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The Darkest Day In Pittsburgh History; President Donald Trump Asked If He Would Consider Toning Down His Rhetoric; The Pittsburgh Steelers, Honoring The Victims Today. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 28, 2018 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[16:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And their families may not have the words. The victims can't ever leave our hearts.

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FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta, joined by my league anchor Victor Blackwell, live for us today in Pittsburgh where a community is in mourning after a horrific attack at the Tree of Life synagogue.

Eleven people murdered in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in this nation's history. The victims were there to pray and worship when they were targeted and gunned down in their holy place of worship on Shabbat morning. They include a husband and wife, two brothers described as inseparable, and a 97-year-old woman. We're starting to learn their stories and see their faces as investigators search for answers in this deadly crime.

The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, is currently under guard in a hospital, recovering after surgery. Investigators have finished their search of his car and are continuing to search for any surveillance video that could help investigators piece together the moments leading up to the attack.

The city and nation are rallying around this heartbroken community with a unified message that hate will not win.

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MAYOR BILL PEDUTO, PITTSBURGH: We know that we as a society are better than this. We know that hatred will never win out. That those who try to divide us because of the way that we pray or where our families are from around the world will lose.

And in Pittsburgh, we're pragmatic, and we find solutions to problems. We will not try to rationalize irrational behavior. We will not try to figure out ways in order to lessen the degree of crimes such as this. We will work to eradicate it. We will work to eradicate it from our city, from our nation, and our world. Hatred will not have a place anywhere.

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WHITFIELD: All right. Let's begin with Victor Blackwell in Pittsburgh outside the synagogue there where this mass shooting took place.

What's going on there today?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Fred. That short break from the rain has just ended. The rain is coming back now. Just before this vigil for a second night is expected to start here in Pittsburgh.

And I want to show you what's happening just over my shoulder here. I'll step out of the way for just a second. There are people, despite the rain, who are coming here, dropping off flowers and candles. A memorial growing outside of the Tree of Life synagogue. People showing their respect for, in some cases, their neighbors, and other strangers who lost their lives who were killed here yesterday.

And now this community of Squirrel Hill joins a pretty morbid group where in which you name the location and you remember the tragedy. When we say Squirrel Hill, we will remember what happened here. Much like when we say Parkland or when we say Sandy Hook.

This community grappling now with its place in history, but also remembering those who lost their lives and remembering that their legacy is not found in how they died but in how they lived.

Let's check in now with -- Sara Sidner, rather, who is also in Pittsburgh ahead of this vigil that's going to happen tonight.

Sara, what are you learning?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here outside the Allegheny County Soldiers Memorial where dozens of people have been streaming in. They are here to remember those who died. They're here to remember how those who died lived. So many people, 11 people, killed. They were grandmothers, husbands and wives, brothers, who lost their lives as they prayed, as they tried to be peaceful.

This community is saying that it will never be the same, that their community, their neighborhood will never be the same. But that it won't be worse off. That in the end, they will find something that will make them stronger.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 75-year-old Joyce Fienberg of Oakland.

SIDNER (voice-over): The names of the victims read out so the world will know who they are.

SUZAN HAUPTMAN, KNEW VICTIMS OF SHOOTING: I have no words. I'm shaking inside. I'm shocked.

SIDNER: Suzan Hauptman knew three of the dead. Her family doctor and two brothers. HAUPTMAN: The victims need to be talked about a lot. They can't talk

for themselves anymore.

SIDNER: Each of them had come to pray and celebrate together on the Sabbath, when hatred entered their synagogue.

[16:05:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tall white male, short hair, light blue shirt, jeans.

SIDNER: The police dispatching the suspect's description as they geared up for a gun battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have at least four down in the atrium at this time. We need armor.

SIDNER: The suspect had walked into the place set aside for peace with guns and a mission to kill Jewish people. And succeeded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most horrific crime scene I have seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

SIDNER: The suspect later telling police he wanted to kill all Jews, according to court documents. In the end, it would be the deadliest attack against Jews in America, according to the Anti-Defamation League. More dead than you can count on two hands. And six wounded, including four police officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you have a situation here where you have disturbed minds with hate in their heart and guns in their hands.

SIDNER: The deadly shooting sending a wave of sorrow across Pittsburgh and the world. Drawing thousands together to mourn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are like a hand.

CROWD: We are like a hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With various fingers connected.

CROWD: With various fingers connected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when one finger hurts.

CROWD: So when one finger hurts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all hurt.

CROWD: We all hurt.

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SIDNER: You heard that. When one finger hurts, we all hurt. We are like a hand. And you're seeing that played out here. We have seen people praying together, crying together, hugging one another as they come together here. Some of them are folks that don't know each other but they certainly share a common bond. And that is one tonight of sorrow and solidarity -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Sara, you have spoken with people who knew the victims. What do they say?

SIDNER: You know, every person we have spoken to has mentioned these two brothers. David and Cecil Rosenthal. David was 64, Cecil, 59. They said that they would stand there proudly at the synagogue, open the door, and talk to people. They would always welcome you, say hello, say Shabbat. They were very, very, very well known among this community.

There was also Rose Mallinger, who was 97 years old. And you've heard her name, and you've heard her age. But it is misleading because those we spoke to about her say she was a spry woman with lots of life yet to live.

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ROBIN BLOOM FRIEDMAN, TREE OF LIFE MEMBER: I heard the age this morning and the tears came. And to go through all that, I mean, the only comfort I could maybe say is that, yes, this was a comfort place to her, but that's not where this should have ever happened like this. And she and her daughter went that morning, expecting to go home and have lunch afterwards together. And it's not something we'll ever be able to wrap our heads around.

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SIDNER: The one thing people want everyone in the world to remember, and there is a member of the Israeli Ministry that is here to speak to this crowd, so all the way from Israel, they have come to mourn. But one thing they want everyone to remember in this community is the names of those who died. And I want to read them to you now.

There is Dan Stein, 75. Joyce Fienberg, 75 years old. Richard Gottfried, 65. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66. He was a doctor, and we have spoken to people who know him and talk about his kindness and his care. There was Cecil and David Rosenthal. Bernice and Sylvan Simon. Irving Younger. Melvin Wax, and again, Rose Mallinger -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

Now let's get the latest on the investigation.

Miguel Marquez, we just got some new reporting about what investigators are finding. They're searching the suspect's car. That's now complete. What else have you learned?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we are trying to get an understanding of who this person is and what is becoming very clear is that this was a person who was almost a ghost in life. Kind of went through life without making any sort of impression on anyone, from neighbors to others.

We have just spoken to a person who does not want to be identified, who knew, knows Mr. Bowers and has known him for most of his adult life. This person describes him as a lost soul. Someone who went from job to job and never really fit in. Also describing him as just extraordinarily troubled and having episodes in his life that are very, very disturbing to talk about.

[16:10:03] Also someone, this person says, Mr. Bowers never uttered an unkind word. Never uttered any sort of extremist ideology. Never seemed the type, this person just an absolute shock that it could be him, when this person heard that it was Robert Bowers and this person saw the picture, they could only say no, no, no. It cannot be. It just could not believe this was the case.

Police now have gone through his home, his car. They're looking for surveillance video, trying to figure out what were his steps in the days and months leading up to this. Certainly on the outside, he seemed like a placid individual who had no real feelings about Jews. But underneath, from his postings online, this is a man who was roiling deeply with hatred toward Jews, and in particular, one organization, HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

They have made a video about 20 days ago down by the border regarding the immigrant caravan. Mr. Bowers was very, very angry about this. Pointed out that HIAS was bringing invaders in, as he's called them. And then just, you know, minutes before he went into that synagogue saying that he could no longer take it. Didn't care about optics and that he was going in.

What drove him to that point, though, is what investigators want to look at. But this is clearly somebody, as we're looking at it today, that lived an extraordinarily troubled life -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, still lots of questions here.

Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

And Fred, I'll send it back to you in Atlanta.

WHITFIELD: All right. Victor, we'll get back with you. Thank you so much.

Still ahead, the investigation into this tragedy is just beginning. What could have sparked this heinous crime, and what can be done to prevent another? We'll discuss coming up.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everyone will remember October 27th. I think that's going to be a date that's etched in everybody's mind. But I think that Squirrel Hill is strong. And we're going to remain that way.

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[16:15:54] HAUPTMAN: The victims need to be talked about a lot. They can't talk for themselves anymore and their families may not have the words. The victims can't ever leave our hearts. And I'm not going to politicize this or even talk about the person that did this. I want to only talk about them and keep them all in our hearts, and they'll live on forever.

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WHITFIELD: Friends and family of the victims of yesterday's synagogue massacre honoring their memories. The suspect in the shooting that left 11 people dead told police, quote, "I just want to kill Jews." Robert Bowers faces numerous charges, including hate crimes, 29 charges in all. This comes as the Anti-Defamation League says anti- Semitic incidents spiked 57 percent just last year.

Joining me right now is Deborah Lipstadt, she is the author of the book "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." And Miss Lipstadt is also the author of another book that is coming out called "Anti-Semitism, Here and Now."

I'm so sorry we are having to talk about this and then here you have spent so much time talking about anti-Semitism in your new book, and now you have yet another chapter, perhaps, to add to it sadly.

DEBORAH LIPSTADT, AUTHOR, "DENYING THE HOLOCAUST": No. It's true. It's true. When I wrote the book, in the introduction, I said this was a hard book to write. And I have been writing about the holocaust, this is my sixth book. Five books on the holocaust. You would think why would this be hard? Because the holocaust is in history and this is now, but then I went on to say, I go on to say, it was a hard book to write, it was a harder book to finish because it seemed like every day there would be something, and I was willing to predict, though I don't usually made predictions, that there will be -- by the time the book appeared, there'd be something else to get our attention. I never thought it would be something of this magnitude.

WHITFIELD: Right, because in concert with that, the ADL is saying a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic behavior in the last year.

LIPSTADT: Increase right.

WHITFIELD: All while you were writing this book.

LIPSTADT: Writing the book.

WHITFIELD: So, you know, there are a multitude of facets here, but in your view, you know, what brought us to this point here in 2018?

LIPSTADT: It's a combination of things. I think there's been divisive rhetoric in our country, and it didn't start in the past two or three years, but it really started, I would say, maybe during -- when President Obama was elected. A rise of right-wing anti-Semitism. At the same time, there's left-wing anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory.

When something is happening that you don't like, you've got to find a group to blame it on. And Jews, anti-Semitism is called the longest hatred for good reason. It's been around for well over 2,000 years. And people fall back on it.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

LIPSTADT: And you know, this crazy man, this awful, awful crazy man who did this, but he didn't operate out of a vacuum.

WHITFIELD: Right.

LIPSTADT: There was the history of anti-Semitism and the rhetoric that he's heard.

WHITFIELD: And a megaphone that since we -- you know, we have now since learned there was a Web site that allowed this kind of freedom of expression.

LIPSTADT: Right.

WHITFIELD: And he made the announcement, you know, as a prelude.

LIPSTADT: I'm going in.

WHITFIELD: I'm getting ready to go in.

LIPSTADT: Right.

WHITFIELD: So while you underscore there has been a constant of anti- Semitism, but something is different in the last year that helps substantiate this spike of acts, anti-Semitic acts, 57 percent increase.

LIPSTADT: I think that a lot of people are getting a dog whistle. Whether the president and those around him intend to or not, and I don't think any of them are anti-Semites, but they -- even through the campaign, they have played on these themes of anti-Semitism. And maybe they didn't intend to be heard like this, but people like the man who committed this heinous act heard it and heard it as a sort of green light, I can go ahead and do this.

[16:20:02] And then, of course, in this case it's linked with this mythic refugee influx which doesn't exist but is supposedly marching on our borders, so he linked Jews and the refugees and HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and he was going in to get rid of them all.

WHITFIELD: So who if anyone do you turn to, does a community, does this nation turn to, to find hope in -- you know, in some harmony, in finding harmony, in finding the unity that the president actually spoke to yesterday, but then that message is also still being drowned out by, you know, a continuation of, you know, hate-filled messaging?

LIPSTADT: You know, Jews are a strange people. 70 years ago, 1 out of every 3 Jews on the face of the earth was destroyed. And yet they emerged from that and they emerged in this country, in Israel and other places in a very strong and vibrant fashion, but not having forgotten. And, you know, I like to say the definition of a Jewish optimist is someone who thinks things can't get any worse. You know, and sometimes we're like that, but we're also an optimistic people. And there's a great deal of hope. And the prayer for the dead ends with prayer for peace.

So I think there's an optimism amongst Jews, and they also know that if they left these things bring them down, then they've given the victors the victory that they want. So I think you asked who the Jews you turn to? I think by and large, and we're seeing it now in Pittsburgh, my synagogue here in Atlanta just announced it's going to have a memorial service tomorrow night. They turn to one another.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

LIPSTADT: You know, lots of those Jews who were killed were in that synagogue maybe to speak to God, but a lot of them were there to speak to one another. You know, fellowship. And Jews do that. Make you at home.

WHITFIELD: And heard that resounding message from so many survivors and family member of those who were fallen yesterday who said we're looking at ourselves to uphold and uplift.

LIPSTADT: That's right. That's right. Yes.

WHITFIELD: Deborah Lipstadt, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

LIPSTADT: You're welcome. Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

Still ahead, it's not just Pittsburgh mourning the victims of this senseless shooting. The world is truly coming together to denounce this terrible crime. We'll talk with the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. next.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always this illusion that Jews in America can feel safe. Actually, we were jealous in Israel to see the successful and safe community in the States, and now it seems that all over the world Jews are not so safe. Apparently also in America.

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[16:27:23] BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell live in Pittsburgh. Just across from the Tree of Life synagogue.

I want to bring in now Ron Dermer, he's the Israeli ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Ambassador, thank you.

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Good to be with you. BLACKWELL: For taking a few minutes. I know you're here to do more

than mourn with this community but also to deliver a message. What is that message?

DERMER: Well, the message is that the people of Israel stand with them. There's a minister who's here from Israel, the prime minister sent a letter to the Jewish community here. You know, we have been, unfortunately, subjected to many attacks like this at Israel. This is the worst anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States, so the message that we want to deliver is that the people of Israel stand with them.

We're also sending a team of specialists in Israel that deal with the trauma after one of these attacks. Unfortunately, because of our experience, we have plenty of people who are experts in that. And so they're going to be flying from Israel and arrived in Pittsburgh tomorrow so they can help the families deal with this horrific tragedy.

BLACKWELL: You know, we've said the phrase, and you just said it, so many times today, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States. This is part of a growing trend, the ADL found in 2017, there was a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

To what do you attribute this surge?

DERMER: Well, I think you have seen an increase in anti-Semitism now for a couple of decades. We've seen attacks. There was an attack, you might recall, in 2006 at a federation in Seattle. One person was killed. You had an attack against a Jewish community center in Kansas City in 2014. Three people were killed. This is just the deadliest attack.

I think that what you've seen in the last few years is an explosion of hatred on social media. And that has allowed a lot of these people who maybe were alone in their hatred to sort of build these communities online. And I think that's very, very disturbing. Even in 2014, 2015, I haven't seen the latest FBI statistics, but over half of the hate crimes against specific religious groups were against Jews.

Now Jews are only 2 percent of the American population. And even as early as 2014, you see over half of the attacks being perpetrated against Jews. That's a huge problem, it's a growing problem, and I'm glad to see people across the political aisle unite together and condemn this in the most forceful way.

BLACKWELL: You introduced politics here. Let's get you to weigh in on the conversation that's been happening since this happened yesterday about the president and responsibility. Now the only person responsible for what happened here is the man who pulled the trigger. Right?

DERMER: That's right.

BLACKWELL: He's the person who is responsible for the deaths, but to what degree do you believe, as some of the president's critics have said, that he's responsible for the environment that had fed some of what we're seeing, this growth in anti-semitism based on some of his rhetoric?

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: I have to tell you, Victor, I have been following anti-semitism all of my adult life. I have never heard a stronger statement than the statement the President of the United States made yesterday. He said at his rally in Illinois that if you are going to try to destroy the Jewish people, we're going to destroy you.

I have never heard a non-Israeli figure anywhere, not a European leader, not an American President, ever say such a strong statement condemning anti-semitism. And I think one of the reasons why is that anti-semitism hits the President close to home. His whole family, his family, his daughter, and son-in-law, his grandchildren are Jewish.

And I think it hits him very hard. And I was very glad to see how forcefully he pushed back against that yesterday. And I know that he's not alone. You have people on both sides of the political aisle. I met with Senator Casey. I met with Congressmen who are Democrats and Republicans from this area. And I know you're very divided in your political debate here in the United States on almost anything.

I know you're about a week or 10 days before an election. It was nice to see people from across the aisle unite in pushing back against this heinous crime and the hatred that inspired it.

BLACKWELL: OK, so the question, bigger question is, what stops it? What changes the trend?

DERMER: Well, I think one thing you can do, and you have obviously different laws, and you have a lot of first amendment, you have second amendment, you have a fourth amendment. The way we deal with this in Israel is somewhat different than you do in the United States. What we do is we monitor things on social media. And when we see the hatred, the likes of which you saw on this person's social media feed.

We will take action before the crime was perpetrated. So I think one of the things your law enforcement agencies have to look at, given the laws of the United States and the constitutional rights of American citizens, what can you do in order to catch these people in time to prevent these attacks from happening. The second thing that I think would be very good. To make sure you have a police presence around some of these synagogues.

Now, Americans may not know this, but in Europe, in Britain, in France, in Belgium, you have a police presence almost at every synagogue when people go to worship. You didn't want to have that happen in the United States. And I hope there will be a time when it doesn't have to happen again. But I think right now when there's a danger of potential copycat attacks, it's very important for local authorities and state authorities to push back.

BLACKWELL: We have to go. Quickly, but you authored, you suggested law enforcement around. Do you subscribe to the President's suggestion that there should be a person, an armed guard inside a synagogue?

DERMER: That's a decision that every local agency or enforcement agency would have to make, and also the local community and local synagogue. I can tell you in Israel, armed guards have prevented a lot of these attacks that happened in the past. I don't know if it would have prevented this one. I think its all speculation. The important thing is the authorities do everything to condemn this action and to do everything to keep the Jewish citizens of America safe.

BLACKWELL: All right. Mr. Ambassador, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Thank you so much.

DERMER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

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[16:35:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: The mayor of Pittsburgh is calling the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue the darkest day in the city's history. Soon, another vigil will get underway in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the mass killing took place, giving this community another moment to come together and begin the healing. We're also now learning more about the victims of this shooting, the 11 people who died, ranging in age from 54 to 97.

And as the community mourns their loss, investigators continue to search for answers. The suspect is currently under guard in a hospital recovering after surgery. He is now charged with 29 criminal counts, including federal hate crimes. He's due in court tomorrow. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Back with me now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Josh Campbell, who is also a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent.

Good to see you, Josh. So the suspect is in custody. What are investigators now looking for in terms of evidence at his apartment? They have, you know, exhausted looking at his car. How will this help substantiate the case?

JOSH CAMPBELL, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: So there are several teams that are working here simultaneously. Obviously, we have a team that will be interested in him, perhaps conducting an interview. We know that he was hospitalized and received what was described as multiple gunshot wounds. So we don't yet know if he able to interviewed, or whether he was cooperative.

That's focused on him. At the same time, law enforcement officers are fanning out to cover three other areas. As you mentioned, possible residences, places of employment and the like, you know, trying to gather possible additional evidence that may help with that motive as far as trying to determine what he was thinking and, you know, what kind of went into that planning.

Also, there are his associates. They want to talk to friends, family members, colleagues, again, trying to get a mindset, trying to build a picture of who this person is. And then lastly, you know, we have been talking a lot about these very troubling social media posts, a lot of this, you know, bigoted, anti-semitic commentary that we now know about.

That will all be a key part of the investigation. We know that law enforcement specialists who are trained in forensics, digital forensics are being brought in on the case to go through those social media posts. I have no doubt they'll also try to get through -- into the devices that he actually used, whether it's a computer, whether it's a phone, again, trying to gather as much evidence as they can in order to build these hate crime charges.

WHITFIELD: And they want to know whether he acted alone or if any way he was influenced by, you know, possible hate groups or in any way, you know, his actions facilitated by anyone or any other influence. How will they do that?

[16:39:59] CAMPBELL: Yeah, absolutely. And the reason is twofold. So first of all, there is the case at hand. They want to insure that there was no one else out there who may be responsible for this incredibly deadly act, this tragedy. And so that will be a key part of it. And they'll find that out by talking with him and then again going through these other potential areas of evidence, avenues to kind of, you know, build this case.

They don't want to close the case on this until they're 100 percent sure that there's no one else out there who may have assisted. And it's also important because, you know, we have covered so many of these tragedies. But after each one, law enforcement officers will try to gather as much evidence as they can, information, to kind of put together these profiles, these best practices. Are there patterns here that law enforcement officers may be able to get out in front of in order to prevent acts from happening, rather than simply investigating them after a tragedy occurs?

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much, Josh Campbell.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it. All right, even as the investigation continues, some people are questioning whether some of President Trump's rhetoric is fueling extremism on Capitol Hill, lots of different thoughts about the President's impact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see where President Trump is somehow to blame for this. Now, President Trump and his rhetoric are very direct. But I don't see how you connect President Trump to a person who is deranged going into a synagogue. He's been very clear about anti-semitism as well as all of us have been. That is a sick, vile thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am concerned that this hateful, deranged act by a man acting on his anti-semitic hatred is just the latest in a series of violent incidences this past week that shows that our national political culture is motivating folks who are inspired by hate, by fear, by bigotry, to take up and act on their deranged ideas.

I think those of us in national office, our President, those who would hope to be President, those of us in Congress who have louder microphones and who are heard from and seen more regularly need to take responsibility for ways in which we lower the temperature.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: President Trump is pushing back at the idea, at any ideas as that his words motivated any violent attacks, and points out that the suspect apparently posted anti-Trump messages. President Trump's Former Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, says the President should cool things off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to tone it down. And you know, again, I don't want to repeat myself. But I think it's worth repeating. He's the President of the United States. He controls the news cycle and the bully pulpit. And he can do it. And if he does it, I think he goes through 50 percent on his approval ratings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me right now, White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez. So Boris, what's the plan from the President and the White House?

BORIS SANCHEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hey there, Fred. Yeah, President Trump was asked a multitude of times last week if he would consider toning down his rhetoric. That's in light of the two incidents of domestic terror we reported. The President actually told reporters that he wasn't going to tone it down, that he could in fact tone it up.

And then before a rally before his supporters in southern Illinois yesterday, the President was asked that question again. And he said that he could tone it down if he didn't have to deal with such a dishonest press. Again, those are the President's words. Of course, the President asked supporters to condemn anti-semitism in the United States. He asked all Americans to come together.

But when he was specifically asked about a possible solution to gun violence, the President repeated an idea that we have heard from the White House before, and he dismissed any gun control legislation as a possibility. Listen to more of what the President said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect. But if they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it would have been a very much different situation. This evil anti-semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It's an assault on humanity.

It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-semitism from our world. This was an anti-semitic attack at its worst. The scourge of anti-semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated, and it cannot be allowed to continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: So what you heard there, the President repeating that idea that armed guards at schools or at places of worship could help prevent this sort of gun violence. A note about tone, Fred, whether the President decides to continue the heated rhetoric that we have seen from him on the campaign trail or not, we will be hearing more from President Trump as we get closer to November 6.

All indications are that he will be adding more and more campaign stops, stumping for Republicans before the midterm elections, Fred.

[16:44:55] WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez thanks so much. Happening right now, the community is gathering to remember the victims of that deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh yesterday. It's happening right now at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall. And it's scheduled to begin very shortly. Our team of reporters is there and we'll you there live at the top of the hour.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no words. I am shaking inside. I am shocked. And I am questioning everything, everything, my life, my upbringing, God, our government, my friends. I was questioning everything in my head, all at the same time. And I just started reaching out to all of my friends here because I needed to know that they were all OK.

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WHITFIELD: Happening right now, the community is gathering to remember the victims of that deadly synagogue shooting. It's happening at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall right now. Communities around the world, in fact, is also showing solidarity with people of Pittsburgh who are reeling from the deadly shooting on one of their city's synagogues. Before game four of the World Series in Los Angeles last night, the Red Sox and the Dodgers paused for a moment of silence to honor the 11 people who lost their lives.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As our nation grieves their loss and for their loved ones, we also express our commitment to each other, to embrace the grace and values of tolerance, justice, and dignity that form the foundation of our common bond. Please join us now in a moment of silence. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And the Pittsburgh Steelers, honoring the victims today. They held a moment of silence as well before the game with the Cleveland Browns. And they revamped the Steelers logo to include the Star of David. As the country mourns the deaths of 11 people at that Pittsburgh synagogue, we're hearing stories of hope and survival.

CNN spoke to Zachary Weiss earlier, whose father survived the shooting. Zachary says active shooter training helped save his father's life.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father, fortunately, was able to make it back home. He is 100 percent healthy. He's safe, unharmed. The real savior of the day was all of those who sacrificed in one way, form, or another. And the fact that there was an active shooter training that was put into place last year that a lot of people, including my father, took, which really was able to help in the event of this tragic active shooter incident.

The first thing that occurred was he heard a loud noise. And a couple of congregants went to investigate the loud noise, because it was quite possible that maybe a senior citizen had a horrific fall, or maybe there was some kind of material or something at the synagogue which caused a loud noise. And when a couple of the congregants went down, the noise was unmistakable. From then on forward, it was treated as an active shooter situation.

And my dad wasn't supposed to be there. The family was actually supposed to be on vacation, and it was canceled. And at the 11th hour, my dad, who has been a 29-year member of the Tree of Life (Inaudible) congregation and has worn many hats during that process, which as well many others have was called in to assist the rabbi, who also was feeling a little under the weather.

And they both helped lead the Tree of Life portion of that congregation for the service. And when everything occurred with the active shooter situation, following that (Inaudible) training, which was the security measure that I mentioned. They were able to hide in place. And then my dad was able to go down to the (Inaudible) and make sure they were aware, which they were already hiding.

When he was upstairs, he explained to me he saw casings moving, and he expressed that he was roughly five feet away from the moving casings but did not get a clear image of the gunman. And he was able to go back to the Tree of Life congregation, saw that they were hidden. He couldn't really find anybody. And I am not sure how familiar you are with the Alice acronym, but the E stands for with evacuation.

When dad saw that everybody was hidden in place, he did that evacuation, and he safely evacuated himself from the synagogue.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Actor Tom Hanks was in Pittsburgh this weekend. He's been filming a movie about the life of Mr. Rogers who actually lived in that same area. A photo of a sign that Hanks found there kind of caught his eye, and then he posted via Twitter that love thy neighbor, no exceptions poster that he saw. And then his comment to me, this photo is the spirit of Pittsburgh, with a broken heart today for those in Squirrel Hill.

[16:54:52] Well, thank you so much for joining us this weekend. Our hearts go out to all of those victimized by this tragic shooting in Pittsburgh yesterday. I am Fredricka Whitfield. Our special coverage of the synagogue continues with Wolf Blitzer right now, live pictures out of Pittsburgh with this vigil tonight.

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