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Terror in Charlottesville; Trump Blasted for Response to White Supremacist Rally. Aired 1-2ET
Aired August 13, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, thanks for joining us. I'm Amara Walker and we are continuing with the breaking news out of the U.S. state of Virginia.
Federal authorities are now investigating a car attack in Charlottesville as a civil rights case. A car plowed into a crowd of counter protesters who were rallying against a white nationalist demonstration.
Police have arrested this man in connection with that car attack. Authorities say he is 20-year-old James Allen Fields Jr. from the state of Ohio. He is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Now the video from the car attack, we have to warn you is quite graphic, so if you have small children in the room, now is the time to have them turn away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Them Nazis drove into people. He -- oh, my God. Oh, my God.
WALSH (voice-over): You can just hear the terror in the people's voices there in the background and this picture -- incredible -- it shows the exact moment when people were thrown into the air from the impact of that car plowing into them.
We know that a 32-year-old woman was killed in this attack. Meantime President Donald Trump, for his part, urged unity but was less explicit when it came to who was to blame.
Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing the president for not labeling the protesters for what they are: white supremacists. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Our Brian Todd has been following the violent clashes. He has more now from Charlottesville.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day of violence and escalating tension here in Charlottesville, Virginia, as white supremacist protesters engaged in a pitched street battle with counter demonstrators on Saturday in Charlottesville.
And then the violence got even worse. Several people were injured in the initial clashes between the two groups of demonstrators then shortly after 1:30 pm Eastern time in the street just behind me, 4th Street here in Charlottesville, as a group of demonstrators were walking down the street, a car plowed into several of them and then struck two other vehicles.
One 32-year-old woman was killed in that incident; at least 19 people were hurt.
And separately, two state trooper died in a helicopter crash just outside Charlottesville, Virginia.
Here is what we can tell you about the suspect in the car strike that occurred, again, right behind me here at the scene. He is 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. from Maumee, Ohio. He has been arrested and booked a local jail. He is charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failure to stop in an accident, which resulted in a death.
In addition to that, three people have been arrested in connection with the demonstrations; two of them are young men from out of town. And the governor and local mayor here have told us that a lot of people they believe who have come here to cause trouble did come from out of state.
So investigators here are still piecing through what happened. Civil rights investigation has been launched by the Justice Department into the incident here behind me. And one man faces a second-degree murder charge -- Brian Todd, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.
WALKER: U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions has released a statement about the investigation into the violence in Virginia.
He said this, quote, "The violence and death in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.
"I have talked with FBI director Chris Ray, FBI agents on the scene and law enforcement officials for the State of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting states and local authorities throughout the day. U.S. attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail."
Let's head out to Charlottesville now and civil rights attorney Charles Coleman Jr. joining me now live. He is a former New York prosecutor and a trial attorney.
Welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.
CHARLES COLEMAN JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me. Glad to be here.
WALKER: So the civil rights investigation has now --
WALKER: -- been opened according to the Department of Justice.
Does that change anything?
What does that mean for the investigation?
COLEMAN: Right now, it doesn't necessarily change anything because the facts are still coming out. What we do know is that in order for them to be able to really move forward in terms of federal civil rights charges is going to have to be a finding by the Department of Justice that there was a willful and intentional deprivation of the civil rights of the individuals who were affected.
Now in this case, I think that it'll be simple to do primarily because you do have white nationalists. This was adjure (ph) around hate speech. This was a protest that was, at its very core, about hatred, about bigotry, about racism.
And so I don't think that the usual hurdle that the Department of Justice has found of late in terms of being able to prosecute under federal civil rights statutes is that something that we're going to have in this instance.
However, we are under a new administration. They have been doing these differently. So I can't say that anything would really be (INAUDIBLE).
WALKER: Can you give us some background here, given that you are a civil rights attorney, just about this protest and Virginia and the fact that this is the place where white nationalists have come in the past to rally for hate, for Nazism, with these Nazi-era slogans that were chanted.
This was a message, a march that was solely based on hate and intolerance.
COLEMAN: You're absolutely correct and I am glad that you asked the question. This target, this choice of venue was not at all an accident by the people who had decided to put this together. It's important that viewers understand that Virginia was home to two of the three known capitals of the Confederacy during the civil rights war, during that time.
And so there's a longstanding, deep-seated, well-documented history of racism and bigotry in the state of Virginia, which made this very fertile ground for something like this to take place.
And so it's not an accident that it's (INAUDIBLE). It's very important to understand that the charges of this protest are people of color, are American (INAUDIBLE) pushed to the outside of society, people who are -- may not necessarily be documented citizens, people of color, poor people and white allies who have chosen to stand in courage and in partnership with those people of color, who have stood up to these white supremacists and these bigots.
And so it's very important to (INAUDIBLE) contextualize what's going on that we not only understand how and why Virginia is where this is taking place but also who, in fact, are the intended targets of this protest.
WALKER: And this really underscores just how polarized this country is and also the fact that some people feel emboldened with the Trump presidency and I say this because I'm using David Duke as an example, the leader of the KKK, who was on camera and who was being interviewed on this day, on Saturday, saying that he without fulfilling the promises of President Trump, he was invoking President Trump's name.
This is the first kind of crisis that we're seeing the President of the United States face right now.
What you think about leadership in the way that he condemned what happened?
COLEMAN: Well, I think that this has been an absolute failure of leadership on his part, particularly because he has in his response been a tale of two presidents. This is a failure of indifference.
On one hand, you have a president who can talk as tough as he wants to to the Venezuelan government, to the Russian government, to the North Korean government. He can talk as tough as he wants to about Islamic terrorism.
But when it comes to calling out white supremacy, which is a brand that he helped further, that he ran on, that he built (INAUDIBLE) on, when it comes to calling domestic terrorism, (INAUDIBLE) the president wants to soft-shoe.
Now he doesn't know how to talk tough. And I think that it (INAUDIBLE) exposes what his legacy really is about, a legacy of his campaign, a legacy of his presidency and what he wants his administration to stand for. We already knew where this is coming from. People of color in American were very clear that when President Trump was campaigning, and he talked about the need for law and order and he fashioned himself to the public as a law and order candidate, we knew that this was going to happen.
We knew that this was coming. In fact, we (INAUDIBLE) community are somewhat surprised that it took this long. Nevertheless, now that we are here, it is up to President Trump and it is up to all of the elected officials who allowed for many years, not just one year, not just one election cycle but for many years for these dog whistle politics to allow for this coded language that emboldened these bigots, these racists and these white supremacists to get to this point.
It is now their responsibility to demonstrate leadership --
COLEMAN: -- and to completely disavow this behavior and call it for what it is.
WALKER: We should mention elected officials, especially some Republican senators, have been tweeting and calling it what it is, saying that this is domestic terrorism, that there's no place for white supremacists and that they're not patriots.
And it's a pretty long list of Republican senators, who are specifically targeting and calling out the white supremacists.
We're going to have to leave it there. We appreciate your analysis, Charles Coleman Jr., thank you very much for your time.
COLEMAN: Thanks for having me.
WALKER: Now earlier CNN spoke with a reporter who heard from the mother of the man suspected of driving that car into a crowd of counter protesters. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUREN LINDSTROM, "TOLEDO BLADE": He told her last week he was planning to go. He had taken the day off of work. And she described this as an alt-right rally but she had no idea kind of -- she said she was unaware of its extremist natures or leanings as far as the other people who were going to be attending.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she say that her son was part of an of these groups, was somehow simpatico with any of these groups?
LINDSTROM: So she was pretty unaware of what the definition of alt- right would be. She fumbled over the language. I don't think she had a clear idea of what that definition of what that would be. She said to me that she doesn't try to get too much into his political beliefs and that she's not too well versed in his political leanings in any way. I don't get a sense that she necessarily knew what he was headed for this weekend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: All right. Still ahead, some fear President Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacists might embolden hate groups. We just heard that perspective a few minutes ago from Charles Coleman Jr. We're going to learn more about that potential danger and the fallout from the White House. That's coming up.
Also, just what is it that seems to be boiling up in American race relations that could bring violence to a calm college town?
We're going to seek some answers on that -- when we come back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Goodness. This was earlier today in the normally quiet college town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Angry white nationalists protesting the removal of a Confederate statue. They clashed with people who stood up to them. Then the violence turned deadly. A speeding car plowed into a group of unsuspecting counter protesters. One person was killed and more than a dozen injured.
The suspected driver, a 20-year-old man from Ohio, has been taken into custody; the FBI has also opened a civil rights investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing President Trump for his response -- or lack thereof -- to the violence in Virginia. CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones has more.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there; that's right. The president did respond to the violence in Charlottesville earlier today. Here is part of what he had to say.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It's been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: And one phrase that you heard from the president just now there is getting a lot of attention and a lot of criticism, I should say, and that is when he said the violence, the hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. A lot of folks are saying he is equating the neo-Nazis and white supremacists and white nationalists who were demonstrating today and last night with the folks who were counter demonstrating, protesting the racism and the racial epithets they were espousing.
I asked a White House official what the president meant by "many sides." I asked several White House officials. This is what one of them said.
They said the president was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.
So that was the White House doubling down on this idea that both sides are to blame.
Another thing that is notable here is that the president talked about bringing the country together, about the need to unite, to straighten out the situation in Charlottesville, to study it, to figure out what's going wrong in this country that allows this sort of thing to happen.
Well, a lot of critics on both sides of the aisle are saying that the president himself needs to call out the organizers of these demonstrations by name; specifically we're talking about the white nationalist, people who were carrying flags with Nazi emblems, carrying Confederate flags, people who showed up on the University of Virginia's campus last night, carrying torches, protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.
They note that the president has long criticized people like President Barack Obama for not using phrases like "radical Islamic terrorism," arguing how can you fight or defeat this enemy or this idea without naming it?
They are calling on the president to condemn white nationalists. And one more thing I want to note. This is a president who has not been shy about criticizing a long list of people, whether it's Democrats like President Barack Obama or his former rival, Hillary Clinton, or fellow Republicans like Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senator John McCain, also the former FBI director, James Comey and the current special counsel, Bob Mueller.
But what he has not done while president is condemn white nationalists, white supremacy, white nationalism or Nazis or neo- Nazis. That is why a lot of folks believe that his statement today, the statement here on Saturday, did not go far enough -- back to you.
WALKER: Athena Jones, thank you. Now condemnation of white supremacy has been a common theme as Republican leaders responded to Saturday's violence in Charlottesville.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "White supremacy is a scourge that must be defeated."
Former presidential candidate Jeb Bush saying, "White supremacists and their bigotry do not represent our great country."
And Senator Marco Rubio called Saturday's violence "a terror attack by white supremacists."
Also Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell did not use the term "white supremacists" but instead said, "Hate and bigotry do not reflect American values."
With us now from Los Angeles, David Siders, senior reporter for Politico, and CNN political commentator John Thomas.
Good to see both, gentlemen.
David, I want to start with you.
WALKER: Is Trump -- is President Trump failing the first crisis of its kind on his presidency?
DAVID SIDERS, POLITICO: I think it's an interesting question. He's getting a lot of criticism obviously for failing to call this an act of terror or to call that white supremacy.
But as far as a political failing, I think we're yet to see it. I'm not sure that the incident tonight will persuade voters about anything new about President Trump. People who thought that he was one way on the race situation either because of his campaign rallies or his rhetoric about minorities or because of employing his Steve Bannon, I'm not sure that changes tonight.
So I don't know that this is a monumental shift or failure for him in that sense.
WALKER: John, what about you?
Are you proud of the way President Trump responded today, condemning the violence on many sides many sides?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I'm pleased that he held a press conference. I'm pleased that he made several tweets. And I understand his point. I don't feel that he did go far enough. I think he should have called out the white supremacists for the hatred that they spew.
But Amara, I wasn't there but I have watched the footage that you had on your air and I've seen both sides that were not behaving peacefully. Again, that does not --
WALKER: But to imply -- but, John, to imply a moral equivalency, sure, both sides were not behaving the way they should have. But just when you talk about white supremacy in general, they're on a different level of -- they have a historically vile history the way that they treat people of a different race, a different color, a different religion.
So are you implying, like as some interpreted President Trump did, that there is some kind of moral equivalency, that both sides are on the same --
WALKER: -- moral --
THOMAS: -- no, I'm not, Amara, and that's why I'm saying, I don't think the president went far enough. I think the next 48 hours are really an opportunity for to president to clarify and strengthen his rhetoric. But I also think the president has actually a difficult line to toe here because had the president come out and directly condemned the white supremacists and named David Duke in his Twitter feed or in a press conference, that ends up almost legitimizing the effort, especially one of their leaders.
And so while I think the president should strengthen his rhetoric, I also think he should avoid naming people and elevating their platform.
WALKER: David, what do you think about all this?
Everyone's wondering why in the world President Trump did not specifically call out the neo-Nazis and also when David Duke, the grand wizard of the KKK, is invoking his name and saying we are here at this rally to fulfill the president's promise, why is the president not distancing himself and calling out David Duke as well?
SIDERS: I think the tough line that John talks about, the real tough line that the president has is that many of these people are his supporters.
This is a president who was a candidate, tapped into racial anxiety in the country, not just economic anxiety. He tapped into these emotions that really are apparent in the United States of America.
And I think the problem or the fear or if you want to talk about failing, the reason that people around the country are watching this incident tonight and are worried about it, yes, it's in part because of the president but it's also because of what it says about the people who elected him.
This is the first -- we've just given birth to the first generation of people who will inherit an America that is not majority white. And we're seeing these struggles playing out now. And I think it's the beginning of -- this isn't a weeklong thing. This is the beginning of a really trying time, I think, for Americans.
And that's why this is such a charged event and rightly there is pressure and attention focused on how the president responds.
WALKER: John, what do you think about people saying that possibly this is politically motivated; President Trump did not want to lose the base of the supporters. We know that President Trump gets strong support from white nationalists and the alt-right.
Case in point, David Duke endorsed President Trump during the campaign.
Do you feel that this is simply just an oversight?
THOMAS: To extrapolate that a few crazy white nationalists all of a sudden are reflective of Donald Trump's base voters is ridiculous. If you look at areas that Donald Trump won, a lot of these people challenged for Barack Obama (INAUDIBLE).
WALKER: OK, I was just about to interject there. Unfortunately, we lost John Thomas. He does have a shoddy signal.
But let's get back to David.
And, David --
OK, John, you're back. Go ahead and continue. Sorry about that.
THOMAS: That's fine. I was just saying to infer that this group of crazy, fringe white nationalists --
THOMAS: -- are part or even a significant part of Donald Trump's base voters and part of his political calculations are absurd. In 2008 and 2012, people who were casting their ballots for Barack Obama switched their vote and did not vote for Hillary Clinton and voted for Donald Trump and that's what helped actually put him over the edge.
So I just -- I think it's ludicrous and silly to say otherwise.
WALKER: Ludicrous, ridiculous but President Trump's own advisor in the White House, Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart news, that website was a platform for the alt-right, John.
THOMAS: OK. Perhaps -- I've seen Breitbart (INAUDIBLE) --
WALKER: OK. Again, we're losing that signal. So let's give David Siders the las word.
If you look at just the way Republican lawmakers are tweeting and clearly it's a message to President Trump, because you've got Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, they're specifically using the words white supremacy. This is domestic terrorism.
What does this about this disconnect? How do we reconciliation this disconnect between the Republican president and his lawmakers?
SIDERS: There's clearly a tension there. And I think -- I will just say that I think John is -- the kernel of what John is saying is right, that this is one person who drove a car into a mob tonight. And so that should have been -- you know, call that what you will.
But that us one person. There is a broader concern and that's what these other Republican lawmakers are recognizing and, honestly, that's what the president recognized when he was campaigning for president and criticizing Barack Obama for not calling out isolated incidences as a part of a broader problem.
WALKER: All right, David Siders, John Thomas, thank you so much both of you gentlemen for joining us.
And apologies that we couldn't get you to finish your sentence there, John. We'll do it again next time. Thanks.
All right. Coming up:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people.
But my message is clear: we are stronger than you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: That was the governor of Virginia, condemning the violence, calling out white supremacists from the violence that erupted in his state Saturday. Ahead, we're going to have more on his message to the neo-Nazis. Stay with us.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Amara Walker.
Welcome back and breaking news that we are following out of the U.S. state of Virginia. Federal authorities have open a civil rights investigation into a car attack in the city of Charlottesville. One woman died when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally.
Police have arrested this man, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. He is suspected of being behind this attack. Three other people were arrested in connection with the clashes between the white supremacists and the people who came out to counter them.
Meanwhile President Donald Trump has condemned the violence on, quote, "many sides." Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing the president for not labeling the protesters for they are: white supremacists.
The president also said this about the violence in Charlottesville. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville. And we want to study it. And we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen. My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens.
But our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: In an emotional news conference, Virginia's governor had a direct and clear message for the white nationalists at Saturday's rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.
You pretend that you're patriots but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who brought our country together.
You think about the patriots today, the young men and women who were wearing the cloth of our country. Somewhere around the globe, they're putting their life in danger. They're patriots. You are not. You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people.
But my message is clear: we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.
We were here today to bring people together, to unify folks. I remind you all that we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you're Native American, the first ships that came to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, and since that time many people have come to our great country to unite us.
Our diversity, that mosaic tile of immigrants is what makes us so special and we will not let anybody come here and destroy it.
So please go home and never come back. Take your hatred and take your bigotry. There is no place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Not mincing any words, the governor of Virginia.
Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize winning author Douglas Blackmon. He's an expert on U.S. race relations and a senior --
WALKER: -- fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center.
We appreciate you joining us. Thanks for coming in.
DOUGLAS BLACKMON, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Happy to be here, thank you.
WALKER: I was just talking to you before we came to you and it was interesting; you actually lived just steps away from where all of this happened so you're the perfect person to give us some context as to why hateful people gather at this location in Charlottesville, Virginia.
BLACKMON: There are a lot of cities around the country right now that are struggling with this question around Confederate monuments and what to do with them. It began with the Confederate battle flag as long as 25 years ago, the state of Mississippi had a vote over whether to take down the -- take the Confederate battle emblem out of the state flag.
So this has been going for a long time but is now turned into the struggle over monuments; in particular, in a bunch of cities. Charlottesville is actually the smallest of them probably.
But New Orleans has taken down several monuments; Dallas is dealing with this. Richmond, Virginia, and a number of other places.
But the reason of the alt-right has come to Charlottesville may surprise some people but it has to do with -- what they're really looking for is just exactly this kind of a showdown, a violent showdown but they wanted it to be with white liberal progressives. They want it to be in the streets in a struggle, not in a place like New Orleans or even Richmond, Virginia, where the people on the other side would have been mostly African American Americans and the explicit racist nature of all this would have been very obvious.
WALKER: So they knew, then, here would be counter protests, that people would come out to counter what they were saying.
BLACKMON: They wanted it to be --
BLACKMON: -- they wanted it to be in a classic college town, where they would get in a giant scrum with a lot of college kids and white liberals because, in some sense, I think they must think that it deracializes, makes it less obvious that what they're really about this just old-fashioned KKK bigotry, Nazism, white supremacy.
That is all this is about. It's not patriotism; it's just a racial fight.
WALKER: Do you think some people, the media maybe, or some GOP lawmakers are being too tough on President Trump?
Or do you see that people have become emboldened to go out to the streets and show off their racist views?
BLACKMON: I don't think that we can necessarily attribute all of this to the election of Donald Trump. I think we probably can attribute the election of Donald Trump partly to that there has been this ferment of this kind of activity in recent years.
We saw it through part of the Tea Party movement. We saw it in some of the opposition to President Obama. So who's responsible for all of this having started may be a little harder to identify.
But there is absolutely no doubt that these forces in our society and they are so relatively small, they just look terribly big at times like this but they're relatively small, that there's no doubt that they have been emboldened by an atmosphere that President Trump has gone along with and that he has been relatively inadequate in his response to the events of the last 24 hours.
WALKER: And what do you make of President Trump calling for unity yet not saying what the United States should rally against, not naming what we should be united against?
BLACKMON: Frankly, it's a bit shocking; even if you try to give the president benefit of the doubt on this, it is good that he made some statements that said that he's opposed to hatred of all kinds and that there shouldn't be violence. That's all true.
But the suggestion that somehow the folks who were opposed to the Nazi, white supremacist ralliers, those activists, the idea that somehow what they were doing was the equivalent of what the Nazis were doing is crazy on its face but also once you get to the point that someone has deliberately crashed a car into a crowd, an ISIS-style terrorist attack, it's pretty simple at that point.
This is something that merits a complete unequivocal denunciation and is really -- it's disappointing that the president didn't even see the political utility of being very clear and very unequivocal about that, even as all of his Republican allies have come out and made such extraordinarily stronger statements.
WALKER: Even that this is not a political issue; this is just a human issue.
Douglas Blackmon, we're going to leave it there. Appreciate you joining us. Thank you for coming in.
BLACKMON: Thank you. WALKER: We're going to take a short break from here. When we come
back, violence in Virginia isn't the only issue facing President Trump. We're going to have the latest on the North Korean threat -- next.
WALKER: Welcome, everyone. I'm Amara Walker. We continue with our breaking news coverage, the tense and deadly day in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people have been arrested after clashes between white supremacists ad the people came out to counter them.
We're also getting new video; we have to warn you, though, you may find it graphic. And this is a different view of what happened from the air. It shows the moment a car plowed into a crowd of people, you can see the people just dispersing there so quickly.
This is why they were protesting, a white nationalist rally. My goodness. And we know a 32-year-old woman was killed in this car ramming attack. At least 19 other people hurt, several remain in critical condition and federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into this incident.
Police have taken into custody this man in connection with the crash; 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder.
The violence in Charlottesville comes as the U.S. is also facing the North Korean missile threat. The White House says President Trump discussed the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron Saturday. The two leaders reportedly agreed on the need to confront the increasingly dangerous situation.
For more on this, CNN's Alexandra Field joining me now from Seoul.
Alexandra, so what do we know about this conversation between the French and American leader and the fact that they're saying they need to confront the situation?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Emmanuel Macron has certainly been voicing his concern about the mounting tension on the peninsula as have other world leaders. We do know now that President Trump and President Macron discussed the security situation here. That President Trump has made it clear that the U.S. could pursue military, economic and diplomatic measures in order to try and --
FIELD: -- resolve the mounting crisis. He has also, as we know, been in close touch with Chinese president Xi Jinping about again promising to work together to resolve this crisis.
At the same time most of the world has been focused on the kind of language that President Trump has been directing at North Korea this week, certainly not a direct dialogue with North Korea's leader Kim Jong, but an exchange of bellicose rhetoric, ricocheted really across the world for a number of days this week.
It started when President Trump made that now infamous fire and fury comment, a threat to North Korea that has been responded to several times over, including a response from North Korea, in which the regime vowed that it was readying a plan to deploy intermediate-range missiles that would strike the waters near the U.S.-held territory of Guam by the end of the week.
President Trump was saying that military options were locked and loaded. He was warning Kim Jong-un against any overt threats or an attack on Guam. The security situation has certainly raised tension in the region and beyond.
In Russia they are upping their air defenses; in Japan they have deployed some land-based missile interceptors. And South Korean officials say that their military is maintaining a full readiness posture, ready to respond with powerful force if further provoked from North Korea.
Where do we go from here, Amara?
How much more rhetoric can we expect?
Well, that person clear it seems that every time one of the side's issues some kind of threat there is a response. But for now we know that the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is traveling to the region. He is expected to meet here in South Korea tomorrow with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Certainly this will be the big topic of conversation -- Amara.
WALKER: Absolutely, as we should expect. Alex Field in Seoul for us, thank you so much, Alex.
And Venezuela says U.S. President Trump is a threat to peace and stability in Latin America. Its foreign minister issued a government's official response after Mr. Trump refused to rule out using military force in Venezuela.
The country's defense minister also called Mr. Trump's talk of possible military action a, quote, "crazy act." Venezuela is gripped by an ongoing economic and political crisis.
We're also learning more about the investigation into the Trump administration's possible ties to Russia. "The New York Times" is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to interview current and former senior officials from the Trump team and that includes a former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who was dismissed last month.
The report says Mueller is also asking the White House about specific meetings and looking into the firing of FBI director James Comey.
Time to take a short break. When we come back, a top Republican calling the attack in Charlottesville "domestic terrorism." We're going to hear why a former FBI agent is cautioning politicians to wait until the facts come in.
WALKER: Breaking news out of the U.S. state of Virginia. A white nationalist rally in the city of Charlottesville turned violent (INAUDIBLE). Three people have been arrested over clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters.
Federal authorities have now opened a civil rights investigation into a car attack. One woman died when a car rammed into a crowd of the people protesting the white supremacists.
Police have taken into custody this man in connection with the crash.
Also former presidential candidate and Republican Senator Ted Cruz is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the violence as, quote, "an act of domestic terrorism."
Earlier our John Berman spoke to law enforcement analyst James Gagliano and the deputy mayor of Rochester, New York, Cedric Alexander. He asked them what a Department of Justice investigation like the Senator Cruz is calling for would really mean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES GAGLIANO, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We just want to caution politicians or anybody that they take a (INAUDIBLE) to perspective and (INAUDIBLE) and it's very dangerous to do. You've got to wait until (INAUDIBLE) come in.
I think with what we (INAUDIBLE) would agree with me on this, the definition of terrorism, violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political or social goals or aims, this clearly could fall into that.
Now was this a deranged man, an outlier, somebody who showed up?
And we problems all the time with copycats, folks that show up and just want to get into some kind of business.
Or was this somebody, as you reported earlier, that this was premeditated, was part of that organization, whether or not he was a white nationalist or whether or not he was part of the neo-Nazi movement, that decided to do this.
And that will make the determination of what type of charges -- (CROSSTALK)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: -- what would you want, as a former law- enforcement officer, what would you want the federal government to step in?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Here's a situation -- I stated this earlier and I've been stating this throughout the day. If we look at what occurred out there and we look at the video, we look at the individuals that were involved, it was very violent in nature. It was premeditated.
We knew that the night before. It was very negative, violent rhetoric going on that led in (INAUDIBLE). And what I would strongly suggest to the governor and to the local representatives there in Charlottesville is that they request from the president and from the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that an investigation be open.
Because you have some very evident hate crimes that took place here today in number, regardless of what side it may have occurred on. You had that take place.
But here's what we do know. We had hate groups, KKK, alt-right, neo- Nazi groups that were there and very openly and bitterly and angrily attacked people.
BERMAN: Self-proclaimed --
BERMAN: -- self-proclaimed --
BERMAN: -- and white supremacists --
BERMAN: -- not like there's a mystery as to who those people were. What we don't know is this individual, James Alex Fields, was one of them. And that will be investigated, no doubt; Ted Cruz calling for a DOJ investigation. Interesting what Ted Cruz's motivations are there. We'll talk about that perhaps later.
James Gagliano, we got another interesting statement today --
BERMAN: -- this one from Admiral James Richardson. This came in just a few minutes ago; he's the chief of Naval operations. What makes this interesting is this is a military officer somewhat in the chain of command, not someone who makes political statements.
He called the event in Charlottesville "shameful and unacceptable." He said the Navy will forever stand against intolerance and hatred. You are someone who worked for the federal government, not the type --
you won't make a political statement but I suppose calling these crimes hateful and shameful should be political.
GAGLIANO: John, you have to look at it from this perspective: calling it white nationalism, that is a benign euphemism. This is a group that was -- its origins are in hate, are in racial supremacy.
So we start with that. What disturbed me was noticing how this group decided to conduct their parade. They were wearing ballistic shields; they had on Kevlar. Some of them were dressed like military folks.
I was in Afghanistan in 2002. They were dressed like folks that were over there in Afghanistan, folks that are the real snake eaters, the folks that are out there working on behalf of the United States government.
And I thought it was shameful. That makes it a little disconcerting because you've got an area like Virginia, where you can have a weapon in public, that you can carry weapons legally, that's exposed in public like that.
And when you get people like that clashing with the counter protesters, if this indicative of where going, if there's going to be more of these, I see bad things coming
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: That is our time. Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Amara Walker. Natalie Allen will be back after the break with more of our continuing coverage of the events in Virginia. Stay with us.