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CNN TONIGHT

Trump Without Regret After Off-The-Rails Remarks; Battle Over Confederate Monuments; Remembering Heather Heyer. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired August 16, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


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[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Let's be honest. He started in third base.

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR TRUMP NATION, THE ART OF BEING A DONALD: He was born comfortably wealthy. He did build a family business far beyond where his father taken it, but he also drooled into the ground later on. And the Trump who's emerged from that debacle is really a branding machine but he is not a fortune 500 executive. He is never effectively run a big large organization.

LEMON: There are people who don't actually believe he is a billionaire.

O'BRIEN: Well, I think there are a lot of good reasons for people to believe that he wildly exaggerates as well.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He doesn't know what these businessmen do or businesswoman. When he talks about shutting down these advisory groups, he doesn't understand how manufacturing enterprises work. He doesn't understand how global corporations work. He doesn't understand how jobs are created. This is a guy who is not a great businessman and he doesn't relate to great businessmen and women.

LEMON: Timothy O'Brien, Michael D'Antonio, thank you both. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot. At the top of the hour, President Trump defiant in the face of national outrage. Sources telling CNN that he has no regret for saying that counter protesters share the blame for Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, this is CNN Tonight, I am Don Lemon.

That violence took the life of Heather Heyer. Today, friends and family gather in Charlottesville to celebrate her life. We'll hear from her mother and I'm going to talk to her pastor in just a few moments right here on CNN tonight. It's easy to over look the fact that the Charlottesville violence began after white nationalists began to march the protest the removal of a statue of a confederate general Robert E. Lee. President Trump expressing sympathy with those opposed to its removal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This week it's Robert

E. Lee. I notice Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The debate about what to do with confederate memorials is taking place for at least nine states, City of Baltimore, removing four monuments overnight. Gainesville Florida taking down a statue that stood over for more than 100 years, Birmingham, Alabama officials are covering a monument until they decide what to do with it. And the Hollywood forever cemetery in Los Angeles removing a monument early this morning and in some cases, protesters taking matters in to their own hands, some toppling a confederate statue in North Carolina and monuments vandalized and defaced in Louisville Kentucky and Tennessee and in Wilmington, North Carolina.

If confederate symbols are going to come down or be removed, there is a lot of work to do, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are more than 700 monuments. Over 100 public schools named after prominent members of the confederacy and 10 major U.S. Military bases named in honor of confederate leaders and people are also questioning statues of confederate leaders sitting inside the U.S. Capitol building. There are 12 of them. And only four statues honoring African Americans are there. For more now we turn to CNN's Ryan Nobles with more. Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Don, every state in the union is given the opportunity to honor two of its most famous residents with a statue here at the U.S. Capitol, many of them here at the Statutory Hall. And at least nine of those states have chosen to honor someone with a tie to the confederacy. Among them the former President of the confederate states of America, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi and a statue honoring perhaps the most famous confederate general and the same general at the center of the controversy in Charlottesville, Robert E. Lee of Virginia.

Each state gets to pick which person is represented here at the capitol. It's not without controversy. Like this statue honoring the confederate war general, Kirby Smith. He is from Florida. And Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has called for this statute to be replaced. And there are civil rights leaders honored as well, among them Rosa Parks who is positioned right across from the former vice President of the confederate states of America. Alexander Hamilton Stevens of Georgia, Don, back to you.

(END VIDEO)

LEMON: Ryan Nobles thank you very much, I appreciate it. One note, no full size statues of black Americans were placed inside the Capital until 2013 Fredric Douglas and Rosa Parks were added. The confederate soldiers and politicians have been part of the monument collection for over 100 years. Joining me is Bertram Hayes-Davis. He is a great grandson of Jefferson Davis, who was the President of the confederacy. So good to have you on and I have been wanting to have this conversation with you all day. Thank you very much. What do these confederate statues represent to you as a direct descendant as a President of the confederacy?

[23:05:05] BERTRAM HAYES-DAVIS, JEFFERSON DAVIS GREAT-GREAT GRANDSON: I think the statues absolutely represent history and it's a very interesting position to say when we look at a statue it represents the history of the person from birth to death, not just a portion of their life. As we look at the monuments to the confederate soldier, they probably represent the soldiers that fought in the civil war for the south. So they are representative of history and it's important that we understand that history as we go forward.

LEMON: Do you think that they belong on Capitol Hill?

HAYES-DAVIS: I think they that were place there for a reason, not only honoring the person in Washington D.C. specifically if you look at Jefferson Davis's accomplishments. Secretary of Defense, Senator Representative, West Point graduate, I think you have to look at the entire individual before you making a decision whether they belong at the capitol of the United States or not.

LEMON: Do you think they belong in public buildings paid for by taxpayer money?

HAYES-DAVIS: I will say this if there is a statue that is offensive to a large majority of the public, it should be placed in a museum or it should be appropriately mark would the accomplishments of the individual. Such as the capitol, which is not only a public building but also offers that opportunity to be a museum as we honor these individuals that are in statutory hall?

LEMON: A woman is dead because people felt so strongly about the statue of Robert E. Lee that they rallied a white supremacist rally around that. What do you say about that?

HAYES-DAVIS: I believe exactly as I just said. You have to have the history of the entire individual before you so you understand what that statue means. However, in a public place, it is offensive and people are taking issue with it, let's move it, let's put it somewhere where historically it fits with the area around it so you can have people come to see it who want to understand that history and that individual.

LEMON: I want to know what you think about what the President said about the statues yesterday. I'm going to play a bit of it again and then we'll discuss. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down - excuse me, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Ok, good. Are we going to take down the statue, because he was a major slave owner? Are we going to take down his statue? You know what, so it's fine. You're changing history, you're changing culture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You're changing history, changing culture. What do you think about that argument and how the President has handled this overall?

HAYES-DAVIS: I think again we have to realize the history is the important part of this whole discussion. If we have a complete understanding of the history, then we can have a very good discussion about that and put it in context of what is important in that individual's life and what little bit of it we may not like.

LEMON: Do you think that we have a complete understanding? Enough understanding of history in this country, because you know what happened with the holocaust. In Germany elementary school kids have to go to monuments and places of remembrance for the holocaust. You don't have that here in this country.

HAYES-DAVIS: I believe exactly what you said. I don't think we have a great understanding of American history. I think if you ask the man on the street who Jefferson Davis is, a large percentage won't know and if so, they only know one sentence in a history book. So we eliminate a lot of people's history by teaching that one line.

LEMON: As a President was saying that and as I thought about it and what you're saying here. Are you going to take down this and take down this? Maybe it's not a matter of taking down the statue maybe it is matter of moving the statue to a more appropriate place.

HAYES-DAVIS: I agree with that fully and to include the entire history of whatever individual you're talking about. So you have a clear place to understand not only that person in that context but also the rest of his life.

LEMON: I want to play -- I want to read to you what the great grandchildren of Robert E. Lee said. This is a statement, a response to Saturday violence. General Lee's life was about duty, honor and country. At the end of the civil war, he implored the nation to come together and heal our wounds and move forward to become a more unified nation. He never would have tolerated the hateful words and violent actions of White Supremacist, the KKK or neo-Nazis. I mean a lot of people take issue with that characterization given that he fought to preserve a way of life that depended on slavery. Do you agree with that comment? Do you see it that way?

[23:10:05] HAYES-DAVIS: Absolutely. Matter of fact, Davis made the same remarks over and over again in the 1880s as he travelled through the country. Reunite, be part of this country and move forward. Forget about the past. It is done. And I think we have to look at that and say we need also do the same thing. Understand our history, have a conversation about it, find out how to reconcile our issues and move forward as Americans.

LEMON: You understand why some people are so upset by that by the confederate flag and by neo-Nazis and by some of these statues that there?

HAYES-DAVIS: I absolutely do. Matter of fact the confederate battle flag in my estimation has been hijacked by that group of racist individuals and should be in a museum which indicates it's a military flag and not the flag of the confederate states of America and I can understand that feeling as it's always been approached by that group.

LEMON: One flag, the American flag, one torch and that is the torch on the statue of liberty. Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate it.

HAYES-DAVIS: Thank you very much.

LEMON: When we come back the President has one account of how the Charlottesville protest happened and an incredible footage from vice news shows a completely different account. We are going to speak to one of their producers who helped interview a White Nationalist leader about the protest that is next. But here's some of what he told her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think this means for the next alt- right protest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say it's going to be really tough to top but we're up to the challenge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? I mean, someone died?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot more people are going to die before we're done here, frankly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:22] LEMON: Sources telling CNN President Trump has no regrets for saying that counter protesters share the blame with neo-Nazis and white supremacist for the deadly violence in Charlottesville. White supremacist Chris Cantwell was a participant in the Unite the white rally. Take a look at this interview it is from Vice Media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CANTWELL, WHITE SUPREMACIST: I came pretty well prepared to this thing today. Cal tech p318, 38cp, Glock 19, 9 millimeter, Rebel LC9 also 9 millimeters and there's a knife. I ain't saying it was worth it. We knew we were going to meet a lot of resistance. The fact nobody on our side died, I'd call that points for us. The fact that none of our people killed anybody unjustly I think is a plus for us. And I think that we showed our rivals that we won't be cowed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think it was justify and.

CANTWELL: I think it was more than justified. The amount of restraint that our people showed out there I think was astounding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think this means for the next alt- right protest?

CANTWELL: I say it's going to be really tough to top but we're up to the challenge?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? Tough to top, I mean someone died.

CANTWELL: I think a lot more people are going to die before we're done here frankly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What a coward. Joining me now Tracy Jarrett the producer at vice media who worked on that piece we just saw. Tracy, so good to have you on, you were sitting in the room for the interview with this white supremacist. Walk us through what was going through your mind.

TRACY JARRETT, PRODUCER VICE MEDIA: I was in there. I mean we wanted to do a follow-up interview with him to round out our piece and it's a story we were telling through him and when we got there, we weren't really sure what to expect and so we sat down to do an interview with this guy. He was highly emotional during the interview. Afterwards is when he started taking out guns from different parts of his body. It was scary and telling, I think.

LEMON: These were the very nice people. Very fine people the President described who were marching peacefully through the streets of Charlottesville. I have to say you were the only person of color in that room. Did you feel any sort of fear because you were African American?

JARRETT: I think that we all felt fear. It wasn't lost on me that I was the only person of color in the room but anytime you are locked in a room with a person with a lot of guns, it's going to be scary. So the racist part of it, but that is a scary experience for anyone.

LEMON: Part of why this President is facing such back lash is because of the massive gap between what he sees in Charlottesville and how things really played out. What has it been like being there? Explain to us what you have been seeing out there.

JARRETT: Well, I think it's very clear that Chris Cantwell and the other people that he is involved with have a clear agenda. They told us in the interview that they want a space that is just for them. They think other people are subhuman, not as good as them. And that is a real thought, a real agenda they have. And I think there's no hiding his intentions here.

LEMON: There wasn't much talk in what we saw about coming there to stand up for the statue to protest the taking down of the statue. What we heard was that they came there because basically saying they wanted to take their country back. They wanted to have a white country.

JARRETT: Yes. And I think that to Chris Cantwell that is very important. When we were talking to him at one point he started to tear up and tell us that he didn't want to be viewed as a racist. He didn't want to have this life but that he is fighting for his people and what they deserve and it's a responsibility he takes very seriously. He is very emotional about that and clear about the fact that is important to him and what he wants to do. .

LEMON: He was emotional today. Watch this video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANTWELL: I want to be peaceful, law abiding. That was the whole entire point of this. And I'm watching CNN talk about this as violent white nationalist protests. We have done everything in our power to keep this peaceful and they won't stop. We have done everything in our power. We have used every peaceful and lawful means by which to redress our grievances. And our enemies just will not stop. We've been (BEEP) they're threatening us all over the place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:20:27] LEMON: What's your reaction to that, Tracy?

JARRETT: I think that Chris is obviously a very emotional person. He gets very worked up. I also think a lot of white nationalists and the alt-right enjoy being able to have people scared of them so they can paint themselves as victims and that reinforces their message that people are scared to let us spread our ideas because they're true and they'll spread like wild fire if we're able to have what they consider freedom of speech and spread what they believe.

LEMON: There's something else I want to play with you. Because vice also spoke to a white nationalist about the death of Heather Heyer who was killed when a car was rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANTWELL: He saw no way to get away from them except to hit the gas and sadly because our rivals are a bunch of stupid animals who don't pay attention, they couldn't just get out of the way of his car and some people got hurt and that is unfortunate.

JARRETT: So you think it was justified?

CANTWELL: I think it was more than justified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was actually Chris Cantwell as well. The President has said this is murder. Do you think that is a message these white supremacists will hear? Or he had had no other choice but to hit the gas and go?

JARRETT: We were all really shocked to hear Chris say that. I think we thought they would say there are extremists in every crowd, every situation. I think we were taken back to hear him the say this was justified in an act of retaliation, rather than murder or anything else. LEMON: Great work. Thank you Tracy Jarrett, we appreciate it.

When we come back, crowds - remember Heather Heyer tonight and remembering the other people who are injured and also the officers as well who were killed when they were monitoring the situation. We're going to bring you the touching moments from her funeral and the pastor who spoke at the service.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:26:42] LEMON: Family and friends gathering today at a memorial service for Heather Heyer, a young woman killed in the Charlottesville violence. Her mother spoke movingly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the reason that what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did is achievable. We don't all have to die. We don't all have to sacrifice our lives. They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to bring in Pastor Harold Bare, the pastor of covenant church who spoke at the services. Sad moment but it was good to see her smile today and good to see you smile as well. Speaker after speaker described her as a bold soul, known to stand up for what she thought was right. You say she had had a true passion for diversity. Tell me about that.

HAROLD BARE, PASTOR OF COVENANT CHURCH: Her mother shared that she had attended several times. Our church is very blended, more than 20 nations on a Sunday. In fact I was reading about you, Don and I see you have a Nigerian background.

LEMON: You've been doing your research and I like that you said you have a blended background. It's just sort of the opposite of what's been portrayed, how Charlottesville has been portrayed when you look at these awful, awful white supremacists and the clashes that happened in your town. What do you say to the folks who are watching?

BARE: I say to them they don't know the real Charlottesville. This is a terrific place to live. I had in my heart as a young man to be a missionary and the lord set me here and I feel I'm a very fortunate pastor, Don.

LEMON: I don't think we can talk about Heather enough and the Chicago tribune wrote a powerful piece on Heather and they say she joins a long list of other martyrs on all races and ethnic groups who over the course of time have forfeited their lives while standing up to hatred. Is Heather a civil rights martyr, do you think? BARE: I think 100 years from now this will be a red letter kind of

event in Charlottesville and for the nation. There are things that have happened in Paris and London but this has happened here in America and I think there's something remarkable to be said. As you know I'm a sociologist. And there's something remarkable about people in America expecting to be safe and this has rattled us. I think Heather calls attention to the issue of just common safety in our streets and in our malls and our cities, very significant event.

LEMON: Her mother encouraged everyone, everyone watching her and sounds of her voice at the funeral today to channel anger into righteous action. What really I think was important to me, what struck me was that Heather wasn't a hard core activist according to one of her friends. She saw video of the protest and decided at the last minute to rally for what she believed in. So how do you think she is going to be remembered?

BARE: I think she is going to be remembered as a very bright young lady. I leaned over to my wife in the course of the event today and I said, she was remarkably bright young woman. And I spoke with her employer later and he said, oh, yes, yes, yes, she had a very bright mind, very big heart and compassion.

So I can see her totally saying, hey, what's going on? Let's go down and register our feelings. Never expecting what happened to happen at the end of the day.

LEMON: Pastor, I was discussing --

BARE: But I do think --

LEMON: Go on. Go on. Finish it on.

BARE: I do think that this will be something that will mark an event for decades to come. I do think it will be remembered and not forgotten. And as you're aware the fund has grown to 220,000 which will be a foundation fund now.

LEMON: Oh, that's great.

BARE: After the funeral expense.

LEMON: I want to talk about that you saw Chris Cantwell who was one of the organizers of that event basically and as I said discussing as it is, saying that someone had to die. He was glad it wasn't someone with his group and saying that the driver had no alternative. What do you think when you hear that as a pastor?

BARE: I think it's distressing. Anyone who would impugn death to anyone else, I just think that's unfortunate and misappropriated. It's certainly not the way that I think and it's not the way I've represented leadership in this community for 36 years as a pastor in this community.

LEMON: Yes. BARE: We're big hearted here and covenant church is big hearted. We're one of the first to represent the community to be there for people of whatever religious backgrounds when they come to get them food, clothes.

I know what it's like to have a Muslim man be outside my office with tears in his eyes and say, can you get us coats, my family don't have coats.

And the next day, we're taking them coats and groceries. This is a community with big hearts and we're part of that community and that's what we are. We care about people in this community.

LEMON: I've got to ask you since I have you here and time is very limited. I hate to cut you off. But, you know, some of the biggest allies of the president we have in office now, the business community are backing away from him saying there's no place for the words that he spoke yesterday.

I am surprised that I have not heard more from the evangelical community. Why aren't we hearing from people in the evangelical or Christian communities about this? What's going on?

BARE: I do not know and cannot answer for others, but as for me and my house, I pastor a very diverse congregation as I've shared with you, people from many nations, and there are people who vote however they vote. But what I say to them is our mission is clear. We are Christians. We love everybody and we pray for everyone and we help anyone we can help.

I leave the politics to the politicians until maybe one day when I'm no longer a pastor and then I will perhaps speak more about politics. But for now, I would only take away my ability to help people by involving myself in political division, and I'm not willing to do that, Don.

LEMON: Pastor --

BARE: My mission is clear, and I've stood strong for 36 years as a pastor. We are one of the larger churches in the community. I want to continue to help people. That's my passion.

BARE: Pastor Bare, we thank you for joining us here on CNN. We're sorry that this happened to your community and give our regards to the family. Thank you so much.

BARE: Thank you, Don, for letting me speak. Thanks.

LEMON: When we come back, I'm going to talk to a retired navy veteran who stood watch over a synagogue in Charlottesville as protesters shouted anti-semitic slogans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE/UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll sing it over and over. It cheers our hearts and warms our blood to hear them shout and roar. We come from old Virginia, where all is bright and gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in the streets of Charlottesville, many of them heavily-armed, one man took it upon himself to stand guard in front of congregation, Beth Israel synagogue, just one block from the protest.

And joining me now is that brave man. He is retired Captain John Aguilar of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. John, thank you so much for joining us. You stood watch over the synagogue through services from Friday evening until Saturday just because you felt you should. Walk us through what you saw. Why did you do it?

JOHN AGUILAR, CAPTAIN, U.S. NAVY MEDICAL CORPS: Well, I felt that the Jewish community here in Charlottesville needed to know that there were people here who were concerned for them and basically I wanted to show my support for them. But also, I am a physician, retired, and I do have medical skills and I was thinking that if anyone was injured, then I could perhaps be of immediate assistance to them.

LEMON: What did you see as you were keeping watch over the synagogue?

AGUILAR: What I saw were large numbers of fairly organized groups marching in front -- on their way to the park and they had to pass beside the synagogue and they had streamers, flags of all sorts. Swastikas, confederate flags, American flags. I suppose there were unit identification flags along with them. So I saw them streaming by and on their way to the activities at the park.

LEMON: One of the main criticisms, John, is -- that's been leveled at law enforcement is that protesters on opposing sides were not kept separately and that it didn't get involved quickly enough when things got violent. What did you see? What were police doing while this was all happening?

AGUILAR: Well, I honestly can't comment on the activities of the police because as I was standing in front of the synagogue, I primarily saw the groups marching or moving towards the park, and what actually happened at the park I was not there.

[23:40:00] I felt I wanted to be with the people of the congregation and so that was where I remained.

LEMON: Yes. The president of the congregation, Beth Israel, Allen Zimmerman wrote a very powerful blog post about his terrifying experience this weekend. He writes, several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, there's a synagogue, followed by chants of Seig Heil and other anti-Semitic language. Some carry flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.

So talk to us about the fear that you felt in the presence in teh presence of these white supremacists? Did you fear them? AGUILAR: Well, of course anyone would fear this type of activity. However, I was very appreciative or thankful that they didn't really direct attention to the synagogue in any major form. They were primarily marching past.

LEMON: You heard the president yesterday in a speech that has been roundly criticized. It's been in the news a lot. He believes that this is a fight about confederate statues. A lot of protesters were fine people who just wanted to take a stand against removal and then equated removing confederate statues with taking down monuments to America's founding fathers. You were there, you saw the protesters firsthand. What do you say to the president?

AGUILAR: Well, like I said, I was there primarily to assist and help people in any way I could. I honestly did not participate in the activity around the statue. So I really can't comment on what the police did, Don.

LEMON: As you probably heard the chairman of the joint chiefs from each military branch have spoken out after the president's comments yesterday. They believe that the military stands for equality and they're saying it publicly. Do you agree with that in terms of your military experience?

AGUILAR: Oh, absolutely. I joined the military to protect all of our citizens. And we did not discriminate in any way. They're all Americans as far as I'm concerned. That's why I joined to protect our country, constitution, and all our citizens regardless of race, creed or national origin.

LEMON: John Aguilar, we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.

AGUILAR: You're very welcome. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Now, I want to bring in Gianno Caldwell, a Republican strategist, and senior economic analyst Stephen Moore, a former senior economic advisor for the Trump campaign. Gentlemen, thank you for coming on this evening. So good to see you. It's pretty remarkable that ordinary citizens are now having to guard places of worship from neo-Nazis in America. And, Gianno, I know that you have been -- this has struck you really tough. What do you think of that?

GIANNO CALDWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, it's troubling what I've seen over the last few days, actually longer than that, but especially from this last week and hearing some of the things President Trump has said, especially with this press conference yesterday, which when I saw it, I only saw the tail end of it initially and then I watched it again.

I was saddened. I was distraught. I felt hurt. I felt this president didn't understand race relations in a real way. And I think that has been proven out by some of the comments that we heard earlier today where he said that he was very comfortable with the press conference and he didn't have any regrets. My grandfather who lived in Helena, Arkansas back in the south, who lived through true racism and radical clansman, who escaped to go to Chicago is who I thought about earlier today when I went on the air to talk about President Trump. It was a very emotional time for me.

The president has a lot of work to do and the unfortunate part about the work that he has to do is it appears he does not want to listen, take advice or really understand the true issues, especially around races that are impacting our country and that was really demonstrated yesterday.

LEMON: And you say this, you're a conservative. And you have --

CALDWELLL: I am.

LEMON: -- you have defended this president on occasion.

CALDWELL: I have defended him where I believe appropriate absolutely.

LEMON: And this time you just cannot.

CALDWELL: I absolutely cannot. And I don't think anyone should come on this air or any other network and defend what the president said. I think it was a betrayal of the national conscience. And if someone wants to do that and I understand folks are saying, oh, they were counter-protesters, they were violent.

Certainly that's true, but no this isn't about necessarily just the Nazis or the clansman. It's not about that. It's about what does this president think about these issues? Because he once put out a good statement, a statement I should say, and I called the White House on Monday and I said, you know, he has to do better than that. He has to go before the cameras.

[23:45:00] He needs to talk about this in a real way similar to President Obama did as Senator Obama in 2008 after the goddamn America tape came out. I believe that's the way that he needs speak in those very real terms that people can feel and know that he understands that because I think we need a national dialogue on race now more than any other time in our country's history.

LEMON: Stephen, you wrote an opinion piece in the Hill called "Why Trump is Better for Black America than Obama Ever Was." And then you talk about how various economic factors that have improved under Trump, but when white supremacists and KKK are openly marching in the streets, how much does any of that matters, especially if someone takes your life, does it matter how much, how well the economy is doing?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, that's a fair point. Let me make a couple points, Don. I've been watching CNN all day and I appeared a couple times on CNN. You know, one of the impressions I think that has been left by the whole discussion all day long and yesterday is that Trump is a racist but not only Trump, people who are associated with Trump are somehow racist. I've been part of the conservative movement for about 35 years and front and center in many of the debates and in a lot of meetings over those years and I have never once, not once, been in a meeting with conservatives where people said things that were racist or bigoted.

And the reason I mention that, Don, is these people who were protesting and marching in Charlottesville, they do not represent the right. They don't represent. You can call them far right. These are wacko people, maybe .1 percent of conservatives. And I just have to get that off my chest.

LEMON: But they said, Stephen, that they --

MOORE: Just one last point.

LEMON: OK.

MOORE: What we believe in as conservatives is equal opportunity, equal justice under the law, and what Martin Luther King said which is a man should be judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. I don't personally believe having been around Donald Trump that he's a racist. I don't justify what he said yesterday.

The only point I was making in that piece, Don, is when you look at his record in terms of what's happening with black America, there's pretty good progress being made.

LEMON: I'm going to let you, Gianno, talk about how conservatives and race because it's not just that you don't say things publicly or in a meeting that makes one racist or not. It's the policies you espouse. it's what you believe in. It's the legislation that you sponsor. It's the people you come in contact every day. It's who your friends are. It's what you believe.

It's more than just someone not saying something in a meeting and conservatives have not been on the right side, at least in recent history, of rights for all people. These people feel a kinship to this president. They said it as much, and they are also affiliate would the Republican Party. That's what they say.

MOORE: Don, hold on, let me just say one quick thing about this, because I think you're misunderstanding what I'm saying. I'm saying that I believe that conservatives actually espouse policies over the years that have benefited black Americans.

A very good example of this is that Donald Trump has proposed about $10 billion out of the Department of Education budget that would go directly to low income families. Ninety percent of that money would go to black American parents and their kids so they can choose better schools.

That's something so directly tied to the economic advancement of black Americans. And liberals by the way are opposed to that policy of giving money to black Americans. So I will say that is an example of a policy conservatives espouse, liberals oppose, we're on the side of black families, and they're opposed to it. LEMON: Go, Gianno.

CALDWELL: One, I think that the folks that were at this protest are not a representation of true conservatism in America, that I can say.

MOORE: That's for sure.

CALDWELL: I can say that I've been in meetings with both Democrats and Republicans and have heard racist things. I can say that. Absolutely without question. I can also say --

LEMON: Racism knows no party, but go on.

CALDWELL: No party, absolutely no party. I can also say that President Trump had a very unique opportunity and one of the reasons why I at one point really like what he had to say about black America is because he was the only Republican that I had really seen that talk about issues that impacted the black community.

For example, I'm from Chicago, I'm from the south side of Chicago. Don, I know you lived there at one time as well. You could literally walk out your house and get shot. That's a very real thing. And I know this from personal experience with my own family being in those scenarios.

I also know that if you're an African-American male between ages 18 and 24 in Chicago, 47 percent of you are unemployed or out of school. I also know that in Illinois, 15 percent of black folks are unemployed. President Trump has talked about he wanted to provide jobs for African-American community. I believed in that.

[23:50:00] But this is the problem, Don. He can say these great things. Perhaps, he will bring some training program, that's good. But then he steps on the message. He goes on Twitter and says something ridiculous beyond belief and no one is talking about that.

So right now what we're talking about is white supremacy, which has folks feel a whole lot more comfortable due to what President Trump has recently said and we know this because they are disseminating their message on social media and saying thank you, Mr. President, for what you had to say, versus some of these positive things that he could be doing for the country and for black America if we want to take it in that direction. So, me --

MOORE: I think that's exactly right, by the way.

CALDWELL: -- being part of the Republican Party although I know things aren't exactly perfect --

LEMON: OK.

CALDWELL: I am change agent and I am the representation of things changing in the party and that's why I'm here.

LEMON: Stephen, I want to get you response. We will do it on the other side of the break. We'll be right back. MOORE: OK, sure.

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LEMON: Back in my panel. Stephen, Gianno was saying he steps on his message. He hasn't so far come through with his promises.

MOORE: Yes, I agree with that, Don. You know, Jack Kemp, one of the great Republicans of the last 50 years used to say that people don't care what you know until they know that you care. And I think that's a challenge for Donald Trump in terms of reaching out to black Americans.

The only point I was making in my article, Don, is when you look at some of the black progress made just in the last eight months, a decline in the black unemployment rate and increase in jobs for blacks and so on. Blacks are not different from whites in the sense that they want better jobs and a better economy, and I'm hoping and I think so far Trump is delivering that.

LEMON: And he is listening because blacks are saying that they are offended by his words yesterday. Gianno, you've been a supporter of President Trump. Do you consider yourself one still?

CALDWELL: Well, I am a supporter of whomever our president is. I may disagree with their policy or their rhetoric but definitely, whomever the president is, even if it's Barack Obama or whomever else, I'm definitely going to support the office of the president.

At this point, President Trump, I think, needs to have a real conversation. The fact that he says, oh, you know, I'm satisfied with that press conference. No, sir. I cannot support that. I cannot defend that either. And I think no one should be defending that.

[23:55:00] Republicans as a whole have to come together and shame the president at this point because he shamed us, truly.

LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you. I appreciate both of your perspectives this evening here on CNN. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

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