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Sandy Hook Mom Calls for Action; Remembering in Lives Lost; Prevention of Gun Violence; Calls for Action Grow after Florida Massacre; Former Playmate Describes Affair With Trump. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired February 16, 2018 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:00] NICOLE HOCKLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SANDY HOOK PROMISE: And focus on, why are we here? What do we need to do in this community to look after the people right now and open our hearts and -- and with compassion and kindness for them. And then, what can we do, you know, not talking just about guns, not talking just about mental health or illness, what can we do to protect our kids and stop fighting and instead focus on solutions.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: As we've discussed, not much happened nationally after Sandy Hook, though everybody thought that it would. But in Connecticut, in your state, where it happened, things did happen.
HOCKLEY: Yes, there was a lot of policies put in place, including what was called then the Gun Violence Restraining Order, or in other states it's called an Extreme Risk Protection Order, and that's proven to save lives.
CAMEROTA: It's also called, yes, Extreme Risk Protection Order, ERPO. And that's helped. Gun violence has gone down in Connecticut.
HOCKLEY: It has because it gives a process for if you're recognizing signs and signals in someone who might be at risk of harming themselves or someone else, there is then a due process for temporarily removing them in their access to their firearms or to purchase firearms until that crisis is averted. So it's really helping people from a suicide perspective, from a homicide perspective, and it works.
CAMEROTA: It works. I mean that's the message, to tell to politicians and to anybody who thinks, well, there's nothing we can do. Do you sense a sort of sense nationally of hopelessness after something like this?
HOCKLEY: Oh my gosh, yes. There's always that sense of hopelessness and helplessness. And, unfortunately, because everyone thinks, well, the only thing I can do is on the policy side. The only think I can do is call my senator, call my congressman. And that's definitely actions that can take and calling for state-led ERPOs, or Extreme Risk Protection Orders, are important. There's only four states that have it so far. Nineteen others are looking at it. Florida needs to look at it. But there's also a lot we can do in our own community to teach each other, when we see these signs and signals in someone, how do we take them seriously and take action and intervene.
CAMEROTA: And just to be clear, this ERPO could have actually changed the situation here.
HOCKLEY: Possibly, yes.
CAMEROTA: This 19-year-old showed up at a surrogate family's house with his AR-15 style rifle and, guess what, he was depressed. He was, you know, behaving in some sort of fashion that got him expelled from this school. That's exactly the personality type, the profile, that the ERPO, the sort of temporary restraining order, would have helped.
HOCKLEY: He -- based on what I've seen in the news reports so far and his social media feeds as well, there were many signs and signals and therefore many opportunities for intervention.
CAMEROTA: How is it possible that only four states have this?
HOCKLEY: I think because people don't know about them. This is important legislation. It's proven to save lives. And it's something that you can bring in as a ballot initiative or ask your state -- your state policyholders to make this happen. It's not impossible. It's not the only solution. You know, the issue of gun violence is very complex and there are many solution around the guns, around the people, around the communities. But this is something that works and should be embraced.
CAMEROTA: And you promised after Dylan's death that you would do something, that you would take action, that this wouldn't be in vane and you did it and you succeeded. And so many people here will look to you as a model because today they want to be able to do something so that their children's deaths weren't in vain.
Nicole, thank you very much for explaining all of this to us and being here.
HOCKLEY: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So 17 people were killed. Up next, we're going to tell you the stories of these students and the teachers taken from their loved ones so soon. That's next.
[08:36:41] CAMEROTA: Seventeen students and teachers were killed at the massacre behind me in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Their names and stories, of course, are important to remember. Their families want them memorialized. They don't want them to have died in vain. Here are just some.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jamie was such a special kid. All of the kids here are.
CAMEROTA (voice over): Fourteen-year-old Jamie Guttenberg was a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Her grandma describes her as warm and loved by all. She was a dancer. Her mentor memorialized her on FaceBook writing, dance in heaven, beautiful girl.
Senior Nicholas Sworet was a competitive swimmer. He was headed to the University of Indianapolis on an athletic scholarship in the fall. His coach says he was a young man full of life who had big dreams for the future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was passionate about swimming. He dreamed of making the Olympic swim team and going to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
CAMEROTA: Seventeen-year-old Joaquin Oliver, his friends called him Guac (ph). He was born in Venezuela and became an American citizen last year. Afterward Joaquin wrote on Instagram that's he's, quote, never been more proud.
Alaina Petty was a member of the junior ROTC and is described by her family as someone who loved to serve others. She was part of the Helping Hands program at her church and volunteered after Hurricane Irma hit last year.
Fourteen-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff was a talented soccer player. Her mom says she was also an incredibly creative writer with a passion and zest for life.
LORI ALHADEFF, LOST HER DAUGHTER ALYSSA IN SCHOOL SHOOTING: She was meant for so much more in this world. She would have given this world so much more. I would have taken the bullets for you. I would have protected you. And I'm sorry I wasn't there.
CAMEROTA: Fourteen-year-old Gina Montalto's family says she was a loving girl who brightened any room she entered. She babysat for her neighbors, who told "The Washington Post" that she had a nurturing heart and kept their children safe.
Luke Hoyer's cousin says the 15-year-old had a contagious laugh and was always happy, always smiling. His grandmother says he loved basketball and planned to try out for the football team.
Martin Duque Anguiano (ph) was 14-years-old. His older brother describes him as funny and caring, writing on Instagram, words cannot describe my pain. I love you brother Martin. You will be missed.
Instead of running away from the violence, 15-year-old Peter Wang held the door open for his classmates to help them escape. Peter's cousin told "The Washington Post" that he was a natural leader and someone who could be relied on.
Athletic Director Chris Hixon was the school's wrestling coach and an Iraq War veteran. His wife tells CNN he thought of each student at his own.
When the shooting started, Assistant Football Coach and Security Guard Aaron Feis ran toward the gunshots. He was killed when he threw himself in front of students to protect them. A student says Aaron helped him through his cancer treatment. Colleagues say he was a loyal friend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first part of (INAUDIBLE) it's going to be terrible when I don't see my buddy at the gate.
CAMEROTA: Geography teacher Scott Beigel was killed while ushering his student's to safety. He was a camp counselor. He will be remembered as a hero.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If his family is watching this, please know that your son or your brother was an amazing person and I am alive today because of him.
[08:40:10] CAMEROTA: So, unfortunately, we do not have all of the pictures and details for all of the victims yet. That's why they weren't included in that piece. But we are working to learn more about them. We do know their names now and their ages. So I'd like to read those.
It's 18-year-old Meadow Pollack. She was planning to attend Lynn University in the fall. We've heard about so many kids who already knew what their futures would look like because they already knew where they'd be going to school. We also remember 14-year-old Cara Loughran, 17-year-old Helena Ramsay, 14-year-old Alexander Schachter, and 16-year-old Carmen Schentrup.
So as soon as we get their pictures and know more about them, obviously, John, we will bring those to everybody because, you know, knowing -- I mean one life is so rich and when you get to know the family, you realize the searing pain and the loss for just one. There's 17 young lives here who all had bright futures and in, you know, the matter of minutes, moments, they were mowed down and lost. And that is when you're here what is just so hard to get your mind around.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So many plans cut short. You know, not just 17 lives lost, but, you know, thousands of lives affected. And so many heroes in that list of people. The kids, you know, the teachers, Aaron Feis. I was down there yesterday, Alisyn. Everyone who spoke about Aaron Feis did so with a smile and said that he changed their life. Not just football players, but people that he would meet with, you know, in the morning. People he would bump into. He would mow lawns on the weekends for extra money and people just adored him. Seventeen people who were adored and will be just terribly missed.
All right, Alisyn, I'm going to bring in CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd.
You know, Phil, thanks so much for being with us.
I know you've been watching this also. And one of the people we've heard from this morning is Lori Alhadeff, the mother of Alyssa, you know, Alhadeff, who was shot in the head, shot in the heart, shot in the hand. And she's asking questions about how this could happen. You know, the FBI saw the name of the killer, was warned about the name of the killer on a posting in September. There were so many trips to the house. 911 calls to the house. There were all of these signs. How could it happen, this mother asked. What do you say to her?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think in these situations instead of having broad generalities, we ought to lay our cards on the table. So let me lay a couple of them on the table.
Where do state's budget money to put someone in a program, an intervention program, before they acquire a weapon at the age of 18? I'm not talking about school officers on site who may not have the expertise to deal with this kind of problem. There's a specific state budgetary question and an insurance question. What do you do with a kid like that, question one.
What do you do with the social media company? I'm not blaming them. I'm not blaming YouTube. But we're having this conversation about free speech and social media companies that allow postings in our electoral cycles from bots. What about postings that reflect violence? I think that will be a conversation.
What about -- let me give you one final comment and be very specific. A judge has to look at somebody and look at a case and say, let me adjudicate whether that person, in their mental state, someone who has a mental problem, should be allowed to have a weapon. I think that standard is too high. I believe that we should violate people's privacy.
Let he me be blunt. If you seek treatment for a significant mental disorder, I believe that people in health provisions should have the authority to say, this person has this disorder and that should be matched with national gun registries. I know people hate that, but that's what I think. A kid is too valuable. I think we ought to violate privacy.
BERMAN: So, Phil, that YouTube posting, you know, the Instagram postings that certainly seem to be predictive of some sort of violence, what if he had been talking about Islamic terror? What if he had been threating, you know, an Islamic terror attack? What if, you know, his name was Muhammad? Would the FBI have treated this the same way?
MUDD: Maybe. But, remember, we're going backwards. You're looking at one instance. I would take you into a hospital and let's say that we've got 1,000 cases to triage and one case dies and you say, how did you miss that one case? And my first question, as a former practitioner is, why don't you ask me about how they dealt with the other 1,000 cases. So I look at this, painful as it is, as a triage operation when you're dealing with tens of thousands of threats a year.
Before I close, John, hold on just a second. The neighbors knew. The family knew. He was expelled. The school knew. His friends knew.
MUDD: Social media knew. Police knew. And you want -- you want to tell me that the FBI office in Jackson, Mississippi, has to call down and say, this kid's a problem. This is a societal issue. It's not one case from Jackson, Mississippi, FBI.
BERMAN: One of the things you're hearing from the far right -- I want to read you a tweet from Curt Slicter (ph), which was favored -- favored -- you know, which was liked but, I should say, by Donald Trump Jr. It reads, the FBI was too busy trying to undermine the president to bother with doing its freaking job.
[06:45:04] Your reaction, Phil?
MUDD: How many times in the past 17 years have I stepped back and said, if you look at everything that's fairly mundane in comparison, white collar crime, to significant issues, MS-13, drug trafficking, the opioid crisis, and in particular counterterrorism in this country, have we said, thank God that we have the FBI and state and local police who have, especially in my world after 9/11, kept us relatively safe. We anticipated a catastrophe after 9/11. It didn't happen. I'd ask Don Jr. to say, next time you go on the streets and you see NYPD's finest and the FBI, you tell me, who protected you in that city? And I'll give you the answer. It's people who give their lives in law enforcement. Think about it, brother.
BERMAN: Phil, back to what you said before. So the FBI, you know, had that tip about the YouTube posting.
BERMAN: You know, the police were called to the house with 911 tapes. The school knew. In this case, people saw something, and they did say something again and again and again.
BERMAN: So how do you get to that incomes step? Because saying something here wasn't enough.
MUDD: When you look at bureaucracies, bureaucracies can't define themselves by how they react to one-off circumstance. Bureaucracies deal with policy and procedure. The specific question I would be asking is to look at major cities who have, for example, gang intervention programs. Los Angeles would be a good example. The question in that case would be, do we have equivalent programs for youth who appear to be at risk for violence that does not relate to gangs? In other words, is there a policy and procedure for a kid before he interacts with law enforcement, where the school says we can't deal with it, where's the money from the state, because these are typically state issues, where we can have an intervention program in parallel with what we do in a gang case.
BERMAN: Phil Mudd, always great to speak to you.
MUDD: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: You ask so many important questions. Thanks for being with us. Survivors and families in Florida demanding action. Why more isn't
being done to address gun violence. Will this be some kind of tipping point for action? We'll discuss, next.
[06:50:37] BERMAN: Responses in Washington to the massacre in Florida couldn't be more polarized. Democrats calling for new gun laws and gun control, while Republicans focusing on mental illness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I'd rather pass gun safety legislation than win the election because people die from this.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: As you know, mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies. That may be the case here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, let's discuss now. Joining me CNN politics editor- at-large Chris Cillizza, and CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.
Chris, before you tell me why nothing will change here and why nothing will happen, let me pause at this. This time what's different is we have these kids. We have these heroic kids speaking out. It's not just the parents of the kids in Sandy Hook. You know, with now have these high school students, these young people, the future of the country who are telling us that things need to change. Is that enough to make a difference in Washington?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: No. I mean I hate to be that guy because I think there are lots of things -- if you look at polling, that suggests that there are a number of things as it relates to gun laws that could pass, should pass, if you believe that the Congress represents the public. And the public has majority views on some of these things.
The problem here is that you've got that dynamic that you just showed between Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan. Democrats believe that stricter gun laws are necessary in the -- in the main. Republicans believe that this is still largely a mental health issue and the base of their party continues to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary I'll add, that there is a slippery slope argument to be made about guns, that at a some point, once you allow some more restrictions on gun rights, someone will eventually show up at your door and demand your gun. I say that with all -- you know, with -- there is no evidence that will ever happen, but that drives this debate. And it's just -- it's so caricatured at this point that it doesn't lend for a lot of honest debate about issues where I do think there's common -- there is some common ground.
BERMAN: Yes, because issues of mental health, by the way, in some gun control measures, they're not mutually exclusive, right?
CILLIZZA: No. Right.
BERMAN: You can actually talk about them in concert.
Ron Brownstein, take this even bigger for us now, because Chris Cillizza just told us nothing's going to happen in no uncertain words. And then yesterday on immigration in Washington nothing happened. There is a connection --
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
BERMAN: Here to this --
BERMAN: On big issues. Congress can't do anything.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, there's a -- there is. And I think it is -- it is a very large connection.
First of all, I think this -- this -- after that heartbreaking account, that segment with Alisyn, it just really underscores, I think, something we already know, which is that there is literally no conceivable provocation that will cause a Republican majority Congress to consider any meaningful further restrictions on guns, even though the polling is -- I mean we're up to two-thirds of the country before this supporting an assault weapon ban and 90 percent supporting expanded background checks. And I think it was coincidental but extremely revealing that this debate, this tragedy, you know, thrust itself into our consciousness on the same day that the Senate was voting down immigration reform because it reflects the same underlying reality, which is what I call the trench between a Democratic Party that is now overwhelmingly urban based in places with lots of immigrants and fewer guns, and a Republican Party that represents largely now nonurban America, where there are fewer immigrants and many guns.
Gun ownership is twice as large in rural areas as in domestic areas -- urban areas. And there is a kind of -- a core of the Republican Party is simply living a very different reality than the core of the Democratic Party at this point. And there is, though, one point of political venerability and overlap, which is those Republicans who are still left in the big, blue metro areas, in Orange County five, you know, four Republicans and five in the L.A. media market, three outside Philadelphia, in New Jersey and New York, northern Virginia, all of them voted with the Republican majority to repeal the Obama era regulations, for example, limiting access to guns for people with mental health problems through the (INAUDIBLE). All of them voted for nationwide conceal carry to override state conceal carry laws.
[06:55:09] That, I think, is where the point of vulnerability is going to be in this election this fall where you have those Republicans hanging on in what I call the red pockets of the blue metro areas who have aligned with the party majority and the NRA on these issues. I think this may leave them feeling somewhat exposed. BERMAN: And the flip side of that is some of these Democratic senators
in red states up for re-election.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Exactly right.
BERMAN: Guys, I'm going to make a hard turn here. There is zero segue to this right now other than breaking this morning in "The New Yorker," you know, hot off the presses, holding it in my hands right now, an article from Ronan Farrow and it is about the president and a woman named Karen McDougall (ph), who we have heard about before, who says she had an affair with the president. This happened several years ago. What's interesting about this article is that Ronan details how "The National Enquirer," which is run by a good friend of the president's, paid this woman to stay silent. That deal was reached just days before the election.
Chris, it's a fascinating article. I'm not sure you've had a chance to read it fully yet, but your reaction?
CILLIZZA: I read it. I read it in the studio before I came on. And, yes, fascinating. And, you know, number one, I think you're right, John, the -- David Pecker (ph) paying to keep this article -- to keep this story out of the news I think is very noteworthy.
The other thing that I was struck by is the similarities between the story Karen McDougall tells and the story that Stormy Daniels, for example, tells. Beverly Hills private bungalows. There's a lot of similarities there. And again, I continue to be amazed that the Stormy Daniels story is not a bigger deal. The Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, he just out of the goodness of his heart paid $130,000 to a porn star alleging an affair, which, by the way, everyone on the Trump side denies, seems odd to me.
This seems a pattern of behavior with the similarities. I'd urge people to read the story. The similarities between how Karen McDougall talks about the courtship with Donald Trump and then their relation -- alleged relationship. A lot of similarities there that I don't think are just coincidence.
BERMAN: We have two cases now of alleged payoffs, different kinds, for silence, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, and we had this kind of overriding issue. You know, we're debating about leverage -- whether people who have these temporary secure clearances have problems in their backgrounds are subject to leverage, are subject to blackmail.
BROWNSTEIN: I mean these stories just create a series of individuals who have -- who essentially are alleging they have something on the president. And it -- it just kind of one after the other of places where people are being paid to be -- allegedly being paid to be quiet, and yet that is a form of leverage, a form of pressure and coercion and blackmail. Very similar to what people are concerned about when you have someone like a Rob Porter with those kinds of, you know, allegations in his background.
BERMAN: Ron Brownstein, Chris Cillizza, thank you so much.
CILLIZZA: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: Much more on this, no doubt, to come.
Let's go back to Alisyn in Florida.
CAMEROTA: OK, John, so you'll remember that yesterday we introduced you to a freshman named Kelsey who told us the story of her heroic geography teacher who saved her life during this massacre. So we're going to check back in with Kelsey and her classmates, next.
[06:59:57] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'd be hard put to find another case that was flashing more signs than this young man right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was obsessed with guns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like the dots should have been connected here.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To every parent, we are here for you, whatever we can do to ease your pain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, you need to help us, now.