Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Protest Grows Outside Trump Tower; Trump Attacks Media After Criticism of His Charlottesville Response. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 14, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:11] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
The president arrives tonight in New York City to growing protests over his handling of Saturday's deadly alt-right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended with three people dead, when a state police helicopter crashed and a car plowed into a crowd of counter demonstrators. That's the demonstration right now outside of Trump Tower.
The president lands at Kennedy airport in 15 minutes. He'll then take Marine One to a landing pad near Wall Street and travel by car to Trump Tower where as you see that sizable crowd is looking to greet him.
It comes at the end of a day in which we learned something about the president's priorities, we learned precisely how long it takes for President Trump to speak out against a deadly act of racist domestic terror and precisely how many times he's willing to do it. Two days is how long it takes and as for how many times he's willing, just the once. That's what we're left with at the end of a very long thee days for Charlottesville, Virginia, and for the entire country. And that's where we begin tonight.
Earlier today, after failing to do so on Saturday, President Trump recognized the killing of Heather Heyer, though he did not mention her by name, and named some of the hate groups behind the Charlottesville event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.
Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That is a change and welcome one to Heather's mother who joins us shortly. However, it took 48 hours outcry over the president's initial statement, blaming many sides for the violence and leaving racist groups giddy with delight before he finally changed his tone.
The fact that he did says plenty about Democrats and Republicans alike who kept up the pressure. It says something as well about just how strangely reluctant this president is to confront the alt-right to the point of not even being able to speak out against neo Nazis. After all, this is a president who has shown little restraint when it comes to either calling out acts of jihadist terror or for that matter, slamming just about anyone, any time, for any reason, big or small.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: Crooked Hillary Clinton. Little Marco. Lying Ted Cruz, lying Ted. Oh, I don't know what I said. I don't remember.
Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, I mean, both inside and out. You take a look at her, she's a slob.
He's a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
COOPER: Well, just today, the president lashed out at a CEO who happens to be African-American who had quit his advisory council in protest of his initial response to Charlottesville. He had no problem naming the CEO, but neo Nazis and Klansmen, silence for days. In addition to that, having read those carefully crafted remarks off a teleprompter this afternoon, the president made a point when given the opportunity to just a couple of hours later to speak off the cuff of not repeating them.
And late tonight, he went right back to complaining about the press, tweeting: Made remarks on Charlottesville and realized once again that the fake news media will never be satisfied. Truly bad people.
So there's that. We'll talk with Heather's mother in a moment and go to the White House as well. First, though, we've gotten new video of the deadly crash. We do want to warn you, it might not be something you want young people to watch. It's the first we are seeing it.
It does provide a fuller picture of what happened exactly. Again, it is difficult to watch. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! People are badly hurt. Oh, my God, badly hurt! We need paramedics right now. Oh, that car just drove into people, causing a multi-chain accident.
Somebody might be dead, folks. Somebody might be dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: For more reaction now from today, from the president's remarks, CNN's Jim Acosta joins us now from the White House.
Do we know how the president's statement today evolved from what he said Saturday?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly was an evolution, Anderson. I can tell you, I was in the room with the president for both of those statements that he made today. They really felt more forced than heartfelt, just being in the room and observing that.
But we heard from White House officials earlier in the day, Anderson, saying that it was the president's decision to go ahead and call out these hate groups by name. But that begs the question why he did not do that sooner. And so, really at the end of the day that kind of remark coming from an anonymous White House official really just feels like White House spin, Anderson.
COOPER: What else did the president have to say today?
[20:05:01] ACOSTA: Well, at that second availability with the news media, I did try to ask the president why he did not call out these hate groups by name sooner. He got rather testy in his response and here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Mr. President, can you explain why you did not condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend?
TRUMP: They've been condemned. They have been condemned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And, of course, Anderson, I went on to ask him why he did not hold a press conference today. He said on Friday, he was going to hold what he called a big press conference here at the White House. That did not happen.
He looked right into the camera and said that we did have a press conference today, Anderson. That is just a blatant flat out falsehood that was said directly into our camera. He accused us of being fake news today when really when you call a press conference something that is obviously not a press conference, that in and of itself is fake news -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Jim, appreciate it. Thank you.
In just a moment, we'll bring you up to speed on the criminal investigations now under way in the wake of the tragedy. But we want to focus first on Heather Heyer a well as the two state troopers who died.
Heather Heyer worked as a parallel for a local law firm. The firm's president saying she had a big heart and was good at letting her clients see it. Virginia's governor praised the fight he said she was waging against hatred and bigotry. A close friend and co-worker said she was a sweet soul and said she'll never be forgotten.
Heather was just 32 years old. She was killed when a rally participant drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters. You saw the video right there.
I spoke with her mother, Susan Bro, earlier tonight.
COOPER: Susan, I'm so sorry for you loss. If you could just tell us a little about your daughter Heather, what kind of a woman was she?
SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF CHARLOTTESVILLE VICTIM HEATHER HEYER: Heather was a very passionate woman. She was very fair-minded. She was driven to make people clarify their situation, to make people accountable for their behavior, to make people look at themselves and stop what she believed to be unfair.
COOPER: Injustice was something that she thought a lot about, worried a lot about.
BRO: I don't think she worried a lot about it. But she had a real radar for that. Something that would often pass other people by, because this is the way we've always done it. She would call you out on it. She didn't tolerate that.
I have been so humbled (ph) and -- I don't know the word, amazed at the stories I'm getting from people about people that Heather defended and took care of and protected throughout her childhood that I never even knew happened. People are coming forward to me of stories of, she spoke for my child. She protected me on the school bus. She took care of me when others were giving me a hard time.
And I was unaware of that. She didn't come home and tell me about that. She just dealt with that as a matter of normal behavior for herself. And I'm so awed by that.
COOPER: Did you know she was going to attend the rally on Saturday?
BRO: I didn't ask, but I figured she probably would. But honestly I had kind of put it out of my mind.
COOPER: When did you get word about what had happened to her?
BRO: I was actually here where we're filming right now with my best friend, and I got the word that they were looking for Heather's next of kin at the hospital. And I kept calling the hospital, as my friend was driving me to the hospital. And they kept saying, we don't have a patient by that name. And we were frantically trying to find her. And her friends had actually asked the hospital people to find her and -- probably the worst day of my life.
COOPER: When the president spoke today and used the words KKK or used the words white supremacists, was that important to you?
BRO: Yes, it was. I think we need to call out hate where we see hate. I think we need to call out criminal activity where we see criminal activity.
COOPER: Many times in situations, have you given any thought to the person who did this to your daughter or what you want to say to him or what you want to see happen?
BRO: I have two feelings about this young man. One is, he was extremely young, in my opinion. He's not a child. He's an adult. He made his decisions, and I believe that he thought hate was going to be the answer, and that hate is going to fix things.
But he was wrong, and he will some day come to see that, I hope. And I'm sorry for the pain he will go through when he sees that. I'm sorry for the pain he's putting his mother through right now.
I'm also extremely sorry that he chose to kill my child and to injure a bunch of other people. He didn't have the right to do that. And if you watch the tapes, you can tell he had that exactly in mind.
This wasn't a video game, buddy, this was real people, OK? There are real consequences to what you did. And I'm sorry you chose to do that. You have ruined your life, and you've disturbed mine, but you took my child from me, and I'm going to be the voice that she can no longer be.
And so, you gave us a national forum, and maybe I should thank you for that. But I can't. I would rather have my child.
COOPER: You talked about the outpouring and memories from friends of Heather. I'm wondering how you would like her to be remembered or how she would want to be remembered, do you think?
BRO: She would want that spark of self-examination, of the honest discourse of being able to explain yourself, to make yourself accountable, to continue on. If anything is ever to come of this say her name, I want it to be that say her name means you hold yourself accountable. You check your actions before you do something. You explain yourself to God, to yourself, to another person, whatever you have to do, but you hold yourself accountable before you go after somebody.
And there's no excuse for hatred. There's no excuse for bigotry. There's no excuse for discrimination.
COOPER: Well, Susan, thank you so much for your strength. I wish you peace in the days ahead.
BRO: Thank you.
COOPER: Heather Heyer's mom.
Some new details now on the chopper crash that took the lives of two state troopers. According to the NTSB, there was no distress call before the chopper went down. The helicopter's vertical flight path was about 45 degrees when it descended into trees. There was a post- crash fire.
Investigators expect to have a preliminary report within the next two to three weeks. Today, the president said the flight crew embodied the goodness and decency of the country. Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen was 48 years old. Trooper Pilot Berke Bates was just 40.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said he and the first lady considered both men their close friends. Jay, he said, has flown with us across the commonwealth for more than 3 1/2 years. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our executive protection team for the past three years.
Just ahead, tonight, two views of the president's handling of the tragedy and the alt-right. Cornell West and Paris Dennard join us after the break.
And later, I'll speak with a photographer who took this image and show you the ones leading up to it when 360 continues.
[20:17:13] COOPER: Again, we're waiting for President Trump to land at Kennedy Airport. From there, he'll take Marine One to Wall Street, a motorcade to Trump Tower, where you can see he's got protesters awaiting for him. We'll keep you posted as the evening progresses.
In the meantime, no bail for the man accused of causing one of three deaths in Charlottesville. Appearing by video link, he did not enter a plea to charges including second degree murder. We're not mentioning his name. We do however have a new video, graphic video of his alleged crime.
It's difficult to watch, so if you have young children in the room, you might want to have them turn away. Here is the car ramming into the crowd as it happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! People are badly hurt. Oh, my God, badly hurt! We need paramedics right now. Oh, that car just drove into people, causing a multi-chain--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining us now is Cornel West, professor of philosophy at Harvard University's Divinity School and professor emeritus at Princeton. Also with us is Paris Dennard, CNN political commentator and former director of black outreach for President George W. Bush.
Dr. West, I know you were in Charlottesville over the weekend. Can you just talk about what you witnessed on Friday night during the neo- Nazi torch march that surrounded I believe the church you were in? I read that you said you never had seen that kind of hatred in your life. CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: Well,
I've never seen that kind of hatred up front on Saturday when 20 of us stood there and watched us the various neo fascist units marched and looked at straight in the face and cussed and so forth and so on.
But Friday night, of course, you had the Nazi torch march where we were held hostage in St. Paul's memorial church, with Seth and sister Brittany and brother Payton (ph) and sister Elaine and brother Sake (ph), who all of us were trying to bring together, black, white, red, yellow. We had Jewish brothers and sisters. We had Christians. We had Buddhists and others trying to bear witness to love and justice in the face of this vicious white supremacy.
So, it was a two-day moment, which I think I witnessed one of the lowest moments in the history of the American empire. We are already in deep decay. We got military outreach. We got corruption among our elites and we've got a culture that is collapsing in terms of a spiritual blackout.
And, unfortunately, we have a president who has normalized mendacity. He's made lies a normal way of life. So, you can't trust him. He has no ethical authority. He has no moral credibility, unfortunately.
And so, somehow, we've got to engage a prophetic fight back. We have to be not self-righteous but try to bear witness to truth and to justice at a very, very bleak moment in the history of this nation.
COOPER: Paris? I mean, yes, the president disavowed these groups today by name. Why not denounce them full stop on Saturday? And why equivocate and say there are many sides as he did twice on Saturday?
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Anderson, I think if we're going to be factual, the president disavowed David Duke and KKK of March of 2016, and then he did make the statement --
COOPER: Well, actually, wait a minute, I've got to stop you right there. He did -- yes, he ultimately disavowed David Duke, but I'm going to play to you right now what he first said when asked by Jake Tapper about this because the facts matter on this. So, let's just play what he said about David Duke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard David Duke who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?
TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know what you're talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know. I mean, I don't know -- did he endorse me or what's going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.
And so, you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.
TAPPER: I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here but --
TRUMP: I don't know anything -- honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him and I just don't know anything about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Paris, that's the candidate for president of the United States claiming not only doesn't he know anything about David Duke, but doesn't do anything about white supremacists.
DENNARD: Right. And so, if we're going to talk about facts, we can play what he said in March of 2016, the following -- a few days later, when he disavowed David Duke.
COOPER: Right. Why does it take, you know, however many days for somebody to just disavow a known racist who everybody knows who David Duke is? The guy is running for president certainly knows who David Duke is.
DENNARD: Well, I mean, look, not everybody knows --
COOPER: Took three days for him to actually say the KKK.
DENNARD: Not everybody knows who David Duke is. President Trump --
COOPER: He doesn't know what white supremacists are?
DENNARD: Anderson, listen, I didn't come on this show to go back and talk about whether or not he knew someone or what he did --
COOPER: OK, you brought it up, though. So, I'm just --
DENNARD: No, I brought up March, which you cared not show, when he did disavow David Duke and he did disavow the KKK. And then a couple of days ago, he gave a strong, in my opinion, a strong words saying that those hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in American society.
And then today, he doubled down what he said a few days ago and went further and talked about while supremacy, neo-Nazis, and things of that nature, which are horrific. That's what the president did.
COOPER: OK. So, Dr. West, I mean, the president --
WEST: Brother Anderson, Brother Anderson --
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Go ahead.
WEST: Let's be honest. Brother Paris, you got check mated by Brother Anderson. You know the president was lying. He knows about David Duke, he knows about white supremacy. He's been in America for a good while. You got to defend him in order to keep your job, we understand that.
DENNARD: No, no, no. Brother West, Brother West --
WEST: Let's focus on what is the case for a second here, my brother. Come on, man, people had died. I knew sister Heather. She was with us. If it were not for her and the anarchists, the neo fascists would have crushed us like cockroaches on Saturday.
This is life and death, man. This is ain't no game we're playing. This ain't no puzzle for people to keep their jobs. There are humans out here who are suffering and we got a neo fascist movement escalating.
And if we can't focus on the truth, then we just give up on the American project and be honest and say, we just want to keep our jobs. But I'm not into that, but I wasn't raised like that, man. I believe in the truth. I believe in justice, whether it goes against me or for me.
Are you going to be honest or you're not going to be honest? The president is going to be honest or he's not going to be honest.
Anderson is trying to keep you accountable. We've got to keep each other accountable. That's where I'm coming from.
DENNARD: Dr. West, please don't insinuate that I wasn't raised correctly and please don't insinuate when you don't have the facts about who employs me. I'm not --
WEST: If you're going to lie, you're going to lie for the president. The president is lying, man. He's lying.
DENNARD: Dr. West, I am not employed by Donald Trump. I'm not employed by the White House. I have -- they do not --
WEST: Why are you defending a liar? Why are you defending a liar in general?
DENNARD: I'm not defending a liar, man.
WEST: He's lying when he said he didn't know about David Duke.
DENNARD: Well, I don't know that to be true. All I'm saying is, if you want to talk about facts, last --
WEST: Ask him. You know him better than I do. Come on, man.
DENNARD: That's true. And you knew President Obama very well and you knew that after Charleston --
WEST: That's right, and I told the truth about Obama --
DENNARD: You sure did, you sure did.
WEST: I tell the truth about Negroes on the Obama plantation.
[20:25:00] I tell the truth about Negroes on the Trump plantation. The truth cuts a number of different ways, my brother.
DENNARD: And all I would say is, when you want to talk about truth, the truth is, last Thursday, ICE talked about the fact that they prosecuted the largest number of white supremacists in history. I think it was 89 members of violent white supremacist gangs were convicted, totaling more than a 1,070 years in prison.
These are positive steps. So words do matter, but actions matter even more.
WEST: That's right.
DENNARD: And I am proud to see this government and this administration is moving forward and doing these things. But as it relates to --
WEST: We'll see, but --
DENNARD: No, go ahead.
WEST: No, go right ahead.
WEST: What I'd say is this, I believe the truth is bigger than all of us. But I believe this, from what I can see, the person that you are defending, brother Donald Trump, he's got neo fascist sensibilities, brother. He's complicitous with a lot of what's going on by fanning and fueling the scapegoating of these precious immigrants, these precious gays and lesbians and trans and bisexuals and black people and yellow people. He has been fueling this. We have evidence of this.
But the truth is bigger than both of us. But let's just be honest, man, much is at stake. Man, this is not no corporate media game we're playing here in order to pursue our careers. That's not what I'm into and I pray God that's not what you are fundamentally into either.
COOPER: Paris, do you have any concerns that, you know -- Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times" is going to be out here shortly, wrote about Steve Bannon that he has been, in general, counseling the president not to speak out about far right groups because they are a small but a vocal, you know, enthusiastic I believe is the word she used, supporters of the president. I mean, do you have any concerns that this president -- it does seem that there is a pattern of, you know, saying he doesn't know what white supremacists are. He doesn't know who David Duke is of not going after these groups.
I mean, you know, he goes after by name anybody that he doesn't like. Each today when he mentioned the KKK, he went after the CEO of Merck, who happens to be African-American, for leaving the Manufacturing Council. He didn't have a problem immediately going after that guy, but he has a problem immediately naming the most abhorrent groups in America.
DENNARD: Look, all I know, Anderson, is that the president disavowed back in March. He made a very bold statement two days ago, and he clarified the statement and went further today.
I am -- I have no issue with what the president said, because I think what the president said was correct. And when it comes to his associations with Steve Bannon and other people like that, there is no evidence, there are no facts and no proof that Steve Bannon is whispering in his ear, telling him not to disavow, not to say these things, because what we know is, the president has disavowed. The president has called these people out and said -- and called them by name, which is something that President Obama did not do after Charleston.
COOPER: Well, first of all, first of all, after Charleston --
WEST: Bannon needs to be called out. Bannon needs to be called out. Bannon has been a fundamental figure of facilitating a lot of these xenophobia and scapegoating the most vulnerable of our fellow human beings in this empire in this country, and he's got Bannon right next to him in the White House.
COOPER: Dr. West, let me just ask you. You know, Paris said that the president's initial statement on Saturday was correct, that -- and one of the things the president said is that there was violence on many sides, on many sides.
WEST: That's not true. That's not on our side. It was not on our side at all.
COOPER: Was there violence on many sides?
WEST: Absolutely, it was not on our side at all. Not at all. That's PR strategy. They're sounding brass and tickling cymbal. We're standing there singing "This Little Light of Mine" and about to get crushed, the light, our bodies and our prophetic witness. It shriveled up. There was no space for love and justice, given that vicious hatred.
And we had the left, we had the anarchists, we had the anti-fascists, they were trying to both protect us, but they were also letting the neo-fascists know that there was opposition in this nation. Now, what's sad, though, Anderson, I'm going to tell you this -- that we didn't see you in first Baptist black church there in Charlottesville, 153 years old, because of those church -- in those church moments where Reverend Tracy Blackman (ph) gave a powerful sermon and Professor Julien Smith (ph) spoken. And I said a few words. And then when I spoke at the sunrise, it was about love and justice,
not a kumbaya, but a focus on any people who are vulnerable no matter what color, no matter what nation, no matter what sexual orientation, disabled, or whoever (ph). We don't get that kind of prophetic witness. Why? Because it's so hard for that to be sellable in corporate media. So, all we get is just the ugly, vicious conflict. And then when the space of prophetic witness riffles up no one behold, we look back and see how bad things are. There's a lot of decent people in America, but they don't have assets to a space and so they remain spectators rather than participants.
PARIS DENNARD, FORMER WH DIRECTOR OUTREACH FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Anderson, I think that's an important point, to be brief. That's an important point that Dr. West just made. When I turned on the television and watched, I saw fighting. I saw people going back and forth. I didn't know who was fighting. I thought to me, why would racists be fighting each other? So I assumed, I assumed that the racists were fighting the peaceful protesters that were there and was violence going back and forth. That's what I saw and that was my assumption base from what I saw on the television.
Dr. West who was on the ground is telling us a different thing, but this is what happens. You get wrong information, you see things that are on the media, you see things on the television, and you make a snap judgment. And I believe that's what the President did when he went off the cuff remarks saying violence on many sides, on many side because what I saw when I turned on the television were people fighting back and forth. And thought, I assumed Dr. West is correct in this, but I assumed that many things happen like that when you don't have actual hard intelligence and things that are going wrong and going right --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I guess my concern is that the President of the United States should have access to information from law enforcement and many sources --
DENNARD: So true, Anderson. Let's go back to --
COOPER: -- rather than turning around, you know, and watching it on whatever T.V. shows he happens to be watching. I think the President, before speaking to the nation, might want to have the information from law enforcement, from people who he speaking to. We got to leave the conversation there.
DENNARD: Same exact thing happened to President George W. Bush with Katrina. They didn't let him go down because they said it was so much violence and all these things that turnout not to be true. That's the reason why he didn't go down. It's hard to get the right intelligence, people make mistakes. We should give him the latitude and grace to get it right. And I think he is on that path.
COOPER: I would just point out that --
DENNARD: That's not true. He tweeted about Sister Heather -- COOPER: Right, just for the record, 1800 people or more, brothers and
sisters, fellow Americans, lost their lives in Katrina. So that's the facts of what happened in Katrina. Paris Dennard, I appreciate you've been with us, Dr. West, as well. We have to leave it there.
Coming up, the President's first statement after the racist rally in Charlottesville, very much in keeping with his tactic during the campaign when asked about white supremacists who support him. It's about delaying more than denouncing. We'll take a look at that history, next.
[20:35:28] COOPER: More breaking news tonight, more fallout from the President's tardy reaction in the Charlottesville tragedy, another CEO has stepped down from Mr. Trump manufacturing council joining the CEO of Merck, who departed earlier today earning the president scorn. He Kevin Plank, the company is Under Armour.
The opposition to confederate statues goes beyond Charlottesville, Virginia tonight, in Durham, North Carolina, protesters took matters into their hand pulling down a statue representing a confederate soldier integrate with the confederate states of America.
As you know, the President's denouncement of the white supremacist rally and violence in Charlottesville came after a delay and then outcry from both of Republicans and Democrats. It's important to point out. To those who closely watched the campaign, it didn't come as a big surprise. Multiple times the -- now President failed to do what seems like it would be a no-brainer, criticizing racist groups. His latest mistake (ph) only seems to goes through the theory that he doesn't want to alienate any of his supporters no matter who they are or what they might believe, Brianna Keilar tonight has more.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It takes a lot, too much even those in President Trump's own party argue, for him to strongly criticize and disavow hate groups. Take David Duke. He rallied this weekend in Charlottesville and supported Trump's candidacy early on.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Did he endorse me or what's going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.
KEILAR: But Trump did know about David Duke. He had spoken publicly about him as early as 1991, shortly after Duke had an unsuccessful but surprisingly strong run for governor of Louisiana.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The David Duke thing, did it bother you? 55 percent of the whites in Louisiana voted for him.
TRUMP: I hate saying what it represents but I guess this shows there's a lot of hostility in this country. KEILAR: In July of 2016, Trump tweeted this picture of Hillary Clinton against a background of dollar bills which originally came from a white supremacist message board. Trump called the controversy a creation of "dishonest media" even dismissing the images obvious use of the star David.
TRUMP: It's a star! And it actually looks like a sheriff's star, but I don't know.
KEILAR: Not long after, he weathered scathing criticism from Clinton who charged that he was embracing the so-called alt-right, an idealogically nebulous group linked to white supremacy, Anti-semitism, anti-feminism and xenophobia.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, there's always been a paranoid fringe in our politics. A lot of it arising from racial resentment, but it's never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national mega phone until now.
KEILAR: And she took particular aim at Trump for his year's long obsession with President Obama's birth certificate.
TRUMP: Barack Obama should end this, and he should provide the public with a birth certificate.
KEILAR: Trump took the fringe conspiracy theory that President Obama wasn't actually American, main stream, and did not admit the truth until shortly before the election. A rare condemnation by Trump of the alt-right came shortly after less election, when the white nationalist organization National Policy Institute, convened in Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory.
KEILAR: Pledging support to the president elect with a nazi salute and displaying racist imagery at their gathering. Trump finally told "The New York Times," "I don't want to energy the group and I disavow the group." Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, Matt Lewis, Van Jones, and Mike Shields.
Maggie, I just want to start with you, you have some new reporting about the status of Steve Bannon in the White House.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. So there have been questions about what was going to happen with him over the last couple of days. John Kelly, the new chief of staff has set in place a very clear chain of command and most people appear -- if not all, appeared to be following it.
Bannon has become increasingly isolated in the White House. He has become diminished in terms of his role. However, if you would ask me yesterday, I would have said that, he was very likely that he was going to be going pretty soon today. It seems to be teetering in the other direction. And I think part of that is because the media and democrats have increased the focus on Bannon particularly in the wake of Charlottesville.
This President likes nothing less than being pushed by the media, as we've seen repeatedly today. So I think that may help him in terms of staying. But it's a bumpy and uncomfortable road. The President has grown very frustrated with him on a number of issues but the President has also appeared to be repeatedly unwillingly to pull the trigger on Steve Bannon. He had a dinner with Rupert Murdoch two weeks ago that Brian Stelter reported on first. That dinner included Jared Kushner, also included John Kelly. And Murdoch made the case that Bannon needs to go.
[20:40:05] You then saw, a Wall Street Journal editorial make pretty similar case within days.
COOPER: So the head of Fox News and the head of "The Wall Street Journal" is giving advice to the President of the United States, who is covering about who he should fire?
HABERMAN: So he (INAUDIBLE) we had him on a list of 20 people who have the President's ear, and who advise him a couple of months ago. This is been going on for some time. He speaks to him most days.
COOPER: Also in the article today, you wrote, and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have it in front of me, but I speak in my mind, you said something like in general, Steve Bannon is the person who has been or is a person who has been telling the President not to call out fringe right groups, who are small, you know, a small group, small groups but enthusiastic supporters.
HABERMAN: Or at least be mindful of your language and how you do it. Now Steve Bannon was not at Bedminster with the President where most of the President aids were. Bannon very noticeably stayed behind and was not there. But they did speak by phone as Charlottesville was unfolding. I believe they spoke yesterday, as well. And Bannon has still had some input to him.
Remember, though Trump comes at this, for all the reporting on these conflicting idealologies within the West Wing, the President has his own view on these things. He has his own impulses. And that tends of be resting state. They happen to be pretty similar to Steve Bannon's.
COOPER: And you also -- to be clear, in the White House, you say that the status of Bannon has been eroding for some time?
HABERMAN: It's been over a while. If you remember the first explosion of headlines about his fight with Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, began back in April. I think that, you know, they had been allies. And that quickly unraveled. This fight has been going on for a while, but the President has been unable to pull the trigger. I think he likes Bannon personally on some level. I think he does believe or has told people he believes that Bannon may be leaking. But I think that he is also worried of the kind of mischief and problems that Bannon could create in the outside.
COOPER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We'll going to have a more with our panel, we'll continue the conversation. This is the President landing at Wall Street. He had landed earlier at the airport, now he's taking a helicopter, Marine One, to Wall Street, and he's going to go up to Trump Tower now where there are protesters are waiting outside Trump Tower. It happened there for some time. We'll have coverage of that and nor with our panel. We'll be right back.
[20:45:19] COOPER: After a day at the White House, the President is here in New York. The Marine One we saw a moment ago carrying support staff, this chopper Marine One landing in Lower Manhattan just moments later. He'll travel shortly by motorcade up to Trump Tower and a gathering of protesters.
Back now with the panel. Van Jones, why do you think it is that the President seems reluctant to call out these groups?
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE MESSY TRUTH: Well, it's very unfortunate, because you have the father of a Jewish daughter in the White House, and some of the worst anti-Jewish and anti-black public statements I've ever heard were just pouring out of Charlottesville from these white supremacist groups.
He had a rare opportunity as the father of a Jewish daughter to step forward and speak personally, personally about his feelings. And he didn't do it today or before. I'm glad he did come out, his own party needed him to come out, the country needed him to come out and make that annunciation. But I think he has made a key distinction.
In Europe, they distinguish between the dirty right and the clean right. The clean right, you know, low taxes, all that good kind of Paul Ryan stuff. But the dirty right traffics in violence, traffics and bigotry, traffics in this whole kind of thuggery stuff, xenophobia. And they have done a better job of trying to isolate that, and this president is committed. And as long as he's willing to have the dirty right mix up with the clean right in his mind and his party, the country is in grave peril.
COOPER: Mike, as a supporter of the President, does it concern you at all or do you think this is much ado about nothing?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, look, I was supporter of the President. And I think he made a mistake this weekend. And I think what he said today was exactly right. As a life long Republican, there is no place in my party for Neo-Nazis, for bigots, for white supremacist, as a Christian you can't even have white supremacy because there's only God above us all. He made us all in his image, everybody.
And so it's just nonsensical for a Christian Conservative Republican to even have to say those things. I wish the President has said it sooner. I think what he said today was exactly right. He has to speak what that kind of moral clarity. A lot of Republicans came out over the weekend in Senate. The senators said the right things. And I think the President unfortunately will have another opportunity. This sort of thing seems to keep happening and he's going to have another chance to get it right and say instinctively what is sort of obvious I think for everybody to say, that we don't condone this kind of behavior by Neo-Nazis and white supremacist.
And he should have said it. I think he sort of gets in his head that I have nothing to do with this, so I'm not going to dignify it. And I think that just the mistake and he's going to learn as president, he speaks for the whole country, when he speaks on this morel issues and he certainly speaks for his party.
So I was glad to him do it today, I think he did a great job today, said exactly what needed to be said and hopefully in the future he will say it much sooner so that we don't have this conversation going on.
When you're going to be a populist, you have -- sort of advance talking about, if you're going to be a populist, you have to even more clearly express to the American people why you're different from these people. And so I think the President got it right today and I hope he does it sooner next time.
COOPER: Matt, I mean, we did -- I think Mike makes a good point, first of all, there were a lot of Republican senators, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others who came out very forcefully on this on Twitter on Saturday, very --
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The clean, right?
COOPER: I'm not using terms. But you know, it's -- I mean, does it make sense to you that the President didn't come forward?
LEWIS: It's horrible on so many levels. Look, you could just give him the benefit of the doubt and say this is a communications, logistical problem. I think that maybe is part of it.
I would love to believe the notion that he just doesn't understand this, and that it's a communications thing. But when you look and you have Steve Bannon in the White House and Seb Gorka in the White House and Stephen Miller in the White House, there's a pattern. I mean, there are people who, you know, Steve Bannon has quoted Julius Evola, this, you know, Italian fascist, who Mussolini wasn't bad enough for him, so he went to Hitler. It doesn't mean that Steve Bannon is a nazi. But there are people who have a world view in this White House that is very fringy, and not what you would think from a Ronald Reagan or a George W. Bush.
COOPER: Well, I was looking at Ronald Reagan speaking forcefully at a gathering about condemning Neo-Nazis, condemning the white supremacists.
LEWIS: Yes. I think that Ronald Reagan understood a couple of things. One is that if conservatism is going to survived and thrive, it's incredibly important to distance it from what Van Jones called the dirty right, or that European thing that we've been shielded from in America for most of our history.
[20:50:08] So I think Reagan got that. He also understood the importance of being a moral authority. You know, when the challenger exploded, Reagan goes out that night and gives that great Peggy Noonan speech and comforts a nation. You know, and he says tear down this wall. He says, you know, these racists might support me. I don't support them. George H.W. Bush, his successor, stood up and condemned David Duke. That's the kind of moral authority that Donald Trump is not providing.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Maggie, for him to say during the election he doesn't know anything about white supremacists, he doesn't know what that is, is just ludicrous.
HABERMAN: Right. I was thinking about was saying about -- or someone is saying, they like to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait and see what happens. But how many times are you going to give him the benefit of the doubt? I mean, this is now that this happened repeatedly through the campaign. He rose to prominence nationally in 2011, championing birtherism.
He barely renounced it until the very end of the campaign. He would retweet white supremacist Twitter accounts. There was that star of David controversy that he scoffed that anybody would be offended. We hear constantly from the White House and from aides to the President, try to understand how he sees things. Try to understand how he feels. Try to understand, there are people who have relatives who were sent to gas ovens, you know, years ago in the holocaust. And he's not doing a whole lot to try to understand why these images are offensive to them.
COOPER: I want to thank everybody. Up next, I'll talk to the photographer who captured probably one of the defining moments of the violent protests this weekend, the moment when a car barreled into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer, injuring 19 others.
COOPER: More now on the violent clash the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a moment, I'll speak to the photographer who capture the sickening moment that a driver slammed into the crowd of counter-protesters on Saturday afternoon.
First, here's the photos that he took. Here is the moment the car barreled toward the crowd. You see several people trying to get out of the way. As the vehicle got closer, many seemed to look on in disbelief. The car didn't stop. It didn't slow down. Many had nowhere to run. Here is the image none of us of course can't forget, the moment the vehicle plowed into the protesters, the photo from Charlottesville that will define this moment in history. That's how "The Washington Post" describes it, and sadly, it's true. 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer was struck and killed, 19 others were injured, many of them critically.
The driver then went into reverse, the car's bumper dragging. And several protesters giving chase. The driver was eventually arrest and charged. The photographer who snapped all of these photos is Ryan Kelly. He joins us tonight.
Ryan, if you could just take us through what happened. I understand you actually saw the car backing uphill before driving into the crowd.
[20:55:08] RYAN KELLY, TOOK PHOTOS OF CHARLOTTESVILLE CRASH: Yes. So I was walking the down to Downtown Mall, which is a pedestrian mall. And I got to a cross street where vehicle traffic is allowed. I saw the car backing up, and then I saw the crowd of counter-protesters at the bottom of the hill. I thought nothing of the car. I assumed it was turning, you know, around the block to get out of the way and get on wherever he was trying to go.
So I started taking some pictures. I had a long lens. I was fairly far away from the crowd, looking down the hill. And as I moved slowly across the road and over to the sidewalk, a couple seconds later, this same car just flew past me. And before I even knew what was happening, he had plowed into the crowd at the bottom of the hill.
COOPER: Were you able to get a look at the driver at all?
KELLY: No, absolutely not. The car was moving at speed. I could barely even react. It was all just instinct to even put my camera up to my face in the first place and be able to take any pictures at all. And then he reversed right up the hill as soon as he made contact. So I absolutely had no sight of the driver. And when I look back at pictures, there were tinted windows, and there was just a blur. There was no way to tell.
COOPER: When you were taking pictures, I mean, as the car slammed into the crowd, did you know what you were capturing? I mean, were you able to actually see it? Because sometimes when you're taking photographs, it happens so fast, you don't see until later on when you look at the pictures.
KELLY: It did happen very fast. And no, I didn't have any sense of details of what was happening. I knew immediately that something horrible had happened and I knew it had happened intentionally. But it all happened very, very quickly. And he was gone as soon as he came down. And I had no sense of what the pictures looked like. I barely had a sense of what I even just saw. I didn't put any of it really together until I was looking at the pictures on a laptop a few minutes later.
COOPER: You have no doubt that this happened intentionally, that this driver intentionally plowed into this crowd?
KELLY: Oh, absolutely. Yes, he backed up the hill. I passed by in front of him. I was on the road for maybe 10, 15 seconds. I moved over to the sidewalk, and then he came barreling down at full speed into the crowd, immediately put into reverse, and reversed at speed back up the hill and took off down the side street.
COOPER: And this crowd, I mean, before this car happened, was it the crowd just hanging out on this street? What was the scene like before? KELLY: So it was a couple of different crowds of counter-protesters who had converged a few blocks before. And they were marching through town. They were chanting. They were hoisting signs. But it was different from earlier in the day. Earlier in the day before the rally was disperse, people were clashing. Both sides were coming together, fights were breaking out, people were throwing things at each other. This was hours after that. It was hours after the rally had been declared an unlawful assembly by police. And these were all entirely counter-protesters who were marching through the streets.
And they weren't -- there were no -- there was nobody attacking them and they weren't talking against anybody. They were simply marching through the streets. And it was as calm and as peaceful as I had felt all day until the moment that the car flew past me.
COOPER: From what I understand, you actually ran after the car, chasing it on foot, that right?
KELLY: Yes. So the car, as it backed up the hill, the first thing, again, it was instinct, I didn't do anything particularly intentionally. I chased it up the hill because I figured there was no way he would get more than a block before either he wrecked into something because the front was all mangled or the police would stop him because there was such a mess, the police presence around Charlottesville all day.
But by the time I got up to the cross street, he was long gone. I asked a couple of people who saw what happened, they said he got further than I could have made it. So I don't know what happened after that point, but I was amazed he got away.
COOPER: The images are just incredible, Ryan. I'm glad you're safe tonight, and thanks for talking with us.
KELLY: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, the President has just arrived in New York. Protesters gather outside Trump Tower right now with the deeper into the actions and words today of the President as he makes his first visit back home since moving into the White House.