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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Trump Talks Infrastructure Amid Backlash Over Charlottesville; Trump: "Blame on Both Sides" in Charlottesville; Trump Criticizes Resignations from Manufacturing Council. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired August 15, 2017 - 16:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(TRUMP PRESS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS)
[16:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- broken infrastructure permitting process. Just blocks away is the Empire State
Building. It took 11 months to build the Empire State Building. But today it can take as long as a decade and much more than that. Many, many
stories where it takes 20, 25 years just to get approvals to start construction of a fairly routine highway. Highway builders must get up to
16 different approvals involving nine different federal agencies governed by 29 different statues. One agency alone can stall a project for many,
many years and even decades.
Not only does this cost our economy billions of dollars but it also denies our citizens the safe and modern infrastructure they deserve. This
overregulated permitting process is a massive, self-inflicted wound on our country. It is disgraceful. Denying our people much needed investments in
And I want to show you this, because it was just shown to me. I think I'm going to show it to the media, both real and fake media, by the way. This
is what it takes to get something approved today. Elaine, you see that. So, this is what it takes, permitting process flow chart. That's a flow
chart. So, that can go out to 20 years. This shows about ten. But that can go out to about 20 years to get something approved. This is for a
I've seen a highway recently in a certain state -- I won't mention its name. It is 17 years. I could have built it for $4 or $5 million without
the permitting process. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars but it took 17 years to get it approved and many, many, many, many pages of
environmental impact studies. This is what we will bring it down to. This is less than two years. This is going to happen quickly. That's what I'm
signing today. This will be less than two years for a highway.
So, it's going to be quick. It's going to be a very stream lined process. And by the way, if it doesn't meet environmental safeguards, we are not
going to approve it, very simple. We are not going to approve it. So, this is -- maybe this one will say, let's throw the other one away. Would
anybody like it from the media? Would anybody like that long, beautiful chart, you can have it.
So, my executive order also requires agencies to work together efficiently by requiring one lead agency for each major infrastructure project. It
also holds agencies accountable if they fail to streamline their review process. So, each agency is accountable. We're going infrastructure built
quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking and the permitting process will go very, very quickly.
No longer will we tolerate one job killing delay after another. No longer Will we accept a broken system that benefits consultants and lobbyists at
the expense of hard working Americans. Now, I knew the process very well. Probably better than anybody. I had to get permits for this building and
many of the buildings I built -- all of the buildings I built in Manhattan and many other places.
And I will tell you that the consultants are rich people. They go around making it very difficult. They lobby congress. They lobby state
government, city governments to make it very difficult so that you have to hire consultants and that you have to take years and pay them a fortune.
So, we are streamlining the process and we won't be having so much of that anymore.
No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay. While protecting the environment we will build gleaming
new roads, bridges, railways, waterways, tunnels and highways. We will rebuild our country with American workers, American iron, American
aluminum, American steel. We will create millions of new dollars and make millions of American dreams come true. Our infrastructure will be the best
in the world. We used to have the best infrastructure anywhere in the world.
And today, we are like a third world country. We are literally like a third world country. Our infrastructure will again be the best. And we
will restore the pride in our communities. our nation. All over the United States we'll be proud again. So, I want to thank everybody for
being here. God bless you. God bless the United States. And if you have any questions we have -- Mick, you could come up here, please. Come on up.
Mick Mulvaney. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
[16:05:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you think these CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?
TRUMP: Because they are not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. We want jobs, manufacturing in this country. If you look at
some of those people that you're talking about, they're outside of the country. They're having a lot of their product made outside. If you look
at Merck as an example. Take a look where -- excuse me, excuse me. Take a look at where their product is made. It's made outside of our country. We
want products made in the country. Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they are leaving out of embarrassment because they
make their products outside and I've been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you're referring to, about you have to bring it back to this
country. You can't do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places. You have to bring this work back to this country. That's what I
want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you wait so long to put that last statement out?
TRUMP: I didn't wait long. I didn't wait long. I didn't wait long.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was at least 48 hours.
TRUMP: I wanted to make sure -- unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement. The statement I made on
Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don't make statements that direct unless you know the fact. It takes a little while
to get the facts. You still don't know the facts, and it's a very, very important process to me. And it's a very important statement. So, I don't
want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.
If you go back to -- I brought it. I brought it. I brought it. As I said -- remember this, Saturday -- we condemn in the strongest possible terms
this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America, and then I went on from there. Now, here's the thing. Excuse me,
excuse me. Take it nice and easy. Here's the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just
happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn't even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the
facts, so I don't want to rush into a statement.
So, making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman, who I hear is a fantastic young woman -- and it was on NBC -- her
mother wrote me and said -- through I guess Twitter, social media -- the nicest things, and I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine,
really actually an incredible young woman. But her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and
if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you and unlike -- excuse me -- unlike you and unlike the media,
before I make a statement I like to know the facts.
TRUMP: They don't. They don't.
TRUMP: Listen, how about- how about a couple of infrastructure questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it terrorism, that event? Was that terrorism?
TRUMP: Say it. What?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CEO of Wal-Mart said you missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?
TRUMP: Not at all. I think the country -- look, you take a look. I've created over a million jobs since I'm president. The country is booming,
the stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we've ever had in the history of our country. We're doing record
business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm. So, the head of Wal- Mart, whom I know, who is a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean, I do it the same way. You know why? Because I want to
make sure, when I make a statement that the statement is correct, and there was no way -- there was no way of making a correct statement that early. I
had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters -- unlike a lot of reporters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nazi's were there.
TRUMP: I didn't know, David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts, and the facts as they started coming out were very well-stated. In fact,
everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn't have made it sooner because
I didn't know all of the facts. Frankly, people still don't know all of the facts. It was very important -- excuse me, excuse me. It was very
important to me to get the facts out and correctly.
[16:10:00] Because if I would have made a fast statement -- and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing.
The second statement was made with knowledge, with great knowledge. There's still things -- excuse me, there's still things that people don't
know. I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two questions. Was this terrorism? And can you tell us how you're feeling about your chief strategist, Steve Bannon?
TRUMP: Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country, and that is ... you can call it terrorism. You
can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That's what I'd call
it. Because there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer and
what he did was a horrible, horrible inexcusable thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us how you're feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon? Can you talk about that?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would echo Maggie's question. Steve Bannon --
TRUMP: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us broadly -- do you still have confidence in Steve?
TRUMP: Well, look, I like Mr. Bannon, he's a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late -- you know that. I went through 17 senators,
governors and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him, he's a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell
you that. He's a good person, he actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. But we'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but he's a good person
and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have confidence in him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John McCain has called on you to defend your national security adviser H.R. McMaster against the mosque attacks.
TRUMP: I have already done it. I did it the last time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he called on you again to --
TRUMP: Senator McCain? Senator McCain, you mean the one who voted against Obamacare?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he said --
TRUMP: Who is senator- You mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good health care?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack
TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I can't tell you. I'm sure Senator McCain must know what he's talking about. But when you say the alt-right, define
alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead.
TRUMP: No, define it for me. Come on, let's go. Define it for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain defined them as the same groups.
TRUMP: OK, what about the alt-left that came charging at -- excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-
right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging -- that they came charging, with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs. Do
they have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day --
TRUMP: Wait a minute. I'm not finished. I'm not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it the same level as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it, and you have -- you had a group on one
side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had
a group, you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: Those people, all of those people -- excuse me. I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups, but not all of those
people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, white nationalists-
TRUMP: Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. So . Excuse me. And you take a
look at some of the groups and you see and you'd know it if you were honest reporters -- which in many cases you're not. But many of those people were
there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
So, this week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas
Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop? But they were there to protest -- excuse me. you take
a look the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of the Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should statues of Robert E. Lee stay up?
TRUMP: I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it is located.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you against the Confederacy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How concerned are you about race relations in America and do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?
[16:15:09] TRUMP: I think they have gotten better -- or the same -- I -- look, they've been frayed for a long time, and you can ask President Obama
about that because he'd make speeches about it. But, I believe that the fact that I brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs -- you see where
companies are moving back into our country. I think that's going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming
back into our country, we have two car companies that just announced, we have Foxconn in Wisconsin just announced. We have many companies, I say
pouring back into the country.
I think that's going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It's jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want
great jobs with good pay and, when they have that, you watch how race relations will be. And I'll tell you, we're spending a lot of money on the
inner cities. We're going to fix -- we're fixing the inner cities. We're doing far more than anybody's done with respect to the inner cities. It's
a priority for me, and it's very important.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you putting what you're calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?
TRUMP: I'm not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I'm saying is this: You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came
at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on
this side -- you can call them the left, you've just called them the left - - that came violently attacking the other group, so you can say what you want but that's the way it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, your words --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Why do you think there's blame --?
TRUMP: Well, I do think there's blame -- yes. I think there's blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there's blame on both sides
and I have no doubt about it and you don't have any doubt about it either and -- and -- and if you reported it accurately, you would say it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neo-Nazis started this in Charlottesville. They showed up at Charlottesville, they --
TRUMP: Excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- to protest the removal of that statue --
TRUMP: You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that
group -- excuse me, excuse me -- I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to
them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you support white nationalists, then?
TRUMP: Well, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going
to take down -- excuse me? Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do
you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do love Thomas Jefferson-
TRUMP: OK, good. Well, are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So,
you know what? It's fine. You're changing history. You're changing culture and you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the
white nationalists because they should be condemned, totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?
And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and
you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sorry, I just want to understand what you're saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?
I just don't understand what you were saying.
TRUMP: No. No. There were people in that rally -- and I looked the night before. If you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking
down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad
people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest
-- and very legally protest, because you know- I don't know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. So, I only tell
you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two
sides to the country. Does anybody have a final -- does anybody -- you have an infrastructure question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill? You didn't get health care. You're-
TRUMP: Well, you know, I'll tell you. We came very close with health care. Unfortunately, John McCain decided to vote against it at the last
minute. You'll have to ask John McCain why he did that. But we came very close to health care. We will end up getting health care. But we'll get
the infrastructure and actually, infrastructure is something that I think we'll have bipartisan support on. I actually think -- I actually think
Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you spoken to the family -- have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car attack?
[16:20:00] TRUMP: No, I'll be reaching out. I'll be reaching out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you be reaching out?
TRUMP: I was very -- I thought that the statement put out -- the mother's statement I thought was a beautiful statement. I must tell you, I was --
it was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific. And really, under the -- under the kind of stress that she's under and the
heartache that she's under, I thought putting out that statement to me was really something I won't forget.
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: President Trump, well --
TRUMP: You know I own in -- oh boy, it's in Charlottesville. You'll see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it where the winery is?
TRUMP: It is the winery. I mean, I know a lot about Charlottesville. Charlottesville is a great place that's been very badly hurt over the last
couple of days. I own actually, one of the largest wineries in the United States. It's in Charlottesville.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think needs to be done to overcome the racial divide?
TRUMP: Well, I really think jobs can have a big impact. I think if we continue create jobs over a million -- substantially more than a million.
And you see just the other day the car companies coming in, with Foxcomm. I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I'm creating jobs, I
think that's going to have a tremendous impact, positive impact, on race relations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what you said today, how do think that will impact the racial --?
TRUMP: Because people are going to be working. They're going to be making a lot of money. Much more money than they ever thought possible. But
that's going to happen. And the other thing, very important, I believe wages will start going up. They haven't gone up for a long time. I
believe wages now -- because the economy is doing so well with respect to employment and unemployment. I believe wages will start to go up. I think
that will have a tremendously positive impact on race relations.
QUEST: Well, you don't see that every day. A press conference that bordered on a shouting match. As the president of the United States,
Donald Trump, not only address the questions of the CEOs leaving his various councils and advisors, but went into a full-throated defense of his
statement on Saturday that talked about on many sides, on many sides. And didn't condemn the far right by name.
He took about a dozen or so questions on the various issues. He also talked about Steve Bannon and refused to give him a full vote of confidence
saying we'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon. And he drew a form of equivalents between those hardliners on the right, the white supremacists
and the like, and those hard alt-left, as he called them, that came against them. As the president put it, they came in black outfits with helmets and
Nia-Malika Henderson is with me in Washington. Stephen Collinson is also there. Start with Nia-Malika. I think one has to say, you do not see that
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No, you don't. I mean, I was here thinking that this was going to be a very short statement
about infrastructure. That was the purpose reportedly of this sort of announcement, or press conference. It turned into a press conference and
he clearly sort of expected that. He was there with his statement from Friday -- or his statement from Saturday, which got him into so much
trouble. Because people didn't think he went far enough. They thought his original statement was too much about, you know, both sides. And here I
thought he in some ways turned back the clock to Saturday. If anyone thought that his statement on yesterday seemed like he was essentially
taping a hostage video and being marched to the podium to make a statement that he didn't really want to make. That his heart wasn't really in. I
think this display today pretty much shows you that his initial instinct to condemn both sides, of that brutal scene from Saturday, with Nazis and
white supremacist, he did it again. He essentially said, that the folks who were protesting the Nazis and the white supremacists were on an equal
level. He also seemed to suggest that the folks there on Friday, marching with tiki torches, who were doing the Nazi salute on the University of
Virginia campus, on Friday night. He also said that they in some ways were there just innocently wanting to protect a statue in a park named after a
Confederate General. People wanting to give the president some credit after his statement on Monday are going to be left rethinking that.
[16:25:00] QUEST: much more to get to. Stephen Collinson, does the president have a
valid point when he says I need all the facts. Perhaps arguably on Saturday he should have said, I can't speak more, I need all the facts.
But doesn't he have a very strong point when he says that?
In any other presidency, I think he would have a very strong point. Presidents generally do wait to get the facts before making a judgment.
But this is a president that tweets during foreign terror attacks in real time. Attacks in London and Paris, he's -- ascribed responsibility to
Islamic extremist when there's been very little evidence when details emerge. So, the idea that Donald Trump is a president that going to wait
for facts before he makes a judgment, you know, doesn't really pass the smell test. Really.
One of the most memorable comments he made throughout his presidency, to be frank,
this was in angry President, at least a defiant president. And it was a press corps in full-blooded attack against him.
I don't know if it was necessarily attacking him. It's a press corps who doesn't often get the president in this kind of press conference scenario.
Lots of questions arising over the last couple of days. Particularly about the incident in Charlottesville involving these neo-Nazis. A lot of
curiosity there and the president ready for that back and forth. Seeming to relish it. In many ways, so much said about his new Chief of Staff.
This Chief of Staff would bring some discipline. Bring some messaging, bring some focus to the White House to the president and today we have a
president who went off the rails.
I think if you saw yesterday, his statement and his comments, at the White House. About Saturday, and then his follow-up comments. He essentially
seemed to suggest that this was a closed door. That all of the comments had been made about Charlottesville. He had nothing more to say. He comes
out today and spends 70 percent, to 80 percent of his time not talking about infrastructure. But addressing the incident in Charlottesville.
That wasn't really, I think left a lot of Republicans wondering about this president. And has damaged him.
And some people, some Republicans I talked to said this is sort of his Katrina moment. Remember that President Bush never really recovered from
Katrina and his response to that. That was in 2005, his second term, I talked to a Republican who said this is essentially the same thing for this
QUEST: Nia-Malika, thank you so much for staying with us, and talking about this. Staying with Stephen Collins. If you were Stephen Bannon
tonight, would you be more worried about your job. He's a good man, he's not a racist. And when asked about what's going to happen. We'll have to
wait and see.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Certainly, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of confidence in front of the whole country at a time
when there are multiple stories that Steve Bannon is on exceedingly thin ice.
One thing I would say, however, is that Donald Trump has a habit of offloading members of his inner circle, his brain trust, but they still
sort of retain a place in his wider orbit. It could be that Steve Bannon loses his job at the White House, but still is a member of the sort of the
political soul of Trumpism, if you like. If he's not alienated by losing his job and goes back to "Breitbart" and decides to attack the president.
But clearly, it looks like the tenure of Steve Bannon at the White House is not going to go on for much longer. Having said that, as we see in the
press conference right now, Donald Trump is a creature of his whims and his instincts. What he says one day, is not exactly what he follows through on
the next. So, I don't think you could say anybody in this White House is on particularly firm ground at any moment. That's one of the
characteristics of the president. He likes to keep people guessing at home and abroad.
QUEST: What did you make of the last half hour. The last 20 minutes? We've all -- those of us in this business have sat through quite a few news
and press conferences of presidents.
[16:30:00] COLLINSON: It was stunning. It was extraordinary. I think presidencies are made up of moments and vignettes that are remembered when
you look back on a presidency. When history judges a presidency. I think this press conference, first of all it's going to absolutely inflame the
debate about Charlottesville. It's going to go on for weeks now. But I think it's going to be a remembered as one moment.
This was the authentic Donald Trump. The Donald Trump that gave that speech yesterday wasn't the authentic Donald Trump. This was almost like
the personification of Donald Trump's twitter feed sort of unfolding in real time, in front of us on television. In many ways, it was fascinating
to watch, but at the same time, you sort of have to reflect on the fact that this man is a creature of instincts and emotions and his grievances.
It's the president of the United States. The most powerful man in the world.
QUEST: That's a sobering thought upon what you say, Stephen Collinson. Very grateful, Stephen, that you stayed with us for this half hour. Thank
you, sir. Appreciate it.
Continuing our coverage of what has been a most remarkable event. We'll have an update on what the President said in just a moment. And will
continue to talk about the press conference where once again it would appear Donald Trump has blamed both sides for the violence in
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. And this is CNN and on this network the news always comes
In the last half hour, President Trump has said both sides were responsible for the violence at the weekend in Charlottesville Virginia. In a furious
outburst at Trump Tower, the president defends his decision not to condemn white supremacists in his first statement.
The death toll now stand at 245. in Sierra Leone, after rains created devastating mudslides and flooding in Freetown. A massive search and
rescue is underway for survivors. But the officials fear the number of dead may still rise. Some 600 people remain unaccounted for.
Iran's President is threatening to quit the 2015 nuclear deal within hours if the U.S. imposes new sanctions. Washington announced new measures
against entities and individuals with ties to Iran last month. A day after certifying Teheran was in compliance with the nuclear accord.
China is telling North Korea and the U.S. to put the brakes on provocative words and action after the North indicated it's willing to hold offer now
on plans to fire missiles towards Guam, the U.S. territory. China's message comes ahead of next week's joint U.S./Korean military drills, which
infuriated Pyongyang. And are expected to proceed as planned.
[16:35:00] The fourth executive has now quit U.S. President Donald Trump's manufacturing counsel, in protest over his initial failure to condemn white
supremacists. The president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing did so on Tuesday. So far, the chief executives of Under Armour, Intel and
Merck have taken the same action a day previous. Mr. Trump lashed out at the leaving CEOs on twitter. Calling them, grandstanders.
Zimbabwe's first lady is facing allegations she assaulted a woman in South Africa. Splitting the woman's had open in three places. South African
police initially said Grace Mugabe had turned herself in on Tuesday, before revealing she was not in custody. CNN reached out to the Mugabe camp for
comment and have received no comments.
So, to President Trump's extraordinary press conference that took place just a short while ago. The president was hoping to put the focus back on
the economy and away from the ever-growing exodus from his manufacturing counsel. Today business leader number four walked away, Scott Paul for the
Alliance for American Manufacturing, said, it was the right thing for me to do. He joins Intel, Under Armour and Merck and dropping out. Trump hit
out at all four leaders who've abandoned him. Tweeting that they are grandstanders. And at Trump Tower in the last hour he had more to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're not taking their job seriously, as it pertains to this country. We want jobs and manufacturing in this country. If you look at
some of those people that you're talking about, there outside of the country. They are having a lot of their product made outside. If you look
at Merck as an example. Take a look where -- excuse me, excuse me -- take a look at where their product is made. It's made outside of our country.
We want products made in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The president was responding to a question about criticism from the chief executive of Walmart who took a different strategy by directly
criticizing the president. The CEO of Walmart criticized Mr. Trump, but didn't resign. In a blog entitled, a message from Doug, he wrote, as he
watched the events and response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country
together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.
But as I say, the chief executive, McMillon, did not resign. Tim Calkins is a Professor at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.
Tim, were glad to have you, sir. Thank you for joining us. Let's go through this. The president has already called them grandstanders. He
basically turned it on their head and said that they are almost anti- American or un-American, I should say. Un-American because they're making their products overseas. Do you buy this?
TIM CALKINS, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: No. What the CEOs are doing is they are taking a stand against the latest
development and the latest policies. The thing to remember, though, is that all of these committees are very symbolic of nature. You know, they
don't do that much. They only meet once or twice a year and they exist really for symbolic purposes. The president gathers all of these
executives together and it reflects that there's unity. So, when a CEO backs off and drops off the committee, it's a pretty big slap in the face
for the president. Today, I think what you saw is he's clearly upset about that. He clearly doesn't want to be seen as someone who people are leaving
the team and he hits back.
QUEST: You then get this interesting strategy late tonight, or late this afternoon, from Walmart. Where you have the CEO of Walmart who for the
first and only statement so far, directly criticizes the president but doesn't resign. Is that a different new strategy?
CALKINS: Well I think -- right now I think PR professionals around the country are staying up late trying to figure out how to navigate this. The
CEOs since Trump has been elected, I think they've really tried to stay right in the middle. They try not to seem to be against the
administration. Because that could create lots of troubles for the company. And indeed, he got elected. At the same time, they don't want to
be seen as too supportive. Because he's so polarizing, in so many ways. The last thing they want to be seen of is too much in his camp. They try
to stay in the middle.
I think right now they're beginning to ask themselves can we do that? Given the polarization. Given the development. Can we stay in the middle
spot? And I think it's getting a lot harder. So, I think the CEOs are going to face questions from their employees. They are the ones who remain
in this committee. Do they support that? And I think it's a tough place to play right now.
[16:40:00] I think we'll see more CEOs follow suit and backing out of the committee in the days to come.
QUEST: Now it's interesting, you don't think the window of opportunity for making that grand move has gone? I mean let's face it, if you don't do it
immediately after Ken Frazier left from Merck. And you haven't done it the day after. And you're now got this Walmart CEO. Is there any element of
look, we better leave because everybody else is leaving? This has herd, as you said, it's the herd mentality to leave because everybody else has.
CALKINS: Well exactly. What I think is going to happen now, is as more of these CEOs back off, two things happen. One, it's a little easier to back
off. Because you're not the first one jumping ship. You're just doing a thing that others have already done. At the same time if use stay on the
committee and if you seem to be supportive, that makes a bigger statement on the other side. All of a sudden, I think all of these CEOs are sort of
holding hands, saying there going to be Ok in the middle here. All of a sudden, the middle ground gets a really tough to stay on given the way
things are developing.
Tim Calkins, thank you for joining us. Thank you, I appreciate it.
And at this moment, it's a good moment for us to join our colleagues at CNN in the United States. Jake Tapper continues.
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