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Judge Sets No Bond for Charlottesville Attack Suspect; Interview with Representative Tom Suozzi; President Given Military Options on North Korea; Interview with Mayor Jim Gray; Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired August 14, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a member of Unite the Right rally, we believe. He never gave his name, but he blamed the media for the coverage, blamed the media for what was happening in Charlottesville, and then there was a very emotional counter protester that was also screaming at this individual until the police, you know, finally escorted this individual into the police department and separated those two groups.
But, again, John, the breaking news here out of Charlottesville is that no bond has been set in the case of Jason Alex Fields Jr., who is charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. No bond set at this time.
Rosa Flores, on the ground in Charlottesville, thank you very, very much.
Again just a short time ago we saw the president arrive outside Washington. He will hold a meeting today, very shortly, in fact, with the attorney general and the FBI director on the events in Charlottesville.
Also, just a short time ago, he went after the CEO of Merck, an African-American CEO, who quit the president's manufacturing council over the White House response to the events in Charlottesville.
We'll get the congressional reaction to this, next.
[10:35:39] BERMAN: All right. Backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about the president's remarks on the Charlottesville violence. And this morning, remarks from the CEO of Merck as well. He quit the president's manufacturing council and the effect there is it got the president to respond in a statement.
I want to bring in the Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi right now of New York.
Congressman, thanks for being with us.
Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, quit the president's manufacturing council essentially saying he feels it's necessary to take a public stand against bigotry and whatnot. The president responded to that by going after Ken Frazier. He said, "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharm resigned, he will have more time to lower rip-off drug prices."
Your reaction to this back-and-forth this morning, sir?
REP. TOM SUOZZI (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I think the president has dropped the ball here. He's made this whole issue too much about him instead of about the hate that we see going on in America. And the president, by not speaking out directly about the white supremacists, by attacking the CEO of Merck is making it too much about the president, and not about the issue, which is that there's too much hate. And we have to all stand up against this hate in the country.
BERMAN: What do you want to hear the president say today? CNN has learned that he will address the violence in Charlottesville again today. We don't know exactly what he will say. What do you think he needs to say?
SUOZZI: The president needs to be very bold and just comes straight out and say the United States of America is based upon a fundamental principle that all men and women are created equal. And white supremacists and Nazis and skin heads and these other demented people are not acting American. They're un-American, in fact. And they may have a right to free speech, but we are going to call them out for what they are, which is un-American and there's no place for them in our society.
BERMAN: Have you thought about what might be his motivation for not having said this over the last few days?
SUOZZI: You know, the president, during his election campaign, you know, really went out of his way to call out progressives and call out Black Lives Matters and other groups, and saying, you know, these protesters and these politically correct people, you know, they've got hate and they're bad -- you know, like he said, it's both sides.
He's just completely wrong here. He's just completely missed the boat because here we have people marching with torches, calling out the most vile things you could possibly imagine. The president has got to be blunt, he's got to be clear, he's got to be direct and he's going to say there's no place for white supremacists in our country.
BERMAN: You know, one area where the president has been blunt and clear is on North Korea. And this is an area you've been watching closely being on the Foreign Affairs Committee. You know, the president says we're locked and loaded in reaction to North Korea right now. Blunt and clear there.
And this morning, his secretary of state and secretary of defense wrote an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" where they, too, were clear but it was a very different type of clarity right now. They talked a lot about the peaceful pressure campaign the administration is putting on North Korea. Your reaction to their statements? SUOZZI: I read that op-ed piece in the "Wall Street Journal." I
thought it was very measured. I thought it was very intelligent. I think that Secretary Mattis is really a great American. We're fortunate to him serving our nation. He's devoted his life to our country. But the president, again, he's making these things too much about himself instead of about the issue.
Let's not forget who the bad guy is here. The bad guy here is the supreme leader of North Korea. Kim Jong-un is a dangerous character on the world stage and we need to be tough, we need to be firm. This has been going on for a long time. It's been going on for decades, quite frankly. A decade since Kim Jong-un has been there. And we need to send a very clear message that we're not going to support further nuclearization of North Korea.
But at the same time, ratcheting up this rhetoric is very dangerous. As Leon Panetta said the other day, God forbid somebody makes a mistake here. This is -- we're talking people's lives.
SUOZZI: People are freaking out all over the world because they are afraid of what could happen.
BERMAN: You say people are freaking out all around the world. But there has been a new development this morning which is that China has instituted new sanctions on North Korea, banning I believe imports of seafood and also some iron products right now.
Is it possible that the president's statements and pressure are working to get China to actually do something?
[10:40:04] SUOZZI: Well, since day one, this administration has said that their main goal is to get China to help us with North Korea. That's a good, positive goal.
BERMAN: That's good --
SUOZZI: Yes, that's good, it's positive. That's a very positive thing. And I think that the rest of the international community has stepped up. We have both China and Russia vote for sanctions. This is before the president's tough talk. Good for sanctions. So this has been a concerted effort for some time that the administration has had, that Congress has had, to try to get China and Russia to do more of the heavy lifting here.
We need Japan and South Korea to do their share as well. And hopefully, as time goes on, we'll succeed in this effort to try and denuclearize North Korea. But the rhetoric is very dangerous because while we are trying to advance this agenda, people are so worried in that part of the world, as well as in this part of the world, that somebody could make a mistake. The North Koreans can make a mistake. We can make a mistake. I can make a mistake.
You have to be careful when dealing with the stuff that someone doesn't make a mistake. BERMAN: Right.
SUOZZI: This is a very positive development that China is taking these steps. It's always been the agenda to have these steps be taken. But we're going to need more going forward as well.
BERMAN: Congressman Tom Suozzi of New York, thanks so much for being with us, sir.
SUOZZI: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: All right. We're going to have more now on the growing tensions with North Korea this morning. The president's top general says he has given the president military options. What does that mean?
[10:45:28] BERMAN: All right. The president's top military adviser is visiting the Korean peninsula, says that he has given the commander-in-chief military options as the North continues to threaten further missile launches. And this is happening ahead of next week's joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.
CNN's Anna Coren joins us live now from Seoul, in South Korea.
General Dunford visiting the peninsula, Anna.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. He spent the day here meeting with the South Korean president as well as his top officials, obviously reaffirming America's commitment to South Korea and discussing military options if there is in fact a provocation from North Korea. General Dunford saying that the U.S. will use its full range of military capabilities if there is a strike from North Korea.
He wouldn't be drawn into what the military options would be nor would he comment on the rhetoric from Donald Trump that, of course, has been inflammatory language which some believe has further exacerbated tensions here on the Korean Peninsula. General Dunford saying that it is not his job to assess the rhetoric from the president, but to give him options, military options.
Now, John, I attended that press conference with the general and asked him whether or not they were thinking about suspending these joint military exercises which, as you say, are due to take place a week from today. And he said that was not an option, that they are going ahead and that now they are more important than ever, John.
BERMAN: All right. Anna Coren for us in Seoul. Anna, thank you very, very much.
The violence in Charlottesville followed a vote to remove a confederate statue from the city. Now a southern mayor from a different city says what he saw in Charlottesville makes him not only think monuments in his city need to go, they need to go more quickly. He joins us next.
[10:51:48] BERMAN: Well, the violence in Charlottesville not stopping the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, from making a major decision for his own city. He wants the confederate statues in Lexington moved from the courthouse.
Mayor Jim Gray says, quote, "The events in Virginia remind us that we must bring our country together by condemning violence, white supremacists and Nazi hate groups." And Mayor Jim Gray joins us now.
Mayor, thanks so much. You have planned to move the statues before the events in Charlottesville. But you expedited the move right after Saturday's attack. Why is it the right thing to do now?
MAYOR JIM GRAY (D), LEXINGTON KENTUCKY: Well, John, it's the right thing to do to stand up and to speak out against violence and hatred. You know, as mayors we don't have a choice of timing. We deal with issues when they're brought to us. And that's what occurred here. Speaking out against violence and hatred is the responsibility of elected officials.
Now I examined this issue, we've examined this issue, in question in Lexington for almost two years. And I have made the decision to put this before the city council on Tuesday of this week. I accelerated that because of the events in Charlottesville.
When we look at the site where these confederate statues in Lexington are today it was the location of one of the largest slave auction blocks in America in the south. And it's just not right. It's just not right that these men who fought to preserve slavery are honored on the same site that men, women and even children were sold into slavery. And that's the position that I had already decided upon and was presenting that to our council on Tuesday for a resolution.
BERMAN: The moving of a statue, in this case, in Charlottesville, of Robert E. Lee, the scheduled moving is what sparked some of the protests here that ultimately led to the violence. Are you concerned that this move in your city might lead to violence?
GRAY: We are a compassionate and we are caring and giving city. But we are also a disciplined and prepared city. And mayor's first responsibility to the city, leadership, first responsibility is public safety. So of course we are always prepared.
BERMAN: What do you think the president of the United States needs to say today? He responded to the attacks on Saturday. He did call for love. He condemned hatred and bigotry and violence, what he called from many sides. But do you think he needs to say more when he speaks later today? Does he need to call out white supremacist groups by name?
GRAY: The president needs to do just that, condemning violence and condemning hatred is a responsibility of elected officials. And condemning this thought, white supremacist, neo-Nazi, patterns, is what's essential in public leadership today. That's essential.
We cannot -- we've got to stand up and we've got to speak out. We can't sit back and relax. It's not the time for that.
BERMAN: And do you think that's what his statement on Saturday did?
GRAY: I think it dialed up the rhetoric. I think it dialed up the haters and patterns. And regrettably, that's the condition that we have today and that's the condition that we have to deal with.
[10:55:05] BERMAN: Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington, Kentucky, moving to remove some confederate statues from the courthouse area. Thank you very much for being with us, sir. We wish you the best of luck going forward.
Minutes from now, the president meets with his attorney general and FBI director over the violence in Charlottesville. And we are waiting to see if he clarifies or expands on his remarks from the weekend.
Will he call out hate groups by name? Stay with us.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We are following breaking news.