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Backlash Grows over Charlottesville Remarks; Storms in the Northeast; Cities on Removing Confederate Memorials. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired August 18, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] COREY STEWART, CHAIR, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: There is violence and we need to -- we need to condemn both sides, not just the right. We've got to condemn the left, otherwise, Chris, you're going to get more and more violence committed by the side that was never condemned. And Antifa is going to happen again. We should stand together and condemn all violence in America.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But the motivations of what brought people down to Charlottesville matters. It just does, Corey. When you came down there to spread hate -- and you've said -- you -- you've said it was wrong to go there.

STEWART: (INAUDIBLE). When you don't have an argument, you just drop the term hate or you drop the term white supremacist.

CUOMO: You don't think -- you don't think that the KKK and the neo- Nazi and the white supremacists went there to spread hate? Did you not hear what they were just saying?

STEWART: You said -- no, no, Chris -- Chris --

CUOMO: Of course they were.

STEWART: What you just -- you just said that I went down there to spread hate. I was -- by the way, I was not at that rally.

CUOMO: No, went -- no, I wasn't talking -- I wasn't talking about you. If you want to join that rank, that's up to you. I'm saying when those groups --

STEWART: You just said that. You just -- you just made that accusation.

CUOMO: No, I'm saying -- I'm saying that when the neo-Nazi and the white supremacists showed up in Charlottesville, it wasn't about this statue. That was just a ruse. And you know that. You've accepted as much.

STEWART: Everybody -- Chris, how many times do we -- conservatives have to say this? Everybody condemns neo-Nazi and the KKK. Everybody. The question is, when is the left going to -- going to condemn the far left terrorists leftists like Antifa, a member -- you know, this organization which has Tim Kaine's son in it and Tim Kaine applauded his son for getting arrested for violent activity in Minneapolis. The left has got a double standard. You won't condemn the violent left.

CUOMO: Kaine's son was arrested for protesting. And I'm saying, Corey, the basic premise of trying to say that anybody is like the KKK is dangerous because what you do, you wind up normalizing their behavior --

STEWART: Nobody ever said that. Chris, nobody ever said that.

CUOMO: And that's why you're getting thanked by David Duke.

We're going to leave it there. But, Poppy, remember -- Poppy, we're going to go to you now.

But, Corey, remember this, you're getting thanked by David Duke. White supremacists are saying that they have a friend in the president and people like you because of what you're saying right now.

STEWART: I've never been thanked by David Duke. I don't want be thanked. We have never -- we've always condemned -- we've always condemned those organizations.

CUOMO: But obviously not well enough because they're thanking you.

Appreciate you being on the show to put out the perspective.

STEWART: All right, thanks a lot, Chris.

CUOMO: Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: There's a lot to unpack there. He tried to make it a lot about you and CNN, which you didn't respond to because that's not what it's about.

CUOMO: Right. The tactics are fine and fair. He can do it. But the problem remains the same, which is, you want to talk about the violence, which goes to the how. OK, how did they protest? How did they counter protest? That's fine.

But to say that the motivations are equal on both sides and must be called out is dangerous. It's just dangerous because you have one group where all of them are about hate and you have another group where some of them wind up being about violence. And you can't compare all with some.

HARLOW: No, you can't. And Heather Heyer's mother said -- and you'll hear it shortly this morning -- because the president did that, she does not want to talk to him.

Let's bring in Perry Bacon, he's with us, senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight. Also with us is Josh Green, CNN political analyst, author of "The Devil's Bargain," and senior national correspondent for "Bloomberg Business Week."

So, gentlemen, I hope you heard that interview. There is a lot to unpack here.

Perry Bacon, your first thoughts.

PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: I mean my broad thought is, two years ago we had this -- we had a racially charged killing in Charleston, South Carolina. The American president gave a speech that unified people on both sides, brought people together, took a terrible moment and turned it into something that made people look differently about the country, really spoke about, you know, how we could bring each other together in terms of race and other issues.

And two years later, we had something happen like that almost two years later and Donald Trump's words, whatever you think of them, did not unify anyone, did not bring anyone together. And, you know, President Obama, you know, was invited by that family to speak in Charleston. It appears Heather Heyer's family does not want to talk to Donald Trump at all at the funeral or subsequently afterward.

And it goes to the point that, you know, whatever you -- the presidency usually has this kind of moral authority. The president speaks for everyone and brings people together and as that roll, Republican or Democrat. And Donald Trump, this week, has really abandoned that role and I'm not sure he can get it back.

CUOMO: Well, you know, when we talk about the role, Perry, it's an important point. One of the things that you need to do, sometimes you have to be provocative because you have to evince a reality. And the reality is -- and you know this from what you did in our book, is that the president has made a choice that the people who believe in these kinds of things, that white identity is being marginalized, that economically, white America is being reduced. The nationalism that may form around that, that Steve Bannon believes in very deeply, that is what the president has decided to invest in.

So you get a Corey Stewart. The what his real point there? Left versus right. That the alt-right is bad. Yes, the KKK is bad, but they have an equal opposite in the left. It's defining an enemy that is largely a boogie man. Of course Antifa has done things that's wrong. Of course people who have glommed on to BLM have done things that were violent and wrong. That's when a protest turns into a riot. But to equate the right with an equal ugliness on the left, that's a ploy. And we're seeing it motivated into a political mainstream narrative.

[08:35:23] JOSH GREEN, CNN POLTICIAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's right. And I think it also explains the problem, the overall problem Donald Trump has had as president. And the during the campaign -- and this is what I wrote about in the book -- he and Steve Bannon understood that divisiveness could be a positive political force for Trump. And all you had to do was win 50 percent plus one of the vote to get in there. And so tearing apart your enemy essentially in an election is a zero sum game. But governing as president, and especially at moments like this when you need to bring the country together to get beyond the tragedy, like the one we've seen in Charlottesville, divisiveness is absolutely the worst kind of approach you can pursue because it doesn't heal the country and you see Trump's presidency really almost collapsing in real time. He's been abandoned by the business community. He's a pariah for Democrats.

CUOMO: You've got David Duke thanking him.

GREEN: He's got David Duke --

CUOMO: He's got -- he's got -- he's got white supremacists on VICE TV saying, we got somebody who finally has our back on that.

GREEN: Right. And back in the real world, though, he's still going to need to govern. The government's going to run out of funding next month. The debt ceiling needs to be raised. All kinds of things need to happen. And these kinds of divisive cultural fights, while they may fire up your base, ultimately inhibit your ability to be president of the United States.

HARLOW: So let's take a moment and listen to the mother of Heather Heyer. She just did an interview. She was asked about if she spoke to the president, would she. Here's what she said.


SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: So I hadn't really watched the news until last night. And I'm not talking to the president now. I'm sorry.


BRO: After what he said about my child. And 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 Ms. Heyer with the KKK and the white supremacists.


HARLOW: Now, Perry, this is a woman who actually came out and thanked the president for his initial -- well, sort of second statement on this on Monday. And then she just said, I heard his heart. I heard his heart on Tuesday and I don't want to talk to him. Perry, what does this mean for the presidency?

BACON: Like, think about this week. The presidency has so much power and the president has so much power. Business leaders almost always want to meet with the president because he has a lot of authority to change their trajectory. American citizens almost always want to take the call from the president of the United States, the leader of the free world. I can't remember in a long time hearing a citizen saying, I do not -- particularly when their child died, saying I do not want to hear from the sitting president of the United States.

I just think it makes it hard -- you know, we're going to talk about policy in the Republican Party later on probably, but this makes it hard for the president to govern and to bring people together and to lead the country when people don't want to be associated with him, when people don't want to talk to him, when everyday citizens don't want to be around him. This is a really profound week. This is -- Trump's had a lot of problems in his presidency. This week, when we look back, I think will be the week where he lost a lot of authority, not just with Congress or the Republicans or the Democrats, but with everyday Americans and businesses and companies and the people you need as president.

CUOMO: Well, look, we'll see, because, to me, I feel like it's as clear now as when Neo is looking at the matrix, Josh, which is that, you know, what's going on here is simple. Is it difficult? Is it alienating? Yes, on certain levels. But it's a facilitating device on other levels, like abortion, like the death penalty, like transgender LGBTQ issues.

Going cultural is easier than winning on economics and policy. He was supposed to deliver better jobs, more wages and return manufacturing to this country. That's why a lot of the people I know who voted for Trump all over this country did it and they forgave who he is as a person and how he is as a politician. But this is easier than making those realistic economic realities come true.

GREEN: Well, you know, I think of it as like a political sugar rush. You can start these cultural fights and get a lot of attention and fire up people on both sides. And it's very friendly to cable news, which is something Trump cares deeply about. But it ultimately inhibits his ability to govern because we've seen it drive away, not only by Democrats appalled by his refusal to call out white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but now Republicans like Senator Bob Corker, very moderate, restrained, thoughtful, well-respect Republican has essentially come out and said publicly that the president has lost his grip on reality.

It is going to be very, very difficult, more than it would have been two weeks ago, for Trump to move forward with any kind of a legislative agenda while he is carrying and stoking the kind of culture war that he and Bannon have obviously chosen now to push as hard as they can and to exacerbate rather than trying to heal the nation after Charlottesville and move forward in a more positive direction.

[08:40:14] CUOMO: Well, it becomes a battle of seconds. The president's going to do what he's going to do. It's, do the Corey Stewarts win the Republican Party or do the Corkers? That's going to be the big battle. That's going to decide it.

HARLOW: We'll see.

GREEN: You're always going to have the Trump mini mes.

CUOMO: Yes. We'll see.

GREEN: I mean the question is will the adults in the Republican Party every publicly break with him, people in his administration, and say, look, this has gone too far.

CUOMO: We'll see.

GREEN: We need to go in a different direction.

CUOMO: All right, gentlemen, appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thank you. CUOMO: All right, so city leaders across the U.S. are now grappling with something that came out of the Charlottesville is, what do you do about these statues and monuments that reflect confederate leaders? They are breeding racial tension. We're going to talk to one mayor who is dealing with it and what the thinking is, next.


[08:45:03] CUOMO: All right, we're seeing some severe storms that could make for a rough start to the weekend across the north east.

Let's get to meteorologist Jennifer Gray. She's taking a look at the forecast.

What do you see, my friend?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You are right about that, Chris, it does get better later in the weekend, but today's going to be pretty rough.

This weather report is brought to you by Xyzal, the allergy medicine for continuous 24-hour allergy relief.

And here's the big picture. We have storm all across the mid-Atlantic, the northeast through today. Should be clearing out a little bit later this evening. But we do have a threat of damaging winds, large hail and even the possibility of isolated tornados in some of our big cities, D.C., Philly, New York, all included in this threat.

Here is the current radar. And you can see storms already pushing through places like New York, Long Island. Those are going to push to the east. But as they do, will clear out, but then have another round of rain coming later this evening, Poppy. After this evening, though, the weather does improve for tomorrow and Sunday.

HARLOW: All right, glad to hear it. We will wait for that.

Jennifer Gary, thank you very much.

When a terminally ill dog ends up in a shelter, it's very likely they will be euthanized. This week's CNN Hero could not stand the idea for these poor, helpless animals dying alone, so she dedicated her life to making sure those dogs know love and comfort before they pass. We want you to meet Michele Allen.


MICHELE ALLEN, CNN HERO: The hospices is in our home. And when I say in our home, in every single room of our house. This is the last stop for these dogs.

(INAUDIBLE). Come on, sweetie.

I don't want them missing out on anything because they didn't get adopted.


HARLOW: To see more of Michele's non-profit Monkey's House, go to

And while you're there, nominate someone that you think should be a CNN Hero.

CUOMO: You know, my daughter went online and learned about rescues and that's how we got our dog. He's called Alabama because he was saved from a shelter in Alabama.


CUOMO: I wanted him to be named Thomas. I lost that one.

HARLOW: Alabama's way better.

CUOMO: I guess.

So, anyway, he helped unite his city after a horrific racially charged tragedy. So what advice does the mayor of Dallas have for President Trump? He joins us next.


[08:51:17] CUOMO: All right. So the president and some of his supporters are doubling down on the defense of what was said about Charlottesville and what was not said and now turning to the issue, which is really a non-issue, about the statue in Charlottesville, because that's not why the hate groups went there. That was just a ruse.

But in a series of tweets, the president has called these statues beautiful and said their removal was ripping the country apart.

Meanwhile, cities across the U.S. are having to deal with these issue because it's often a local issue. So what are they going to do with these symbols?

Joining us now is the mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings. He's called for creating a task force to weigh the issue.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us during a very important time.

MAYOR MIKE RAWLINGS (D), DALLAS: Thank you, Chris, for being interested.

CUOMO: So, mayor, what did you learn coming out of your situation, the tragedy that you had to deal with in Dallas?

RAWLINGS: You know, race has been a big issue in the history of Dallas. I mean we were a bastion for the KKK decades ago and then a mad man took the lives of officers because he wanted to kill white men.

And so as we look at how to kind of bridge that divide, I think the president, any leaders, must be uniters first, as opposed to playing to a political base. That's the measure. Can you unite people to find a third idea, a better way forward in this?

You've got to be a clear communicator. You've got to make sure you speak the truth. And then you must listen to people and really understand that the process of coming to a new place is going to be as important as the decision you make. And that's the way you bring people together. They appreciate it. They may not always agree with you, but the real empathy towards their points of view is very important.

CUOMO: So what is the risk in what you see? I don't know if you were watching before you came on but we had a fire breather on who's supporting the president and saying that what this really is about is covering for the alt-left and that this is about the right versus the left. It's pretty clear what path the president is on. He is going to engender this movement. What's your concern about that?

RAWLINGS: Well, it's divisive. I mean if we start to play this tit for tat thing, the country continues to be divided. We become less strong internationally and nationally. Great leaders unite our country and that's what I wish the president would do. Stop with the dog whistles, stop with the innuendos. Let's say what it was. We had a terrible white supremacist group trying to take advantage of something to make a political statement. That's not going to help the country.

CUOMO: Right.

RAWLINGS: It's not going to help Dallas.

CUOMO: So what do you think about the statues? We know municipalities are dealing with it across the country.


CUOMO: What do you think's the right way to do it?

RAWLINGS: I'm proud of the mayors and the cities that have taken action. We started this a couple of months ago and it's moved very, very fast. Now it's not just a question of statues. These have become totems for the -- the alt-right, the white supremacists and now we've -- we've got it into a new conversation. That's why I've supported that -- for the removal of these.

But how we do it is critical. Our citizens have a lot of points of view and I want to make sure we gain it. I want to be stronger coming out this, not just solving one issue. Because this race issue is about listening to one another. It's about understanding one another.

This is a gift that we are given to make sure we -- we do this in the right way. And so I'm pleased at how we're approaching it and hopefully we'll get over this and we'll be stronger as a country because of it.

[08:55:12] CUOMO: Well, that is a procedure ideal. We'll see how it manifests itself in the current situation. Mayor Rawlings, thank you for joining us.

RAWLINGS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right.

RAWLINGS: Thank you, Chris.

HARLOW: The fact that he said I want us to be stronger after this, I think that's the message to leaf everyone with this Friday, it we can. Be stronger after this. Stronger together after this, if there can be any unity.

CUOMO: That's the goal. And when you see people working against that goal --


CUOMO: That's our job. We call it out.

HARLOW: And we do indeed.

Chris, nice to be with you this week.

CUOMO: You were great all week. Thank you for being here.

HARLOW: Now I'm off for two weeks. Getting on a plane.

CUOMO: You deserve it. That's how it is. You work with -- every day you work with me, you should get two off.

HARLOW: I earned two days off, folks, by the way.

Thank you for having me. It's been nice to be with you.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

So, CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman is going to pick up right after the break. There's a lot of news. Please, stay with CNN.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John Berman here.

The breaking news. A manhunt gripping a nation after a terror attack spreads into an attempted terror wave. Fourteen people now confirmed dead in assaults targeting first Barcelona and then a coastal town 75 miles away. Police say the events are related.

[09:00:00] First, to Barcelona, where a van careened through a busy tourist location killing more than a dozen, injuring more than 100. The driver of that van is on the loose.