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Trump Goes Off-Script on Racially-Charged Tragedy; Trump Faces Global Backlash for Defending "Both Sides". Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 16, 2017 - 01:00   ET

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


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. Just 24 hours after he condemned the White Supremacist and neo- Nazis, the President Donald Trump is back to blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. His comments at an impromptu news conference in Trump Tower, Tuesday, was jaw-dropping.

VAUSE: He drew a more (INAUDIBLE 00:49) between the self-described White Supremacist and the activist who turned up to protest them, and in what many have described as the coded language of the far-right. Trump said, removing Confederate monuments was an attempt to change history. And in a twilight zone like moment, Mr. Trump said he did not rush to make a statement about Saturday's violence because he wants to wait for all the facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you said, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But sir, sir.

TRUMP: Let me just say this. What about the fact that came charging -- that they came charging with clubs in the hands, swinging clubs?

ACOSTA: But sir.

TRUMP: Do they have any problem? I think they do.

ACOSTA: But sir.

TRUMP: You know, as far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

ACOSTA: You're not putting -- you're putting these protesters on the same level as --

TRUMP: I'm not finished, fake news.

ACOSTA: Sir, you're not putting --

TRUMP: That was a horrible day. ACOSTA: You're not putting these protesters on the same level as neo- Nazis and plantsman.

TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watch this very closely. Much more closely than you people watched it. And you have a -- you had a group on one side that was banned, 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.

ACOSTA: So, that's why.

TRUMP: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: That was quite a news conference. Joining us here in Los Angeles: Democratic Strategist, Matthew Littman; CNN Political Commentator and Trump supporter, John Phillips.

SESAY: Also with us: Entertainment Journalist and Social Commentator, Segun Oduolowu; and we also have CNN Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein. Welcome to all of you. John, let me start with you. Neo-Nazis and White Supremacist groups turned out in Charlottesville and people died. People died and people were injured. And when the country looked to the president, he equivocated and he presented a moral equivalency. That moral equivalency was celebrated by leaders of that group, of that far-right group.

Let's put up the tweets that we have seen from Richard Spencer, one of the organizers. He said, "Trump statement was fair" -- but David Duke coming up first, "thank you, President Trump, for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorist in Black Lives Matter and Antifa." Richard Spencer also tweeted his support and applause for the president, "Trump's statement was fair and down to Earth. Charlottesville could've been peaceful if police did its job."

I guess my question to you is, in the situation where these people came out, people died and were injured, why did the president find it hard to be on the right side of history?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, these people are trolls. They are condemnable. And they are trying to do whatever they can to latch on for publicity.

SESAY: I want to cut you off. But there is one to side, though, the president's response.

PHILLIPS: Yes. I thought his response yesterday, was the response that he should've left at. Because when you're dealing with the situation -- a tragedy like what happened over the weekend in Virginia, you should have a response and it should go in this order. You should condemn the groups who were there because they are condemnable in every possible way -- horrific. The second thing is you should say that they had a Constitutional Right to be there. In the Republic that we live in, that's what the Constitution says, that's what the First Amendment says, that's what the courts have ruled over, and over, and over again including this particular case where they went to a judge and they got a permit.

The third thing he should do is condemn their violence and say that prosecutors should go after them with every aspect of the law and throw them in jail if they assault police officers, counter protesters, ran someone over with their car. And the fourth side of it is to go out and say, counter protesters who showed up and committed an act of political violence, they should be prosecuted too. That's what Trump should say, that's what Trump should leave it at.

VAUSE: Matt --

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Does not --

VAUSE: As you say, this news conference has a lot thing that's surprising, it was not. Some have said, the only thing missing from Trump Tower on Tuesday was a few twiggy torches.

LITTMAN: Well, you know, this is the idea of what John says, which is probably true for a normal president; if it was Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, but not for Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump doesn't feel that way. When Donald Trump made the statement yesterday -- the day before it was insincere. Today, it was Donald Trump being sincere. Donald Trump has a history of racism. He is happy to have the support of this sort of lunatic fringe.

I don't believe that is, you know, 50 percent of the country that voted for Donald Trump believe what these people believed. But Donald Trump is happy to have their support. They're a very vocal minority, and Donald Trump caters to them and has for many years. Mostly, when he started with Barack Obama not being born in this country, that was the beginning of it. He started getting a lot of attention and support there, and that's what catapulted. And when he ran for president, he started out high in the polls, it was because of that racism.

[01:05: 40] SESAY: Segun, to you. As you these, these tweets of support from the likes of David Duke and Richard Spencer, let me ask you this. Do you believe that President Trump, in this moment that we're in, do you believe that the games made by the Civil Rights movement in this country, in the 50's and 60's, can indeed be rolled back?

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST AND SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Isha, I believe that with every breath that I take, you look at the judiciary and where the Supreme Court is going. You look at the way voter registration and minorities have been suppressed. So, I absolutely believe it. And it frightens me because we were just -- we just had a Black president and everyone was singing Kumbaya, and we are in a post-racial America. And within six months of this man's presidency, it's been undone.

Like, when people say that he's not a racist, and to echo off what Michael said, look at his practices when he was -- when he was a landlord. If you don't want to tell me he's a racist when he called the Miss Universe contestant, Ms. Housekeeping, when he found out that she was Latina. If you don't want to tell me that this is not a scumbag, bad guy who've made fun of a handicapped reporter, I'm never going to give that break. And for evil to keep going on in American, good people keep doing nothing about it. You see him for what he is, but it feels as if the GOP Party has basically said, I'm afraid to say the emperor has no close.

And you've hitched your wagon to this man that you can't really control, who really isn't a conservative or a real Republican, but he's running your party and no one wants to step out; not McConnell, not anybody in the Senate or the House. It feels like what he's doing is not only ugly and scary, but it's violence mixed with that. He's thinking the hoods of racism and allowed them to smile brightly for all the world to see. Lebron James said, it's best as a Black person, we have known there's racism in America, Donald Trump just made it fashionable.

VAUSE: OK. Well, you know, apparently, CNN was told: this was not the plan, Ron. So, this was Donald Trump's idea. He was the one that wanted to do this. And in one confirmation of that, let's take a look at the reaction from the White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm going to say this. The first thing that was made, without knowing much other than what we have seen. The second thing that was made (INAUDIBLE 07:57). It was a great honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were the many sides you were talking about, sir?

TRUMP: There are still things that people don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the other sides?

TRUMP: I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know a thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Ron?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, those are pictures that encapsulates so much of what we are seeing privately from Republicans, which is this kind of sense on the one hand of increasing unease, and even discussed at many of the ways that President Trump has approached the presidency. And the other, in an attempt to kind of sublimate all that to this belief that will -- we can't cut him loose because we need to hold together both politically in the substance of we have passed our agenda.

You know, John, I wonder if what we are seeing from the business leaders though. It's sort of a leading indicator of where the politicians may go because certainly, many of these business leaders on the Trump economic councils share his economic agenda on less regulation and lower taxes and many other things he wants to do. But they have concluded by leaving in the last 48 hours, and those who left earlier over immigration and climate.

That his views on social, and racial, and cultural issues were so toxic that they could not be associated with it, even though they want to advance these other economic ideas. And I do think that more Republicans in Congress are going to reach the conclusion that the price of associating with President Trump, because of the way he's approaching these issues maybe too much to bear.

VAUSE: What would fix the areas have --

ODUOLOWU: Ron, why do we have to reach it? Why do they have to reach it? I'm sorry, John. Why do you have to reach it now? He couldn't denounce Nazis, why now?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ODUOLOWU: He was, he was brutal to women, why now?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

ODUOLOWU: He was racist five and a half years ago to Obama, why now? Why are they just realizing right now?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look -- I mean, I think he is the president -- John can address this. He is the president of their party. It is never easy to break from the president of your own party. But -- and in fact, they have kind of viewed him almost as a necessary evil to advance the agenda that they wanted to advance under President Obama but could not because they had a Democrat in the White House. And so, they have tried to kind of look away. And Paul Ryan, I think is, you know, the ultimate example of this kind of tension and duality.

[01:10:12] On the one hand, you know, he criticized Trump quite a bit during the campaign. He described himself as the disciple of Jack Camp, and yet he has done his best during the Trump presidency to try to look the other way even today. Not criticizing the president by name, because he believes he needs a strong president to pass his tax, and spending cut, and regulatory agenda. But I do wonder, you know, you add a brick to the load each time President Trump does something that is out of the balance of what people expect from the president or can accept from a president. And ultimately, that load does break.

LITTMAN: Well, Ron, I don't believe that he thinks he needs a strong president. I think he believes that he needs a Republican president.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

SESAY: All right. So, let's put up the tweet that Paul Ryan put out in response to the president's news conference on Tuesday, and this is what he said: "We must be clear, White Supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counted to all this country stand for. There can be no moral ambiguity." John Phillips, to you. The very fact that he doesn't name the president provides some ambiguity to that statement, quite frankly.

PHILLIPS: He's 100 percent right. It's not just Paul Ryan. Others in the Congress, including John McCain, and other who put out similar statements have been saying, many of them on this network and other networks, all day reiterating those points.

VAUSE: McConnell didn't say anything in rhyme for that, you know --

PHILLIPS: They were making those points over, and over, and over again. And I'll say this in terms of the politics, success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan. Right now --

VAUSE: Trump's an orphan?

PHILLIPS: His polling number were starting to hover down south. And depending on what happens with this, will depend -- will determine how they react to everything that plays out.

SESAY: I must ask you this very quickly because I know John has a question. The politics, the policy, the polling number aside, are you comfortable with when history looks back at this moment, that you and other members of the GOP stood by this president. Are you at peace with that?

PHILLIPS: I thought what you said yesterday was fantastic. It's the position that I share about what went on in Virginia over the weekend. And look, I mean, that is the position of most Republicans. Most Republicans believe that this is a fringe element of wackos and they've been around for these. Before they were the alt-right, they were the John Birchers.

VAUSE: You know, Matt, the first rule of politics: when you're in a hole, stop digging. White House staff, they've done that on Monday. But it seems 24 hours later, Donald Trump came back with the front end loiter.

LITTMAN: Well, they should not have him out there. They shouldn't even have him out there today, because -- but you know, everything that they say, oh, they're still shocked by this. What have they seen for the last year and a half of Donald Trump? This is what he does, so you have him out there in front of the press and you don't think after the last few days he's going to say something crazy? Of course, he is. And they can't control -- I mean, John Kelly, who's the Chief of Staff. He's the chief of the staff. He's not the chief of Donald Trump. He doesn't control Donald Trump. Donald Trump's going to do whatever he wants.

When Kelly came in, they said, oh, Trump's going to stop tweeting. They said Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were going to liberalize those positions. None of that happens. Donald Trump's going to do whatever he wants to do. I just have to say this. There's 4.3 employment, right now in this country. Our country has recovered recession faster than most every other country in the world. Our economy is pretty good. These people who are out there, these angry White people, many other Black people, because these White people feel they can't date Kardashian. I don't know what the problem is. (LAUGHTER)

LITTMAN: These people are so angry now, wait until the economy starts to -- wait toward seven percent unemployment. And you think that these people are going to stop these marches? This is just going to keep going.

VAUSE: Ron?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, there's another point about that, which is that Donald Trump's disapproval rating in the Gallup polling yesterday reached 61 percent, which was higher than higher than Jimmy Carter or George H. W. Bush -- the last one from presidents ever got to during their single term in the White House. And to, you know, reinforce the point, that's at 4.3 percent unemployment.

So, I think, you know, a lot these Republicans, even looking in the process political terms have to decide, I think, in the months ahead whether the opportunity to try to pass a deregulatory spending cut, tax cut agenda is politically worth the cost of a president who is alienating so much of a public and identifying the party as a party of racial intolerance, precisely at the moment that the most diverse generation in history -- American history, the millennials -- are surpassing the baby boomers as the largest generation of eligible voters.

And what's behind them, the post Millennials will start voting in 2020 are even more diverse. So, whatever they are kind of calculating in terms of the advantages of the Trump presidency in advancing their agenda, there are real long-term risks that they are taking by in effect tolerating the intolerance that he's displaying.

SESAY: Segun, from your point of view, so what do people do? Those who are against the president, who feel strongly about this moment this moment who are wondering what their next move should be. I mean, what are your thoughts?

ODUOLOWU: Well, you know, it's funny that you say that, Isha. In my mind, I want to say the Malcolm X by any means necessary. But you know, we can't go there. And I don't believe in violence. And I don't believe an eye for an eye. And I don't feel that Black people, and Latinos, and Asians, and people of color should march in the street. But I don't believe the polls either; I watched those same polls that said he couldn't win and now he's sitting in the White House. So, I think what people need to do is start sitting down with their children, start sitting down and having these uncomfortable conversations around the water cooler, and with their friends. Because I really want to see where people's hearts and minds are. You said it best that this is more than just politics and party affiliation. This is the soul of the United States.

[01:15:43] And for people like John -- again, who I respect and think highly of, for you guys to sit back and watch what is happening to the party of Lincoln be co-opted by racist and bigots, and not be strong enough in your denouncement that, it speaks to me that again, it feels like you're just turning your head unnecessary evil, but it's still evil. We need to have these conversations loudly, publicly, and peacefully more than anything, and start bringing about some real change. Stop being afraid to call him a coward. Stop being afraid to say that the people that voted for him, that are still staying and sticking by his side -- that's cowardice because they know better. If they're ignorant, let's educate them. But if you know better, that's just flat out being afraid. And to me, you should be better than that.

VAUSE: OK. Thank you, Segun. We'd like everybody to stay with us.

SESAY: Yes. Quick pause.

VAUSE: Our pro-growing note here, about 15 minute's time, must see T.V. We will replay the full news conference from Donald Trump. It's here on CNN; we would not want to miss it.

SESAY: Yes. Next, on NEWSROOM L.A., Donald Trump's outburst included a review of the so-called alt-left, that's just ahead. Plus, much more with our political panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at them, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me just say this. What about the fact that came charging -- that they came charging with clubs in the hands, swinging clubs? Do they any problem? I think they do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: All right, we're back. With us: Democratic Strategist Matthew Littman; CNN Political Commentator, John Phillips.

VAUSE: Also, Entertainment Journalist and Social Commentator, Segun Oduolowu; and CNN's Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein. Ron, first to you. It was really notable, the contrast between Monday's teleprompter hostage video addressed by Donald Trump, and the news conference on Tuesday, and just the body language, the tone, the energy. Why did the president go rogue on Tuesday?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think it was Maya Angelou who said, you know when someone tells you who they are, shows who they are, believe them.

SESAY: Believe them.

[01:20:00] BROWNSTEIN: And I think the, you know, you saw the contrast between the passion, the intensity of the president's words today, his criticism in media, his arguments that they're being unfair to the people, who, you know, protested on Friday night, chanting Jews will not replace us. You know, that was -- that was where his passion was. And that yesterday, was very much of what he did, as we talked about before, last year with David Duke, where he sent the first message by not -- by what he didn't say, initially sent the clear message by not condemning him. And then, only after, bipartisan condemnation kind of did the proforma thing of kind of denouncing what was, you know, what everyone else in the political system would've denounced on day one, but you saw where his passion was today.

And again, I think, you know, all of this kind of strips the veil for all of those Republicans who are hoping that Trump could simply be tamed enough to not become an insurmountable problem while they advance the agenda that they want to do on the role and size of government. This is some -- this is the central issue of the Trump presidency. His impact on the divisions in America. His exploiting of those divisions from day one of his campaign, and Republicans, I think, both in the near term and in the light of history have to decide which side they are going to be on in that division.

SESAY: Matt, let me go to you. Was there anything about Tuesday that surprise you?

LITTMAN: Well, let me just say to what Ron said that this is the central issue of the Trump administration. A few days ago, it was a nuclear war with North Korea.

VAUSE: Right.

LITTMAN: This has somehow made that a secondary story. But you know, what surprises me is that people expect Donald Trump to be any different than he is. Going back for decades, Donald Trump has this history of racism. We talked about how in the 70's, he's sued by the Justice Department, how to settle Justice Department. In the 80's, putting out full-page ads about the Central Park Five that he wanted the death penalty for people who were not convicted. And then, probe against Barack Obama and say he wasn't from this country.

Also, remember, through the campaign, he sent out a tweet that said, 81 percent of homicides against White people are committed, Black people. That was really an (INAUDIBLE 22:03), it's like 17 percent. No one was asking him; why did he send out that tweet? I mean, I think Donald Trump has a history of racism. And I think it's just coming out now because these are -- he's finding that these are the people now who really support him. His popularity level is at about 34, 33 percent; that's pretty low.

VAUSE: There are calls for the president to (INAUDIBLE 22:24) Steve Bannon, Senior Advisor and former, you know, Chairman of the Breitbart, alt-right Web site, which Bannon probably declared at a platform for the alt-right. If Bannon is fired, would that make any difference to what appears to be Trump's embrace to these far-right groups?

PHILLIPS: Well, first of all, I don't think he embraced them. Second, of all, I don't think that Steven Bannon is long for the world. Anyone who paid attention to what the Mooch said last night, Stephen Colbert.

VAUSE: Doesn't make any difference.

PHILLIPS: Well, I think it -- I think it will make a difference. What difference it will make, I think at this point is still undetermined. There's a lot of people around the president, politically, who are not fans of Steven Bannon. They're fans of him for a variety of reasons. The guy has an abrasive personality. The guys were -- the original role for Steven Bannon in the Trump White House was to take loyalist to the president on the campaign and appoint them to sensitive positions within the administration. He, so far, has not done that to the degree that people thought that he was going to.

Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus had much more influence over the staffing of that White House. I think that's part of the reason that you've seen the number of leaks that you've seen. And so, because of that, a lot of people who you would think would politically be looking out for Steven Bannon's back are in fact looking to be the ones to stick the knife in, because they think that the guy is ineffective.

LITTMAN: But what does this have to do? Donald Trump is Donald Trump. Steve Bannon, if he comes or goes, Donald Trump's been acting this way since the 1970's, so what's the difference if Steve Bannon's there? There's a lot of attention of whether Steve Bannon is going to stay within this administration. It doesn't make a difference because Donald Trump's views -- Donald Trump came out today, Steve Bannon had nothing to do with that. Donald Trump is expressing who he is. Steve Bannon has nothing to do it. If Steven Bannon is out, it's because Donald Trump can see the loop.

PHILLIPS: If Steve Bannon leaves, it strengthens the hand of the generals around him. It strengthens Kelly, McMaster, that crowd.

SESAY: Segun, if Steve Bannon is sent packing from the White House, will it make a difference in your opinion when it comes to this administration and its dealings with race and racism?

ODUOLOWU: No, it's like lipstick on a pig. I mean, it's still a pig. You can't get rid of Bannon, and then tell me, to Matthew's point, that you're any less racist? Like, I'm not buying that. I'm a student of history, I've seen enough from Trump to know exactly what I'm dealing with. And this is what scares me, Isha, and I think I just scare all of us. There are young people that are coming up in America now that fought under Obama, that, you know, plurality and togetherness were something that they were going to spearhead to the future.

And they're watching the dying claw of the old guard, cling to the past that honestly should've long been dead and buried. We're talking about the cold. We're talking about ignorance. We're talking about the destruction of the environment. And people clinging onto jobs that no longer fit the American ideal or what America should be about. And these people, these bullies in power, are doing such heinous things with the way that rigging elections, the way they're making it difficult for people to vote.

[01:25:32] And Trump right now, sits almost -- he sits almost at the, at a pinnacle in time for America where if we are not careful, this could become the norm. I'm tired of all of the smart people say that this rabid base is such a small percentage, because it -- he won, which is terrible. The electoral college is still in effect, so someone like could win again depending on how that would all play out. And we need to be -- we need to be a lot better.

I mean, look what's coming with the way the Supreme Court has now, is now getting stacked. Look at the way the Congress is now stacked. And for everyone to say, well, this pulled us down 33 percent, and this other poll is showing four percent. It honestly doesn't matter when in the streets of America, people are rioting. You have, you have KKK members brave enough now to take their hoods off because they feel that President Trump cosigns their agenda.

SESAY: Yes.

VAUSE: Ron, just very quickly. You know, all of Segun said, you know, the point has been made. Donald Trump held his news conference in Trump Tower, just a few floors above where he traveled down that escalator two years ago and had his campaign launched, and talk about Mexican's being a great person, sending them back, and drug dealer, and all that kind of stuff.

BROWNSTEIN: Look, as we've talked about before. I mean, American politics has been evolving toward a collision between a Republican coalition that relies primarily on the voters who are most uneasy about demographic cultural and economic change -- what I've called a coalition of restoration. And a Democratic coalition that is essentially an urbanized, diverse, younger coalition of voters who are essentially comfortable with the economic social and demographic changes.

What Donald Trump has done is take this divide and push it further; push the Republican Party further in the direction of being a party of restoration, opposing not only undocumented immigration but proposing to cut legal immigration in half, and reconsidering all of the work on consent decrease with police departments and affirmative action, and further on voting right restrictions. And this is a gamble, and you know, and there is in fact; it is not a timely constituency for this, but it is not the growing constituencies in America.

And what Republicans have to decide is: are they not only the wrong side of history by identifying what some other problems that Trump is leading into, but also on the wrong side of political evolution. And I do think that those questions have the kind of balancing the price of associating with Trump that we saw with the business community in leaving these councils, I think more Republican elected officials are going to be asking themselves in the weeks or months ahead.

SESAY: Well, this conversation is certainly going to continue -- we know that in the hours ahead. Matthew Littman, John Phillips, Segun Oduolowu, and our own Ron Brownstein, we thank you for the great conversation -- passionate and honest. We appreciate it. Thank you.

[01:28:22] VAUSE: OK. So, we have been talking about it all night, all day, and we will be talking about it for days to come. So, just ahead, what's the whole thing? Donald Trump's new conference from the guilder than gold Trump Tower.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: And welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. Donald Trump is once again blaming both sides for the clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. The US president claims counter-protesters swaying clubs sparked some of the violence. And he says not everyone marching on the other side was a white supremacist. Some, he called fine people.

VAUSE: At least 30 people were killed, more than 80 others wounded in a triple suicide attack in Nigeria's Borno estate. Three female bombers targeted a market and a cab for people displaced by violence caused by Boko Haram militants. So far, no group has claimed responsibility.

SESAY: The death toll in Sierra Leone is rising as crews search for survivors after massive mud slides. This season's rainfall is more than twice as heavy as usual. At least 245 people are dead and hundreds of other are still missing. Sierra Leone's president has declared a week of mourning.

VAUSE: But, now, an encore performance of President Trump's entire news conference from Tuesday, most of which was on the violence in Charlottesville.

SESAY: And it started as a speech on infrastructure, but quickly turned into a contentious Q&A with reporters about Saturday's protest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you think that CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because they're 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 products 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're 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.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: I didn't wait long. I didn't wait long.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I didn't wait long. 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 facts. 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 my...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I brought it. I brought it. I brought it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: As I said on, 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. As to - 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.

[01:35:05] 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.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: They don't. They don't. (CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: How about a couple of -

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: How about a couple of infrastructure questions?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump, was it terrorism, that event? Was that terrorism?

TRUMP: Say it, what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CEO of Walmart 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 Walmart, who I know is a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean -

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: 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 -

(CROSSTALK)

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, 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 after - with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things - excuse me - there are still things that people don't know.

TRUMP: I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts. OK -

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it - two questions. Was it terrorism? And can you tell us what you're feeling about your chief strategist -

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and his 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 MALE: I would echo Maggie's (ph) question. Steve Bannon...

TRUMP: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But can you tell us broadly what you're - do you still have confidence in Steve?

TRUMP: Well, we'll see - look, 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We will take a short break here. But a lot more from Donald Trump. Up next, he draws a troubling moral equivalency between those who stand to hate and those who oppose it. We'll have the rest of the president's remarks in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:41:04] SESAY: Hello, everyone. Let's pick up where we left off before the break and President Trump's extraordinary news conference from Trump Tower on Tuesday. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) he has called on you to defend your national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, against...

TRUMP: I've already done it. I did it the last time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if he called on it again, linking this -

TRUMP: Senator McCain?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: - the alt-right and -

TRUMP: Senator McCain, you mean the one who voted against Obamacare? Who is - you mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good healthcare?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't think that -

TRUMP: No, define it for me. Come on. Let's go. Define it for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain defined them as the same group -

TRUMP: OK. What about the alt-left that came charging? 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?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump -

(CROSSTALK)

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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir -

TRUMP: As far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

Wait a minute, I'm not finished. I'm not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

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. (CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that the - 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.

Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, 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's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?

You know, you all - 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 Robert E. Lee.

Infrastructure question, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the statue 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?

TRUMP: I think they've gotten better or the same - 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 announce. We have many companies, I say, pouring back into the country. [01:45:05] 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.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) on both sides, sir? You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are...

TRUMP: Well, I do think there's blame - yes, I think there's blame on both sides. You look at - 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.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And if you reported it accurately, you would say.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest...

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. (INAUDIBLE) and you had 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.

QUESTION: George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same (INAUDIBLE)... TRUMP: 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? OK, good. 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've got - you had a lot of bad - you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who was treated unfairly, sir? I just want to understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? I just want to understand what you were saying.

TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they 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 have a - you have an infrastructure...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill? You didn't get healthcare. You -

TRUMP: Well, you know, I'll tell you. We came very close with healthcare. 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 healthcare.

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...

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 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.

[01:50:00] Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: It was extraordinary even watching it again.

VAUSE: It is a moment in history.

SESAY: Yes. As many times as we've seen it. Next on news from LA, President Trump is facing a lot of pressure at home, but he's also got people all over the world watching. We'll ask an expert how those controversial comments are likely to resonate worldwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Donald Trump is already isolated on the world stage. His policies on immigration and climate change, for example, have caused outrage in many countries. More recently, his bellicose threats against North Korea raised tensions and anxiety.

SESAY: In his news conference on Tuesday, he sparked outrage across the US and now the world will be waking to what has been described as an unprecedented moment in US presidential history.

For more on what the reaction is likely to be, we head to Berlin and Dominic Thomas, who is Chair of the Department of French and Francophone studies at UCLA.

Dominic, always good to see you. How will President Trump's moral equivalency between neo-Nazi groups and white supremacists - this moral equivalency between these groups and those who came out to protest against them, how will that go over in a country like Germany that has its own Nazi past?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: Right. Well, of course, here, we are heading into the campaign for the federal elections that are coming up later in September.

And there's been much attention to Donald Trump. In fact, Donald Trump is arguably the number one thing that political candidates are talking about. And so, these latest events in the United States has, of course, brought tremendous attention.

And there's absolutely no ambiguity around the question of the Nazi past here in Germany. Chancellor Merkel will speak openly about it. There's acknowledgement for the responsibility for this particular past.

And what media has been talking about and different candidates have been talking about as well is, of course, the very sort of visuals, the optics of this, the flags, the torches, the swastikas and so on.

Now, of course, there are strict freedom of speech laws in Germany, but there's zero tolerance for the display of these kinds of things in the public space.

And there is also a remembrance of the fact that Jim Crow laws and, of course, laws in relation to segregation were, of course, inspiring to the Nazi ideologies. So, lots of correlations with this and a total dismal of this idea that there's such a thing as two sides to this equation.

VAUSE : Dominic, Donald Trump is already pretty unpopular in many parts of Europe, not just with the leaders, but with the population as well. His disapproval numbers are like 80, 90 percent.

Will these comments on Tuesday at this news conference, does it make that relationship worse, how does it complicate his dealings with European leaders?

THOMAS: Well, going to make - it's right from the beginning, and his comments about NATO, about the European Union certainly led people to question the reliability of the Atlantic alliance.

And then, subsequently at the G20 meetings, the G7 meetings and so on, the refusal to sign on to the Paris Accord, the way in which Donald Trump has been dealing with North Korea, all of these have raised a tremendous concern amongst European leaders.

And I think it is safe to say that the current sort of position of European leaders is that the United States has essentially vacated the spot of world leader.

[01:55:06] And this latest discussion where so many people had been willing to certainly to sort of - to try and sort of give President Trump a chance are sort of talking a little bit about his protectionist policies and so on.

But at this particular juncture, it's become increasingly clear that these policies are shaped by some very problematic views of race relations, social relations, and class relations. And let's just say that the Trump stock has taken a further dip on the international stage here. SESAY: Yes. Dominic, in the absence of America's leadership on the world stage, what does multilateral diplomacy look like? What fills that vacuum?

THOMAS: Right. Well, the interesting thing is it's not just across the Atlantic that, of course, that Europe is looking. They're also looking across the channel to the Britain and Brexit, and realizing that that's also has left a tremendous gap.

And interestingly enough, as we head into this federal election in Germany, the more one talks about Donald Trump and more one talks about the world stage, of course, the better this is for Chancellor Merkel's chances of being reelected.

Now, she has nothing to be ashamed of in terms of her record on the economy and her leadership over the past decade in Germany. But the more one talks about these kinds of questions, the more Angela Merkel emerges as a reliable, stable, and experienced leader.

And this is, of course, a great benefit to have as she heads into this campaign. And I think that the Germans overwhelmingly recognize that Angela Merkel is filling the space as a leader on the international stage right now, somebody who is respected and is able to speak to various constituencies about some of the most important issues of the day.

VAUSE: Dominic, we're out of time, so we'll leave it there. It's great to have you with us.

And, of course, some have suggested that maybe these comments were even closer to Jews and the ideology of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. But, Dominic, thank you for being with us.

SESAY: Thank you. Thank you, Dominic. And there, we must leave it. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I am Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please join us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA. There you can find highlights and clips of our show. But don't go there yet because we will be back with more right after this.