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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Returns to WH Amid New Developments in Russia Probe; Special Counsel Mueller Inquiring About Jared Kushner's Talks With Potential Chinese Investor; Mueller Interested in Kushner's Foreign Financing Efforts; Trump Blames Obama For Inaction Over Russia Meddling; In Tweetstorm, Trump Blames Everyone But Russia; Shooter's Past Includes Buying Guns, Cutting, Mental Illness; White House: Trump Open to Improving Background Checks. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 19, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:02] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Rick Scott and President Trump by the way, they have declined the invitation. Wednesday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. That's it for me. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news, President Trump is arriving back at the White House to a flurry of Russia developments. The special counsel is looking at Jared Kushner's links to foreign investors. And new details about the Florida school shooter. He obtained ten rifles before shooting, cut his own arms and posted video on Snapchat. Why were there so many missed signs? Plus, Trump's obsession with Oprah, why she just can't quit her? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Dana Bash in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, break news on the president's son-in-law. CNN has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation to look into Jared Kushner's discussion during the presidential transition with foreign investors. Mueller is going beyond Kushner's Russian contacts and digging into his attempts to secure financing for his real estate businesses and other foreign investors including China.
President Trump returned to the White House moments ago after a long weekend in Florida at Mar-a-Lago, arriving amid of flurry of developments in the Russia investigation. After a weekend Twitter storm about the investigation, Trump was back at it again on this president's day. He tweeted, "Obama was president up to, and beyond, the 2016 election. So why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?"
Now, the special counsel's interest in the finances of the extended Trump family could be more of a signal to come. That's exactly what the former director of National Intelligence James Clapper predicted when he told me he sees more shoes to drop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think another thing that I haven't seen much of is financial entanglements between the Trump organization, before the election and then during it. I have to think that the special counsel and his team are looking at that simply by looking at the composition of who is on that team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Shimon Prokupecz was part of CNN's team that is breaking this story. He's OUTFRONT tonight. Shimon, what exactly is Mueller looking at?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Hi, Dana. So, yes, so we've learned that the special counsel Robert Mueller is now asking questions about Jared Kushner's personal business dealing during the presidential transition. We're told by people who are familiar with the investigation that Mueller's lawyers are asking about discussions Kushner had with potential Chinese and Qatari investors. So this is the first indication that Mueller wants to know about contacts the president's son-in-law had with foreigners outside of Russia.
The discussions revolve around this building, a building in Manhattan at 666 Fifth Avenue which Kushner's company owns. And now the financing on the building is in debt by over a billion dollars. It's not clear certainly what is behind Mueller's specific interest in the financing. We're told the special counsel hasn't asked Kushner companies for information. He also hasn't asked for any interviews of some of the executives at the Kushner companies.
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment, but we do have a statement from Jared Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, responding to our story. And he said that, "Another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts in all of Mr. Kushner's extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor documents sought on the 666 building or Kushner Company deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions." Kushner's attorney said.
But look, Dana, we had multiple sources for the story who told us these questions were being asked. And as Abbe Lowell makes clear now in his statement on the record, Kushner himself may have not been quizzed on his company dealings, but we have talked to multiple sources on this story. And it's not entirely clear to what that Abbe Lowell would even know what other people are being asked by the special counsel.
BASH: And you know this far better than I, Shimon. Oftentimes, if, underscore, if something is a target, they are the last to be questioned about these kinds of things. What more are you learning? I know you're talking to your sources about these meetings specifically. What are you told?
PROKUPECZ: So in our conversations with some of our sources, certainly, they pointed to the fact the Mueller team has been asking questions about bank, a Chinese bank, which had interest in what's going to fund, help some of the finances with the 666 building. There was also a Qatari businessman also who was looking to invest some money into 666. And suddenly, at some point, both of the deals fell apart for unknown reasons.
[19:05:05] And part of what we believe is going on is that special counsel, as we have been told, as it's been explained to us is sort of exploring, exploring this idea whether Kushner was mixing his personal business with 2his work as an incoming administration official.
BASH: Shimon, thank you so much for that exclusive CNN reporting tonight. I appreciate it. I want to go to Jeff Zeleny who's OUTFRONT at the White House. Jeff, what are you hearing from White House sources about their reaction to CNN's reporting?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, good evening. The White House officially is not saying anything about this new reporting. And that generally falls in line of how they deal with anything relating to the president's family. Shimon was just reading the statement there from Jared Kushner's lawyer. That's where the White House is appointing us to. And he, of course, has said, you know, there's nothing unusual about these business transactions here. But the reality here, Dana, is that every stage of this Mueller investigation that includes the family makes people here very uncomfortable and sort of uneasily if you will and anxious.
But as of this point, the White House is not saying anything specifically about this matter.
BASH: And Jeff, Jared Kushner was one of the most visible members of this administration when it started a year plus ago. He was constantly beside the president at crucial moments, key meetings. We haven't seen him very much lately. Do you think it could be, at least in part, because of the direction of the Mueller investigation?
ZELENY: Dana, there's no question that Jared Kushner a year ago was in the middle of everything. Like you said, he had his own press conferences on foreign matters. Every time the head of state was here, he was front and center. His profile has fallen dramatically as the Russia investigation has escalated here. Of course, he's been on Capitol Hill, and the House and Senate side. So he's been very busy with all matters of this Russia investigation.
But Dana, one thing to keep an eye on this week is security clearance. He's going to come directly at the center of a new -- directed by the new Chief of Staff, John Kelly talking about those interim security clearances, Jared Kushner, still operating under a temporary security clearance. At the end of this week, by the end of this week, if this holds, he will no longer have access to top secret information, like that presidential daily brief. The president of course could overrule this. So that will take him out even more of the center of activity here, Dana.
BASH: So interesting. Great point. And we are going to be watching for that at the end of the week. Thank you for that reporting, Jeff. OUTFRONT tonight is Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass. She's a member of the House Judiciary and House Foreign Affairs committee. Thank you so much for joining me tonight. Congresswoman, I want to first get your reaction to the news that CNN is breaking tonight about Robert Mueller's interest in Kushner going beyond his Russia contacts. Special counsel now looking at conversations Kushner had with non- Russian foreign investors including some from China and this, of course was -- as we were reporting, during the transition. What's your reaction? REP. KAREN BASS (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, my reaction to it, I mean it will be interesting to see how it develops. But my fist reaction is it's such an extreme conflict of interest and it just seems as though it makes him completely compromised. Maybe it's one of reasons why he has been unable to complete his security clearance. But if you think about what his responsibility is within the administration on the foreign affairs angle from the Middle East, et cetera, to be a billion dollars in debt and to possibly be fund raising before he goes into the White House and who's to say that's not to continue. The deals might have fallen through but maybe he is in his order of business, maybe he's trying to raise money for when this administration leaves.
So it just does an extreme conflict of interest. He seems compromised. And I'm really hoping they will bring this to a close. Either he gets a security clearance or he does not.
BASH: Congresswoman, I just want to add that this reporting is about the transition and before joining the administration Kushner said he was working to divest his interest in the Kushner companies, including 666 Fifth Avenue, that investment that were talking about.
BASH: But I want to play -- go ahead, go ahead.
BASS: Who's to say that that didn't continue after the transition? And also the fact that he is known to make more requests of intelligence information than anybody else except for the people in the national security counsel.
BASH: Are you saying you don't believe he divested?
BASS: I'm saying who's to say. Even if he did divest, that doesn't mean he couldn't continue with his contacts with foreign governments. It's interesting that after they did take office, Ivanka was able to get several trademarks from China. It just raises all the questions about the role of the family in the White House. That's the main point I'm making.
[19:09:58] BASH: And congresswoman, I want to play, again, what President Trump said in July. He drew a red line in this investigation. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to the Russia, is that a red line?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES REPOTER: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is? 2 DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I would say, yes, yes. I would say yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And he went on to say, "I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia." His point being, if Mueller goes into the whole notion of finances and his financing, his family finances, that's a red line. Does that concern you when it comes to Mueller's ability to keep his job and questions about whether the president could fire him?
BASS: It absolutely concerns me. And it concerns me that this president doesn't seem to think that he should follow the rule of law. You know, his family is not exempt. If his family is doing things that are not right, then that's up for investigation, too. He is the one that brought his family into the Oval Office. He didn't have to do that. He chose to do that.
BASH: You heard our White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny talking about the fact that Jared Kushner still has only interim security clearance. I know this has been a big issue for you. The fact that the White House chief of staff ordered that top-level security clearances be discontinued for any staff whose background investigation or adjudication process has been pending since before last June, Kushner's clearance is pending.
BASH: That is an open question about what it's going to mean for Kushner. I do want to show you what Kushner's attorney said in a statement about this.
He said, "My inquiries to those involved again have confirmed there are a dozen or more people at Mr. Kushner's level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration, that the current backlogs are being addressed, and no concerns were raised about Mr. Kushner's application. And it is true that it can take a long time for anybody to get their full security clearance. Do you think and do you have any indication this is just part of normal process?
BASS: Well, from my understanding, it is absolutely not part of the normal process. We are talking about 13 months now and we are talking about, as I understand, over 100 people in the administration who have not completed the process, but remember about Jared Kushner. Remember that he has had to make several amendments to his clearance, to his application. And so issues have been raised from day one. So it is not my understanding at all that somebody of his level who makes consistent requests for classified information can have a position like this.
Now, the interesting thing is going to be who is going to win. Is it going to be the chief of staff? Will the president listen to the chief of staff or will the president overrule his chief of staff? That's going to be the issue that we'll find out before week is over.
BASH: Which are will? I want to ask you about one other thing regarding Russia. And that's something that the president tweeted. He tweeted, "Obama was president up to, and beyond the 2016 election. So why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?" We know now that the Russian operation to mess with the 2016 election started in 2014. It was halfway through President Obama's second term. Do you think that President Obama should have done more?
BASS: You know, I think in the context of what was happening during this election in 2016, it would have been shocking if President Obama would have, in a very forceful way, said the Russians are interfering. But you do remember that they did issue a notice to the press. They did have a press conference and said there was Russian interference. But it happened to be the same day that the Hollywood access tape was released. And so it didn't receive the coverage, the amount of attention it should have.
BASH: Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it.
BASS: Thanks for having me on.
BASH: And OUTFRONT next, all in the family. The new focus on Kushner's finances raising serious questions about Trump family conflicts of interests. Plus, stunning new details about the high school shooter who was in court today. He cut his arms on Snapchat and was threatening to buy another gun after a break up with his girlfriend. Why were these red flags ignored? And the president's right hand man, how Michael Cohen became much more than just Donald Trump's lawyer.
[19:18:26] BASH: Tonight President Trump's Twitter tear, 21 tweets. That's right 21 tweets over the weekend blaming everyone for the Russian meddling in America's elections except of course Russia. Instead the president attacked his own national security advisor, the FBI and former President Obama. His latest tweet Obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election, so why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?
Outfront to talk about all that Anna Palmer, Senior Washington correspondent for Politico. Tim Naftali, Former Director of the Nixon Presidential Library and CNN Presidential Historian. And Richard Painter Former White House Ethics lawyer for Former President George W. Bush.
How are you? Happy President's Day to you. We have to say that to you as a presidential historian.
Anna I want to start with you. You know, you've covered this president saying that he's tweeting a lot is like saying its Monday. But this was different.
ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDNT, POLITICO: Yes, absolutely. I think what you saw is a man who was stuck inside. He couldn't interact with anyone who seize (ph), who will not to go play golf. And it was Trump watching Fox News and its kind of whiplash from every single topic that was kind of having catching his ire. It was real-time thoughts coming from his 2brain on the Twitter. BASH: You would think that maybe his aides would have, you know, movie day or, you know, let's watch all the Oscar nominated movies. There's something to keep him distracted knowing that he does this. But in terms of the substance Tim of what he was tweeting about, one of the things, you know, blaming Democrats but also blaming the FBI. Diversion or does he have some credence to that?
[19:20:07] TIM NAFTALI, FMR DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: You know, when you --
BASH: About --
NAFTALI: When you study leaders it's always a mistake to underestimate them. And I don't know what's behind this. But I'll tell you one thing, if the Russian and I believe is the Russian goal was to divide us and create chaos, his tweets over the weekend just helped.
And he -- I think perhaps arguably the worst tweet -- and it's, you know, there's going to be a contest among us all at some point. But the worst tweet so far was the tweet that attack the FBI and said, you know, if you had been focused more on Florida and a taken care and done something about the Cruz tip off, rather than focus on the Mueller investigation, perhaps those people -- wouldn't as children wouldn't have died which was about as irresponsible, a presidential statement as I can imagine. So I --
BASH: And certainly inflamed and made the children who were survivors there, the teenagers absolutely irate.
NAFTALI: Everybody. I mean they absolute every. Even aside of with how much two different divisions and the FBI being (INAUDIBLE) but here's the problem and I think is that there are times when we want our president to not only appeal to our better angels but be the consoler in chief. And this weekend with these tweets he was the divider -in-chief. And the only person who benefited I must say was Putin.
BASH: Well, and he kind of Richard alluded to that. He in one of his tweets, one of his 21 or so tweets over the weekend said, look, the Democrats and the Mueller investigation they are giving Putin exactly what he wanted by having this so, so much chaos even now into the system. He does have a point but is Tim right that's it's the Democrats and the investigators or does the president had some capability here.
RICHARD PAINTER, FMR WH-ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, whoever collaborated with the Russian has a capability. Whoever lied about their contacts with the Russians which is a felony has capability. And the president has capability sending ground tweets like this.
He's clearly got a Twitter problem, an addiction there. I'd rather have him playing around with Twitter than with the nuclear codes of course. But he's going to tweet himself into an indictment for obstruction of justice. And meanwhile he's tearing the country apart. And Vladimir Putin is the only person who comes out on top this situation.
BASH: Yes. We'll see about the obstruction of justice. We don't -- we're certainly getting different clues about which way this investigation is going.
I want to play for you one of the things that sort of proof of one of the things that the President was tweeting about is just not true. So he said that -- here's what he said in the tweet, I never said Russia did not meddle in the election. I said it may be Russia or China or another country or group or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer. The Russian hoax was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, it never did. Except for the fact that we happen to have Donald Trump in his own words saying the opposite.
TRUMP: I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. It could be Russia but it could also be Russia but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people and also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds. OK. Maybe there is no hacking.
BASH: And more recently just last November he told reporters on Air Force One he had no reason to doubt Russia President Vladimir Putin when he denied the meddling of a 2016 election. He said every time he sees me, meaning Putin, he says, I didn't do that and I really believe that when he tells me that he means it.
PALMER: I mean President Trump is out in the limb (ph) where no one else is on this. Besides some of who diehard base repulse Republican. I mean if you look at what a H.R. McMaster said and, you know, security conference what other Republicans are saying, its clearly the collusion happen.
And there's actually a pleading within the Senate of senators of Republicans and independent thing. Please just, OK, fine you want to say that you won't the election fair, that's fine. But don't -- you need to separate those two issues that collusion is separate. That the whole kind of Russian meddling is separate because we have an election that's going to be here in month and they're not just going to pack off their bags and go home. What was successful in 2016 I'm sure is going to be the things that they're going to try to do in 2018.
BASH: And more. Mr. Painter are you, I'm sure you saw CNN's reporting tonight that the Mueller investigation is now looking into Jared Kushner's foreign financing efforts. What does this tell you about the direction of the Mueller investigation?
PAINTER: Well we don't know all the facts yet with respect to the financing of the Trump business empire or the Kushner family business empire. We do know they have a lot of foreign financing. They both have credit issues inside the United States and planning credit inside the United States and that they've been borrowing around the country, Russian and China the two countries in particular where they've done a lot of business.
[19:25:01] Robert Mueller is interested in that particularly with the respect to Russia. If they're a financial dependencies on Russia, that's something he needs to find out because that could be part of the Russia story. They're using their money to influence United States government officials where as the Kushner's or the Trumps, if it's money from the Russian government, it's a clear violation of the United States constitution except within the mind that closes constitution even if it's not from the Russian government, it could very well be something that could be used to corrupt the government and Robert Mueller needs to find out what it is.
So I can't tell you what it is now. Robert Mueller knows. And he's getting to the bottom of it but it's absolutely critically important that he find this out.
BASH: All right. Well, we have to take a quick break. I'm sure what you were going to say is this is why we have nepotism rule in the executive branch for conflicts of interest and just in case if things go south with your relative. Thanks very much everybody.
Outfront next, more missed signs tonight disturbing ones that the high school killer in Florida was a danger. Did the family who took him in just didn't see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He told us he was depressed. We knew he was depressed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And the President says, he's open to improving background checks. Is this an opening for Congress to finally do something about gun violence?
BASH: Breaking news. The high school shooter started cutting himself and planning to buy guns after a break up with a girlfriend according to a 2016 report from Florida's Department of Children and Families. The alleged gunman appeared at court today staying mostly silent and looking down. This is the family who took the 19-year-old in says they saw no sign of what was to come even as he obtained ten rifles within the last year.
[19:30:10] Martin Savidge is Outfront.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Self- confessed mass killer Nikolas Cruz sat quietly in court as a judge ordered the release of a report about Cruz from the Department of Children and Families. The documents in 2016 describe Cruz as a vulnerable adult due to mental illness and outlined a disturbing incident.
Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat, cutting both of his arms and stated he had plans to go out and buy a gun.
Investigators went to the teen's home interviewing him and his mother, eventually concluding Cruz's final level of risk is low. That was less than 18 months ago.
Even the family he was living with right up to the day of the attack says they saw nothing suggesting the killing to come. James and Kimberly Snead took Cruz in after his mother died last November.
JAMES SNEAD, HOUSED SCHOOL SHOOTER: He told us he was depressed. We knew he was depressed.
SAVIDGE: They spoke to CNN in an interview to air Tuesday.
J. SNEAD: He's just trying to fit in. He just -- didn't know what to say or when to say it or how to say it, you know? So, he'd ask a lot of questions. He'd apologize a lot.
SAVIDGE: The couple knew Cruz had guns. Authorities telling CNN, since turning 18, Cruz had obtained as many as 10 rifles. But the Sneads demanded they'd be stored in a gun vault and believe they had the only key. The family also told ABC's "Good Morning America" on the day of the attack as Cruz took an Uber to the high school, he was texting their son at Stoneman Douglas, asking what room he was in.
Then Cruz texted two lies.
J. SNEAD: He told my son he was going to the movies. He said he had something to tell him and my son pressed him and goes nothing bad bro. He goes, and that was it.
SAVIDGE: This is chilling images continue to emerge. Surveillance video showing the confessed killer walking down the street shortly after the attack.
In the aftermath of the heartbreak and horror of high school killings, proponents of stricter gun laws have discovered a new and unexpected voice. Unafraid to take on the president and the NRA.
EMMA GONZALEZ, STUDENT, 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 severed from National Rifle Association.
SAVIDGE: Turning anguish into action. She and other student survivors are determined that Stoneman Douglas be known not just as another school massacre but eventually remembered as the last school massacre.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SAVIDGE: Dana, even as people call for political change and changes to gun laws, it's important to remember, this is an area that is still very much in mourning. Tonight, there's another vigil taking place in Coral Springs, started just a little while ago.
Coral Springs is right next door to Parkland here. In fact, nearly half of the student body of this high school came from Coral Springs. They're suffering and pain is spread across many neighborhoods down here -- Dana.
BASH: Martin Savidge, thank you so much for that report.
And OUTFRONT now, behavioral analyst and criminologist Casey Jordan, and retired FBI supervisory special agent, James Gagliano.
Thank you so much for both of you for coming.
Casey, let's talk about this 2016 report. It was the Florida Department of Children and Families.
CASEY JORDAN, BEHAVIORAL ANALYST AND CRIMINOLOGIST: Right.
BASH: And it talked about how the shooter started cutting his arms, talking about wanting to buy a gun. Yet he was still called low risk. What does that tell you?
JORDAN: Well, this was triggered because he was putting this on Snapchat, physically mutilating himself on real time. So, of course they have to go to his home and do an assessment. His mother said she was alarmed about this and this. She mentioned that he kept wanting to get an ID and also to buy a gun but they were just focused on the self-harm. And they never seem to make the transition that not only was he capable of harming himself but that because he's mentally ill and depressed and wants to buy a gun, that he might be capable of harming others.
The report really doesn't address that possibility at all. So, there's red flags but what we need to do is fix the system so certain things like mental illness plus guns equals a trigger for, in this particular case, the equivalent of a Baker where you're going to have a civil commitment of somebody who could be a danger, because those two things are intrinsically dangerous.
BASH: No question. As is the fact that as a 19-year-old, he was able to get an AR-15 in Florida it's easier to get an AR-15 than a handgun. The shooter was able to buy 10 rifles in the last year. What does that tell you?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, to kind of unpack this for the viewer, the reason why it's more difficult to buy a hand gun and why the age is different is because of the concealability -- the fact that they're portable and they're concealable.
[19:35:04] So, the thinking goes rifles are less easier to conceal. Well, we know that Cruz took the rifle in a -- basically a gun bag and carried it on an Uber ride and then came over to the school.
This is -- it's tough to wrap our heads around because again, we respect and understand the utility of the Second Amendment. I believe in it fervently. But we have to look at certain things, certain processes and protocols associated with it because the way the Founding Fathers intended for it in 1791 doesn't apply today. People say to me, Jim, at 18, like I did when I went to West Point, you could go -- you can go to war.
So, why would you want to prevent a 19-year-old, to your point, who has all this troubled mental history, why would you want to not allow them to do that? The sense of this is, the system's failed in so many different ways.
BASH: So many ways.
GAGLIANO: So many different spots where everything in vacuum you can look at and say this was wrong, this was wrong. But we need to look at them together collectively and figure out way to fix this.
BASH: And this -- the killer was somebody who obviously had a lot of troubles. One of them was he lost both of his parents, his father years and years ago. His mother more recently. And so, he was staying with a family that took him in. They said that they had no idea that he had violent tendencies, but they did know he had guns.
And this from the public defender.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON WEEKES, PUBLIC DEFENDER: This young man is deeply disturbed, emotionally broken. He's gone through a lot in a very short period of time. He has been experiencing enduring mental illness his entire life. That has been an ongoing issue that he's been dealing with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: How does this fill in for you the bigger picture of the missed signs, the red flags?
JORDAN: At the end of that report, they said he's low risk because he's getting mental health treatment. He's in school and his mother is looking out for him and trying to make sure he takes his meds. Within one year, all of that was gone.
So, when you talk about the system being broken, you have to understand that the mentally ill are in the least -- the worst position to help themselves. They're needed to be further check ups. After the mother died, something had to happen in the system to send a social worker or a health counselor out to talk to him. He was essentially homeless.
We can't blame the family for taking him in. They were doing a good thing. But at the same time, the fact they let him come into their home with a gun and said, well, we can't intrude, he's adult if he wants to bring his belongings, was probably the big mistake. BASH: I have to ask you before I let you go about what the president
is saying about the FBI. Here's what he tweeted.
Very sad that FBI missed all the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There's no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud.
GAGLIANO: I long argued I thought the president was a little more nuanced in his attacks at the FBI were aimed at senior leadership. He's flipped the script. This was directly attacking the institution of the FBI which is 35,000 men and women. I thought it was foolhardy, I thought it was inappropriate and disappointing that he would do that in a flurry of tweets to send that message out there. This was -- this targeted the FBI's institution.
BASH: It sure did. Thank you both for your insight. It's really important to hear from both of you.
And OUTFRONT next, who's advising the president on gun violence? The answer to that really may surprise you.
And President Trump's fixer. How far will Michael Cohen go to protect the boss?
[19:42:22] BASH: New tonight, President Trump is open to strengthening gun background checks. That's what he is telling friends and family that he wants to do something. Something he says after seeing the protests from students in Broward County, Florida, where the shooting took place.
Now, the president talked it over with his sons and talk show host Geraldo Rivera, yes, that Geraldo Rivera, while they were at Mar-a- Lago over the weekend.
And OUTFRONT now, the mayor of Charleston, West Virginia, Danny Jones. He is from one of the most pro-gun states in the country and has fought an uphill battle to stop gun violence. He's now an independent but was a member of the Republican Party for 45 years.
Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining me.
I want to start by talking about the president. He is saying now that he's interested in beefing up background checks for gun sales. Good start?
MAYOR DANNY JONES (I), CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA: I don't buy it. I remember his speeches to the NRA and I've seen this go on so long. And I first voted 1972 and then they wanted to out law Saturday night specials. There is going be very little progress towards gun laws in this country because this motion of this event, I believe, will go away.
But the NRA will always stay. If you, especially in my state, if you take on the Second Amendment folks, you're going to walk a long lonely road. And I've been down that road and it's not an easy road to walk.
BASH: Nothing in you says this might be different because you have teenagers. The next generation on the cusp of being at voting age in Florida and now around the country who are saying no more. You don't think their voices are powerful enough to potentially change things?
JONES: I think -- I was very impressed with the young man that said we would wait a month and they would have an event but when it comes right down to it, our politics are controlled by money. And that money will come from various groups both known and unknown. I don't know who came in here and spent all the money against me in the mayor's race but they came in here.
And in the end, the second amount forces usually prevail and to get past that would be a very high hurdle and I believe that president Trump once he comes back to D.C. and the emotion settled, I don't look to see anything change.
BASH: You know, after Newtown, your fellow West Virginian, Senator Joe Manchin, took on the NRA, he and Senator Pat Toomey.
[19:45:008] It didn't go anywhere, as you well know, which I think makes your point.
Why do you think -- do you think it really is just the NRA and the money or do you think that it is cultural and that people are concerned about the slippery slope. I'm sure you here that every day in your state where there are a lot of people who believe that.
JONES: I come from the most pro-Trump, pro-gun state in America.
BASH: Yes, you do.
JONES: And they are going to be pouring money in here to try to defeat -- those forces are going to be pouring money in here to try to defeat Joe Manchin in this next election. And the Manchin-Toomey bill when that was defeated because it couldn't get past the filibuster, that's the only time I saw President Obama lose his temper. He did it in the Rose Garden.
And that's why I don't think this will work. Maybe I'm wrong. And perhaps, I don't know where it would go or what they would do. What kind of fashion they would have, how they would sculpture a bill to make sure events like this wouldn't happen again.
BASH: Mr. Mayor, I spoke to Ohio's governor, John Kasich over the weekend about this. He argued because Congress is paralyzed, dysfunction, that it is the state and local legislatures that need to step in. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Where we have to affect this, I believe, is at the local level and the statehouse because you can have greater access to politicians who serve in the state legislature, in a county commissioner, in a city council. That's where you need to put the pressure and call these people out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: He's talking about people like you. You're mayor of a big city in your state. Do you think that this is feasible because Congress is not doing it, you can try to bring about change starting on a very micro level in your area?
JONES: Well, not in this state. But Governor Kasich might want to ask himself what he's done since he's been governor and what he did when he was in Congress and how he voted on these issues and did he use his political capital to try to advance that notion.
I think the answer to all those would be he didn't. And this the talk right now. You're talking about a governor that doesn't have a lot of good feeling for this president. Don't get me wrong, I think that people ought to talk about this, but not just talk if grand design -- but if you're going to really do something about it, people need to be specific and come up with real ideas and sculpture and craft some legislation that might work.
BASH: Well, just he's not here to defend himself, he did talk about a task force that he's doing in Ohio. He was a lot more focused on Congress than the president. But I take your point.
Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate your time and your insight.
And OUTFRONT next --
JONES: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: And OUTFRONT next, Trump's personal attorney is back in the headlines, this time about Trump and a Playboy model.
And Trump took the time last night to insult his old friend, Oprah. Why is the president so obsessed?
[19:52:11] BASH: New tonight, President Trump's pit bull. Michael Cohen, Trump's long time personal lawyer, is back in the headlines. "The New York Times" reports that on August of 2016, just three months before the presidential election, Cohen was given a heads up about an agreement between "The National Enquirer's" parent company and a Playboy model. The deal prevented her from going public about an alleged affair with Trump.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a man with many hats -- lawyer, enforcer, and perhaps above all, a sycophantic defender of Donald Trump.
MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP LAWYER: He's an entrepreneur extraordinaire, he is insanely bright.
MARQUARDT: It's in that multifaceted role that Cohen was tasked with maybe his most sensitive job, making Donald Trump's women problems go away, like porn actress Stormy Daniels, whom he paid $130,000 of his own money to not talk about an alleged affair she had with Trump, an affair Cohen denied.
Just because something isn't true doesn't mean it can't cause you harm or damage, he told CNN. I will always protect Mr. Trump.
There were other reported deals. "The New York Times" reports that in 2014, Cohen helped brokered the handing over of photos of Trump signing a woman's bare breast. The photos were given to Trump's long- time friend, David Pecker, who owns "The National Enquirer", and the tabloid never published them, claiming they were of little value.
Cohen was also given a heads up, according to "The Times", that Playboy model Karen McDougal was finalizing a deal preventing her from speaking publicly after an alleged affair with Trump. She got $150,000 from the same publisher, "The National Enquirer", again, never published.
The White House released a statement calling it, quote, more fake news. The president says he never had a relationship with McDougal. Michael Cohen has stood by the president's side for 12 years and has been a fan for longer, telling ABC that as a young man, he read "The Art of the Deal" twice. Cohen officially joined the Trump Organization as a lawyer in 2006.
Quickly, he became Mr. Fix-it, always leaping to Trump's defense, often aggressively.
If you do something wrong, I am going to come at you, he told ABC in 2011. Grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished.
It was Cohen who launched the campaign to encourage Trump to run in 2012.
COHEN: Join the movement, join the grassroots organization, and let's convince him.
MARQUARDT: When Trump finally did run, Cohen was one of his most visible and vigorous supporters.
COHEN: There's no shakeup. I mean, look at the words that you use and blast at the bottom of your banner, shake up, overhaul, dramatic, desperate measures. There are no desperate measures.
MARQUARDT: But being in that tight Trump orbit these days means getting sucked into the Russia investigation.
[19:55:02] Cohen called in front of Congress to testify about his role in trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and any communication with the Kremlin. Cohen denied the move had anything to do with the campaign and were simply part of a failed deal. Successful or not, professional or personal, one constant figure in so many of Trump's deals over the years, his loyal foot soldier, Michael Cohen.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, New York.
BASH: OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos on Donald Trump's fixation with Oprah.
BASH: Is Donald Trump feeling threatened by Oprah?
Jeanne Moos looks for answers.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember when they were just two friendly mega celebrities.
OPRAH WINFREY, CELEBRITY TALK SHOW HOST: What would you do differently, Donald?
DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE BUSINESSMAN: Forget about it, Oprah. Just forget about it.
MOOS: Calling each other by their first names.
Well, now, President Trump is tweeting about very insecure Oprah Winfrey, biased and slanted. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all the others.
This after the president watched her --
WINFREY: Come on --
MOOS: -- moderating pro and anti-Trump voters on "60s Minute."
It was the insecure jab that had Oprah supporters citing the pot calling the kettle black: insecure, are you for real?
It was a GIF caption live footage of Oprah caring about what you tweet.
Perez Hilton put words in Oprah's mouth. Don't make me come over there.
Tweeted a comedian, Donald Trump calling Oprah Winfrey insecure is like Batman versus Superman calling Black Panther a flop.
Insecure wasn't always the word Donald Trump used to describe Oprah.
TRUMP: She is popular. She's brilliant. She's a wonderful woman.
MOOS: The kind of woman you would choose for vice president?
TRUMP: Oprah, I love Oprah. Oprah would always be my first choice. I threw out the name of a friend of mine who I think the world of. She's great, Oprah.
If she'd do it, she'd be fantastic.
MOOS: But "I adore" has been replaced by insecure.
As for President Oprah despite the buzz --
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN/LATE NIGHT TV HOST: I for one would love to hear that the State of the Union is strong.
MOOS: Despite comments. Great, that's what we need in 2020, a third president who hasn't run anything about her mouth, Oprah's actual mouth says she's not running.
WINFREY: It's not just in my spirit, it's not my DNA.
MOOS: Still, President Trump is thumbing his nose at Oprah and their chummy past.
WINFREY: There is an indescribable it factor.
TRUMP: I am sitting next to it. There's nobody ever.
MOOS: Now, it has turned to ick.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BASH: Thank you for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.