Return to Transcripts main page
State of the Union
Charlottesville Remembered; Interview With Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe; Interview With Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Trump Condemns "All Types Of Racism" A Year After Riot; ; Omarosa Secretly Records White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly; The Swamp Creatures In Washington In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 12, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Sit-down showdown -- the president's legal team in a standoff with the special counsel, with a possible presidential interview on the line.
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Why do you want to get him under oath? Do you think we're fools?
TAPPER: Will they cut a deal? The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, will be here in moments.
Plus: tense anniversary. After the last year's violent protests in Charlottesville...
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Whose streets? Our streets!
TAPPER: ... white supremacists gear up to march to the White House today.
The man who was Virginia's governor back then may now be preparing to take on Trump.
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: You would have to sell tickets to that debate.
TAPPER: Former Governor Terry McAuliffe will be here next.
And lesson learned? One year after his controversial comments on Charlottesville...
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
TAPPER: ... the president now tweets, and he condemns all types of racism. Just what is he trying to signal?
TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is kind of confused.
Today marks one year since the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. And you might expect an American president to take the opportunity to speak forcefully against racism, especially with white nationalists and supremacists preparing to march to the White House, his house, this very evening.
Instead, we got this single tweet -- quote -- "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to all Americans."
All types of racism, all Americans, critics of the president say this is language that seemed to echo the president's phrase from last year, when he blamed violence on both sides.
And his reluctance to directly condemn white supremacists, that caution a stark contrast with his daughter Ivanka's assertion on Twitter that -- quote -- "There is no place for white supremacy, racism and neo-Nazism in our great country," not to mention a contrast with the president's forceful takedown this weekend of his own attorney general, calling Jeff Sessions on Twitter scared stiff and missing in action.
This as the president's legal team is locked in intense negotiations with the special counsel over whether the president will sit for an interview as part of the ongoing Russia investigation.
Thursday night, the president dined with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
And the former mayor of New York is joining me now.
Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for joining me. We appreciate it.
There's been a lot of news this week about the back and forth with the special counsel, about whether there's going to be an interview.
I want to play for you the rationale you have offered as to why you don't want the president to be questioned about his dealings with then FBI Director James Comey.
TAPPER: Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GIULIANI: We're walking into a possible perjury trap, not because he isn't telling the truth, but because somebody else isn't telling the truth who they would credit, namely Comey.
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's a problem.
GIULIANI: ... indicated to us even in our discussions a preference for Comey, a preference for some of these other people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: How exactly has the Mueller team led you to believe they have a preference for Comey, that they would side with him?
What have they said?
GIULIANI: Well first of all, I mean, we haven't talked to them in -- I haven't talked to them in about two months, so this goes back two months ago.
Also, it goes back to conversations they had with John, John Dowd, who I talk to several times a week.
I guess the clearest one is that we have -- we have offered to give them what you call a proffer. In other words, we will tell them the president's answers to everything. They already know them.
Let me give you a simple example: Flynn. The president says he never told Comey that he should go easy on Flynn. Comey says the president did. He put it in his memo.
Now, we do have a prior contradictory statement by Comey under oath to the contrary. But put that aside. That's -- that's if we ever had a trial. I don't think we will.
So, if he goes in and testifies to that under oath, instead of just this being a dispute, they can say it's perjury if they elect to believe Comey, instead of Trump. And they should know by now who they believe.
TAPPER: Right, but you have said that they have indicated that they already side with Comey. And I'm wondering, what have they said to lead you to that impression?
GIULIANI: That's -- that's what they have said. They have said they're not willing to tell us what their -- what their purpose is for asking that question, since they already know the answer.
So, you know, we have been doing this a long time, Jay and I. And I know the purpose for it. The purpose for it is to write up some kind of perjury thing. That's what we mean by -- there's an article in "National Review" this week by Andy McCarthy, who is a very fine prosecutor, that explains how he -- how you put together a perjury trap, and that this is probably a perfect example of it.
TAPPER: You have said -- you have said one reason why the president doesn't need to sit for questions about his dealings with Comey is because he's already given his explanations, he's already -- he's already made them public.
I just want to be clear exactly what happened in that conversation with Comey about Michael Flynn.
What exactly did President Trump say? [09:05:02]
GIULIANI: They didn't -- there was no conversation about Michael Flynn.
The president didn't find out that Comey believed there was until about -- I think it was February when it supposedly took place. Memo came out in May.
And, in between, Comey testified under oath that in no way had he been obstructed at any time. And then, all of a sudden, in May, he says he felt obstructed, he felt pressured by that comment, you should go easy on Flynn.
So we -- we maintain the president didn't say that. But if we do that under oath, we end up in a sort of Martha Stewart situation.
TAPPER: But, Mr. Mayor, you said -- you told ABC News last month that the president told Comey -- quote -- "Can you give him a break?"
Now you're saying that they never had a...
GIULIANI: No, I never -- I never told ABC that. That's crazy. I have never said that.
What I said was, that is what Comey is saying Trump said. I have always said the president denies it. Look, it'd be easier for me if the president did say that. Jay and I could defend that.
The statement, go easy on him, is hardly an obstruction. Obstruction involves a threat. Obstruction involves false testimony. Obstruction involves an offer of money. It has to be corrupt. Just saying exercise your prosecutorial discretion to give a general a break, I had that happen all the time to me when I was a prosecutor.
TAPPER: So you're saying that President Trump and James Comey never discussed Michael Flynn?
GIULIANI: That -- that is what he will testify to if he's asked that question. They already know that.
So why are they asking us for him to repeat what they already know under oath?
TAPPER: And you're also saying that -- that, a month ago, you didn't tell ABC News that he said something along the lines of, can you give him a break?
GIULIANI: No, I did not. I said, that is what Comey says.
TAPPER: And I -- let me ask you a question, just a little larger philosophical question. And I know you're defending your client. But, for the record, do you think that a president of the United States, any president, can ever obstruct justice? Or do you think that's impossible because the president's the executive, in charge of the Justice Department?
GIULIANI: Well, there are -- there are people who argue that he could never obstruct justice. I think that's a -- too far-fetched an argument. And we don't have to make it, obviously.
I mean, suppose a president were to put a gun to someone's head and say, I'm going to kill you unless you -- unless you stop testifying or don't testify or say what I want you to say.
Obviously, I can't imagine that that isn't an obstruction of justice.
I think -- I think the narrower argument is, when he's exercising his power as president -- obviously, using a gun isn't exercising the power of a president -- and he's firing somebody, then it becomes very, very questionable whether it can be an obstruction of justice.
And in this particular case, he gave other reasons that are perfectly legitimate.
The best -- the best interview is the one with Lester Holt. Although he mentions the Russia investigation, he ends the interview by saying, I fully expect that somebody else will take his place, and I may be even looking at a longer investigation.
So how -- that can't be obstruction. I mean, he knows that somebody is going to replace Comey. And somebody did a few days later.
TAPPER: You have been saying that all this needs to be over by the end of the month, by September 1.
Take a listen to what you said on FOX News this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: If it isn't over by September, then we have a very, very serious violation of the Justice Department rules that you shouldn't be conducting one of these investigations in the 60-day period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, as you know, that's not actually accurate.
There is a DOJ custom not to make public disclosures about investigations within 60 days of an election, but there's no DOJ rule that every investigation needs to be shut down within 60 days of an election.
GIULIANI: No, of course, not one that is imminent or one that has to be done or some serious loss of evidence could take place. But there is a Justice Department practice -- and he's bound by it --
that, to the best you can, you shouldn't be carrying these things on right before an election. You can't carry on this investigation without a leak.
I mean, I don't know who's doing it, but maybe -- maybe it's the special counsel, maybe it's some of the agents, maybe it's some of the defense lawyers. I don't know.
But -- but everything gets leaked -- or just about everything.
So -- and you don't want to do what Comey -- you don't want to do what Comey did, which is to run -- have some serious disclosure take place out of your control 10 days before the election.
TAPPER: So, the special counsel has scheduled grand jury testimony from Roger Stone associate Randy Credico on September 7, according to Credico's attorney.
TAPPER: That's after your September 1 deadline.
TAPPER: What's your response?
GIULIANI: You know, September -- September 1 was the date that Bob Mueller gave me back two months ago, where he said -- when we were talking about getting his report done, he threw out the date September 1 as being a reasonable date to get it done.
And I -- maybe I credit it too much. I thought he meant, well, that will get us -- that will keep us clear of the -- of the elections.
And they did say something like they didn't want to repeat some of the mistakes that Comey made. So, maybe I put those two things together or Jay did, and we came away with the idea that they're trying to get it done by then.
They also seem for the first time to be -- I'm not saying pressure us, but they seem to be trying to speed us up to give them an answer. So I -- we may be arguing over something that we don't have to argue over.
I think they feel the necessity to get as close as they can to that 60-day period as -- as we do. I mean, after all, they're the ones who are going to be criticized for it, not us.
TAPPER: But you have said that you think that the ongoing Russia investigation might help Republicans in the midterms because President Trump -- quote -- "needs something to energize his voters."
What do you say to critics who say that you and your team seem to be intentionally dragging out these interview negotiations in order to energize the GOP base?
GIULIANI: Well, you know, I -- you could argue either way about the political effect of it, kind of like -- we're being like Comey now and trying to figure out the political implications of an investigation.
You could also say it might -- it might energize the other base because they're -- they're so intent on -- some of them have come out for impeachment before the investigation.
Be that as it may, the most important thing is that we shouldn't be carrying on this investigation any longer than we have to. It can get done by early September. They have all the information they need to write a report and either clear the president, raise questions, do whatever they want to do.
After all, the ultimate decision-maker here will be Rosenstein, not -- not -- not Mueller.
TAPPER: But you're still arguing about the interview and whether or not there should be -- that Mueller can even ask about any of the dealings with Comey?
GIULIANI: Well, we -- I should be clear. He's not going to -- we're not going to take any questions on Comey, because we believe that we would be almost committing malpractice by doing that.
They have -- they have made it clear that they will not indicate to us what their view on this is. And without that, we run the risk of their having the ability to cite him for perjury.
TAPPER: I just want to play for you -- because, earlier in the interview, I was talking about a comment you made to ABC News a month ago about what exactly President Trump said to Comey.
You're now saying that the president tells you that he said nothing.
GIULIANI: I have been saying that from the beginning.
TAPPER: OK, but I just want -- I just want to...
GIULIANI: I'm talking about -- I'm talking about Comey's rendition of it.
TAPPER: I just want to play the sound, so people understand why I asked -- why I asked the question.
GIULIANI: Sure. Sure. I -- OK.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: How is he a good witness for the president if -- if he's saying that the president was asking, directing him, in his words, to let the Michael Flynn investigation go? GIULIANI: He didn't direct him to do that.
What he said to him was, can you -- can you give him a break?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, he didn't direct him to. What he said to him was, can you give him a break?
You said that. I mean...
GIULIANI: Yes, I said it.
But I also said before it that I'm talking about their version of it.
Look, lawyers argue in the alternative. I know it's complicated, but, my goodness, you have been over a long enough that -- I mean, why would I say something that -- that isn't true?
I mean, that -- the president didn't say to him go easy on Flynn or anything about Flynn. He's saying that. I am talking about their alternative. I'm saying the conversation never took place, but, if it did take place -- and here's the conversation that's alleged -- it is not illegal to have said that.
That's what I'm saying. We call it arguing in the alternative.
TAPPER: All right. It was a little confusing, I suppose.
GIULIANI: So, I appreciate that. But, you know, I have been asked the question numerous times. That's the answer. And if I -- if I confused it, I'm sorry.
TAPPER: I do want to ask you one question about one of your nemeses, Mr. Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels.
TAPPER: Michael Avenatti.
TAPPER: So, he was speaking at the Democratic Wing Ding dinner. It's a fund-raiser at the Iowa State Fair this week. He said he's seriously considering a run for the White House against President Trump.
Wondering what your thoughts are on Mr. Avenatti running for president.
GIULIANI: Well, he was speaking at the wing nut -- what was that?
TAPPER: Wing Ding Dinner. It's the Iowa Democratic Party fund- raiser.
GIULIANI: Oh, the Wing -- the Wing Ding dinner, OK. That -- that sounds like a right -- the right place for him to speak.
Look, he has every right to do what he wants. I mean, I think he -- I would settle his bank -- the bankruptcy situation, where he owes 10 million bucks, first, but, hey, it's up to him.
TAPPER: Well, there's a history of people with bankruptcies in their past running for president.
GIULIANI: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no.
TAPPER: Mayor Giuliani -- Mayor Giuliani, we...
GIULIANI: That's the cheap shot. That's a cheap shot.
TAPPER: Mayor Giuliani, good to see you. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
GIULIANI: All right. Take care, yes.
TAPPER: One year after the deadly riots in Charlottesville, President Trump is condemning -- quote -- "all racism."
All racism? Is that the right message?
The man who was governor of Virginia at the time, Terry McAuliffe, will be here next.
TAPPER: Today, Charlottesville, Virginia, is under a state of emergency, and Washington, D.C., is in a state of high tension ahead of an expected march by white supremacists on the White House.
My guest, Terry McAuliffe, was governor of Virginia back then. Now he's on a cross-country tour promoting Democratic candidates and possibly, it's been speculated, laying the groundwork for a run for president in 2020.
Governor McAuliffe, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
MCAULIFFE: Good to be back with you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you strongly criticized President Trump a year ago for his response to the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, and you called it a lack of leadership by him.
Here's what the president tweeted about the anniversary this weekend.
He wrote -- quote -- "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to all Americans."
Is that good enough, or do you have concerns about that statement?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, he should have done it a year ago.
I was there in Charlottesville. To see these neo-Nazis or white supremacists, about 1,000, walking down the streets screaming the most vile things about members of the African-American community, about members of the Jewish faith, I had never seen anything like it, Jake.
People used to wear hoods in this country because they wanted to disguise themselves. They don't feel they need to do that anymore.
And I talked to the president that afternoon. I explained him the situation, what had been going on, what these people were doing in the city of Charlottesville.
And when he came out and gave his statement that it was both sides' fault, I got to tell you, it was shocking to me.
It wasn't both sides. You had one side of neo-Nazis wearing Adolf Hitler T-shirts, the white supremacists screaming obscenities at the African-American community, walking down the streets. They came armed. This wasn't both sides.
And the other side were the folks who were protesting against hatred, like Heather Heyer, 32-year-old Heather Heyer. And it was unfortunate that the president did not use that opportunity. He came out and blamed both sides. It wasn't.
There's a time in your presidency when you need to show moral leadership and you need to stand and send a message to the world. He failed that day.
I had to go out. As you know, I followed him an hour later, told them to go home, they're not wanted in this state. They pretend they're patriots.
They weren't patriots, Jake. They were a bunch of cowards. But we cannot let 1,000 people really hurt the reputation of a state of 8.5 million people or a country of 325 million.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you a question about what happened last year.
Obviously, no one here is defending the Nazis or the white supremacists.
TAPPER: What they said, what they did was heinous.
But there's -- there has been criticism about whether or not the city of Charlottesville and whether or not the Commonwealth of Virginia was adequately prepared. The Charlottesville mayor says the policing was inadequate.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKUYAH WALKER, MAYOR OF CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Our law enforcement -- you saw the videos last year -- their behavior was absolutely unacceptable.
You need to see them react very differently to the situation than they did last year, so people feel safe.
So, we have a -- we have a lot of work to do to regain trust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Moreover, an independent review last year found that Virginia State Police did not adequately share their plans with the local police.
You were governor of Virginia at the time. Again, the fault is with the violent Nazis, white supremacists, et cetera.
TAPPER: But would you acknowledge that there was a failure at the -- at the city level and maybe even at the state level to adequately prepare?
MCAULIFFE: Well, at the state level, we put unprecedented resources, huge contingent of state police, 600.
I called out the National Guard for the first time since 1930 in anticipation. So, we helped Charlottesville. We sent down our resources.
Under Virginia law, local control. Even though the state and the National Guard, the local are in control.
That was not a good decision. So, we -- a commission I put together, we subsequently have changed that. This year, the state police were in charge. So, no longer are local authorities in charge of a situation where the state sends resources. So we were able to fix it.
The second thing we worked on was the permitting process. We had requested that it not be in Emancipation Park. It's a tiny little park. It needed to be moved to McIntire, a much bigger park.
You want to keep the protesters separate. Unfortunately, as you know, the city filed to move it. The ACLU sued them. And at 9:00 at night on Friday night, the judge ruled with the ACLU, against the city of Charlottesville, so everybody was put there.
But the good news is, the commission I put together, robust permitting now. That will never be allowed to happen again. And now state will take control in situations like this. But I want to commend the brave young men and women...
MCAULIFFE: ... who are out there fighting every single day to keep our cities safe. They did a very good job.
At 11:20, I ordered a state of emergency. Finally, Brian Moran, my secretary of public safety, called me and said it is untenable. The permit wasn't even supposed to start until noon. And we cleared the park in 11 minutes.
TAPPER: I want to move to some of the national political issues.
TAPPER: There's a lot of energy in the Democratic Party right now on the left.
As you know, potential 2020 candidates Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand want -- say that they want to abolish about ICE. There are at least two Democratic socialists who are going to be members of Congress in 2019, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York.
She just endorsed a congressional candidate in Minnesota who's made a number of anti-Israel comments, including saying -- quote -- "Israel has hypnotized the world" about their -- quote -- "evil doings."
Are you worried at all about the direction of the Democratic Party?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, I don't like all these labels that we have today.
We have got big elections coming up in 2018, and we need to be focused on that. But I support candidates who support the values that I believe in, you know, pro-economy, pro-jobs, everybody gets health care. That should be the message of our party.
Like, in Michigan, I went up and endorsed Gretchen Whitmer. We won up there. But you know what? The next day, the other two candidates came to the luncheon. We all came together at the end.
So, I believe, as we go into these elections, it's about the values, what you stand for.
As governor of Virginia, I focused on jobs every single day. With a strong economy -- I put the largest investment in K-12 education in the history of Virginia -- you're able to invest in your priorities, and that needs to be the message of the Democratic Party.
I don't spend time talking about Donald Trump. I don't. I talk about what we can do. I have traveled the country. We have 36 governor's races. These governors are critical, Jake, because they will be in the chair in 2021 when redistricting comes around. And we're going to have a huge win. Maine, and Michigan, and Illinois, and Wisconsin, and Nevada, and New Mexico, those are going to be pickups, and Florida and Ohio. We have got great opportunities this year.
TAPPER: You say you don't talk about President Trump and that's not your message on the stump.
But after the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, you tweeted out in part -- quote -- "The president has violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
That's a very strong charge.
If you think the president violated his oath of office, do you think he should be impeached?
MCAULIFFE: Well, first of all, imagine this.
If President Clinton or President Obama had gone to Helsinki and done what President Trump had done, you would already have impeachment hearings going on.
This president went over with Putin, who is our sworn enemy, the issue of him poisoning individuals, what he has done all over the globe. This is not our friend. He is not our ally.
TAPPER: So, should he -- so do you want to impeach?
MCAULIFFE: Russia's economy is smaller -- Russia's economy is smaller than Italy's. They are our 30th trading partner.
Why is he over there elevating this country and this president to a level of a superpower, which they are now?
TAPPER: He said he violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Do you think he should be impeached?
MCAULIFFE: Well, I think that's something we ought to look at.
Clearly, what he has done with Putin, he is a foe. He fights us every single day. We are battling him all over the globe, including, you know, what's happened in Ukraine, what's going on in Syria today.
But there has to be a reason, Jake, why he is over there acting the way he acts about Putin, then inviting them here, and then saying he may go over there.
This man is our enemy. He fights us. And do not forget that they came into the 2016 election, they came in and tried to destroy the greatest democracy in the world, the United States of America. We cannot forget that. And now we're hearing this week that they're continuing their efforts.
They're undermining our country. He is our enemy. We should fight him and quick bear-hugging him, like Trump likes to do.
TAPPER: Looking at 2020, Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, was in Iowa this weekend at the Wing Ding fund-raiser for the Democratic Party, where he offered a critique of the Democratic Party, saying that the Democratic Party must be a party that fights fire with fire. "When they go low, I say we hit harder."
He says that it's time for the Democratic Party to not nominate a politician. What do you think?
MCAULIFFE: We will see what happens with 2020.
I bristle when I hear about 2020, just because we have so much at stake, 36 governors, the House, the Senate. Our future is on the line this year.
And it really -- these candidates should not be talking about 2020. We have too much at stake. We need to make sure we have a check and balance on President Trump, winning the House and Senate and these governors.
I mean, the rollback of rights is happening in states. That's why we need to pick up -- we're down to 16 governors. We need to pick up these governors going forward -- 2020 will come soon enough.
But when 2020 comes, I hope everybody runs. But our message as a party ought to be, like I had in Virginia, how do you grow an economy? Unemployment went from 5.4 to 3.6. How do you invest in education?
I had the restoration of rights of more than any governor in the history of America, a progressive governor, with progressive values who is pro-business, growing the economy, with good-paying jobs. That's the Democratic message.
TAPPER: All right, Governor McAuliffe, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.
Coming up, a bullhorn for racism, that's what film director Spike Lee is saying President Trump has. But is playing the race card working for the president, and his support for his base?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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 you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was President Trump three days after the white supremacist rally one year ago in Charlottesville, Virginia. Just yesterday the president tweeted about the anniversary writing -- quote -- "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to all Americans."
My panel is with me now. So, Nina turner, I have heard people criticizing this statement from the president because it says all types of racism and peace to all types of people. Do you share that view or do you take the comment on face value that he's trying to do the right thing?
NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know if he's trying to do the right thing. I mean, certainly it's better than what he said last year, so maybe he's learning, but the thing is in his policies -- I mean, he can say one thing but what are the actions of his policies, the actions of his statements. I mean, he dogged out LeBron James, King James from where I come from, Don Lemon, you know, Congressman Maxine --
TAPPER: You're from Ohio for people who don't know. Yes.
TURNER: Yes. I'm from Cleveland. Maxine Waters -- I mean, the types of statements that he makes towards African-Americans and NFL players. So, at least on face value what he said in that tweet or put in that tweet is light years ahead of what he said last year. But what about his actions?
Even his attorney general Sessions renewing the war on drugs, you know, criminalizing marijuana in ways that President Obama's administration did not do. I mean, these are the types of things that we should really be paying attention to and not just what he is out there tweeting.
TAPPER: What's your response?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT: I'm with Nina. I like to pay attention what the president's results are. The black unemployment is at a historic low. More --
TURNER: The quality of jobs --
CAPUTO: But the blacks -- more blacks are coming into the workforce than any other demographic. The president this last week endorsed a bipartisan measure for prison reform, to remove mandatory -- mandatory minimums and to empty some of the jails of ridiculous marijuana offenses.
You know, there is more opportunity and more economic, you know, uplift for African-Americans and all Americans now than in many, many years. And I think if you look at his results, he's doing great things for all people. TURNER: It will still take -- there's a study out there that shows that it will take African-Americans 228 years, that's 11 plus generations --
CAPUTO: So let's get --
TURNER: -- to catch up with the average -- the wealth of the average white American in this country.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can we take a step back? I mean, I think it --
TURNER: So this is not -- I mean, this is not like he has waved some magic wand all of the sudden all of that agony and struggle the African-American community is over.
CAPUTO: Of course not.
TURNER: It is not over.
CAPUTO: I agree.
TURNER: He exacerbates.
CARPENTER: I think we, white, black as Americans need to take a step back. I really can't listen to statistics about the economy because there are white supremacists marching on the White House lawn today.
TAPPER: Well, not on the lawn but across the street.
CARPENTER: OK. Practically --
CARPENTER: -- practically within ear shot of the White House. And where is my president? In New Jersey at a golf course.
The best he can do is put out a tweet? This has festered and become worse and worse because the president has taken a both sides approach. This is a time to take sides.
It is a no brainer and it sickens me that when I drive home today I'm going to drive past this and president does nothing about it.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, first and foremost, I think you're right we do need to take a step back. The president of the United States didn't invent racism, right?
TURNER: That's right.
SELLERS: You know, this country was built on racism --
SELLERS: This racism has been here -- has been here before Donald Trump. It's going to be here after Donald Trump.
TURNER: Yes, it is.
SELLERS: But he has utilized racism as a political currency. I personally think Donald Trump is a racist but that's not here for this conversation.
SELLERS: He does use racism as political currency. You know -- and people have a hard time defining what racism is. Stokely Carmichael said it best. He says, "If you want to lynch me, that's your problem, but if you have the power to lynch me, that's my problem."
SELLERS: And so a lot of people are having this issue with Donald Trump because he has the power to implement policies which are directly affecting African-Americans in a bad way.
So let me talk about this both sides and why people had a problem with it. Because it's a direct line between --
TAPPER: You're talking about the new tweet.
SELLERS: His new tweet, the all -- you know, racism on all sides and both sides.
TAPPER: Let me interrupt for just one second then I'll come right back to, because I just want to quote this is Jamil Smith, the senior writer for "Rolling Stone" tweeted about a "USA Today" article on the president's tweet. And he said, "Trump didn't call for peace @USATODAY. He used coded language -- all types of racism to signal his fellow white supremacists to feel as aggrieved as those whom they terrorize and kill. He sought to dilute the meaning of a word. Please do not do the same."
That's the argument.
SELLERS: And I agree with Jamil. And let me tell you why, because there are no both sides to this equation. If you were marching under a Nazi flag, you can go to hell.
There's no two sides to this. There's no both sides to this equation. There's not all sides to racism.
We have to begin to understand that and Amanda said it best, like, you in this struggle against racism, fascism, xenophobia; bigotry -- this is my problem with Lindsey Graham and Jerry Falwell, and the rest of them. You have to choose a side.
SELLERS: There's no both sides to this.
CAPUTO: I can tell you I know what people think in the studios of CNN. I know what people think in the editorial boards across the country. I also see that according to recent polling, that twice as many African-Americans support the president as opposed to last year this time.
What the -- you know, the elite are saying, doesn't match with what's happening on street. And the economy is helping everyone.
TURNER: Polls are a snapshot in time. So (INAUDIBLE) give you that. But this is the thing --
CAPUTO: I need to see that poll by the way.
TURNER: Well, it's probably like from 10 percent to 20 percent or something like that. Right?
CAPUTO: It's 13 percent to 29 percent.
TURNER: But it's what -- listen, racist -- structural racism. You know, there's a book called "Black (ph) Democracy (ph)" that Dr. Eddie Glaude wrote and I would encourage people to read it. It talks about the value gap in this country. That black lives as compared to white lives are not as valued.
We see that play out generation after generation. This is not just about the Nazis that are marching in the streets. That's one thing when Malcolm X said, you know, the difference between the south and north is the difference between the fox and the wolf.
You see, I understand the wolf because the wolf is out there in open. What I don't understand is the fox. And the fox has created a structural system in this country that is bigger than Trump being the president.
I guess, we should confront Mr. Trump. We should confront the bigots, the difference between a white water fountain and a colored water fountain but, my God, we're talking about structural racism here.
TAPPER: All right. We're going to take a very quick break and continue this conversation.
Americans are voting along deeply divided racial lines. How is it shaping the political message? Stay there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL BURNSIDE, NEO-NAZI: Rural America spoke up when they elected Trump. We're staring down the barrel of a gun here in white America. There's still 193 million white Americans.
Yes. The vast majority of them are in their 60s and 70s, will be in the ground in the next 20 years, and therefore we have the possibility of becoming a minority in our own country. A possibility --
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sounds to me --
BURNSIDE: -- of becoming a minority in our own country.
SIDNER: -- like you're afraid of being me and being me --
BURNSIDE: This is my country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's Sara Sidner's country too. That was neo-Nazi Daniel Burnside explaining his fears about white America and his support for President Trump. My panel is back with me.
And, look, clearly, not all Trump supporters are racist. Let's just get that on the table. But it's inescapable that a lot of racists feel emboldened and support President Trump.
Should he not make it more clear that he does not want their support?
CAPUTO: Perhaps but at the same time, I think when CNN gives air time to a character like that, they increase the problem as well. It was a well done piece. I was actually quite thoughtful but hate to see that stuff on television.
I think we're all -- we all need to adjust the way we're looking at this stuff. I'd tell you what. What we need is a real summit on racism.
Where people who don't support the president, not just the African- American passers (ph) who do come to the White House and sit down. You should go as somebody -- and you should go. You're kind of -- you have an independent thinker in the midst of the Democratic Party, kind of the yeezy (ph) of the Democratic Party.
I mean and you're smarter than anybody but my wife. You guys should sit with the president and talk about this. Would you?
CARPENTER: But wouldn't you think President Trump would ever do that?
SELLERS: No. That's a good question. Like, I think that on this Sunday, people think that you can get to atonement without confession. All right?
Like you can just get to the --
(CROSSTALK) SELLERS: Yes. You can get to the forgiveness for your sins without necessarily acknowledging them.
And so to the question of would I sit down, we were talking about it a little in the commercial break, but yes with preconditions. Like you're going to have to apologize to the Central Park five. You're going to have to apologize to those casino workers you discriminated against.
You're going to have to apologize to those NFL players called son of a bitches. And they were going to have to be able to put forth the plan whereby we're making sure that Flint has clean water, where we're addressing the fact that kids in the country is still penalized --
TURNER: For four years.
TAPPER: Would you?
TAPPER: Would you -- do you think there would be anything constructive in having a conversation?
TURNER: You see. That's the point though, Jake. I mean, would it be anything constructive.
I'm with Bakari on that. There would have to be some conditions to that. And we've got to come out with a real plan that has worked all the way from beginning to the end.
But it's not to sit down to let the president off the hook so that he can say, I sat down with a black -- a bunch of African-American leaders and all is well.
TURNER: All is not well in this country.
And, again, I don't want people to think that they can get a pass just because President Trump is so vile on these issues that we can abdicate our responsibility to look deeply at structural and institutional racism in this country.
CARPENTER: I would just say on that front, I don't think it's the job of people who are offended to go and explain to the persons doing the offending actions to say why they are wrong.
CARPENTER: Like President Trump should be able to realize that he has a special obligation to tell these people he does not want their support.
Look at the congressional baseball shooting. A person that carried out that shooting was a supporter of Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders immediately went to the Senate floor, said that he was shocked, sickened and did not condone this behavior any way, shape or form. That is what you have to do.
Because when people do bad actions in the name of that politician, it is on that politician to put distance between them --
TURNER: That person didn't shoot in the name of --
CARPENTER: No, of course not. No. He just was listed as a supporter of course.
Putting distance between that. That's what I'm saying.
TAPPER: You know what's interesting? Mitt Romney who's running for Senate in Utah put out a statement over this weekend, obviously he has been critical of the president a lot of times and also he's been supportive of him.
He wrote, "We must insist those we elect as leaders respect and embrace Americans of every race, sexual orientation, gender, and national origin in this country. It must be electorally disqualifying to equivocate on racism."
"Electorally disqualifying to equivocate on racism," that is a very strong statement. I think it's inescapable that there are a lot of people who feel that President Trump has equivocated on racism.
CARPENTER: Well, this is why people like me are never Trump, it electorally disqualifying. It should be disqualifying to give a politician support if they give a wink and a nod to blatant racism.
SELLERS: Can I chime in just briefly?
SELLER: So I appreciate the statement by Mitt Romney and I chastise my senator Lindsey Graham earlier today, put him in the same category with Jerry Falwell.
I'll put them all together because you put out great statements or not great statements. The question is now, what's next? They don't do anything when he comes out and says something racist. Or they might put out a press release or a statement or a tweet but it's so much inaction and nobody has the fortitude to stand up and say anything.
And I've said it once and I'll say it again, it doesn't -- Nina Turner and Bakari Sellers will not change the conversation about race in this country. TURNER: We won't?
SELLERS: It's going to take -- it's going to take --
CARPENTER: He's got a bigger plan.
SELLERS: It's going to take -- it's going to take white males specifically evangelicals who wants to stand up and say, look, the values espouse on Sunday morning are going to be the value espouse throughout the rest of the week.
SELLERS: And until that happens --
TURNER: Hold on. This is not on us though. The onus is not on black folks and brown folks. We are the ones that are transgressed.
CAPUTO: I'm just saying that it's electorally disqualifying for anything outside of the constitutional reasons. Why you're allowed to run for office is ridiculous -- opining like that with Romney should disqualify him for office.
CARPENTER: Come on.
CAPUTO: At the end of the day, I mean, the African-American pastors were visiting with the president, addressing the issues. There are people that don't agree with you and don't agree --
CAPUTO: -- who are attacking this issue and they're discussing this in the White House now. And meanwhile, we have twice as many African- Americans support the president to date than they did last year this time --
TURNER: Snapshot --
TAPPER: I just want -- I just want -- I just want to interrupt because we only have a minute left in the panel. And I want to play the sound that Omarosa Manigault Newman just played which is sound from White House chief of staff John Kelly firing her in the situation room. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is a nonnegotiable discussion. OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I don't want to negotiate, I've never talk -- had a chance to talk to you General Kelly.
MANIGAULT-NEWMAN: So this is my departure, I would like to have at least an opportunity -- to understand --
KELLY: We can talk another time. This has to do with some pretty serious -- integrity violations. So I'll let it go at that. So the staff and everyone on the staff works for me not the president.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Wow. Omarosa recording her own firing in the situation room. Pretty shocking.
CARPENTER: Yes. It's a huge betrayal of trust, but if Donald Trump read Frankenstein he would know that when you create a monster eventually it will turn on its creator and extract revenge.
SELLERS: If Omarosa is she is getting a phone in a situation room, the situation room to tape things, are we not to believe that some other foreign government doesn't have access to our --
TURNER: We have got a bigger problem.
CAPUTO: We will never get back talking about --
SELLERS: Omarosa 2020.
CARPENTER: Hush money discussion is very --
TAPPER: Thanks so much one and all for being here. Appreciate it.
Where there's a swamp there is quick sand and the president's people are stepping in it. Who's stuck in the mud? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
The problem with draining swamps is you'll never know what you're going to find lurking down there. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."
TAPPER (voice-over): Swamps have been part of American pop culture for decades from the popular comic strip "Pogo the Possum" of the Okefenokee swamp to the "Creature from the Black Lagoon" to the enemies of the Super Friends, the Legion of Doom, with their headquarters Slaughter Swamp.
But perhaps the most potent image of the swamp is when it's used as a symbol of the corruption of Washington D.C. As when Ronald Reagan promised to drain the swamp.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard when you're up to your armpits in alligators, to remember you came here to drain the swamp.
TAPPER: It's a slogan that President Trump has fully embraced.
TRUMP: We ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool.
TAPPER: Though actually ridding D.C. of its swampy critters that's proven elusive.
Take the swamp thing, Trump ally and congressman Chris Collins, arrested this week for alleged insider trading in the president's own backyard. Of course, also this week the trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort with key testimony from his former deputy campaign chair Rick Gates, not to mention the law enforcement investigation into Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, and that's to say nothing of ethics concerns about Jared Kushner or Tom Price or Scott Pruitt. The president initially did not want to use the slogan at first.
TRUMP: They had this expression "drain the swamp." I hated it.
TAPPER: In retrospect, that might have been smart.
TAPPER: Thanks to all of you for watching.
"FAREED ZAKARIA" continues our coverage next.