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Strategic Patience is over with North Korea; Photographer Shares Story of Charlottesville Protests; Calls for Bannon's Firing. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 14, 2017 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Than the president himself has been using.

Stay with us.

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BERMAN: All right, new this morning, a joint statement from the secretary of state and defense secretary on North Korea. In "The Wall Street Journal" they write, we are replacing the failed policy of strategic patience which expedited the North Korean threat with a new policy of strategic accountability. But they take a decidedly much more diplomatic tone than the president on that issue.

CNN's Anna Coren joins us live now from Seoul in South Korea.

And, Anna, we are also hearing from America's top general.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, is here in Seoul, or at last has been today. He's on his way to China.

But he met with the South Korean president, as well as officials of his government where he emphasized that this crisis needs to be resolved peacefully, through diplomatic and economic measures. But if there is a provocation from the North that America, with its full capability, it's full capability will return fire. It will attack. So he is saying that he has the military options needed for the president if there is a provocation from the North. He is also confident, John, that America can defend South Korea, Guam, Hawaii and continental USA if there is any provocation from the North.

[09:35:45] We put to him in his press conference, if he would reveal any details about his military options. He wouldn't be drawn in on that. Nor would he comment on the rhetoric, the inflammatory language that is being used by Donald Trump this past week. He said my job isn't to assess the rhetoric of the president, it's to give him military options.

Now, we also asked him about the joint military exercises, which are due in a week to take place between South Korea and the U.S. Whether due to heightened tensions, whether it's worth postponing them. He said, absolutely not. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEF'S CHAIRMAN: I would tell you that today, when you look at the rhetoric coming out of North Korea, the exercises are more important than ever. And as General Briggs talked about, there's a direct linkage between these exercises and our ability to effectively respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: As I say, General Dunford on his way to China this evening where he is planning on placing pressure on officials there in the hope that they can try and wind back the tensions here on the Korean peninsula and bring North Korea to the negotiating table.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Anna Coren for us in Seoul. Thanks so much, Anna.

Joining me to discuss this more, Retired Major General James "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst and advisory board member at Academy Securities.

You know, and, general, I was taken by this joint op-ed from the secretary of state and defense secretary by its tone. One quote that I saw, the object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Peaceful pressure campaign sounds a hell of a lot different than locked and load, general.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, it really does. And, frankly, it's the voice that should be heard right now. What you get from the secretary of state and the secretary of defense is a joint and aspirational comment, which is, look, the peninsula should be denuclearized. That's what we all hope for.

I think the reality is, is that the regime up north has very little interest in giving up that capability. We should continue as an international body, continue to push for that. Diplomacy should always be the option of first choice.

However, as they've said and as Secretary Mattis has said as recently as last week, look, the military capabilities are phenomenal. The coalition partners that are on the peninsula, the United States and South Korea, have been in place for over 60 years, but they are brothers in arms. They have exercised conflict on -- you know, in exercises and command post exercises what conflict would look like. Contingencies have been addressed. And so that remains in place. That's the message that the North continues to get through this type of op-ed.

BERMAN: But they also sent a message, the secretaries did, on the U.S.' willingness to talk. Let me read you another part. The U.S. is willing to negotiate with Pyongyang. But given the long record of North Korea's dishonesty in negotiations and repeated violations of international agreements, it is incumbent upon the regime to signal its desire to negotiate in good faith. This is the really interesting part. A sincere indication would be the

immediate cessation of the provocative threats, nuclear tests and missile launches and other weapons tests. That list does not include a full-scale denuclearization of North Korea. It says stop testing, stop being provocative here, but I actually think it sets the bar rather low for North Korea to come in and negotiate.

MARKS: No, John, I mean, on the contrary. What they've said up front is, look, here's the bar. Denuclearization is what we should all be working for. This is aspirational. And underpinning that are the steps that they just described. First of all, you can try to drop the 70- plus or 80-plus years of bellicose language, very vitriolic. We're -- we, the North Korean regime, is isolated. We're surrounded by enemies, et cetera, et cetera. Let's start change that.

Also let's acknowledge, you've got a nuclear capability. We access -- our intelligence community just came forward and said, look, we're going to give to you this nuclear capability. And, oh, by the way, you've conducted two ICBM tests and a slew over the course of decades of missile development. So we're going to give that to you.

Now, what that means is, we all want to have a denuclearized peninsula. And if that's not capable, there are things we need to be able to do right now that get you to the table and get you to be a member of the international body that says, look, nukes are the end result of existence and life as we know it. And if you want to have that and we think you have that right now, you better act like everybody else in this community. You better sign up for the non- proliferation treaty, get back on board with the non-proliferation treaty. You know they dropped out in '08.

[09:40:16] BERMAN: Right.

MARKS: You've got to step back up to the table and you've got to act like somebody who has this capability. The petulant child behavior is done. That's over with.

BERMAN: Interesting to see what their reaction will be. General Spider Marks, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate, sir.

MARKS: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: All right, injured and bloodied, this protester asked the man who took this shot if he was OK. We will speak to that photographer and why he said he feared for his life.

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[09:45:03] BERMAN: Complete chaos, extremely violent, unlike anything I've ever seen. This is how photographer and eyewitness to a Charlottesville protest this weekend, Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. described what he saw. Jacobs took these photos of Saturday's rally. He says he usually travels through the country to document protests to help him understand racial tensions in the Untitled States. Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. joins us now from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Alvin, thanks so much for being with us.

You've, you know, been inside all sorts of rallies and protest, demonstrations over the last five years. You say this is the first time you feared for your life. Why?

ALVIN C. JACOBS JR., WITNESS TO PROTESTS: Yes, sir.

Typically during protests there's a fine line that's drawn. It's either anti-police brutality and then the other side that would be law enforcement. Well, in this particular instance or this particular riot, there were no -- there was no real way to tell who was who. If there were such thing as a side, because, of course, the sides aren't linear because freedom isn't linear, you didn't know who was an enemy and who was an ally. And that became increasingly problematic.

BERMAN: You wrote at 9:48 in the morning, someone is going to get killed here today.

JACOBS: I did.

BERMAN: Do you think law enforcement who was there -- because we've heard some criticism from both sides about the law enforcement presence, about when they decided to weigh in and not weigh in. Do you think law enforcement was ready?

JACOBS: Law enforcement was everywhere. There were -- there were -- the state police were there. The city police were there and the National Guard were there. And every corridor, every area of the protest, there were law enforcement. And from some of the videos that you can see, altercations would take place and there would be minutes -- I mean sometimes as many as five or ten minutes before law enforcement actually intervened.

So the first one that you've seen with the young lady that was being assaulted, law enforcement was less than 100 feet away. They saw the entire altercation. It could have been prevented. Actually, almost every single altercation that I witnessed could have been prevented.

BERMAN: One of the things the president said is he commented on the hatred and bigotry and violence he said from many sides, many sides. You were in the middle of it. Did you see those things from many sides?

JACOBS: I saw most things from one side. I saw citizens of the United States of America stand up for what they believed in. There were people that I couldn't tell what side they were on but by their actions. It wasn't what they were saying, it wasn't what they were wearing because, again, that became increasingly problematic. There were people who were fighting for freedom.

And I don't mean the freedom to hate. I don't mean the freedom to harm. I don't mean the freedom to spread violence. I mean the freedom -- this is -- this is still -- this is still really fresh because I watched people being beaten brutally. And I mean with sticks, with bats. People were walking around with all types of weapons, assault rifles, which is fine. We have the right to do that in the United States of America. But these individuals were bringing these items to a peaceful protest. Or at the very least what was designed and what was passed (ph) as being a peaceful protest.

I don't know who was who. There were a lot of people running around and a lot going on. And law enforcement, for all intents and purposes, at the very least, from what I was privy to, was standing around.

BERMAN: Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., we are glad you are safe. Thank you for your photos you're your willingness to be there in the middle of it all. Appreciate it, sir.

JACOBS: Absolutely. Thank you, John.

BERMAN: All right. A lot of rumors swirling around the president's controversial adviser, Steve Bannon. CNN reporting the knives are out for him. New developments, next.

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[09:53:11] BERMAN: All right, this morning, in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, the pressure is growing for President Trump to fire his chief strategist, the man in the West Wing who is most closely linked with the alt-right. Two White House advisers tell CNN, the knives are out for Steve Bannon and that the president's new chief of staff, John Kelly, thinks that Bannon is too focused on his own agenda.

Joining us, CNN politics producer Dan Merica, who's breaking a lot of these details for us.

Dan, how much trouble is Bannon in?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS PRODUCER: You know, it's funny, when you talk to White House officials both inside and outside the administration, they will say they judge their standing with the president based on three things -- location, location, location. And that matters for someone -- a businessman turned politician who made his name in real estate. And so they say that proximity to the president is really what matters.

That's been a problem for Steve Bannon over the last week. President Trump has been in New Jersey enjoying this working vacation at his private golf club. Steve Bannon has not been there. And that's problematic. Steve Bannon's obviously the controversial White House strategist, helped Donald Trump during the campaign, was former head of Breitbart, a publication that he proclaimed as they platform for the alt-right. And as you said, Bannon is said to be in the eyes of John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff, pursuing his own agenda, or seen to be pursuing his own agenda.

Now, Bannon accolades will say that that's not the case. That Steve Bannon, in his office, has a white board with all of the White House's priorities on it, all of Donald Trump's campaign promises on it, and he'll go through a check off when those are done.

But it's critical to note that John Kelly is really trying to institute a new kind of policies inside the White House for who has access to President Trump. And that could hurt someone like Steve Bannon, who, as we have seen, has not been with the president.

I will -- a word of caution here. Steve Bannon has been on the outs before. We have reported, others have reported, that White House aides have said the knives were out for him as well. So he is resilient in this White House. President Trump is said to be concerned about what would happen if Steve Bannon were fired to his base, how they would respond to that. So Steve Bannon is resilient. Even though the knives may be out, it's unclear if he will actually be fired.

[09:55:22] BERMAN: No, it has been very interesting.

MERICA: Yes.

BERMAN: The national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, would not say anything remotely conciliatory about Steve Bannon over the weekend and the fired communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, also threw some serious shade his way. We will see what happens over the next few hours.

Dan Merica at the White House for us, thanks so much.

MERICA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, in moments, the man accused of using his car to attack protesters in Charlottesville will appear in court. That as we are getting new attacks from the president of the United States. He's gone after Democrats. He's gone after people who have quit his own manufacturing counsel. One group he has not mentioned by name, white supremacists.

Stay with us.

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