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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  August 20, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. >> a polarized nation and a presidency at a turning point. after doubling down on his response to the violence in charlottesville. >> you had some very bad people in that group. but you also had people that were very fine people. on both sides. >> president trump now facing fierce condemnation. >> the president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence. >> is trump a president with no party? and have the president's own words jeopardized his ability to govern? tough questions ahead for trump supporters and his critics. plus -- >> we'll see what happens with mr. bannon. >> chief strategist steve bannon leaving the white house and promising war.
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who will win and who will lose if bannon follows through on his threats? plus, after the deadly clash in charlottesville, are we in a new culture war? what do you think the country will see in the next few months? in the next few years? from the white house to your house, we take on the moments that matter this week. from abc news, it's "this week." here now, co-anchor martha raddatz. good morning. what happens when a president faces a defining moment for all americans and chooses to speak only to a portion of his base? who pays the price? if you voted for donald trump, you may have agreed with what you heard tuesday when the president tore into the media, doubled down on his assertion that both sides in charlottesville shared the blame. the polls say that message went over reasonably well with trump's most loyal supporters. but if you're among those who
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liked what you heard, you should also know that those words won't come cheap. by alienating so much of america. including allies in the republican party and the business world, donald trump may have irreparably damaged his ability to deliver on campaign promises. trump needs congress to get any of his big campaign promises done. promises like the wall, tax reform, obamacare repeal. a big infrastructure plan. this week, because of what he said, his allies are deserting him. for the country at large, the main concern is that the president failed to clearly reject racism. or to rally the nation in a time of crisis. moments of crisis have historically been an opportunity for a president to show strength. compassion. to heal divisions. president trump has often claimed to be a unifier. >> i'm a unifier. i know people are going to find that a little bit hard to believe. but believe me, i am a unifier.
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[ chanting ] >> jews will not replace us. >> reporter: when confronted with the biggest, most violent white supremacist demonstration if years, one that took the life of an anti-racist protester, there was no healing. >> it looked like they had rough, bad people. neo-nazis. white nationalists. whatever you want to call them. you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest. and very legally protest. becau because, i don't know if you know, they had a permit. the other group didn't have a permit. so -- i only tell you this. there are two sides to a story. >> reporter: those words did not unite the nation. and while the president was clear in his condemnation of heather heyer's accused murderer, his overall message was no comfort to her mother. >> i'm not talking to the president now. i'm sorry. after what he said about my child. >> reporter: former house speaker newt gingrich, among
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trump's closest advisers, said the president may not understand the extent of the damage. >> i think he is much more isolated than he thinks he is. he has much weaker support in the congress than he thinks he does. >> reporter: that may be an understatement. among the republicans speaking out, south carolina's tim scott, who called the president's words indefensible. >> what we want to see from our president is clarity. and moral authority. and that moral authority is compromised when tuesday happens. >> reporter: tennessee's bob corker. once a trump vice presidential prospect questioned his capacity to lead. >> he also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. >> so the question this morning, when a president's own party questions whether he understands the character of this nation, can that president still be the unifier donald trump hoped to be? the unifier this country needs.
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we have one sign this morning the president may be headed in the opposite direction. towards more division. trump's long-time chief strategist, steve bannon, who left the white house friday to rejoin breitbart news giving this ominous warning today to "the washington post." if the republican party on capitol hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light. be one big happy family. but bannon added with a smile, he does not expect sweetness anytime soon. if the president and bannon do go to war with fellow republicans, they'll likely count on support from evangelical leaders. long some of the president's closest allies. in fact, when we asked the white house for an official who could appear on this program today to speak on behalf of the president, they pointed us to our next guest. evangelical leader and liberty university president jerry falwell jr. he was an early supporter.
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endorsing him before the 2016 iowa caucuses. they were together again in may of this year. when president trump returned to liberty university to deliver the commencement address. >> we must always remember that we share one home and one glorious destiny. whether we are brown, black, or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. >> and jerry falwell jr. joins me now. thank you for joining us this morning, mr. falwell. on twitter this week, you praised the president's bold, truthful statement about charlottesville. saying you were so proud of donald trump. the president said there were quote very fine people on both sides. who were those very fine people marching with the neonazis? >> the bold and truthful statements i was talking about
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were his willingness to call terrorism by its name. the willingness no identify the groups, the nazis, the kkk, the white supremacists. by name. that is something a leader should do. president trump is something we haven't had in national leadership in a long time. he's substance over form. so many of our politicians, recent leaders, national leaders, have been form over substance. they tell people what they want to hear. they sugar-coat everything. they have sugar-coated everything. i think the american people have gotten sort of -- thin-skinned and -- i think they need to listen to the substance of what he said. the only groups he identified by name as evil and causing what happened in charlottesville were the nazis, the kkk, and white supremists. >> he said there were very fine people on both sides. do you believe there were very fine people on both sides? >> he has inside information that i don't have. i don't know if there were historical purists there.
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who were trying to preserve some statues. i don't know. he had information i didn't have. i believe he spoke what was -- i think he saw videos of who was there. i think he was talking about what he had seen. information that he had that i don't have. all i know is it was pure evil. the media has tried to paint this as republican versus democrat, black versus white. jew versus gentile. but it's just pure evil versus good. that's what we all need to unite behind. we all need to unite stopping evil. whether it's timothy mcveigh, the terrorist in oklahoma city. muslim terrorists in barcelona. somebody flying a plane into the world trade center. it's all evil. >> but when you say things like that, you say it's all evil, but you say you're so proud of donald trump, that's the message that resonated. it didn't resonate that you think he might have information. let me also tell you what the
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chair of the rnc said this week. on "good morning america." that the second people who joined that demonstration saw nazi flags, they should have turned tail. the second you join a group that has a nazi flag or is joining the kkk, there is no good there. there is no good kkk member. there is no nice neo-nazi. so i'm still intrigued by your idea that donald trump knows somehow there were good people there. >> i don't know that to be the case. i just know that -- it's totally true what you said. there's no good kkk. no good white supremacist. i have lived in lynchburg, virginia, for 55 years. i went to law school at the university of virginia in charlottesville. i lived there for three years. i have never met a white supremist member of hate group in all my years in that part of the country. that is not what our central virginia community is like. terry mcauliffe, our governor, was right. when he said these people need to go home. they're not of virginia. heir not about virginia. and they're all evil. >> would you say, given what you
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know, there were no very fine people on that side? the side of the neonazis? >> i don't have that information. those people are pure evil. there is no moral equivalency. the secretary of the treasury said this morning that donald trump does not believe there is any moral equivalency. >> you should turn tail if there are neo nazis there. you're saying you're still not sure if there are fine people on that side. >> if somebody showed up and found themselves marching alongside people like that, they should walk away. >> susan bro, the mother of the woman killed in the car attack, heather heyer, said she would not talk to the president because he equated counterprotesters with the kkk. let's listen. >> i saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters, like miss heyer,
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with the kkk and the white supremacists. you can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying i'm sorry. >> what would you say to that mother? >> i think the president has made it very clear that there is no moral equivalency. between what the counterprotesters did, even if maybe some of them resorted to violence in response, there's no moral equivalency between that and somebody driving his car into a crowd because he hates people of other races. that's wrong. that's just evil. there's no two ways about it. the president has made that clear. his secretary of the treasury said it this morning. >> do you think he could have been clearer? we heard republicans on the hill. you have heard -- >> one of the reasons i supported him is because he doesn't say what's politically correct. he says what's in his heard. what he believes. sometimes that gets him in trouble. he does not have a racist bone in his body. i know him well. he is working so hard to help minorities and people in the
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inner cities up through -- he says school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. betsy devos has been traveling the country trying to promote school choice to help inner city youth get to choose which schools they attend. and not be stuck in a public school that's failing in a big city. he's doing so many other things to bring jobs back to the inner city. >> let's stay with this for a moment. an npr report says a growing number of liberty university graduates are preparing to return their diplomas in protest of your continuing support to president trump. one alum said it was a simple decision. in defending the president's comment es, jerry falwell jr. is making himself, and it seems to me, the university complicit.
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>> he misunderstands my support. he calls the terrorist groups by their name. we haven't seen presidents in recent years do that. >> when you endorsed mr. trump last year in an op-ed, you criticized president obama over his handling of isis saying his policies had the intended or unintended effect of breathing life into the lungs of the terrorist group, adding that president obama and hillary clinton most definitely signal to islamic state leaders that they had no intent of challenging them or calling radical islamic terrorism by its name. if that is what you believe, is president trump not making the mistake by not unequivocally calling them domestic terrorism? >> he's calling them by name. he's calling the nazis, the white supremacists evil. >> he's not calling it domestic terrorism. he said tuesday, you can call it
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terrorism, murder, whatever you want. why hasn't he called it domestic terrorism? >> he did. he said that is something for the officials to determine. call it what you want. he said it was pure evil. the driver of that car is nothing but a murderer. how clear is -- >> he's the president. >> how clear can he be? i don't understand. >> he could be clearer by calling it domestic terrorism. you don't think he needs to do it because other officials said it? words matter. he's the one that was criticizing, you, too, president obama for not calling it islamic terrorism. >> he did. he said -- i'm not sure what his exact words were. he never said it was not terrorism. >> okay. >> he left the door open for that. yes. >> do you think he could be careful in his words? >> all of us could. all of us could. but at lowe's he's not politically correct. he's not so concerned about reversing and his focus group in every statement he makes. that's one of the reasons i
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supported him. >> that unites the nation. do you feel he's uniting the nation? >> i feel like he's -- after that -- after i heard his statement the other day, i didn't hear anything there that would offend somebody. i started speaking with friends in the jewish community in charlottesville. and some of my friends -- i have a very good friend, president of the largest historically black college in the united states. hampton university. we started having conversations. they started to explain to me how insecure and scared they felt that day when terrorists, these groups -- these terrorist groups were walking up and down the sidewalk right outside their synagogue. i understand how good people can hear the same statement and take way didn't things from it. after hearing that, i -- i -- i understand how some people can misunderstand his words. and -- yes. i think he could -- he could -- he could be more -- he could be more polished and more politically correct.
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but that's the reason i supported him. is because he's not. he says what he thinks. and he is bold about it. i admire that in a leader. >> thank you for joining us this morning, mr. falwell. i appreciate it. >> thank you. joining me now is jeh johnson. he served as president obama's secretary of homeland security for the final three years of his administration. mr. johnson, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for inviting me, martha. >> i would like your reaction to what mr. falwell just said. he talked about it being political correctness. >> it's interesting. sometimes people have more in common than one might realize. like mr. falwell, i'm an attorney. like mr. falwell's father, reverend falwell, my great grandfather was a southern baptist preacher. born in lynchburg, virginia. my great grandfather was born a save in 1860.
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he was freed by abraham lincoln when he was a child. he taught himself to read and write. he founded the lee street baptist church in 1890. which is still there. it's in that vein that i would like to respond here as former secretary of homeland security and as an african-american. um -- president trump said this week that jefferson and washington were slave owners. where does it stop? where does it end? i think most americans understand, most african-americans understand that many of the founders of our nation were slave owners. but most of us are not advocating that we take them off the currency or drop washington's name from the nation's capital. i have first cousins. cousins whose names are washington. they're not changing their names. they're proud of their name. what alarms so many of us from a security perspective is that so many of the statues, the confederate monuments are now modern-day becoming symbols and
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rallying points for white nationalism. for neo nazis. for the kkk. this is most alarming. we fought a world war against naziism. the kkk rained terror on african-americans for generations. people are very concerned. people are alarmed. i salute those in cities and states taking down monuments for reasons of public safety and security. that's not a matter of political correctness. that's a matter of public safety and homeland security and doing what's right. >> i think president trump, the administration, would talk about that as a slippery slope. and, we're here in washington, d.c. i'm in washington, d.c., virginia, there's jefferson davis highway. there's robert e. lee high school. where should that stop? >> well, you know, that's a good question. i think that is a judgment that has to be made more at the local level.
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and, mitch landrieu, mayor of new orleans two months ago, gave a very thoughtful speech on this. so, communities have to make judgments about this. a lot of these monuments are being moved to places of history. but, my concern as a former secretary of homeland security is we see white nationalists now, neonazis using these symbols as rallying points modern day. and that has to be addressed. we saw what happened in charlottesville. we have to avoid repeat occurrences of that. >> i want to to back to president trump's comments and what mr. falwell said. is the media overreacting? did the president just speak his mind? did he make it clear in your mind? >> i don't think the media is overreacting. the media rightly covers everything the president says. what the president doesn't seem to grasp here is that he is --
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our history is no doubt delicate. it's complicated. you have to understand history to be president. i tell public audiences, those who know history learn from it. those who don't know the mistakes of history are bound to repeat it. i'm very concerned that this president is -- frankly dividing us when he should be bringing us together. that's one of the jobs of the president of the united states. it's part of the job description to bring people together in times like this particularly. of high anxiety, high stress. i would encourage him through his words to try to do that. not just speak to his base. speak to all of america. he's the president for all of us in this country. >> do you think the election of the first african-american president brought out some of these groups and kkk groups, brought them back? how much of a role did that play, do you think?
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>> throughout his entire public career, barack obama has talked about bringing people together. i know he dedicated much of his presidency to doing that. he talked to all american people, particularly in times like this. so i think that is a very unfair suggestion. his entire career was devoted to bringing people together. >> i want to turn to what is going on in the white house and some of the turmoil in the white house. steve bannon leaving the white house this week. what do you think that says with bannon leaving? and put on your pentagon hat from years ago, if you will. what do you think it says that he surrounded himself with generals, they remain. what do you expect going forward? >> it's interesting. i don't think anyone would have expected we would have so many retired general officers serving in civilian positions today. there's been a lot of talk this week about people resigning from
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the white house. whether people should resign from the white house. we saw a number of his advisers resign from advisory councils. if john kelly, my friend, john kelly, or my friend, jim mattis came to me and said, i'm thinking about resigning from this white house i would say, absolutely not. you have to stay. as john reportedly said, it's country first. we need people like john kelly, jim mattis, h.r. mcmaster to right the ship. >> thank you so much for joining us this morning, secretary johnson. >> thank you. when we come back, charlottesville renewed a debate over moving civil war statues. i traveled to richmond, virginia, the city that could be the next boiling point. plus, the powerhouse "roundtable" takes on the political fallout of president trump's response to charlottesville. we'll be right back. e" takes on the political fall quout of president trump's response to charlottesville. we'll be right back. come can do it!
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and automatically deploying countermeasures. keeping the world of business connected and protected. that's the power of and. and our "roundtable" is here, standing by to discuss the political fallout of the week that was. that's coming up next. fallout of the week that was. that's coming up next. too many children in this neighborhood do not graduate from high school. the kids after school, they are alone and they have nowhere to go and we tried to solve that problem by having this wonderful place where they can be children. wtef is the washington tennis and education foundation. we help the kids with their academics, and we teach them tennis. we have retired teachers doing the tutoring and they're here every day. wtef is the sole beneficiary of the citi open® tournament.
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it helps block 6 key inflammatory substances that cause symptoms. pills block one and 6 is greater than 1. flonase changes everything. ♪ sun to the farm ♪ ♪ to the seeds in a row ♪ ♪ goodness begins with the seed that you sow ♪ ♪ plant that oat and watch it grow ♪ ♪ good goes around and around and around ♪ ♪ seed to the oat ♪ to get made to an o ♪ ♪ o from the farm ♪ ♪ straight into your bowl ♪ put in the good and the good will grow ♪ ♪ good goes around and around and around ♪ ♪ good goes around and around... ♪ and the powerhouse "roundtable" is here. republican strategist and abc news contributor alex
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castellanos. washington post chief dan balz. kristen soltis anderson. senior political writer perry bacon jr. not much to talk about today, huh? >> another slow day. >> we'll try to get to it all. dan, i want to start with you. where would you rank this week in the trump presidency? >> he's had a lot of bad weeks. i think we can all stipulate to that. this may be the worst that he's had. and i think the reason, the way you can make that judgment is to look at what his fellow republicans have been saying about him since tuesday. and, whatever he thought he was doing saturday, monday, and tuesday, with his varying statements, the judgment on him has been extremely harsh from fellow republicans. i think that really sums up the problem that he's had this week. >> what does that mean for him going forward? >> it doesn't mean the end of the trump presidency. but it may mean the end of trump government. it will be impossible for him to
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attract good people to government. he hasn't filled out the positions he needs to appoint. he's appointed about half of what obama and bush before him appointed at this point. it's going to be very hard for him to build his army to fight their army. >> perry, a cbs poll shows a partisan divide. how president trump's remarks on charlottesville are being received. 82% of democrats disapproved how he responded to charlottesville. 67% of republicans approved. yes, there was a lot of talk on the hill. a lot of talk around the city. a lot of talk everywhere. but when you look at those poll numbers, what do you see? >> two big things going on here. first of all, you look at the polls. about 80% of republicans still approve of trump overall. why is paul ryan not criticizing trump very strongly? that is the answer to the question. and the she could -- second thing is, if you look at the polls this week, everyone opposes the kkk and neo-nazis. you get into the polls in terms of confederate monuments.
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should we take them down? there are people with the view that trump has. the culture is changing too quickly. the monuments should stay up. sort of nervous about where things are going. i think trump did speak to something in the base this week. >> 24% of those surveyed identified as republicans. >> right. one thing you're seeing in the polls. the number of people saying republicans go down. we have a situation where trump's numbers may be going down among independents and -- people saying the republican is going down. his base of support may be shrinking. though republicans say they support him. >> and kristen, after the press conference on tuesday, you tweeted as well saying, i've stayed in the party because i figured staying and fighting for it was better than leaving. but the lord is testing me. so at the end of this wild week, where is your head? >> there was a humorous gif involved in that tweet, as well. i think what is frustrating for republicans here in washington it felt clear and obvious that what the president said was wrong.
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there were not very fine people at this rally. it was unambiguous what you would want to say in the moment. and yet, as that poll just showed, that's actually not where a majority of. voters are. that when the rnc puts out a statement saying the president's statement was in the right. when president trump and his advisers defend what he had to say, that's where most republicans are. and i think over the last couple of months, the leadership of donald trump has really sort of brought to life some views in the republican party that may have always been there. now have a leader putting voice to them. it's creating a lot of tension for many of these republicans in washington who feel the need to say, this is wrong. and yet, their voters back home feel very differently. >> where does this go, dan? you say it's the worst week in washington for president trump. i think we have said that a lot. >> we have said that a lot.
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>> is it a turning point? >> i think what i'm going to say, we also said a lot. i don't think we know. i spent the week trying to reach various republican lawmakers, strategists, leaders, et cetera. to get them to talk about that very question. where do you go from here? not just what do you think about what the president said on tuesday? but what's next? what's next in the relationship? i found very few people who wanted to talk under any condition. on the record, off the record, background. people are frustrated with donald trump. but they also recognize that they cannot go and blow up what i would call the trump gop coalition because they're different. they're an amalgam. so that's the bind that the party is in right now, or party leaders. >> resentful dependency. resentful dependency is when you have no choice. gee, i gotta stay with the cable company. boy, they treat me lousy. i'm frustrated and i hate it. trump supporters have to stick with donald trump. because democrats have not
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changed. nancy pelosi is the alternative? really? a limp republican party that is indistinguishable from democrats, trump is their only finger in the dike stopping washington from flooding them and overpowering them. so they stick with their president. but on a different level here, what i think a lot of trump supporters heard this week is the democrats are just painting us, trump supporters with a nazi brush. we're all white supremacists. that's their excuse for why they lost the election. no, white working class america, death rates among white men are up, 20%. they're unemployed. gwen ifill said, no wonder they're resentful. and democrats, as opposed to looking in the mirror and saying the washington establishment failed white america, they're painting us all as nazis. >> he's not the president of the republican america. he's the president of america. you unify the nation.
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think about how obama talked about charleston. dallas last year. this week, business leaders don't want to be around him. kennedy center awards winners don't want to be near him. the family of someone who died this week does not want to take a his call. >> evangelical leaders are hanging in there. you just heard from one. >> but two of those three groups. america's ceos, corporate america, and a bunch of celebrities. if you are a trump supporter, you look at that and you say, well, okay, a bunch of celebrities don't want to hang out with trump. the media doesn't like him. democrats don't like trump. a bunch of billionaires on wall street don't like trump, but that's okay. trump's with me. he has the benefit of having a lot of very unpopular enemies as well. by picking fights with the media, democrats, he's able to get his supporters, even in moments like this where what he said was certainly not the best. they go, but you know what? he's still speaking up for people like me. >> this president is giving his supporters political viagra every four hours. he's wearing them out.
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he's never giving them a rest. they can't remain this intense and aroused forever. his supporters -- he needs to give his supporters a break. they're having to defend him constantly. eventually, they get frustrated. that resentment is building up. if -- and the pressure cooker. if there is ever an alternative, it could collapse like that. >> is that really ever going to change? we saw this week, steve bannon leaving. you said dan, you wrote that bannon's firing simultaneously changes everything and nothing. we saw john kelly trying to rein him in. i'm sure. the tweets were there. the language was there. you saw the expression on john kelly's face as he was giving the press conference. changes nothing. changes everything. what about inside the white house right now? >> inside the white house will not change demonstrably because of donald trump. you know, general kelly has made clear he's able to manage down. which is to say --
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he's able to manage the staff in an effective way. he's setting boundaries. and i think steve bannon's departure is one big symbol of that. but managing up, which is the challenge of any white house chief of staff, is enormously difficult. he's been in there a few weeks. the tweets have not slowed down. the off -- you know, the off-message statements this week, were, the biggest that he's had. so, that's the challenge for general kelly. certainly, bannon's departure removes in a sense an irritant inside the white house. because he is a grenade-thrower. he is a bomb-thrower. he has a world view that is different from most of the people that are still in there. donald trump holds many of those same views and held many of those long before he was tied closely to steve bannon. so, unless the president changes, a lot of that is not going to change. >> what about steve bannon on the outside at -- back at breitbart? you have heard what he was talking about this morning. and waging war on the opponents, basically. how do you see that playing out?
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>> i think it depends on what donald trump does next. i think bannon is hinting at, if donald trump movers to the center, says no more wall. not having a muslim ban. if kelly and mcmaster and other advisers move donald trump, i think breitbart and ann coulter are saying, we're going to fight and stand up for the trump from the campaign. this could be another fight between the establishment in the white house and the people outside of it who used to be in the white house. i'm not sure donald trump is going to change very much. he's been saying the same things for two decades on many of these issues. >> i think it depends on who specifically, and i mean individuals, the bannon machine goes after. if the bannon machine turns its fire on congress, goes after paul ryan, mitch mcconnell, that will be entirely predictable. that's sort of what they've been doing. if they do it more vigorously, it wouldn't surprise me. but there are individuals like jared kushner and ivanka trump
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ho have been notable for being sort of voices in trump's ear. pushing him in a more moderate direction. >> the family, the generals, some wall street executives. >> if the bannon machine goes after family, going after people like ivanka and jared, that is when i think a trump-breitbart war could happen and get very ugly. >> very quickly, alex. ten seconds. >> i think bannon finds out it's much tougher to be on the outside. what is as powerful as the american presidency? nothing. certainly not breitbart. i think he'll be diminished. >> thank you. coming up, i travelled to richmond, virginia, where the simmering debate over confederate statues may soon boil over. that conversation, up next. ver. that conversation, up next. hey. pass please. i'm here to fix the elevator. nothing's wrong with the elevator. right. but you want to fix it. right. so who sent you? new guy. what new guy? watson.
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i love the city of richmond. and i want to see us grow. we were the capital. you can't erase that. i mean, we had five dreadful years of slaughter on both sides. and, we were the capital of the south. so, what are we going to do? just whitewash it and say it never existed. no, it existed. but let's learn from it and don't repeat ourselves. >> that was bill gallosh, president of richmond's monument avenue preservation society. the city's confederate statues are being hotly debated in the aftermath of charlottesville. i traveled to the capital and spoke to a charlottesville sounlman kristin szakos. mayor le var stone yi.
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and christy coleman, the ceo of the american civil war museum. that's where we gathered. we started with the events in charlottesville. >> it was an armed invasion of our city. it was horrifying. [ chanting ] >> you will not replace us. >> from the torchlight march through uva. to the 500 fascists and naz zis and nationalists with ak-47s and clubs and knives. we could tell it was a terrible event from the very start. >> and mayor, your reaction when you saw those people carrying torches? >> it made my heart sink. to see that sort of gathering of hate and division and intolerance. to me, it was akin to a klan rally without the hoods. as a millennial, that's something we, as millennials, we just haven't seen. normally, you see that on black and white film from the civil rights movement. to see that as clear as day. only 60 miles away from your city in your state, that you love so much.
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it made my heart sink. >> and christy, you affiliated with the museum, the history, what was your reaction? >> i realized an important flash point had been reached. we go through these cycles. when there is forward progression of the social movement. and social expansion of civil rights. there is always a very violent and very quick and very hot pushback on that. >> fire the first shot of the race war, baby! >> this is how the cycle works. this is what happens when we turn history into nostalgia. >> tell me more what you mean about that. turning history into nostalgia. >> people who really need to say, um -- you know this is who we are. these are our heroes. we honor these people because they were good and noble and righteous. we don't want to look at the other complexities of these individuals.
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that's really about nostalgia. that's not about the real push and pull that is always a part of the history dynamic. >> reporter: it seemed like richmond had been able to accommodate both sides. on monument avenue, statues of civil war leaders loom over the city prominently. but with the events in charlottesville, even this former capital of the confederacy is rethinking how its history should be displayed. so talk a bit about those monument. what do you do now? >> i requested they provide context to the monuments. explain who these individuals were. why they got -- how they got there, why they were put there. i thought these would be tools to teach and enlighten. unfortunately, what happened saturday, we have seen these are now rallying points for people to harbor hate and division and intolerance. those are not with the values of this city. i'm offended by them. i think about my grandmother who
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grew up in the segregated south. and the deep south and the low country of south carolina. 1923. she would be offended by those things. i want to be on her side. i want to be on the side of the right. >> is there a way to view those monuments that is not viewed as racist? >> i mean, well, clearly, there are. there are people that don't view them as racist. they view them as symbols of virtue. a memorial to a sacrifice that people made for their homes. i mean, clearly, that's a part of the narrative. they do tell us a lot of interesting stories if we're willing to hear them. nobody is talking about being politically correct. nobody is is talking about being -- what's the other one i hear? you're being revisionist. no, no, no, no, no. history is always a process of new questions. every generation asks a new question. as scholars, we go back and look at what the historical record left us to try to answer them.
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we would be irresponsible if with these new questions that we did not go back and say, hey, now we understand this thing in a bigger way. >> you heard donald trump compare stonewall jackson, robert e. lee to thomas jefferson and george washington. >> this week, it's robert e. lee. i notice stonewall jackson is coming down. i wonder, is it george washington next week and thomas jefferson the week after? you have to ask yourself, where does it stop? >> i don't believe it's a comparison at all. washington and jefferson were founders, part of the founding fathers. they did not take up arms against the united states of america. here, we do celebrate -- i don't think any other city out there, any other country in the world celebrates another army taking up arms against its actual country. except here. here in the south. and, that's why they're different to me. >> when we have the statues of
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washington and jefferson, they're portrayed doing things like being the father of our country. writing the declaration of independence. being president. the confederate statues are in full army regalia, fighting against the united states to perpetuate slavery. that's what they're being celebrated for. >> the country is worried about this. what do you think going forward? >> i do believe that we need to take a moment to breathe. chill out a little bit. and we're going to get that time. once we chill out and breathe, we're going to get back to the discussion in a civil manner and we're going to work on finding a resolution to this. >> how do you do that, particularly when you have a president who says those monuments are beautiful? >> i appreciate the president's opinion. but here in the city of richmond, i don't think that frankly matters. he doesn't live here. we live here. and so we'll be the individuals
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who will choose our destiny. >> people that say this is our heritage. these are our people. they fought. and whether they fought for a side that you may not think is a good side, they're still our people. how do you convince them? >> it's trying to reconcile for communities and help communities come to understand this really interesting dance between what history really is. which is all of this messy. the notion of heritage. the notion of memory. and how they -- how they play out in public life. >> there are always going to be people on opposite sides who are going to frankly disagree. i think here in richmond, we like to think we have fully healed from our difficult and unique past. i think what we're seeing is that we haven't. it's like putting a cast on a broken arm. and not -- not ever fully healing. that is the case. you know what? just like charlottesville, richmond is resilient. >> is this something that scars your city?
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makes your city a better city? >> we're the town of thomas jefferson who talked about all men are created equal. we believe that. i have to say i've been really proud of my city. the way that we've kind of taken this hit and tried to come together. we're still in the process. it will take a long time. it's a traumatic thing. >> things will get better. they always do. so i try not to despair. despite what president trump may say or do, i know and have faith. that's why you get into this work, that things will get better. >> have faith that things will get better. our thanks again to the mayor levar stoney. kristin szakos. and christy coleman. i'll be right back with a closing thought on this week's events.
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we'll be right back after this from our abc stations.
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not until august 2017 will another eclipse be visible. 38 years from now. it's lights out, hands up. for the first solar eclipse in 38 years. and abc news and david muir are right there. and you can share your pictures to be part of this live event. tomorrow, the great american eclipse. starts at 1:00 eastern, 10:00 pacific. on abc. brought to you by the all-new mitsubishi eclipse cross. as we end this week of political and domestic turmoil. a few thoughts. i watched this all unfold from thousands of miles away in south korea, with the u.s. military covering what is surely the president's biggest foreign policy challenge. the very same day president trump was defiantly defending
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his charlottesville response by saying there were very fine people on both sides, even among those white supremacists and neo nazis, i was flying the backseat of an f-16 near the north korean border, where thousands of american service members are ready to give their lives to defend the u.s. and its allies. it would be donald trump, the commander in chief, whose picture hangs at every base at home and abroad who would send them to war with just a few words. that underscores an obvious truth. our service members listened closely to what the president says. so it was no surprise to me that in a rare foray into domestic issues, the heads of the air force, army, marine corps, navy, and national guard all released definitive statements condemning the racism, extremism, and hatred on display in charlottesville. the chairman of the join chiefs of staff, joseph dunford echoed the service chiefs, saying there is
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no place, no place for racism and bigotry in the u.s. military or in the united states as a whole. the u.s. military makes that clear every day. strict regulations guarantee that any support for supremacist groups means you can be thrown out of the military. that's because the strength of the military is not defined by weapons, ships, or tanks. it's defined by the people who serve. those americans who do so are defined by their diversity. of all the institutions in our country, our volunteer military is the most diverse, the most representative, and provides the most opportunities for all americans. what they see and hear from their president, from their own country, about whether they are valued members of the society matters. i'm not talking about the pleasantries of thank you for your service. so when those service members from all backgrounds return home and take off the uniform, there should be no confusion over
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whether every one of them is respected and valued. and that there's no place for groups that fuel bigotry and hate towards them. or for individuals or leaders who condone it. and that's all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news" tonight. and have a great day.
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