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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  August 13, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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thanks for being a part of my program this week. i will see you next week. this is "cnn newsroom." thanks very much for watching. ei i'm wolf blitzer in washington. fredricka whitfield is off. following domestic terrorism in charlottesville. fallout and victims. learned the identity of the woman killed in that horrific car assault. 32-year-old heather chha heyer. left more than 30 people injured. today's virginia's govern is
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defending the police response. >> i want to thank the men and women, local, state and federal, our law enforcement personnel who put their lives on the line yesterday to protect us. [ applause ] not one single shot was fired. with all of these weapons, no property damage. they kept us safe. >> police are bracing for more positive violence, though, after clashes broke out before a white supremacist rally in charlottesville, virginia, on sard. the unthinkable happened. a crowd plowed into a large crowd of protestors. the man suspected to be the driver charged with murder. he will be arraigned in court tomorrow. the man's mother saying her son drove from ohio to take part in that rally, that she thought had something to do with president trump.
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the president is now coming under lots of scrutiny for what he said and for what he did not say. charlottesville mayor is blaming the president for helping to foster what he called the culture of hate. >> well, look at campaign he ran. i mean, look at the intentional courting both on the one hand of all of these white supremacist and white nationalists groups like that, anti-semitic groups and on the other hand, the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed all of those different irchl - >> with the president from bedminster, new jersey, and roiz, learning more about the victim. there for a memorial for heather heyer. what are you learning about this young woman? >> reporter: wolf, we are learning more about her. we know she's from 17 miles up
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the road from ruckersville, virginia. 32 years old, worked in a legal law firm here in charlottesville. she was a paralegal. worked in the bankruptcy department. in other words, she helped people begin a new financial future, but i want to let you take a look behind me. this is the street where that car plowed into a crowd of protestors yesterday taking the life of heather heyer and also injuring 19 others. we know that those 19 other individuals have been treated in area hospitals and last we heard from those hospital varied from critical to good. earlier today we were at a church service where the governor here, terry mcauliffe said a few words. he did not mince words about the individuals involved, calling them white supremacists and asked that they leave this city and that they leave this state. >> it is about politics and that the political rhetoric in this
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country today has breeded bigotry and hatred. [ applause ] and we need to call it out for what it is! to the white sprupremacists and neo-nazis who came to our beautiful state yesterday, there is no place for you in charlottesville! there is no place for you in virginia! and there is no place for you in the united states of america! [ cheers and applause ] we deplore your hatred, your bigotry and shame on you! you pretend you're patriots. you are not patriots. >> as we take another live look here at the scene you see a photograph of heather heyer and a message there that says, "no place for hate." and, wolf, just quickly to share
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a quick story with you. people have been coming here all day long. a lot of them crying with tears in their eyes, but one woman who had a sign that said "free hugs" on her arm said, in the case of an emergency, had her family's phone number. a lot of people coming here with some fear but definitely coming to show their support and solidarity for the people counterprotesting here. >> heartbreaking development. rosa flores, we'll get back to you. thank you so much. i want to go to cnn's brian todd also charlottesville. any sign those groups that caused so much trouble yesterday, white sprupremacists groups, are they planning more of the same? what are you hearing? >> reporter: they are right behind me down the block here. i'm hearing noises indicating yelling and a police presence down here. satellite truck is blocking us. there is yelling down here. they were to hold a press conference here at this hour and
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there was counterproesters lined up to make counter some of that. we hear yelling down the street that doesn't appear to be too serious. we'll updaten e e e eupdaten -n they get more. and the situation ratcheted up to what the mayor called domestic tear rim. james alex fields, from moummy, ohio. and james alex fields went to high school. one of our affiliates spoke to one of his high school teachers, a man damed derek whimer who told that aville yit a little about james alex fields. >> he had some very radical views on race. he was very infatuated with the nazis, with adolf hitler. he also had a huge military history especially with like german military history in world war ii, but he was pretty infatuated with that stuff.
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you know, his freshman year had had an issue with that raised and from there on we knew he had these issues. i develop ae dwelled a good rap used that to constantly steer him beyond those beliefs. why that think s was wrong and their believes were evil. things like that. >> reporter: just behind me to update you on what's happening here. this looks like counter protestors following what may be someone who was involved in the news conference here with the whi supremacist side. escorting someone into the police station behind me. you see all of this happening. it may be for that person's safety. you can see. this is an illustration of the tension here. look at the riot police escorting what i thought was one person into the police station here just a moment ago and there were people yelling at that person. we're going it try to get more information about that as well.
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>> and until now during the course of today has there been anymore violence? what else have you seen, brian? >> reporter: really nothing, wolf. very calm in charlottesville this morning and last night after the protests. we did get word that the organizer of the so-called unite the right rally was going to hold a news conference behind me and down the block here in this hour. it appears we heard yelling down the block here and knew counter protestors might show up. this is probably a residual of that. doesn't appear to be too serious. some people yelling but we expected this. once we -- unhook from here we'll find out what exactly happened. >> you'll let us know. we'll stay in close touch. brian todd on the scene in charlottesville. i want to bring in now the virginia attorney general mark herring. attorney general, thanks so much for joining us. >> wolf, thank you for having me. >> what can you tell us first of all about james alex fields jr.,
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the man charged with second-degree murder for plowing that vehicle into that crowd of pedestrians? >> well, it was just tragic to see that happen, and to claim the life of a young woman with so much potential, and really weaponize a car, a vehicle, and turn it into a weapon for killing and destruction. he's from out of state like a lot of these folks who descended on charlottesville. these folks came in with their neo-nazi white supremacist, just descended on this city which is a great city. it's a -- a city i love very well. i went to school here. my daughter graduated a couple years ago from uva. this is a diverse community. a community committed to equality and to see the hatred and the bigotry that these white
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supremacists brought to charlottesville and our commonwealth is heartbreaking. they need to go back where they're from and take their hate and bigotry with them. those are not united states and charlottesville values. >> as far us a know, attorney general, was this individual, james alex fields jr., acting alone? >> well, certainly the investigation is ongoing, and we will know more as it continues. but what we do know is that people came from all over with, you know, really aiming for violence. they came heavily armed, with assault-style weapons, and to see a calm, beautiful city like charlottesville turned into what happened yesterday, it's not going to define us. i was out walking around talking
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to folks in charlottesville today. visited a couple of churches wit governor, and what i saw and what i heard was resilience. and strength. and unity. and the people are charlotteville and we in virginia are not going to let these neo-nazis, these white supremacists define who we are. we are a commonwealth that is welcoming, we are a commonwealth inclusive and we are stronger and will be stronger for having what we have gone through and are continuing to go through. >> attorney general, the anti-defamation league tweet add photo of this 20-year-old man, fields, bearing an insignia of a white nationalist group vanguard america. was he affiliated with that group or any of these other white sprupremacist groups, do u know? >> like i said. we're beginning to learn more as the investigation unfolds, but undoubtedly, these are dangerous
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white supremacists, anti-semitic hate groups. and it is alarming. it should be alarming to all americans to see these groups beginning to become more brazen and emboldened and gaining strength and it is incumbent upon all of us, our community leaders, our elected officials all the way right up to the top to condemn this type of hate and this type of bigotry, and this kind of anti-semitic -- white supremacist, it has no place in virginia or in america and it is incumbent upon all of us to call it out and denounce it for exactly what it is. >> as you know, the department of justice here in washington has launched a full-scale civil rights investigation into this attack among other actions, but you say this was really an act of terrorism. well, should a formal terror
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investigation be launched by the federal government? >> well, certainly local and state law enforcement are going to investigate this fully. i welcome the justice department's efforts to further investigate it, and we really need to, as americans, need to know just how serious a threat these white supremacists groups are to our society, and -- and be strong and be united, and coming up strongly against it. we've got some of the best law enforcement in the nation here in virginia and are committed to fully investigating and getting all the facts. >> have the -- >> and bringing -- and bringing those -- >> go ahead. >> bringing those responsible to justice. >> yes. of course. attorney general, have
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investigators as far as you know learned if this wall us a premedicated, this atrocious car attack that resulted in the death of this young woman as well as injuries to 19 others including several who remain in critical condition and in hospital? >> well, i think we all saw the video and some of the eyewitness accounts. i heard some say that they -- the vehicle, saw the vehicle observing the area for some time. there will be a lot of investigation and uncovering of a lot of facts that will tell us more about what might have been going through the mind of this individual. bha what we do know is that the suspect committed a heinous act of violence. weaponized his car, and killed a young woman. maimed and injured countless others, and we all need to speak out strongly against it, and
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come together with strength and commonality. that's what i saw and heard this morning walking around talking to folks in charlottesville, visiting the churches. they are convinced that they would be stronger for this. it would have been easy for folks to have woken up in anger, in resentment, but instead, there is resolve to come together and be stronger, and recognize that it's about love and caring for one another and that's what i saw this morning, and what continues to see in charlottesville. >> one final question, attorney general, before i let you go. we've seen cars as vehicles, used as weapons in europe, in the middle east certainly and israel. terrorists who use vehicles to go after individuals and kill as many as possible. did you ever think this would
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happen in virginia? >> you know, i didn't. and to think that these cowardly fascist and anti-semitic and hate groups would take a page from terrorists to weaponize their vehicle, to strike fear in people's lives, i just think, again, that underscores the need for all of us to come together in unity, against these groups. they are about hate. they are about bigotry. that is not who we are as a people. we in virginia, we in america are about equality inclusiveness and we need to be together and united on this, and stand up for the values we all share. >> mark herring, virginia's attorney general. attorney general, thanks very much for joining us. good luck to you and to all the folks in virginia. this is a really horrific story we're following. thanks very much for joining us.
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>> thank you, wolf. coming up, the white house facing very strong criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who say the president simply did not go far enough in condemning the actions of the neo-nazi groups, the white supremacist groups in charlottesville, virginia. this afternoon the white house is pushing back. we'll get the latest response and a lot more. we're following all the late, breaking developments. we'll be right back. now, get the whole family the hottest smartphone brands like samsung galaxy for zero down. plus, get 4 unlimited lines for 40 bucks a month, taxes and fees included. more reasons why t-mobile is america's best unlimited network. going somewhere? whoooo. here's some advice. tripadvisor now searches more...
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the president has been slammed with growing backlash for his failure to specifically call out white supremacist after that ferocious attack in charlottesville. republicans are saying that's not enough. here's senator cory gardner on "state of the union" earlier today. >> this is not a time for vagaries or innuendo or allow
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room to be read between the lines. this is a time to lay blame. lay blame on bigotry and on white supremacist, on white nationals and hatred. that needs to be said. this president has done an incredible job names terrorism as evil around the world, whether in europe or the middle east. said and called it out time and time again and this president needs to do exactly that today. call this white spr supremacism,needs to come from the white house and needs to be done today. >> joining us from bridgewater, new jersey, covering the president, not far away right now. he's continuing what he calls his working vacation. athena what is the latest what has been the reaction, the official reaction, from the president, if any, today? >> reporter: hi, wolf. we have mnot heard from the
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president today. i was checking his twitter feed to see if these tweeted in the last few minutes and he has not. no word on exactly what he's up to, but we did hear from his daughter ivanka trump on twitter earlier this morning. a senior adviser to the president and here is what she tweeted earlier today. she said, there should be no place in society for racism, white supremacism and kne neo-nazism. we heard from a white house official who put out a statement that went further than we heard directly from the president yesterday. let me read that statement as well. the white house official says, the president said strongly in his statement yesterday he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. of course, that includes white supremacist, kkk, neo-nazi and all extremist groups and he called for national unity and bringing all americans together.
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and i just want to note one more thing we heard thing morning on "state of the union" from white house security advisers bossert, he said, i condemn white supremacist and all other groups that espouse this kind of hatred. interesting he, wolf, that these words now we hear from pom bossic, an unnamed official and the president's daughter go much further than what the president said yesterday and that is what has drawn all of this condemnation from not just democrats but also republicans like senator cory gardner and a growing list of republicans, allies of the president, who want to see him do more. what's also interesting here, wolf, is that the president had a chance to respond directly, to go a little further. the press who were there for that, that brief appearance before the media yesterday, tried to ask him questions as he was leaving the room.
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shouting, specifically, whether he wants the support of white nationalists? the president clearly heard those questions and chose to ignore them. for the remainder of the day, i and my colleagues pressed white house officials for more on why the president made the statement in the way that he did. i asked several people where he stands on white nationalism, and it took until today to get some sort of answer, and so i think there are going to be a lot of people who still aren't satisfied and won't be satisfied, until they hear the president himself condemn these white nationalists and white supremacists too staged these demonstrations yesterday. >> he could easily do that. there's a pool of reporters including you and cameras in new jersey. he could go out, make a statement, or at a minimum, could simply retweet ivanka trump's tweet. he hasn't done that either. here is something perplexing. the statement the white house
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put out, you point out names an unnamed white house official. do we know who that official is? why is it unnamed? why doesn't somebody come forward and specifically say this is a statement from the press secretary or a statement from the chief of staff? why is this an unnamed official making such an important statement? >> reporter: that's the question we're all asking here as well, wolf. no answer so far. it seems to me, or to many of us, if the white house is trying to perhaps clean this up a bit, seeing the reaction that the president's remarks got yesterday, that they would go further and at least attach someone's name to it. because it has more force that way. this is really what it all comes down to and why there is so much criticism of president trump himself. it's a bully pulpit for a reason, folks will say, and arguing the president isn't showing leadership. talks about wanting to unite the country, to bring people together yet won't name, won't specifically talk about the facts on the ground that led to
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the violence we saw unfolding on the streets of charlotteville yesterday. it's-it-is curious to have this white house official not wanting to put their name to this statement. >> very curious, indeed. but if the president does want to make a statement, of course, all the major tv networks, all the cable networks, we will be there with live coverage of any statement that the president is ready to make, if he decides in the coming hours to go before the cameras. so many people, including many republicans, are strongly urging him to do it. the fact he hasn't done yet, raiding a lot more questions. we'll get back to you, athena, if the president makes a statement. back to you as well. thanks very, very much. coming up, we're going to speak to someone on the ground of charlottesville, virginia, at the rally and saw a former ku klux klan leader speak out when he witnessed thoughts on what happened. we'll take a quick break. our special coverage continues.
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between white supremacists and protesto protestors, one woman killed after a car rammed into a large crowd. all told, the violence left more than 30 other people injured. i want to bring in tim dodson from charlottesville. managing editor of the university of virginia student newspaper "the cavalier daily." thanks for joining us. tell us exactly what you saw yesterday. >> yeah. so yesterday we got to emancipation park, where the unite the right rally was planned. before the rally could even start at 12:00 police had declared an an lawful assembly and they weren't able to gather at the park. even before the rally was supposed to start, demonstrators, chaos downtown. chemical irritants in the air. i was choking on it and other members of our reporting team. a tense and chaotic situation in downtown charlottesville. shortly after that unlawful assembly was declared seemed a
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lot of members of the right were moving towards mcentire park, away from the downtown area and starting to gather over there. we headed over there and shortly after we got there a few other leaders of the alt right specifically richard spencer and david duke were there and addressed supporters at mcentire park. quite a few dozen of them. >> i want you to listen to david duke addressing the crowd here, tim. here's a little of what he said. >> we are determined to take our country back. >> we're going to fulfill the promises of donald trump. >> that's what we believed in, voted for donald trump and because he said he's going to take our country back and that's what we've got to do. >> all right. so, tim, describe that moment for us. >> well, i think standing there, surrounding them, standing on top of picnic tables surrounded by several other white nationalists. a very chaotic scene to say the
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least. during david duke's speech, several counterdemonstrators showed up at the park and starting to protest, and yell slogans, and so there was some sort of in-fighting happening. verbal disagreements and that verbal tension became physical after most of the crowd cleared out. didn't look like anything too serious in terms physical harm but quickly people moved out of mcentire park. so it was, again, i would describe yesterday as chaotic in charlottesville. >> school isn't back in session yet. the university of virginia, world-class university, but how would the atmosphere have been different if the students were actually there? >> i mean, there's still some students on grounds here for the summer. i think obviously, it's a scary situation for a lot of them who are here, but i can't predict what this would have been like had students been on grounds, had this happened during, while school was in session, but, again, it's a very tense situation and you see a lot of
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student groups at uva responding to this, denouncing it. reacting in a variety of ways. i think this conversation will continue to go on moving forward. again, on friday night we had a torch-lit n torch-lit march that went through our campus. counterdemonstrators and again another chaotic scene. i think a lot of students were pretty scared. >> in the speeches, in the chanting, in the slogans you heard, the hate out there, was it mostly racist, anti-semitic, white supremacist? tell us about that. >> yeah. i mean -- at the march, they were -- there were a variety of things. one thing they said is, whose streets? our streets. as if they were taking something back in charlottesville. remember, some of this is about the statue of robert e. lee over in lee park, now called emancipation park. a lot of tension whether or not the city should remove the
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statues. city council voted earlier in the year in favor of removing the statue of robert e. lee but that is currently in pending litigation and that question not decided whether or not the city can remove the statues. one of the slogans i was hearing. another one was i think like, we will not be defeated. things like that. in terms of yesterday, david duke, when he was speaking and richard spencer, both of them referencing local officials including mayor michael signer. he's a jewish man and they made anti-semitic comments -- while david duke and richard spencer were speaking directed at the mayor. >> interesting. all right. you know, pretty sad, i should say. tim dodson, editor of the student newspaper at the university of virginia. tim, thanks very much. we'll stay in close touch with you as well. back to cnn's brian todd on the scene for us in charlottesville. brian, you're in the middle of a protest that seems to be popping up right now. what can you tell us?
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>> reporter: you know, works it's kind of an impromptu protest, the white supremacist lead worry say at a news conference that he wanted to hold over here. he had set up a position over here, the microphone was set up. over here. he did show up and people started to kind of shout at him and shout him down. he did start to speak for about, a few minutes, but our teams couldn't hear what he was saying. people were shouting at him, playing musical instruments trying to drive him out. his message essentially wasn't heard by many. teams were watching and listening what he had to say and nobody could really hear. then the crowd started to converge on him and he apparently went down. not clear whether he slipped or was pushed but the police at that point interceded ostensibly
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for his own safety and escorted him around the building where i'm taking you now. the city hall building in charlottesville. the anne tran entrance to the police station here. they brought a couple vehicles to try to take someone out but it's not clear if they ever took anyone out. he was escorted by several riot police office, dozens of them. to an area just up there. we believe he is still -- sorry. we believe he's still in the building, but not sure about that. clearly things got pretty dangerous for him. the police were worried about his safety. got him out of here very quickly. he came here to give some kind of message. we may never know what that message was going to be, wolf. >> brian, let's stay very, very close in touch. be careful there. brian todd on the scene in charlottesville, virginia. still ahead, president trump under fire for a statement on the events in charlottesville
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yesterday. critics saying it simply did not go far enough. did the president fail a key leadership test? our panel standing by to weigh in. we'll be right back.
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but we won't get there without you. visit to join the fight. president trump is under serious scrutiny from all sides of the political exec trum for what he said about the charlottesville violence and what he didn't say. this morning the president came under fire for not calling them domestic terrorism and not specifically criticizing the white nationalists, the far right hate groups that took part in that violent rally. >> i encouraged the president to do that. this president has done so when people have driven trucks through crowds in europe. he's called it radical islamic terrorism. he should use this opportunity today to say this is terrorism, domestic terrorism and white nationalism and it has to stop. >> an act of domestic terrorism and the groups you just mentioned are hate-filled groups. they're enemies of freedom.
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when it comes to president trump i'm with cory gardner. he's missed an opportunity to be explic explicit. these groups believe they have a friend in donald trump in the white house. i don't know why they believe that. they don't see me as a friend in the senate, and i urge the fred to dissuade these groups from thinking he's their friend. >> this is not hard. domestic terrorism and white sue prsue -- sue sprepremacy is what we >> he called on all americans to take a firm stand against it. this is is a great opportunity for us to ask ourselves, what are we teaching our children? >> i think he needed to be much harsher as related to white spr supremacism and applaud h.r. mcmaster. with the moral authority of the
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presidency you have to call that out. >> let's discuss all of this. larry salveadough from the university of virginia. david swerdlick assistant eder of the "washington post" and jane newton small, contributor for "time" magazine. larry, should the president come out even now, a day late, and publicly disavow these white supremacist groups? >> a day late a dollar short? sure. but he missed his moment, wolf. it was yesterday. those moments don't come around very often. it was so easy. so obvious. as you just saw all of those republican senators say and loads of others besides. like margo rubio, john mccain, rob portman. it was so easy. he couldn't even do the easy thing, because he didn't want to do the easy thing. those white supremacists and white nationalists are a part of his base and he knows it.
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>> i'm surprised he hasn't even retweeted his daughter ivanka's tweet with specifically went after these white supremacist groups. larry, you've studied this president for a long time now. explain that. why doesn't he do that? >> why did he not say something more -- definitive or not retweet -- >> yes. specifically condemn by name these white supremacists, neo-nazi groups? why doesn't he do that? >> because it was a wink at a nod to them. they did support him. now, no one knows what their real numbers are. i have to be honest. i was shocked at the large number i saw personally on friday night going right by my home on the university of virginia lawn. a lot of them were there, but we don't know what the percentage it. but the way trump looks at it, hard-core supporters and they say that. they say they were inspired by trump. they say they were energized by
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trump. so he doesn't want to turn that off, at the same time, he doesn't want to alienate anybody else. so he tried this ridiculous formulation about many, many groups were responsible. many, many things were done poorly. spreading out the blame and this ridiculous moral equivalency. it doesn't work with the large majority who didn't vote for him, but these are subliminal messages he's constantly sending to that disreputable part of this base. >> and in his original statement, jay, he said he condemns in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. those words, "on many sides" clearly seem to be suggesting moral equivalency, and that has generated so much anger. >> absolutely, wolf. and striking to see republicans of this party really strike out against him.
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cory gardner, orrin hatch, ted cruz. people in recent months have really taken sort of, not to criticizing trump but letting him have a honeymoon period. you can clearly say the honeymoon is over, republicans feel comfort and and confident in criticizing their own president saying he's not something we want the party to see him doing and want him to change course. >> his daughter is jewish. ivanka trump. son-in-law jared kushner. you think he'd have a responsibility to speak out against the racism and anti-acceanti-se anti-semitism that was present? >> as larry said it should be easy for a president to first denounce the racist, disgusting, un-american views of white nationalists and white supremacists and if he wants, pivot to this idea of violence versus non-violent protests or this idea of free speech or an
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idea of whatever equivalent he wants on the two sides. when we conflated those in one short statement he made it seem like there was that moral equivalence between the two sides and that's why he's getting so much pushback and why so many people in his party are breaking from him on this. >> and a lot of people remember, david, a year ago, plus, when it took him a while to condemn david duke and white supremacists. we all remember that interview with jake tapper. he said i don't know anything about david duke. >> took him a while. he looked pained to eventually disavow david duke. there was the episode where he blamed judge gonzalo curiel for being mexican-american. the birtherism, that launched his political incarnation in the last several years. the president now, if he wanted to pivot away from that he's struggling to do it. because it's hard to turn that ship around once you unleash it. >> and also took out a full-page advertisement in the "new york times" calling for the death
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penalty for the alleged s ed ce park rapist who turned out being innocent. >> you studied politics and presidents a long time. you're an expert. how does he fix this? he clearly needs to do something? >> come out with a new statement far better if he found a way to part company with steve bannon and some of the other people who have sympathies in the white nationalist direction. and have a history of it. this would be a great time to do it. i think general kelly wants to get rid of some of them. maybe he can move into the vacuum and push them out. that would help. we now know, wolf, donald trump from the campaign, the first six months of his presidency. this guy's not going to change. he's just not going to change.
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he plays to his base constantly. enough get to him elected, barely, last november. i think he thinks it's enough to get him re-elected. >> what do you think? do you think this is all about politics? is that what you think? >> i think it's about a few things, wolf. first of all a failure of leadership. right? the president has gotten to where he is in life by a grandizing himself. something he is go at. he hasn't succeeded in building bridges and bringing people together for the greater good. you saw him yesterday. just look at his body language from that clip speaking in the press conference yesterday he struggles to do this. where he doesn't struggle to criticize people. >> his entire candidacy has always been about us versus them. the us is always let us protect you from the evil immigrants, from the radical islamic terrorists and us has always to some degree been the white americans. it's a hard pivot for him they're to be feared.
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>> and on the protest remarks yesterday, delivered yesterday, the president said, i'm quoting, we must cherish our history. cherish our history. some including former congressman, a congressman from virginia, a nod to charlottesville moving the statue of robert e. lee. do you agree? >> i do. i think that was exactly what he hoped people would interpret from it or maybe the staff member who wrote it. i don't know. but that's the message, yes, and also the white nationalists want to keep talking about the statue of robert e. lee. believe me, wolf, this was just the pretext for everything they did. they look for these opportunities so they can spend a few days in the hot lights, the wonderful warm lights of the national media and getting all of their messages of hate across, and, boy, did they succeed, unfortunately, here in charlottesville. look, they threatened to come back, wolf. said they'll come back again and
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again. i just want them to remember, there are 49 other states. if there's going to be pain, let's share it. 49 other states. we've had enough. >> larry salveadough, and all of you, appreciate it very much. the department of justice here in washington opened a civil rights investigation into that deadly car assault yesterday during this weekend's protests in charlottesville. up next -- we're going to speak to a former lawyer from that division and find out exactly what those charges could mean. ♪ when we see people, we see their hunger. their courage. we see their dreams. we see the things that built our nation. and we wonder, what would happen if everyone had equal access to education? what would they discover? what new worlds would they build? that's why we built a university for people.
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♪ share the spice of life. we're continuing to follow the late, breaking developments in charlottesville, virginia, where the department of justice here in washington open add formal civform al civil rights investigation into the attack, heather heyer killed when a car plowed into a crowd of protestors at the rally
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on saturday. several remain in critical condition of those hit. and bringing in a cnn legal analyst and former attorney in the department of justices civil rights division. what does that mean, the civil rights investigation has been launched? >> trying to figure out whether or not any federal charges can be applied to this conduct. whether or not there is a racially motivated bias, other bias, ideological one or a crimin criminal stats who prosecute under a federal legislative act. figure what does his social media look like? manifestos, pr manifestos, perhaps? friends you talked of intentions about the day? an element of premedication. kpr a comprehensive look. >> what is the difference between the civil rights investigation and a formal terrorism investigation concluding this was allegedly an
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act of terror? >> they've been very difficult trying to ascertain between hate crime and terrorism. people look at them as very synonymous. legally speaking terrorist has to do with the act of trying to influence a civilian population or government through mass destruction, assassination, kidnap and other acts. you have to have an ideological slant behind it. a hate crime usually is tied to a bias other than ideology. race, religion. perceived gender identity or anything i just named. more of a bias than an ideological concern. >> the federal government is now investigating james alex fields jr., charged with second-degree murder? >> among other things by the state. the state has its own probe they're doing. attached to the homicide case essentially. and then the issue what the federal agents look at in terms
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a federal law violated. they can both have a, a simultaneous probe. you saw this in dylann roof, for example, a case that happened a few years back. happens it other cases as well. right now the state is focusing on the actual homicide. the feds will focus on more so whether there was a larger plot awry intending to do something more or attached to a motive or bias. now the man is opened to not only second-degree murder, total disregard for human life. like shooting a gun into a crowd of people, not knowing if anyone will be impacted or affected and disregard, and you can have a bias attached to it. was he trying to attack a certain type of person? was there a profile he was trying to harm? then this area of transferred intend. even if the person you intended to actually hurt was not who you ultimately hurt, you can still have those penalties attached as well. >> senator ted cruz called on
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the justice department to immediately investigate and protest this act of domestic terrorism. who has this priority going after this individual? >> national security, terrorism, the priority of the government. and still have a state investigation still happening but the priority goes to, if it's domestic terrorism, a lot of people think it is, because it has that connection it does have mass destruction and an issue, not semantics, the trend over the past ten years or moor be more has been focus on the perpetrator and define terrorism. in reality, the codes don't require that. this actually could be that. the feds have priority. we'll see how it plays out there is a death penalty in virginia as well as the federal government that's at stake? >> absolutely. hate crimes as well. you won't have a person going free if it wasn't called terrorism. people want the semantics to be
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part of the argument and for good reason. >> as usual, thanks very much. >> thank you, wolf. >> excellent explanation. appreciate it very much. >> thank you. much more ahead here in the "cnn newsroom" and it all starts -- right now. thanks very much for joining us. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. fredricka whitfield is off. charlottesville, virginia, on edge once again right now as protestors shouted down a white supremacist leader just in the last hour trying to hold a press conference. our brian todd is on the scene. we'll get the latest from a moment. we also just learned the identity of the woman killed in that horrific car assault. she is 32-year-old heather heyer, a paralegal from virginia. also today the department of justice here in washington formally opening an investigation into the deadly assault, and the violent clashes that have left more than 30 people injured. many of them remain in critical


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