Return to Transcripts main page


Judge Denies Bond to Man Who Rammed Protesters; New Details on James Alex Fields; Emotional Words from Family, Friends of Heather Heyer; Trump Mum on Twitter After Outcry over Virginia Response; Trump Advisors Signal Knives Out for Bannon. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 14, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:57] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Minutes ago, a Virginia judge denied bond to James Alex Fields, the man accused of plowing his car into protesters saturday. One woman was killed, 19 people injured.

Let's get more on the suspect and his appearance with the judge, what happens now.

CNN's Rosa Flores was there and she's joining me now.

Rosa, what happened inside that courtroom?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, let me take you inside that courtroom. We saw Fields reporting to this court by video conference. He was in a monitor to the left-hand side. He was wearing a black- and-white jump suit. He kept on sniffling the minutes before he faced the judge, and then all he said was, yes, sir, yes, sir, as the judge asked him questions. But the judge deemed him indigent and appointed him an attorney.

But here is where things get very interesting. No bond was set, according to the judge, because when he went out to the public defender's office, he couldn't appoint him a public defender right then and there. The judge mentioning a member of the public defender's office had a relative who was either hurt or somehow involved in the incident, so he had to go through the next list of attorneys he could appoint. At the end of the day, he appointed Fields an attorney but determined that, at this point, no bond was set. And the next hearing was set for August 25th.

Outside this courtroom, right after that, moments after that, emotions flared between a Unite the Right rally participant and a counter protester. They were in a shouting match. Now, that ended very peacefully once the police got involved and escorted the two protesters to the police department.

Again, the news out of Charlottesville is that Fields is deemed indigent. He said he earned about $650 every two weeks. And the judge set no bond, pending the appointment of a public defender. And his next court hearing is scheduled for August 25th -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Later this month. Rosa, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

So many questions. Who is James Alex Fields? What led him to Charlottesville, Virginia, that day? What was going on in his mind?

We are also learning from the people who knew him. We are hearing from a former teacher of Fields. He said as a teenager, in his classroom, Fields was a Nazi sympathizer. Listen to this.


FRANK WEIMER (ph) FORMER TEACHER TO JAMES ALEX FIELDS (via telephone): He had some very radical views on race. He was very infatuated with the Nazi's, with Adolf Hitler. He was also a huge military history, especially German military history and World War II. But he was pretty infatuated with that stuff.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now, Daryle Jenkins, an anti-hate activist and the founder and executive director of the One People's Project. And in Orlando, Mark O'Mara, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.

Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.


Mark, first to you.

Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, calls what happened in Charlottesville an act of terrorism. He said it is a number-one priority for the Justice Department in making sure -- when talking about this case. What does that mean for this guy?

[11:35:17] O'MARA: It's good for the rest of us. What it means is there's going to be a DOJ or Department of Justice focus, a federal focus on whether or not, since he crossed state lines he committed a federal act. Federal acts in this case may have more penalties. In any case, a second-degree murder charge in Virginia, he's facing five to 40 years for that with an add-on if it's determined to be a hate crime of another up to five years.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about what happened on the ground before we talk about the guy.

Daryle, you are no stranger to these type of events, white supremacist and neo-Nazis ideology, because you have spent decades tracking, investigating and calling out some of these people. You were in Charlottesville, and there when it happened. Was this different than rallies you have gone to in the past?

DARYLE JENKINS, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ONE PEOPLE'S PROJECT & ANTI-HATE ACTIVIST: In the sense someone was murdered, yes. I have seen something similar to this 14 years ago, 2002, in Pennsylvania, where things also got out of hand, up to and including a neo-Nazi running into a group of people with his car. He served two years for that. I have podcast, some associates of mine have a podcast that's on our website where we basically called this. We knew this was going to happen.

BOLDUAN: It was going to blow up this way?

JENKINS: Yes. We refer to it as the white supremacist ultima. They were gearing up for this fight. That's why you saw the Neo-Nazi's wearing the shields, helmets and sticks, and getting into military formations. We knew this is what they wanted to do. And we had to come out. We had to come out and oppose it because we care about the society. We do not want to see this kind of element grow.

BOLDUAN: So, on this man, James Alex Fields, part of the CNN reporting now, Mark, is that investigators are looking into whether this attack, him ramming his car, driving over people, what he did, part of what he alleged to have done, this was planned to send a message. If that was the case, what does that mean?

O'MARA: Well, it heightens it as far as a hate crime. It's going to be easy to prove, with his history that we knew a little bit about now, but at least some, that if he's a Nazi sympathizer, a white supremacist, that he would act on their behalf. When he did it to these counter protesters, we had good insight on the hate crime addition.

But even beyond that, the idea that a judge is going to have an opportunity to sentence him, certainly, you would think it is going to be sentenced towards the higher end, 10, 20, 30, 40 years in prison because, if he did this for a particular illegal purpose, he should be punished more greatly than if it was an event.

BOLDUAN: This is the case involving this man, James Alex Field, and what happened over the weekend, Daryle, that sparked a national conversation. And also has gotten, risen to the level of getting the attention of the president of the United States. When you heard the president's statement over the weekend, what was your reaction to it? What did he say?

JENKINS: It was expected. We didn't expect much from the president then, and shouldn't have expected much when we heard the statement. When you are talking ability, a guy whose possible communications director may be a friend of somebody speaking at the conference, don't expect much. They say they are aboard the hatred and violence when it's not apparent. We have seen hatred and violence throughout his campaign, throughout his candidacy. I mean, throughout his candidacy and in his presidency. He seems to want to play a deaf ear to all the nonsense going on. And it now has come to the point we have said enough about how bad Trump is. What are we going to do about it? We can't continue on like this if people are getting killed.


JENKINS: It's the fourth time people died because of this crap.

BOLDUAN: Does it change anything that the vice president came out and condemned and called them by name? The attorney general called them out by name? Does it change anything for you?

JENKINS: Talk is cheap. Let's see them do something about it. Let's see Jeff Sessions take down National Politics (ph), Identity Europa and American Vanguard. Those are the groups that were there. The Klan was there. Saw David Duke there. I can run down the list. I don't think we have time for that. Truth be told, talk is cheap. Let's see them make moves. If they don't want to make the moves, we'll replace them with people who will. That's what we need to do.

[11:40:00] BOLDUAN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying this is a number-one priority for the Justice Department, we'll follow through.


JENKINS: Yes, we'll believe it when we see it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Mark great to see you. Thank you.

O'MARA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, emotional words from the friends and family of the woman that the -- friends and family speaking out about Heather Heyer. What her parents are saying about why their daughter was there that day. We'll have that for you.

Plus, after police were criticized for their slow response, the governor of Virginia raising eyebrows, saying it was hard because the militias were better armed than the officers there. We'll discuss that. We'll be right back.


[11:44:49] MARISSA BAER (ph), FRIEND OF HEATHER HEYER: If you knew Heather, you would know she loves everyone. All she wants is equality for everyone, no matter who you love, what color you are. She was very strong in what she felt and spoke with conviction and would never back down from what she believed in. That's what she died doing. She died fighting for what she believed in.


BOLDUAN: Very emotional interview. She died fighting for what she believed in. Heather Heyer's grieving friends speaking out to CNN this morning. Her friends say they were just marching around, spreading love, and then the accident, the attack happened. A car plowed into the crowd.

Heyer's parents are speaking out. Her father issued a statement saying this, "She stood for what she believed in. She died trying to bring about that purpose."

And this, from her mother:


been passionate about justice for everyone and fairness and fair treatment and you better be able to explain to her why something was true or not true, why it had to be that way. As a child that could be maddening. As a parent that can be difficult and challenging. But nevertheless, I encouraged and allowed her to be strong willed, not that I probably could have changed her, even if I wanted. But, it was important to her to speak up for people that she felt were not being heard, to speak up when injustices were happening.


BOLDUAN: Heather Heyer was 32 years old.

In a few hours, President Trump is expected to speak about the unrest in Charlottesville. This will be the second time he will be making comments on this. The first time, he has been slammed by Democrats and Republicans for failing to say enough, for failing to condemn white supremacists by name. Since the tragedy struck in Charlottesville, Virginia, pressure has been mounting on the president to call out groups like the KKK and Neo-Nazi's by name, just as the vice president and attorney general have. So far, he has not.

I want to bring in John Adams, a Republican nominee running to be the top law enforcement officer in Virginia.

Attorney General (sic), great to see you. Thank you, Mr. Adams, for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Since it is brief and to the point, you put a statement out on this on saturday, and it says "The neo-Nazi -- the Nazi ideology on display is in Charlottesville is disgusting. Our greatest generation fought and crushed it. So, will we."

That is straight and to the point. Why didn't the president say the same?

ADAMS: I can't speak for the president in what he said but, I'm a lawyer, Kate. I look at the facts on the ground and call it like I see it. I was campaigning in southwestern Virginia that day, but I was paying attention to what was happening in Charlottesville. You can't deny what happened in Charlottesville. There were Nazi flags, chanting Nazi slogans. Then, of course, later on in the day, we had this horrific murder of this innocent young woman by a Nazi sympathizer who had come down from Ohio. You know, I just called it like I saw it. In Virginia, it's a wonderful, wonderful place to live and work and raise a family. We just don't tolerate this type of hatred, no matter where it comes from. When it does come, you have to call it what it is.

BOLDUAN: You call it like you see it. When you see it, you have to call it what it is. President Trump is not one to hold back. He's not one to call it like

he sees it on any turn. He had no problem calling out the CEO of a company just today for dropping out of one of his White House councils, but he hasn't called out these groups by name. How does that make sense?

ADAMS: Well, look, I mean, the president made his statement. I believe the White House came out afterwards and specifically condemned white supremacists. I think the president is going to make a statement later today. I don't know what he's going to say --


BOLDUAN: The White House did. It was put out by an unnamed source. The president, Mr. Adams, said he is his spokesperson and speaks for himself. We have numerous examples about how that is the truth. Is the president wrong in not calling them out by name?

ADAMS: You know, I called it like I saw it on the ground. I'm not going to criticize him at this point in time. He's going to make another statement this afternoon.

BOLDUAN: Why not?

ADAMS: I'll tell you -- I'll tell you what I am encouraged by. I'm encouraged by Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying the Department of Justice is going to intervene. I think one of your guests said action means more than words. That is true. While I'm absolutely confident that our state prosecutors in Charlottesville would prosecute this crime to the fullest extent of the law, it's encouraging to me to see the federal authorities looking into this as well to ensure --


ADAMS: A lot of this comes down to leadership. We're talking about leadership. You know, the Justice Department leading the country, moral authority. Moral authority, does it sit with the president? You want to hear the president say more. But, again, was he wrong not calling it out in the first place?

[11:50:10] ADAMS: Well, again, I'm not criticizing the president. I don't know what he knew at the time. I don't know what he was following. You saw what I said.


ADAMS: What I will say is -- what I will say is, unfortunately --


BOLDUAN: Was it difficult for you to say that?

ADAMS: No, it's not difficult for me to say that.

BOLDUAN: Of course. ADAMS: But look what we've had to deal with in Virginia just in the

last 60 days. We have -- Congressman Scalise and Republican officials in Virginia being shot at by a deranged leftist. Right? Clearly, targeted because of their political beliefs. In Charlottesville, we saw innocent people targeted because of their race. So there's a lot of things going on in this country, Kate, that need a lot of help. The president -- and the president --


BOLDUAN: The president called that one out when it came to Steve Scalise, very quickly.

ADAMS: When the president said he condemns all violence, that's clear -- from all sides, clearly, a true statement on its face.

BOLDUAN: Enough for you?

ADAMS: So I'm not going to criticize him -- I'm not criticize him for saying he condemns all violence. I condemn all violence.


BOLDUAN: What do you say to Republicans who called him out. Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham, Cory Gardner, go down the list, Marco Rubio, all of them who say the president hasn't gone far enough and he was wrong for not calling this out? What do you say to them?

ADAM: Fair enough. They can express their view. What I care about is what is happening in Virginia. I'm a Virginian running to be Virginia's attorney general. We have a problem here in Virginia with this incident on Saturday. And I know, myself, my running mates here in Virginia, we called it like we saw it. What the president does, that's the president's call. What I care about is we get the support that we need, if we need it from the federal side. It sounds like, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, we'll have that support. To me, running to be the attorney general of Virginia, that is what I want to see. I want to see action. I want to support from the feds, if we need it. I want to make sure that the commonwealth's attorney in Charlottesville has everything that they need to prosecute the case to the fullest extent of the law. And I'm an action person. That's -- that's what I'm looking at.

BOLDUAN: All right. Words and actions seems to be a big theme.

John Adams, appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

ADAMS: Thanks for having me on, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

Coming up, the former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, slamming Steve Bannon over the weekend, implying he's a leaker. Scaramucci is not the only one casting doubts on Bannon's future. Details on constant rumors is coming up.


[11:55:30] BOLDUAN: One of the people closest to the president inside the West Wing finding himself on thin ice. Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist and former head of the Alt-Right news, "Breitbart." Talking about Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist.

National security adviser, H.R. McMaster, repeatedly refused to say if he can even work with Bannon, when asked a series of questions just yesterday.

And the recently fired White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, says Bannon is hurting the president's agenda. Listen to this.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Been tough on Steve Bannon. Does he have to go?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think the president know what's he's going to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which is what?

SCARAMUCCI: Let's leave it up to the president. It's his decision. At the end of the day, I think the president has a very good idea of who the leakers are inside the White House. The president has a very good idea of the people undermining his agenda that are serving their own interests.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Including Steve Bannon?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, yes. Look, we're not on a -- a phone call and a taped phone call, and so we're on live television. I prefer to let the president make the decisions that the president needs to make.

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: Can you and Steve Bannon still work together in this White House or not?

GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I get to work together with a broad range of talented people, and it is a privilege every day to enable the national security team.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn't answer. Can you and Steve Bannon work in the same White House?

MCMASTER: I am ready to work with anybody who will help advance the president's agenda and advance the security, prosperity of the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe Steve Bannon does that?

MCMASTER: I believe that everyone who works in the White House, has the great privilege, great privilege every day of serving their nation, should be motivated by that goal. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Take that basically as a no comment, I guess.

CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, joining me now with more on this.

Jamie, what are you hearing from your sources? How thin is the ice Steve Bannon is on now?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It's cracking. That said, two things that are important. This pre-dates Charlottesville. And the other thing is that the people I'm talking to say, don't count Steve Bannon out yet. He is a survivor. And they do not think that this is imminent.

Of course, that's up to one person. And that's Donald Trump. But one of the things I'm hearing is that the president thinks that it is safer to have Steve Bannon on the inside. We've known for quite some time that Jared Kushner would like Steve Bannon gone. Ivanka would like Steve Bannon gone.

BOLDUAN: How is that any way to run a White House? He's less dangerous if i keep him close than he is outside?

GANGEL: Correct.

BOLDUAN: Does Steve Bannon has all the power, is what you're saying?

GANGEL: The people I'm talking to say, over and over, and these are seniors Republicans who have direct knowledge of what's going on, that there is a concern in the White House that if Steve Bannon is a troublemaker inside the White House, you take him outside of the bubble, he's angry, he's now been kicked out, that it could get even worse.

BOLDUAN: Stand by to stand by on the Steve Bannon news.

GANGEL: Right.

BOLDUAN: You're hearing reaction already from -- from your sources on the Merck CEO stepping down from the White House Council, Manufacturing Council, and the president attacking him this morning. What are you hearing?

GANGEL: This happened immediately. Elected Republican officials up on the Hill, within seconds of Donald Trump's tweet about the Merck CEO, immediately texted me and said -- here's one quote -- "It is outrageous that he," President Trump, "so quickly and personally condemns Frazier," that's the CEO of Merck, "while failing to condemn white supremacists."

They just can't believe it.

And another source said to me, and this is someone who loves General Kelly, and who has hoped that as chief of staff, he would be the answer.


GANGEL: This is another example of, nobody can discipline Donald Trump, but Donald Trump. And so --


BOLDUAN: Example -- exhibit F.

GANGEL: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: G., H., Y and Z.

GANGEL: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Jamie. I really, really appreciate it.

GANGEL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And thanks for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

[12:00:06] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Kate.

Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing part of your day with us.

President Trump is back in Washington for the day, now trying to clean up a profound mess --