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Presidential Condemnation; CEOs Turn Against Trump; Trump Moves To Crack Down On China; Court Victory For Taylor Swift. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 15, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:25] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump finally denounced white supremacists groups after two days of silence. But then, hours later, he's back to retweeting a controversial conspiracy theorist to defend why it took so long.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: It was too little, too late for some top CEOs though, who say they will no longer advise this president. Three CEOs quitting his advisory council.

In fact, two of those quitting after the second announcement condemning white supremacists. So they say it was too little, too late.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And, I'm Christine Romans. It's 32 minutes past the hour.

President Trump finally responding after two days of harsh criticism from all directions in the wake of the hate-filled violence in Charlottesville that left three people dead. The president issuing a brief statement Monday.

He began with a boast about the economy, stock market records, the job market, and then he delivered a full-throated condemnation of hate groups.


TRUMP: As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence. It has no place in America.

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.

To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.


BRIGGS: A strong statement there but, as a reminder, this was President Trump's initial response on Saturday to the Charlottesville violence.


TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides -- on many sides.


ROMANS: We get more now from CNN's Sara Murray at the White House.



The president only clarifying his stance after days of backlash. Not just from some of his backers on Wall Street and not just from Democrats, but also from members of his own party as it appears clear that the White House and Trump's advisers were caught flat-footed by the developments.

Now, when President Trump was asked why it took him days to condemn these actions by white nationalists he said only that they are condemned. But that explanation rang hollow to some, in part because this is a president who has repeatedly fumbled his efforts to denounce the white nationalists that have rallied in his name.

Remember, it took him multiple attempts to say he disavowed the support of David Duke, a former KKK leader. This is a president that at different points has retweeted white supremacists. And this is also someone who rose to prominence, in part, by questioning whether President Barack Obama, the first African-American president, was born in the United States.

These are some things that lead people to believe that there are more nefarious efforts underway behind this delay in President Trump's comments, and an indication that this controversy is not going to evaporate from the White House anytime soon.

Back to you guys.


BRIGGS: It certainly will not.

Sara Murray, thank you. The president arriving at Trump Tower in New York last night, his first time back since taking office and he was greeted by a swarm of protesters shouting messages like 'No Hate' and 'Impeach.'

[05:35:08] Mr. Trump turning to Twitter to vet and sparking, perhaps, a new controversy, retweeting a post from a controversial figure best known for indulging in outrageous conspiracy theories like 'Pizzagate.'

The post questioned why the media was covering the Charlottesville story instead of violence in Chicago.

ROMANS: The president has been under for not specifically rejecting the support of white supremacy groups or immediately calling them out by name. He hasn't explained why -- why it took two days for him to make the strong presidential statement he made yesterday.

Listen to this exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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.

ACOSTA: And why are we not having a press conference today? You said on Friday we'd have a press conference.

TRUMP: We had a press conference. We just had a press conference.

ACOSTA: Can we ask you some more questions then, sir?

TRUMP: It doesn't bother me at all because, you know, I like real news, not fake news. You're fake news.


ROMANS: So that was not a press conference. A press conference is when the press are freely allowed to ask questions of the president and he answers. That's a press conference.

What that was was a statement on camera. It's a big difference.

The president followed up that exchange with this Twitter attack on the press.

"Made additional remarks and Charlottesville and realize once again that the fake news media will never be satisfied. Truly bad people!"

BRIGGS: Yes, and the problem with that fake news accusation at Jim Acosta is that this person you just retweeted --

ROMANS: Literally, it's fake news. BRIGGS: -- literally backs the definition of fake news, which is the 'Pizzagate' type of theories that that person spreads on Twitter. So --

ROMANS: Made up stories, yes.

BRIGGS: -- listen people, you've got to fact check. Cut through this B.S. on Twitter.

ROMANS: All right.

Business leaders are not happy with the president's response to Charlottesville. Three CEOs quit his manufacturing council as a result. The heads of Intel and Under Armour are stepping down.

They're following the lead of one of America's most prominent black CEOs, Merck chief Kenneth Frazier. Now, Frazier quit the council after Trump's initial failure to condemn white supremacy, saying that America's leaders must clearly reject hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy.

Trump quickly lashed out on Twitter not condemning the same things, but condemning Frazier, saying he will have more time to lower rip-off drug prices.

Corporate America quick to rebuke Trump on many issues, including immigration, climate change, now Charlottesville and race. But very few CEOs have broken with the White House, perhaps because their companies and their stocks still benefit from Trump's pro-business environment and the promise of tax cuts. That will, you know, be a boon for them.

There are a few exceptions here. The former Uber CEO left the president's council after his travel ban. The Disney CEO, Bob Iger, and the Tesla founder Elon Musk quit after breaking with the Paris Climate Agreement.

CNN asked two dozen executives on the manufacturing council if they're going to stay. Those that responded to us all denounced hatred. At least seven companies said they would remain, including Dow Chemical, Whirlpool, Campbell's Soup, and General Electric, citing the importance of participating in the discussion on U.S. manufacturing, Dave.

BRIGGS: OK, let's bring back Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst, columnist for "The Washington Post."

ROMANS: Hey, Josh.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, Josh.


BRIGGS: What are -- what are these CEOs leaving the jobs council tell you?

ROGIN: It tells me that it's getting harder and harder to stand by this president if you're not actually inside that White House.

I mean, you know, it's kind of amazing that President Trump has really united the country unfortunately from -- he's united the country against him, right. You've got Republicans, Democrats, CEOs, comediennes, the media. Everyone is sort of saying hey, this is not OK, OK?

And the way that he's handled this -- from a moral perspective you can criticize it, but also from a political perspective it's just -- it's not working -- his sort of back and forth, on the one hand, catering to the alt-right; on the other hand, condemning white supremacy. It's not washing.

People understand what he's doing. It's pretty clear that he's doing this reluctantly. And whether or not you're the CEO of Merck or you're Jimmy Fallon, you know, it doesn't make sense and it doesn't ring true, and that's a big problem --

ROMANS: It was --

ROGIN: -- for this president, moving forward.

ROMANS: I have to say, it was almost whiplash, you know. The president -- you know, the CEO of Merck quit the advisory council and made that statement about bigotry. And the president, super-fast, came out and was slamming him on Twitter when it took two days for him to slam white supremacy, you know, by name.

ROGIN: Right.

ROMANS: That's was something that caught a lot of people's attention.

But I want to point out Trump's job approval rating -- this latest Gallup poll. Thirty-four percent, a new low. That was -- that approval rating taken over the weekend.

But when I dig into these numbers, white, non-college grads, approval 48 percent, disapproval 46 percent.

He's the president of the base, not the -- he's reluctant because he's really looking at that base, isn't he? He's not --

ROGIN: Yes, that --

ROMANS: -- loyal to the broader picture.

ROGIN: And that's why I think this is a pretty perilous political calculation for the president because while you can sort of understand the argument that this is a base that supported him and helped him that may have, you know, made the difference in electing him president.

[07:40:09] Looking forward, it's not going to be enough. And when you get around to 2018, much less 2020, you know, he's going to need both of those people who support him for these ideological reasons, plus those people who support him because they want to see his economic agenda implemented. And, you know, when you talk to a lot of Americans it's really the economic agenda that matters to them most.

And if he can't sort of, you know, keep the business community, Republicans in Congress together with him, how is he going to do these things? How is he going to pass tax reform? How is he going to make progress on the things that are going to enable all of those people who reluctantly side with the president -- you know, enable them to sort of go to their people, whether it's their employees or their voters --


ROGIN: -- or their constituents and say hey, listen, we know that President Trump is saying these things that make you feel uncomfortable but you need to vote for him because it's in your economic self-interest.

You know, this is a clash that's going on inside the administration and outside the administration. We see it playing on -- playing out between the White House staff and in the public space and it's untenable in the long run.

In the end, the President of the United States is going to have to choose whether or not he wants to stay committed to these people who are hurting him politically and, frankly, hurting the moral standing of his administration, or whether or not he wants to side with the -- what I think is the larger number of people who want to see his economic agenda succeed --

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: -- and want him to condemn this kind of rhetoric.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's get to foreign policy, quickly.

It appears maybe a small win for the president. Apparently, that tough talk against Kim Jong Un has worked, given that he said he will hold off on any plans towards attacking Guam.

ROGIN: Yes. Actually, I don't necessarily think we can conclude that it was the tough talk that worked --


ROGIN: -- because at the same time we had Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis giving a very measured, very cautious, very diplomatic message, and it's just as likely that that's what really connected with the North Koreans.

So the more we sort of increase the rhetoric, the more they increase the rhetoric. But when we give them an off-ramp and an opening and we single our intention to really discuss these very scary and important and dangerous issues in a serious way, then we see sort of corresponding actions from the Chinese side and from the North Korean side.

So, you know, you could say that that's good cop-bad cop. I kind of doubt that that good cop-bad cop was really planned deliberately, speaking with administration sources.


BRIGGS: It doesn't seem like they really thought it out too much.

But, you know, I think this is actually an endorsement of serious diplomacy and serious rhetoric and serious people understanding the danger that is really inherent in nuclear brinksmanship, and not an endorsement of the president's rhetoric, which doesn't seem to really make any diplomatic political sense at all.

ROMANS: Yes, certainly. I saw the stock market pop yesterday. You know, those weekend fears seemed to have really cooled and the diplomacy will prevail is the going -- the going -- the going wisdom.

ROGIN: Let's hope so.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. All right.

Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Josh Rogin.

ROGIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks for getting up early for us.

ROGIN: Anytime.

ROMANS: Have a great day.

ROGIN: You, too.

ROMANS: All right, 43 minutes after the hour.

The mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer talking to CNN. Here's what Susan Bro told our Anderson Cooper what she would say to James Fields who, of course, is accused of plowing his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing her daughter.


SUSAN BRO, MOTHER OF HEATHER HEYER: 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.


ROMANS: It's just heartbreaking.

The mom also telling CNN how she wants Heather to remembered.


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.


ROMANS: "NEW DAY" will have much more on this story coming up. We'll be speaking to several friends of Heather Heyer, including a man who saved his fiance's life by pushing her out of the way of that car. That's coming up.

All right. China threatening to retaliate after the president takes the first steps to punish China over trade. We're live from Hong Kong, next.


[05:48:45] ROMANS: Welcome back.

China is threatening to retaliate now that President Trump's chief trade negotiator has asked to determine whether an investigation of Beijing's trade practices is needed. The move could pave the way for the president to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.

The administration turning the screws on China, maybe in order to get more cooperation on the North Korea crisis.

Let's go live to Hong Kong and bring in CNN's David McKenzie.

You know, China complaining -- officially complaining here, but is this less harsh than people expected from the Trump administration? I mean, he had some very strong words and basically criticized China in the crudest of terms during the campaign.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. He said he would deal with China on the first day, particularly on the issue of currency manipulation.

But what you're seeing here is the first formal moves by the U.S. administration to try and investigate or at least look into whether to investigate Chinese business practices. In particular -- something you'll be very familiar with, Christine -- the accusation that Chinese companies are spying, hacking, and outright stealing intellectual property from their U.S. business partners that are operating in China.

ROMANS: Yes. It's so interesting over the years. Many of these big companies that do business in China, they've had to employ what are known as brand cops. Literally, someone who is snooping around trying to see what has been stolen from their factories or in terms of intellectual property because they say it's so prevalent that they lose billions of dollars a year. [05:50:13] Of course, the Chinese say that does not happen.

So, let me ask you this. Is Trump being strategic here, maybe going a little softer on trade to persuade China on North Korea?

MCKENZIE: I think -- I think he's sort of holding fire to say this will take a year or so to investigate, potentially, then they can pull the trigger. If it is the case that they don't get the Chinese cooperation on North Korea then maybe they'll take these steps.

But all sides officially are saying these two separate issues are separate issues and can be dealt with together only in dire circumstances. But certainly, they'll be pressure from U.S. companies to do something about these accusations, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. David McKenzie in Hong Kong for us. Thank you so much for that.

All right. You know, most people associate tiki torches with fun, backyard barbecues, you know --

BRIGGS: And now they don't.

ROMANS: -- relaxing. Oh, no.

Charlottesville is forcing the maker of those torches to speak out. That is the moment we are in American history, folks, where the maker of a backyard tiki torch has to issue a statement.

We'll tell you what they say on "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:55:40] BRIGGS: Victory in court for Taylor Swift. A jury ruling in favor of the pop superstar in her countersuit against former Denver deejay David Mueller. The singer accused Mueller of groping her four years ago. After he got fired, he sued.

We get more from CNN's Scott McLean in Denver.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, a Denver jury awarded Taylor Swift exactly what she was looking for, one dollar and vindication.

Swift, along with her mother Andrea and her radio liaison Frank Bell, were being sued by former Denver radio deejay David Mueller, who claims he was fired after Swift falsely accused him of groping her at a backstage meet and greet four years ago.

Last week, a judge ruled Taylor Swift was not liable in the case and now a jury of six women and two men has agreed Andrea Swift and Frank Bell are also not to blame for Mueller's termination.

Swift was countersuing Mueller for just one dollar, claiming assault and battery, and she won. Her lawyer spoke to reporters after the verdict was read in court.

DOUGLAS BALDRIDGE, TAYLOR SWIFT'S ATTORNEY: As I said in the closing, that dollar is a single dollar and it is of immeasurable value in this evergoing fight for us to figure out where the lines are, and what's right and what's wrong in tolerance, and whose body is whose.

MCLEAN: Taylor Swift also put out a statement that read in part, "My hope is to help those who voices should also be heard."

She promised to donate to organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.

I also spoke to David Mueller on the phone. He maintains he did nothing wrong and says anyone who knows him knows he would not do this. He told me he will continue to do whatever he can to prove his innocence -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: All right, Scott McLean. Thank you so much for that.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets are higher today. They're following Wall Street's lead. U.S. stocks notched their biggest rally of the summer because fears over North Korea are fading here.

Last week, threats between the president and North Korea drove stocks to their worst performance in five months. But as the tension eases, the S&P is jumping one percent, the Dow climbing 135 points, and there are other signs that fear on Wall Street is fading.

Gold, a typical safe haven, feel after several days of gains. Wall Street's fear gauge, something called the Volatility Index, plunged.

The maker of tiki torches wants you to know it has nothing to do with white nationalism. You may have seen those photos of white nationalists carrying tiki torches in Charlottesville over the weekend.

Tiki brand is reminding customers it doesn't support their message. It says it is deeply saddened that its products are being used in this horrible way, adding that its torches are for positive events like backyard gatherings.

It just shows you kind of the moment we're in, Dave Briggs, when a tiki torch --


ROMANS: -- manufacturer has to issue a statement about --

BRIGGS: Part of their --

ROMANS: -- how their product is being used. BRIGGS: A Twitter campaign seeking to out those young men at that protest -- yes, you are racist at Twitter trying to out them one at a time. Facebook, a campaign as well.

ROMANS: Crowd sourcing the identities of those people --

BRIGGS: Exactly right.

ROMANS: -- who, yes, were carrying those torches.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: All right, I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.


BRIGGS: President Trump retweeting a prominent conspiracy theorist just hours after condemning hate groups.

TRUMP: Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: You don't get a mulligan as President of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what he said today was exactly right.

ROMANS: Three CEOs are leaving Trump's manufacturing council because of the president's lack of response on Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not hard work to use the words white supremacy, white nationalists, and say this has no place in American politics.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, August 15th, 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow joining me this week. Thank you for being here, my friend.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to be here.

CUOMO: Appreciate having you.

Here's our "Starting Line."

Hours after caving to pressure to condemn white supremacists and other hate groups by name, President Trump went right back to the fringe, retweeting a right-wing conspiracy theorist who peddled baseless stories.

Thousands taking to the streets to protest the president's response outside Trump Tower, while others topple the Confederate monument in North Carolina.