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Robert Mueller Indicts 13 Russians for Election Meddling; How Kremlin Linked Russians Tried to Sway the U.S. Election; FBI Admit It Failed to Act on Tip About Florida Shooter; Trump and Melania Visit Shooting Victims at Hospital; Stoneman Douglas High School Students Speak Out After Shooting Massacre; Teacher Hailed a Hero After Saying Students' Lives; Ex-Playmate Alleges Affair with Trump. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 17, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:23] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul this morning.

A top White House official says there is now undeniable proof that Russians meddled in the 2016 election. The comments come from National Security adviser HR McMaster. They come just hours after 13 Russians were indicted in the Russia investigation. Despite all of this, President Trump claims he's been vindicated in the probe.

BLACKWELL: Also this morning, a CNN exclusive report reveals disturbing new details about the Florida school shooter including racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages sent. The FBI is also admitting it received a tip last month that the teenager had a desire to kill people but the bureau failed to act on it.

We'll have more on the latest developments from Florida in moments.

MARSH: But we start with new charges, allegations and denials in the Russia investigation.

CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Moscow. But first, to CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip.

Abby, we've got some new reaction from the Trump administration this morning?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This morning HR McMaster, the National Security adviser, for President Trump spoke out about these 13 indictments that prove, he says, unequivocally that Russia interfered in the election. Take a listen.


H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain. Whereas in the past, it was difficult to attribute for a couple of reasons. First, technically it was difficult. But then also you didn't want to divulge your intelligence capabilities. But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation, it's going to be very apparent to everyone.


PHILLIP: Now that is a sea change from what we have normally heard from President Trump who in the past called this investigation a hoax and an excuse by Democrats to justify their losing of the election in 2016. However, in the wake of these 13 indictments, President Trump is now acknowledging that there was Russian interference.

Here's what he wrote on Twitter yesterday. "Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014 long before I announced I was run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong. No collusion," the president says.

Part of that is accurate. The 2014 start date is right for when Russians began this operation. But around 2016 the indictment says that they changed their objective making it very clear that they were going to boost President Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton in that election.

Now yesterday when the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein talked about this he said that this particular indictment does not say anything about Americans colluding knowingly with the Russians or that this interference had a direct impact on the outcome of the election. However, we do know that Robert Mueller and the special counsel investigators continue to work. We don't know where that investigation is going to go next.

BLACKWELL: All right. Abby Phillip, thank you so much.

Let's talk now more about the indictment that came down. Thirteen Russians, one of them a key Putin ally, have been indicted for meddling in the 2016 elections. And here's how they did it. The Internet Search Agency, this is a Kremlin-linked organization, that set up fake groups on social media, focusing on a number of issues, race, religion, immigration, the presidential elections, trying to entice people.

MARSH: Well, this --

BLACKWELL: Or rather I should say incite people.

MARSH: Mm-hmm. And this the regulation oligarch who is believed to have funded the group. He is a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Take a look at this. Here is one fake social media page on the Black Panthers and the KKK, and another one that has the same Satan saying, "If I win, Clinton wins."

Well, let's go to CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. He's live in Moscow this morning.

Matthew, what is the reaction in Russia to this indictment? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well,

whenever they're faced with allegations here in Russia about, you know, intervening or meddling in the U.S. political system or the U.S. presidential elections, they always fall back to this position of denial. And that's been no different on this occasion. We've heard in the past few hours the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov say, look, I looked at these indictments and it's -- you know, I'm paraphrasing him, but it's all just blather is the word he used. Again, other officials saying that this is just absurd.

[10:05:01] So they're categorically rejecting yet again this idea that Russia in any way intervened in the U.S. presidential election, tried to distort the political process in the United States. That, despite the fact that this indictment identifies 13 Russian individuals, Russian nationals involved in this. It identifies three companies as well including the one you mentioned the Internet Research Agency which is based in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

And according to the indictments was, you know, set up with the -- you know, the main objective to sow chaos and discord in the United States. Take a look.


CHANCE (voice-over): In May 2016, a small group of anti-Islamic protesters gathered outside a Muslim community center in the U.S. city of Houston.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down with the Nazis.

CHANCE: Across the street, a counter rally formed. And the two sides hurled abuse in a stark illustration of American division and discord. The organizers were thousands of miles away, in St. Petersburg, Russia, working for a secretive organization which, according to a recent U.S. indictment, had a strategic goal -- to sow discord in the U.S. political system.

Its name, the Internet Research Agency, dubbed the Kremlin troll factory by former employees who smuggled out these rare cell phone images. In 2016, CNN spoke to a Russian journalist who went undercover as an Internet troll there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The U.S. elections are the key issue for the Kremlin. And of course, Russia has invested a lot of effort into them. That's why the troll factories are working, I have no doubt.

CHANCE: It was during the Russian-backed rebellion in Ukraine in 2014, that evidence first emerged of pro-Kremlin troll factories, filled with bloggers paid to spread false information online about the conflict. And this is the Russian oligarch, who, according to the U.S. indictment, bankrolled the troll factory operation. Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin's chef, because one of his companies provides catering services to the Kremlin, has denied any guilt.

"Americans are very impressionable people," he told Russian state media. "They see what they want to see. I have great respect for them. I'm not at all upset that I'm on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see one."

But it is the devilish work of Russia's Internet trolls and the social divisions they have incited that the U.S. has now moved firmly against.


CHANCE: Well, so far today the Kremlin itself with Vladimir Putin as president has not officially issued a response to these indictments. But we're expecting something from them in the days ahead. In the past, they called these allegations a witch hunt. We're expecting to hear the same kind of language in a few days.

MARSH: Matthew Chance live for us in Moscow, thank you.

Well, let's bring in Ryan Lizza, CNN political analyst, Amanda Terkel, Washington bureau chief of "The Huffington Post" and Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations.

BLACKWELL: Steve, first out to you. This was obviously an elaborate, meticulous plan to involve Russia, to involve itself in the U.S. politics. Do you think they can use that same playbook now that it's been exposed in these 37 pages?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, sure, absolutely they can. It's one of the things about intelligence operations especially how the Russians run them which is to say that even though you might know exactly how they did it, they can repeat this. There is no reason that you can't get other Russians, Russians who have not been named in this indictment, into the United States if need be to do very similar types of operations as these particular Russians did.

You can also do quite a bit, of course, remotely from St. Petersburg or wherever it is in Russia that you're actually managing some of these cyber operations. It will allow the United States, if we choose to do so, and I don't think that we have really gone very far down this road yet at least as far as I can tell, it does give us a better idea as to how to defend against it. But that's a very difficult thing when you don't know exactly where, you know, the next attack is going to come from, what form it's going to take and which of the multiple tools in the Russian toolbox will be used. But at least we know -- at least we have a now much better idea as to how this came about.

MARSH: So, Ryan, to you. I mean, there's two narratives when it comes to the Russian investigation. There is a Republican or some Republicans who say this is a witch hunt including the president. And then on the Democrat side, they essentially say, you know, they believe that there was some collusion.


[10:10:09] MARSH: What does this indictment do to both of those narratives? BLACKWELL: Yes.

MARSH: Does it disrupt any one of those narratives?

LIZZA: Yes, that's a great question because one thing it does very, very clearly is it puts forward the most detailed, fact-oriented case about what the Russian propaganda came on social media was like in 2016. And that's one element of what's been alleged by what Russia did in 2016. This does not deal with the hacking and dumping of the DNC or of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman's e-mail account, John Podesta.

It deals with this one discreet issue. So Republicans who say oh, there was no Russian interference in the election and most Republicans have accepted that there was interference except with a very, very big exception of the president of the United States. And, look, we've known that since 2016.

The Intelligence Community put out a statement in the fall of 2016 that Vladimir Putin was -- launched a cyber and propaganda campaign. In January of 2017 the Intelligence Community put out an unclassified report that laid out a lot of the general facts that we saw in the indictment yesterday. So we've known about this for a long time.

What the indictment does not allege is that this specific social media propaganda campaign had any help by Donald Trump or his campaign. So the collusion element was absent from this indictment.

BLACKWELL: Look, the president says that this has vindicated him through Twitter. This is now shows that the Trump campaign had no involvement, no collusion. At least that's his framing of what he read.

LIZZA: Well, this is just one piece of a very large sprawling investigation by the special counsel.


LIZZA: And look, we have such little visibility into this investigation. There wasn't a single reporter that knew this indictment was coming yesterday. So Mueller is -- he has a very tightly controlled team where information doesn't leak out. And so -- and this is just one small piece of a big investigation. Right? This is nothing to do with the obstruction of justice that he's reportedly looking at concerning Donald Trump. This has nothing to do with the hacking and dumping element of the Russian campaign. So we should expect that there is more coming and this issue of collusion is not yet settled.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Amanda, let me talk to you about sanctions because the question is now what will be the deterrent, what will be the punishment for Russia? Congress voted almost unanimously, I mean overwhelmingly, to impact, to levy these sanctions against Russia. The president signed them but still have not been implemented.

Will this clarity from this indictment change that? AMANDA TERKEL, WASHINGTON BUREAU, HUFFPOST: It might bring some more

pressure from Congress. But, I mean, as Ryan was saying the president himself doesn't seem that willing to accept what's going on as serious. He says that there is no collusion. That this vindicates him. I mean, the president has admitted that Russia meddled in the election. But he's drawn back on this. And we've heard reports that he regrets saying that. And so he continues to be -- you know, he once said that despite the Intelligence Community saying that they believe Russia interfered in the election, he said he talked to Putin. Putin denied it. And he really -- he believes him over the intelligence agencies.

So I don't think these will necessarily increase pressure on Trump because Trump is trying to do everything he can to discredit the Mueller investigation as it gets closer to his inner circle.

MARSH: We have some sound from the head of the FBI, Christopher Wray. He was on Capitol Hill this week. Let's play that and talk about it on the other side.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We're taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt the Russian effort --

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Was it directed by the president?

WRAY: Not as specifically directed by the president.


MARSH: So the president at this point has not directed the FBI. However, I'm sure the Intelligence Community is doing what they need to do. All of that said, I mean, the president is the president and has not verbalized his desire for this to be, you know, top of mind for the Intelligence Community. What does that mean? We're in 2018, midterms are coming. What does that mean to you?

LIZZA: It means he does not view this as a priority. It's the president's job to set the priorities for law enforcement, the general priorities for what the FBI should be doing. And for the Intelligence Community should be doing and the fact that he's never had this conversation with his FBI director just says that it's not a priority for him.

You have to wonder if Special Counsel Mueller looking at the fact that the White House doesn't really prioritize Russian meddling.


LIZZA: Decided to put forward this indictment against 13 people who, let's be honest, are never going to be tried in an American courtroom because he wanted to make a statement and fill the vacuum that exists at the top of the leadership.

[10:15:02] BLACKWELL: Steve, does the president's denial or refusal to offer the full-throated endorsement of what he is seeing from the Intelligence Community of Russia's meddling -- does that impact their ability to combat it going into 2018 and 2020?

HALL: I think what's happening is that the Russians are indeed watching very carefully what the reactions of the various parts of the U.S. government are and specifically the White House's reaction.

Matthew Chance in Moscow earlier was talking about foreign minister -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comments about this all being blathering and that sort of thing. Another thing interestingly that Mr. Lavrov also said was, look, this is all ridiculousness. It's typically American. And even the vice president himself casts doubt on this. So the Russians have a -- have no lack of handles in the U.S. government to be able to say, yes, but look, the American president is downplaying it. The vice president is downplaying it.

They're looking at this and saying, you know, we have lots of different ammunition where we can fire back and simply say the Americans themselves aren't taking these ridiculous things very seriously. The indictment is obviously important and combating that line of argument. But the Russians will simply continue to deny it and I think this administration is giving them ammunition which makes their denials that much stronger.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ryan, Amanda, Steve, thank you all.

This morning we're getting a clear picture of the warning signs in the Florida school massacre. The shooter's social media rants would make most people stop and ask what is this person capable of. Tragically, we all know the answer. More on that next.


[10:20:49] BLACKWELL: As we continue to report, we're finding that there were red flags and warning signs everywhere and there were alarms as well but authorities still could not stop the shooter in Florida from murdering 17 people.

CNN has learned that the Florida school shooter was part of a private Instagram group and posted racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic views. He also showed an obsession with guns and violence.

MARSH: Well, someone tipped off the FBI in early January about Cruz's social media post then warned the bureau about what his erratic behavior was all about and the desire to kill people. But the bureau now admits the proper protocols weren't followed and that the Miami office was never even notified of what had -- what could happen in nearby Parkland. Cruz is back in court on Monday and the public defender says he expect Cruz to plead guilty.

Joining us now from Parkland is CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. He is a retired supervisory special agent at the FBI.

And James, apparently, you know, everything that we tell people to do if you see something, say something, people actually did that. So how did the FBI drop the ball here? JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I got to tell you,

Rene, it was a stunning revelation yesterday. And listen, the FBI's motto is fidelity, bravery and integrity. And I laud Director Wray for coming out early on this and exhibiting transparency by saying it clearly was an institutional failure on our part.

Now here's the thing. With what we know thus far, we can't do a deep dive and determine exactly where the failure occurred. Was this a failure of processes and protocols or was this a mistake at the agent level?

We know that the telephone call came in on January 5th to the public access line which is an FBI line that then would route an actionable lead which is clearly would have been after it had been looked at by an agent to the appropriate field office and for Broward County that would have been Miami.

It was a colossal collapse of our processes and protocols, a colossal mistake. It certainly doesn't make it any easier of the parents of the 17 slain children down here. I've seen it. I'm experiencing being around it. It's a very visceral emotion down here. The FBI is just doing what they need to do right now, find out what happened, find out if there is any blame to be laid at a particular person or people and fix this so that this terrible tragedy never happens again.

BLACKWELL: And James, I'm sure you agree that the worst long term result of this mistake, we know what the short term result of it is. But the long term result will be that people who see suspicious activity will think it's not worth calling it in because they probably won't do anything anyway.

GAGLIANO: Yes, Victor, I've got to knock that down right now on its face and say this. Mistakes happen everywhere. Every agency, every company, every organization is fallible because they're made up of people and we are inherently fallible creatures. The public has to know we take threats like this seriously. At the federal level, in an incident like this where we get a call where there is some decent specific -- there is specificity related to it, it should have been run down.

And at a minimum, there should have been agents dispatched or law enforcement officers dispatched to conduct what we call a knock and talk, to go out and visit this person and try to determine whether or not it could reasonably be determined that this person could possibly do something. We now know that this person did.

MARSH: So even if, you know, the law enforcement got all this information, would they have been able to prevent this individual from getting the guns that he got there in the state of Florida? Because the truth of the matter is, Florida has some very lenient gun laws. I mean, would that -- would law enforcement have been able to stop that purchase?

GAGLIANO: Well, I mean, right now he was a 19-year-old and nothing prohibited, you know, on its face from him being able to purchase a weapon. Listen, I'm being called an apostate for this because I am evolving,

if that's the term, on looking at the Second Amendment and trying to figure out ways that we can attempt to mitigate this type of terrible tragedy.

[10:25:03] But it's not something we can look at in a vacuum. We've also got to look at privacy laws. We've got to look at FERPA, we've got to look at HIPPA, and those things that disallow mental health professionals from sharing this information with the government, with law enforcement to prevent something like this happen. And we also -- we also need to look at the First Amendment.

Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want. But if you log on to Facebook or you log on to social media, you guys are aware of it. I mean, the amount of refuge and garbage and trash and bile that is spewed in those places, the difficult part for us in law enforcement, sorting out what is something someone is saying in haste or with impulsivity and what really is an actionable lead that somebody might act on what they're saying.

BLACKWELL: Hey, James, you know, you've called this a colossal collapse of the FBI and protocol. Florida Governor Rick Scott is saying that FBI director Chris Wray should resign because of this mistake. Do you think that politicians are now using the FBI as an excuse to not take legislative action?

GAGLIANO: Victor, I think it's fair to criticize senior leadership when it's appropriate. I mean, I think people are savvy enough to recognize there is a difference between criticizing the actions or inactions of -- or the decisions of particular people, particular senior leaders. In this instance, I believe it was a reflexive knee jerk politicized response. And again, I understand the visceral emotion that the governor is going through right now. I certainly do. I've seen it and I sense it down here. It is palpable.

But to call for Director Wray's firing over this before all the facts are in, I think we need to take a step back, take a deep breath and let's wait until this deep dive and this transparent report comes out afterwards that basically says, you know, where the mistakes happened, can we fix them and is a particular person or people to blame for them.

MARSH: Right. James Gagliano, live for us there in Parkland, Florida. Thank you.

And this morning, five people are still hospitalized following this shooting. The president and the first lady visited a hospital in Broward County last night where many victims of Wednesday's shooting are being treated. They also dropped by the sheriff's office to praise the law enforcement officials who responded to the incident.

BLACKWELL: CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher is in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Dianne, good morning to you. What can you tell us about those still in hospitals and about the president's visit? DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Victor, Rene, the

good news is, as you said, only five in the hospital this morning. That means that since we first spoke earlier, somebody has been discharged. Still one in critical condition.

Broward North behind me is where the president and first lady visited. They spent time with two patients, one of whom was 18-year-old Maddy Wilford. The president talked a bit about her injuries and praised first responders.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just got back from the hospital. A young woman was shot, four bullets. Two in her lungs and they got her over to the hospital in less than 21 minutes. She had no chance and between the first responders, your people who got her, you know who I'm talking about, they got her there, Scott. What a job you're doing. I hope you're getting credit for it because believe me, you deserve it. The job you've done is unparallel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm giving them all a raise.

TRUMP: Give them a raise. Give everybody a raise.


GALLAGHER: And now as far as we know, the president did not meet with any of the families of the deceased. Of course those funerals began yesterday. They continue throughout today in the week. This afternoon Joaquin Oliver will have a memorial for him and his friend.

BLACKWELL: All right. Dianne Gallagher, for us there in Deerfield Beach. Thank you so much.

Well, still to come the students from that Florida school shooting are grappling with how to cope after this tragedy, after this loss. You're going to hear their thoughts on gun control and dealing with mental health problems in this country. What they want from their leaders in their own words.

MARSH: Plus, a geography teacher who lost his life being hailed as a hero, credited for saving the lives of so many while laying down his own when the gunman opened fire. His mother speaks to CNN. That interview is next.


[10:33:55] BLACKWELL: The community of Parkland, Florida, is just at the beginning of the process to heal after that horrific school shooting earlier this week. Now I went to Parkland and I spoke with a group of students from Stoneman Douglas High School and listened to stories about what they saw on Wednesday, how they feel about it now. They're shocked, obviously. Angry. They described some numbness but they all talked about the fear. The fear that school is no longer safe for them. Here is part of our conversation.


CAMERON KASKY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: It's a slew of emotions. And one of the most daunting things is that they'll kind of neutralize each other to the point where I feel desensitized.

ALFONSO CALDERON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: You asked how we're feeling, but I feel like a better question is what we're not feeling. I catch myself almost being mad at myself for not feeling more. I feel almost numb.

KASKY: There's been a lot of survivor guilt. There have been a lot of people saying, why wasn't it me?

SAWYER GAMTY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: We can't take life for granted anymore because every single day you just don't know what's going to happen. And we don't feel secure and safe in our own school, like a place we called home.

SOFIE WHITNEY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SENIOR: The only thing that separates us from them is just luck.

[10:35:05] They were freshmen. They were little girls that didn't come home because of what happened.

ALEX WIND, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: I had so many friends in the school that I wasn't in the room with that I wanted to make sure were safe and I -- it was hard to reach everyone. It was just such a -- such a scary feeling of helplessness.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask about, you know, the category now that this echelon that your school is in unfortunately. I can say Pulse Nightclub, and you all know what I'm talking about. Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech. I can now say Stoneman Douglas. What does that feel like now?

WHITNEY: Whether we were in that closet all together, I was just thinking we're going to be that school. We're going to be the ones that everyone talks about. We're going to be the school that got shot up.

GAMTY: With this title now that everyone knows the name of the school, we can use that and use it to make change.

KASKY: The only way we can do that is by being unapologetic and not by sugarcoating it.

BLACKWELL: Have you prepared yourself for what it will be like to walk back into that building?

WIND: I had a class with one of the girls that passed away, unfortunately. I don't know how I'm going to step foot back in that class.

KASKY: I'm excited to go back to school. It's going to be hard. I have a class in the building where everything happened. But I want to be with everybody and everybody's been so strong together. And I want to see everybody. If we didn't have the leadership at our school that we did, there is a very good chance that this could be abysmal, more so than it already is.

GAMTY: How can you not be scared after something like that happens? People I know, people I pass in the hall every day just gone. And, yes, I'm scared.


MARSH: Insightful conversation there. And Scott Beigel is a named worth remembering. He is the teacher responsible for saving many lives in last Wednesday's school shooting. He pulled students into his classroom just moments before he was shot dead.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Randi Kaye sat down with a teacher's mother to talk about how much his students meant to him.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Tell me a little bit about your son. What was he like?

LINDA BEIGEL SCHULMAN, LOST SON SCOTT BEIGEL IN SHOOTING: My son was probably the most humble person you've ever met in your life. He was caring. He was really kind. If you asked him to do something for you, there is no doubt he would get it done.

KAYE: What did he love about teaching? He taught geography. Did he love these kids? And love teaching?

SCHULMAN: He loved to be able to get through to kids. He loved to be able to explain something and have them engaged. He was their teacher. He was Mr. Beigel. But I think he was more like a friend. You know? I think the children learn to respect him. He was tough. He was tough. And he had his rules and his ways. And I think after a while they understood that and they came to love him and respect him.

KAYE: And he was also a camp counselor.

SCHULMAN: That was his passion. Being in camp was Scott's passion. He started when he was 7. He loved camp. He lived for camp. He went to school and at the end of the school year he would count the days until he could go to camp. And --

KAYE: He's a kid at heart for real.

SCHULMAN: He is a kid of heart for real. And then when he got to be a CIT, a counselor in training, then he got to be a counselor and then he was a group leader. And he just went up the ranks. And when he had to pick a profession, we joked about it. If you want to keep going to camp, you know, until you're old and gray, you better be a teacher.

KAYE: I've spoken with students who say that your son was a hero. That he saved their lives. Do you believe he was a hero? Do you see him that way? SCHULMAN: Scott believed things should be a certain way. And his

responsibility to others always came first. He would do whatever he had to do to keep those that he cared about and especially those he loved safe. And that I'm sure he didn't think twice. There is no doubt in my mind that that was -- that is what he was going to do. And he didn't think about it. That's just what should be done. That's the right thing to do.

KAYE: These students told me that they look at your son as a hero. That he died a hero. Do you believe that? Do you feel that way?

SCHULMAN: Scott is a hero to his students. I think Scott is a hero to so many people. He touched everybody's life. It didn't matter. He was there to help people. He was there to better people. And he just -- I think he wanted to treat people the way he wanted to be treated.

KAYE: You said he called you every day on the way home from school.

SCHULMAN: Monday through Friday.

KAYE: Yes.

SCHULMAN: Every day on the way home from school I got a call from Scott, hey, mom, how you doing? Hey, Scott, how is school today?

[10:40:08] Whether it was a 30 second conversation just to make sure mom is OK and I knew then that Scott was OK or it could be a 20-minute conversation.

Scott was -- he was just the most amazing child somebody could want to have. Don't get me wrong, he had his flaws, OK. We all do. But Scott was my rock. Scott was a confidante. Scott was just the son everybody would ever want to have. And he was mine.

KAYE: I know you're going to miss him a lot.

SCHULMAN: I don't know how I'm going to do this. Right now I still go to sleep thinking that when I get up in the morning it's just a nightmare. Just a bad dream.

KAYE: Yes.

SCHULMAN: And I see his picture on the TV and I'm so proud of him. But I know that is all I'm going to be able to do is look at pictures because I'm never going to be able to hug my son again. I need those hugs. I need those calls on the way home from school. I need to know that Scott's OK. I'm sorry.

KAYE: It's OK. How you would like your son to be remembered? What do you want the world to remember about him?

SCHULMAN: Scott was just -- Scott was a regular guy who wanted -- who is happy with what he had, who chose to live his life the way he thought it was the way it should be lived. And I just want everybody to remember Scott really as a hero. Scott is a hero in life not just in school. But in life.


MARSH: A hero and incredibly selfless. Our thanks to Randi Kaye for that. Scott's burial ceremony is tomorrow. Our condolences to his family.

And before we go to break, here are some pictures from around the country of candlelight vigils held for the victims and the victims' families. We'll be right back.


[10:46:30] BLACKWELL: Now this was an easy story to miss coming on the same day that Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced the Russia indictments and the FBI said that they missed the tip warning them about the Florida school shooter.

MARSH: But the White House is now fighting another story of an extramarital affair by the president, again, dating back to shortly after the first lady gave birth to son Barron Trump.

Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heading to Florida, the president walked alone to Marine One. His wife Melania traveling separately amid humiliating headlines including word that the billionaire businessman's lawyer paid off an adult film star following an alleged affair and a new claim about another extramarital merger.

That story dates to 2006, when "The Apprentice" was shooting and having a party at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles. The married star of the show, Donald Trump, was there and according to the "New Yorker" so was former Playmate of the Year, Karen McDougal.

The magazine says it was the start of a nine-month whirlwind of hotel room romps, fancy trips, a visit to Trump Tower where he pointed out his wife's bedroom, even high-profile events like the launch of Trump Vodka and the Miss Universe pageant.

McDougal told a magazine she paid for everything and was reimbursed to prevent a paper trail leading to Trump. The White House says, "This is an old story that is just more fake news. The president says he never had a relationship with McDougal."

So how did the "New Yorker" come up with the sordid tale? A friend of McDougal supposedly gave the magazine eight handwritten pages.

RONAN FARROW, THE NEW YORKER: She wrote a detailed chronicle of this affair in the course of selling this story.

FOREMAN: The story did sell to the company that owns the "National Enquirer" for $150,000 days before the election, according to the "Wall Street Journal" and the "New Yorker." So why didn't you read it? Because the "Enquirer," which is run by a friend of Trump's, did not publish McDougal's story. But by paying for it, legally blocked anyone else, including her, from coming out with details. The "Enquirer" has made no comment on that part of the story.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: All right. Next, the Olympics. An update on the medal count. Coy Wire joins us to discuss freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy who has his eyes on gold tonight.


[10:53:38] BLACKWELL: The U.S. has been struggling to bring home those medals at the Winter Olympics. But freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy will have his eyes on gold tonight.

MARSH: Coy Wire joins us now.

Coy, he has the outcome of a lot. He has overcome a lot, I should say. But both on and off the slopes, huh?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Absolutely. This "Difference Makers" is presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Team USA skier Gus Kenworthy took silver in the last Winter Games and he made headlines rescuing stray dogs in the cold streets of Sochi. But concealing his sexuality had become so difficult, Gus nearly took his own life. Now he's free. And he and figure skater Adam Rippon are the first openly gay men ever to compete for the USA in the Winter Games. Gus is hoping his journey will inspire others who may be struggling with their sexuality, too.


GUS KENWORTHY, OLYMPIC SKIER: Anyone in the closet or anyone that's like waiting for something that's kind of out of their control, I don't know, you think about, like, the worst possible scenario, worst- case scenario, and I had kind of like made myself believe that that was what I was going to be dealing with. And then I actually came out and it was so much support. I got like calls and texts. I had people in my sport call me and apologize for things that they had said and that they hadn't realize and that meant a lot to me.

WIRE: There are some youngsters out there who may be struggling with their sexuality. What do you hope that they see in you when they watch you?

[10:55:07] KENWORTHY: I just hope to be that person that kid can see sort of reflection of themselves in and give them hope to know that they can come out, too, and that it's all good and that they'll be better off for it.

Why are you being so nervous?

WIRE: I know you travel so much.


WIRE: So it's tough for you to have a pet. But you're still well connected with dogs and you're helping a lot, right?

KENWORTHY: Back home I do animal adoption events with Petco and Humane Society and different, I don't know, animal nonprofits and definitely an animal lover.


WIRE: You can catch Gus's debut in Pyeongchang later tonight in men's slope style East Coast Time.

MARSH: Thanks so much for joining us, Coy. And that's going to do it for us.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Thanks for watching. There is more ahead in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a quick break.