But make no mistake, he was forced out, he was fired, apprentice style by the president and by Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Now, a couple of reasons why this was, this has been building for sometime. This is not the first time that Steve Bannon had been rumored to be on the chopping block. The president had fallen out of love with Steve Bannon a while ago. He was concerned about Bannon appearing on the cover of "Time Magazine," being lampooned on "Saturday Night Live," stealing the limelight, sucking up a lot of the oxygen in Washington.

But I think more critically, Chris, the new Chief of Staff, John Kelly, wanted to put in place a much more disciplined, much orderly power structure inside the White House.

And from what I understand talking to sources, Steve Bannon was just not going to survive in that world. As we saw in this last week, he was doing interviews, granting interviews with journalists and sort of freelancing, putting his own agenda out there really in front of the president's. And from what we understand, that was just not going to fly in John Kelly's new world. And there may be other heads rolling on the horizon here, Chris.

CUOMO: So, the article where the -- where Steve Bannon said that there is no military solution for North Korea, that was seen as a little bit of a -- OK, one step too far, forget about the timing, he has to go right now.

Interestingly, are you also hearing that this is significant because of what it is not about. That this is not about Charlottesville, Virginia, that what happened and what was said there by the president was all of his own, that wasn't Bannon engineered and the reason for his exit, true?

[21:05:11] ACOSTA: Well, make no mistake, I mean, this did certainly change the news cycle today. I mean, it's -- when the president was called out essentially by the mother of Heather Heyer on morning television earlier today, when the mother of Heather Heyer is saying I will not speak to the president, that was -- this was going to be a devastating news cycle for this White House today in forcing Steve Bannon out. That certainly did change the narrative. It certainly did change the news cycle.

I mean, one of the things that we're hearing is whether or not Steve Bannon and Breitbart are going to go to war against this White House. Earlier today, you saw that one editor from Breitbart was -- Joel Pollak, was tweeting that, you know, it was going to be hashtag war.

And I talked to a source who talked to Bannon earlier today who said, no, no, wait a minute, I'm going to be going to war with this president for this White House. He does not want to see President Trump fail, according to the source who spoke to Steve Bannon. But, you know, make no mistake, if they see -- if Breitbart sees and Steve Bannon sees this White House moving in a more moderate direction, you know, you might see some of these hostilities resume.

CUOMO: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in the panel. We have tonight a great group of minds put to this matter. You got Josh Green, author of "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency." Also, with us, Kirsten Powers, Joseph Pinion, Alice Stewart and Ryan Lizza.

All right, Josh, we've got to get to the why this happen. Man, there's so many competing narratives. I'm sure all of our devices have been buzzing like crazy about this. But what -- speaking out to me right now is subject to what you're about to tell me, is Bannon telling a writer for the "Weekly Standard," the presidency that I fought for with Donald Trump that we won is now over. Is that what he was saying to you?

JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR, "DEVIL'S BARGAIN": Basically, yes. I mean, he told me that -- and take this with a grain of salt given the source, that this was not a firing, that this has been in the works for a while, that he was thinking about leaving a week or two ago, delayed it because of the Charlottesville uproar, and this is something that have been agreed to both with Chief of Staff John Kelly discussed with the president. And it was clear, Bannon told me that he's not -- that he is leaving on amicable terms and he's going outside to wage war for Trump and not against Trump.

CUOMO: Amicable terms, presidency is over, mutually agreed when we will leave, war, which way do you see it?

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Well, see -- well, yes. So I'm sort of interested in your take on this of what he means by that. Does he mean he is going to go out and go to -- it seemed to me when I reading this that he -- the criticism was really not of Donald Trump but of the Republicans. That's sort of the way I was reading it. And that he has basically saying the presidency is over because the Republicans will not do what Donald Trump wants him to do and because they're too moderate. Is that the correct reading? GREEN: He didn't use that specific phrase with me.


GREEN: But yes, that's exactly the idea that he was pushing forward. That, you know, we have taken it this far, we've won the presidency, Trump's agenda is not moving forward in quite the way we like, so I, Steve Bannon, I'm going to go fight on his behalf on the outside. And he specified who he was --

POWERS: Right.

GREEN: -- he was going to go to war against. And it was establishment politicians. And I think by that, he meant Republican leaders in Congress, it was the opposition party in the media, as Ben likes to refer to us. And it was corporate America too who Trump and Bannon feel have betrayed Donald Trump.

CUOMO: So, here's part of the confusion, right? This is one of the problems with having an unknown political entity, because Donald Trump came into this without a set of core beliefs where you know. Well, if he says this, this is him and if you says this, this is him compromising third party or platform or whatever it is.

So, to you, when you hear about all of this, Joseph, what does it mean to you and whether or not this administration is going to keep its connection to the populism that made it popular?

JOSEPH PINION, CHAIRMAN, THE CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: Well, I think there's always been this assumption that Donald Trump has been playing some type of wizardly three-dimensional chess. I think that that is probably incorrect at this point.

I think that the reality that has kind of been thrust upon us is that we have been playing three-dimensional chess on behalf of Donald Trump, right? That you have, you know, these assumptions based on whatever your leanings are that it is Jared and Ivanka who are going to pull him away from the populist message even though there is literally zero evidence of that fact.

And then you also having people who can draw a direct line from everything they hate about Donald Trump and connect that to Steve Bannon and say that he is the reason why we have all these policies being shoved down our throat that we don't like. Or on the other side, that he is the reason that we have all these policies that we do like.

And so I think at this junction now, I think for better and for worse, the curtain has been drawn back and we are forced to see now in many ways a stark terms that, as we've said before, there is literally nobody who can force this president to do anything he does not want to do.

[21:10:05] He is a force of nature on to himself for better and for worse. And I think that on some level, he might have exposed himself with the firing of Bannon. Because at this point for the first time possibly in his entire life, the buck has to stop with him and it will be no one else to point the finger at but him. Because as we saw on that picture, everybody is --

CUOMO: Well, he has fired, Alice, most of the people who have, you know, served him in that purpose of, well, whose fault is it if it is not your own? How do you see this in terms of the implications for the president and his administrations?

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, with regard to the populist nationalist agenda and economic nationalist agenda, look, Bannon and Trump are -- were soldiers in arms in this and they still believe strong on immigrations, strong on fighting for the working man. And those policies, in my view, will continue through Donald Trump.

Look --

CUOMO: Why the confidence?

STEWART: Why the what?

CUOMO: Why the confidence that the president on his own will motivate that agenda when we haven't seen that from him unilaterally to this point?

STEWART: Look where he stands on immigration. I mean he is certainly strong on immigration, building the wall and Mexico will pay for it. That's why he's brining --

CUOMO: We don't know that that's going to raise wages for the working man. That's what I'm wondering.

STEWART: But, clearly, he tapped into something in this country with his ability to connect with the working man. And I think Bannon clearly lit the torch and carried the torch. Trump will continue to do so.

The question is, who is he going to move it? There is a lot of talk with the people I have been speaking with that it is obviously the establishment Republican but with some refer to as the White -- the White House Democrats, Jared, and Ivanka, and Gary Cohn and Dina Powell and those -- and they're going to -- and Bannon, from the outside, will make sure he holds a speech.

I think what this departure means, two things, one man carries the spotlight in the White House and that is the president and there is a new sheriff in town and that is Chief of Staff Kelly.


GREEN: I asked about Bannon about the West Wing Democrats and in fact use precisely that term. And he would not engage with negotiating, he wouldn't answer, he wouldn't take shots at Gary Cohn and Jared or Ivanka but clearly this is something that was on his mind. I think he was trying to exit in a dignified fashion that wouldn't be look at as a food fight but that is something I would think a lot about if I work in the West Wing that Bannon on the outside is going to come after some of these people.

CUOMO: But now you have the big problem, the big problem has always been, well, what happens if you put Bannon on the outside, his connection to the base, having this mouth piece in Breitbart? You know, having someone who's heard countless conversations and intimate moments of the president. Now, you have him maybe, Ryan Lizza, against you?

LIZZA: If you read the interview with the "Weekly Standard" by Peter Boyer, he is 100% clear that his version of Trumpism is dead, that the populist nationalist agenda has been stymied. He sort of personalized this whole thing and he says very clearly that he is going to Breitbart to wage war against the people and institutions that stopped in his tracks, he's as clear as day.

And look, frankly, he was very clear in talking to journalists for months about that war inside the White House. I visited him in his office a few months ago, he threw down a copy of the "Financial Times," he said look at this front page story. The front page story was War in the Oval Office, Bannon versus Gary Cohn. He wanted me to see that this is the war that's happening in the administration.

And so he's now going to take that battle outside and he always viewed himself as being surrounded by these concentric circles of enemies. They were the so-called globalists in the West Wing. Then it was -- the enemies in the media, us, and then it was the Republican establishment on Capitol Hill, and then it was the business community. He used to joke like the Democrats. He didn't even have time to fight the Democrats because he was fighting so many people inside the White House and inside the larger Republican coalition.

CUOMO: And that was frustrating.

LIZZA: And that's the fight he's going to take now.

CUOMO: Not bothered people. But now, you know, like we saw in the movie "Star Wars," way back in the day, you have struck him down but he may come back stronger than he ever was before. And we're going to have see. Let's leave this right here for right now. We're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, we have David Gergen. Now, he has seen his share of successful and unsuccessful presidents up close. And what is the difference between this transition from going through a hard time and making it into a better time?

And later, we're going to have a defender of the president on this West Wing Democrat situation that they have going on that Ryan and Josh and Alice we're talking about. How big a deal is this? How potent can Steve Bannon be on the outside? All that ahead on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:17:09] CUOMO: All right, Steve Bannon has been fired but he has a different word for it, free. Tell the "Weekly Standard" that he's got his hands back on his weapons namely Brietbart News which could make the next few weeks even more interesting as Brietbart prepares to go to hashtag war as one editor there put it today.

And as White House Chief of Staff Kelly prepares, we're told to keep swinging the ax. What will that mean? What kind of discipline does he want to bring to the White House? So there is no shortage of drama and the question is, does it leave any room, any space at all for governing, for putting in place the agenda that supposedly put the president there?

Joining us is someone who's got literally decade after decade of West Wing experience, our senior political analyst David Gergen.

It is a blessing to have you tonight.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN AND CLINTON: Thank you, Chris. It's a blessing to have you here, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, let me engage one curiosity that I have on this, the timing, David, the timing just -- it just seems too convenient to just be a coincidence. We've heard all of these competing narratives. I'm sure you've heard as many or more than I have. But when you look at the timing of this, why this happen now, what are your suspicions?

GERGEN: Well, I think it's obvious that they're trying to veer away from the Charlottesville story to a new story and get us off the whole question of, you know, racial hatred and the division that Tuesday was such a disaster for the president. And they want to change this.

I do find it strange, bizarre even, that we have not heard a single word from Donald Trump today. How can a man, you know, how can a president who's had someone at his side who helped him win election, upset victory the way he did. He's been with him for a year, not even have the graciousness to thank him. You know, with a perfunctory written note, I find it strange. And so, it suggests there's something -- there is some real animosity here that we don't know the whole story yet.

I -- look, I also think that very important to this that with the role that Steve Bannon is choosing for himself could make him more powerful on the outside and could cause enormous problems for the president because he can begin to split the Republican Party apart. And his role as he sees, if the president can't persuade people, he'll come in and pressure them.

The old saying is, you know, if you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat. Well, he is going to go be the heat and he is going to go after establishment Republicans on Capital Hill. If they don't go along with the populist agenda, he's going to after CEOs, he's going to go after CNN, we know and that is going to be -- could be very destructive. If he goes after the conservative establishment and the Republican Party, as he is vowing to do, going after Mitch McConnell, it's going to make it much harder for the president to keep his base intact.

[21:20:08] And, indeed, round up all the Republican votes he is going to need on the legislation ahead.

CUOMO: So what was the calculus here in terms of what's the greater treat what Bannon is doing in the House or was doing in the House chasing after McMaster, you know, seeing what kind of leverage he could get over Jared and Ivanka and making some enemies in the House or now being uncontrollable on the outside?

GERGEN: Well, that's a good question. I think the calculus actually came down to, do I keep Kelly or I keep Bannon? It's very clear Kelly would not have stayed long had he not been able to get Bannon out of there. He had a mandate from the president agreed to and it began that he could clean House. And if, you know, is going to -- and I'm sure Kelly would have gone to the president and said it's either him or me. You can't have us both because it's not working, you know.

So I think that was the main calculus. But I keep wondering too, Chris, you can't help as to this being in Washington, is Bannon also out there to begin discredit him even more serious way, the whole Mueller team? Is he going to be the person, you know, he's going to have money coming in as we know from Mr. Mercer and Mercer is putting almost $10 million or so in the Breitbart in the past. He's going to have some money to go and do some links to invest --

CUOMO: And he's going to a lot of his own money also.


GERGEN: That's right.

CUOMO: You know, he doesn't have the exigency that most people do --

GERGEN: That's exactly right.

CUOMO: -- when they leave the White House which is they have to go take care of their families. They have to go get a job that makes money. He can really do whatever he wants.

I have one question for you, David, before I let you go on this.


CUOMO: The idea of fixing, General Kelly is there, he will fix, he is disciplined, he is respected. We see that the president has not abated an iota in terms of the behaviors that have been counterproductive. What do you make of the prospect for fixing at this point?

GERGEN: The prospect of fixing Donald Trump is extraordinarily low, somewhere between about 5% and zero. Look, he is who he is, who he is. And he made it very clear, he was not programmed by Steve Bannon when he went out there Tuesday. He -- that was Donald -- pure Donald Trump. And I think the issue becomes as with all presidents as you know so well, Chris, the -- everybody takes their cues off the president, everybody is sort facing -- what's the president really believe and they take their cues off that. And we know that Donald Trump -- I thought Senator Corker put raised the right kind of question yesterday saying asking about his emotional and mental stability.

CUOMO: All right, David, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Let's turn your thoughts to the panel. All right, so when we hear David Gergen there, right, he knows how this goes, he knows what the challenges are. He says, Alice, between 5% and zero of change. So if you're General Kelly you're saying, so, you're saying I got a chance that, you know, that he has chance to make some change. That prospect looms large. You can fire as many people as you want. If you are the person motivating all the action, it begins and it ends with you. It doesn't matter whom you fire. So how do you see it terms of --

STEWART: Well, clearly, General Kelly has been instrumental in riding the ship, plugging some leaks and making some changes that he feels will instill discipline and some order in the White House. But as David mentioned, as you say, the elephant in the room is always going to be Donald Trump and his Twitter and his inability to stay on message. And I think that is the key moving forward.

And I think we do have some, Kellyanne Conway will be strong as she always has been to keeping him on the conservative message and fighting for things that a lot of the base does stand by the Trump administration with when it comes to life and family and those issues. But I think the key will always be keeping Donald Trump on message and off Twitter which General Kelly is great but he's not a magician.

POWERS: I think Donald Trump supposed to be this great manager, businessman who knows how to run things and pick great people --

GREEN: Make deals.

POWERS: And he's now fired like most of his inner circle. And what does that say about him that these are the people that he chose in terms with the best people and work six months into his administration and he's already gotten rid of -- I mean the bulk of the people who are advising him or, you know, so --


LIZZA: -- is well oiled machine.


LIZZA: But most of the parts now have been --

POWERS: Like I mean this supposed to be the reason he was elected. He was this great business guy with his eye for talent. CUOMO: Right. I'll be very clear, there are some supporters of the president who are out there saying, well, you know, this happens, you have shake-up. No. No. We have not seen anything like this at least in recent history --

POWERS: That's kind of interpersonal drama also, right? I mean this is just constant drama.

GREEN: You get as much firing like in a season of "The Apprentice."


GREEN: He has gone through like, you know, most of the senior staff.

CUOMO: And what is the affect of that, Joseph, in terms of confidence and the ability of the president to get the job done?

PINION: Well, I think that you see the slow, I mean, again emphasis on slow chipping away at the Republican base as far as his support. You know, so I think -- and one of the most striking things that we had this week was that the vice media piece where they had that the individual saying that I wanted to vote for somebody like Donald Trump but more racist.

[21:25:11] And I think that once you get past that striking part of what he said I think it really actually applies to the majority of the people who went into the ballot booth and voted for Donald Trump. I think that --


CUOMO: You know what? Listen, there is no question that there are people you want to call the hate, you know, the alt-right or the hate parade who have attached themselves to Trump for good and bad reasons. But there are a lot of working class people who believe he might be a ticket to something better because they've given up on the system.

My question is, would Bannon out, Alice, who is that connection, that conservative connection for Donald Trump to that base with Bannon gone?

STEWART: Great questions. Speaking with a lot of conservatives that I have spoken with today and the last few days, look, Bannon really helped to energize the disaffected Republicans and people across a lot of Obama voters, that didn't feel like they had a voice in the White House. They wanted someone to go in and drain the swamp and Bannon helped do that.

In my view, a lot of the conservatives are looking at Kellyanne Conway to be the gateway to the president and she is ready and willing and able to step up and do just that. So there is a great -- whether we're talking social conservatives or the GOPS establishment, she is someone they can go to.

CUOMO: But if Kellyanne had it the way Bannon has it then you wouldn't have needed Bannon because there was a lot of baggage to come in with him, right? It was controversial to bring him in. So, the organic nature, the intensity of his connection to that base is not to be rivaled within the remaining people there, I don't think, right?

GREEN: Well, isn't. But let make prediction. I think his tie to the conservative base still going to be Steve Bannon. Trump is famous for firing people and then still calling them up and soliciting their opinions. He did it with Corey Lewandowski. He's done it with other people who left the White House. Given the fact that Bannon seems to have left on amicable terms with the president himself --

CUOMO: Why do we believe that?

GREEN: -- I would -- because of the statement, because of the interview I had with Bannon, because of the fact that he said, look, I'm going to war for Trump, not against him. If you wanted to --


CUOMO: -- not coming out as David Gergen pointed out. Not saying something gracious, not saying anything at all about getting --

GREEN: Well, the president is clearly unhappy but Bannon also has a project here and that is to institute his nationalist policies. Whether Trump is the guy that does that or not, I'm not sure Bannon knows but I think he is smart enough to know that you never going to have another president is willing to listen to Steve Bannon as this one is.

CUOMO: Ryan Lizza?

LIZZA: I think, look, one of the things for better or worse, whatever you think of Bannon, he had very strong ideological views in a way that very few people around Trump have, right. He had very, very well-thought out views about how you deal with China. He had very well-thought out views about interventionism abroad, remember he was vehemently opposed to the strike on Syria, right? He's very serious views on trade, on immigration.

And there -- doesn't seem to me, even Kellyanne Conway, who is probably the most conservative person around Donald Trump now, but it was a pollster and a message person and not as much as an ideologue and not, from this nationalist, populist wing of the Republican Party --

POWERS: You're forgetting about one person, Mike Pence. I mean he's may be not --

CUOMO: Your point, your point.

LIZZA: Doesn't represent Bannon's view of things --

POWERS: He's not representing the same view, but he's certainly an ideologue and he's certainly very conservative and so sort of interesting that he's still there.

CUOMO: But he was part of that more traditional slate identity politics that has been replaced by a new one.

POWERS: Right.

CUOMO: And let's remember, what's the greatest evidence of Bannon's impact? This is not who Donald Trump was before. He did not hold these views when he was here in New York as a big real estate developer. They are all new found for him and his decision to become president of the United States. So let's leave this part of the discussion right now.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to dig deeper into this question of the base that we've been touching on here. Steve Bannon's claim is that, look, I know these people. I brought the ideas to Donald Trump. I made him president and now that is over. What is over? We're going to ask a Trump supporting conservative what is over? What is still ahead? Next.


[21:32:46] CUOMO: All right, for all the unknowns about Steve Bannon being out of the White House, let there be no mystery about what he'll do next. He's going right back to what he knows best, Breitbart, the website he once described as a platform for the alt-right.

After being fired, Bannon's going to be there. He sounds pretty happy about it.

He told the "Weekly Standard", "Now, I am free. I've got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said it's Bannon the Barbarian. And I'm definitely going to crush the opposition. There's no doubt. I built the beep machine at Breitbart.

All right, joining us now is former Missouri State GOP chairman, Ed Martin, author of "The Conservative Case for Trump."

Ed, thank you for joining us.

ED MARTIN, FORMER MISSOURI STATE GOP CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you, Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: So, Mr. Bannon says, as the president calls him, the presidency that he won with Trump is over. What does that mean to you? Does that mean that the ability to motivate the agenda for the working man and woman that was promised dies with Bannon's exit?

MARTIN: You know, I saw that quote. I don't know really know what that means except that I do know that Steve is also a real provocateur. And I think he exited stage left or West Wing left in a way that was dramatic and he's getting lots of attention.

You know, he convene he was the -- on the editorial column tonight, I mean, everyone is talking about it for Breitbart. So, I don't know what he means. But let me say something, Chris, if you don't mind on Trump and what Bannon did. Remember, you guys are talking about staff. General Sessions is the most conservative guy that we've known for the base, guys like me. Stephen Miller is a fearless conservative guy. You know, Ben Carson.

In other words, the people that are still in this administration, Pruitt, Scott Pruitt, Neil Gorsuch -- I mean, if you think about the guys that are hardcore and (INAUDIBLE) conservatives, Trump and Bannon did that.

So, I think now that Bannon is on the outside, you're going to see that agenda that Bannon cares about going forward. But, I think it's the Trump agenda. I don't think of it as anything that sort of shifting. I don't see that.

CUOMO: Well, here's the problem, right? The problem with your theory is that, this is not who Trump was before. Before this incarnation as a presidential candidate and now president of the United States, these were not policies that he hammered on when he had plenty of opportunity to the way a Steve Bannon did.

[21:35:01] So where does your confidence come from that he'll continue to do the things that he hasn't been able to do yet?

MARTIN: Well, you know, Bannon only emerged on the -- really conservative sort of what I think the populous conservative scene in less 10 years or so. And I disagree a little bit. I think Trump has spoken about immigration and trade for a long time, and about America being broken in terms of competitiveness.

But let me say something really clear to you. You know this, Chris, in politics, politicians change their positions and their stripes, and it's really what you have done for us in office? And, again, Gorsuch and judges, China, on a -- in a different relationship, Pruitt cutting regulations in EPA.

I mean, he's delivered on a conservative agenda, whether he was 30 years ago. That's not in politics, that doesn't matter so much as what are you doing today. And I don't see Bannon --

CUOMO: But, where does your confidence go that the base can't be satisfied? They just can't. I mean, I know if you put it to them in a poll question -- I grew up reading and writing poll questions. I get the finesse art and that obviously in a binary situation of, you know, for Trump or against Trump, the base and many people in the party are going to go, for Trump.

But in terms of why he got in there, shake it up, be disrupted. The only thing that's really been disrupted so far is the president himself. It hasn't benefited him yet.

And then there was the working man and woman's agenda. You're going to bring back jobs, manufacturing will come back, coal will come back, our wages will rise. And we're not seeing not just any proof of it. We're not seeing any sign of a plan for it.

MARTIN: Well -- but, Chris, I'm out in Missouri, you know, and we do a little work across the country with my organization. The America first agenda is a lot about the psychology of believing in America again. And I really do see that.

I think standing up to China, standing up to North Korea. I'm not saying it's all perfect, I'm not saying that it doesn't feel odd to people that watch it and how it works out. It's not all linear.

The other thing I would say about this, Chris, that no one is paying attention to. Trump is the most accessible president. Accessible to the people, they hear and see what he is about. It's not always perfect.

CUOMO: Except for the media.

MARTIN: Well, I mean -- but in the media, he's tweeting and he's doing press conferences, he's doing video statements during the Charlottesville.

CUOMO: You know, speaking unilaterally is one thing. Being tested on your principles and positions so the American people can make an informed decision about you is something very different.

MARTIN: OK. And I'll leave that to you. But what I'm saying is, when it comes to results, again look at Neil Gorsuch, judges -- the judges, no one is covering this too much right now. The judges -- the number of judges appointed.

I mean, the America first, immigration, it's way down. And for lots of us, that's the biggest transformation of both parties to have people be against -- the guy running for -- a Democrat for president, Delaney said, he himself is worried about immigration taking jobs. And I don't think he's against, you know, amnesty. But my point is --

CUOMO: It's a little bit of a talking point bogeyman there, right? The idea that illegal immigrants are what -- are keeping back the American working men and women, you know that those aren't the jobs that are mattering to working class America. You know, that that's not the problem for working class America.

MARTIN: No, Chris, it's not only the jobs they take, it's the amount of cost of them being in the welfare system and the education system, and the transformation. They're not assimilating.

You know, Cuomo family is famous for being the great Italian-American family in New York that is assimilated. Mario Cuomo, was -- this is a different set of ways we're living when 20 million, 30 million people are coming in faster.

That's not a bogeyman -- at least not as --

CUOMO: They're coming here for the same reasons and large part, Ed, they're coming here because they're desperate for a better way of life for their families, and they are not taking the jobs that the working men and women need. They are not keeping wages down for the working men and women of America. It's just not true economically.

They may cause other problems. They --

MARTIN: I disagree --

CUOMO: -- on the system. You can disagree. I'm just saying the data doesn't support your disagreement.

MARTIN: Well, I think the data on the wage is down. I don't think anyone would say introducing a large number of workers into the work force doesn't change the wage levels.


CUOMO: You have to see where they're going. Picking apples and tomatoes is not the same as wanting to be a factory worker. They're different price points, they're different steel level, they're different working class.

MARTIN: Right. But straining the system and transforming how we're living is what Americans voted for an American first agenda. And that -- look, that is -- again, you're talking about conservative principles that we are arguing for. We did that.

Now, the immigration is going down. We're having a conversation about no amnesty. You notice that the Republican Party, some of the guys that are objecting the Trump's handling of Charlottesville, Graham, for example, are guys that that's one of his number one issue.

So, I'm -- my point is that Trump's agenda, his agenda, America first is working. Whether you like it or not, he's more competent than everybody admits and Steve Bannon was a big part of that. But so will Sessions and Miller and Carson and Pruitt, and the next two or three Supreme Court justices will all be part of that agenda.

[21:40:04] CUOMO: Well, we'll see who can keep the president on message or help him keep himself on message and get these things done that he promised the American people.

Ed Martin, thank you for joining the show tonight. Appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, coming up, it's getting to the point where Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are the last ones standing in the president's inner circle, and they're family. So the question is, where are they right now?


CUOMO: Steve Bannon is out. Is that a surprise? Yes. You know what's an even bigger surprise? That we didn't hear about it right away.

The fact that this may have been kept secret whether it's one day or a few days is amazing given what a sift (ph) this White House has been. So, what does that tell us about the state of play? Well, we do know that Bannon was not getting along with Jared Kushner and that he was going after H.R. McMaster and that these were problems. So, if these people have been at odds while Bannon was in the White House, what is it going to mean when they get on the outside and Bannon has to have a relationship with them?

CNN's Gloria Borger is reporting tonight that according to a source close to the president, Bannon's ouster has Kushner's fingerprints all over it. That's something that Steve Bannon would probably know.

So let's bring back the panel and talk about the fact that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, who are allegedly two guiding influencing as this president. How could they not be? They've been completely absent during this horrible week which I think is somewhat understandable given the fact that they are Jews, and this is almost an indefensible position for a Jewish person to take on so they laid low.

[21:45:01] But, if it's true, Kirsten, that Jared was against them the whole time because Bannon was trying to put a move on him from early on and trying to have more leverage, what does it mean about who this war is going to be against?

If that word tweeted by one of Bannon's people, war and the presidency being over isn't about how he feels about the president. It can't be good for Jared Kushner.

POWERS: I don't think so. I mean, I don't think it's good for Jared or Ivanka or for Dina Powell or for Gary Cohn or any of the people that are viewed as -- by Steve Bannon and by the Breitbart crew as not -- as being the barrier to Donald Trump being the person that --

CUOMO: But what can he do? What can he do than other telling people I don't like him?

POWERS: Well -- look, I mean, he's been in the White House and he was on the campaign. I mean, I assume he has a lot of information about these people, right? And now he is in a position if he wants to go after them.

Now, the question is, does that alienate Trump? And I don't think, you know, you know this better because you know Bannon better but it doesn't seem that he wants to alienate Trump.

GREEN: No and I think that's precisely the division that Bannon was trying to make in his interview with me today. Is that, I'm not going to war against Trump. I'm going to war against the people in his orbit who Bannon feels like inhibit Trump from pursuing a nationalist agenda.

I asked specifically about Jared Kushner. Bannon wouldn't engage but it was clear that that was one of the people that he was talking about.

LIZZA: Steve Bannon hates Jared Kushner, he hates Ivanka. I mean, let's not -- let's be a hundred percent clear about that. He hates Gary Cohn. He has enemies. Steve -- his entire life has been finding an opponent and going after them as hard as he could. He did it at Breitbart with the Republican establishment --

CUOMO: Put some meat on the bones of what is the base of this animist. Is it just personal? Is it how they positioned against him?

LIZZA: His view is --ever since Election Day, he believes that all of these people started rushing into the Trump orbit during the transition. CEOs, Democratic -- advisers that had Democratic backgrounds, establishment Republicans.

All of a sudden, Steve Bannon was running this tiny little campaign, that against all odds beat Hillary Clinton, that had a well defined ideology, that was thanks to him. And then all of a sudden, there was a hostile take over by all of these other forces. And his job since the day after the election was to keep them at bay. They have now won that war and he's on the outside. He's going to continue the war from that perch --

STEWART: And it depends on -- excuse me, it depends on what the issue is. I mean -- and clearly we have Steve Bannon who is an economic nationalist, and he views some of the others in the White House as globalist and we're talking about military. He wants to reduce America's footprints and others are more pro-military. So it really --

CUOMO: That doesn't make you hate somebody.

STEWART: No, but it does show in terms of his influence, it reduced -- but here's the thing as Bannon says, his weapon is back in his hand being in the media. From a communications standpoint, one thing you always learn is never give somebody ammunition who has a gun pointed at your head.

So I believe it's smart for the president and those at the administration not to do anything to provoke him, because they know that Breitbart has a lot of power.

PINION: I don't think he's going to train his focus on the administration, I really don't. I honestly believe that Bannon wants what Bannon wants which is a nationalist agenda.

And I think that as long as Donald Trump doesn't turn on that agenda, nobody in that immediate orbit, particularly his family, is going to feel his wrath. I think that -- one thing that we know about Donald Trump is that, he is, again almost constitutionally incapable of saying he made a mistake.

And so, as much as he might not have a philosophical allegiance to a nationalist agenda, a philosophical allegiance to all the things that Steve Bannon might want to see in the world. I think that he has a personal vested interest in never actually saying I'm going to do something different. So anyone waiting for some type of triangulation in the form of Bill Clinton, I think will be greatly -- CUOMO: All right, we have to go break. There is one simple rule that

Steve Bannon should probably follow if he doesn't want to get on the bad side of the president. Don't criticize him. You can go after his family, you can do whatever you want, but don't go after him directly or you're done, twice.

All right, we're going to take a quick break and we're going to get more of the panel's take on some of these relevant questions that are popping up.

But first, it was the businesses, now it is the charities. Groups including the American Red Cross are acting out against president, how? They're cancelling fundraising events that were scheduled to be at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort.

How many? What's the impact? We'll tell you, next.


[21:52:22] CUOMO: So what the president didn't say and then did say about what happened in Charlottesville caused a major shift in some major allegiances. First, it was the CEOs of the president's business councils heading for the hills and the president retaliated by closing down those councils. Tonight, we learn that a pastor on his evangelical advisory board has also stepped down.

Now, some major charities are also saying, no thanks to the Trump brand. The American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, they've all decided not to host fundraisers at Mar-a- Lago.

Now in a statement, the American Red Cross says the venue had increasingly become a source of controversy and pain for its volunteers, employees, and supporters.

So, let's take this to the panel. Ryan, what is the resonance of this? Is this people just responding to political zeitgeist or is this something of deeper concern for the administration?

LIZZA: No, this is people and institutions that are outraged and deeply dismayed by the president making a moral equivalence between the KKK and Nazis and people who showed up to protest them. I still can't believe that that is something that we have to say and that that something that happened. And the president saying that there were very fine people who marched at a rally organized by the KKK and Nazis.

There's genuine outrage and dismay about that. And -- I mean, the fact that Carl Icahn, one of his, I suppose, close friends that he talked about on the campaign all the time has now felt necessary to disassociate himself from Trump. And I think once we get over this story that we've been concentrating on tonight and this important story about Steve Bannon leaving the White House, this story of Trump's comments earlier this week is not going away.

Democrats in Congress will make sure of that. I think we in the media will continue to shine a pretty bright light on it. And there are a lot of Republicans who want him to repudiate those comments.

CUOMO: Well, one of the most bizarre developments --

LIZZA: This is the beginning of the fallout, I think.

CUOMO: Yes, I know, understood. One of the most bizarre developments about the Bannon situation is that, what the president seemed to be saying and doing this week could only be tailored to the most specific and virulent part of his base. They could be reasonably the only people open to this suggestion that Antifa is just as bad as the KKK, you know, because you have to be someone so invested in the idea that there is this toxic thing called the alt-left and they are violent anarchists, who want to destroy -- so I figured had Bannon written all over it?

And then to hear, Josh, that, no, it wasn't him. He wasn't talking to the president about him this week. He didn't engineer any of this. That was more surprising than Bannon being out to me.

[21:55:06] GREEN: Well, you know, it wasn't to me. I mean, Trump clearly believes in his contention that both sides are equally at fault, that there are two sides to blame for Charlottesville as appalling as that is I think for a lot of us to hear. It was clear from Trump's press conference, especially his second one where he just kind of went AWOL from his talking points and started basically shouting at the media, that this is what he really believed.

That is not the sign of a president who is reading talking points or is trying to spin the media. To me, that was clear, it was emotional, it was visceral, and it reflected what Trump himself believes.

POWERS: But I talked to a lot of conservatives that, you know, who have said what you just said, that they do think Antifa is the same thing. And that even -- some of them think that Black Lives Matter are the same thing. These aren't alt-right people.

I mean, I think this is, unfortunately, a much more mainstream Republican view than maybe a lot of people realize. And, I mean, I think -- just think back to what you just read in this intro, that one person on his evangelical council has resigned. One person?

CUOMO: A bunch of CEOs, a bunch of lawmakers but only one --

POWERS: Right. I mean, so what does that tell you?

CUOMO: Maybe, is it Mike Pence? Is that they're loyal to Mike Pence --


POWERS: No. They're loyal to this president and I think that they don't have -- they obviously don't have a serious enough problem with this, if they even have a problem with it because we're not hearing from them. And we're actually hearing from some of them like Jerry Falwell, Jr. who are defending the president.

CUOMO: Alice, last word from the GOP perspective.

STEWART: GOP? They're listening to when the president said I denounce Nazism or white supremacy and racism, that's all they hear. They don't hear the moral equivalency, they hear him denouncing it.

CUOMO: Why is that though?

STEWART: Because that's what they want to hear. And as Kirsten said, they're going to support him many times regardless of what happens outside of what they hear, but they hear what they want to hear and they've heard him denounce it.

CUOMO: Thank you for helping us understand some major developments going on in our society today. I hope you all have a great weekend.

And thanks to you for watching. Stick with CNN. We'll be right back.