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Republicans Plead With Trump To Speak Out; President Trump Declines To Call Out White Nationalists; Deadly Charlottesville Violence; China A Sweet Spot For U.S. Companies' Earnings; General Dunford Meeting South Korea President. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 14, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- Latin America, to say what the president did not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms. The president's call for unity yesterday was from the heart. It was a sincere call in these too divided times in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats and Republicans alike slammed the president's initial response to the violence in Charlottesville and his reluctance to single out the extremists, some of whom have been and are Trump supporters. He said this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: On many sides. A White House statement Sunday tried to clarify the president's remarks saying he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred, and of course, that includes white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK.

BRIGGS: That's clearly not enough for members of the president's own party who are pleading with him to speak out forcefully and directly against white nationalist groups calling the killing in Charlottesville more than just murder.

Senator Marco Rubio tweeting, quote, "Very important for the nation to hear the president describe events in Charlottesville for what they are -- a terror attack by white supremacists." This from senior Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home."

ROMANS: GOP leaders not only calling on the president to condemn white supremacist groups by name. They're pressing him to do it now so those groups don't become emboldened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would urge the president to dissuade them of the fact that he's sympathetic to their cause because their cause is hate. It is un-American. They are domestic terrorists and we need more from our president on this issue.

SENATOR CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: This president needs to do exactly that today. Call this white supremacism evil, and let the country and world hear it. It's something that needs to come from the oval office this. White house needs to do it today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Meantime, the president's own daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, had this to say in response to the Charlottesville violence -- "There should be no places in the country for white supremacism, racism, and Neo-Nazis, we must come together as Americans and be one country united."

Let's talk more now with CNN politics reporter, Eugene Scott. Nice to see you this morning.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning.

ROMANS: The clarified statement from a spokesman from the White House to the pool, basically saying he called for unity, he called for bringing all Americans together --

BRIGGS: Un unnamed spokesman --

ROMANS: It appears, trying to strengthen the statement from the White House. It reminds you the omission, what the president didn't say in his initial response.

SCOTT: Absolutely. If the president really believes this -- if the president believes this, why would that person not want to go on the record, why would the president himself not want to speak as clearly as we saw Lindsey Graham say?

That's what many of the critics on the Republican and Democratic Party would like to hear President Trump say. They would like to hear him say that these members of the KKK, of the Nazi organizations, are un- American, are domestic terrorists, and are problematic. That's something he hasn't clearly said yet.

BRIGGS: We mentioned the Republicans who have been critical, Ivanka Trump clearly drawing a distinction between what her father did and what she wanted to do. Again, this is not about the media.

But if you want it to be, let's read something from the conservative media -- Steven Hayes in "The Weekly Standard," writes, "President Trump built his reputation with tough talk and harsh condemnations of people who didn't earn his approval, that he refused to offer that Saturday is no accident." How important is context here, and how the president has always called out his victims by name and his absence to do so now?

SCOTT: It's worth paying attention to. Those of us who covered the president on the campaign and in the White House know that when he feels passionately about something, when he thinks someone is wrong, whether they're actually wrong or not, he leans in to them.

He's vocal. That was a very mild-tempered read response, not anything some would say was some with of the freestyling from the heart that he often does when he really has strong convictions about something.

So, the omission and response is worth paying attention to. We've seen quite a few people in his own party and the conservative media address that.

ROMANS: We have had the people around the president or the weekend working hard to be forceful. There's no place for this kind of sentiment in our country, the hate and bigotry.

[05:05:03] I want to listen to what General H.R. McMaster, national security adviser, said specifically about hate in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When he condemned hatred and bigotry on all sides, that includes white supremacists and Neo-Nazis. I know it's clear in his mind. It ought to be clear to all Americans. We cannot tolerate obviously that bigotry, that hatred, that is rooted in ignorance. Ignorance of what America stands for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Is the president under pressure to say those words himself now? People around him are starting to say it. Every time they do, it reminds us the president did not. He said he denounced from many sides. Not Neo-Nazis, not what was happening in there, many sides. Some said it seemed that he was putting the paralegals who are standing there, you know --

SCOTT: Many sides.

ROMANS: The other side.

SCOTT: The reason why there is going to be more pressure, all due respect to McMaster, is it's not clear to many Americans, and I think it's interesting and worth paying attention to.

One of the groups where it's not clear to where the president stands is white supremacists themselves. We saw throughout the weekend on some of their message boards, their media and tweets, they think the president is on their side.

They think he is one of them and he endorsed their behavior. You can't say it's clear to Americans and Republicans and Democrats where the president stands when you have Nazis themselves saying that he stands with them.

ROMANS: And you see the Neo-Nazi site, the "Daily Stormer" -- I hate to put it up because it's garbage and horrible. Trump comments were good. He didn't attack us. He said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry and implied there was hate on both sides. No condemnation at all.

And then of course, other people who study the Neo-Nazi stuff, they say, you know, the president what he didn't say actually sent a dog whistle to white supremacists that this would be tolerated.

SCOTT: Yes. And this wasn't the first time it happened. If you can remember actually about a year ago when the president started his black voter outreach, most people listening said many of his words were actually more attractive to people who have stereotypes and misperceptions about the black experience in America than it was to make an argument that would be attractive to black Americans. There's been a dog whistling for a year, and for many people this was the last straw.

BRIGGS: Many trace this back to Steve Bannon in the Trump administration.

SCOTT: Sure.

BRIGGS: How long can he stick around? We'll ask you in about 30 minutes.

SCOTT: OK.

BRIGGS: Some interesting comments from Anthony Scaramucci yesterday that made you think he might not be wrong --

ROMANS: We'll look at that in a half hour. All right. Thanks, Eugene.

The Department of Justice and the FBI launching a civil rights investigation into the deadly events at that white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. The 20-year-old James Alex Fields is accused of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing one person.

He is now in custody facing multiple charges including second-degree murder. He's expected to make his first court appearance today. CNN's Brian Todd has more on the suspect and the investigation.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, today, we've got important new information about the suspect accused in the car strike that killed that young woman on Saturday here in Charlottesville. According to our justice producer, Mary Kay Maloney, she got this information from a Justice Department official familiar with the investigation. Federal investigators have enough evidence to be suspicious that the suspect, James Fields Jr., intended to send a message, not just harm the immediate victims.

And they're looking into that. They are also looking into whether he had any accomplices, anybody who might have helped him in the attack. Some other information that we're getting about the suspect, according to a teacher who taught him history in the last two years of high school.

The teacher's name is Derek Weimer, who taught him at a high school in Northern Kentucky. He said that the suspect, James Fields, had some disturbing views about Nazis. That he had an infatuation with Nazis.

Now this all comes off another day of high tension in Charlottesville. The organizer, white supremacist organizer of the rally, Jason Kessler, showed up here on Sunday, intending to hold a news conference.

He spoke for several minutes but didn't get much of a word in edgewise because a crowd of counter-protesters were shouting him down making all sorts of noise. Some people converged on him slowly.

At some point, he went to the ground, either fell or was pushed. Police swooped in. Got him out of there, got him around the side of the building and into the building behind me, the Charlottesville Police Department, where they held him for his own safety.

Then they whisked him away. A lot of protesters here angry that the white supremacists, including Kessler, hung around to espouse his message. He later tweeted that his free speech was being tamped down.

[05:10:03] But again, none of that suppressing the anger and frustration here in Charlottesville -- Christine and Dave.

BRIGGS: Brian Todd for us in Charlottesville.

We're learning about the three people who died in the Charlottesville violence. Heather Heyer was killed when that car plowed into the group of people protesting the white nationalist rally on Saturday.

She was a paralegal who assisted clients through bankruptcy. Heather's mother says she had passionate beliefs and was a champion for others.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN BRO, HEATHER HEYER'S MOTHER: It was important to her to speak up for people that she felt were not being heard to speak up when injustices were happening. And she saw in the lives of many of her African-American friends particularly and her gay friends that equal rights were not being given.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Heartbreaking. Two Virginia state troopers also being remembered this morning. Police Lieutenant H.J. Cullen and Trooper Pilot Burke M. Bates were killed when their helicopter crashed while assisting public safety resources with the situation in Charlottesville.

ROMANS: All right, 11 minutes past the hour. Time for an early start on your money. President Trump planning to get tougher on trade with China. Today, the president expected to direct the U.S. trade representative to look into alleged Chinese violations of trade with the U.S.

Things like patent thefts, intellectual property transfers. While this won't be an official investigation, it could lay the groundwork for one. If any wrongdoing is found, President Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports.

But an editorial in a Chinese state-run newspaper says the investigation will poison the overall U.S./China relationship. Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing are ramping up. Corporate America seems happy with China at the moment.

U.S. companies have reported stronger second-quarter earnings and revenue from their Chinese operations in recent weeks. Eighty two percent of U.S. companies in China expect revenue to increase this year, up from 76 percent a year ago. That's according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

They're benefitting from a Chinese economy growing at almost 7 percent. A Chinese housing boom, as well as a slide in the dollar that makes American exports more competitive. Interesting that that article in the Chinese state-run paper. We're also trying to -- the United States government trying to work with China on North Korea.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: So, you've got a lot of different levels here where they're trying to work together.

BRIGGS: Yes. And on that, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson writing in the "Wall Street Journal" that China specifically needs to do more to contain North Korea's nuclear threats. That situation continues to evolve.

Meanwhile, America's highest ranking military officer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting with South Korea's president this morning as North Korea threatens to target U.S. territory. We are live in Seoul, South Korea, next.

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[05:16:57]

ROMANS: All right, this just in to CNN. China announcing it will impose a complete ban on the importation of North Korean coal, iron, lead, seafood, and more. Its first steps at enforcing sanctions against North Korea.

This coming as America's top general, Joint Chiefs Chairman Joe Dunford, is in Seoul right now for talks with South Korea's president. Dunford is committing to making sure that President Trump has a viable military option to combat the nuclear crisis in North Korea.

He wants to make sure diplomacy has a chance. CNN has learned American diplomats have been in touch with their counterparts in Pyongyang since at least February led by the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun.

Let's get straight to Seoul now and bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks. And you have details of the meeting between General Dunford and the South Korean president. What can you tell us?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christine. These details coming from the presidential office spokesman said that General Dunford and President Moon were focusing on the diplomatic and economic options.

This is what we've been hearing of pullback from strong remarks from President Trump last week. Saying the focus is on the diplomatic and economic. They do have the military option if those other options fail. This is what we're really hearing this week.

We also know that there's an ongoing press conference with General Dunford. He's with General Brooks who's the head of the U.S. forces Korea saying when it comes to the U.S. military exercises with South Korea, which is supposed to start on August 21st, which North Korea has been pushing against, they say those exercises will go ahead.

Also saying that they are more important now than ever before. They were also asked about comments from President Trump last week and wouldn't be drawn when it comes to those comments that Mr. Trump has been making.

This seems as though it's a pullback from the comments of last week. The focus on the diplomacy, tallies with what we've heard and read in the op-ed from the "Wall Street Journal" from the defense secretary and also from the U.S. secretary of state -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul. Thank you very much for that.

BRIGGS: You wonder, are they speaking with one voice? It's clearly diplomacy from Mattis, Tillerson, and Dunford and very undiplomatic comments from the president.

ROMANS: There are some who watched for many years said the president is giving himself fewer choices and less leverage by being so clear in his language.

BRIGGS: Yes. Admiral Mike Mullen said that on Sunday.

Ahead, all eyes were on Jordan Spieth this week at the PGA championship as he attempted to make history and complete golf's grand slam. But one of his closest friends instead took home the wanna maker trophy, and Spieth stuck around to congratulate him. Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report" next.

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[05:24:21]

BRIGGS: At just 24 years old, J.T., Justin Thomas winning his first career major in the PGA championship.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine, Dave. Justin Thomas was destined to win a major championship on the PGA tour. His dad and grandfather are both PGA professionals. And at just 7 years old, Justin was there to see Tiger Woods win the same tournament in his hometown of Louisville.

This is the moment everyone's talking about from the PGA championship. They'll be talking about it all morning, 10th hole for birdie. The ball hangs on the edge -- but 10 seconds later -- it drops in the cup. A tip of the hat from Thomas.

[05:25:02] And then the Michael Jordan shoulder shrug afterwards. Who was there -- his dad, golf teacher, mentor, Mike was there waiting for him after the win. Check out his competitors and the sportsmanship there. These are his close friends, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, showing him love. Justin talked to CNN's Patrick Snell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN THOMAS, PGA CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER: It was very special. It was probably the closest that I've been to tearing up for a noninjury situation. I'm not too emotional a person. I get excited, I get down, but in terms of crying, it doesn't really -- hasn't happened to me in the past. And that was about as close as I could get to sharing that with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: To the NFL, many players feel that Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL teams for his protests of social injustice last season. That hasn't deterred players from refusing to stand for the national anthem.

The Raiders' Marshon Lynch sat during the preseason game Saturday. His former teammate at the Seahawks, Michael Bennett, did the same last night to shed light on this issue. Bennett explained his mission after the game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BENNETT, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I'm hoping that I can activate everybody to get off their hands and feet and go out to the communities and push helping each other. Push -- sit down with somebody that's the opposite sex. Sit down with somebody that's the opposite race, different religion. Understand people are different and join the community and try to change your society. Change what you are a part of. If you don't like it, keep changing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Bennett says that he continues plans -- plans to continue raising awareness to racism and intolerance all season long.

Major League Baseball almost lost one of its best players, Bryce Harper, almost lost for the entire season. That scary knee injury happening Saturday while slipping on first base. Fortunately, tests showed that he suffered only a bone bruise. Now his agent is sounding off.

He wants MLB to try to do something about wet, slick bases, asking if there is a different material they can use where grounds crews can dry off the bases in between innings. The Nationals have won four of their last five games including a walk-off 11th inning grand slam against the Giants last night.

They have the third-best record in baseball. Dave and Christine, fortunate, there for Harper and for baseball especially Nationals' fans, that that injury wasn't much worse.

BRIGGS: Holding their breath in D.C., yes. That really looked ugly there, Coy. Thanks, my friend.

WIRE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: The White House defending President Trump who is facing accusations he did not denounce white supremacy in the wake of violent, deadly rallies in Virginia. Were his words enough?

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