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Terror in Charlottesville; Trump Blasted for Response to White Supremacist Rally. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 13, 2017 - 02:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen live in Atlanta and we began with our breaking news out of the U.S. state of Virginia.

Rage, hate and death in the city of Charlottesville. Three people have been arrested after violent clashes between white supremacists and people who came out to face them.

Federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation after a car plowed into a crowd protesting the white nationalist rally. Police have taken into custody this man in connection with what happened, 20- year-old James Alex Fields Jr. is being held on suspicion of second- degree murder.

We want to warn you, you may find this video graphic so if you have small children in the room now is the time to have them turn away.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Them Nazis drove into people. He -- oh, my God. Oh, my God.


ALLEN: One died right there in that crowd, more than one dozen were wounded. Many are in critical condition.

Meantime Democrats and some Republicans, many Republicans are criticizing President Donald Trump for not labeling the protesters for what they are: white nationalists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.


ALLEN: 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.


ALLEN: U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions has released a statement about the investigation into the violence there in Virginia.

He said, "The violence and deaths 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."

That's from Jeff Sessions.

Former president Barack Obama has responded to the clashes between white nationalist counter protesters in Virginia, tweeting the following Nelson Mandela, quote, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his --


ALLEN: -- "background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing the president for his response to the violence in Virginia. CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones has more on that.


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.


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.


ALLEN: Senator Ted Cruz is among prominent Republican lawmakers condemning Saturday's violence, calling white supremacists "repulsive and evil." The Texas senator called on the U.S. Justice Department to immediately investigate and prosecute today's grotesque act of domestic terrorism.

Others posted their disgust on Twitter.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "White supremacy is a scourge that must be defeated."

Former presidential candidate Jeb Bush said, "White supremacists and their bigotry do not represent our great country."

Senator Marco Rubio called Saturday's violence "a terror attack by white supremacists."

And Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said, "Hate and bigotry do not reflect American values."

Many of the white nationalists who brought their anger to Charlottesville are well known to authorities. Richard Painter is the former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. And he told me earlier some members of the Unite the Right group have the ear of Mr. Trump's advisers and he has some strong opinions about what the president do about that.


RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, at this point I'm not interested in what the president has to say. I'm interested in what he's going to do about this.

What is going on here is that there is an umbrella movement called the alt-right which has been operating on the Internet and on the pages of Breitbart News and seeking to mobilize white supremacists, including the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis --


PAINTER: -- but also other white supremacists for purposes of agitation and violence in our country.

This is a terrorist threat, this alt-right moment, and Steve Bannon and other people working in the White House have given it support. The president needs to fire those people and make it clear that his Department of Justice is going to pursue any and all illegal activities by those involved with the alt-right movement. Any threats of violence or any other illegal activities. This is a serious threat to our national security what's going on right now and it is very, very troublesome that there are senior advisers to the president have been involved in the same organizational efforts and movements that have resulted in the violence today in Charlottesville.

ALLEN: And Richard, though, you say it's more important to you what is the president going to do moving forward.

But isn't it also important, his words of condemnation, to defuse violence, to condemn these groups, to say the letters, KKK, to say the words, white national and neo-Nazi?

Why won't he?

PAINTER: Well, I don't know what's going on there. But these people were mobilized to support the Donald Trump campaign by people like Steve Bannon. And now we someone like Sebastian Gorka in the White House, who, when he was faced with a terrorist attack on a mosque in Minnesota, my home state, he said it was a fake.

These are very dangerous people and they should not be in the White House and this alt-right movement is extremely dangerous. And I don't know why the president will not condemn it for what it is.

But it is the alt-right movement, not just the neo-Nazis and the KKK. And we need to focus on this. And it's all over the Internet. And this is a very sophisticated organizational effort. And a lot of these people are armed and really dangerous. It's something I'm very concerned about. It's a threat to our national security.

ALLEN: What more would you like to see President Trump say or do?

You talk about Steve Bannon and he represents. And we saw many of these alt-right folks demonstrating, saying disparaging things about Jews. This president's own son-in-law and daughter are Orthodox Jews.

So it's hard to understand where does this president fall?

PAINTER: Well, it is. And this movement is full of anti-Semites. I've received an enormous amount of anti-Semitic email and trolling on the Twitter page and the rest. And though I'm an Episcopalian, I mean, this is a very poisonous environment that is being created by the alt-right.

And it's not something just to be blamed on the KKK and the Nazis. The alt-right movement is responsible for this and President Trump's senior advisers, including Steve Bannon, have taken advantage of that movement for political gain.

And now we are reaping what was sowed and it is a very dangerous situation.

ALLEN: Right. And as you say that, we can see exactly a representation of that with the violence. We thank you for your thoughts and for joining us, Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. Thank you, Richard.

PAINTER: Thank you.


ALLEN: And come to get we'll have more on the deadly attack in Virginia. An Ohio man is in custody on suspicion of second-degree murder after a car rammed into a group of pedestrians there in Charlottesville.

And we will hear from reporters who talked with this man's mother.

We will also hear from some of the stunned witnesses, who saw the tragedy in full right in front of them. We push on here. You're watching CNN breaking news.





ALLEN: And this is what we've been talking about. This was Saturday 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, a young woman, was killed, walking across the street; more than 1 dozen were hurt. The suspect, the driver, a 20-year-old man from Ohio, has been taken into custody. The FBI has now opened a civil rights investigation into what happened.

Earlier CNN spoke with the reporter who heard from the mother of the man suspected of driving the car into a crowd of protesters.


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.


ALLEN: Unfortunately she does now.

Witnesses who saw that car slam into a group of counter protesters say the vehicle was going extremely fast. Two men at the scene described what they saw and heard.


BRENNAN GILMORE, EYEWITNESS: The car reversed very fast back up the street, as you can see in the video. So we were still in the scene and jumped out to get out around the corner, this barrier of this building.

And the car flew and immediately -- there was victims started coming out -- my friend ran after the car. I gave first aid to a lady that had come out from the scene and, yes, that's basically what happened. The car disappeared after that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you able to get a look at the driver as he sped by you?

CHRIS MAHONY, EYEWITNESS: No; the car had tinted windows. So it was difficult to see in. So I was more looking, as this person kind of came directly toward me. So I was looking to get out of the way of the car, right, as it came back.


MAHONY: When it came past us, we didn't see. I just saw it plow, like Brennan said,, into the group of protesters. And I thought, wow, this is clearly like a terrorist incident.

GILMORE: I got a glimpse of the driver. I was standing about just a few feet from him as he came back, a white male, appeared to have close-cropped hair but it was tinted windows. I didn't get a very good look at him.


ALLEN: Chilling that the suspect used an ISIS-style tactic to inflict this horrible on these people.

Earlier CNN's Amara Walker spoke with civil rights attorney Charles Tripp Coleman Jr. about the car attack and how authorities are responding. He explained what a civil rights investigation could mean here.


CHARLES COLEMAN JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: In order for them to be able to really move forward in terms of federal civil rights charges there 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 geared (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 accused to pries den (ph).

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: 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 a place where white nationalists have come in the past to rally for hate, for Nazism, with these Nazi- era slogans that were chanted?

I mean, 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 took place here. It's very important to understand that the charges of this protest are people of color, are American (INAUDIBLE) on the fringes of and have been 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 that, as we 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 he 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 and 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 his candidacy on, when it comes to calling domestic terrorism, now all of a sudden the president wants to soft-shoe.

Now he doesn't know how to talk tough. And I think that it really exposes what his legacy really is about, the legacy of his campaign, the legacy of his presidency and what he wants his administration to stand for. We already knew what this -- 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 --


COLEMAN: -- we knew that this was going to happen.

We knew that this was coming. In fact, we many in our community are somewhat surprised that it took this long.


ALLEN: Amara talking there with our guest about President Trump's (INAUDIBLE) the right (INAUDIBLE) white supremacists.

Well, ahead here, the former lieutenant governor (INAUDIBLE) reacts to Mr. Trump's response.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. You are watching CNN newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

More on the breaking news from the U.S. state of Virginia. Now federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into the car attack in Charlottesville. One woman died when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally. Five people are in critical condition right now.

Police have arrested this man, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. He is suspected of being behind the wheel of that car. Three other people were arrested in connection with clashes between white supremacists and people who came out to face them.

And meantime, President Donald Trump has condemned the violence among, quote, "many sides," as he called it.

Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing the president for not labeling the protesters for what they are: white nationalists.

The president also said this about what was going on in Charlottesville.


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.


ALLEN: In an emotional news conference, Virginia's governor had a direct and clear message for the white nationalists at Saturday's rally message.


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.


ALLEN: Terry McAuliffe there, the governor of Virginia.

White nationalist, Holocaust denier and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke was at Saturday's rally. He has been a vocal supporter of the U.S. president. Here's some video from 2016, when Donald Trump was campaigning and was asked about Duke.


TRUMP: Yes, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel about the recent endorsement from David Duke?

TRUMP: I didn't even know he endorsed me.

David Duke endorsed me?

OK. All right. I disavow.




Duke explained the reasoning for Saturday's alt-right and neo-Nazi rally in Virginia. Here he is.


DAVID DUKE, FORMER KKK LEADER: This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That's what we believed in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he's going to take our country back. And that's what we got to do.


ALLEN: Well, after Mr. Trump condemned the rally and urged Americans to come together, Duke sent a tweet directed at the president, saying that "Mr. Trump should take a good look in the mirror and remember that it was white Americans who put him the presidency, not radical leftists."

Earlier CNN's Amara Walker spoke with former South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer about David Duke. Here's part of that conversation.


ANDRE BAUER, FORMER LT. GOV. OF SOUTH CAROLINA: David Duke is not a -- anyway, what I think, what this country tries to speak to the world about welcoming and being tolerant of other people's views.

In fact, it's just the opposite and it's not healthy. I don't know how he's continued to be relevant. I wish y'all wouldn't even cover him and then it would take a lot of his relevance away.

But I hope the president will address that.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Your thoughts on some of the GOP lawmakers who are basically doing what the president didn't do. For instance, Senator Orrin Hatch, tweeting, "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home." Senator Ted Cruz also --


WALKER: -- calling it domestic terrorism. Chuck Grassley, what white nationalists are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism. You have lawmakers, Republican colleagues of the president, who are calling it what it is yet the president not doing that.

How do you explain this huge disconnect between the President of the United States and these GOP senators?

BAUER: Well, those GOP senators had plenty of time to come up with their message. They're not taking on as many as things as the President of the United States is right now. And we do have --


WALKER: Well, the president has had time --


WALKER: -- hours to tweet again, hasn't he?


BAUER: -- sad and unfortunate -- well, I don't know that he said unfortunate.


WALKER: He hasn't called out white supremacy.

BAUER: Well, I hope tomorrow that he does. Again , I was watching Van Jones, a good friend of mine earlier. And I heard his heart. I heard what he was saying and I heard what he wanted to hear from our president. And I think our president will clarify some of the things that maybe he didn't get a chance to address today.

WALKER: All right. Andre Bauer, we appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much for your perspective.

BAUER: Thank you, Amara.


ALLEN: The violence in Virginia isn't the only issue facing the U.S. of course. We will have the latest on the North Korean missile threat with a live report coming up here.

Plus President Trump also in the middle of a diplomatic showdown with Venezuela. Now Caracas is accusing him of threatening peace in Latin America.





ALLEN: We continue with our coverage of the breaking news. the tense, violent and deadly day in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, a college town. Three people have been arrested after clashes between white supremacists and people who came out to face them.

We're also getting a new video and we want to warn you, it's graphic. It shows the moment a car plowed into the crowd protesting the rally.

We know that a 32-year-old woman was killed when that happened. At least 19 other people were hurt, some critically. Federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into what happened.

And this man is now in custody in connection with the crash; 20-year- old James Alex Fields Jr. from Ohio is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Meantime Democrats and Republicans are criticizing President Trump for his response to the violence. Listen to what the governor of Virginia said he told the president.


MCAULIFFE: I told the president that there has got to be a movement in this country to bring people together. The hatred and rhetoric that has gone on and has intensified over the last couple months is dividing this great nation.

We need to work together. I told the president that twice, I'd be willing to work with you if we can work together to bring people together. But stop the hate speech, stop the rhetoric in this country. We have got to bring people together.


ALLEN: The violence there in Charlottesville comes as the U.S. also faces the North Korean missile threat. The White House says President Trump discussed the issue with French president Emmanuel Macron Saturday. The two leaders agreed on the need to confront the increasingly dangerous situation. That's a quote.

We've also just heard South Korea's president is set to meet with the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. More on this, CNN's Alexandra Field joins me now from Seoul.

At least there are things to be more talk and we hope that maybe that will tamp down the rhetoric -- Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's everyone hope at this moment, Natalie. It seems like a long time ago but it was really just a week ago when we were touting the diplomatic successes of a U.S.-led effort to get all members of the United Nations Security Council to pass what has been billed as the toughest sanctions ever on North Korea.

That did seem like diplomatic progress; a couple days of later, though, you had the beginning of a full-on war of words between Pyongyang and U.S. president Donald Trump.

I think all of our viewers will probably recall this started back on Tuesday with President Trump warning those words that are now rather infamous, about fire and fury for North Korea if they continued with their threats.

Ever since then it's been threat and response between Pyongyang and President Trump. At one point during the week, Pyongyang warning that it was looking into the possibilities of sending its intermediate- range missiles to the waters off of Guam, that U.S.-held territory that is a home for thousands of U.S. service men and women.

By the end of the week, Donald Trump had doubled down over and over again, really, on the threats of military action against North Korea.

At one point finally saying that the military options were locked and loaded in case North Korea came out with another overt threat against the U.S. or if they threatened to attack Guam or followed through on any of those threats concerning Guam.

Where does that leave us?

Well, it leaves us in an incredibly tense security situation right here on the peninsula. It's been enough for Russia to decide to up its air defenses in response. Japan has deployed some of its land- based missile interceptors and right here in South Korea, the military is saying that they are maintaining full defensive posture so that they will be ready for a powerful response if further provoked -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And what of China?

Anything new there?

FIELD: Yes, China is a key part of the equation. You have heard this a lot from the Trump administration. There has been an overwhelming amount of frustration with the role that China has taken in this.

They did sign on to those U.N. sanctions; that seemed to be a big success for the Trump administration. But that's become increasingly strained this week. There was just a call between the Chinese president and President Trump. President Trump has talked about the possibility of investigating China's trade practices. That's an investigation that could lead to trade tariffs, certainly that's something that China doesn't want to see but it's being discussed against the context of this backdrop of the heightened security concerns of North Korea.

D.C. has certainly been trying to apply pressure to Beijing to do more; the leaders in this phone call agreed that they were both going to exert maximum pressure to work together to resolve this crisis. But Beijing has a different approach for how to do it. They want to see the U.S. and South Korea stop with these annual military exercises that enrage Pyongyang. In exchange, they suggest that Pyongyang should put a freeze on its missile program.

Neither side has subscribed to that idea just yet, Natalie, and we do know that the U.S. and South Korea plan on proceeding with those military exercises later this month.

ALLEN: And will hear --


ALLEN: -- how this talk goes with the South Koreans and the U.S.

Thank you so much, Alexandra Field for us.

Venezuela says U.S. President Trump is a threat to peace and stability in Latin America. Its foreign minister issued the 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. Earlier I spoke with Eric Farnsworth about the growing feud. I asked him about Mr. Trump's controversial suggestion to intervene.


ERIC FARNSWORTH, COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS AND THE AMERICAS SOCIETY: The fact of the matter is mentioning the option for military force in terms of intervening in Venezuela is a setback for the United States and for regional efforts to try to bring a peaceful solution to what is really a dramatic crisis in Venezuela.

And what it really does is it shifts the focus away from Caracas and the antidemocratic government there and the humanitarian crisis there. And it brings it to Washington and, in my view, that's just not helpful.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely, and the question is, where does this country, where does this administration stand?

We really don't know then it this was Donald Trump just using words that he'll have to walk back or bluster for effect.

But there are other people working on this situation that would be far short of the U.S. invoking violence.

FARNSWORTH: Well, that's absolutely right. And the national security advisor has come out already inside, that an invasion is not in the works; a Pentagon spokesman has said the same thing.

There have been no preparations and I don't anticipate that the Marines are loading up into ships anytime soon. But it is a situation that has given the regime an excuse now to come back and say, well, the United States really is a threat to us and we have to take these steps to protect ourselves or Venezuela for -- from a potential U.S. invasion.

Of course, it's ludicrous. But it gives them the excuse that they've been looking for and the perfect foil that they've been looking and it's really unfortunate from that perspective.

ALLEN: So who are the moderate voices here that can step in with Nicolas Majuro vis-a-vis sanctions, diplomacy, neutral countries, who might have the ear of Nicholas Maduro?

ERIC FARNSWORTH: We've been seeing an international consensus forum; it's been slow. It's been painful to watch but it has been forming slowly but surely. And it's countries like Peru, like Argentina, like Mexico, Colombia as well. And they have been coalescing around the idea that the government in Venezuela really does need to change course.

Of course, the United States have been saying that for some time as well and President Trump and the administration have called for strong and swift economic sanctions against the government Venezuela in response to an unconstitutional vote that they took at the end of July.

And so this has been coalescing. But there is the possibility now that that could break down. In fact, after the president made his comments about not ruling out military intervention, countries in Latin America immediately had to reject that and say that they didn't favor that course.

So that was unfortunate. Who speaks for -- who speaks to President Maduro?

Well, not many leaders in Latin America; the Cubans do, the Chinese do, the Russians do and some folks around him in Caracas. So it's a very polarizing, very divided situation and that's part of the problem.

Who can speak to him to try to get him to change course and his government?

And at this point, that's not the influence that the U.S. or the Latin American countries really have.


ALLEN: Eric Farnsworth there, talking with me earlier.

We're 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, seen here, is trying to interview current and former senior officials from the Trump team. That includes 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.

Ahead here, (INAUDIBLE) some Virginia history to find out what could trigger this white nationalist march, the day of protest that turned deadly.





ALLEN: Staying with our breaking news, out of the state of Virginia, a white nationalist rally in the city of Charlottesville turned violent and deadly. Three people have been arrested over clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters.

And federal authorities have now opened a civil rights investigation into a car attack. One woman died when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalists.

Police have taken this man into custody in connection with that crash.

Former presidential candidate and Republican Senator Ted Cruz is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the violence as an act of domestic terrorism.

The rally there in Virginia was to protest the planned removal of the statue of a Confederate Civil War general from a city park. Such monuments bring out strong feelings because the Confederate states fought to preserve slavery in the South.

Many say that makes the statues symbols of a racist past. Others say they just want to preserve their heritage.

The issue is especially emotional in Virginia because here's some background. Virginia capital, Richmond, was also the main capital of the secessionist Confederacy. Much of the four-year U.S. Civil War that began in 1861 was fought in Virginia and a half-million men became casualties within its borders.

The state was starved and devastated by the end of the war. Many cities erected statues of Confederate generals and the battlefields were often preserved as --


ALLEN: -- parks.

Now U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson says there's a growth of hate in this country that's being witnessed in Virginia. He said this state needs just as much as much attention as the current global threats in Asia and South America. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: (INAUDIBLE) security in this country and that (INAUDIBLE) would not harm him. (INAUDIBLE) Terry McAuliffe and the leaders in Charlottesville and give the assurance he gave the governor of Guam on yesterday, that he would, if necessary, to bring up these arms, militarize race support groups that he had to send him that (INAUDIBLE). He would do it. He's threatened to send them in to (INAUDIBLE) and to Venezuela.

But the real fight now is in Charlottesville and it could very well get worse (INAUDIBLE) definitive (INAUDIBLE). He should convene a conference on violence cures and causes, a conference dealing with fears, real and imagined, with the growth of hate in our country.


ALLEN: We will have more guests live in the next hour here as we continue our breaking news in Virginia. And I'll be joined by my colleague, George Howell. Please stay with us. There's another hour ahead.