Return to Transcripts main page
Russian Nationals Confirmed Interfered in U.S. Elections; See Something, Say Something Ignored by FBI; Florida Governor Calls for FBI Director to Resign; FBI Needs More Help from Both Civilians and Government. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 16, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
And we have breaking news on two huge stories tonight. First, the latest bombshell in the Russia investigation, and this is big, 13 Russians indicted. Charged with attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
The Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein saying the Russians conducted what they call information warfare against the United States, which forced cold-water on it president's constant claims the investigation is nothing but a hoax or a witch-hunt.
Now he can't tweet away the fact that 37-page -- a 37-page indictment describes in black and white an unprecedented campaign by Russia to influence the 2016 election. Supporting Trump, slamming Hillary Clinton. And communicating with quote, "unwitting people tied to the Trump campaign."
So what is the president doing about this threat to American democracy? Well, he's putting out a statement saying, quote, "We must unite as a Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections."
You've got to wonder whether the president really wants to do anything. Because his own intelligence chief testified just this week, he has not specifically directed them to take action against Russia.
We also have breaking news on the Florida high school shooting to tell you about and a shocking failure by the FBI. Someone close to confessed high school rampage shooter Nikolas Cruz called the FBI's tip line on January 5th to report that Cruz wanted to kill people. And nobody at the bureau followed up.
Forty one days from the time that tip came in until the day Cruz opened fire on that crowded high school. Forty one days when the FBI could have learned about red flags like the fact that Cruz bought five firearms in the past year.
In fact, one of his teachers said his school sent out on e-mail warning that Cruz shouldn't be allowed on campus with a backpack, that she was excelled for disciplinary reasons, that his mother had reportedly called police over his violent outbursts more than 30 times. But she died in November.
We're also learning exclusively tonight that group chat messages show the shooter was obsessed with violence, race and guns. And those red flags missed because nobody followed up on that tip.
So all those people repeating over and over if you see something, say something, this is just one example of somebody who saw something and did say something, yet nobody did a single thing to protect the students and the teachers at that high school.
And now, 17 of them sadly are dead. And there are calls for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.
I want to bring in now CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny with the president in West Palm Beach, and CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz in Washington with more on today's indictment.
Good evening, to both of you. Shimon, you're first. The unprecedented links Russians went to interfere in our election including posing as Americans, stealing identities, opening -- and operating, I should say, social media pages. This is remarkable. What else are you learning in this indictment?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, it's quite remarkable and this is just one aspect of this investigation, Don. It's important to keep in mind. You know, this indictment, this 37-page indictment really showed us how sophisticated, how well planned as you called it, as the government has called it, this informational warfare just operation was.
The goal here, and let me tell you by all accounts it appears they were successful here. The Russians were successful to spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general. You know, and this man, the man that was funding this the entire operation is a Russian tycoon. People call him the Russian President Vladimir Putin's chef.
The indictment says that he was funneling the budget for this operation, some -- over a million dollars a month to run this operation. Some of that money was used to buy political ads and social media.
And then there were these Russians. These Russians were in touch with unwitting members of the Trump campaign. Really, you know, we've got such a good picture inside of what the FBI this counter intelligence investigation has been doing really for the last three years or so in trying to keep an eye and really infiltrate in what the Russians here were so successful in doing.
LEMON: What's not in this indictment is equally important, right, Shimon?
PROKUPECZ Right, certainly. Look, we know that the special counsel is continuing his investigation. The members of the FBI agents, the prosecutors on that team are still moving forward. There are other aspects of this investigation that we just don't know
about, like the obstruction case. We know that is still ongoing. We know that Michael Flynn is investigating, the former national security advisor. What exactly -- what information is he providing?
Today's indictment really doesn't have anything to do with Michael Flynn. We also know of another campaign advisor that's cooperating, George Papadopoulos. All of these people Mueller wanted their cooperation for a reason.
[22:04:58] What exactly is that reason, and will that reason lead to an indictment and to charges? That is still ongoing.
LEMON: Jeff, the White House is responding to the counsel and they are strangely claiming victory.
JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Don, that's true. They are seizing on, I guess, the good parts of this indictment report. Now, the president, of course, is at his Mar-a-Lago retreat for the next three days or so. But I can tell you that the idea, the specter, the cloud of this is still hanging over them.
But there were some very telling responses today. The president although he did not speak about it as he was questions as left the White House as he flew down here to Florida, he did not speak about it. But look at the responses from the White House press secretary and then the president, they were pretty telling in what they said and didn't say.
Let's look first at Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary. She said this. She said "The special counsel's investigation further indicates that there was no collusion," all caps, "between the Trump campaign and the Russian -- and Russia that the outcome of the election was not change or affected."
Now of course, Rod Rosenstein never said there was collusion. In fact, there was nothing, you know, that he didn't mention at all. Certainly that's what the White House hope to see in there.
But when you went on to look at the president's statement again released in written form, he did not answer questions. He said this. He said "It's time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks wild and false allegations and far-fetched theories which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors like Russia and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions."
Don, that's pretty extraordinary. Why he's calling out Russia which he has rarely done, but calling these theories far-fetched, this is the United States Department of Justice handing down 13 indictments here. They believe could be tried and proved in a court of law. The president calling them far-fetched theories.
So, again, we've heard the president. And the sound track for the last years or so has been the Russia investigation is a hoax, it is a witch hunt. Today his Justice Department said it indeed is not that. And interestingly, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who's
leading this investigation, he's in charge of Bob Mueller, the special counsel, he came to the White House and face-to-face and delivered these findings to the president before he did so to the country.
So, certainly, Don, that was a very interesting meeting. Because as we know Rod Rosenstein has been on the potential outlet for the president. The question will he fire him, will he not, will he dismiss him, will he not? So that meeting of course, certainly must have been an interesting one. But again, as we stand here tonight the obstruction of justice question has not been addressed in any of this yet at all, Don.
LEMON: And this is also in different level, I would think make it much harder to get rid of Rod Rosenstein. So listen, Jeff, you're of course, you're in Mar-a-Lago. You're in West Palm Beach.
LEMON: The president is down there for a golf weekend. He also met with the victims of a Florida school shooting earlier. What do you know about his visit?
ZELENY: Yes, he did. The president and the first lady went immediately to Broward County to the area around Parkland, Florida. They went to a hospital to visit a couple of victims of that shooting that are still there, and then they went to visit law enforcement officials as well.
This is what a president does. Sadly, he's falling into the line of American presidents who must, you know, stand up as a consoler in chief, if you will.
But, Don, I can tell you on the ground here we have seen in interviews throughout the day, throughout the last couple of days here on CNN and elsewhere students in particular and parents as well are urging, calling for action from their president, from their politicians.
President Trump when he came here tonight did not meet face-to-face with any of those. It was a fairly quick visit, pretty sanitized visit in terms of not holding a town meeting of any kind, certainly just meeting with likely supporters. But I can tell you the feeling here is raw. They want Washington to do something, anything about guns. Don?
LEMON: And I'm sure they want their president to come down for more than just a photo-op as well. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin who was Robert Mueller former special assistant at the Justice Department, national security analyst Steve Hall, retired chief of CIA Russian operation, political analyst Ryan Lizza, and Julia Ioffe, staff writer at the Atlantic.
Good evening to all of you. Thank you for coming on. Let's see. Ryan, let's start with you. There's no denying now that there is Russian -- Russia influence on the election. This is real. There is no hoax here. RYAN LIZZA, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Yes. And look, let's be honest,
let's be clear about this. There has not been denying that since 2016 when the federal government put out a pretty statement saying that the highest levels, the Russian government was interfering in the election.
Since early 2017 when the intelligence community put out internally a classified document, and externally an unclassified document that went into pretty good detail about the Russian efforts to interfere in 2016.
[22:10:05] And Capitol Hill has been investigating these efforts pretty expensively. And a lot of what we saw today has been known about Russian -- Russia propaganda through social media.
What we got today was an extraordinary new amount of detail about those efforts that have long been known but curiously denied by President Trump. And that's where I think the most newsworthy thing that happened today was that the president put out a statement that did not endorse these findings, that did not sort of give his Justice Department a pat on the back for aggressively prosecuting this -- these Russian nationals.
But instead put out a defensive statement that, frankly, mischaracterized the indictment and suggested once again that he just does not take seriously the propaganda attack on the United States in 2016 that was meant to benefit him and his campaign.
LEMON: The same as he has done all along despite 13 people being indicted. Steve, you know all about Russian espionage. Are you surprised by just how far Russians went here? I mean, they focused on purple states, they create grassroots groups, social media accounts, they bought political ads. I mean, talk about the organizing -- they talked about organizing protests. So talk to me about that. That -- this was, I mean, pretty severe.
STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Yes, the Russian intelligence services, I mean this is something they do and they've done for a long time. For example, if you take a look at -- if you work your way through the indictment and you see all of the different ways that they attain different personalities and manage to pull themselves off, you know, as Americans this is something that Russian support officers, it's a long tradition in the Russian intelligence services, how you cover your tracks, how you make yourself look like you're a member of the target society, in this case Americans.
Actually sending a group of Russians here to the United States is pretty aggressive. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who's a political consultant who was saying how in the world would a Russian know what a purple state is and how that's important?
Well, now we know. They spent considerable time doing their homework here on ground talking to people not only about electoral behaviors and how people are going to vote and that sort of thing, but also what some of the most polarizing parts of our society are, so as to get at Putin's goals here, which is to maintain U.S. society in our political society and system at odds with each other.
We're giving them this by having this polarizing issues whether it has to do with race, whether it has to do with the guns and gun lobbyists or things like that, these are all things that these Russian agents who came to the United States were able to sort of absorb much more directly when you hear on the ground, Don.
LEMON: Julia, let's bring you in now. Now I want to read this. This is from the indictment. It says "By early 2016 defendant's operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump, of Trump campaign, and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Some defendants posing as U.S. person and without revealing their Russian association communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign."
You say this goes to the very heart of Russia-gate.
JULIA IOFFE, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Right, this is what's at issue is to what, you know, to what extent did the Donald Trump campaign cooperated with these Russians knowingly, was there collusion on their side?
The Russians were certainly doing their piece, and we know a little bit about what the Trump campaign was doing, but you know, there's still a lot of gray area in between.
I wanted to just push back a little bit on what the previous guest said. You know, we live in an open society. A lot of the Russians who were staffing the internet research agency were extremely cosmopolitan young people. There's been a lot of Russian reporting on who these people were. They were often journalism students, international relation students at the second -- the second university in Russia, the number two school in Russia.
These are people who can read English, and all that stuff about what a purple state is was all over the American press. In fact, I don't know why the Russians went to West Virginia and Florida because they could have done it all from St. Petersburg. It's all online.
You know, In some ways this is analogous to what happened on 9/11, right, where a foreign hostile power takes advantage of some element of openness of American society and uses it against us.
The other aspect is what's interesting from the indictment is that you see it wasn't just about sewing chaos, that it was actually a very kind of anti-Clinton, specifically anti-Clinton operation. They were, you know, they supported Bernie Sanders. They supported Jill Stein and Trump.
[22:14:59] And the focus of the negativity in a lot of this what was outlined in the indictment was Hillary Clinton. So I think that's also really important not to overlook, the fact that it wasn't just about Trump but it was also about Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.
LEMON: Steve, I think you want to get in and respond. HALL: Well, we may be arguing a little bit about how many angels
dance on the head of the pin here. It's been my experience that when you actually go and live in a country and work in a country you come back with more in-depth idea as to what some of what the socially, you know, some of the difficulties are in that country.
HALL: But that's absolutely right. This is not all about Donald Trump. It's clear from the indictment what the actual goal of this operation was all along, which many of us have been saying. Which is that, yes, it was to increase the likelihood that Donald Trump would get elected, decrease the likelihood that Hillary Clinton would be elected but also call-up other names out there like Bernie Sanders and like Jill Stein.
I mean, let's remember, Michael Flynn was indeed sitting at the table in Moskow being paid by R.T., you know, the part of the Russian government that does its propaganda but Jill Stein was at that same table.
So it's clear from the indictment what the Russian's goal was to try to get as many Americans as possible to go in a bunch of different directions thus polarizing our society even more. And indeed, they're also saying, for example, for the African-American vote, there were a whole bunch of efforts made to avoid -- to encourage African-Americans not to vote and to encourage women not to vote.
So it was a really sophisticated, you're right, it wasn't just get, you know, yes, let's get Donald Trump elected. That was part of it, but it was much more sophisticated than that, and it really ended up well for them because look where we are today in terms of our -- in terms of politics and our society.
LEMON: Just today's indictments, does that give cover to Robert Mueller, so the president can't fire him? We'll talk about that. Michael, you get the first word on the other side of the break. We'll be right back.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Thirteen Russians indicted today, charged with attempting to interfere in our presidential election and conducting what they call information warfare against the United States. Think about that. The Russians themselves call what they were doing information warfare. It was nothing less than an attack on our democracy as a matter of fact.
And our intelligence community has warned us the Russians are not done.
Michael Zeldin, Steve Hall, Ryan Lizza, and Julia Ioffe are back. As promised, Michael, I have to ask you about this. All the defendants were charged with conspiracy. So explain what that means, and I'm curious if there are some broader implications there that may not be revealed like who else could get caught up in this or what happens if other people knew about this operation and said nothing. MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Right. So there is so much that's
interesting in this indictment. First is, the first count of the indictment there's 371 conspiracy, is a conspiracy to defraud the United States government by interfering with the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department and the Department of the State.
We've seen that Mueller likes that charge because that's count one in the Manafort indictment, where he too was charged with 371 conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice. I think that this indictment portends probably that this is phase one, that the next phase is the hacking.
Because the Russians, if you will, did the next step of this campaign, which was the hack into Podesta and DNC servers, and I think that should be the logical next indictment.
And then you get into the very interesting stuff, which is whether Cambridge Analytica, the Bannon group and Kushner's data analytics organization cooperated in any way with this social media hacking contribution to the election.
The other thing is the WikiLeaks and the June 9th meeting raised the same possibility of a 371 conspiracy to defraud the United States, Federal Elections Commission of honest elections. So I think Mueller has said in this indictment be ready, there's other stuff coming because there is a lot of activity that is implicated in the same type of behavior that we see in this indictment. Mueller's here to stay, Don.
2LEMON: OK, well you answered another question for me. But Ryan, we'll talk a little bit more about that, but Ryan, I want to play what the president had to say after the charges were announced, OK? And he said -- let's listen to this. Do we have the sound bite? OK, this is Christopher Wray. Do we have the Christopher Wray sound bite? OK, let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK REED, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Has the president directed you or your agency to take specific actions to confront and blunt Russian activities that are ongoing?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: We're taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt...
REED: Has have been directed by the president?
WRAY: Not specifically directed by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So does all of this go to the president's fear that any talk of election interference is viewed as undermining the president's seeing Russia as a threat to our democracy, Ryan? LIZZA: Yes. I think that's been his position from the beginning is
he's very sensitive about this investigation, he's very sensitive about any commentary about Russia's influence in the campaign, because he believes the more that becomes known and understood that it can somehow undermine his legitimacy.
And, you know, I was wondering, you know, it was interesting to see what other people on the panel think about this. Look, we're not going to get these 13 Russians over here and put them on trial. So what was the purpose of this indictment, right? And you have to wonder was Mueller saying, you know what, someone in the U.S. government has to step forward, and one, lay out the facts of what really happened here and, two, send a warning to the Russians that we know exactly what you did and you know, you better cut it out.
And I do wonder if that went into Mueller's thinking here, was the fact there was no orders from the top, from the White House about counteracting Russian propaganda. And in effect he's taking matters into his own hands.
[22:24:59] LEMON: What did you want to say, Julia?
ZELDIN: Well, can I make...
LEMON: Well, Julia, go ahead, Julia.
IOFFE: I was going to say that Ryan is exactly right. There is not a chance in hell that we're going to see these Russians here on U.S. soil face justice here. We have no extradition treaty with the Russians. And this historically has been a bone of contention.
I think this was a shot across the bow first at the Trump administration and all of the talk that this has been a witch hunt and a hoax to say, no, this is not in fact a hoax, this is not a witch hunt.
Here I mean, 37 pages of very fine detail of what the Russians did during the election.
LEMON: Do you agree Mueller is here to stay?
IOFFE: This is no hoax, right? And also like Ryan said to the Russians, we know what you've been doing. And you know, even if there's no directive from the top, from the Oval Office to counter you, at least somebody is seeing what you're up to.
ZELDIN: The other thing though, Don, so Mueller's got multiple work streams under the mandate that he got from Rosenstein. One of which is -- the first one is to conduct a counter intelligence investigation. This is the first step in his findings about the counterintelligence investigation.
I think the second still will be when additional Russians get indicted for the hacking. Then he has a mandate of what matters may have arisen out of this. And that's the issues of June 9th meetings, the WikiLeaks communication between Don Junior and Roger Stone, the Cambridge Analytica and Jared Kushner data analytics operation.
So I think that Mueller is sort of following through a logical progression through his mandate, and I'd be very surprised if we don't see additional indictments that stem from this activity irrespective if we get these people under extradition and back to the United States.
LEMON: OK. So, Steve, the president have said, you know, he spoke to Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin denied it and he believed him. But is there any way that Vladimir Putin -- this went to this level without Vladimir Putin knowing about it?
HALL: Absolutely not. This is -- this is -- this operation is way too important for somebody who himself is a former intelligence officer, who wouldn't have, you know, to have daily if not more often updates as to what's happening.
And to get to Julia's point, she's absolutely right. There'll be no extradition from Russia to these people who have been indicted. These Russians or future indictment. However, guys like Viktor Bout and others have traveled to countries that we do have agreements with, and they can be brought back to the United States.
So it does a message to the Russians. But, Don, Vladimir Putin would have known about this, there's no doubt in my mind.
LEMON: All right.
ZELDIN: It is...
LEMON: Thank you, Steve. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Ryan. Thank you, Julia. I appreciate it.
When we come back, breaking news on the Florida school shooting rampage. The FBI admitting it failed to act on a major tip about the shooter which leads to the question if so many people saw something and said something about the shooter beforehand, why didn't anybody listen?
[22:30:00] DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Florida Governor Rick Scott calling for resignation of Christopher Wray after the bureau's shocking admission they completely failed to follow up on a tip that came in last month about the Florida high school shooter.
Also learning exclusively tonight that group chat messages show the shooter was obsessed with race, violence and guns. Here with more CNN's Drew Griffin at the scene of the rampage, and Brian Todd at Broward County's sheriff's department headquarters. Good evening, gentlemen. Drew, tell us about the disturbing messages you're seeing on social media.
DREW GRIFFIN, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, CNN: Yes. We've been able to get inside this. It's a private Instagram, just six people. But Don, it was filled with homophobic, anti-Semitic and quite frankly, racist views. We know that Nikolas Cruz was on this. He joined in August. He posted pictures of himself wearing body armor and also posing with guns.
Some of the things that he said along this chat was, he hates Jews, blacks, using the n word, and immigrants. And also, Don, he'd like to shoot gay people in the back of the head.
But I think the most disturbing at all was he asked the group if it was legal to wear body armor to school. One of these people asked why. He wrote back school shooters, I think I am going to kill people. Don.
LEMON: Good lord. Brian, let me bring you in here because what are authorities saying about the explicit warning the FBI got about the shooter a month ago?
BRIAN TODD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Don, this really could not have been more egregious of a mishandling of information by the FBI. The FBI with a stunning admission today that on January 5th of this year the bureau got a tip on their hot line from a person close to Nikolas Cruz, and this is what the person said.
This is according to bureau itself, that the person talked about Cruz's gun ownership, about his desire to kill people, about his erratic behavior, his disturbing social media posts and about the potential of him conducting a school shooting.
By the bureau's own admission this should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. That's their words. But the really horrible part about this is that that information when the bureau got it, it never imparted it to its Miami field office.
Director Christopher Wray he is promising to get to the bottom of this. But as you mentioned a moment ago, Governor Rick Scott here is furious. He wants Christopher Wray to resign.
LEMON: And Brian, there's other reporting tonight that the school looked into a formal risk assessment for this young man more than a year ago. What is that about?
TODD: Right, Don. This is our affiliate WPLG reporting that in January 2017, this is according to a school document that that station obtained, the school requested a quote, "threat assessment of him to determine if he was a danger to the school." This happened after Nikolas Cruz was involved in an assault.
CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of that document. It's not clear if the threat assessment against Cruz was ever undertaken and the Broward county school board is not commenting on that.
[22:35:03] But again, that's a big warning that the school is requesting, a threat assessment of this young man more than a year ago.
LEMON: So Drew, Brian having said what he said, can you talk to us about the shooter's lengthy history supposedly with law enforcement?
GRIFFIN: You know, last night on your show, Don, we talked about the records that we had that the police had been to the Cruz home some 30 times since 2010. Today we got the actual records behind some of those calls.
Many of them involved calls about Nikolas Cruz and his mental health and the fact that he was seeing therapists and getting help and having behavioral intervention way back from 2013 up until to last one we saw was in 2016 when he was fighting with his mom, a deputy and a mental health expert showed up.
The mom had complained that he was cutting himself to get attention, that he was barricading himself in his room. And also the police made reference to the fact that he suffers from mental illness and that he also mentioned in the past that he would like to purchase a firearm.
For some reason that, too, didn't raise any attention. The police didn't think he was a harm to anybody and they just didn't even write up a report. They went away.
GRIFFIN: So all of these are adding up to one big heartache for the parents who are trying to understand how all of this could have been missed.
LEMON: Absolutely. Brian, Drew, thank you so much. I appreciate your reporting.
When we come back our law enforcement experts weigh in. Will the FBI change after failing to act on so many red flags and that critical tip about the Florida shooting?
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MACDONALD: The FBI admitting that the January 5th tip about the Florida shooter which it failed to follow up on should have been assessed under the heading potential threat to life.
I want to bring in now CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, Stuart Kaplan, a former FBI agent, and CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory special agent.
Hello to all of you. Stuart, let's start with you. The FBI admitted today that they failed to follow up on a tip that Nikolas Cruz might carry out a school shooting. Here is what the FBI says from the tipster that the tipster provided. It says, "The caller provided information about Cruz's gun ownership,
desire to kill people and erratic behavior, and disturbing social media post, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting. So bluntly, Stuart, did the FBI blindly cost these 17 people their lives?
STUART KAPLAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, let me answer it this way because I think in fairness you have to put the tip center in context. The tipster itself is fairly new. It was brought about in 2012. It is run by non-agents.
In other words, these employees are support employees. They do not have any investigative skills. They are trained to kind of field the calls with respect to asking the right questions. At the end of the day people may be surprised the FBI gets approximately 2,000 calls a day. When you run that out through the year you're talking about, you know, 700 to a million calls a year. That's a lot of calls. Now, it's not...
LEMON: I've got to jump in here, Stuart. I mean, that's disturbing. First of all, you said it's new, 2012. I mean, that's five years old. If I had a car it'd be time to turn it in. I mean, that's not new. That's a long time. And that they're civilians, they don't have enough wherewithal to pass this along or manpower, I mean, that doesn't help the families of the 17 people who have died here.
KAPLAN: Not at all.
LEMON: What you're saying is very damning for the FBI, I think.
KAPLAN: Well, let me put it this way and I think Jim would agree. When I was an agent the tips would come into the field offices themselves. They would actually be taken by an agent. Immediately after taking that call if the agent made a determination, he would get on the phone.
Now, one of the flaws that I see in this program is that local law enforcement is not included in the correspondence or in the communications. Now, when you take this particular situation with Nikolas Cruz, we know now that local law enforcement had a tremendous amount of contact with this individual.
It seems to me that at minimum the local law enforcement should have been immediately contacted to, you know, let them go out and see what's going on.
LEMON: So better coordination you're saying between -- better coordination between local and federal authorities, right? Is that what you're saying there should have been?
KAPLAN: I don't think the burden should be just on the FBI.
LEMON: OK, James, I want you to weigh in on this. Because is he right? And when did it go from agents taking the calls to civilians taking the calls? What is this all about?
JAMES GAGLIANO, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: Sure, and let me just build on what Stuart was saying and he's spot on with that. The public access lines that the FBI put in place a few years ago, they're kind of modeled after what we had before, which is people would call into their local field office.
Now we have 800 neighbors, we have 888 lines and after a major shooting or after a major investigation begins sometimes the FBI will put out another tip line and they'll put out a separate number for that.
Now what Stuart said, the professional support employees, now these are bureau employees, Don.
GAGLIANO: So even though we characterize them as civilians and not law enforcement professionals, they're part of the FBI. They take the phone call. But then these are always backed up by an agent by a minimum of a GS13 special agent that then performs the first level of triage. Now I used to run the New York operation center.
LEMON: So what happened, James?
GAGLIANO: So what happened is this -- well the FBI's made up of people. So we've got 35,000 employees. We're all fallible human beings. It's also its computer systems. And those computer systems are programs by the same fallible human beings.
Somewhere along the way, Don, a glitch happened. This is unconscionable. I'm down here. I'm listening to these parents. I'm seeing these kids do these gut-wrenching testimonials. Trust me, this has hit me like a gut punch.
[22:45:03] But I appreciate and respect Director Wray getting out in front of this and acknowledging and admitting that the fault was ours. We have to find out was it person or a processor protocol. Get to it bottom of it and fix it, Don.
GAGLIANO: It's not going to bring back those 17 precious lives but maybe helps prevent the next one.
LEMON: Listen, Juliette, I have the utmost respect for the men and women of the FBI. They do a great job. But as you're the author of "Security Mom," the mother of teenagers, as you're listening to this. I mean, you have an opinion about what happened, the breakdown of what can be done better. What do you think of what happened? JULIETTE KAYYEM, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: I mean, I'm with
Director Wray and you know, the FBI screwed up big time. I mean, and they admitted that the protocols were not followed in this instance.
Look, we've been in a situation before where the mass murderer is unknown, the motivation -- think about Las Vegas. Where did this come from? What enemy? This is like with Cruz it's like a million red lights going off from the school and the family and the family he's living with, and with the neighbors taking pictures and these school kids and the FBI and the police, right?
So there was a breakdown in the system, and it should not be defended. I mean in other words, the FBI knows it and needs to do an accounting. Someone needs to get fired. Something terribly wrong happened. And then of course...
LEMON: Should it be Christopher Wray? Rick Scott is saying, the governor of Florida saying he should be fired or resign.
KAYYEM: Here's what I would say if I were Christopher Wray. Now, here's what I would say if I were Wray. First of all, we know this happened in the field office. This wasn't like a policy situation that Wray approved.
If Governor Scott agrees that no one under the age of 21 should be able to buy a gun in Florida, then Christopher Wray should agree that the FBI, that he will resign as director of the FBI. Governor Scott is trying not to talk about the issue that he needs to talk about as governor, which is the gun laws of Florida and is ready to throw someone else under the bus who has already admitted the mistake.
This is pure politics by the governor who's not willing to look at himself as a leader of a state that wrenching right now, and the kinds of laws that allowed him to not only -- I was thinking today I had to rent a car because we're going away this weekend. He could not have even rented a car because he would not have been viewed as old enough to rent a car. And in Florida he can rent or own a weapon of mass destruction.
LEMON: Yes, you can buy a weapon of mass destruction.
KAYYEM: Yes, buy it. Sorry. That's what I meant, buy.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, just quick question, yes or no, do you think, Stuart, should as Governor Scott says, should he step down?
KAPLAN: Absolutely not. In fact, I applaud as I see last week he's in the Miami division, he got in front of it. He accepts responsibility, and we're going to try and fix this problem.
LEMON: Yes. James?
GAGLIANO: Absolutely not. Just like the people are asking us to wait until evidence comes in on the senior level missteps on the 7th floor, I think the same thing is due here. It's appropriate to let the investigation get conducted, find out what happened and then deal with it appropriately, but the director should not step down.
LEMON: I really appreciated the conversation and the candor here.
When we come back, Russian bots not only interfered in the election but they're also promoting propaganda right now, attempting to divide Americans over the Florida shooting.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Warning tonight that Russian linked trolls are at it again, trying to sew discord in America. This time, pushing pro-gun messages on Twitter in the aftermath of Florida massacre.
I want to talk about this with Mark Jacobson, he's a professor at Georgetown University. Hi, Mark. Good to see you. Thank you for coming on.
MARK JACOBSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: My pleasure, Don.
LEMON: We know the Russians used bots to interfere with the 2016 election. But there was reporting today, that hours after the Parkland shooting that Russian bots working to divide our country again. How so?
JACOBSON: Right. So, a couple of organizations, German martial funds aliens for securing democracy and a private sector firm called robot, were reporting that what they were seeing was an uptick in traffic that was trying to exacerbate the differences between people who are for more gun control and people who are afraid an incident like this will result in an enormous crackdown on guns.
Your guests earlier tonight have talked about it very well in terms of whether you call it political warfare, information warfare. These are propaganda campaigns designed to influence attitudes and behaviors. And what better place for the Russians to try and sew discord than the aftermath of such an emotional event like the one we've seen in Florida.
LEMON: What do we know about the nature of these bot messages? And what is their aim? What's the end game, Mark.
JACOBSON: Well, the end game is sew discord. I mean, the Russians are not for gun control. They're not for everybody's right to own an automatic weapon. What the Russians are about is trying to exacerbate differences that already exist in the United States.
We saw that during the 2016 election in terms of exacerbating the racial divide. In fact, that goes back to the 1960s where the Russians frankly wanted to try and start a race war in the country.
So what we are seeing here is the bots are exacerbating the problem by amplifying messages on the extreme left and the extreme right. So in other words, it's not just hashtags that are about gun control. But it's also hash tags that are anti-NRA. In that sense what they want is to destroy any rational discussion,
debate or dialogue and just polarize both sides. That's the end goal. Paralyze the United States by polarizing the United States.
LEMON: Are the people behind the Parkland bots the same people as the same people behind the 2016 elections.
JACOBSON: I don't have hard evidence that they are. But I have no doubt that either one of two things is going on. First, the same sort of money and organizations, for example, the Internet Research Agency, are still pushing the trolls and the bots and enabling them to put the things out on social media networks.
[22:55:04] Or -- and this is the scarier part -- that you have individual actors who are learning the tactics and techniques that we saw in the 2016 election and just going about and doing them on their own.
Now we've already seen from the indictment today how difficult it is to tell an American from a Russian actor online. And I think this is going to be the new normal. So I hope people can start to look into this and figure out exactly where this is coming from.
LEMON: OK, so let me ask you then, as just -- I've always wanted to know this. I sort of suspect -- when I'm on social media who is a bot and who is not or what's a bot and what's not. How do you figure it out? How do you know?
JACOBSON: There are great sites that can enable you to do a pretty good job. And what it is -- some things that you see that are familiar in bots maybe you see them following only a certain number of people, maybe you some that are only propagating certain hashtags. And those are clear signs.
I actually have a bot that re-tweets things that I say critical of the administration. That's a kind of a friendly bot. But, again, there's also some technical tools out there that enable -- that can enable you find out what you're dealing with.
LEMON: There were indictments today, Mark, 13 Russian nationals for interfering in the election. Is this evidence -- isn't this evidence that they are going to continue to meddle in our society?
JACOBSON: I'm going to be direct here. Page 14 of the indictment is so damning where they say very clearly that the purpose of the operations was -- my words now -- to sew discord. And that specialists were employed in order to exacerbate the differences, whether they are societal or economic differences between the American people.
That sounds exactly like what we're see in the post-Parkland situation. So not only are the Russians -- did they do it before. I think this is just the start. I think we better be ready for this in 2018. I don't believe we are. And I think it's going to have an impact again on the elections.
LEMON: Yes. Well that's why we're here reporting and we've been saying it all along the president refuses to even acknowledge it. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
When we come back, the president insisting again today that there was no collusion between Russia and his campaign. But Robert Mueller is saying some people associated with the Trump's campaign were unwittingly involved. We'll tell you how. That's next.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)