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Trump Blasted For Response To Racist Rally Violence; Deadly Clashes At Racist Rally; Trump Blasted For Response; 20-Year-Old White Male Identified As Suspect In Car-Ramming; Police: 3 Arrests From Rally. 2 From Out-Of-State; DOJ, FBI Open Civil Rights Investigation Into Car Attack; 2 Virginia State Troopers Killed In Helicopter Crash Identified; Aired: 11:00 -Midnight ET
Aired August 12, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN: You -- it doesn't take much just to condemn these groups. Even if you say the things that Paris pointed out that he did say in the speech about love, in condemning violence, condemning hatred, condemning bigotry. It doesn't take much to go that step further and also condemn these hate groups. Your reaction, Ken?
KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, STATE OF VIRGINIA: Yes. Well, certainly the president has the ability to make major impact in 140 characters or less. He's proven that for two years and I expect it -- I would be shocked if we don't get through the next few days with him making several references to this tragedy that's happened here today, but I would at least make one point since there's been so much focus on his statement earlier today. If I understand my timeline correctly, and I think that I do, the car strike, which was such a horrific element of today happened after the president's remarks earlier today.
BERMAN: His initial tweets -- his initial tweets were before the confirmed death. He actually spoke after the car incident. Now, maybe the details may have been not known to him. Some of the details may have been not known to him. We know that much.
CUCCINELLI: I think that as more is learned, you're going to hear more from him and the burden is on him at this point.
VAN JONES, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, listen, I think that the comments that he made when he went off prompter and said on many sides, that is part of -- that's the -- that's problem. The actual -- listen, nobody wants to give Trump credit on the left when he's right. The statement on paper was a good statement. And nobody wants to say that. I will say that. You know, in Paris, you know, I'm happy to get beat up by the liberals in giving him credit where it's due, but the problem -- but the problem is that when he went off script apparently and said many sides, many sides, but that -- the way that land would mean and I wasn't standing there praying for a positive.
With the way that landed would mean was a false equivalence. Now, people were getting run over by cars and ISIS-style attacks by domestic terrorist are equal to people who showed up in counter -- in counter-protesting and throwing rocks and bottles. Those are not the same thing and also Nazis are a -- in a different category and have always been in a different category in American politics than just conservatives or liberals or whatever and that seem to be a normalizing move.
And so I just think -- you know, Ken, I hope that you're right and Paris, I hope that you're right. Listen, on this issue, when you have Van Jones and Ted Cruz agreeing, this is the - this is the easy one. This is not a -- this is not a high bar to me. And so, you know, I hope you'll catch up with the rest of the country tomorrow.
BERMAN: All right, guys, standby if you will because I want to reset where we are tonight, 11 o'clock Eastern Time. John Berman here, this is CNN special live coverage of the violence in Virginia. Three people dead, two law enforcement officers responding by helicopter and a helicopter that crashed, they are dead. And also one 32-year-old woman who was mowed down in a vehicle, she was part of the crowd. A car hit her, she is dead. There is a suspect now in custody, 20-year- old James Alex Fields from Maumee, Ohio.
We are beginning to get more details on this man. His mother is speaking to the press. We're going to hear much more about that in just a moment. The streets of Charlottesville relatively calm tonight and no further comments from the president of the United States who three and half hours ago did call for love. He condemned hatred, he condemned bigotry, and he condemned violence though from many sides. He said, many side, in a statement that is still controversial as we get closer and closer to midnight. Let's go first to CNN's Brian Todd who was on the streets of Charlottesville and, Brian, I think we should begin with this new information that we're getting about this suspect, James Alex Fields.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure thing, John, we'll start with him. He is in his early 20s, he is as we mentioned from Maumee, Ohio, James Alex Fields Jr. He is booked into detention as of this afternoon, 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. There could be other charges forthcoming because what we can also tell you tonight is that five people remain in critical condition. There are four people in serious condition. Six in fair condition and four in good condition tonight at a local hospital.
So, we -- you know, there are -- again, we have to stress five people in critical condition. There was -- so, some of these casualty figures may change in the coming hours. We can also tell you, John tonight, there have been three arrests of three men in connection with what happened today. 21-year-old Troy Dunnigan of Chattanooga, Tennessee, 21-year-old Jacob Smith of Louisa, Virginia, and 44-year- old James O'Brien of Gainesville, Florida. Now, Dunnigan is charged with disorderly conduct, Jacob Smith, 21 years old is charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, and 44- year-old James O'Brien, he's from Florida again, he is charged with carrying a concealed handguns. So you got three arrests in connection with what happened. You've got James Fields in custody for the incident that happened right here on Fourth Street right behind me. Now, what I can tell you right behind us that is happening is two of the vehicles that were struck allegedly by this perpetrator are being moved now by these tow vehicles here. One of them is up on the tow to your left over here and the other one we can't see but they have been processing this as a crime scene all afternoon.
And what's interesting also, John, you know, two of the three arrests of people from out of state. The governor and the mayor have told us today that a lot of the people causing the trouble they believe are from out of state. Now, you know, that, you know, information will be parsed out in the hours and days ahead when we kind of dissect who converged on this town and what their plan was. We've also been asking tonight about whether any of these groups are still out in any numbers in or around Charlottesville local authorities not giving that information and I was told earlier by a local official, they're actually still trying to figure out some of that information and gather some intelligence on that, John.
So it is very tense here tonight, it's very calm so far this evening but, again, you've got between 600 and 700 police officers patrolling the streets of Charlottesville tonight so we will see what happens in the coming hours.
BERMAN: All right. Brian Todd for us on the streets of Charlottesville following the developments there. Brian, thanks so much. Joining me by phone is Lauren Lindstrom, a reporter for the Toledo Blade. Now, she spoke with the mother of the suspect accused of driving his car into the crowd in Charlottesville, accused now of second-degree murder. If you can hear me, Lauren.
LAUREN LINDSTROM, REPORTER, TOLEDO BLADE: Yes.
BERMAN: The mother of this man, her name is Samantha Bloom. What did she tell you?
LINDSTROM: Sure. So, we were in the neighborhood once we knew that address that was connected to James Fields knocking on doors, talking to neighbors, and she drove up. We had knocked on the door and no one was home and shortly later she came back and hadn't heard from authorities yet. We broke the news to her which is as a reporter never the way you want things to go, but after we explained the situation to her and she confirmed she was indeed his mother.
You know, we talked a little bit about her knowledge of the rally and whether 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 natures or leanings as far as the other people who were going to be attending.
BERMAN: 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 is, 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.
BERMAN: She told him to be careful and make sure whatever he was going to do, he would do it peacefully. So she was perhaps concerned that it might be something other than that?
LINDSTROM: That's what it would seem. You know, our conversation was very brief. It was, you know, 10 minutes. We were -- a lot of it was spent explaining to her what was happening. And so, you know, she broke down at one point and was obviously understandably very emotional when that's all dropped on you and so, excused herself after about ten minutes and, you know, went inside her home. So -- but as far as we can tell from our -- I was there with a couple other reporters, but as far as we can tell, she didn't have a very clear understanding of his political leanings or maybe the extent of the level of extremeness that it was.
BERMAN: Had she heard that he was in custody accused of these crimes and had she spoken to him?
LINDSTROM: No. At the time -- so we talked to her around 9:00 pm or a little before. She was unaware that he was involved or that he was, you know -- she thought maybe they were looking for him and we told him that, you know, outlets were reporting that he was in custody and he had been charged and that was all new news to her. So we were really kind of breaking everything to her which is unfortunate.
BERMAN: And you've -- and you've been on the ground there digging any more information about James Alex field himself?
LINDSTROM: No. You know, despite living in one of our Toledo suburbs he hasn't been here all that long. A mom told us that they moved here about a year ago from Northern Kentucky for a job and that he actually got his own apartment in another part of the suburbs about six months ago, so he doesn't live currently at the location that was attached to his driving record. That's how we found the house. So he hasn't lived in that location for about six months and he's really new to our area within the last year, so not a lot of deep ties.
Neighbors didn't know too much. Said that it was a friendly community but a lot of, you know, waving while you go into your garage and not a lot of -- they didn't have a lot of details about his personality or if there, you know, friends that were coming over, so unfortunately, the neighbors, you know, didn't have a lot to offer there other than just their kind of sense of being shaken that it could happen so close to home.
BERMAN: Lauren Lindstrom with the Toledo Blade who spoke with the mother of suspect, James Alex Fields, 20 years old from Maumee, Ohio charged now with second degree murder for the death of a 32-year-old woman mowing her down on the streets of Charlottesville. Lauren, thank you so much for that information again. The key new nugget there is that the mother of the suspect said that last week her son told her that he was going to an alt-right rally in Virginia.
All right. While we were talking with Lauren, we did get some breaking news just in. The Department of Justice is opening up a civil rights investigation into what happened in Charlottesville. Let me read you the statement that I have and also a statement I believe that I have from Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well. First, on the investigation, the Richmond FBI field office, the Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorneys' Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning.
The FBI will collect all available facts of evidence and as this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time. Now, let me read you what I believe to be a statement from the Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions. He writes, the violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice. With such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated. I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene and law enforcement officials for the State of Virginia.
The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day, U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced the federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail. All right, joining me now to discuss this, this new development, this breaking news, Cedric Alexander and James Galiano. A couple of fantastic law enforcement analyst. James, let's talk about the functional news right now. There is now a civil rights investigation into the deadly vehicular incident. What does that mean?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, I listen to the former attorney general for the State of Virginia speak earlier, Ken Cuccinelli, and he was right. In these types of cases, you're generally going to have the locals and the federal government kind of jockeying for position and a lot of things have to -- have to be taken into effect. One of the things that you got to consider is primacy and jurisdiction. In a case that is this volatile and a case where now with the information coming that this gentleman who drove the car into the crowd came from Ohio, so now, you have the interstate component.
I imagine that as soon as that was released, as soon as that came to the -- to the forefront, the U.S. attorney for the Western District in Virginia was probably already making his move. This makes perfect sense to take this to the federal level.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, PAST PRES. NATL. ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Yes, absolutely, I agree with James. And of course, maybe they hurt me because I've been saying this all day long is that this is a case that really should be lift into by DOJ. And hopefully, the scope of this investigation quite frankly, John, we'll go also beyond the accident that took place but some of the other violence that we saw take place as well, too. But let me mention this very quickly. Our hearts and prayers go out to the two police officers who lost their lives today and for serving their community. And I don't want to forget that that's why I mentioned that.
BERMAN: You know, absolutely. And there was a point that Governor Terry McAuliffe made right now. They died at helicopter crash. That crash -- that helicopter was responding to the situation right now, so directly involved. So three people killed in this incident. Cedric, what we have you on this, this is a civil rights investigation right now. Those are the two officers killed, Lieutenant Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. Bates right now. Those were two law enforcement officials killed, the two Virginia state troopers killed in the helicopter crash.
Again, they were mentioned by Governor Terry McAuliffe earlier. And our hearts do go out to them and their families. Cedric, a civil rights investigation is not a terror investigation. These are two separate things. Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, is calling to investigate this as an incident of domestic terror. What more would you need to know to raise it from a civil rights investigation to a full-scale terror investigation?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think based on evidence, if they look into this, if they do a thorough investigation based on witness statements that were out there today regardless of what side they come from, if you base it on the video that we've all been looking at today and the horrific events that took place of violence, I think it may be possible. I mean, I'm not an attorney, I don't know, but I think he's worth looking into. I mean, look, John, we had acts of outright hate and people hurt and injured and one person killed out there today.
So, it certainly does, I think, agree with Senator Cruz on this is that we need to look further, we need to look wider and broader and not for any political reason, mind you. I'm a 40-year law enforcement guy. My colleague here is a 25-year veteran. We've been in this for a long time. We think it's important that fairness and impartiality be certainly the focal point of this investigation.
BERMAN: So if this suspect was in fact a member of one of these groups and did attend the rally to be part of, you know, to somehow stir things up and get violence, James, what kind of legal jeopardy would these groups be in? He may be the one who drove the car. Would they have any legal culpability here?
GAGLIANO: John, same thing happens every time ISIS has an incident, a terror attack inside the United States and people say to the FBI, the local law enforcement, well, you saw their post on Facebook, you saw their social media actions and what they were saying, why didn't you do something? And unfortunately it's very difficult because we can't police thought here.
BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures right now from the scene of where that alleged murder took place. A couple cars just towed away. There were three cars that were banged up. The one that was driven was actually driven some way out of that there but there three cars that were banged up in this process, one this suspect, James Alex Fields allegedly drove his car into that crowd killing a 32-year-old woman. And again, the breaking news that we're getting just in is there is a civil rights investigation right now. The Department of Justice announcing that a short time ago.
James Gagliano, Cedric Alexander, thanks so you much for helping us understand the legal implications here. I want to bring back our panel to discuss this as well, Van Jones, Joshua DuBois, Paris Dennard, and Ken Cuccinelli. Ken, you know, again, we'll start with you. We're going to go to the attorney general every time we get new pieces of legal information here. There is a federal civil rights investigation into this now. The significance of this to you, sir?
CUCCINELLI: Well, of course, the additional piece from the mother that not only did he just happen to be in Charlottesville but a week ago he intended to come. So he's crossing state lines, he e intended to be where he was. He came for purposes of the rally. So, the civil rights question is one beyond that is there any evidence other than the act itself that he came to do this type kind of harm. And I would just note with respect to your domestic terrorist investigation question, the investigation under a civil rights banner is no different in all the powers of the government of investigation are the same as it would be for domestic terrorism.
The difference is simply what they end up charging the defendant with in this case, the accused with. So, the civil rights investigation will get them whatever information they need to make a charging decision. And so, you could see a domestic terror charge come out of that or whatever happened in the sniper case, even though it was considered terrorism you could see the state handled many of those charges but because of the clear bigoted element involved here, you could also get in parallel a federal civil rights prosecution that is separate from the murder and felonious assault and all of that -- and the fleeing and et cetera, and all of the other charges that are going to hit the sky.
So, it brings the federal governments resources into play, the Richmond office of the FBI will (INAUDIBLE) take lead on the investigation. Western District will do the prosecution with my choice has been there a long time. He has a -- he has been elevated from the professional ranks in the Western District. I've worked with him. He is an exceptional professional. And as you heard from Cedric, he'll be -- he'll not only be clean and fair about this, he'll be thorough and it'll be done right. So, there's a lot of reason to have a lot of -- a lot of confidence in him and his team just as I have confidence in the Charlottesville and the (INAUDIBLE) law enforcement officials and prosecutors.
BERMAN: Van jones, I want to read to you again the top of the statement that we got from the Attorney General of the United States Jeff sessions. This came out virtually at the same time the news of the federal investigation. He writes, the violence and death in Charlottesville strike at the heart of law American law and justice. When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated. That from the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Van. Your reaction to that.
JONES: Look, I agree with Attorney General Sessions almost and never, but tonight, I think that's a strong statement and I think you're going to be hearing more from them. Well, listen, you've got some good signals tonight. If you were -- if you were shocked this morning -- if you're -- if you're shocked yesterday, if you're grieving, if you were worried, I think you're starting to see some good signals. You have a number of republican senators, congress people, and others being forthright. You have the Department of Justice stepping up, you have a decent statement.
I would -- I do hope that this gets treated on the counterterrorism side as well. I don't think it's a good thing for it to only -- there's always terrorism when it's Muslims and it's never terrorism when it's not. I think that sends a bad signal to a generation of young people, but I'm going to tell you, you've got some young white folks out there who I think need to be instructed very clearly that the Nazi route is wrong. You also have some young people of color out there who are just bewildered watching this country go the way that it's going when it comes to police brutality, when it comes to these racial incidents, and you need a strong statement from the president and from the attorney general and everybody else that this is not the America that we want for them.
So you have a whole bunch of young people watching on both sides, all sides, many sides. They all need to get the same message that this Nazi stuff has to go.
JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER OBAMA FAITH ADVISER IN WHITE HOUSE: That's exactly right. And I would just note, we don't need to just put this on the president and attorney general although they have very important roles to play. What happened in Charlottesville is on many folks in this country. The guys marching with those torches and running cars through crowds, they -- they're going to be in somebody's -- some of them are going to be in somebody's church tomorrow morning.
Something -- they're going to be gathering around a Thanksgiving tape or going home to a mother or a father or a wife and we have to pull them aside and we have to have tough conversations. And it can't always be African Americans having conversations with white Americans. White Americans have to have this this conversations among themselves. Where does this come from? And it's been here for a long time. Why is that? Why are we seeing people marching the streets with such racial anxiety?
This is not it's on President Trump, it's on Jeff Sessions, and others but it's also on everyone who has any connection, not just to the folks marching in the streets in Charlottesville but to others who share their ideology around the country. This is on us.
PARIS DENNARD, FORMER DIRECTOR OF BLACK OUTREACH, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I am never surprised that by while some people are surprised when the administration does the right thing or when the Department of Justice and many who felt that wrongfully, in my opinion, that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general was a racist, did the right thing tonight, made the right statement and the Department of Justice is now pursing this as they should. And I don't -- I am not surprised that President Trump is -- did the right thing in terms of coming out and giving a statement today.
And I think he's going to do continue to do the right thing and even do more from days and weeks to come. I'm reminded it by President Reagan's diaries that I read and he wrote -- there was an issue that happened with some black girls that went been missing and Jesse Jackson was all over the -- Reverend Jackson was talking about, he is not doing anything, he doesn't do anything, this administration is crazy, blah, blah, blah, and the diary that night, President Reagan said, you know, the funny thing about Reverend -- what Reverend Jackson doesn't know is that I've already instructed the Department of Justice into a full force of the administration to go after and find these girls because they matter to me. We don't know what the administration is doing.
We don't know what they're doing right now. We just have to have trust, have faith and believe that they're going to do the right thing. And I think in this instance the president, the entire administration is going to do the right thing.
BERMAN: Well, we do know now is there is a civil rights investigation. So we do know what they are doing on that front. And we also know what the president said, Paris. I mean, we did watch him say what he said. We watched that statement and we read his statements that he put out on Twitter as well. You said that in many sides, the idea that the many sides are to blame for the hatred and the violence in the industry today, you sort of indicated you wished he hadn't said that, you thought that was unscripted right there, that wasn't part of the message he intended.
Do you think he needs to say more in the next 24 hours now instead of looking backwards, let's look forwards? You know, by Sunday night, does the President of the United States need to come out and make a statement where he comes out in names with actual words, white supremacist or neo-Nazis?
DENNARD: If I thought and I'll be really candid. If I thought that would change the hearts and minds of a lot of people in the media and especially in social media about this president, I don't think that's going to change their minds about him, but he is the leader and he is the President of the United States. Do I think it's appropriate for him to denounce it again and denounce it strongly? I think he should. I'm not so concerned about the timing, if it's 24 hours or 72 hours. I think that as long as he comes out and says something that's unequivocal about domestic terrorism, white supremacy as it relates to this issue alone marching with the confederate flag and not see symbols, I think he should denounce it like he has denounced and other instances many times before which is an unfortunate occurrence that we have to continue to have these conversations, comments, and remarks by the leaders of the free world, republican and democrat alike. BERMAN: I would always say that there is no statute of limitations on how many times you can condemn the neo-Nazis or white supremacists. It seems like the type of thing you could always condemn. When it arrives is -- when it arrives is Ken Cuccinelli, does the president need to say something former director soon more direct?
CUCCINELLI: Certainly I would say soon, yes, and particularly as information becomes available we already have more information either at the end of the day than was had in the middle of the day, so -- and you're seeing action by the administration in the form of a civil rights effort. I would expect in the next day or two as we head into this week into the business week that you'll hear more and more pointedly from the White House and from the president on this subject and I fully expect that. We need to hear -- like Van said, we need to hear that from the president.
BERMAN: Josh, we have about -- we've got about 90 seconds left. Your last thought?
DUBOIS: Sure. I just -- I think is a time for moral clarity. This is -- his is a party and an individual who likes to paint things in black and white terms but now all of a sudden we're getting very ambiguous and we need time and -- but you know what, in the face of Nazism, in the face of people marching around with torches and trying to instill fear in the hearts of Americans, why do you need more time? Say something now. Say something over the last few hours but, by god, please say something in the next few hours because the -- we need to know as Americans that right is right and wrong is wrong.
BERMAN: Van Jones, 30 seconds left here. You know, there are words and there are actions and as of tonight there is a federal civil rights investigation.
VONES: I think that's all to the good. We could wind up in a better and stronger place but we're going to go one way or the other. We're going to either turn to each other or we're going to on each other. And today you saw -- you saw this counter occurrence. Some people wanted to stick up for, you know, a president no matter what he does or doesn't do. I think you're going to wind up in a situation where Americans choose in the face of Nazism to turn to each other and not on each other and I hope the president leads there and doesn't lag there.
BERMAN: All right. Van Jones, Paris Dennard, Joshua DuBois, Ken Cuccinelli, I do want to thank you all for your passion tonight, your input and those moments when you all did listen, that as great too. Thank you guys one and all. Our CNN special live coverage of the breaking news, the violence in Virginia continues in just a moment.
AMARA WALKER, ANCHOR, CNN TODAY: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining me. I am Amara Walker. Picking up our breaking news coverage 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 supremacist and people who came out to face them. The city has authorized police to impose a curfew but they have not done so yet and we are waiting to see if protests start up again. We're also learning federal authorities have just opened a civil rights investigation after a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally. Police have taken into custody this man who they believe was the driver. 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder. And we have to warn you, this video you're about to see, you may find it graphic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just drove into people. Oh my God.
WALKER: Just horrific. And one woman died in this crowd. More than a dozen were wounded. And a few hours ago, President Trump wrote this on Twitter, "Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!" However, some republicans and democrats are criticizing the president for not labeling the protesters for what they are, white nationalists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Our Brian Todd joining us now from the scene at Charlottesville. And Brian, the newest piece of information we're getting now is that there is a federal civil rights investigation that has been opened.
BRIAN TODD, CNN RESPONDENT: Right. That's right, Amara. Just announced moments ago by the Justice Department and their field office in Richmond, Virginia, that the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is going to investigate what happened right behind me. A civil rights investigation into the incident here on Fourth Street where a vehicle plowed into some protesters who were walking along the street.
They just moments ago actually cleared through the vehicles that were struck by the perpetrator that were right behind me and you see a police officer on the street right behind me and other police officers patrolling on the corner of Fourth and Water Streets over here. That is right where this incident occurred, where this vehicle plowed into several people walking, protesters walking, killing one 32-year-old pedestrian, also striking two vehicles, and injuring we believe 19 people. I can give you an update on their conditions in a moment, but let's talk about the suspect now, first.
20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., he is from Maumee, Ohio. He is charged 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. So he is facing those charges. That is according to Martin Kumer, the superintendent of the Albemarle- Charlottesville County Regional Jail. This young man booked into jail this afternoon here in Charlottesville.
You know, one other thing that we need to tell you about are some arrests that have been made. Three young men have been arrested in connection with the violence today here in Charlottesville. Two of them 21 years old. Troy Dunnigan of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jacob Smith of Louisa, Virginia, both 21 years old. One charged with disorderly conduct, the other arrested for misdemeanor assault and battery.
And also a 44-year-old man, James O'Brien from Gainesville, Florida, has been arrested and charged with carrying a concealed handgun. So what's interesting there, Amara is that two of the three arrests were people from out of state and the governor, Terry McAuliffe and the local mayor, Mike Signer have both alluded today to their belief that many of the people who came here to cause trouble came from out of state.
Now, as for the white supremacist who came here and held a rally which started all of this, we've been asking all night local police and authorities if there are still some of those people around in any numbers around the Charlottesville area and if anything is percolating tonight. So far, no word of that. They don't know if any of those people are still but of course, they are monitoring it, Amara. They've got between 600 and 700 police officers deployed on the streets of Charlottesville tonight and we can tell you also that two of the three people listed as being killed today are state police officers.
One named Jay Cullen, the other one named Berke Bates, they were in a helicopter that crashed outside the city center. Governor Terry McAuliffe has expressed his condolences to their families and he has said that actually those two were involved in his executive protection detail. They were people who ferried him around the state in a -- in a helicopter and so, he has lost two people very close to him, Amara. So, that's another horrible detail from a very horrible death.
WALKER: Yes, just a tragedy all the way around. And obviously, authorities also staying vigilant even though it is quite quiet where you are right now. But Brian, if you will, take us through the timeline of what exactly happened because this started out as somewhat of a peaceful rally organized by white nationalists who were waving confederate flags, chanting Nazi slogans, and then you had the counter-protesters that showed up. At what point did things just kind of spiral out of control?
TODD: Well, it wasn't too long after the crowd started to gather in some serious numbers, Amara. They came to Emancipation Park to hold the rally and it was shortly after that the counter-protesters started to show up and then, you know, you had them starting to mingle with one another and start to yell things at one another. At one point you saw a video of the white supremacist groups walking kind of in almost like a gauntlet pass groups of the counter-protesters on either side of them, people chanting and then all of a sudden, you know, fights broke out on the streets and we did hear of some people injured in those fights.
And the video of those fights was pretty disturbing in and of itself. Then of course, at 1:30 Eastern Time, maybe a little bit after that, after the fights had been dispersed, you had the car strike incident here right behind me on Fourth Street.
WALKER: All right. Brian Todd watching the developments from there in Charlottesville, we appreciate you. Thanks for that live report. Now, earlier, CNN spoke with a reporter who heard from the mother of the man suspected of driving that car into a crowd of counter- protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUREN LINDSTROM, REPORTER, TOLEDO BLADE: He 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 leanings as far as the other people who were going to be attending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN: 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 knew what he was headed for this weekend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: All right, time to take a short break. When we come back, more on the events in Charlottesville and the criticism of President Trump's response to them. Stay with us. More after this.
WALKER: And we continue to follow breaking news. It has been a violent and deadly day in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people have been arrested after clashes between white supremacist and the counter-protesters, the people who came out to face them. One woman died when a car run into a crowd of counter- protesters. At least 19 other people were hurt and the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident.
Now, police have taken into custody this man in connection with that crash. 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder. Meanwhile, democrats and some republicans are criticizing President Trump for not labeling the protesters for what they are, white nationalists. CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones has more.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And one phrase that you've heard from the president just now there is getting a lot of attention, 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 were saying he is equating the neo-Nazis and white supremacist and white nationalist who were demonstrating today and last night. With the folks who were counterdemonstrating, protesting the racism, and the racial epithets they were espousing.
I asked the White House official, what the president meant by many sides and 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.
Will a lot of critics on both sides of the aisle are saying that the president himself needs to call out organizers of this 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 note 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 the -- this enemy or idea this without naming it. They are calling on the president t condemn white nationalist. 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 Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator John McCain, also the former FBI Director James Comey, and the current Special Council Bob Mueller. But when he is not well president is condemned white nationalist, white supremacy, white nationalism, or Nazis or neo-Nazis. That is why a lot of folks believe that his statement today, the statement here on Saturday did not go far enough. Back to you.
WALKER: Athena Jones, thank you. And for more on the president's response to Charlottesville and the criticism. I spoke earlier to former House Republican Jack Kingston.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: I think that he did right thing. He condemned the bigotry, the hatred, and the violence and he said it on many sides. I don't -- I think many people have overread things into that, but the truth to the matter is he has been all over Twitter in the last several hours condemning things that have happened, praising the police, the governor who's a democrat Terry McAuliffe and a potential candidate against Donald Trump but both have said they've been in communication all day long.
They talked about the law enforcement efforts, so I think his response has been good. I understand his critics. It's -- you know, he didn't use the words white supremacist, but I think it's one of those things where he was not trying to avoid any particular jargon. It's just that he condemned the bigotry and the hatred and the violence which, you know, I think covered the whole thing.
WALKER: Well, you know, it was also your colleagues who are reading too much into this, to use your words. I mean, we had those tweets coming from Marco Rubio and also Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado who is a republican tweeting, "Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacist and this was a supremacist and this was domestic terrorism." Why didn't the president just say this was domestic terrorism and that he condemns white supremacy because this has no place in this country?
KINGSTON: Well, you know, this thing doesn't end today. It's an ongoing debate, it's an ongoing challenge for our country, and the president will be using terms like that I'm sure in the future but because I know that he is not from -- he is not afraid to use the terms...
WALKER: Then why not use it?
KINGSTON: Well, you know -- and I don't know why he chose the words that he chose today. I do know that November 2016 when there was an alt-right conference white people, he did condemn it then, he condemned it again earlier this year. So I don't think he has a track record of trying to avoid certain terms one way or the other. I've heard this ridiculous narrative that he is trying not to offend his base. Well, I'm a solid base member myself and it would not bother me a bit and I think that many of his critics reading far too much into the situation and the terms.
I think what really matter is that he was in touch with the governor. All day long he praised law enforcement, he condemned the violence, it's not like he had been silent on this at all.
WALKER: Well, he was silent and not singling out this kind of racism. I mean, this is a domestic terrorism, radical domestic terrorism and we heard the president repeat that he condemns this kind of bigotry and violence on many sides. He said many sides twice in that statement. So, you know, he's implying some kind of moral equivalency between this kind of bigoted hate that spewed hatred against women and Jews and the counterdemonstrators. Do you see a moral equivalency here?
KINGSTON: Well, I think all sides have to respect the First Amendment freedom of speech as horrible as it is, sometimes to hear people say ridiculous and hateful and anti-Semitic racist things, you -- they still have a First Amendment right and I do think that if you look at the protest in early -- earlier this summer, July 8th, there were 50 protesters and 1,000 counter-protesters and I think that sometimes there's a few elements in each who decides to start fighting and so, you know, the whole thing gets out of hand and to me when the president said that, that's what I assume happens.
I've been around, a lot of this protest have seen it, it's usually it's a handful of people on one side or the other who start this engagement and it's sad, it's gets out of control and it certainly goes against the freedom of speech. You know, when the Olympics, we're in Atlanta, not to really across the street from CNN, we had one area for all the protesters and we kept them there. And everybody was very respectful of it.
The bomb that happened was totally a different matter. It had nothing to do with the protest, but, you know, there -- and that the G-20 has been in my area of Georgia, St. Simons, and Savannah. And again, you can deal with people who offend you in a -- in a way that you -- doesn't erupt to violence.
WALKER: But doesn't the president have a moral obligation to speak out specifically against this kind of radical ideology in this country, especially when he was not shy about calling out President Obama and his rival Clinton for not using the word radical Islamic terrorism? Well, this is radical domestic terrorism. Clearly words matter to President Trump. So why doesn't he use these words?
KINGSTON: Well, it's not over with. And he is not running from these words at all. And I know that many of the elected officials who are in office, they will quickly get out there and make a statement so that the press doesn't target in on them. And I think some of these people who are saying you know, let me get out there so the press doesn't pick on me. But, you know, when he talks about and I can just paraphrase it. We condemn in the strongest terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, I don't -- I don't think that's a bad statement at all.
And looking at his Twitter on @realDonaldTrump, there were nine tweets in the last several hours, all about this. So he's not avoiding this situation at all. I also think he's going to have a press conference on Tuesday and another one on Wednesday or at least a press availability. So there's going to be plenty of opportunities for him to engage in whatever rhetoric people want to hear.
WALKER: Well, let's see if the president takes up that opportunity. We appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much for joining us Jack Kingston.
KINGSTON: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: And as Athena Jones mentioned earlier, President Trump is being criticized for his response to Saturday's deadly clashes in Charlottesville. Now, compare that with this sharply-worded reactions from Charlottesville's mayor and Virginia's mayor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: And I have a message to all the white supremacists and at 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.
MICHAEL SIGNER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA MAYOR: 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're 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Now, specifically condemnation of white supremacy has been a common theme as republican leaders responded to Saturday's violence in Charlottesville. House Speaker Paul Ryan said, "White supremacy is a scourge that must be defeated." And former presidential candidate Jeb Bush said, "This white supremacists and their bigotry do not represent our great country." Also, Senator Marco Rubio called Saturday's violence a terror attack by white supremacists.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not use the term instead saying, "Hate and bigotry did not reflect American values." Now, renowned U.S. Civil Rights Leader Jesse Jackson is also reacting. He says there is a growth of hate in the country that's being witnessed in Virginia. He says, it needs just as much attention as the current global threats in Asia and South America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: (INAUDIBLE) there will be security in this country and that Kim's threats would not harm him. Maybe she should call them Terry McAuliffe and the leaders themselves (INAUDIBLE) give the assurance he gave the governor of Guam yesterday that he would -- that if necessary to break up these armed militarized race supremacist groups, if he has to send in national guard, he would do it (INAUDIBLE) perhaps in Venezuela, but the real fight now is in Charlottesville and it's not -- and it could very well get worse unless there is something (INAUDIBLE) these are convenient, a conference on violence. Cures and causes. A conference dealing with fears real and imagined. With the growth of hate in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Well, some analyst who listened to President Trump's words on Saturday says his tepid message could send a wrong signal to those who want to spread a message of intolerance. CNN political commentator Van Jones says there is danger in Mr. Trump's response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Somebody lost their life today. An American citizen who woke up this morning, assuming that he or she had a long life to live but said I want to go and bear witness against Nazis marching down American streets. I mean, we lost a whole bunch of people in this country to stop the Nazis. You know, Dr. King lost his life trying to stop the Klan. Every responsible parent raises their kids to hate -- to not hate based on color.
So somebody wakes up in America and says, I want to stand against that and they are killed in America by a Nazi, it should not be a surprise that there is universal condemnation specifically about hate groups, white supremacy, terrorism. That's what we're supposed to do. I am very concerned that he is not sending a strong enough signal to people who think that this is the right way to engage in politics in America, mowing people down, showing up to protest with shields and guns.
I'm concerned that he missed an opportunity today to nip this in the bud and say, I'm making America great again. This is not great. I do not want this. It's got stop right now. He said some good things but he did not say enough things and I'm worried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: All right. And just before we go, we want to recap our breaking news story as we have been covering it. One person has been killed, 19 others injured after white supremacist took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. The suspected driver is identified as James Alex Fields from Maumee, Ohio, he is accused of second-degree murder and we've just learned within the hour that a civil rights investigation has been opened. I'm Amara Walker. Thank you so much for watching. I will be back in the next few minutes with continuing coverage of our top story, today's terror in Virginia. Stay with us.