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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Parkland School Massacre; Gun Control Debate; LeBron James Responds To "Shut Up And Dribble" Comments; NBA All-Star Weekend Aired 6-7a

Aired February 18, 2018 - 06:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:00:15]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russians operating out of this St. Petersburg troll farm launched a mis-information campaign to it wreak havoc on America's political system.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians and that's the Democrats and the mainstream media. Why did the Russians go to this trouble to help his campaign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they are saying is enough is enough. These are coming from young people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise you, I will hug each and every one of you, as many times as you need, and we will get through this together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Sunday to you.

We are starting with breaking news that is out of Iran. An Iran-based airline says all 66 passengers and crew members are presumed dead after one of its planes crashed in the mountainous southwestern part of the country.

At least 20 rescue teams reportedly were sent to the crash site, but an airline official said the plane disappeared from the radar almost an hour after takeoff from Tehran. Right now, the cause of the crash is not known and weather in the area is making it very difficult to try to get to that crash cited. We will get you more as soon as we get it.

MARSH: This morning, President Trump is attacking his own FBI once again implying agents mishandled a tip about the Florida school shooter because the agency is too focused on the Russia investigation.

BLACKWELL: Now the allegations are striking but the timing is also key. Just three days after a massacre at their school, survivors and their parents, they rallied last night to demand tougher gun laws.

And to criticize the president and other lawmakers for what they described as inaction, but the president shifted blame to the FBI saying it's spending too much time investigating his presidential campaign and allegations potential collusion here. The president also called Florida officials last night about the attack.

MARSH: CNN's Dan Merica joins us live now from Florida near the president's resort where Trumps is spending the long weekend. The president is also getting criticism for that tweet he sent late last night.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Rene. You know, President Trump has come down here. He has done the presidential things which includes, you know, visiting the school, visiting the hospital that were impacted by this Parkland shooting.

But he is also doing things tweeting late last night about -- excuse me -- about the -- blaming the FBI for mishandling a tip that they received. Now the FBI admitted that they had gotten information on the shooter in Parkland, but they did not follow through fully on that tip.

And that's actually something they apologized for, but as you mentioned President Trump tied that into the fact that his long running campaign against the FBI and let me read what he tweeted late last night.

He said, "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the multiple signs by the Florida shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!"

So, what the president is doing is using this shooting and then the admitted mistake by the FBI to undercut this Russian collusion, something he has done really for the entire time that this Russian investigation has been ongoing.

Additionally, President Trump kind of slammed his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who is in Europe and said that the evidence laid out by this indictment, Robert Mueller's indictment, a very detailed document that went through step-by-step all of the campaign of misinformation run out of this Russian troll farm. H.R. McMaster said that the evidence is incontrovertible that Russia meddled in 2016 elections, something we have not heard from President Trump so far. President Trump took Twitter again to slam H.R. McMaster's statements saying that he left something out and this is what he said.

"General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems."

So far, we have not heard President Trump say, for example, what he is going to do in response to this indictment that lays out Russia's role, pins much of what was done on people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

That's something we are waiting to hear from. The White House did issue a statement, the president has tweeted about it, but we haven't really heard a fulsome response from him.

[06:05:06] President Trump is going to be meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan today at Mar-a-Lago. We are expecting something to come out of a tweet or something. It's unclear whether we will see part of that meeting.

But certainly, we'll be watching to see if, you know, does Paul Ryan bring up the indictment and does something come out of that in regards to what the government, President Trump's administration is actually going to do to respond to what Russia did during the 2016 election.

MARSH: All right. Dan Merica reporting live for us this morning, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now is CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, and CNN political analyst, Julian Zelizer. Gentlemen, good morning to both of you. And former assistant director of the FBI, let me start with you, Tom. What do you make of the president connecting what happened in Florida and what everybody says is a terrible mistake by the FBI and the Russia investigation?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: With all due respect to the president, it is one of the dumbest things anybody has said in relation to this horrible tragedy. To say that one or a few employees in the call center in West Virginia made a tragic catastrophic mistake, which is admittedly what happened, to say that was because they were distracted or busy on the Russia collusion case is absolutely ridiculous.

MARSH: Because, to that point, I mean, the gripe was that the tip never got to investigators, so if it never got to investigators, how could they be distracted?

FUENTES: Correct. We don't know exactly what broke down. Was it the technology in that center? Was it the employees themselves? We don't know. The 35,000 employees of the FBI, throughout the world, are not all working on the Russian collusion case. Certainly not the employees in that call center. BLACKWELL: It's not like the agents who were investigating this case are on leave from their tip line job?

FUENTES: No.

BLACKWELL: Just to be clear. I think people are receiving the president's tweet who may think that this there is a huge rush of resource to the two investigations and Director Ray reminded everybody last week now there are more than two investigations going on in the 37,000 employees of the FBI are doing a great job, he says, and we will play that a little later in the show.

MARSH: So, Julian, I want to bring you in on the conversation. I think that this all just underscores where the president has stood on this Russia investigation from the very beginning. And I do want to throw out the tweet from Chuck Grassley last night.

He said, "The next time that President Trump talk to Putin, tell him to butt out of our elections, quit the cyberwarfare interference in our democracy." The question for you, Julian, it almost feels as when you hear what McMaster said, what you're hearing other fellow Republicans are saying, this administration essentially is left to respond without the president's leadership here. How unusual is that historically?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Extremely unusual. When you have a national security problem of this sort, and it is a national security problem, to learn that Russia was interfering in 2014, and we know they are planning to do so again.

To have the president remain totally silent, other than to use this issue somehow to attack the FBI and to avoid a discussion of gun control in Florida is kind of astounding and what is astounding is the rest of the administration is no longer willing to be quiet about the threat.

They are talking openly about the facts, while the president is talking really about false things, and so, you do have a disconnect. Some Republicans are finally saying something. That said, will there be any more forceful response to the president's silence from the GOP? We don't know.

BLACKWELL: Tom, the president's allies and staff there at the White House have said consistently that the president's criticisms of the FBI is directed at leadership. How do you read this tweet about the tip line and missing that call or following up on it? Do you read that as criticism of leadership as well?

FUENTES: No, absolutely not. There are no senior leaders at the director or what we call the seventh-floor level of FBI headquarters. They are not out in West Virginia taking phone calls. So, if we have a mistake made, which we apparently do, obviously, do, it's not in relationship to the leaders in Washington and what decisions they are making policy guidelines or overseeing complex cases or that.

So, it's just really -- there is no relation. So, these kinds of criticisms now are directed at all of the FBI, which is rank in file from the lowest level support employee, which may be what happened here in the call center case, all the way to the top.

[06:10:12] But to keep making these kinds of connections is not correct and to tie it that everybody in the FBI is somehow preoccupied with the collusion case is probably, again, the most ridiculous thing anybody could say about what is going on.

BLACKWELL: Do you read this as the president does not know the difference between the tip line employees and those who are tasked with investigating for Robert Mueller's team or he knows and is intentionally trying to mislead people?

FUENTES: You know, when any major event happens whether it's a school shooting or a plane crash or train crash or anything like that that's in the news, one of the first things we hear is the president has been advised what is going on in this case.

So, if the president doesn't know, I don't know where that fault would lie or what notification breakdown is occurring there, but he absolutely -- if he doesn't know what happened or what possibly happened or how many people are involved in this call center mistake, then he could be looking into that.

But to just put something like this out that basically insults the entire FBI over what admittedly is a tragic error in what happened in this case, is just -- it's really not fair to the entire FBI.

And it's not fair for him to mislead the country about the nature of the way the FBI is working, which he is the executive of the United States government. He should know exactly how this breaks down.

MARSH: Just really quickly. Briefly on that point. Let's get -- take the tip line and what happened in Florida out of this for now and just a larger big picture question. For Americans who are seeing, you know, all of the headlines about the Russia investigation, does he, at all, again, minus the tip line.

Does he at all raise a valid point as to whether such a large complex investigation like the Russia investigation, does it all take any resources away from people in the FBI looking at any other issues in general?

FUENTES: What we have seen in the Mueller investigation is that resources from the FBI and the Department of Justice and other agencies were assigned to Robert Mueller. Now no one else anywhere else is directly involved in that investigation other than the Mueller team.

I worked for Robert Mueller my last seven years as an executive in the bureau. He runs a tight ship and that is why every single announcement of an indictment, of anybody in connection with the Mueller investigation has come as a huge surprise to the entire media, to everyone, because there have been no leaks and it's been so tightly controlled and still is. So, this is not a bureau-wide investigation at all. It's not like a 911 or something where practically every resource around the world is devoted to it. This is a tight-knit team controlled by Robert Mueller almost leak-proof, as we have seen.

Even when Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein announced that he was holding a press conference last week later to announce the indictment of these Russians. No one knew what it was about. They are speculating what it's going to be about.

BLACKWELL: Julian to you, this is another example of the White House attempting to shape and frame the president's response to an issue and then the president usually on a Saturday, often at Mar-a-Lago, sends out a tweet and diverts the entire conversation into another area. No one was connecting what happened in Florida and that missed tip with the Russia investigation.

ZELIZER: Absolutely. And that is why, you know, the ongoing discussion that we always have about whether the president will be controlled, the answer is always no. And Twitter has given this president a kind of power to act independently of his own staff, of his own advisers, that we haven't really seen in presidential history.

And he uses it and he uses it aggressively. So, ultimately, the narrative from the White House will come from the president, himself, and that ranges from political issues to national security issues, and he has constantly undermined his own team and we are seeing it this weekend.

BLACKWELL: All right. Julian Zelizer and Tom Fuentes, thank you both. We will continue the conversation throughout the morning.

MARSH: President Trump seems at odds with his own national security adviser. What does this mean for the White House moving forward and the Russia investigation?

BLACKWELL: Plus, survivors of the Florida school shooting say this is enough. They send a strong message to lawmakers both in Tallahassee, Florida and in Washington at this anti-gun rally.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:19:03]

MARSH: President Trump says his national security adviser forgot something when he said it was now clear that Russia tried to influence the 2016 elections. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: In a response, the president tweeted this last night, "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians, and that the only collusion was between Russia and Crooked H., the DNC, and the Dems."

Joining us now is Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst, Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer and editor for "The Washington Examiner." Good morning to both of you.

So, Samantha, let me start with you. Forgot, in quotes there from the president, but it would be really unusual for the national security adviser to say something like that. One, because it's untrue and, second, it's a political statement. So, it's unlikely that General McMaster forgot to say all of those things?

[06:20:10] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly. I worked two no national security advisers and they typically don't forget to say things in carefully crafted speeches like the speech that General McMaster gave in Munich yesterday.

But you know, Victor, in reading President Trump's tweets, I actually felt it should be coming from Vladimir Putin's Twitter feed and not from the president of the United States. We have a tweet that, against undermines a key U.S. national security official, General McMaster.

It includes misinformation and inaccuracies again alleging that there was no collusion. The investigation is not over and, again, trying to show divisions. That is a tool out of the Russian's tool kit. Instead, this is what the president of the United States is doing? You really have to wonder why.

MARSH: Samantha, you were saying that Trump's tweets, they actually play into the hands of Putin and --

VINOGRAD: Indeed.

MARSH: And it's doing the work for him. Explain why.

VINOGRAD: Because we know from publicly available intelligence analysis that the Russians, directed by Vladimir Putin are very focused on sowing divisions in the United States, creating confusion, demoralizing the American public, and undermining the credibility of our institutions.

You look at the tweets from yesterday and from early this morning, the president undercut General McMaster again saying that he forgot something and made an offensive comment about the FBI a few hours ago, indicating that they can't investigate what the breakdown in protocol related to the Parkland shooting while concurrently working on the Russia investigation.

I'm reading all of these tweets and I'm confused, demoralized that our president is undercutting our institutions and so again, he is taking a page out of the Putin's playbook. BLACKWELL: And Siraj, what we read a few moments ago about the president's tweet and the FBI and saying that they were distracted by the Russia investigation, they need to get back to business. This president also has called on or at least criticized the Justice Department for not investigating Uranium One and Hillary Clinton's emails and on and on and on.

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": I mean, one thing about these indictments is that it does not address the DNC hacking as well as the Podesta email hackings, and how those e-mails gone to hostile websites such as Wikileaks.

I think you have to look at the fact that these while they point out no Americans knowingly colluded with the Russians, it could be absolving Hillary Clinton's campaign in a sense, specifically what the charge that President Trump makes that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians.

So, of course, we don't know exactly if these indictments completely absolve the Trump campaign, but as far as we know, that hasn't really been addressed with respect to them colluding with the Russians.

MARSH: I mean, do you get any indication that with this indictment coming out and these details, as far as just how sophisticated these Russian trolls were, any indication that he will actually feel the pressure to do something, i.e., more sanctions?

HASHMI: Well, he did have the opportunity to impose more sanctions back in January and he chose not to. And I think that an area of concern going forward in how President Trump handles our relations with the Russians. Of course, I spoke to members of the Senate who believe that this is somewhat of a card he is carrying in the back of his pocket to use in case the Russians misbehave --

MARSH: If that wasn't misbehaving what we saw in the indictment, I don't know what is. Do you think this gives him an extra nudge?

HASHMI: Possibly. I mean, the thing is that, you know, according to the people I spoke to in the Senate, basically, not imposing -- more additional sanctions on Russia is a tool to kind of get them to behave and, in their view, they think the Russians are now behaving since President Trump has been in office.

BLACKWELL: Just passage of the law but that implementation of the sanctions they believe --

HASHMI: In that same law, there are the sanctions against North Korea and Iran which were imposed.

BLACKWELL: Samantha, out to you, what does this tweet, the president now going directly for General McMaster, what does this mean for every member of the national security infrastructure who is in front of a camera? I mean, will they have to answer about emails and Uranium One and the Podesta emails and what is all listed here, the DNC, and the president's tweet? VINOGRAD: I'm sure they are nervous about this, but I can tell you I went to work at the White House every day for four years and I never once worried that the president of the United States would be tweeting about mere tweeting inaccuracies.

So, I think that certainly puts a cloud over staff member going to work, working 18 or 16-hour-days in trying to get the job done.

[06:25:02] I think that there is concern from folks that I've spoken with at the White House about legal proceedings and whether they are going to be caught up in any kind of investigation related to any number of issues.

Again, let's be clear, that distracts away from any time or attention that they are paying to actually doing national security work.

MARSH: All right. Well, Samantha Vinograd and Siraj Hashmi, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Today on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper, Congressman Adam Schiff and Governor John Kasich are on the show with Jake Tapper today on "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Well, survivors of the Florida school shooting are calling up politicians and demanding tougher gun laws at this rally. We will let you hear what they have to say.

MARSH: Plus, the politics of gun control. What could the impact be in the November midterms? That is all coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMA GONZALEZ, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.

To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Very strong words from a survivor of the Florida school shooting to the president. You saw the huge crowd there. You'll see more of it that turned up at the rally calling for laws to ban assault weapons.

MARSH: And this banner seen flying over Miami Beach read, shame on you, Marco Rubio, and the NRA.

Rosa Flores is live from Parkland, Florida this morning. Rosa, tell us a little bit more about that emotional rally we just saw. ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there is so much pain in this community that students took all of that pain and put it into words.

They are asking politicians for gun control. They want the type and the style of weapon that was used here to kill 17 students to be banned. They want high capacity magazines that are used for maximum carnage to be banned and they directed their message to voters, asking them not to vote for lawmakers that are not for gun control, especially those who are funded and who fund their campaigns by the NRA.

And senior Emma Gonzalez had this powerful message to say. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GONZALEZ: Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: And she also said why is it more difficult for us to plan what we want to do on a weekend than it is for others to buy guns and ammunition. Rene, Victor --

BLACKWELL: So, Rosa, the principal of Stoneman Douglas has a message for students and their families as well. Tell us about it.

FLORES: You know, we often hear it is just not normal for parents to have to bury their children. It's the same thing for principals. They see all of the students as their children.

So he had a very emotional message. He took to YouTube to thank his staff, to thank law enforcement for arriving so quickly. And he also had this message for students.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TY THOMPSON, PRINCIPAL, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Eagles, I promise you I will hug each and every one of you as many times as you need and I will hold you, as long as you need me to for all 3,300 of you and your families and we will get through this together.

Our community is strong. Our students are strong. We will persevere in these trying times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: And very trying times, indeed.

Now we have learned from the Broward County Public Schools' Web site that they do plan to allow staff to return to this campus by the end of the week. But as you might imagine, that, in itself, is a difficult thing for them to do.

MARSH: And, Rosa, the president also spoke with the mayor there in Parkland. Do you have any idea of what he said and what that conversation was about?

FLORES: Well, President Trump called several leaders here in this community to offer his condolences. As you mentioned, he spoke to the mayor and the commissioner to thank them for their leadership and he also called the principal, the gentleman that we just heard from moments ago, to praise his resolve in the face of danger, because, again, he was in the front lines. He was with these students and now he is the leader that they are looking up to. Rene, Victor --

MARSH: Well, Rosa Flores, live for us this morning, thank you. And Parkland, Florida's mayor will join us live next hour to share more on her conversation with the president. Stay with us on that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Some good news this morning for the victims still hospitalized after that shooting on Wednesday, the last patient in critical condition has improved to fair and only two others are still in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the Parkland community is getting ready for 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg's funeral today.

CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher is in Deerfield Beach, Florida, with more details. Dianne, good morning to you.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor.

Yes, that bit of good news about only three remaining patients is met with solemnness here in parkland because of the funerals that continue to happen in this community. At the exact same time that people will be saying goodbye to 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg.

[06:35:01]

They will also, at another chapel, be saying goodbye to 35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel. According to his students, he died saving their lives by trying to lock the door and to keep the shooter away from them. Again, this is something that so many in this community are having to do each and every day, Victor, go to these funerals in the days after that shooting.

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

And be sure to join us for a special CNN town hall with students, parents and others impacted by the Florida school shooting. "Stand Up: The Students Of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action." It is live on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

MARSH: Well, social media is lighting up after the Florida shooting. The president using Twitter to blame Democrats and one Democrat has a stunning response.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:40:13]

BLACKWELL: Well, the political finger pointing after the Florida school shooting is well under way. President Trump is now talking about Democrats with this post on Twitter, "Just like they don't want to solve the DACA problem, why didn't the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House and Senate during the Obama administration? Because they didn't want to and now they just talk."

He also chastised the FBI on Twitter for its failure to act on a tip about the shooter.

MARSH: Well, the gun control debate is lighting up social media again and could have an impact on the fall midterm elections.

Let's talk about this with senior CNN media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, and CNN political analyst and history professor, Julian Zelizer, is back again with us.

You know, first to you, Julian.

You know, the president is talking about Democrats and what they did when they had control of both chambers of Congress. But it is worth noting, you know, he is saying they are all talk. He hasn't even talked about guns up until this point.

He has talked about school safety and he has talked about mental illness but to this point, no mention of guns.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look. He is right in that many Democrats have not been very strong with gun control, like many Republicans, they have been scared of going against the NRA fearing the electorate repercussions.

But right now Republicans control both the White House and Congress. This issue is in front of us. And the president has almost gone out of his way in the last few days to avoid any discussion of gun control.

So the ball is now with him and this is an opportunity to actually move forward on some kind of restrictions that much of the public supports but Washington can't seem to produce.

BLACKWELL: Actually, the president makes a point here about what the Democrats prioritize in 2009. It was, you know, a time when -- he is correct, the Democrats had the White House and both chambers in Congress.

And I want you to listen to then attorney general Eric Holder. It was the first full month of the administration, the 10th anniversary of Columbine, two years after the Virginia Tech shooting and this is what attorney general Holder said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As a President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make and among them would be to reinstitute the ban of the sale of assault weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: In 2009, Democrats prioritized health care. The president then tried to go back to the idea of an assault weapons ban in 2016, but by that time the politics had moved on to the election.

Brian, let come to you and the response from Congressman Ruben Gallego getting a lot of attention this morning.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The response overnight to the president's most recent comments about the FBI. Here is the congressman's tweet. He said, "You are such a psychopath" -- to President Trump -- "that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born."

Look. I think what he is doing here he is going down to Trump's level with name calling and I think a lot of people who see this tweet react to is saying do you have to stoop that low? There has been two ways to react to President Trump if you're a Democrat.

One is to reject his tactics, to try to go above it. The other is to embrace and copy Trump's tactics by being a name-caller, by being on Twitter, responding in that way. That is clearly what the congressman is doing.

What he is responding to, I think, is the most news worthy tweet of the weekend which is the president suggesting there is a link between the FBI missing the tip about Florida and the Russia investigation. This is a nonsensical claim that the president put forth overnight and that's what the congressman is responding to.

The idea that for some reason, because the FBI is -- one aspect of the FBI is looking into the Russian attack on our election that somehow they missed the tip about Florida.

Let me just remind you the FBI has 35,000 employees so it is a nonsensical argument from the president and it caused the Democrat to respond in such a harsh manner. That, look, he is going to get a lot of rewards, a lot of praise for it from some liberals, from some of his voters but I think a lot of criticism as well for being so personal, using the word psychopath.

MARSH: Staying on the topic of tweets, I mean, it wasn't just that tweet. It was also a retweet of Facebook executive who essentially contradicted what was in the Mueller indictment.

We have that tweet there. So let's pull that up on the screen and you can see here this is, again, Facebook executive essentially saying that this whole operation was not about influencing votes.

[06:45:05] It was more so about causing divisions. The president retweeted that.

I guess to you, Brian. I mean, you've been keeping tabs on all of this. Is it even clear whether companies like Facebook, have they done all that they need to do, seeing as how we are inching closer and closer to the midterm elections, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again? Do we have a good handle on this?

STELTER: Well, Facebook says it screwed up and it learned valuable lessons from the 2016 election and they're putting those lessons in the place now for the midterms.

For example, Facebook said it's getting a lot better about recognizing when someone creates a fake profile. So, if a Russian bot or anybody in any country tries to make a fake profile in order to send out messages, Facebook says it's getting better about tamping down on those a lot faster. That said, there are a lot of critics that the company is not doing nearly enough and this response over the weekend from Facebook's V.P. of ads saying, hey, hey, hey, what the Russians were doing fundamentally was about sowing discord, that's not necessarily a new thought.

We have known that for a while. However, it is also very clear and the executive also acknowledged that the Russians before Election Day wanted President Trump to get elected. They wanted him to win. That was very clear.

And the fact that this campaign its operation is so disaccord and chaos continued after Election Day that actually just underscores how serious and how dangerous this campaign has been, how brazen it was that these Russian bots, these Russian trolls thought they could get away with it and keep going after Election Day and keep sowing and causing division in the United States.

I think the through line for all the president's tweets, it's FOX News. It's the right wing narrative that is trying to ensure him that he is right and the others are wrong, whether attacking the Democrats, whether it's saying the Russians really were out to do something else. What we are seeing here is the president parity (ph) and talking points from pro Trump media.

BLACKWELL: Julian, I want to talk more about this gun control legislation tweet and the president context of when a party has control over the three levers of power. And, of course, that is the case now with the Republicans holding both chambers in Congress and the White House.

The first and potentially only piece of legislation the president signed that relates to gun control was one that overturned an Obama era law that made it more difficult for people with mental disabilities to be able to get a gun. It would have made the legislation through the rule actually from the Obama administration would have added roughly 75,000 Americans who are deemed mentally incapable of handling their financial benefits through Social Security to the national background check database. Every Republican in the Senate voted for it to nullify the Obama rule and so did these four Democrats -- I want to put them up on the screen -- Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana, and then you have Senator Angus King who is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

The four Democrats there are all up in 2018. They are all representing states that Trump won in 2016.

What did that mean for them with this now passion that we are seeing to get stronger gun control laws? And you've got these four Democrats who voted for that legislation.

ZELIZER: Well, it's unclear if activists who are now going to be demanding some kind of gun control legislation to move us out of this nightmare that we keep reliving will have the pressure and the gravitas to overcome the influence that the NRA and NRA supporters will have in the electorate of those members. And that's the battle we keep fighting and we keep watching play out. But it is possible for grassroots activists to overturn the power of the status quo.

But let's remember. We have lived through this many times and there is outrage and there is horror and many tears are shed, but the legislation doesn't change. The legislation doesn't change.

STELTER: Can I suggest that it's like showing up to a garbage dump, promising to clean up the dump with only a broom or a mop? You know, it's a nice effort, it's a nice thing to try, but we are not going to get anywhere with these tiny conversations about tiny changes and that is why I think the students in Florida are so important.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

STELTER: Look what is going to happen later today. These students are going to launch their new organization, "Never Again." They are going to speak out on "STATE OF THE UNION" and other programs --

BLACKWELL: Yes.

STELTER: -- because they don't -- they are not burdened by these debates that we have been having for decades. They are not burdened by all of this old thinking.

I wonder what new ideas these students might have.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And I sat down and spoke to a few of them and they certainly have some ideas.

STELTER: Yes. Exactly. Fresh thinking from the students. Yes.

BLACKWELL: Julian, Brian, thank you both.

Quick break. We'll be right back.

STELTER: Thanks (ph). ZELIZER: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:54:14]

MARCH: LeBron James firing back at a FOX News host who said he should just -- quote -- "shut up and dribble" and not discuss politics.

BLACKWELL: Andy Scholes is live in Los Angeles the site of tonight's all-star game.

Andy, you spoke with LeBron about this. What did he say?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys.

You know, first off LeBron said he is never just going to shut up and dribble. He's going to continue to speak his mind on social issues giving the platform he has as the top athlete in the country.

You know, LeBron has been critical of President Trump in the past and recently on his multimedia platform "Uninterrupted" LeBron says he thinks the president doesn't understand or care about the people and that is what prompted FOX News host Laura Ingraham to say that LeBron should -- quote -- "just shut up and dribble" and not discuss politics.

[06:55:01]

Well, I asked LeBron yesterday what he thought about those comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: We will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that.

I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to the -- to so many kids that feel like they don't have -- they don't have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation that they are in.

For me to sit up here in the greatest weekend of the NBA, All-Star weekend, and I get -- I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice, equality and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to "shut up and dribble."

So, thank you, whatever her name is. I don't even know her name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: The all-star festivities continuing here last night in Los Angeles with NBA All-Star Saturday night.

The highlight of the night is always the slam dunk contest and Larry Nance Jr. paying tribute to his dad with his first dunk, putting on his dad's old uniform. Larry Nance Sr. get (ph) emotional watching his son do that.

He actually won the slam dunk contest back in 1984. Nance Jr. coming with the runner up last night to Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell. He wowed the crowd with high-flying dunks all night long, executing perfectly to win the slam dunk contest.

Tonight, of course, the NBA All-Star game and, guys, for the first time we're not going to have east versus west. It's going to team Steph versus team LeBron. The all-star game tips off at 8:00 Eastern.

BLACKWELL: All right. Looking forward to it. Andy, thanks.

Next hour of your NEW DAY begins after a short break.

SCHOLES: All right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)