CNN’s Jake Tapper pushes back after Trump adviser doubles down that “many sides” are to blame for neo-Nazi rally
Tapper: “One person was killed by one of these 'alt-right,' Klan, Nazi protesters, and you just decried both sides. And this is the issue."
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From the August 13 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Well, you say that the president was clear in condemning this bigotry, but listen to this. This is from an infamous neo-Nazi website, quote: "Trump comments were good ... He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him," unquote. Mr. Bossert, that’s a neo-Nazi website celebrating how equivocal and vague the president of the United States was. Are you willing to at least concede that President Trump was not clear enough in specifically condemning white supremacy?
TOM BOSSERT: No, the words of the ignorant bear little with me and should bear less with you in the media. Unfortunately, they don't. And what I would say is that the president not only condemned the violence and stood up at a time and a moment when calm was necessary and didn't dignify the names of these groups of people, but, rather, addressed the fundamental issue. And so, Jake, what you need to focus on is the rest of his statement. The president didn't just call for human beings to respect one another, which is his pragmatist core, fundamental bare minimum, but he called for ideally Americans to love one another, for all of God's children to love one another. That is a fundamental assault on the very nature of the hatred that we're seeing here. And I guess you're going to continue to press on the words he didn't say. What I’d like you to focus for just a moment on the rest of the statement that he did say. This is the kind of reputation of hatred that needs to be covered more. I think it's leadership.
TAPPER: Well, It's not really what I think. It's about what Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL], and Sen. Cory Gardner [R-CO], and Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT], and Sen. Ted Cruz [R-TX], and Gov. Chris Christie [R-NJ], and Congressman Pete Sessions [R-TX], and on, and on, and on. What they think. They have gone -- they have gone public making it very clear that they don't think President Trump was specific enough in condemning white supremacists. So, it doesn't really have any effect or bearing what I think. I'm asking you all these Republican officials who want the president to succeed are saying this didn't go far enough.
BOSSERT: Yeah, I think you should give yourself more credit because what you do think does invade and pervade the things you say on air and the things that you cover.
And by the way, we had protesters and counterprotesters that showed up yesterday. This is the very challenge that confronted the mayor and his police officials and fire officials and the National Guard officials that were called out in advance. These were people who showed up intentionally looking for trouble. These weren't people that showed up to protest a statue. I'm sure there were good people in the group that had various opinions on the removal or maintenance of the statue. But, what they found when they showed up were groups from outside that showed up on both sides looking for trouble, dressed in riot gear, prepared for violence. It's not tolerated. It's not tolerable. I think what you saw is Republican unity in terms of denouncing it, and I think you saw the president stand up very clearly and not only denounce it, but rise to a presidential level of calling for a countermessage of love and dignity and respect for fellow human beings.
TAPPER: How many people did the counterprotesters kill yesterday, Mr. Bossert?
BOSSERT: Well, I'll tell you, one death is too many, Jake, and I don’t want to place this –
TAPPER: But that wasn’t by the counterprotesters. She was -- the victim was a counterprotester.
BOSSERT: I don’t -- hold on one moment, Jake. I don’t for one minute, I don't for one moment, and I won't allow you for one second to put me in a position of being an apologist for somebody who is now a charged murderer. This individual should face swift justice. The president of the United States shares that view. I know he does. I share that view deeply, and I don't want to be put in a position – I won't allow you to put me or him in a position of not finding that justice as swiftly as possible.
TAPPER: You just decried both sides. You just decried both sides. Here we have a situation, Mr. Bossert, where neo-Nazis, the Klan, “alt-right,” and others, went to Charlottesville, VA, chanting anti-Semitic, anti-African American, and other racist slogans, provoking the people of Charlottesville, VA, making them feel intimidated. Yes, violence did break out. One person was killed by one of these “alt-right,” Klan, Nazi protesters, and you just decried both sides of this. And this is the issue.
BOSSERT: No. No, I didn't. And you're making this issue a little bit distorted. So, what I would decry is the individual that committed murder yesterday. What I would do, though, is quibble with this notion that any of this is acceptable. These groups showed up spewing hate. These groups showed up looking for violence.