Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Report: Trump Viewed John Lewis Exhibit; Controversial Speaker Resigns from Breitbart; Anne Frank Center Says Trump's Statement Is Pathetic. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Paris, does he need to apologize? Forgive me, Keith, does he need to apologize?

PARIS DENNARD, DIRECTOR OF BLACK OUTREACH FOR PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: I think the President's visit today on Congressman's John Lewis' birthday speaks volumes and I think his actions are going to speak volumes. And so, you may have words so words might mean something to some people but I want to hear and see his actions and I think the actions for my community, the black community is going to be so significant especially as it relates to HBCU's education and Dr. Carson who was featured at the museum, housing and urban development, he is going to do good things so his actions are going to mean more than any words in my opinion.

KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think his actions have already illustrated he has a disrespect for African American communities. Not only did he fail to participate in any sort of effort to reach out to us during the campaign, but since he's been President his actions have been indicative of someone who doesn't understand African American people. Even during Black History Month. he didn't even know who Frederick Douglas was.

DENNARD: Not true.

BOYKIN: He was part of a party that engaged in an effort to shut down Coretta Scott King to have her words spoken and his nomination of Jeff Sessions to be our attorney general, a guy deemed too racist to be a federal judge that's an action itself that indicates this guy is not taking the African American community seriously.

BALDWIN: OK, we've got to go, I know you do not see eye to eye on this, but I appreciate you both. Thanks for coming on.

Breitbart editor well known for racist, sexist views hateful views resigned moments ago. We'll tell you why next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: I want to flash some pictures up on the screen so you can see what's happening at this Houston area hospital. This is from moments ago, patients being wheeled outside, reports of an active shooter according to Houston PD, we don't know a whole lot. Let me be totally up front with you, the hospital is on lock down. We'll get more to you as soon as we get it. Described as anti-Semitic, hater of Islam, and now comments made by

Milo Yiannopoulos seeming to endorse sex between quote "younger boys and older men" has cost him a book deal and a platform speaking at CPAC the highly-anticipated convention among conservatives where President Trump is said to take the stage this weekend. We just learned moments ago, Yiannopoulos announced his resignation from the hard-right news outlet where he works. But who is he?

National Review writer, David French, explains it this way. "Milo for those who don't know is a flamboyantly gay senior editor at Breitbart News, a provocateur who relishes leftist outrage and deliberately courts as much fury as he can." Some of that fury was seen earlier this week in protest at Cal Berkeley where he was supposed to be making a speech. Administrators decided to cancel his appearance, David French is with me now, his latest article is entitled "Free Speech Has a Milo Problem." And also with us CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter host of "Reliable Sources". Gentlemen, welcome. And I should also point out Milo has since apologized on Facebook saying essentially, he does not support pedophilia period. Had to say that on Facebook. But this guy has disparaged feminism calling it a bowel cancer, he has labelled a reporter as quote "thick as pig [bleep] media Jew."

Brian Stelter why was he invited to CPAC in the first place?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Because he has this audience, following online, alt-right message boards, places like that. He's been banned from twitter for some of his exploits. Brooke, he sometimes is called a conservative journalist, but that's unfair to conservatives, unfair to journalists, he's a professional provocateur, a bomb thrower, and that's worked for him, gaining his following, getting his invitation to CPAC. But almost as soon as he was invited it was rescinded because these tapes came out, him talking about pedophilia, in ways he has said was taken out of context and he said he didn't mean it. He says at a press conference happening right now, people are just trying to take him down. It was all part of trying to take him down, he says his book which was cancelled will be published by somebody else, he's leaving Breitbart and he'll start his own media company, but for now it's an important moment, a sort of reality check for this person's one-man brand.

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: David French, on the same notion of why would someone like this be invited to this highly vaunted conservative conference in Washington. This is a response from Matt Schlapp, he is the chairman of the American Conservative Union, a group organizing CPAC, here is what he said on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: I eventually decided to extend an invitation to him to talk about free speech on campus, after we announced these other videos came to my attention that did exactly as you described in the beginning of this piece. And we thought the CPAC stage is no longer the appropriate place for Milo to try to explain what he meant, he assured us he does not support the alt-right. We don't support the alt-right. We are going to talk about the alt-right, you're right to bring it up because it is a menace in something that has no role in conservative movement, but conservatives can have an open conversation about controversial topics even things that conservatives disagree on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, that is Schlapp's explanation. David, why do you think the Republican party opened the doors to the tent?

DAVID FRENCH, NATIONAL REVIEW WRITER: I think it was a misapplication of the old saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They saw what happened at Berkeley when threats of violence and then actual violence erupted. They hated that riot at Berkeley and I think they began to maybe believe some of Milo's own rhetoric about himself, that he is this heroic defender of free speech. When the fact of the matter is if CPAC wants to emphasize the battle for free speech on campus, you can suggest any number of principled conservatives who face their own challenges and handled it differently than the person who is a deliberate provocateur. A guy who as you said is probably the leading champion of the alt-right on the internet. A guy that's offered extended defenses on Breitbart of this vicious alt-right movement, so CPAC's problem was the invitation itself which was a terrible mistake.

BALDWIN: David, let me ask, when you think of Breitbart what else do you think of? Steve Bannon the former editor now a chief strategist over at the White House, and what role did Bannon play in Milo's rise?

FRENCH: He gave him a platform. Milo was a disruptive force for Donald Trump, Milo calls him famously, daddy, and used his influence in the alt-right to really unleash and was instrumental in a lot of what you saw happen online during the Trump campaign where people who criticized Donald Trump. Even conservatives who raised objections from the right to Donald Trump were subjected to torrents of online abuse. Myself, O was subjected to an enormous amount of abuse from the alt-right including seeing images of my own eight-year-old daughter being Photo-shopped into pictures of gas chambers, and this is the kind of stuff that Milo defended and still received an invitation to CPAC.

STELTER: It's one thing to believe that political correctness has gone too far and I feel a lot of Americans feel that way and essentially Breitbart taps into that, Milo goes so many steps beyond that and it might an important moment for Breitbart today, the website did not defend him. He was there technology editor which really meant he was sort of a social media guy, promoting the Breitbart brand in public, Breitbart did not stand by him, did not defend him, involve in these comments. Now today he says he resigned on his own accord, but it might be an important moment for Breitbart to try to break from someone like this. He is sort of like Ann Coulter but even further, going several steps further even beyond that.

BALDWIN: Every group you can ever think of he has insulted.

STELTER: He says it's a comedy, a joke, but maybe there's limits to his bomb-throwing. BALDWIN: That is great point about what Breitbart does now. David

and Brian, thank you so much. I've got to get back to the breaking news out of Houston. Thank you so much, these are pictures from outside the Ben Taub Hospital the Houston Texas area, we don't know a lot but what we do know is that there have been reports of shots fired at this hospital. SWAT is on the scene, you can see patients being rolled out of the hospital lined up outside the hospital. This hospital is on lockdown. We'll get you information on the other side of the break.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Back to breaking news pictures from Houston, Texas that is The Ben Taub Hospital under a lockdown after according to police shots fired. SWAT is on the scene. Patients have been rolled up and pulled out of the hospital. Nick Valencia is getting information from us.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police in Houston responded to reports of a shooting within the last hour. This is Ben Taub Medical Center the hospital in Houston, a level one trauma center. We understand SWAT team has been called in, you can see patients on the hospital beds. I'm being told by our producers there are no reports of injuries, but police are still investigating what appears to be a very active scene at Ben Taub Hospital.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much, I appreciate it what's happening in Houston, meantime, let's talk about the President. President Trump has spoken out now against anti-Semitism and bigotry after a wave of threats and attacks on Jewish centers across the country, these attacks started back in January. Critics say it is too little, too late. Here is one quote from the Anne Frank Center, "The President's sudden acknowledgment is a band-aid on the caner anti-Semitism that's infected his own administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake, the anti-Semitism coming out of this administration is the worst we have ever seen from any administration." That coming again from the Anne Frank Center, about to talk to the director here in a second. But first White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reacting to that statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But after that statement was made by the president, the Anne Frank Center released a pretty strongly worded one saying that these remarks while received are a band aid on the cancer within the Trump administration saying that there is whether less or otherwise a sense of xenophobia within this administration.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has made clear since the day he was elected and frankly going back through the campaign, that he is someone who seeks to unite this country. He has brought a diverse group of folks into his administration both in terms of actual positions and people he has sought the advice of. [15:50:00] It's ironic no matter how many times he talks about this it's never good enough, today was a forcible comment by the president as far as his denunciation of the actions targeted toward Jewish community centers, but I think that he's been very clear previous to this that he wants to bring this country together and not divide people especially in those areas. I saw that statement, I wish they had praised the president and hopefully as time continues to go by they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Joining me now the executive director of the Anne Frank Museum For Mutual Respect and the man behind that statement. Steven Goldstein. Pleasure to meet and have you on. You're furious, I can feel it from here.

STEVEN GOLDSTEIN, DIRECTOR, ANNE FRANK MUSEUM FOR MUTUAL RESPECT: Brooke, I'm furious. I look at Sean Spicer and what he said, it's preposterous. Sean said, no matter how many times President Trump condemns anti-Semitism, he's never condemned it before today. Look at what happened this weekend. We had 170 attacks on Jewish graveyards in St. Louis, 10 attacks on Jewish centers, where was the President?

His silence was deafening, his silence is why there is a cancer of anti-Semitism in the White House. And its purveyor is President Trump, nothing he said today makes that different. It was just a pathetic band aid on cancer and the president and his henchman Steve Bannon, a notorious anti-Semite have done nothing to change the circumstances. Nothing.

BALDWIN: Let me pause and just quickly talk to the control room. Guys do we have the President Trump sound bite from this morning from the Smithsonian African-American Museum? They are going to get it. I just want make sure we hear the president himself, Because I hear you and I talked to the reporter from Omni Magazine who pressed the president before he was told to sit down and be quiet last week asking about it, he didn't condemn the attacks, he was asked during the Netanyahu joint new-ser, but he did today.

GOLDSTEIN: But here is the thing, Brooke. I love you, Brooke, there has to be a fire storm for this president to respond, Brooke, he doesn't respond unless groups like mine just go crazy pleading, begging Mr. President condemn anti-Semitism. He doesn't do it.

BALDWIN: He did this morning. Just this morning. Here is the sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GOLDSTEIN: Is he going to fire Steve Bannon who is a notorious anti- Semite?

BALDWIN: What do you want him to do?

GOLDSTEIN: I want him to fire Steve Bannon. I want the President to give a major address to anti-Semitism to the far right that is responsible for anti-Semitism in his administration. And I want him to appoint an independent commission with members appointed by Congress that will look at anti-Semitism apart from the President's influence.

BALDWIN: What did you make of him shutting down Jake last week at the news conference he had here in New York telling him to sit down that moment?

GOLDSTEIN: You know, the President has such a tin ear for symbolism of love and hatred in our country. He couldn't even accept that there was a reporter who is Jewish, who is not controversial, who is not looking to be confrontational. Yet the President saw somebody dressed in a Kippah in Jewish garb and thought that person was going to be hostile. That says it all, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Why do you think these attacks, it is shy of 60 since January in this country, why is this happening?

GOLDSTEIN: Because our president is creating an incubator of hatred. When you don't respond to anti-Semitism as well as islamophobia and racism in a real time, when you wait days and sometimes week to respond to attacks, you are sending a signal to the haters that hate is OK.

BALDWIN: But you're putting this squarely on the president's shoulders, all of this.

GOLDSTEIN: Isn't that why we elect a President? Don't we elect a President to be the moral authority of leadership in this country?

[15:55:00] Brooke, these incidents didn't occur to the same extent before President Trump took office. So, of course, we see a night and day difference. The night and day difference began with his election -- accelerated with his inauguration.

BALDWIN: Steven Goldstein, I appreciate you hustling over here to come talk to me.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: Thank you for your response from the Anne Frank Center.

Coming up, shots fired at a hospital in Houston. More details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: With our breaking news, just quickly if you're just joining us, this is Ben Taub Hospital. What we know from Houston PD is shots have been fired. The hospital is on lockdown. SWAT is on the scene trying to of course, patients' safety their number one priority. We've seen patients rolled outside the hospital. As soon as we get more details we'll pass them along to you. Again, pictures from Ben Taub Medical Center in Houston. Now to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROTESTERS: She was warned, but she persisted. She was warned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Quite the town hall welcome today for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Hundreds of protesters lined up outside as the Senate majority leader kicked off his Congressional recess tour. That was Lawrenceburg, Kentucky this morning, but in a short time ago in Iowa senator Chuck Grassley met with a standing room only crowd and ran smack into this exchange with an Afghan man who says his life is at risk if he's sent back because he worked as a translator with the U.S. military. He told the senator he's having trouble getting paperwork to file for asylum and asked Senator Grassley, point blank, who is going to save me? Here is that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZALMAY NIAZY, FORMER AFGHAN U.S. ARMY TRANSLATOR: To get the American people saved, but I am a person from a Muslim country and I am a Muslim. Who is going to save me here? Who is going to stand behind me and save me?

I've been shot two times. I've been roadside bomb once, but nobody care about me. But I was with United States armed forces back in Afghanistan, I get shot. I didn't get shot because of my mom and dad.

CROWD: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Answer his question.

CHUCK GRASSLEY, SENATOR, IOWA: I'm going down the list and when we're done with that list --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, answer the question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, Senator Grassley did answer that man's question and said, he would see what he could do about the paperwork. Kyung Lah is with me, CNN's national correspondent. Members are Congress are in recess. They are hearing about it from their constituents. What was that like?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That one was very similar to what we just saw in that video. And this is something that we've been seeing ramping up over the last month or so and this week actually has a hashtag on social media #resistance recess. It is part of the indivisible movement. And I spoke to the people who wrote this guide. It's almost like a manual of how to go to town halls and try to keep your Congress people accountable. And what they're doing is they're asking those tough questions. They want answers. They are organizing locally to go and try to resist the Trump agenda. It is a very simple idea, trying to say no to these Congress people and let them know that they're not happy.

BALDWIN: We showed the pictures from the town in Kentucky and we know Senate majority leader is from Kentucky and apparently, he said the protests are because people are just mad they lost the election, and that's it.

LAH: I could say that, yes, people are angry about the election. But they also feel that the representatives and the direction of the country doesn't represent the majority. We keep hearing that. The popular majority, the popular vote. This is not the way that we want the country to run so we want to effect change even though we don't have the white house or either house of Congress.

BALDWIN: 40 seconds, you were at the town hall in Utah that was ruckus. What are the themes, what are the issues that keep popping up?

LAH: It's everything. ACA, immigration, gay rights, women's rights. It's across the board. But it's all being channeled to simply saying no to the Trump White House.

BALDWIN: OK. We'll watch for more of these town halls I know through the week and hearing Americans speaking up, speaking out. Hopefully they're getting their questions answered. Thank you very much. And just a quick reminder tomorrow night we have the big conversation with Dana Bash and Chris Cuomo about who will lead the Democratic national committee. So, make sure you tune in for that, 10:00 Wednesday night. In the meantime, I'm Brooke Baldwin. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.