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Navy Dismisses 7th Fleet Commander After Deadly Crashes; Trump Defends Charlottesville Response During Phoenix Rally; Treasury Secretary's Wife Apologizes for Instagram Comment; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 23, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:32:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news right now. The Navy dismissing the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet following a string of deadly collisions including this week's U.S. John McCain crashing with an oil tanker.

CNN's Ryan Browne is live at the Pentagon with all of the breaking details. What's the latest, Ryan?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, the Navy decided to relieve Admiral Aucoin, a loss in confidence in his ability to command. This is according to the statement issued by Admiral Swift, the commander of the Pacific fleet.

As you mentioned this comes after a string of accidents. The deadly crash collision two months ago of the USS Fitzgerald which cost the lives of seven sailors and more recently the collision with -- involving the USS John McCain.

Search operations for the 10 missing sailors from that ship are still ongoing there near in the straits of (INAUDIBLE) near Singapore.

Again, Admiral Aucoin was actually scheduled to retire next month. So his being relieved of command pretty significant move by the Navy. His replacement has been already named and that already been confirmed by the Senate. He will -- Admiral Sawyer, he will assume command responsibility immediately.

And part of his new job will be to partake in what the Navy has now ordered, this operational pause, kind of a momentary pause in operations to assess safety, training and equipment. So a lot going on with the Navy, really trying to dig into what is happening, what is causing all these collisions and trying to build some accountability -- Chris and Alisyn.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Appreciate it, thank you very much, Ryan.

So the president insists his comments about Charlottesville were disported by the media. He is half right. The comments were distorted, but it was done last night and by him. We will prove it next.

CAMEROTA: And then some of President Trump's most diehard supporters react to the president's response to Charlottesville. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: How many of you, show of hands, were troubled by the president's response to the violence in Charlottesville? None of you minded how President Trump responded?





CAMEROTA: All right. So we'll get more of their thoughts on who they say was really to blame in Charlottesville. That's in our next hour.



[06:38:35] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hit them with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi, I got them all in there. Let's see. Yes. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all. So they're having a hard time. So what did they say, right? It should have been sooner. He's a racist. It should have been sooner. OK.


CUOMO: President Trump wants you to believe that we, the media, are to blame for the backlash to his response to Charlottesville. But let's look at what he said versus what he told the crowd he said. Here are his words.


TRUMP: Here is what I said on Saturday. "We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia." This is me speaking. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence." That's me speaking on Saturday.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country.


CUOMO: "On many sides, on many sides." I wonder why he didn't say that last night when he was trying to convince the crowd that he was taken wrongly by the media. Odd? Of course not.

Let's discuss with our CNN political commentators Symone Sanders and Paris Dennard. We'll get into different points of reference last night and why they were misleading and what it means to each of you. But let's start with a matter of fact.

[06:40:06] Paris, he said on many sides, and it triggered a feeling that he was creating moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis. It has reverberated around the world because of what he said. And last night he took out the poisoned part of the words that he said. He took it out, out of convenience. Can you defend that?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not here to defend President Trump, but my opinion is you're missing the whole premise of the point of last night's rally. What the president was saying was the media and liberals are not giving me credit for actually what I said and how many times I said it. And so what he did was remind the media and remind all of those at that rally in Phoenix where I'm from exactly what he said as it relates to condemning neo-Nazis, racist individuals that are part of the white supremacy movement or the KKK.

So he read the points that denounced all of those individuals on each occasion. So that was the point, not that he was taken out of context, but the fact that he did say it.

CUOMO: Symone --

DENNARD: But didn't get credit for saying it.

CUOMO: Context is everything.

DENNARD: Both times.

CUOMO: Symone, the context is everything. That is not only non- responsive, but it's almost irrational.


CUOMO: He left out the "many sides" part because it defeats the premise that he was calling out racism and bigotry. That's why he left the words out last night because you can't make the point that Paris is straining to make. You know, without --

DENNARD: I'm not straining, Chris.

CUOMO: -- using those words. It's strained, my friend. Trust me.

DENNARD: It's not strained.

CUOMO: Symone, what's your take?

DENNARD: Trust me that it's not strained. Don't put words in my mouth.

SANDERS: No, I mean --

CUOMO: No, no. I'm -- I'm not putting words in your mouth. I'm trying to tell you the truth.

DENNARD: You are. You said I was strained --


CUOMO: He left the words out last night that created the moral ambiguity and you know that. Why you're not owning it, I don't know.

Symone, your point.

DENNARD: He said there was no moral equivalency to anything. He said that himself.

CUOMO: Yes, he said it, he just happens to be wrong.

SANDERS: Donald Trump --

CUOMO: And you're echoing it. Go ahead.

SANDERS: When Donald Trump stood up in front of the American people last weekend and equated -- that's what many of us thought he did, equated the white supremacists to the other protesters who were at this rally to protest the white supremacists, that set off a firestorm. And so what we saw from Donald Trump last night, from the president, is that we saw him in an attempt to rewrite recent history.

And I think Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing. Donald Trump is not new to this game of the media. Donald Trump knows how this works and this is his attempt to speak directly to his, quote-unquote, "base" and vilify the media.

But this is dangerous, dangerous territory. The president is not doing himself any favors here. He has to own this thing and continue to let the American people and the world really know that he understands that Charlottesville was an egregious attack and that it had a lot more to do than just some protests.

This was a white supremacist rally that happened in America where someone died via ISIS-style tactics. Donald Trump is clearly still identifying with white supremacists here in trying to defend himself, if you will, and I'm not sure why he brought this upon himself.

CUOMO: Paris, you're smiling and shaking your head. Why? What's your point?

DENNARD: The point is you all are making the point the president was trying to make last night, which is -- moving the goal post for him. It's never good enough. He's denounced them multiple times. I think this is like the fifth time that he has denounced them, has called out. He said everyone in this arena stands united about the horrible things that happened. He said that Charlottesville strikes at the core of America. He went on and on and on, taking up a lot of time to reiterate, to double down, triple down, five times hit it down how much he deplores these -- the actions of the white supremacists who drove the car and the people that were there, the white supremacists, the Nazis and the KKK.

CUOMO: What about the good people?

SANDERS: And then Donald Trump went on to call himself the victim. CUOMO: Hold on, Symone. What about the good people? What about the

good people who were marching with the KKK? You forgot them, Paris. How come he didn't mention them last night? Those good people, you know, the ones who didn't exist? What about them?

DENNARD: Well, I don't -- I don't know what you -- here's the funny thing. Heather was there at the rally.


DENNARD: And I think everyone can say that Heather was a good person.

CUOMO: You know he wasn't talking about Heather Heyer. Don't even let those words be in your mouth right now, Paris.


CUOMO: She was there protesting against bigotry.

DENNARD: Exactly.

CUOMO: He was saying that there were good people --

DENNARD: Exactly.

CUOMO: == there fighting to keep the statues up, he was saying there were good people with the KKK. Don't bring Heather Heyer into this. She was on the other side. She was fighting against the Nazis. She was part of the many sides problem that the president drew up.

[06:45:02] Don't put her in the good people. That's not who he was talking about, Paris.

DENNARD: What I'm saying is -- I'm talking about what I'm talking about. And I'm saying that there were good people out there like Heather.

CUOMO: Yes. No kidding. Nobody disputes that.

DENNARD: Thank you. Period.

CUOMO: That there were good people fighting against the Nazis.

DENNARD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Instead he said there were good people with the Nazis.

Symone, am I wrong?

SANDERS: You're not wrong. And I think the real problem with this is that not only did Donald Trump again lump in anti-white supremacist protesters with white supremacists, last night he had a chance to again signal to the American people and to the world that he understood the gravity of this moment and he took it upon himself to call himself the real victim, the real victim from Charlottesville was me. The press attacked me and that is a problem. That demonstrates that the president clearly does not not only

understand this moment, but he thinks -- from what I gather, he thinks this is a game. And this is not a game. We are literally dealing with people's lives. White supremacy is real. And the president of the United States either, A, identifies with white supremacy which I believe he does, or B, just doesn't give a damn.

DENNARD: He actually said I draw the line when they attack you. So he made it not about himself. It was about how they attacked his supporters for their standing up and believing that he did the right thing in condemning these people on multiple occasions. That's exactly what he said last night.


SANDERS: And Donald Trump needs to continue to condemn individuals.

DENNARD: And he has.

SANDERS: He has the -- he has a problem with consistency --

DENNARD: This is like the fifth or sixth time.

SANDERS: He has a problem with consistency --

DENNARD: He's consistently condemned them. What more do you want him to say? He's consistently condemned them.

SANDERS: Because he's not credible on the issue of race in this country.

DENNARD: So then --

SANDERS: But he needs to continue to condemn them.

DENNARD: OK. Symone, if you said he's not credible, then why do you want him to keep saying it? If you're saying he's not credible why do you want --

SANDERS: Because he's the president of the United States of America.

DENNARD: Great. Then he's going to keep saying it. Exactly.

SANDERS: He has a duty to the people of this country to be consistent and credible on the issue. We do not believe him. And let me tell you why. Donald Trump is the man that pioneered and literally led the charge for the racist birther movement against the first African- American president of the United States. He has a history of this. This is not new. This is who he is. If he wants us to think differently he got to show us something different.

DENNARD: You just proved his point from last night. You give him credit for what he says. It doesn't matter what he says, you won't give him any credit.

(CROSSTALK) SANDERS: I am not handing out trophies and lollipops.

CUOMO: It's because you have to say what you mean and mean what you say. He said coming out of the box, he threw a moral equivalence between Nazis and white supremacists and those fighting against them.

DENNARD: -- white supremacists in history under this president. 89 convictions.

CUOMO: All right.

DENNARD: That's not false? But please, that's the truth.

CUOMO: Because obviously that's been a huge part of the agenda, right? That's all been about new policies they put in place to go after this, right, Paris? Wrong. We leave the debate right there.

DENNARD: It is the Trump administration --

CUOMO: We leave the debate right there.

DENNARD: Give the credit where credit is due. Be fair.

CUOMO: Paris, and what you ignore, you empower. Take those words with you today.

Symone, thank you very much.

DENNARD: Be careful. Don't do that.

CUOMO: Paris, as well. Take your own advice -- Alisyn.

DENNARD: I do. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. There's an apology from the wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for an Instagram post that created an uproar. We look at what happened next.


[06:51:58] COOPER: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife apologizing after getting backlash over an Instagram post and comment that she made. Louis Linton posted this photo and bragged about all of the expensive designer clothes she was wearing. This was during a visit to Kentucky, one of the country's poorest states. When a woman called out the Instagram post Linton replied to the user in a very sarcastic tone and touted her own family's wealth even more.

Joining me now CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett.

Kate, this is just like the ultimate "let them eat cake," let them wear Valetino moment. I mean, why Louise criticized for being tone deaf? So how did this happen?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it was the sort of unusual -- the first time we're seeing this kind of pop culture-politics mash-up where I think she may have thought it was OK to do something like tag the designers. I mean, this is sort of a fashion blogger, Kardashian move. But instead it was in front of a government plane after an official trip that her husband, the secretary of the Treasury, took to Kentucky.

So it felt very inappropriate and very sort of over the line of taste. It's hard to understand the more egregious episode here, whether it was the post itself or her response to this mother in Oregon of three children who just decided that she would comment. And what she got back was a real fiery response that sort of kept coming. So there was a lot going on with this -- an apology that came late yesterday afternoon, too, from Louise Linton .

CAMEROTA: Catch everybody up on all that. So this woman, a mother of three from Oregon took offense to this post and she then on Instagram said, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway, #deplorable." Her name is Jeni Miller. Here she was on CNN expounding on why she was offended by that post. Listen to this.


JENI MILLER, COMMENTED ON LOUISE LINTON'S INSTAGRAM PHOTO: It also upset me because here was a person getting off of a government-owned plane on what I assumed was a government trip with a government official. I honestly didn't know who she was. I assumed she was the secretary's wife but didn't know her name or anything. But to then be tagging everything she was wearing with all these expensive European designer names just seemed ridiculous and, quite frankly, offended me as someone who paid for part of their trip.


CAMEROTA: OK. So then Secretary Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, when she read that woman's post saying basically hashtag deplorable, this was what she said.

"Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband, either as an individual earner in taxes or in self-sacrifice to your country? I'm pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day trip than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you would be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You're adorably out of touch."


CAMEROTA: So that didn't go over well.

BENNETT: I think that last line, "You're adorably out of touch," and there was also, we didn't see in that graphic, an emoji, sort of heart-faced emoji, there's something about that.

[06:55:07] Louise Linton has not been shy publicly in the press about her wealth and growing up in a Scottish castle and being an actress in Hollywood, et cetera. So maybe, you know, perhaps this is a lifestyle she's accustomed to. But to say to an American woman, that is, like, you know, as she said herself, Miss Miller, an average American woman seeing this, the "adorably out of touch" part felt maybe a little bit mislabeled.


BENNETT: In terms of who might be applying that --


BENNETT: -- after posting about Valentino and Tom Ford and the other labels that she put on her Instagram post.

CAMEROTA: Here is the good news. Louise Linton, Steve Mnuchin's wife, did apologize. She issues this apology after all this. "I apologize for my post in social media yesterday as well as my response. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive."

But, Kate, is there some feeling -- I mean, after Ivanka's company tweeted out the bracelet that she was wearing after the president won on "60 Minutes." after Kellyanne Conway hawked Ivanka Trump's shoes during an interview, is there some feeling that this -- being in the White House, this tenure of being in or near the White House is like just a massive branding opportunity for some people?

BENNETT: I mean, I think critics are going to feel that way, right? I think that there's certainly more ground to stand on in that case in this administration than others. I certainly feel like Ivanka Trump has distanced herself from her brand officially while she's inside the White House. But she does continue to wear sometimes at least one item a day of her own brand. Now she doesn't tag it. She doesn't say here I am sitting at a roundtable wearing my $120 dress from the Ivanka Trump brand.

However, she's still representative of this brand that she created before she came into the White House.

CAMEROTA: I think that's OK.

BENNETT: So there is a bit of a line crossed for sure.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I agree with you, there is a melding. But the touting it is the stranger part.

Kate Bennett, thank you very much for keeping an eye on all of this for us -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So the president unscripted and off the rails attacking the media for distorting his comments about Charlottesville. This is a matter of fact. We will show you the facts next.



TRUMP: I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, I got them all. So what did they say? It should have been sooner. He's a racist.