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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer; Interview With White House Homeland Security Adviser Thomas Bossert; Interview With Colorado Senator Cory Gardner; Interview With Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper; President Trump Fails To Condemn White Supremacists. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 13, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): State of emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This event has been declared an unlawful assembly.
TAPPER: White supremacists, Nazis, and the alt-right march in Virginia, violence breaks out, and the commonwealth goes on high alert.
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: All the white supremists and the Nazis, go home.
TAPPER: We will get all the latest from the Charlottesville mayor live.
Plus, words unsaid. President Trump fails to single out the white supremacist who provoked this hatred and violence.
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.
TAPPER: Now many Republicans are criticizing his omission. What happens next in the GOP?
And war of words. President Trump issuing a dire warning to North Korea.
TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury.
TAPPER: As the reclusive dictator threatens an American territory.
TRUMP: If he does anything with respect to Guam, he will truly regret it.
TAPPER: Is there any chance for a resolution?
TRUMP: Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.
TAPPER: Trump's homeland security adviser will be here in minutes.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is horrified and outraged.
White supremacists, Nazis, racists, the alt-right converged on Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, spewing bigotry and causing unrest that led to actual fatalities.
The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into a deadly vehicle accident that left a 32-year-old woman dead and 19 injured yesterday at a counterprotest to what the various racist subgroups called their Unite the Right rally yesterday.
The suspect behind the wheel, 20-year-old James Alex Fields of Ohio. He was arrested on one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of failure to stop in an accident resulting in that death yesterday afternoon. Local police called the attack premeditated.
The event, originally scheduled to protest the removal of the statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, turned bloody almost immediately, with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe quickly declaring a state of emergency to aid state response to the violence.
Two Virginia State Police, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Pilot Berke Bates, who were assisting with the situation in Charlottesville, were also killed in a helicopter crash.
President Trump responded to the events yesterday, condemning all sides for the violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: "On many sides."
The president's uncharacteristically vague and carefully written remarks have come under withering criticism from many members of his own Republican Party for not singling out the hateful white nationalist protesters, nor calling the action what many say it is, domestic terrorism.
Joining me now is the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, Michael Signer.
Mr. Mayor, our thoughts and prayers are with Charlottesville today.
MICHAEL SIGNER (D), MAYOR OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Thank you.
TAPPER: Nineteen others were injured when that speeding car slammed, apparently deliberately, into the counterprotesters.
What can you tell us about the condition of the victims?
SIGNER: Well, there are a bunch of folks in the hospital.
I mean, right now, this is a city that is praying and grieving. I mean, we have three people who died yesterday who didn't need to die.
But, you know, let me tell you about Charlottesville. This is one of the world's truly great cities. It is the privilege of a lifetime to be the mayor of a city like this. We're a progressive, tolerant, modern city, but we're also a Southern one.
And we made a decision about a year-and-a-half ago to finally, at long last, tell deliberately the story of race in our city, to tell -- to tell the truth. And that -- that effort put us on the map. It made us a target for a lot of these forces you have seen -- you have seen here.
But I got to tell you, our democracy has been through a lot in the last century. Our city has been through a lot in the last century. We have come in this country through McCarthyism, segregation, Jim Crow, and we have come through stronger than before. That is what is going to happen now.
But we all need to stand together on this new effort. And that begins, you know, with a city like Charlottesville, but it should include the president.
TAPPER: You said you place blame for these terrifying events -- quote -- "right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president" -- unquote.
That is a -- that is a very strong charge to level. Why do you think the president himself bears responsibility?
SIGNER: Well, look at the campaign he ran. I mean, look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacists, white nationalists, a group like that, anti-Semitic groups, and then look on the other hand the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, you know, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday.
I mean, this is not hard. There's -- you know, there's two words that need to be said over and over again, domestic terrorism and white supremacy. That is exactly what we saw on display this weekend.
And we just aren't seeing leadership from the White House. We certainly are going to see leadership from cities like Charlottesville, from mayors, from leaders all around the country left and right.
Republicans and Democrats, if there is an issue that can unite this country, that this can be a turning point for this democracy, I think it just happened right now this weekend in Charlottesville.
You know, I -- to be honest, it doesn't matter much to me whether -- he's already on the sidelines, I think, of so many issues. But the country is going to move ahead. This will be a turning point for the country to overcome this stuff, just like we have overcome these challenges in our past. And I think it's happening right now, as we speak.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, the president did speak out yesterday. He condemned the -- quote -- "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides."
What was your response to that?
SIGNER: You know, I sort of hung my head. I mean, it's -- it was more of a lot of the same that I think we've seen.
But, to be honest, this is not about Donald Trump. I mean, you know, we all talk about him a lot. I think this is about the United States of America. It's about Virginia. It's about Charlottesville.
We're the birthplace of a lot of the democratic ideas that got us here. I'll tell you, these -- one door closes, one door opens. We had the KKK come to our city also to challenge our approach -- approach on telling the truth about race. That was on July 8. That was an awful event for our city as well, not nearly as violent as this one.
But, a week later, I was leading a discussion with some of the leading democracy organizations in the world that happen to be here in this city, Montpelier, the home of James Madison, Monticello, the Miller Center for Public Affairs, organizations like that, about, how do we -- how do we uphold and bring back the first principles of our democracy, civility, tolerance, listening, deliberation, religious toleration, the First Amendment?
We're seeing an erosion of all those core principles right now. But we have an opportunity to kind of hold them up together, to pursue them, to put them at the core of our -- of our democracy right now.
And I believe in my heart that that will happen, that people will react to this darkness with a whole lot more light. And it's beginning right now.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, I want to ask you about the suspect in the vehicular homicide yesterday.
TAPPER: The Anti-Defamation League tweeted out a picture of him at the rally yesterday, saying that he seems to be a member of the white supremacist group Vanguard America. At the very least, he's seen in the photograph holding a shield.
Do you know anything about that?
SIGNER: That investigation is just starting right now.
I'm following some of that same news in the public. There's a lot in our investigations that's starting. I will say that, if those facts bear out, it will just be more evidence of what already was unbelievably disturbing here, which was people who felt as if they had free rein to come into a free city and terrorize our most vulnerable people.
I mean, this didn't just go through that open, you know, physical violence yesterday. It began the night before, with several hundred of these people who came to our town doing a torch parade yelling slogans, you know, against African-Americans, against Jews up and down the campus of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia.
So, this was a visual display of intimidation, hearkened back to the KKK. And they went right up to the doorstep of a beautiful, old, historic church, where there were several hundred people, interfaith, gathered in prayer to launch this weekend, to try and give strength to folks this weekend.
So, you had already a clash of this hatred and this intimidation, this intolerance and this -- this terror coming right up on the doorstep of people who were -- who were trying to bring love against hate.
So, I mean, it sounds like this gentleman -- don't want to jump to conclusions before law enforcement authorities do, but I hope that, if the facts are there, that we vigorously prosecute this as a case of domestic terrorism.
This cannot be tolerated in free society. We stand on the rule of law. And we stand on our norms and our ideas about toleration. So, it has to -- there has to be a stop put to this violent white supremacy.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time this morning. And best of luck to you and the city of Charlottesville. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
SIGNER: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: A lengthy list of Republican officials took to Twitter to beseech President Trump to specifically call out the white supremacists.
For these Republicans, it's clear the president's statement yesterday was far too vague.
Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: "It's very important for the nation to hear the president describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a friend of the president's, wrote -- quote -- "We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out." In Colorado, Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican, wrote: "Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists, and this was domestic terrorism."
Those are just three of many.
Joining me now is President Trump's homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert.
Mr. Bossert, thanks so much for joining us.
The president decried "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides."
But Republican officials, as you heard just there, did not think that was sufficient.
On behalf of the White House, are you prepared to unequivocally condemn the white supremacists, racists, Nazis, and alt-right marchers?
TOM BOSSERT, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Yes, absolutely I am, Jake.
And let me start by thanking you here and taking a moment to pass my deep condolences and the White House's deepest condolences to the family and friends of the woman who was tragically killed yesterday and to the family and friends and fellow servicemen that serve with the two police officers who died responding to this terrible violence yesterday.
That needs to be said to put this into context this wasn't just some fighting. This turned into an unacceptable degree of violence at all levels and ended in the most tragic way possible.
And we have two police officers dead, part of the core backbone of the homeland security community. We all weep and pray for them.
Sometimes, these -- these losses aren't noted enough in this political hyperbole. We have a young woman here that's passed away and we have others critically injured.
So, let me start with that, and then let me answer your question.
I think the president of the United States -- and I appreciate the mayor yesterday and this morning talking to me, but -- earlier on your program here a moment ago, saying this isn't about President Trump.
This is about a degree of violence and of hatred that cannot be tolerated in this country. I, for one, was with the president yesterday and proud of the fact that he stood up and calmly looked into the camera and condemned this violence and bigotry in all its forms.
This racial intolerance and racial bigotry cannot be condoned.
TAPPER: Well, you say that the president was clear in condemning this bigotry, but listen to this.
This is from an infamous neo-Nazi Web site -- quote -- "Trump comments were good. He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him" -- unquote.
Mr. Bossert, that is a neo-Nazi Web site celebrating how equivocal and vague the president of the United States was.
Are you willing to at least concede that President Trump was not clear enough in specifically condemning white supremacy?
You know, the word of the ignorant bear little with me and should bear less with you in the media. Fortunately, they don't.
And what I would say is that the president not only condemned the violence and stood up at a time and a moment when calm was necessary, and didn't dignify the names of these groups of people, but rather addressed the fundamental issue.
And so, Jake, what you need to focus on is the rest of his statement. The president didn't just call for human beings to respect one another, which is his pragmatist core, fundamental bare minimum, but he called for, ideally, Americans to love one another, for all of God's children to love one another.
That is a fundamental assault on the very nature of the hatred that we're seeing here.
And I guess you are going to continue to press on the words he didn't say. But I would like you to focus for just a moment on the rest of the statement that he did say. This is the kind of reputation of hatred that needs to be covered more. I think it's leadership.
TAPPER: Well, it's not really what -- what I think.
It's about what Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Cory Gardner, and Senator Orrin Hatch, and Senator Ted Cruz, and Governor Chris Christie, and Congressman Pete Sessions, and on and on and on, what they think.
BOSSERT: Yes, I don't dis -- yes.
TAPPER: They have gone -- they have gone public, making it very clear that they don't think President Trump was specific enough in condemning white supremacists.
So, it doesn't really have any effect or bearing, what I think. I'm asking you, all these Republican officials who want the president to succeed are saying this didn't go far enough. BOSSERT: Yes, I think you should give yourself more credit, because
what you do think does invade and pervade the things you -- you say on -- on -- on air and the things that you cover.
I also think that what you believe and what you think is important, as the president does as well. He believes all Americans should have a conversation and an open debate on this matter.
This is unacceptable. This violence cannot stand. He made that clear yesterday. I think that the other statements that you have highlighted, Governor Christie and -- and the other leaders in the party that you have quoted, have all said things similar. They have all denounced the violence, denounced the groups that showed up.
And, by the way, we had protesters and counterprotesters that showed up yesterday. This is the very challenge that confronted the mayor and his police officials and fire officials, the National Guard officials that were called out in advance.
These were people who showed up intentionally looking for trouble. These weren't people that showed up to protest a statue. I'm sure there were good people in the group that had various opinions on the removal or -- or maintenance of the statue.
But what they were -- what they -- what they found when they showed up were groups from outside that showed up on both sides looking for trouble, dressed in riot gear, prepared for violence.
It's not tolerated. It's not tolerable. I think what you saw is Republican unity in terms of denouncing it. And I think you saw the president stand up very clearly, and not only denounce it, but rise to a presidential level of calling for a countermessage of love and dignity and respect for fellow human beings.
TAPPER: How many people did the counterprotesters kill yesterday, Mr. Bossert?
BOSSERT: Well, I will tell you, one death is too many, Jake. And...
TAPPER: But that wasn't by the counterprotesters. She was -- the victim was a counterprotester.
BOSSERT: I don't -- hold -- hold on one moment, Jake.
TAPPER: The victim was a counterprotester.
BOSSERT: I don't -- I don't for -- I don't -- I don't for one minute, I don't for one moment, and I won't allow you for one second to put me in a position of being an apologist for somebody who is now a charged murderer.
This individual should face swift justice. The president of the United States shares that view. I know he does. I share that view deeply.
And I don't want to be put in a position I won't allow you to put me or him in a position of not finding that -- finding that justice as swiftly as possible. I think that you should -- you should...
BOSSERT: ... for a moment...
TAPPER: You just -- you just decried both sides. You just decried both sides.
BOSSERT: Well, I think...
TAPPER: Here we have a situation, Mr. Bossert, where...
BOSSERT: Well, no. No, I don't -- I don't -- I don't paint -- I don't paint...
TAPPER: ... where neo-Nazis, the Klan, alt-right, and others...
TAPPER: ... went to Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting anti-Semitic, anti-African-American, and other racist slogans, provoking the people of Charlottesville, Virginia...
TAPPER: ... making them feel intimidated.
Yes, violence did break out. One person was killed by one of these alt-right, Klan, Nazi protesters.
TAPPER: And you just decried both sides of this. And this is the issue.
BOSSERT: No, I didn't. No. No, I didn't. And you're making this issue a little bit distorted.
So, what I would decry is the individual that committed murder yesterday. What I would do, though, is -- is quibble with this -- this notion that any of this is acceptable.
These groups showed up spewing hate. These groups showed up looking for violence.
TAPPER: What groups?
BOSSERT: And I think it's just important for people to understand.
TAPPER: What groups are you referring to?
BOSSERT: Of course the groups that showed -- well, I -- I -- I refer to the groups that clashed yesterday. I think it was pretty graphically evident...
TAPPER: Are you talking about the neo-Nazi -- neo-Nazis, or are you talking about the counterprotesters?
BOSSERT: One of the -- one of the things -- one of the things that I think the mayor will make clear to you and probably stated earlier on your program -- I know he and I talked about it this morning -- was the difficulty he had in planning for this event.
This was an event in which we anticipated violence, in which he anticipated violence, in which there was violence being rehearsed and planned for in events that preceded the events of yesterday.
I know the mayor and others sought relief in federal court to move this protest because they anticipated violence. I know the mayor and the governor acted very responsibly by calling up the National Guard in advance of yesterday's event.
So, I don't assign blame or assuage blame or try to press blame to different groups, Jake. The point I'm trying to make here is that what we saw yesterday was an unacceptable planned demonstration of violence.
And what I would say is, with respect to murder -- and I'm a little bit indignant over the way you phrased that. Apologies if I took it the wrong way. But I place the blame most squarely and most directly on the murderer that is sitting -- alleged murderer, if that's the -- the driver of the vehicle -- it's no -- it's no -- it's not question in my mind the driver of that vehicle acted with intent.
If that is the driver of that vehicle, he is rightly accused of being a murderer.
And I would -- I would -- one more point -- point out that the attorney general yesterday, after the president went on national television and pledged all the federal support that he could muster for this, and that was necessary, put out a press release last night that the U.S. attorney and the FBI and the attorney general are all pursuing this as a civil rights investigation.
We will see where the facts take us on all the people involved yesterday and on the driver of the vehicle. If that were to bear out with the facts, that could carry a much stiffer penalty.
As I understand it, there's a second-degree murder charge now. If there's evidence to support the civil rights abuse or a hate crime abuse that that investigation could lead to, that could carry a death penalty, is my understanding.
TAPPER: I want to...
BOSSERT: And so that's the appropriate and swift justice that I would call for.
And I won't condone any act of murder, and I certainly won't be put in a position of -- of -- of defending it.
TAPPER: I guess one of the issues that is being voiced by the Chris Christies, Marco Rubios, Orrin Hatches of the world is that there seems to be a moral equivalence being made here between the counterprotesters and the neo-Nazis, Klan members and alt-right supporters.
And there is this additional context, of course, to all of it, the president refusing to condemn white supremacists and David Duke on this very show a year ago, a year-and-a-half, his retweeting white supremacists, top White House adviser Steve Bannon, who said his former employer Breitbart was the platform of the alt-right.
And take a listen to White House adviser Sebastian Gorka just this week telling Breitbart Radio that radical Islamic extremists are the only problem, while white supremacists are not.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's this constant, oh, it's the white man, it's the white supremacist, that's the problem. No, it isn't.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Surely, it's not the position of the Trump White House that white supremacists are not a problem?
BOSSERT: Certainly not.
I'm not certain the context of that Gorka quote. I can tell you that where I spend a great deal of my time and a great deal, unfortunately, of the American taxpayers' resources is combating a global jihadi terrorist problem that, Jake, as you know, has plagued the nation. It's a national, transnational...
TAPPER: A huge -- it's a huge issue, of course.
BOSSERT: ... international problem.
TAPPER: Of course.
BOSSERT: And it's something that we focus a great deal on.
And, in fact, we make difficult decisions every day in how to balance and rebalance the use of those resources to confront our enemies. We have got nation-state problems in North Korea. And we have got asymmetric terrorist, global jihadi problems that have spread across the entire globe.
And what we do is, we try to apply those resources in a way that is risk-based and focused on the threat. I don't understand what and don't have the context for what Dr. Gorka
was speaking to a moment ago. But I will double down and be very clear and direct with you for a fourth time that the violence we saw yesterday is unacceptable.
There is no equivocation in my mind, in my voice, or in my eyes. And so, if I haven't made it clear enough to you, I will answer it a fifth time, and I will do it all day.
But I think what is important for you and your viewers to understand is that the president feels that way as well.
And I think what you're trying to get at and what you're trying to drive here is -- is why the president didn't say something different or say something more.
I believe that the subset of all the groups and all the people who might justify their insanity or violence are covered by the president's clear denunciation yesterday. And I think declaring racial bigotry unacceptable was a very -- a very smart and calming thing for the president to do. It was a leadership decision that he took.
I think it's also important to remember that he spoke in the moment and at a time when calm had not yet been restored. And so, to the extent that there were groups clashing at the moment in time of the context of his remarks, I think you should think that through, or your viewers should, as they understand and interpret his remarks.
That's not a moral equivalency. It's not a moral equivalency -- equivalency to -- to preach love either. It's not meant to not condemn hate, but it's meant to offer a counterview that could allow us to move forward and heal.
TAPPER: I guess the point is -- and this is, again, a point being made by Republican officials like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Cory Gardner, and others -- is that when you just condemn groups, as opposed to specifically white supremacists, Nazis, Klan members, it creates this vagueness that, as I read to you in that neo-Nazi Web site quote, allows neo-Nazis to think: He's not condemning us. He's -- he's condemning anybody that was violent.
And that's the problem. And you, on this show today, have said that you condemn groups and condemn actions and condemn bigotry, but I haven't heard you say: I condemn white supremacists. I condemn neo- Nazis. I condemn the alt-right.
I haven't heard that. And I think a lot of people were upset, a lot of Republican officials, that they didn't hear it from President Trump.
But I don't want to belabor this point, because...
BOSSERT: OK. Well -- well, I -- well, I...
TAPPER: You can -- go ahead. BOSSERT: I think you have belabored -- I think you have belabored it.
So, let me say, I condemn white supremacists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that espouse this kind of hatred and exclusion. I can't be clearer.
Let's turn to North Korea, because President Trump escalated his war of words with North Korea on Friday.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He utters one threat in the form of an overt threat, which, by the way, he's uttering for years and his family has been uttering for years, or if he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that is an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it. And he will regret it fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, I just want to understand what -- the president's red line here.
Clearly, he seems to be saying that the U.S. would respond militarily if North Korea were to attack the U.S., an American territory, an American ally.
But he also earlier in the week talked about threats. If North Korea were simply to issue another verbal threat, something that they have been doing for years, quite frankly, would the U.S. take military action, or is it actually an action that is the red line?
BOSSERT: Well, one thing that is very clear -- I was with your question until the very end there.
I think President Trump has wisely not drawn red lines.
BOSSERT: And he's wisely avoided them.
In fact, the one red line that he did inherit from the last president, he enforced. And I think what's clear is, the president wants to match his rhetoric with his actions and be as measured as possible, but also -- and I can't stress this enough -- to look into the camera, to look into the eyes of the leadership in North Korea and say, with no unwavering resolve, that it is unacceptable that they continue to pursue a nuclearized ICBM program in the Korean Peninsula, in North Korea.
This is something that President Trump has inherited. He inherited, frankly, the last three presidents -- so, this transcends partisan politics -- behaving in ways that tried to deploy and employ diplomacy and words, without the necessary military action and might to give the space necessary for those talks and resolutions to succeed.
And, at this point, President Trump has not just issued tough talk. He has responded to it.
And so I think the context of the clip that you just played there bears some repetition. The context here is the growing, escalatory, and very provocative, unacceptable threats from a North Korean leader who, at this point, seems not to recognize the clearly outmatched position that he and his people sit in.
Any escalation, any conflict that he would try to pick with the United States or its allies would lead to his rapid and immediate defeat.
And for him to continue to threaten the United States of America, Guam, its allies, partners in the region, South Korea and Japan is just unacceptable.
And so what -- what I think is important here is that the president has stated and has not backed away from his statement that he has, at this point, reached a conclusion that this leader needs to hear that he is not anymore going to talk about passive solutions.
BOSSERT: He is going to demand change, demand the denuclearized North Korean -- North Korean government.
And, by the way...
BOSSERT: And, by the way, this president, who some people, some commentators who have said -- have said wouldn't be able to galvanize the world or perform on the world stage, President Trump has now gotten China, Russia and the entire membership of the U.N. Security Council to come together with unity condemning -- not only condemning, but also calling for the same goal in North Korea.
This is an opportunity for this president to lead. He's lead -- he's led in North Korea. He's leading in South America. He's leading here in the home front. And I think, yesterday, what you will see here was a theme of unity.
He went to the Middle East and called for love and a cessation of violence. He called for love and a cessation of violence yesterday here in Bedminster with respect to Charlottesville.
And he's calling for unity and peace in the North Korean peninsula. And he has got every foreign leader, those in the Security Council and others, on his side and with him as he leads this world towards that vision of peace and love.
TAPPER: That's right.
BOSSERT: I know that is going to be hard for people to hear. I know that is going to be hard for you and others to hear, but that is exactly the theme and the message that you need to carry from President Trump's leadership.
TAPPER: It's not hard for me to hear at all -- a 15-0 vote in the United Nations Security Council, as we've been reporting since it happened last weekend.
Tom Bossert, White House homeland security adviser, thank you so much for your time today.
BOSSERT: Thank you, Mr. Tapper.
TAPPER: Republicans condemned President Trump for not designating yesterday's deadly car crash domestic terrorism.
Will they demand more from President Trump? We will talk to one of the Republican senators leading the charge next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DUKE, FORMER KKK LEADER: We are determined to take our country back. We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believed in.
That's why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he is going to take our country back and that's what we got to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was former Klan leader David Duke yesterday morning in Charlottesville, Virginia. A number of Republicans have condemned President Trump yesterday for not calling out white supremacists and members of the Klan who have this mindset.
Among the first on Twitter was Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado who joins me now.
Senator, thanks for joining us. You had some tough words for President Trump on Saturday.
Let me show our viewers what you tweeted -- quote -- "Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. There were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism."
You heard Tom Bossert, the Homeland Security adviser of the president, arguing that the president did condemn it. What do you think? SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: Well, this is not a time for vagary. This isn't a time for innuendo or to allow room to be read between the lines. This is a time to lay blame.
They lay blame on bigotry and to lay blame on white supremacists, on white nationalism and on hatred. And that needs to be said. This president has done an incredible job of naming terrorism around the globe as evil.
Radical Islamic terrorism whether it's in Europe or the Middle East. He has said and called it out time and time again. And this president needs to do exactly that today.
Call this white supremicism, this white nationalism evil and let the country hear it, let the world hear it. It's something that needs to come from the Oval Office and this White House needs to do it today.
TAPPER: Some critics say that President Trump doesn't do this because he might believe that these white supremacists are a part of his base, not, obviously, his entire base. But a part of his base and he doesn't want to risk alienating them.
What do you think? Why is the reason -- what is the reason that he won't condemn them, call them domestic terrorists, call them white supremacists?
GARDNER: White nationalists, white supremacists, they don't -- they're not a part of anybody's base. They're not a part of this country.
They are a part of hatred. They're a part of bigotry. They're a part of evil and we need to stand up to that.
And so whether it's the president of the United States, a senator from any of our great 50 states around the country or our city counsels and mayors, school teachers, call it for what it is. It's hatred. It's bigotry.
We don't want them in our base. They shouldn't be in a base. They shouldn't be claimed as part of a base and it has to be made crystal clear.
TAPPER: Yes. But why won't the president do that the way you just did?
GARDNER: Again, I encourage the president to do.
This president has done so when people have driven trucks through crowds in Europe. He's called it radical Islamic terrorism. He should use this opportunity today to say this is terrorism, this is domestic terrorism, this is white nationalism and it has to stop.
And I encourage the president to do so. He has a chance to do that. The healing power of the White House, the ability to lead -- the president of the United States. It needs to be seen today. Yes, he condemned bigotry and hatred. But we need to name evil and call evil and name it. In this case, it is clearly bigotry, hatred, racism and the white nationalists who led to death and murder in Charlottesville.
TAPPER: With respect, senator, you're not answering my question.
Why do you think he doesn't do it? I mean, is this sending a dog whistle?
I mean, you heard me quote the Neo-Nazi Web site to Tom Bossert earlier. There are Neo-Nazis out there who say, oh, great. He wasn't condemning us specifically.
Do you think that was the intention of the president?
GARDNER: I think the president needs to step up today and say what it is. And call it for what it is.
It's evil. It's white nationalism. It's bigotry and it's unacceptable.
And if he doesn't do that then we can continue to answer the question of why. But I believe he has a chance to do that today.
Ivanka called this white nationalism. She called it out today. The president needs to do so, as well.
TAPPER: You were on the front end of Republican criticism of this yesterday. But I have to say Donald Trump on this show, February 2016, refused to condemn or disavow in any way David Duke, the Klan white supremacists.
Are you really surprised that a year and a half later his refusal to call out white supremacists is out there and it's an issue? I mean, it's the same thing he showed a year and a half ago on this show.
GARDNER: Well, I think that is why today the president needs to make it very clear. While calling out racism, while calling out bigotry, he has a chance to show the American people who really is to blame for this.
There is no sort of multi-dimensional facet to this evil. There's no sort of read between the lines moment that we have.
The president needs to stand up and say, just as he has in places around the globe. This is domestic terrorism. It is unacceptable and it was led by people who thrive on hate and thrive on racism and it's unacceptable in the United States of America.
TAPPER: You're the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee that's the campaign arm of Senate Republicans. Do you want all Republican candidates around the country to join you in saying these were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism? GARDNER: Well, it isn't about Republicans or Democrats. This is about anybody with any common sense, decency and dignity for human life and the values that we hold as a country. Our constitutional rights.
This is about Republicans, Democrats, greens (ph) anybody in between to say this is wrong. We don't stand for that.
This country has made great mistakes in the past that led to a civil war. We've overcome them. We've apologized for them and we should continue to do everything we can in our power to never let them happen, again.
And, yes, there is pain that remains. And, yes, there are great mistakes that we still make as a nation but we cannot let them go unanswered.
We can't let them go unlabeled. We can't let them go unnoticed.
We have to admit. We have to make up for them and then we have to do what is right. And that's what this country can do today.
That is what the president can do today. And I would encourage him to do what he has done around the globe. Calling out people for their acts of evil.
Let's do it today white nationalists, white supremacists, we will not stand for the racism, their bigotry and their hatred.
TAPPER: On Saturday, President Trump said that we must all -- quote -- "cherish our history."
Tom Perriello is a former Democratic congressman from Charlottesville. He heard that as a dog whistle.
He tweeted -- quote -- "We must all cherish our history. Did Donald J. Trump just dog whistle support for the Klan's main goal of the hate rally, i.e. to protest the Lee statue?" The statue of Robert E. Lee.
Did you hear cherish our history as a dog whistle, senator?
GARDNER: You know, I did not hear the statement. But what I will share with you is something that I read -- again reread for the -- Marion Konishi, who was a Japanese intern in Colorado, 18-year-old valedictorian of an internment camp in Colorado during a very dark time of our history when we took U.S. citizens and put them into internment camps.
In her statement, in her valedictorian speech that she gave this Colorado internment camp, she said, this is a country that has learned from its past and it has made up for those mistakes.
And that's exactly what we have to do. We have to learn from our history. And we have to make sure that we look at those moments in history and say, yes, that happened in this country but we can no longer allow it to happen. And I hope that's what he meant. I didn't hear that statement. But what we have to do in this country is recognize the mistakes of our past and that we as a great nation will learn from them and move on them from them and not repeat them.
It's -- Governor Chris Christie, who you cited earlier today once said, it's hard to hate up close. And that's what we have to do in this nation.
We have to realize we cannot allow that hate to fester. It's hard to hate up close. Let's get to know our communities.
Let's get to know one another. Let's get to know the issues that drive all of us and then we can overcome this hate that seems to be festering right now and why this president needs to say, enough is enough. Hatred, racism will not be tolerated.
TAPPER: Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, thank you so much for your time, sir. We appreciate it.
GARDNER: Thank you. Thanks.
TAPPER: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, is set to meet with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in tomorrow. The focus of the meeting of course will be North Korea after nearly a week of threatening to rain down fire and fury on North Korea.
President Trump may be turning to diplomacy. Trump spoke to China's president late Friday night to urge the Chinese to do more to try to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
Yesterday he spoke with the French President Macron to discuss further economic sanctions against the hermit kingdom. This came after the president urged a nonviolent solution and blamed his predecessors for failing to stop North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump. That I can tell you. Hopefully it will all work out.
But this has been going on for many years. It would have been a lot easier to solve this years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now is the former director of National Intelligence Retired General James Clapper. General Clapper, thanks so much for joining us.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Thanks, Jake. Thanks for having me. TAPPER: So you've been critical of some of the -- some of the rhetoric that President Trump has used when talking about this threat, fire and fury and the rest.
Take a listen to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson trying to explain why the president has talked this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What the president was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong- un would understand because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: He says, using language that Kim Jong-un would understand because Kim Jong-un doesn't understand diplomatic languages. Is that a legitimate argument?
CLAPPER: Well, Kim Jong-un does understand the nuances of language and the North Koreans are very depth at conveying messages many times between the lines. But as a long-time watcher of North Korea and what they say, I think they do understand the diplomatic language and they get the message.
TAPPER: Your former colleague, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta from the Obama administration, said that the United States is facing the most dangerous situation since the Cuban missile crisis. Do you agree?
CLAPPER: I'm not sure that it's reached that magnitude. I lived through the tree cutting incident in 1976. I was Air Force intelligence officer pacific command headquarters and --
TAPPER: That was when some North Korean soldiers went into the DMZ and killed some Americans.
CLAPPER: Exactly. Killed two American soldiers.
And I've, again, comparing that episode with this, I think the eminence of war feeling was much more palpable then it is today. But it is not to say that this is not potentially a very incendiary situation.
In fact when I served in Korea many years ago as the director of Intelligence U.S. forces in Korea, what I was worried about was an incendiary event getting out of hand. And we can't know, we don't understand exactly what the decision making mechanisms are, processes surrounding Kim Jong-un in North Korea or what would set him off.
And that's why I think many people and myself included would argue for more temperate language than the fire and fury kind of thing.
TAPPER: You just heard Tom Bossert earlier in the show calling for a denuclearized North Korea. We've also heard from Senator Lindsey Graham tweeting this weekend that, giving the leader of North Korea the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear-tipped ICBM is simply unacceptable.
Now, you're on record saying we have to accept North Korea as a nuclear state. What would your response be to Tom Bossert and to Lindsey Graham for saying it's not acceptable?
CLAPPER: Well, yes, ideally I love a denuclearized North Korea but as I learned when I went there and had some pretty intense dialogue with them that is a nonstarter with them. That is their ticket to survival and I don't see any way they're going to give it up.
So, I think our process, our thought process here ought to be on accepting it and trying to cap it or control it. But I think a denuclearized North Korea I would love to see it, but I don't think it's in the cards.
TAPPER: "The Washington Post" reported Tuesday that the Defense Intelligence Agency has determined that North Korea is capable of building miniaturized nuclear weapons that could be used as warheads on ICBMs.
Was the Obama administration aware of this capability when you were director of National Intelligence?
CLAPPER: Sure. We forecast this development years ago.
TAPPER: It was -- they had not achieved it yet.
CLAPPER: But they hadn't achieved it, but that they would. And given the aggressiveness of their pursuit of both missile technology, as well as nuclear capability that it was a question of time before they would achieve the ability to mate a nuclear weapon with a missile.
And they've actually been pretty blatantly public about it with pictures, propaganda pictures of Kim Jong-un looking at the warhead, which most experts view as quite credible. So this is not a shocking development and something certainly we forecast some years ago.
TAPPER: Is there anything that you feel that the Obama administration could have done differently that would have been more effective in pushing back on the nuclear weapons ambitions of North Korea?
CLAPPER: Well, I was an advocate in the last administration for a more direct approach with North Korea. To the extent of having, for example, or considering in consultation with our allies an intersection in Pyongyang much as we had (INAUDIBLE) for years to deal with a government that we didn't recognize.
And I think there's a lot of advantages to that. It's not a reward for bad behavior, but rather having an in residence diplomatic presence, gain greater understanding and insight into what's going on in North Korea, which is a problem. When I was DNI and I'm sure still is, and importantly, as a conduit for information into North Korea.
That wouldn't directly necessarily lead to denuclearization but it can sure reduce the tension.
TAPPER: You wanted to do that, but it was not done.
CLAPPER: No. It wasn't done and of course that's a hard sell right now given the atmospherics that exist between North Korea and the United States.
TAPPER: General Clapper, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it, as always.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Good to see you.
After members of the president's own party criticized the president for failing to call out white supremacists by name, will President Trump change his mind as Senator Cory Gardner called him to? That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?
TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke. OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: A golden oldie. Actually, it was just a year and a half ago. Let's talk about it with our panel.
Bill Kristol, let me start with you. President Trump saying that he called out violence, bigotry on many sides on many sides. What did that say to you?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I mean, it was avoiding condemning the Nazis who would reason the whole thing happened and it was shocking, really, I have got to say.
I mean, the events were horrible themselves and very depressing and the deaths and the injuries but President Trump's reaction was almost as depressing and now his, you know, people who work for him, I really shouldn't say work for him. They work in the White House.
Tom Bossert, that was an excellent interview. I mean, he's the senior aide. He's not a political guy.
He's not a political hack. He's not a Trumpologist. He is our -- he's the director of White House director of Homeland Security.
And he can't say until you pressed him for 15 minutes that we condemn Nazism. We condemn Nazis. That they are the reason for this fundamental, primary reason for what happened in Charlottesville.
It's a very -- I mean -- and then, of course, Cory Gardner, the wonderful guy, a good -- a nice senator from Colorado, even he, gee, if only President Trump would finally say the right thing. I hope he'll finally say the right thing.
President Trump meant what he said and said what he meant. And I find that very depressing.
TAPPER: Michael, on its face, getting a politician of any party to condemn white supremacists, Nazis and Klan members shouldn't really be that tough.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Right. And as you played that clip earlier, a couple days later on another show, President Trump was unequivocally condemning, you know, the kind of washed-up racist gas bag that you had asked him about.
And as conservatives, we should take every opportunity we can to condemn white nationalists and white supremacy because we're condemned by this all the time by people on the opposite side. Having said, that I understand what he minute by both sides. I get that -- I get that by watching the video yesterday.
America is being destroyed by people on both sides thinking that the other side is destroying the world. America is being moved into chaos by people on both sides who think that they're better than anyone else on the other side. You know, with the rhetoric gets heightened, you know, turns violent, and eventually you have to racist KKK fighting the fascist antifa in the streets of Charlottesville.
Both sides showed up with helmets and weapons.
You know, I see it very differently. And it's almost painful to have to point this out. This is -- you are correct that there is a problem of extremism in this country that cuts across, but this is a day in which after an American citizen was assassinated in broad daylight by a Nazi. A Nazi who the day before had been marching with torches down American streets saying anti-Jewish, anti-black stuff and then an American -- this is not a time to talk about both sides.
Both sides are not using ISIS tactics, mowing people down with cars in the streets of America. Both sides are not trying to defend a horrific -- grandparents, great grandparents, people watching this show gave their lives to stop Nazism. Dr. King gave his life to stop the Klan.
This is not the time to talk about both sides. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the day after tomorrow.
But the president of the United States needs to come out and say -- my daughter is Jewish, he could have said. Go off script and say my daughter is Jewish, my son-in-law is Jewish, I don't want this in my country. Go off script and say that.
Don't go off script and say, many sides, many sides. That sends a signal to people that this is all right, and it's not all right.
TAPPER: And I think one of the issues here -- and, Michael, I'll come back to you -- is that there are people who think, including Bill, (INAUDIBLE) this (ph), that this isn't the mistake, this is on purpose.
NINA TURNER, PRESIDENT, OUR REVOLUTION: Well, the president had a prime opportunity, Jake, and I think he still does. He needs to stand up and say this was not by happenstance. What those KKK-inspired riots did, it was strategic to start at night, to have candle-lit torches in their hands, to march in formation in that way.
It's very reminiscent of why the KKK came to life in the first place after the civil war to rain terror down on African-Americans. And so the president has to be very strong and cannot equivocate that racism and bigotry will not be tolerated.
And I think I saw something that Bill said or wrote in a tweet, which is, I don't want your votes. But this is the overtness of what they did, because we know that covertly racism and discrimination and bigotry still exist in this country, but the fact that these people feel so emboldened and folks want to talk about both sides -- I'm with Van on this both sides.
No. There was only one side and we have got to continue to have people who believe in the promise of this country to continue to push or drag us forward because we are a country of progress. And what we saw happened yesterday and the day before is very indicative, is in the DNA of this country.
So, it always boggles my mind when people get up and say, this is not what our country is about. This is not what we are founded on. Oh, no, we were founded on discrimination, racism, bigotry and hatred, but the one thing that we can say is that we have been a nation of progress and we are losing that progress right now in the 21st century.
KRISTOL: You know, I started (ph) in (ph) the first Bush administration. President Bush (INAUDIBLE) David Duke was the de facto Republican nominee of the governor of Louisiana, the same David Duke who showed up in Charlottesville, and precipitated -- his allies precipitated the violence.
It's not both sides. I very much agree with that -- with Van on that and with you on that. Also, President Bush, he could have stayed out of it, probably going to win anyway, President Bush insisted the day before the election on having a press conference in Washington and making clear that David Duke did not speak for him or for the Republican Party.
He denounced David Duke very strongly. Bob Dole in 1996 at the Republican convention, Pat Buchanan ran that year.
Pat Buchanan was about ready to launch his primary campaign against Bush in '91 and some of his political advisers said, yes, you don't have to get into this.
I mean, it's not necessary, everyone knows you're a decent man. You're not like David Duke.
And President Bush said, I am the president of the United States. I'm the leader of the Republican Party. I can't just be silent about this.
Dole in '96 in his convention speech said the bigots who might have accidentally, as he put it, come to support him, here are the exits. We don't want you in the Republican Party.
JONES: That's real leadership. And it's real leadership on the question of white supremacy but also we need leadership on the question of terrorism.
The oldest terrorist organization in the United States is not ISIS.
TURNER: That's right.
JONES: It's the Ku Klux Klan. I mean, you have a terrorist organization who is publicly marching in our streets.
I cannot manage imagine a situation -- imagine Fort Hood where a Muslim terrorist shot down a bunch of Americans and the president comes out and says, well, there's violence on many sides. There would have been pandemonium and justifiably so.
When you have terrorism, white supremacist terrorism or any other kind, that is the time for clarity. And my problem with this president is he is very, very good at specifically going after his opponents. He goes after the media, over and over and over again.
He goes after this politician, that politician. He doesn't have -- I denounced the media a year ago. I don't have to denounce them today. No, he denounces them several times a day.
So there was an opportunity for him to say, listen, I am opposed to terrorism in my country. I'm opposed to white supremacy, and he didn't do it. And as a result, I'm concerned about these young white guys out there who, is this legitimate, is it not, I don't know.
CAPUTO: Well, I think -- like I said, I mean, white supremacy is an attack on all America. It's against everything that we all believe in.
I think the president as you said has an opportunity still today to continue to discuss this. I think he will.
I think the signal he got from Ivanka Trump and even from his own adviser during your interview, shows that they're moving in that direction. I also believe that the president was trying to be prudent and I think that it didn't go over well the media. I get that.
If you're expecting --
TAPPER: Not (ph) just (ph) the media. Now just to be fair. I mean, it was with Marco Rubio and Cory Gardner and Ted Cruz.
CAPUTO: These are -- these are political people that --
KRISTOL: No. But, I mean, I felt sick reading the president's statement. That's not a matter of political --
CAPUTO: I understand. The president is never going to check all your boxes.
JONES: Listen --
JONES: If you didn't think it was strong, you weren't listening.
CAPUTO: Really? That was a strong statement? He didn't say the name. That's all you have to say.
CAPUTO: He didn't say the name.
Until you guys condemn antifa and the violence that they put --
TAPPER: Who did antifa kill? Who did antifa kill?
CAPUTO: They tried to kill people yesterday. They were using makeshift flamethrowers. They showed up in helmets carrying weapons.
KRISTOL: This is the kind of moral equivalence --
KRISTOL: I do condemn them more than maybe (INAUDIBLE). But is this just the kind of -- this is the kind of moral equivalence that conservatives especially denounced for 25, 30 years.
TURNER: The civil war, the KKK --
CAPUTO: Let me tell you where (ph) you're (ph) right (ph).
TURNER: I mean, do you understand the pain? I mean, my heart is skipping beats right now to think about all my foreparents went through to get to this point in time in America's history and to have in the 21st century the president of the United States not boldly stand up and say that, this is wrong.
People died for this. And people are in pain, having flashbacks. In the 21st century, we shouldn't be going through this.
So that is the point. The president -- his daughter is not the president. I'm glad she tweeted that. Go, Ivanka.
But we need the president of the United States to determine in this country that this will not be accepted, period. This is painful.
CAPUTO: And like after your interview, during the election season, he came out later and condemned David Duke.
I didn't want to say his name. But I'll tell you, I think you'll see the same thing this time around.
And I think that you're right. I think that he has an opportunity to do so. And if he didn't do it according to your specifications, I think you're going to be disappointed for three years.
KRISTOL: Yes, I am going to be disappointed for three years. And that's why he shouldn't be president.
JONES: Here's the thing. A lot of --
KRISTOL: No. Because decent Americans of all sorts and I (INAUDIBLE) agree (ph), the KKK marches. The KKK is a domestic terrorist organization.
CAPUTO: So is antifa.
KRISTOL: I'm sorry. That has a lot of blood on its hands and has for a century and a half. The Nazis, maybe you're not aware, we did fight them.
Antifa, I deplore antifa.
CAPUTO: Come on.
KRISTOL: No. What do you mean come on? Come on?
CAPUTO: What do you mean (INAUDIBLE) aware. I studied history as well.
My family fought the Nazis. OK?
KRISTOL: Good. Good.
CAPUTO: I'm sitting, here telling you that they should be condemned by no --
KRISTOL: Thank you. Good.
Did the president of the United States do that yesterday? Did he do that yesterday?
Did he mention the words KKK? Did he say KKK? Did he say Nazis?
CAPUTO: Listen, if he doesn't check your boxes -- he's never going to check your boxes. It's not going to happen.
JONES: Let me just say something really quickly. You may think that we are giving a hard time no matter what, I have given him credit when it was due.
CAPUTO: I know you do.
JONES: There was a part of his speech yesterday that was really good. It was when he went off script. And he didn't go off script to go tougher, he went off script to go looser.
That's when people got upset. And so be fair --
CAPUTO: No. I --
JONES: We'll be fair to you. You be fair to us.
CAPUTO: You're right. But I want you guys to condemn antifa as well.
When that happens you'll gain credibility --
JONES: Nobody --
TURNER: -- violence, Michael -- (INAUDIBLE) violence but there is not same --
TAPPER: We'll continue this in the green room.
JONES: Flamethrowers. Flamethrowers. (CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: Thank you for watching.
I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts now.