Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah; Family: California Man Among 14 Killed In Attacks; Police: House Explosion Likely A Bomb-Making Accident; Authorities Close In On Terrorist After Deadly Attacks; Inside The Group That Clashes With Nazis In Charlottesville. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 18, 2017 - 16:30   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: And until that interview this morning, we found out that she did not want to speak to them and they called during the interview.

[16:30:05] So, it shows why they hadn't been returning requests for comment or answering when the call was going to be set up. And it really shows the difference in the president. I mean, when the OSU attack happened, and the guy ran the car to some students and got up with a knife, the president flew there and went and saw those students and, you know, talked to them and talked to the victims. It really shows that he did not travel to Charlottesville after all of this happened.

And you're exactly right. In any other day, any other White House, this would be the biggest story of this week. What it really shows, they haven't even called the mother of the girl who was killed from Saturday.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes, they haven't gotten through to her. Anyway, Jen Psaki, I want to ask you about President Obama. I've heard from liberals and progressives, disappointed they haven't heard more from President Obama this week after a horrific racial week of tensions, the death of a young woman protesting the Klan. He did send out some tweets in which he quoted Nelson Mandela. One became the most retweeted and the most liked tweet in all-time.

But, did you wish that he did more? Do you wish he spoke out more this week?

JENNIFER PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As an American, sure. Because I think for eight years, people were used to him rising to the moment when there was a crisis, and even people who don't like him or don't like his politics, I think would probably say that when the country needed somebody to be a moral leader, he was there.

But he thought a lot about the role he wanted to play post-presidency and we wanted to leave room for other people to rise to the moment. I think a lot of people have.

TAPPER: All right. Jen Psaki, thanks so much.

Great panel. I appreciate it, everyone.

One of the few black Republicans in Congress will react to the president's words on Charlottesville. That's next.


[16:35:51] TAPPER: We're back with breaking news in our politics lead. White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been fired from the Trump administration.

Joining me to talk about this and much more, is Republican Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah.

Congresswoman, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

REP. MIA LOVE (R), UTAH: Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: So, do you support the president firing Steve Bannon?

LOVE: Well, I support any changes in the White House at this point. You know, I think that this is probably a showing of General Kelly shaking things up, knowing that things aren't going quite well in the White House and, you know, I think this might about good move. Hopefully, anything is better than nothing.

TAPPER: The ouster comes, of course, after the president's initial response to the Klan and Nazis marching on Charlottesville. I want to read to you some of what former Republican presidential candidate and Utah resident, Mitt Romney, said on Facebook today. Quote: What the president communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of American to mourn. The president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize, forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100 percent to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville, unquote.

Do you agree with Governor Romney? And do you think that would make a difference?

LOVE: I think now more than ever, people in the United States and even throughout the world need certainty and leadership. And it would have been nice to get that. But this goes to show, I said this before, that we have to stop looking to Washington to solve all of our problems, to tell us how to feel and what to do. We have to start looking within and making sure that we are the ones that are being the examples out there.

So, that way, no matter what happens in the White House, the people are still voicing their opinions, their concerns and they're the ones that are writing history.

TAPPER: You participated in a unity rally this week in Salt Lake City and you said that racism is not only taught, but that more importantly, it can be untaught. It can be reversed. At the rally, you also came face-to-face with a white supremacist. We're showing a picture of it right now. He's having problems with the idea of holding signs upside down and front side up. Not a surprise, I suppose.

LOVE: Yes.

TAPPER: What would you say to this gentleman as he puts down his upside-down sign? What would you say to him to try to convince him to abandon his hateful ideology?

LOVE: I think, first and foremost, is, you can tell that, that man, I'm not a victim. He's got no influence on me one way or the other. As a matter of fact, I looked at him and I knew that there was something that was off about him and I was just kind of thinking, oh, poor guy. Can't even hold his sign up correctly.

But, you know, this, to me, again, goes to show that, you know, we have to be really comfortable in our skin, stand very comfortable in our principles, so that when idiots like that show up, that we are not victims but we are empowered, that we can be a great example to them. So, we have to remember that I, and me, and everybody else who thinks like me, who believes in unity, who believes in diversity, who care about people based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin, can stand up and have, make sure that this person has no influence over us. That this person is the one that is feeling completely alone and have to change their minds and knowing that they're the ones that are flawed. Not us.

TAPPER: A new CBS News poll out this week showed that 67 percent of Republicans approve of the way President Trump handled the response to the Charlottesville attack. I suppose you're not in that 67 percent. But does that surprise you that so many in your party approved of his response?

LOVE: I think what's surprises me the most is that there's so many people that are looking to the president for a response. I can tell you right now, my kids care more about what I say on Twitter, my actions, than they do about what happens at the White House.

And I would guarantee that most Americans that have children or somebody that looks up to them would care more or are affected more by what they do, what they say, how they respond, than they do about somebody else. It's time for us to make sure we are the role models.

And, again, I didn't -- when watching what was going on with Charlottesville, I didn't have to wait for a president to tell me how to react or how to feel.

[16:40:03] I knew exactly what I needed to do and how to represent the -- how to express the voice of the people that I represent. And that's exactly what I'm going to continue to do and I'm pleading to everyone that is listening right now, that it is time for you to take the power back into your hands. Don't wait for Washington. Don't wait for somebody to tell you why you should be angry and how to behave when you're angry.

Just make sure that you are the one that is expressing love, unity and that American patriotism that is -- that believes in individual liberties and freedom and love. TAPPER: Republican Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah, it's always great

to you have on. Thanks so much.

LOVE: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: An American among the murdered in Spain, as the hunt for a terrorist who drove a van into innocent people continues. We're going to go live to Barcelona, next.


[16:45:00] TAPPER: We're back with the "WORLD LEAD." An American was among the 14 innocents killed in the Islamist terrorist attacks in Spain. He was now been identified. He was 43-year-old Jared Tucker from Lafayette, California. Tucker was in Barcelona celebrating his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife. This tragic news comes as authorities learn the attacks could have, believe it or not, been more horrific. Hours before that van ran rammed through the busy tourist pomaded yesterday, Catalan police say Wednesday night, terrorist accidentally blew up their bomb supply when set of a house explosion. Police believe those bombs were part of the plan.

Authorities stopped yet another attack last night killing five terrorists, armed with an axe, knives and fake explosives who tried to drive an Audi sedan into pedestrians. Let's go to CNN's Arwa Damon. She's at La Rambla Plaza where yesterday's van attack happened. Arwa, given the events over the last 24 hours, Spanish authorities must be realizing they have a terrorist cell in Spain and some members are clearly still on the loose?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. they're still trying to hunt those various different elements down, Jake, but Spain has actually been fighting its own quiet war against terrorism for quite some time. The country right now really trying to come to terms with the violence over the last day.


DAMON: It's almost hard to imagine that this is where such horrific violence took place until you look at the faces of those who pass by. Less than 24 hours earlier, a van careened through this pedestrian street cutting down tourists and locals. A moment frozen in time for those who survived, a moment they expected to die. Authorities say it could have been so much worse. The sign simply reads, Pray for Barcelona. Most people here tell us that they were breaking themselves for some sort of attack, but that hardly lessens the shock, the sorrow or the impact. Police now say that they believe that this terror assault was likely planning something, using massive explosive power not just vehicles as a weapon. This is the working hypothesis, that explosives be being prepared in a house in Alcanar some 150 miles from Barcelona.

On Wednesday, the house was destroyed in a massive blast. The Police Chief says the occupants appeared to have been trying to make explosives out of butane gas. Did that force the cell to bring forward their plans with the van attack that killed over a dozen people and wounded around 100? People are now linking that attack with another that was thwarted hours later. In the seaside resort town of Cambrils, five men in an Audi rammed through pedestrians then a shoot-out with police. One officer shot dead four of the attackers. A fifth ran off and was cornered. He shouting Aleppo, and Allahu Akbar appeared to be shot once but got up only to be shot a second time. He also died. Authorities say there were wearing fake suicide vests and had an axe and knives in their car. The investigation will go on just as the pain caused by these attacks will endure.


DAMON: And Jake, the authorities are now saying that they have identified all five of the attackers that were killed in Cambrils. They're also saying they've identified three of the individuals that they have in custody. But as we were saying earlier, some members of this terrorist cell still remain at large.

TAPPER: All right, Arwa Damon in Barcelona for us, thank you so much.

The violence in Virginia brought attention to racists and Nazis and the ones fighting Nazis as well. So what is Antifa? CNN takes you inside the anti-fascist movement. Stay with us.


[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, the "NATIONAL LEAD" now. By most accounts, almost all the people protesting against the hateful bigot, the Nazis and Klansmen in Charlottesville were peaceful but not all. In their midst was a sometimes very violent group of protesters. They call themselves Antifa, known to not only clash with bigots but also sometimes with police and occasionally storefronts. At least two journalists in Virginia were assaulted by violent counter -protestors over the weekend including this camera man from the Richmond CBS affiliate. CNN's Sarah Ganim now takes us inside Antifa and shows us this group like you've never seen it before.


SARAH GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's 6:00 a.m. in Portland, Oregon and we're headed to a bar with blacked out windows.

They wanted to meet us really early in the morning because they're concerned about a lot of people being around.

We are meeting members of the Rose City Antifa, shore for anti- fascist. This group's main goal is to disrupt neo-Nazis and white supremacists but also take on government and capitalism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Antifa is any group that's willing to stand up against fascists by any means necessary.

GANIM: By any means necessary, they say, can mean outing a white nationalist at theirs work or to their neighbors, or as we've seen recently violence. Fires, property damage, hand-to-hand combat at protests across the country.

Explain to me the reasons behind fighting?

[16:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to make it so unpalatable to be doing white supremacist organizing that they no longer want to do that. And historically, that's what's worked. You have to put your body in the way and you have to make it -- speaking the language that they understand as sometimes thought as violence.

GANIM: There's no firm number on how many Antifa activist there are in the U.S. because there isn't any one organization. Most are local groups that recruit and communicate through social media. But experts who track these organizations say their membership is growing in response to the rise of white national groups in the election of President Donald Trump. Violence and property destruction led to more than 200 arrests in Washington, D.C. on inauguration day. Prosecutors say they were wearing masks, covered head to toe in black, a tactic the Antifa called black block.

SCOTT CROW, ANARCHIST ORGANIZER & ACTIVIST: People dress in black cloth for a few things.

GANIM: Scott Crow has been leading anarchist and militant leftist group for decades.

CROW: So people put on a masks so that we can all become anonymous and then, therefore, we are able to move more freely and do what we need to do, whether it is illegal or not.

GANIM: So some will people push back on that and say that the black block is to keep people from being identified and arrested when they break the law when they commit crime.

CROW: Damn right. It's a good way to avoid the ramifications of law enforcement.

CROWD (Chanting ): Fascists go home! Fascist go home.

GANIM: We saw that first hand at a mayday protest in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cover our face because the Nazis will try to find out who we are. And that is a very bad thing because they harass people. When they organize, they kill people, they hurt people, they fight people and we're the ones who are fighting back. They are the second coming of Hitler.

GANIM: Police in Berkeley told us they haven't seen this kind of destruction since the 1960s. Law enforcement in other cities are dealing with similar situations. Like in Portland, Oregon where Antifa had been involved in at least ten protests ending in violence according to police and it's wearing on the community.

PETE SIMPSON, PORTLAND OREGON POLICE: It is new. It's like this rumble mentality of, I'm going to bring my friends, you bring your friends and we're going to fight it out in the park. It's not something we've seen here. It's not good for the city. People are just frustrated by it. It's affecting their livability, it's affecting their business. GANIM: Has it become more violent?

SIMPSON: It happens quicker. The fire starting that we saw on Mayday is something we haven't seen much of in the past. The running through the street, breaking windows, and everything in sight, we haven't seen it as consistently as we've seen it in the last eight months.

GANIM: But it's the violence that's gotten them attention directly confronting groups that preach white nationalist rhetoric, like on inauguration day, when white nationalist Richard Spencer was punched in the face. And it was the Antifa movement that caused Berkeley to cancel speeches by extreme right provocateurs like Milo Yiannopoulos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there are -- been more hardcore elements of the white supremacist and neo-Nazis that go to these rallies that are itching for a fight, we're there to say, we'll stand in your way.


GANIM: The thing is Jake, that experts who I talked to say that the Antifa violence may end up actually hurting their cause. Across the country, people who are dressing in black cloth are getting arrested. Authorities are taking this seriously but that's not stopping them at all. They have been telling me that they believe that this tactic is working. One of the interesting things that I found in doing this reporting, what's really surprised me is that we found that a lot of these new Antifa members, they're young people. Disenfranchised young people who felt that they were let down by both parties, after the election and this is where they ended up. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, fascinating stuff and obviously, we're not comparing their ideology to the vile bigotry of the Klan or Nazis but they are an increasingly violent player in these protests. Sarah Ganim, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

How does the latest White House firing of Steve Bannon impact President Trump's relationship with Republicans in Congress or his agenda going forward? That's sure to be one of the questions at a CNN Special Event on Monday. I'm going to be moderating exclusive Town Hall with House Speaker Paul Ryan in his home town of Racine, Wisconsin. He'll answering questions from Wisconsin voters about the challenges facing lawmakers when they return from the summer break. You can catch this Town Hall Monday night at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN. And join me this Sunday for "STATE OF THE UNION." I'm going to talk exclusively with Ohio Governor John Kasich as well as the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California. That's Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. Thanks for watching and be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER, tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Now I'm turning you over to Wolf Blitzer. Have a great weekend.