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Suspect Arrested After Car Rams Crowd in Virginia; Trump Fails to Label Protesters as White Nationalists; South Korean President Set to Meet Top U.S. General. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired August 13, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

[05:00:29] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and around the world. We continue following the breaking news this hour here on CNN.

Rage, hate and death in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Here's what we know at this point.

Three people have been arrested after violent clashes between white supremacists and people who came out to face them down. Also, federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation.

This after a car plowed into a crowd of people who were protesting the white nationalists. Police took this man into custody in connection with the incident. He's 20-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr. He's being held on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Now to show you the actual video from that car attack. It is graphic so we want to give you a moment here, if you have small children in the room, now is the time to have them turned away. Here's a look at that video now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That Nazi just drove into people. Oh my god. Oh my god.


HOWELL: The video shows the chaos there but again this still image that we'll show you in a moment, it shows people basically in the air flying when that car came through. One woman in the crowd died, more than a dozen people were wounded critically.

Meanwhile Democrats and some Republicans are criticizing President Trump for not labeling the protesters what they are -- white nationalists.


DONALD TRUMP, 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.


HOWELL: That term there, "on many sides," has some, though, scratching their heads. We'll have more on that in a moment. Though we are hearing from the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who released this statement about the investigation into the violence that took place in Virginia.

It read in part, quote, "The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice." It goes on to say, "When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated," end quote.

Let's now get the latest from CNN's Brian Todd with more on what exactly happened in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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 p.m. 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 troopers died in a helicopter crash just outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

Here's 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 in 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.


HOWELL: Brian Todd on the scene, thanks for the report.

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


LAUREN LINDSTROM, REPORTER, SPOKE TO SUSPECT'S MOTHER: He had told her last week he was planning to go. He had taken the day off of work. And she described it as an alt-right rally. But had no idea, kind of -- she said she was unaware of its extremist nature or leaning, as far as the other people who were going to be attending.

[05:05:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Did she say that her son was part of any of these groups, was somehow simpatico with any of these groups?

LINDSTROM: So she was pretty unaware of kind of what the definition of alt-right would be. I mean, she kind of fumbled over the language. I don't think she had a clear idea of even what that definition would be. She said to me that she doesn't try to get too much into his, you know, political beliefs and that she's, you know, not too well versed in his political leanings in any way. So yes. I don't get a sense that she necessarily knew what he was headed for this weekend.


HOWELL: We're also hearing from the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, who says the white supremacists brought hatred into his city and that in his words that belongs in the trash heap of history.


MAYOR MICHAEL SIGNER, CHARLOTTES, VIRGINIA: This tide of hatred and of intolerance and of bigotry that has come to us and that has marched down with torches, the lawn of one of the founders of democracy, it is brought here by outsiders and it's brought here by people who belong in the trash heap of history with these ideas.

They are going to be in the trash heap of history. This day will not define us. We will define this day by the story that we continue to tell tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, the week after that, and the year after that.

There is a very sad and regrettable coarseness in our politics that we've only seen too much of today. Our opponents have become our enemies. Debate has become intimidation. What democracy is about and we know this here because we're the birthplace of democracy. It's about deliberation, it's about action, it's about progress, it's about working together, and it's about, at the end of the day if you disagree with somebody, you don't try to take them down. You agree to move forward.

These folks do not want that. They do not agree with the rules of democracy. And they are on the losing side of history. The work of rebuilding and healing is just beginning today. Tomorrow will come and we will emerge, I can promise you, stronger than ever.


HOWELL: That's the word from the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia. Also some very strong words from the governor of Virginia.

To talk more now about the responses that we've heard, let's bring in CNN political commentator Errol Louis, via Skype with us this hour in New York.

A pleasure to have you with us, Errol. So let's begin with the big picture here. The president of the United States being criticized for not calling these protesters what they are, white nationalists, hate- mongers. But let's not forget, going back to the campaign trail, then candidate Trump aggressively criticized his predecessor for not using the term radical Islamic terrorism.

Let's listen to this and we can talk about it here on the other side.


TRUMP: Radical Islamic terrorism. And I'll tell you what, we have a president that refuses to use the term. He refuses to say it. He refuses to use the term radical Islamic terrorism. He refuses to use the term. You know, you hear the term radical Islamic terrorism. He won't say it. He won't say it. And you can't solve a problem if you refuse to talk about what the problem is.


HOWELL: So to use the president's own words, he refuses to use the term. Keeping in mind, this is a very tough talking president, tough talking on North Korea, on Venezuela, on his critics on CNN, on the "New York Times," on the "Washington Post." Any critics who get in the way of this president. But again -- then again, when it comes to this topic, when it comes to white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, this president not being as direct.

Is there some political calculation here?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, absolutely. And this was a hot topic of conversation during the campaign, George. What you have is a core group of extremists who no one will ever stand up for. But there's a much larger group that surrounds that extremist core. And those range into the numbers that politicians start to notice. And so this is a president who has benefited from some of that outer ring of extremist supporters.

When the murder happened yesterday, when the turmoil was going on in the streets, when people were flashing Nazi salutes and so forth, there was social media activity that really indicated that they like the president's statement. That they like the fact that he did not denounce them specifically by name. That he did not come after them like he does like so many of his political opponents.

It was a dog whistle statement that he gave yesterday and the dogs heard it, and the dogs howled with delight that the president of the United States will not specifically condemn them, will not specifically take actions to drive them out of his political base, and he has politically benefited from them. There's no getting around that at this point. [05:10:15] HOWELL: Important to point out, though, in the president's

statement he did mention the word bigotry but again many critics saying he did not go far enough.

But, you know, the president also saying this in his statement, using the term "on many sides." I'll ask our director if we can just play the video again. I'd like to see this video of the protest that took place in Charlottesville. Because again when you see this, some people see one thing. Others see another thing. Very clear as a bell. Clear as day. But, again, "on many sides" is the question here. And he has taken some heat for this, Errol.

We might have lost Errol Louis there.

LOUIS: I'm right here. I'm right here.

HOWELL: Yes? You're still there? OK. Cool.

LOUIS: Yes, sure.

HOWELL: Yes. You see the video here. And it's playing out. The question here, is the president missing the mark here, or does he have a point when he uses the term "on many sides"?

LOUIS: No. Look, he is clearly avoiding the direct statement, the direct criticism that we get when he's talking about, for example, the media. What he's talking about frankly some of his political allies. Someone like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. He is very specific. He's very caustic. There's no mistaking what he means when he goes after a political opponent or frankly certain of his allies.

In this case, when he says many sides it cries out for further explanation. And in fact reporters were shouting at him as he walked away and refused to answer exactly what he meant by that. Who are these many sides? How about, you know, some straight clarity?

Now we've been talking for a good 12 hours now. There's been this discussion on social media, which we know the president personally watches on CNN, on other networks. People have been saying now for hours and hours that this many sides sort of ambiguity is aid and comfort to the racists and the supremacists and the violent extremists who caused this tragedy.

And we need some clarity from the president. We have not received that clarity and frankly I'm not sure we ever will.

HOWELL: But the drumbeat does continue with many critics, many asking the question what did "many sides" mean? And of course this is a president who does take good use of Twitter. Obviously Twitter is a place where people can go to, you know, expound more on comments to give some context and perspectives so the opportunity always there to get some understanding what "on many sides" means.

But, Errol Louis, thank you so much for your time today.

LOUIS: Thank you, George. HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, some activists groups say that

the president's reaction to the violence in Virginia rings hollow. But after the often ugly tone of his campaign, some say they are not surprised.

Stay with CNN as we push on with our breaking news coverage.


[05:15:54] HOWELL: Images from the clashes that broke out there in the U.S. state of Virginia. We continue following the breaking news this hour here on CNN.

Federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation into a car attack that took place in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. One woman died when a car plowed into a crowd of people who are protesting a white nationalist rally. At least 19 people were wounded there, some critically.

Police arrested this man. He's 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. He's being held on suspicion of second-degree murder. Three other people were also arrested in connection with clashes between white supremacists and people who came there to face them down.

This rally in Virginia was to protest a planned removal of a statue of a Confederate civil war general from a city park. Monuments like these bring out strong emotions in many Americans because the Confederate states fought to preserve slavery in the South. Many say that makes the statues symbols of a racist past, of bigotry and hatred, but others say they simply want to preserve their heritage.

The issue at hand is especially emotional in the U.S. state of Virginia and here's some background as to why. Virginia capital, Richmond, was also the main capital of these secessionist Confederacy. Much of the four-year U.S. civil war that began in 1861 it was fought in Virginia and half a million men became casualties within its border.

The state was also starved and devastated by the end of that war. Many cities, though, they build statues of Confederate generals in the battlefields were then preserved as parks.

In the meantime, politicians of all stripes are criticizing the U.S. president for his response to what happened in Virginia.

CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones has this story for us.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The president did respond to the violence in Charlottesville earlier today. Here is part of what he had to say.


TRUMP: 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, a lot of criticism, I should say, and that is what he said the violence, the hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. A lot of folks here 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 that they were espousing.

I asked what 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's 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. While 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 nationalists.

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 know that the president has long criticized people like Barack -- 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're calling on the president to condemn white nationalists.

[05:20:04] 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 nationalist or white supremacy, white nationalism or Nazis or neo-Nazis. That is why a lot of folks I believe in his statement here on Saturday did not go far enough.

Back to you.

HOWELL: Athena Jones with the reporting.

Now to get the context of voice David Gergen. David counseled four U.S. presidents both Democrats and Republicans.

After David listened to President Trump's reaction to the violence that took place in Virginia, Gergen says that Mr. Trump's lack of condemnation of white supremacists in fact lends them legitimacy. Listen.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We do know one thing that's clear. The president in saying we've had violence and hatred and bigotry on all -- on many sides, he repeated, on many sides. Did equate. He placed a moral equivalency between the neo-Nazis and the people who showed up today to defend racial justice. He essentially -- and in doing that, and by putting an equivalence on it, he in fact defended the neo-Nazis.

That in effect was a defense. You know, everybody does it. Everybody out there is doing it. Everybody has to calm down. I'm sorry. What we have to be very clear about is -- a second thing is, yes, there is a First Amendment protection for freedom of assembly, freedom of speech. But it is not an unfettered right. You do not have a right under the First Amendment -- the courts have been quite clear. You do not have the right to use language that incites violence.

And when you have groups marching through Charlottesville as they were, chanting anti Semitic slurs, when they are going after blacks, when they're saying take this country back and make it a white- dominated country again. That's an excitement to violence and that's what we then had.

Primary responsibility for the violence rests with those people who are the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists and the other extremists.


HOWELL: David Gergen there.

Also, among those attending Saturday's rally was white nationalist, holocaust denier, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. He's been a vocal supporter of President Trump during the presidential campaign.

CNN's Jake Tapper asked Mr. Trump about David Duke and Trump initially did not disavow the former KKK leader. Trump blamed it on a bad earpiece. But then subsequently had this to say.


TRUMP: Yes. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: 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, OK? Yes.


HOWELL: The president there clearly disavowing Duke, though explained the reasoning for Saturday's alt-right and neo-Nazi rally in Virginia. Listen.


DAVID DUKE, FAR RIGHT ACTIVIST: 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 that we believed in. That's why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he's going to take our country back.


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

The former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer, denounced David Duke. He spoke earlier to my colleague Amara Walker, and here's part of that conversation. Bauer beginning by reacting to David Duke's comments that you heard.


ANDRE BAUER, FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, SOUTH CAROLINA: David Duke is not in any way what I think what this country tries to speak to the world about welcoming and being a 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 I 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 -- you know, 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 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.

[05:25:06] 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 things as the president of the United States is right now. We do have a little situation with North Korea right now.


WALKER: Well, the president has had time. He has many hours to tweet again. Hasn't he? I mean, he does like to use Twitter. The White House -- BAUER: He has tweeted it. Said it's sad, unfortunate -- well, I

don't know that he said unfortunate.

WALKER: But 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.


HOWELL: That interview there taking place earlier in the day. But, again, the president always has the ability to follow up with nuance and context as this question continues, what did he mean by "many sides"? Certainly many people looking to his Twitter account on that.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, U.S. leaders denounce the Unite the Right rally as radical bigotry. We'll discuss race relations in the United States, also with history in mind, with the CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Stay with us as NEWSROOM pushes on.


HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

[05:30:03] Our breaking news coverage continues out of the U.S. state of Virginia. I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarter in Atlanta.

Here's the latest. Three people have been arrested after violent clashes that broke out between white supremacists and people who came there to face them down. Federal authorities have opened a civil rights investigation. This after a car plowed into a crowd of people who are protesting the white nationalists.

Also we have video of that incident. We do warn you before we show it the video is graphic. Here it is. It shows part of a chain reaction of that attack. Look this from above, that red van moved into the crowd after being hit from behind by the attacker's car. We know that a 32-year-old woman died in that crowd, 19 other people injured. Several critically.

Police took this man into custody in connection with the car attack. He's 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. Being held on suspicion of second-degree murder.

The governor of Virginia had a very emotional message for the white nationalists that showed up at his state on Saturday for this rally. Listen.


GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), 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.


HOWELL: In the meantime, Democrats and Republicans are criticizing the president of the United States Donald Trump for not calling these protesters exactly what they are, white nationalists.


TRUMP: 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. This has been going on for a long, long time.


HOWELL: Joining me now to talk more about what happened to give us some context, perspective and history, Derreck Kayongo is the CEO of the Center of Civil and Human Rights right here in Atlanta.

Derreck, it's a pleasure to have you with us today to discuss this. So I want to, first of all, play for our viewers just to see again what happened exactly there in Charlottesville, Virginia, because again, you see these protesters clashing with white supremacists there.

Look, I want to be very clear here. This is not a matter of politics. This is not a matter of right or left here. This is a matter of right and wrong. And I want to steal a line from my colleague Christiane Amanpour. There is a time to be truthful and not neutral.

This is heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking to see this in the totality of exactly what happened there. Sad to see. I mean, what are your thoughts?

DERRECK KAYONGO, CEO, CENTER OF CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: You know, this is the time when we need a galvanizer-in-chief, somebody who can come up to place and really speak to the country about what we are and who we are, going forward because these are vestiges from the old age.

We are trying to create a new country that is accepting of everybody. So the good thing here is that, George, when this happened it was because of a court that happened in Virginia that struck down this vestige of an old pillar of old courage.

HOWELL: We have seen this play out in several U.S. southern states.

KAYONGO: Yes. Exactly. New Orleans. The flags are coming down in South Carolina, they're coming down in Georgia. And everywhere else. So for those of you who think that this country is not moving forward away from this, all of these vestiges, you're wrong. So I think this is the time our president and all our leaders need to step up and say, you know what, that old self of America is done. We're here to build a new country that has respect for everybody.

HOWELL: Let's talk about that because the history comes into mind. And again, that is why it is very good to have you with us.


HOWELL: This is an issue that divides Americans. It's very emotional for people. They look back at their ancestors, they say, look, this is a matter for me to preserve history. That's what they say. And others say, look, this for me in present, it's a symbol of the past.


HOWELL: It's a symbol of racism. It is a symbol of bigotry. How do people come together to, as you say, move forward with such a divisive issue?

KAYONGO: Well, look at what we are building now. We're building new monuments. These are old monuments we're tearing down so we can place new monument. The new monument that I want people to think about is the African-American Museum in D.C. that just got completed. We have another monument by Dr. King that has been erected in D.C.

We are building new monuments that show justice, that show courage, moral courage. So I think when I think about myself in the U.S., I think about what do I do every day to bring justice in the country? Not to bring injustice or to bring vestiges of old age? No, what are you doing as an American to really make this place a place of equality.

[05:35:02] So I think people have to look at these monuments of courage, like Dr. King, next year, 50 years, commemoration of his death. What have you done in the last 50 years as an American to make sure that his dream has come true? So I think that's what people need to look at this moment.

The president has to say something really powerful. But you at your neighborhood, at your school, at your place of worship, do something to stop these old vestiges from taking root.

HOWELL: The president saying that, in his comments, in fact, that it is the burden of everyone. It's on the backs of everyone to make a difference in this case. But going back to the president of the United States, the leader of the free word, the question that many people are raising about his term "on many sides." Again, looking at the clashes that we saw take place.

What does he mean, do you surmise, by "on many sides"? Is this creating a false equivalence and in fact saying that one is as legitimate as the other?

KAYONGO: I can't pretend to know what the president is thinking there.


KAYONGO: But I can tell you this, you cannot compare these two pieces. There is an importance in looking at the civil rights movement and what it did and what those people who ended up to say, no, you cannot bring these old vestiges back. You can't compare them.

Now obviously we have to remind everybody the civil rights movement was nonviolent. It had --

HOWELL: A very important point.

KAYONGO: Yes. It had birthed from the Gandhian principle, you don't bring violence to violence because then we never solve anything. So I think what we're looking at today is to encourage everybody, stop being violent. You can say something powerful without being violent. But now we have a child who is dead because somebody forgot the moral principle of nonviolence. We have many people hurt and injured because we forgot the principle of nonviolence.

So the Center for Civil and Human Rights is really rooted in this history of nonviolence. We can make a point but we don't have to be violent.

HOWELL: When you think about the people who did that, I'm thinking about the iconic lawmaker John Lewis.


HOWELL: To think about what he went through, what he withstood to make a point.


HOWELL: And see the changes that came into place. Your point about nonviolence a very important point to make.

Derreck Kayongo, thank you.

KAYONGO: Thank you so much, George.

HOWELL: We continue following the breaking news this hour here on CNN in Charlottesville, Virginia. But after the break, we look at the escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

That's ahead as CNN NEWSROOM continues here in the United States and around the world. Stay with us.


[05:40:47] HOWELL: Welcome back. A quick update now on our top story this hour.

The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Saturday's deadly unrest that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. One woman was killed, more than a dozen others injured this when a car slammed into a crowd of protesters.

They were counter demonstrating against white supremacists attempting to hold a rally in that town.

Now to another major story that we are following, the North Korean missile threat to the U.S. island of Guam. The United States and its allies are bracing for a potential strike. And CNN has learned that the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is set to meet with the South Korea's president on Monday.

In the meantime the island of Guam, it is preparing for the worst. In the middle of it all, it is dubbed the tip of the sphere. North Korea has threatened to launch missiles at this U.S. territory and residents are being advised on how to stay safe in an attack.

CNN covering this story from across the globe with our correspondents based in very key positions. Anna Coren live in Seoul, South Korea Anna, Sherisse Pham in Tokyo, Japan this hour.

Good to have you both with us.

Anna, let's start with you. Do we have any indication of what might come out of this meeting with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the South Korean president?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, we understand that General Joseph Dunford has arrived here in Seoul ahead of that meeting with South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, tomorrow. Obviously North Korea top of the agenda.

This was of course a scheduled visit to East Asia. He planned this some time ago. It's just now it's more relevant than ever. From South Korea, he will head to China. We understand then Japan and Hawaii. But he's here to discuss plans as to what they would do really if there was a provocation to the North.

This is also the United States reaffirming its commitment to South Korea. This is an alliance that dates back decades. And it is a very deep alliance, very strong alliance. So General Dunford coming to Korea really affirms that.

Now as for the people here of South Korea, this is a beautiful Sunday evening. They have taken to the streets nearby. You might hear quite a bit of noise. There is a protest going on for the release of a political prisoner. So people just enjoying their Sunday afternoon.

I wouldn't say oblivious to what's happening less than 60 kilometers away, which is where the North Korean border is from where we are here in Seoul. But they're certainly, George, not letting it ruin their weekend.

HOWELL: The proximity that you point out so very close. But again people moving on, moving along with their daily lives.

Anna Coren, thank you. Now let's bring in Sherisse Pham in Tokyo. The same there, Sherisse,

people moving along with their daily lives. But what is that nation doing to prepare for any -- a potential strike?

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the nation is doing something. The Ministry of Defense deploying Patriot missile interceptor systems to the southern regions of Japan over the weekend. Those are the areas that North Korean missiles would fly over if Pyongyang carries through with this threat against Guam.

Now the Ministry of Defense doing that over the weekend in the middle of a national holiday here showing that, you know, even though officials have taken somewhat of a measured response to this ramping up of rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea, they are taking the threats somewhat seriously.

Local reports saying today that the systems are in place and the launch pads are up angled towards the sky, ready to take out the threat if need be.

But look, like you said, George, people are enjoying a regular day. It's a beautiful evening here in Tokyo. We're in one of the main shopping districts. And people are going about their regular lives.

Now North Korea, in that detailed plan, they did name Hiroshima as one of the regions missiles would fly over. And let's just focus on that city for a moment here because this week marks the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima. A very stark and clear reminder of the devastating consequences of a nuclear attack -- George.

HOWELL: Sherisse, you can't say that enough, and you know, it's certainly appreciate for many people around the world just to understand the weight, the significance and magnitude of what we're talking about here.

[05:45:06] Sherisse, thank you for the report there in Tokyo. Hoping that things continue as normal and usual there in Tokyo. And Anna Coren, the same in Seoul, South Korea, where life goes on. Thank you both for the reporting.

Now let's get some context now with Carl Baker. Carl is the director of programs at Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies live this hour with us in Honolulu, Hawaii.

It's good to have you with us, sir. So we are hearing from -- you know, the president is getting some sort of guidance -- whether he takes it or not, getting guidance from his allies, even from adversaries urging caution in this situation. Where do things stand now? Is this a matter of who calls whose bluff first?

CARL BAKER, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS, PACIFIC FORUM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, in some respects, yes, I think it is. Because you have -- you have both sides have used the rhetoric. Yet you can see that there is really no preparations going on on either side for anything more than what North Korea has promised to be a launching of missiles towards Guam. It's important to realize that their threat was fairly specific but it

was also very cautious, saying that they would launch missiles basically over Japan and they would land somewhere between Japan and Guam.

HOWELL: Are both men, both of these leaders, now in sort of backed in a corner I guess is the question. That the leader of North Korea, does he have to take some sort of action in order to, you know, show people that he is, in fact, you know, in charge and leading the country following through with what he says? And the president of the United States, with, you know, the threats that he's made, does he also find himself in a corner here? Is there a way out?

BAKER: Well, there is a way out. And both men have been known to do exactly that. To make the threats and then not follow through. This is becoming sort of comic. It has always been the case with North Korea to make blustery threats. What's new of course is that the president of the United States has really stooped to that same level and is now in a position to probably back away also. Of course that doesn't mean to say that there aren't risks.

HOWELL: We also understand at the same time there is a great deal of bluster between two leaders. But at the same time diplomatic channels remain in place. Is there a chance that diplomacy could, in fact, win the day here? Because again you hear the president on one hand. But you hear members of his Cabinet saying sort of the same thing but not exactly. In fact, the more diplomatic stance when it comes to this issue.

BAKER: A more diplomatic stance and a more normal stance talking about deterring the other side. Because that's always been the international standard is we can muse and talk about military force. But we talk about military force in terms of deterring the others. Not in terms of taking preemptive and preventive action. And I think that's what the Cabinet and the rest of the diplomatic corps has been doing.

HOWELL: Our Sherisse Pham just pointed out, to remind our viewers, what happened the last time an atomic bomb was used. That's what we're talking about here. We're talking about possible nuclear war. There are families around the world. You don't have to be in the United States. You don't have to be in South Korea. You can be in Europe, in Russia, anywhere around the world.

When you hear this topic being discussed, it affects you. It affects your families. You think about it. And it makes many people concerned. What do people do with that? I mean, because there is a great deal of anxiety when people here these topics that reached directly to their homes.

BAKER: Well, that's right. And you know, and the fact is that Japan and South Korea, specifically South Korea, has lived with this for a long time. So they can he enjoy their Sunday because they have grown accustomed to this threat.

And what is upsetting and what is unsettling to the people, of course, is when you hear the United States talking about it in an almost cavalier way that we need to stop this now through military action.

That's not the right answer. The answer is that we need to work on the diplomatic side. We need to give the diplomatic process a chance. It's not nice -- I mean, it's easy to say let's do this and get it over with. But the fact is, is that the reason that past were presidents haven't been able to find a solution and past government haven't been able to find a solution is because it's a complicated problem. And there's a risk to a lot of people from this kind on of a risk -- risky environment.

HOWELL: There's nothing cavalier about this topic.

Thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your time today. Thank you.

BAKER: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here, more on the deadly clashes that took place in the U.S. state of Virginia.

[05:50:02] We hear from a shocked witness who saw a car ram into pedestrians. Stay with us as CNN's breaking news coverage rolls on.


HOWELL: Tragic, heartbreaking in fact. We continue to follow the breaking news that took place in the U.S. state of Virginia. Here's what we know. Three people have been arrested so far over clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters. All of this playing out in Charlottesville, Virginia. And you get a sense there, the video, it shows you what happened.

A car attack is also being investigated as a civil rights case. One woman died when a car rammed into a crowd of people who are protesting white nationalists. This man, he's being held in connection with the crash. And in the meantime, we are hearing reaction from Democrats and Republicans criticizing the president of the United States for not calling it what it was. Protesters there who were white nationalists.

[05:55:02] Witnesses who saw that car slam into this group of counter protesters in Charlottesville say the car was going very fast. Two men who were at the scene describe exactly what they heard and saw. Listen.


BRENNAN GILMORE, WITNESSES CAR SLAMMING INTO CROWD: The car reversed very fast, back up the street as you can see in the video. So we were still, you know, sort of in the scene and jumped out to get around the corner of this barrier of this building, and the car flew by and immediately, you know, 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.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Were you able to get a look at the driver as he sped by you?

CHRIS MAHONY, WITNESSES CAR SLAMMING INTO CROWD: No, the car had tinted windows, so it was -- it was difficult to see in. So I was -- I was more looking, is this person going to come directly towards me? So I was looking to get out of the way of the car, right, as it came back. When it came pasted 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, right?

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


HOWELL: Terrifying moments indeed. Thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. Our breaking news coverage continues next hour with my colleagues Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul on CNN's "NEW DAY." Stay with us.