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Car Drives Into Crowd of Protesters in Virginia; Trump Again Fails to Condemn White Supremacists; DOJ Opens Civil Rights Investigation Into Car Attack; Interview with Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy of Charlottesville, Virginia; Clinton Considers Future Preaching from the Pulpit. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired August 13, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the U.S. news media and politicians that he doesn't like.
[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a message to all of the white supremacists and Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Go home. Shame on you!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow will come and we will emerge, I can promise you, stronger than ever.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. And this morning, we are talking about that active domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. And the president is being criticized, not for what he said, but for what he did not say.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Now, remember, there was a woman who was killed here and at least 30 people were hurt, as clashes broke out at that white nationalist rally. KKK and Confederate flags were flying, punches were flying as well. And then -- I want to forewarn you, this happened. This is hard to watch. It's very graphic but here is the video.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BLACKWELL: Just horrifying. And I want to pause here for a moment and I want you look at this photo and just take it in.
The man behind the wheel, according to his mother, drove from Ohio to support the alt right in this rally and he is now charged with murder.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live in Charlottesville with the very latest for us.
Kaylee, what are you hearing there this morning?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, the FBI has now opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car crash that has killed one woman and left 19 injured, some of those in serious condition. That graphic video that we have showing the car plow into a group of people who had come here to protest against white nationalists.
Now, this incident happened just off the downtown mall right in the heart of Charlottesville. The suspect in custody, Alex Field Jr., a 20-year-old man who came here from Maumee, Ohio, that's in the Toledo area. He is being charged with one count of second-degree murder among others.
Again, this happened right in the heart of Charlottesville. There were many eyewitnesses to the horror. I spoke with one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN GILMORE, WITNESS: The car flew by and, immediately, you know, there was victims started coming out. My friend ran after the car. I gave first aid to a lady that had come out from the scene. I was standing about, you know, just a few feet from him as he came back, a white male, appeared to have close cropped hair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: After this deadly crash, Fields and his car fled the seen and pursued by police and then apprehended. In an effort to learn more about the suspect and his beliefs, a couple of reporters went to his mother's home in Ohio. It was the press who informed her of what her son is accused of. She was in disbelief and clearly still processing the gravity of what she was learning.
She said she knew that her son had come to Virginia to attend a rally. She was vaguely familiar with the nature of it. She told these reporters she asked her son to be safe and if he were to rally, to do it peacefully -- Victor, Christi.
PAUL: Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much for the update.
BLACKWELL: More vigils like this one last night in Nashville are expected today. President Trump, he condemned the hatred on what he called many sides. This failure to denounce white nationalism is outraging some.
Let's go now to CNN's Dan Merica. He is live in Bridgewater, New Jersey, near the president's golf club with more.
Now, we know there are going to be more rallies today. What are we expecting from the president today? Any scheduled events? Any scheduled addresses or speeches to the nation, still reeling?
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS PRODUCER: Right now, nothing on the schedule for President Trump. The pool of reporters who are here with him will gather today, but it's unclear whether he will do anything at all. It's a beautiful day here in New Jersey and many reporters expect the president to golf a day like this. We'll obviously continue to watch Twitter to see if he comments at all. But what the president didn't say yesterday is what is getting the
most attention. Yes, President Trump did condemn the violence, the hatred that we saw on the streets of Charlesville yesterday, but he didn't condemn the alt-right and white nationalists that really started a lot of that violence. Take a listen to what he said exactly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It's been going for a long, long time. It has no place in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MERICA: Now, that equivalence between the white supremacists and the counter protesters drew critics, Democrats and Republicans alike. Cory Gardner, a senator, Orrin Hatch, a senator, all commented on Twitter, and Marco Rubio, a former 2016 opponent of Donald Trump said this: Very important for the nation to hear POTUS describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.
What we saw yesterday was Trump's trademark bluntness, the bluntness that really he built his career on, he built his campaign on, and he has carried with him into his presidency, really was foregone and went into vagueness. It's a difficult subject for President Trump to address. We saw this during the campaign. Many of these white supremacists, alt-rights groups drafted really off of his campaign to rise in national prominence. So, this has been a tough issue for him to deal with ever since he started running for president, Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Dan Merica for us there in Bridgewater, thank you.
PAUL: Kelly Jane Torrance, deputy editor at "The Weekly Standard" is with us, as well as Julian Zelizer, CNN political commentator and historian and professor at Princeton University.
Thank you both for being with us.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
PAUL: I want to read as Dan was talking about there, what Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter. A couple of others that are notable here. John McCain, Senator John McCain for one wrote white supremacists aren't patriots, they are traitors. America must unite against hatred and bigotry.
Then we have Rob Portman from Ohio saying: The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism. We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism.
John McCain calling out white supremacists. Rob Portman calling out domestic terrorism. The president doing night and really upsetting people for not doing so.
At this point, we are now close to 20 hours from hearing from the president in his first message. Is it almost, at this point, Kelly Jane, too late for the president to come out? Would it look disingenuous or is it still important?
KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: If he made a very strong and clear statement I think, you know, there are some people think too little, too late, but there are a lot of people who do want to hear the president condemn the people that committed this violence and condemn their ideas. And, yes, I mean, you sort of think it's been a while, it's been a while. But, you know, the fact that this has been dogging him ever since the campaign as Dan Merica pointed out.
And, you know, we have been waiting for months for Donald Trump really, if not more than a year, to condemn white nationalism and to say these people say that they are doing if my name and they say they are supporters of me. We've been waiting for him to strongly disavow them and, you know, he hasn't done it. And I think it's really -- it's about time for him to do so. And I'm -- it's amazing that it's taken a situation like this, a fatality, for us to still be talking about this and wondering why the president won't just make a very clear statement that he does not support these people.
PAUL: Julian, on one hand, some people say I know why he's not making the statement, it's because a lot of these people are his base. Now, we just say that and we want to very clear, not all of his base are white supremacists. That does not include everybody who voted for Donald Trump or who believe in him by any means.
But this group of people, this specific incident does bring to light the fact we actually have a picture of a man who was at the rally who has make America great again. We saw, yesterday, people come out with helmets, with shields. They were there for a confrontation.
How does the president move forward without acknowledging this, Julian?
ZELIZER: It's very difficult to see how he can do that. The answer is he can do it. He can accept the criticism and he cannot offer strong word of condemnation for what much of the country thinks is really intolerable in 2017. But the silence is saying a lot about how the president thinks about this particular issue.
He can make a statement that is powerful, that addresses this. But it's been many hours now and for someone who tweets about individuals, about situations within second and does so with force, it's somewhat stunning to see the president of the United States not take a stronger stand, both about the violence, but also about the rally itself, which he really hadn't said much about.
PAUL: Julian, let's listen here to what David Duke said yesterday. He was there and somebody talked to him about their intentions for this group in this rally. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DUKE, FORMER KKK LEADER: We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believe in.
[07:10:01] That's why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he is going to take our country back and that's what we've got to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: OK, look at what he said there. First of all, take our country back.
Julian, what did they expect that meant? Did they think he was going to reinstate slavery? Just trying to wrap our head around what does this group expect taking our country back meant?
ZELIZER: Well, I think, in some ways, it's a direct response to racial justice that has been a central mission since the 1960s, an effort to reverse some progress on civil rights. It's an attack on immigration and Donald Trump has appealed to nativism from the very start of his campaign, and it's an effort in many ways to roll back the gains of the 1960s, from feminism to racial justice, that's what David Duke is talking about. And the problem is, parts of Donald Trump's campaign and even his presidency have been sympathetic to a broader conservative ideology on these issues, and that's why this is so sensitive and touching such a raw nerve.
PAUL: Kelly Jane, your thoughts on that?
TORRANCE: Well, I'd like to argue that -- you say conservative. I'd like to say, I mean, the alt right, it bothers me they are called the alt-right, because they are not part of that conservative movement and they don't believe in anything that, you know, real conservatives believe in, which, you know, to me is about freedom, the right to choose, equal rights for all. It's very disappointing.
But, you know, what I also like to point out is that David Duke really is nobody. I mean, when is the last time this guy held elected office? We wouldn't be hearing from him right now, except he seeps keeps putting himself as a supporter of Donald Trump and mentions Donald Trump, and the fact that Donald Trump during the election had such a problem disavowing David Duke, this is why we're still hearing from him.
And, you know, the president needs to just have a strong statement like this guy and these people do not speak for me. They are not the kind of supporters I'm looking for. And if he said that, you know, it would be nice to see these guys kind of go away and back into the hole they came out of. But we are still waiting for the president to do something like that.
PAUL: We'll see what happens here. Kelly Jane Torrance and Julian Zelizer, always appreciate your insights. Thank you.
ZELIZER: Thank you. TORRANCE: Thank you.
PAUL: And later this hour, by the way, we're going to talk to the vice mayor of Charlottesville about what happened in his city yesterday and how he thinks the community can move forward and what they have to do.
BLACKWELL: And there is conflict growing within the White House, between the president's top strategist and his new chief of staff. We'll tell you how this feud is jeopardizing the future of Steve Bannon in this administration.
PAUL: And Hillary Clinton's pastor telling CNN she's considering a future preaching from the pulpit. He joins live to outline how faith has led her.
[07:17:17] PAUL: Cities across the country are holding marches to condemn white nationalists and the violence we have seen the last 24 hours in Charlottesville, from Atlanta to Oakland, hundreds of people walked through the streets holding up signs and chanted, and will do so again today. A peaceful vigil in Nashville did end in arrests overnight after protesters faced off with police. But there are groups planning solidarity rallies and marches in dozens of cities across the country this afternoon.
BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now to talk more about the reaction what is happening in Charlottesville and what we are hearing from the president in New Jersey, Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN political commentator and professor at Temple University, and Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show".
Good morning to both of you.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.
BLACKWELL: So, Ben, let me start with you. Listen, you and I have talked off camera. You have no problem denouncing white nationalists, denouncing white supremacists and you will call them out by name. I've heard you do it. I've seen you do it.
Are you satisfied that the president has not done it?
FERGUSON: I think he has called out David Duke. I think they are certainly moving forward, there are people who want him to call out and specifically say names that you just described. I don't have a problem with the president doing that. I think he probably should at this point, only because there are so many people that are somehow trying to imply that yesterday was a dog whistle or not enough or refusing to call them out.
I look at the president in his words in a statement, it was very clear he was calling out racists and bigots, those that became violent. He used all of those word at the very beginning and I think that was -- there is many times people want there to be outrage when, in fact, the tragedy has already happened and there was outrage.
I think the president's word yesterday were clear to me. He said these people are racists and bigots, that there's no place in America for this. He said he strongly condemns them in the most strong way possible.
Now, if he comes out and gives another statement, I think, yes. Absolutely used those names, throw them in there, because ultimately what I think you and I and Mark would all agree with this, we need this to calm down so that other people's lives are not taken and we need to make sure that this uprising, this unrest that has happened has put people's lives at risk can go away quickly, and we can have a real conversation. But I don't want anyone else to die and I don't want any other police officers to die while trying to protect people and their rights of free speech in this country.
BLACKWELL: All right. So, Marc, Ben says that some people heard a dog whistle are suggesting he hasn't said enough. Did you hear a dog whistle was the president did say or did not say?
HILL: Of course, I did. And it's really interesting because when you look at some of the comments on alt-right or just white supremacists and white nationalist sites, many of them, when you look at their response to President Trump, their response was, oh, he didn't attack us, oh, he protected us, oh, he didn't throw us under the bus, we're still aligned with him.
[07:20:12] It was very clear, not just to every day citizens, but to people who he supposed to be condemning, that perhaps he didn't go hard enough. And I'll be very specific about where and why. Donald Trump is somebody who has never been shy about using Twitter. He has never been someone who has contained his outrage. He has never been disciplined with his fingers.
But somehow, those Twitter fingers didn't show up when it came to the alt right. It didn't show up when it came to white nationalists. It didn't show up to a de facto Klan rally. When someone says something that offends him, he go straight to Twitter. He may send 20 tweets out.
But somehow when it comes to this issue, he says very little. Now, all of a sudden, he wants to be measured. Another piece of this is that he said this is bad on all side, that this is evil on all side, this is wrong on all side. That notion of all sides suggests a moral equivalency between the people who are supporting anti-Semitism and racism and those who are defending it and those who are trying to stop them. It suggested everybody is wrong.
This is not a moment to say everybody is wrong. This is a moment to say the anti-Semites are wrong, that the white nationalists are wrong, that the racists are wrong. That all he has to do.
And the fact he had to be pushed into this position is very telling. The fact as the president -- and one more thing. The fact that it's a press conference ends, he avoids the tough questions about denouncing white nationalism. He avoids the tough conversations, even the David Duke thing. It took him a long time to denounce David Duke. And yet, when President Obama was in office, President Trump was saying, you have to say -- state terrorism, say the word terrorism, Obama, say the word racist.
FERGUSON: Marc --
BLACKWELL: Let me -- let me read this tweet from David Duke and then I'll let you respond, Ben. David Duke who was at the rally yesterday, we heard from him a few moments ago. But he tweeted out to the president: take a good look at the mirror, and remember it was white Americans who put you on the presidency, not radical leftists.
I'll point out the conversation of David Duke, that interview with Jake Tapper the president later said he didn't hear what Jake Tapper was saying when he said I don't know who you're talking about, although he talked about David Duke several years ago or before that, and then a news conference several days later will you disavow David Duke. He said, disavow David Duke? OK, I disavow, OK?
That was the complete rejection of David Duke. So, there wasn't some Jeremiah Wright style speech that he delivered during the campaign. It was those several words during a news conference.
Ben, to you.
FERGUSON: Yes, look. David Duke is a guy that I'm not -- we have to stop covering and talking about a sick and vile disgusting human being like David Duke. The only reason he gets on TV, the only reason he was on camera yesterday is because he tries to align himself with somebody that will then make it a controversy, that will then get him on TV.
So I'm tired of David Duke. I don't know why any of us give him a platform to then -- that may be fine 100, 150 white supremacists, extremist crazies that might come around him. I mean, David Duke is literally the most -- one of the most disgusting human beings in this country. We need to stop covering David Duke because all it does is help him recruit people.
Now, I want to get back to something the president said at this press conference.
FERGUSON: When the president came out and said both sides, he had seen the videos. He knew there was violence that had happened on both sides. I don't think when his simple point was this, he had just talked to the governor, he had just made it very clear there was a state of emergency that had been declared in that state and, there was, obviously, tensions and people were thinking the worst could happen last night.
When he came out, I'm going to quote him. He said, no matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans.
That is a unifying comment by the president that we should be proud of.
That other comment he said, Trump -- he said again, condemns egregious displays of hatred.
I don't know how much more you can get clear than that, bigotry and violence. The man used bigotry, extremist displays of hatred, and islands, when you have a situation and state of emergency being declared, I don't think that's the moment for the president to come out and many people criticize the president for being maybe too blunt. I thought he was actually presidential.
BLACKWELL: We are running low on time. Marc, I need to give you an opportunity to respond to that but keep it quick, if you can.
HILL: Yes, again, this is a guy who says for eight years of Obama presidency, Mr. Obama, say the word terrorism. Mr. Obama, name these crazy radical Muslims.
Yet somehow when it comes to white nationalists, he gets measured. He starts to slow down. That's a very troublesome thing. Again, the fact that he said all sides in the middle of a riot that is started by white nationalists suggest again that somehow we are all equally culpable here and we are not.
This is a rally and melee of violence that began from white racists and that's what we need to call and yes, he does need to call them out by name.
[07:25:00] And no, there was -- they forced President Obama to throw Jeremiah Wright under the bus with 30 pieces of silver and yet somehow say, yes, yes, I denounce David Duke, as somehow seen as comparable? Absolutely not.
President Trump has done nothing to show that he has distant from the white nationalists and to me, that's not anything different than being in line with the white nationalists --
BLACKWELL: We've got to wrap it up there. We're up against some time constraints here at the bottom of the hour.
Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson, thank you so much for being a part of the conversation.
FERGUSON: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Let's also not forget these two Virginia state troopers who are being mourned today. They were killed in helicopter crash yesterday. Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Berke Bates patrolling near the protest there in Charlottesville. They were both members of Governor Terry McAuliffe's staff and the governor says he considered both men close friends. Today would have been Pilot Bates' 41st birthday. PAUL: Some new details are merging about the growing troubles between
the president's chief of staff and his chief strategist. Apparently, Steve Bannon on the outs, and that's a quote, with White House chief of staff John Kelly. Bannon pursuing his own agenda at the White House and that vision is in stark contrast to Kelly's. As a result, some serious conversations we've learned are happening about the future of Bannon's role within the administration. And in addition, Kelly is considering another shake-up within the president's communications team now.
BLACKWELL: Now, as we said, President Trump is facing this criticism this morning for not specifically what he said, but what he didn't say about the domestic terror in Charlottesville. CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is joining us next to talk about this controversy. We will also talk with the vice mayor of Charlottesville about what happened in his city yesterday and how he thinks his community can move forward.
[07:31:02] PAUL: So grateful for your company. Good to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.
We're talking this morning about the domestic terror that hit Charlottesville, Virginia. After a day of clashes at a white nationalist rally a car speeding through the crowd of protesters, hitting two others cars and those cars hitting people. A woman was killed as she was trying to cross that street, 19 others hurt in that attack. And then on top of that, 15 people hurt during the rally.
PAUL: And President Trump calls for an end to the violence, quote, on many sides, and is criticized for what some call a muted response to this attack on unarmed protesters. The suspect, we should point out, 20-year-old James Alex Field Jr. from Ohio, now being held on several charges. His mother did speak to a reporter yesterday and said she thought the rally he was going to had something to do with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUREN LINDSTROM, REPORTER, TOLEDO BLADE: She was pretty unaware of what the definition of alt-right would be. I mean, she kind of fumbled over the language. I don't think she had a clear idea of even what that would be. She said to me that she doesn't try to get too much into his political beliefs and that, you know, she's not too well versed in his political leanings in any way. So, yes, I don't get a sense she necessarily knew what he was headed for this weekend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I want to go back to the press conference yesterday. The president condemned the hatred, the bigotry and the violence, he said. And he spread the blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Here to discuss, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
PAUL: Brian, you say this was the worst day of his presidency thus far.
STELTER: You could make the case based on the wide range of criticism that was coming in large part from the GOP, from members of Trump's own party. You would expect Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leader to be tweeting and sharing criticism of the president for his words. And that happened on Saturday.
But it was the number of GOP leaders who also implicitly and in many cases explicitly criticized President Trump and called on him to do more.
Notice a tweet from Ryan Lizza of "The New Yorker" and CNN we can put up on the screen. There were many comments like this and I think Lizza was channeling it. He said, today is by far the most disgraceful day of Donald Trump's presidency.
Others are describing it as a new low point for President Trump, I think, partly, Christi, because it was seen as a missed opportunity to do and say more. If you think back to President George W. Bush visiting a mosque after 9/11 arguably -- promoting unity with the Muslim faith. If you think about President Obama urging calm and responsibility on the night of the Ferguson riot in 2014, there are many examples of speeches you can go back and read from past presidents where they met their moment, where they spoke eloquently and at length in detail, and weren't weary calling out things by name.
So, all of the criticism of the president yesterday and now heading into Sunday morning and all the political chat shows, I think you can make the case this was his low point of the presidency.
PAUL: So, it's a missed opportunity, Brian. Is it an opportunity that can be made up? Or would it just be seen as too little, too late at this point?
STELTER: Or too obvious, right, to reacting to all of the criticism. Well, keep in mind, the president on Friday promised to hold a press conference on Monday. He said he was going to have a pretty big press conference in Washington on Monday. So, let's see if he follows through on that event and does hold that event. That could be a really important moment. It would be taken live by every network. He would have a chance to speak at length there.
I also would keep in mind he is planning on visiting New York in the coming days, this may provide more motivation, more fodder for anti- Trump protesters.
[07:35:03] The kind of counter protesters that were there in Charlottesville yesterday, some of whom were run over by that man driving that vehicle. This kind of situation and this criticism of the president may provide more motivation for those protesters. So, I'm curious to see if we see more of that sort of action in the coming days.
PAUL: You talked about Ryan Lizza, but what about John McCain, Rob Portman? They are all responding on Twitter and they are using the terminology people were waiting to hear from the president.
STELTER: Exactly. Those GOP leaders, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, when it's coming from your own party, I think that's why you can cake the case it was his worst day in office yet. Listen, those kind of judgments can sound kind of petty when we are talking about three lives lost in Charlottesville and dozens injured, but it's precisely because of those injuries and deaths this was a in a moment president.
We know there is a cable news feedback loop, right? We have talked about the president reacting what he sees on television but that didn't quite happen yesterday. There was a delayed reaction and then a full throated reaction. We have seen some segments of conservative media coming to the president's support, arguing left wing violence is also a problem that needs to be taken on. But for the most part, I'm struck by how universal the criticism was yesterday, perhaps a new low point for the president.
PAUL: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you so much, for getting up early for us. We appreciate it.
And there is a lot more to come from Brian. You can catch him on "RELIABLE SOURCES". That's today at 11:00 a.m., right here on CNN.
BLACKWELL: One person, as we know, is dead, more than a dozens were hurt after that man drove through that crowd. And now, there are several white nationalists who vow to go back to Charlottesville. How does this community move forward? We'll talk to the city's vice mayor, next.
PAUL: And from politics to preaching, perhaps? Hillary Clinton considering a future from the pulpit. Her pastor is with us live to talk about the role faith has played in her life after the election.
[07:41:25] BLACKWELL: Well, vigils are planned in dozens of cities today after the violence in Charlottesville.
Joining us now, the vice mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, Wes Bellamy. He's on the phone with us.
Mr. Vice Mayor, good morning to you.
WES BELLAMY, VICE MAYOR, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA (via telephone): Good morning.
BLACKWELL: So, I know you have a lot going on after the last 24 hours and the tragedy that we watched. And Charlottesville, unfortunately, is now one of those cities that when people hear the name of it, unfortunately, they think of an event first. Now, for a myriad of reasons, you hear Ferguson, you think of one thing. You hear Flint, you think of another. San Bernardino.
What does this now mean to the city of Charlottesville in the wake of the tragedy on Saturday?
BELLAMY: Well, I think before I can even address your questions, it's important for not only myself but all others to express our condolences and love and support to the families of those who lost their loved ones this past weekend. My heart is absolutely broken for them.
To your question, what does this mean to Charlottesville? I think it means that we have to stand united at all costs because white supremacy is not going anywhere. It appears that these individuals have to become empowered and emboldened. And in order to for us to bring this community together, this city together, but communities and cities from across the country, in order for us to be able to do so, we have to stand united, and I'm hoping that is what will come out of all of this and that is what people will think of when they think of the great city of Charlottesville, Virginia.
BLACKWELL: Many of the protesters came, we know specifically on Friday night, to oppose a plan to move a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee there. What are the plans now --
BELLAMY: No, sir. No, sir. No, sir.
BLACKWELL: To move the statue?
BELLAMY: No, sir. No, sir. This is not about them coming to move a statue. This is about white supremacy and white nationalism --
BLACKWELL: Understood, understood. But what they said and let me finish the question, is that they came because they oppose the plan to move to a statue. Will the plan continue? Will that statue continue to be moved? Or will that stay as the plan for the city?
BELLAMY: That has already been voted on. At this point, it's currently undergoing an injunction and we are waiting for the local judge to render his final decision. We are going through that process. But, yes, that plan will continue to proceed.
But, again, I think it's important for everyone to understand and not allow these individual to mask their hate behind saying they are only coming because of -- to protest the removal of the statue.
BLACKWELL: I don't -- that wasn't my suggestion. My question -- my question was if the statue was going to continue to be moved, considering the protest that we saw. We know they came to do more than just protest the statue. They came with shields and batons and helmets.
BLACKWELL: So, I think that's understood by most people.
Let me get to one other thing here and I think we have the video of it. In the morning hours when we were live, there were these clashes between protesters and anti-protesters against the white supremacist rally. No sign of police here.
Are you satisfied with the response, the performance of local and state police on the ground here?
[07:45:03] BELLAMY: Well, I think it's important for us to still review a lot of the info that's coming in from the police department. There are still a lot of things to be reviewed. I haven't been briefed or anything of that nature. And, currently, right now, I don't believe it is best for me to comment on that subject at this moment in time.
BLACKWELL: OK. Before we let you go, you've talked about ending hate and coming together. I've got to ask you about some statements of your own you've made on matters of race, tweets attributed to you in which you tweet in 2011, quote: I hate seeing white people in Orangeburg. I don't like white people so I hate white snow and white women equal the devil.
What are your views today? Did you tweet those? How are you getting beyond, if you are, those comments that you've tweeted out?
BELLAMY: Yes, no problem. So the great thing I love about the city of Charlottesville this is a city that helped me grow as a man.
In 2011, I was 23 years old, 23 or 24 years old. At this point, I'm 30. I am a husband, a father. I've had the opportunity to have different experiences with a lot of different people. I'm not the same arrogant and, quite frankly, in many cases, just ignorant young man that I used to be.
And I know that because of this city and the people who I've grown up with here since I moved here, and since I've been here the last few years, they have helped shape my viewpoint and my world point about how we must interact and how we must grow. And I think it also states -- it speaks to the point that if I can grow out of that position and that mind state and kind of evolve --
BELLAMY: -- then I also believe that others can do the same. I've already spoken to the city of Charlottesville and everything. It first came out last year, last November, I apologized to them and I know that to the city and to all people, it's not up to me to determine when they are supposed to give me their forgiveness. That is not for me to do, but what I must do is take accountable for the word I spoke as a younger man and continue to prove to the folks at Charlottesville, and I think they know I am not the same person and I thank them for that growth.
BLACKWELL: All right. Mr. Vice Mayor of the city of Charlottesville, Wes Bellamy, thank you so much for speaking with us this morning. And you said as you can change, your hope is that the people here we're seeing on the screen can change as well.
PAUL: Well, tensions are escalating between the U.S. and North Korea as well. Will the U.S. and South Korea are taking steps to defend against a nuclear threat?
[07:51:51] PAUL: As military threats mount between the U.S. and North Korea, one of President Trump's evangelical advisors is weighing in, saying the president had the moral authority to take out the leader of North Korea. The comments come after President Trump vowed fire and fury against North Korea if they continue to threaten the U.S.
Now here to discuss with me, Hillary Clinton's pastor, Reverend Bill Shillady.
Reverend, thank you for being with us. I want to read to you real quickly, Pastor Jeffress was quoting a passage from Romans 13, a scripture heavily debated among church leaders, and he said, when it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible in the Book of Romans is very clear, God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary, including war, to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un.
What would you say to Donald Trump in response to this?
REV. BILL SHILLADY, HILLARY CLINTON'S PASTOR: Well, I would say to Donald Trump that there's other scriptures that talk about loving your neighbor and finding ways for peace and reconciliation, and that perhaps the just war theory doesn't apply in this case. So, I don't necessarily agree with the pastor who tends to be, I think, on the evangelical side, compared to my sort of view of the scriptures which take that scripture a little bit differently.
PAUL: All right. I wanted to ask you. We wanted to get to the question of Hillary Clinton as we hear she's considering a future in preaching. You, I know, sent her devotions for a couple of years and a very poignant letter people can read on CNN.com the day after the election. But, tell us about -- is she really going to pursue preaching and what prompted her to even consider that.
SHILLADY: Well, I think she's not going to pursue ordination in the United Methodist Church. But in our United Methodist tradition, we have very strong lay participation in preaching and the ministry of the church and we believe in the ministry of all believers. And I can that she's going to do some guest preaching and perhaps we need a preacher in chief right now that will talk about love and compassion and morality and building bridges and eliminating hate and intolerance and bigotry, like we saw yesterday in Charlottesville. PAUL: And is there anything specific if you could advise President
Trump right now, especially in light of what we saw in Charlottesville over te last 24 hours, that you would -- you would want to say to President Trump, that you might want to advise him?
SHILLADY: Well, I would remind him of some of the Bible stories he would read about loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek, and if you're asked to go one mile, go a second mile. I would suggest that perhaps the sermon on the mount might be some good biblical passages for him to read right now.
PAUL: What about all the people in Charlottesville who are vowing to heal. How do you help them heal?
SHILLADY: Well, I would pray, first of all. And I do as a faith leader. I'm praying for all those people in Charlottesville because it's terrible what has befallen that city, and I would emphasize the letter from the book that was sent on November 9th.
[07:55:02] Life may be difficult. There are dark moments in life, but out of the Christian tradition, we believe that hope comes on Sunday. It's a message of Easter.
I didn't compare Hillary Clinton to Jesus, as some people have said. But I believe that there will be a time, but those three days between Good Friday and Easter can be quite difficult.
PAUL: And, Reverend Bill Shillady, author of "Strong for a Moment Like This", coming out I believe on Tuesday -- thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
SHILLADY: Great to be here. Thank you.
PAUL: Thank you.
And thank you, we always appreciate having your company in the morning. We're not sitting here alone.
BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" starts after a short break.