tv Face the Nation CBS August 13, 2017 8:30am-9:29am PDT
dickerson: to ce the nation," presi is tested at home and abroad. his quick condemnation of north korea escalates talk of a conflict, but no condemnation by the president of white nationalists after a deadly protest in a southern city. charlottesville, virginia, was the scene of tragedy as knee kno kkk clashed, and the day turned deadly as a car rammed into pedestrians on the city's historic downtown mall. the governor condemned those who were in support of the unite to
right to march. >> our message is plain and simple. go home. dicontrent on bluntness took pain to not place blame on any one group, enraging many, including some top republicans. >> we condemn in the strongest s display of hatred, bigotry, and cema os,n sny sides.ide >> dickerson: the events in charlottesville capped a week involving a dramatic escalation of thr aeant cnderou tt presider his country's nuclear program. >> north korea best not make threats to the united states. they will be met with fire and r seen. >> kim jong-un countered with threatening to attack the island of guam. president trump's response, our
military is locked and loaded. >> this whe's man wiloling, bele me. >> dickerson: what's the reality of the situation, though? and just whais t tehe c pia dcta weighs in. first a report from charlottesvie and we'll talk to the city's mayor. good morning. welcome to "face the nation." i'm john dickerson. president trump faces two crisis this morning. we'll be talking extensively about both. we begin with cbs newsreaadustie yesterday from charlottesville, and joins us from city hall. >> good morning, john. white nationalists protesters and counter demonstrators
clashed violently in charlottesville saturday morning. jason kessler hadany pheaneld to protest the city's effort to remove a statue of robert e. lee from city park. for an over hour demonstrators threw tear gas and water bottles at one another. police did little to intervene. just before noon, the governor declared a state of emergency. >> you are commanded to immediately disperse. >> police cleared the park, and then a car drove head on into a group of counter protesters, killing one, injuring 19. police helicopters flew over the protests all day. late in the afternoon a state police helicopter crashed, killing two officers. police have charged the driver of the car, 20-year-old ohio resident james alex fields jr. with second-degree murder. reporters spoke with his mother yesterday. ie t just knew he was going to a lly. stay out of his political views.
i didn't know he was a white supremacist. i thought it had something to do with trump. >> the justice department has opened a civightsl eected to an court on monday. things here in charlottesville were quiet last nigh and john? >> dickerson: paula reed for us in charlottesville. thanks, paula. ouining us now is the mayor ofay usarlo about ttthe injured and the suspect? >> y speaking to the mayor of a citoy that'su' grieving rit now. first of all, our thoughts andss of both troopers, and to the young woman who also perished. 19 are inght now.
it was a tough weekend fortal rh charlottesvillose. we'll get through it. we'll come through this. you know, that's where we are right now. >> dickerson: "the washington pd a, quote, anemic response, unquote, to the clashes. what's your response to that? could more have been done? >> you know, i think that's -- that's totally mistaken. we had the single largest as enforcement officers sincesemblyawf l 9/11,a thousand law enforcement personnel. we even went as far as, on the monday before the weekend, when the rally was scheduled, the city moved the permit to a larger park, acre park within the city borders, which-d would have provideddr more hun , allowed all that assembly, with armed very -- people have strong opinions for this occur longer. that was struck down by a federal judge, who forced to have this event in very crowded,
dense downtown charlottesville, on the event of the event at 9:00. i regret that happened. we had a very strong security plan in place with a lot of their views. unfortunately they didn't want to do it peaceably. that's what happened. >> dickerson: richard spencer, a white nationalist, has promised to come back to charlottesville, he said a thousand times. what's your response? >> you know, i mean, this is somebody who traffics in bluster and in intimidation. i'm not in the habit ofin mou ke things. i think we have a responsibility as a government sworn to the constitution to to not just allow free speech, but to protect it, as long as it's done peaceably, which is what we attempted to do this weekend. if you have folks who come in and act unpeacebly, you'll get unlawful assemble declared,
which is what happened yesterday. >> dickerson: mr. mayor, the president said he wants to know what's going on in charlottesville, and we want to see what's we're doing wrong as a country. what's your answer to that? i dw kmakehis about president trump. we have a lot of grieving to do as a city and a country. he should look in the mayor. he made a choice in his presidential campaign, the folks around him, to go to the gutter, to play on uri wink you're seeing a direct line from what happened this weekend to those choices. he has the opportunity, as do we all, to have a fresh beginning. like i said, our democracy has been through much than this, but that requires us to rise to the occasion. we're going to do that work here. we're going to work l ong, deli, first amendment, religious toleration, pluralism, ideas that got us here. we've seen this tide of coarseness, cynicism, bullying, and, you know, a festival of
going to the absolute worst elements that previously have been hidden. now they've been invited out into the daylight. eeekeisand sple are coming hereh a shot heard around the world, the alt-right moment, that getoric, and ty're invited basically into a presidential campaign. that has to stop. it has to stop now. what i did not hear in the president's statement yesterday, as well intentioned as it may have been, i didn't hear the words "white supremacy." it's important to call this what it is, this show has r its jumped, let's move on. >> dickerson: mr. mayor, thank you so much for being
with us. >> tnks. the director of cia, mike pompeo to the broadcast. thank you for being here. >> thank you. dickerson: you've thought about terrorism in your career.
republican senators have all labeled this terrorism in charlottesville. what's your view? >> let me add my personal condolences for the lives lost in charlottesville. an absolute tragedy. ghnvstnanrat to the event, thega last evening, or-r this mornicang, by the justice department that will make a dermination about whether it's appropriate to charge this as acts of terror. i have great confidence that they will investigate it with enormous rigor and get to the right outcome. >> dickerson: what's your personal view of this? i mean, if terrorism is using violence to send a political message, do you think that's what this is? >> yeah. i think it's best for the cia director to leave this to the justice department. >> dickerson: let me ask you, when you were in congress in october of 2016, three men were charged with trying to attack muslims in your state. and this is what you said about bigotry at the time. "we should deal with it quickly, hashly, and ensure it doesn't
grow." that was very specific and tough. >> yes, sir. dickerson: should the president have been that specific yesterday? >> i think he was just as specific. he saidgo bi hatrtred is unacceptable, in any form, whether i was referring to the day in kansas, yesterday in charlottesville. the president was unambiguous about what his justice department is going to do, the way he views how utterly inappropriate it is for this hatred and bigotry. i think the president's remarks were very clear. >> dickerson: the criticism is he's been tough on the media, on all kinds of people quickly, and without much restraint. in this case he said all sides. people marching with nazi flags. that's not on all sides. >> i agree. when someone marches with a nazi flag that's unacceptable. that's what the president said yesterday. i think he was speaking directly to the incident there. we've all seen the videotape. i think he was speaking directly to that, and condemning the hatred and the bigotry on display yesterday.
>> dickeon: let's move on to north korea. what north korean action would trigger a u.s. military response? >> yeah, i can't southwestern that. first of all, it's not my decision. it will be the president's working closely with the intelligence we provide him. suffice it to say, i'm familiar with the facts. we're not at an imminent risk of that taking place today. an attack from north korea is not something that is imminent. the american people should know that this administration is doing everything within its power. the president has enabled the intelligence community, the department of defense to be sure we're protecting america from this threat. >> dickerson: you said you didn't want to weigh in. what would trigger -- the president seemed to this week, and that created confusion. the president said north korea best not make any more threats to the united states. they will be met with fireee ana president saying, if they make a threat the following thing will happen. they made a threat. nothing happened. explain that people? wasn't that a red line he was drawing? >> no, i don't think so at all. in fact, this administration has done a fine job of not drawing
red lines we're not prepared to enforce. i think what the president was doing there was very effective. he was communicating to the rogue leader in north korea, communicating to him the strategic patience of the past decades is no longer -- we're just too close to him having this capacity, to hold america at risk. i think secondly, he was communicating to the world, to china and to others, who can influence the outcome there, we had a great success. we have the whole world voting to sanction north korea, something that hasn't happened for an awfully long time. this is real progress as a result of what president trump has done, the way we have communicated the threat, not only to america and to japan and south korea, but to the entire wormeworld from this rogue lead. >> dickerson: is it policy that north korea will not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon that can reach the united states? >> the president has made it very clear, john. the president, i'm with him almost every day, giving him his
intelligence briefing. he's made very clear that the united states finds it unacceptable for a rogue leader like kim jong-un to have the capacity of a ballistic missile with a warhead that it's integrated and fully deliverable to the united states and hold america and the world at risk. he finds that unacceptable. he's simply not going to permit it to happen. >> dickerson: the president was very critical of the iraq war. he said it was the greatest blunder in american history. it was based on intelligence. he's going to make a decision on red line you just drew on intelligence. how is he going to know the intelligence is right in this case when he's been so critical about the previous incident when the president took action onto b in critical when the intelligence community gets it wrong. make no mistake, there's been times in history when the intelligence community has gotten it wrong. here's the good news. the intelligence community has done remarkable work in understanding kim jong-un,
watching his ballistic missile develop. the intelligence is very good, and the president will be able to rely on the work that the cia and intelligence community provide him. >> dickerson: two questions about intelligence. let's talk about the program itself. it seems to be moving faster than people thought. is that right? if so, shouldn't that make people nervous about the level of intelligence? >> thanks for the question, john. that's actually not true. it's not moving faster than policymakers knew. as i said, you'll have director panetta, and mr. morell, on. it's their work to give us a good picture. can we predict days or weeks? certainly not. we've had a good handle on the work that's been done to develop this system of systems. >> dickerson: what picture do you have about the north korean leader and his predictability? in a sense he's following a familiar north korean script. if he follows the script doesn't
that suggest he has a plan, he's not irrational, and therefore wouldn't use weapons irrationally? >> i've described him as ratial. one can debate that term. it has lots of different meanings. he does respond to external stimulus, that he listens to clear communications. he understands that his primary goal of staying in power, keeping the regime intact, requires a balancing act, and to extent we can isolate him, we can get the russians and chinesa phone call with president macron earlier this week. we'll provide good intelligence to make the right decisions to get that regime to the right place, a denuclearized peninsula. >> dickerson: the u.s. contained the russians and has contained pakistan, has a nuclear weapon, has contained them. why not contain north korea? >> this regime is different. this regime is different. i heard -- i've heard some
say -- i think susan rice said we need to learn to live with. president trump finds that unacceptable. this is not a leader for whom containment is a policy that makes sense for american national security. >> dickerson: let me ask you about that leader. you said on the one hand, the most important thing we can do is separate these two, meaning the north korea nuclear program from the leader, but secretary of state tillerson said we do not accept regime change. >> two men using different words. i was getting to the exact policy that secretaryll tin.er h capacity have nuclear arms. add to that, ballistic missile defense, and that is the mission that the president has demanded that his team deliver to him. >> dickerson: mr. director, thank you. >> thank you, john. dickerson:
thanks for being with us. with us. when we come back in a minute,
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what is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. no citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society. and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time. no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all-americans first. we want to get the situation straightened out in charlottesville, and we want to study it. we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country where things
like this can happen. >> dickerson: white spokesman sarah huckabee sanders has just issued a statement.
"the president said he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, including white supremacist, kkk, neonazi and all supremacist groups, he
called for national unity, bringing all americans together." michaelfy orrin hatch, senator from utah, tweeted this "we should call evil by his name. my brother didn't give his life for fighting hitler for nazi can think about john f. kennedy, who liked to say, the hottest place in hell is reserved for those people in times of great moral crisis who stick to the neutral position. that's where the white house was yesterday. the silence is a problem. the republican party, slowly
beginning to step away from trump for a lot of reasons in the form of hatch, marco rubio, whose parents obviously came from cuba, and others, made it clear overnight that was not a strong position. it's a moral failure not to call out actions by white nationalists or white peoplists who turn up in a college town,ua yirr slogans, and carrying confederate flags. there's no ambiguity about that. >> dickerson: the president has called critics un-american. in this case he talked about the violence and the bigotry on all sides. therth problem, the moral equivalence here? >> president trump can extremely critical, when he wants to criticize somebody, whether it's a federal judge or the cast of the "hamilton" musical.
yesterday he was unwilling to do, and gave white nationalists a propaganda victory by not specifically naming them yesterday. he still has himself not specifically named them. >> dickerson: what happens now, molly? might have a press conference tomorrow, is supposed to. i mean, is this a fixable problem for a president? >> i think it's not just a political problem for the president. it is, as michael said, you do see increasing distance put between other republicans and donald trump. this didn't have to be a story that was primarily about donald trump. what you see from him, he's obsessed with his own potential role in it. the statement that he made, donald trump, this isn't barack obama, immediately taking it personal, personalizing it, making it a story about him, his relatiipwhh goes back to the beginnings of the campaign, winking and nodding at so-called alt-right, playing footsy with the white supremacist movement,
saying themselves they're emboldened by trump. they're not going away. he's showed a clear unwillingness to tell them to go away. >> dickerson: the president said he wants to find out what happened in charlottesville, and find out the roots of this. what's your reaction to that? >> it echoes everyone on this panel, if you're looking for the roots why white nationalists and neonazis felt emboldened to march on a college town, it can be the improperly of david duke that he refused to condemn, whether it's the fact that he brought someone like steve bannon, whose breitbart catered to these people into the white house. you look at the president's behavior. at a certain point you're going to have to say that maybe the reason he doesn't condemn these people because in one way or another he sees them as allies, see them as part of his activist base. i don't know how one deals with
that, but if you're trying to examine the roots of this, then i think you have to look there. >> dickerson: ed, we have about 30 seconds left. this distance with the president from republicans, do they feel compelled to come out? i mean, who speaks to this argument? orrin hatch does. does anybody pick it up or hope it goes away? >> i think increasingly they hoped it would go, because they issued tweets, press releases, stopping us in the hallway, and say, oh, this is awful, and move soit ruo'stist fngra think that sometimes they just don't do more. and you just wonder at one point the party will break and try to separate itself further. >> dickerson: we will do more, but have to go now. we will be back with our panel later. stay with us. if you've been diagnosed with cancer,
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>> dickerson: welcome back to "face the nation." joining us now is leon panetta, who served as president barack obama's secretary of defense and cia director and was also chief of staff to president clinton. he joins us from his home in monterey, california. mr. secretary, i want to start with these two challenges for president trump. on the one hand, increasing the rhetoric on north korea, and now the sort of blander rhetoric with respect to charlottesville, has got him on the defensive. if you were chief of staff what's your guidance? how would you handle these two issues? >> well, this is a very important moment in time for his administration. and i think the entire country is looking to see whether or not this president has the capability to provide strong leadership for our country at a moment of crisis, and strong
leadership demands not only that he act with -- with consideration, with responsibility, with an understanding of what our country is all about, and what it stands for, and with a recognition of also protecting our security. those are all responsibilities of the president. roth is the ability to use the bully pulpit to speak, not only to the country, but to the world. regas to nor kor, fee ofrhetic,h and fury, and locknk has frankly created even greater tensions in that part of the world. his failure to address what really happened in charlottesville, the role of white supremacists, i think also sends a message that he is not
recognizing the real causes of crisis even within our own country. >> dickerson: on the question of north korea, the president'su ha yorector said that tough, oret rhetoric is snapping north korea into shape. they realize now they've got somebody they can't push around. what's wrong with that argument? >> well, i've never felt in the period of time that we've been dealing with north korea going back 60 years that you can outbully a bully by trying to threaten that individual with words. the reality is what speak the loudest for the united states of america is the fact that we're the most powerful country on the face of the earth, and we have the military capability to wipe that regime off the face of the earth. that's the reality. and that frankly is what has been part of our strategy of
containment and deterrence. the fact that we are strong, the fact we have allies in the region in south korea and japan, the fact that we h always spoken clearly abaoutve our approach to dealing with the s what determines whether or not the united states and our allies can try to ensure that we do not engage in a nuclear war there. so it just seems to me that the important thing right now is to have a president who is steady, who is calm, who's responsible, and who recognizes that the most important thing right now is to find a way to ensure that we do not get into a war. >> dickerson: do you see the north koreans providing any exit ramps in the way they've behaved? and part of this issue is how the u.s. intelligence and policymakers assess the strategic thinking of the north korean leader. how do you see it? what should the next actions be
to find a way to get off this escalation? >> we've had a history here of 60 years of provocation and accommodation by the north koreans regardless of who the leader was. there's a period of time where there is provocation, and we appear to be at the point of some kind of warfare. then there's a period of accommodation. we've been through that cycle. we're now in a period of obviously provocation. i think the north koreans understand that if they take the wrong step, it's the end of the regime, period. and for that reason i think it's clear that they're going to -- they are going to allow themselves some offramps here so that their regime does not come to an end. but in saying that i think that what the united states needs to do is to have a clear strategy here, not operate on a haphazard
basis, but have a clear strategy of both containment and deterrence. that means strengthening our military presence. it means strengthening our support for south korea and for japan. it means having in place a very strong covert and overt missile defense capability. and it means employing strong creasi sanctions, to send a clear message that if there's any provocation from north korea it will spell the end of their regime, period. >> dickerson: and finally, in 30 seconds, mr. secretary, what's your assessment of the speed? is the director of the cia right that the speed of north korean development here has been known and it's not a surprise to anyone? >> well, my sense is that they've been moving pretty quickly in these last few years to the point that they now have an icbm, and they're close to developing a miniaturized
nuclear weapon. i think we've been following the fact that they are -- you know, they've been doing this. but i think the rapid nature of aeybeenoe e tbl that capability is something frankly that hasitted t shurprih >> dickerson: all right. mr. secretary, thank you so much for being with us. we turn no cbs news senior national security contributor michael morell and david ignatius. michael, what are you thinking? >> the intelligence community is critical to how this plays out, because there's so much we don't know, and the fundamental job of the intelligence community is to fully inform. i'd take out my yellow pad and
write down questions the president needs answers to. number one, what are kim jong-un's intentions? the conventional wisdom that he's trying to deter us from ever moving against him and ending his regime. i believe that's the case. but there's also a question whether he would, once he has a nuclear weapon, the ability to deliver it to the continental united states, would he use that to try to extort us, the japanese or south koreans? that's very different than him trying to deter us. that's a fundamental question that needs to be ns a.d erisns doeed he have the capability today to put a u.s. city in alaska, hawaii, the continental united states, at risk? is it a year from now? or can he do it today? jim clapper, the former dni, has said repeatedly over the last several months, we have to assume he can do it today. we need to take that into account when we start making our military plans. those are two question questions for me. >> dickerson: david, this week we had what seemed like
different signals. help us straighten this out. the president saying fire and fury if the north koreans make more threats. they did. then the secretary of state saying everybody should sleep soundly at night. help us understand those two statements. >> well, that was quite a passage, fire and fury, the sleep well, and then the efforts to make people think it was all the same policy, one of the things that director pompeo stressed in his interview with you. donald trump clearly believes in this confrontation he's the seuce, he's the gau sy whosecret rhetoric is going to communicate the message strongly, not just to north korea, but to china, to the extent there is a clear strategy here it is makeha the intermediary, the big power in the region that brings north korea to the table, that makes it impossible for kim to continue with his threats. that's the strategy. some of this rhetoric i think is
intended to frighten the chinese into taking action. i wil evybodtalks about the rhetoric being a terrible mistake in a nuclear crisis, the idea of throwing words around scares all of us, but the u.s. doesn't really have military options for dealing with north korea. the strange thing about the president's fire and fury, all these statements, it's got the whole world thinking we have a military option, and we may be about to use it. from what i know, except for covert actions, you know, preemptive, b-52 raids, we do not have an option. we have a 45 to 60-day run-up period before we have even forces in place. the president's rhetoric has made people think that we've got more really on the line than we may have. >> john, there's two myths here. one is that there's a military
option. david's absolutely right. there's not. we don't know whether these weapons are. we don't know where all the missiles are. we don't have enough firepower rtilleryto along the dmz. there's not a military option that solves the problem. that's myth number one. myth number two is that china can solve this problem. i believe, and i think there's good evidence to back this up, that even china wanted to use the leverage it has, it would be for ki m jong-un having these weapons is all about his own survival. he's not going to give them up under any pressure, even from china. >> dickerson: so if that's the case, where do we go, david? kim jong-un is not going to give them up. director pompeo said he must give them. that's the red line for the president. >> that's the trick of this diplomacy. that's what the chinese will be thinking about. it's interesting that the u.s. and china have the identical
definition. they are not divided. the question is, how do you have a formula to achieve that over time? i keep being told, as i asked questions over the weekend, as early as this morning, don't expectnything rapid. this is going to be gradual. the u.s. will turn up the heat on china, with additional trade sanctions this week. they talk about a horizon that stretches into next year. what they want is for kim to stop testing missiles now. if he shoots the missile on tuesday at guam, you know, the fourissiles at guam, i think it's then a very different ballgame. it's a deliberate escalation in the face of this rhetoric. and then, watch out. >> we need to try diplomacy. we need to try the china angle, but i think at the end of the day we'll face a choice. we're going to face a choice of taking military action to try to degrade, as difficult and horrific as that would be on one
end, and on the other end acceptance, containment, and deterrence. that's the choice the president will have to face. his rhetoric ties him in, right, to the harder line. if he doesn't do that, he loses credibility. >> dickerson: and, you know, the director said the presidentade's be tweeted that there, said that there, but it did seem the line today is red if they have this capability. final question for you, david.cf u.s. policy with other countries. why doesn't it work here? is it all about the unpredictablity of the leader? is there a way that somebody could get to containment as a u.s. policy if in the end that's where negotiation leads us? >> if kim jong-un did things thatonveyed the sense that he c is a more rational leader, more trustworth you could change the -- pompeo on the one hand says, i judge him to be
rational, that he hears the messages, and, on the other hand, we can't allow this man to have weapons. one point to note finally, it is estimated by the defense intelligence agency that he already has up to 60 weapons. we're talking about this as if it's a future change. it's already happened. we are living with it. lits that woulthd make it easier to live with it, sell to our allies, japan and south korea, so they wouldn't weapons too. >> dickegeon: ntlemen,e' wll haouver political panel will be back. don't go away. more than one thing., teu.
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>> dickerson: we're back with more from our politics panel, including the "the atlantic's" molly ball, "national review's" ramesh ponnuru, "time" magazine's michael duffy, and "washington post" reporter and cbs news contributor ed o'keefe. >> we are determined to take our e wetry back. ggo'rin promises of donald trump. that's what we believed in, why we voted for dalonru tmp to, take our country back. >> dickerson: ed, this is the challenge for the president, people saying the president's name in that clip. >> every republican leader since
george h.w. bush of any significance, has denounced david duke, what he used to do as a kkk leader. prthen desure g thisid sgltr ca. he yet again has not done it. this what infuriatesnd scares so many people in this country, that he's behaving not as the president of the united states, but the president of 36%, the people who support him. look at what he did this past week. denounces mitch mcconnell, a washington insider. stirs trouble with two strong men around the world. refuses, however, to denounce what vladimir putin did in russia, and said what he said yesterday, trying to equate those trying to denounce david duke and his friends with what they were doing. that is what is troubling. what more will it take for his party to try to put more distance or compel him, if not
tomorrow, but at some point soon, to come out, and through his words and actions denounce this? >> the president is quite concerned about his base. we saw him hold his approval rating at about 40% for six weeks this summer, from about june 16th to about august 1st, that great 72 hours, when we had the transgender tweet, the,and more. he saw th base erode. that explains the mcconnell tweet, the attacks on the foreign leaders, the north korean bravado, and belligerence, because he know it plays well. he said, my people love this. he's aware of what he's doing. >> is it an insult to 35% to 40%
of people who support the president to equate them with david duke? alning hseh wimeothit pplee raw going to play well? louisiana last year and came in near dead last. these ideas are repugnant to st morit aerics,he incl tuding the vast majority of republicans, including the vast majority of people who support donald trump. i mean, i was just in alabama this week, and, you know, the president is very popular there, but the people there are not supporting the president because they believe in the ideas of david duke and the white nationalists. >> i'm not sure if that's much of a binary. you have a david duke, right, but you also have -- you know, we have to remove all these dangerous hispanic immigrants, an idea cloaked in nonracial
content, but it rational content at its core. i'm not sure that the president is necessarily wrong in sort of this instinctive analysis, right, that not coming down with a hammer on white supremacists, the most activist part of this group of people, the president said not doing that helps him with people who may have softer but still coinuumnutetated of we reaction and white resentment. >> dickerson: ramesh, there are those who are conservatives who say why do i have to answer to this? they find neonazis just as repugnant as everyone else. why are they on the hook? >> it's funny, because a lot of conservatives say why around moderate muscles denouncing
radical muslims? there's people who feel they don't have to denounce these white supremacists. onay'ting what k he's saying. it could be a political calculation. i do suspect that part of it is my enemies want to link me to these people. they want to force me to do -- tell me i have to apologize, denounce. i'm not going to give in, be weak. i do think we know that president trump is obsessed with the idea of projecting strength and avoiding the impression of weakness. i think that's probably part of what's going on. >> and that's part of what's so confusing and frustrating about had, is he says these things, he's so vague, it allows misinterpretation, forces conversation, and has three different administration officials out this morning, saying different things, and clarifying with -- >> dickerson: the man who built his career on not being vague. >> exactly. >> toward the end, he says we have to cherish our history. in the context of an defend cone
statues in charlottesville, virginia, to say we need to cherish our history, to me sounds like a dog whistle to the unite the right demonstrators. so that would be my piece of evidence for this -- >> dickerson: right, because they argue that keeping the general lee statue in the park is part of cherishing history. >> right. dickerson: michael duff, you wrote about the new chief of staff this week. is this something the chief of staff can take a handle o do? >> well, he's not a miracle worker, you know. being too loud and too strident and to belligerent on north kor, charlottesville, they have a long way to go to manage the president's messaging. i was really struck, why i think north korea is tied into this general -- you called it a dog whistle, but broadcasting to his
base. pompeo said to you just 20 minutes ago, this is not an tatr know, from reading the president's tweets about -- or statements, excuse me -- about north korea this week. he's turning up the volume himself. you know, there were sanctions this week by the u.n. those were put in place. we learned, those of us, you know, nelearatd was -- they could produce a nuclear weapon. i assume the government knew for some time. we were not the first to hear about that. even in geopolitical matters, he's using his mouthpiece aimed at some part of his core supporters at a moment when he's feeling under pressure. >> dickerson: the president also criticized mitch mcconnell. do we need mitch mcconnell as a senate leader? >> from what i understand, he's not taking it personally, but there's a clear attempt to deflect blame.
his agenda is flailing. washington isn't getting anything done. so his impulse, rather than trying to exert some kind of leadership, or be more involved in the process, is to separate himself from the mess and point the finger at his own party.reso members of his party, on the ballot a lot sooner than he is, but we do increasingly see him turning on republicans in congress, turning on mcconnell, saying it's your fault, you couldn't get this done for me. my experience, talking to trump supporters in west virginia and alabama the last couple weeks, they're hearing that message. they're not blame trump for this. >> look, mcconnell started this particular round of things by criticizing trump over the healthcare debacle in a way that didn't make sense. you know, the fact of the matter is, this was a cause that oreublicans took up long bef trump. it was congressional republicans who didn't have a plan going. it was mcconnell was more involved in it than trump was. of course everything we know about trump, if you come out and criticize him he's going to attack you back.
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