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High School Shooting Suspends Survivors Lead Push for Gun Control; Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting; Corruption Scandal Around Benjamin Netanyahu Growing; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 20, 2018 - 10:30   ET



[10:33:37] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, more funerals, viewings today for the victims in the Florida shooting. After students say their good-byes today, about 100 of them along with chaperones will head to Florida's state capital in Tallahassee to make their push to lawmakers for new gun control measures.

While that's happening we are learning more about the shooter and what authorities may have known about him.

Joining me now, CNN's Rosa Flores in Parkland, Florida.

Another sad day down there for so many students -- Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it is a somber day here in Parkland, Florida. You can see the growing memorial behind me. So it's difficult to say that this community has begun the healing process because they are still laying their loved ones to rest.

This hour, there are two funerals, in total today there are three funerals and two visitations. Now the students are going to be attending these funerals and visitations. And then heading over to the state capitol to demand change. They demand from lawmakers that the gun, the type and style of weapon that was used to kill 17 of their fellow students and teachers be banned from this state so that another school does not have to go through what they went through.

Now we are also learning more about what the school will be doing to reopen its doors, both for staff and students and they tell us that they plan to do it in a phase-by-phase process.

[10:35:11] First, teachers are expected to be allowed inside on Friday and orientation is scheduled for Sunday. And then students are supposed to be back on Tuesday, John. But that's the goal. We know that this is going to be a very difficult moment for the students who some of them saw this gunman face to face -- John.

BERMAN: Can't imagine what it would be like to walk back in that building again for so many of them. In the meantime, Rosa, we're learning new details about the shooter's past.

FLORES: We are. And this is from the Department of Children and Families or DCF. They released a report, and this is a judge-ordered report, that gives us more details, dating back to 2016. The agency was called to the house of the suspect, after a Snapchat video of him cutting his arms. The agency responded. They then learned that he wanted to buy a gun. They also saw that he had written hate speech on a notebook and a Nazi symbol.

But this agency says that they investigated and he was safe. And, John, this is just one other state agency here that we're learning that was involved in this case, yet we are still here covering this massacre -- John.

BERMAN: So many warnings.

All right. Rosa Flores for us in Parkland, Florida, thanks so much.

Just one hour after this gunman opened fire killing 17 people in Parkland, Florida, there were all kinds of messages on social media from bots. Automated Twitter accounts, we are told, reportedly with Russian links, they began inundating social media using hashtags like gun control now and Parkland shooting. The bots swarmed into the debate trying to sow discourse among Americans.

Joining me now is Erin Griffith, a senior writer for "WIRED."

And Erin, you wrote a piece for entitled "Pro-Gun Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting." What did you find?

ERIN GRIFFITH, SENIOR WRITER, WIRED: What we saw was anytime that there is a moment when the national attention is turned on to a story, especially one with political undertones, especially one with a lot of emotions attached, the Russian influence campaigns are going to jump on it.

This is actually not the first time they've done this. They also did it after the Texas shooting last year, and after the Las Vegas shooting. This is a moment like you said to try to sow discord, but also just to kind of get attention and share messages that will resonate with the audience they're trying to reach.

BERMAN: How is it coordinated? I mean, is it one person controlling all the bots? Is it -- you know, how does it work?

GRIFFITH: Yes, and I mean, there are a couple of different sites that are tracking this on Twitter. And it's a lot easier to track on Twitter than it is on Facebook where some of the sharing is a little bit private. But on Twitter, it's right out in the open. And one thing that we've seen is that it has to start with the human. A human has to understand, OK, this is a big news event, we're going to jump on it.

This hash tag is trending, we're going to use it and then we're going to spread our message with bots. And so -- you know, the message can proliferate that way. The thing that's really interesting about this is that eventually it gets picked up by humans and humans are interacting with bots and then sharing the message on their own which makes it very difficult for a platform like Twitter to police what's real, what's a bot and what's from just a troll.

BERMAN: In this case, too, it seems as if these bots were working both sides of the argument.

GRIFFITH: It's been -- we've highlighted this technique before. And in many cases that does happen where the Russian influence campaigns, for example, with the NFL protest. That's one example where they did that. In this case, it seems like they actually are trying to undermine the gun control advocates.

It seems like it was mostly on one side, even though they are using the hash tag gun control now, they're sharing it with links that discredit gun control advocates and so it seems like it was a kind of one message. They're trying to reach an audience that is receptive to Russian messages and that tends to be a right-wing audience.

BERMAN: What is Twitter doing about any of this?

GRIFFITH: Twitter is -- Twitter and Facebook both are sort of struggling to figure out how they can police this activity, and on Twitter, especially, it's difficult because people don't have to use their real names, their accounts, if there are -- if their account gets banned, they can just start up a new one.

BERMAN: Right.

GRIFFITH: And, you know, bots are not against Twitter's rules. They are trying to police this and at least they've recognized recently that they do need to do a better job of this. But it is a difficult problem.

BERMAN: As a consumer, a user, is there anything you can do to spot something that is a bot tweet?

GRIFFITH: I mean, it's possible that many of us have interacted with bots, and I mean, I guess -- and it's difficult also because like I said there's plenty of pro-gun tweeters out there as well, not every tweet that you see from a, you know, pro-gun advocate is going to be from a bot. I think the important thing is to recognize when you see a message that resonates a lot with you, maybe question where it came from before you just shared. Because our propensity is often to -- if we see something that we agree with, we're going to share it right away without questioning it.

BERMAN: Erin Griffith from "WIRED," thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

GRIFFITH: Thank you.

BERMAN: The corruption scandal around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is growing.

[10:40:02] Police reveal new allegations against one of his closest advisers. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: New trouble for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a fifth corruption probe has hit the Israeli leader and his inner circle. This is the second time this week that a new investigation has been announced. Netanyahu has slammed the investigations as witch hunts.

Our Oren Liebermann live now from Jerusalem.

Tell me about this new investigation, Orin. What are we talking about here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, as you pointed out, the fifth investigation, two arrests in this case, and at least one of those is very close to Netanyahu, a former family spokesperson who for years worked for the Netanyahus. So that's about as close to his inner circle as it gets.

Here is what we know of this investigation. Police are looking at the period of late 2015, when they say these two suspects approached a, quote, senior public member, we understand to be a high ranking judge, and offered to make that judge the attorney general of the state of Israel in exchange for future agreement on a case.

[10:45:06] Well, police say that agreement never materialized. They didn't identify either of the suspect, but it was Netanyahu himself who said it's his former family spokesperson, essentially saying I had nothing to do with this and I don't know what that family spokesperson was up to and he certainly never consulted the Netanyahus on their actions.

Now that's just the second case this week because on Sunday, police said they're investigating those close to Netanyahu in a different investigation, including once again former family spokesperson. That relates to ties between the Ministry of Communication and an Israeli telecommunications firm.

Police and investigators say they have a suspicion that the Ministry of Communication advanced interests illegally of that firm in exchange for favorable coverage of Netanyahu. It's worth noting that Netanyahu was the minister of Communications at this time. It needs to be reiterated that Netanyahu was not or has not been named as a suspect in either of these cases and he insists that he's innocent. Instead deflecting blame at the police saying these cases are full of holes like Swiss cheese.

Well, the police chief fired back in a thinly veiled jab at Netanyahu, saying, "During criminal proceedings, suspects tried to create doubt as to the credibility of a police officer's testimony and his professionalism."

John, this has gotten very serious for Netanyahu very quickly.

BERMAN: What is his political standing right now, Oren? Is the opposition taking a position?

LIEBERMANN: Well, the opposition has called for him either to resign or to step aside while these investigations continue. Right now he has the support of his coalition. His key partners have said, look, we'll support you right now, and we'll wait for the attorney general to decide whether or not to indict. But for his coalition partners, it is a constant political calculation. Especially as the allegations and investigations mount against the prime minister.

Remember, these are all the right-wing parties appealing to the same right-wing voter base, it's a risk if you take down Netanyahu, if you withdraw your support, you may feel a backlash from voters -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Oren Liebermann for us in Jerusalem. Oren, thanks so much.

The U.S. Navy has sent a second warship to the Black Sea as a show of force to Russia, which recently increased its presence there. This is from military officials. This is the first time that two U.S. warships have been in the Black Sea since last July. The Navy says they're conducting maritime security operations. Tensions in the area have been high since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Donald Trump Jr.'s trip to India raising all sorts of questions. The president's son having dinner with buyers who paid up to $1.6 million for Trump branded condos. He is also giving a foreign policy speech at a global business summit where India's prime minister will also be speaking.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, said this raises concerns that access to President Trump is for sale.

All right. It might be your best chance, your last chance for gold in Pyeongchang. So what is Lindsey Vonn thinking ahead of her final Olympic event? Hear from her next.


[10:52:39] BERMAN: American skier Lindsey Vonn will go for Olympic gold today in the downhill. Coy Wire in Pyeongchang with much more.

Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: The greatest of all time in women's alpine skiing, Lindsey Vonn, skis the downhill, her best event tonight on the East Coast. She's waited eight years to compete on an Olympic stage, missing out on Sochi due to injury. And after failing to medal here in Pyeongchang debut in the super G, she was trolled on Twitter because of her earlier comments that she wouldn't visit the White House if she were invited as a medalist.

The 33-year-old could become the oldest woman ever to win an Olympic alpine medal. She's vowing not just trolls but the toll this sport has taken on her body. We asked her ahead of the games what keeps you going. Listen.


LINDSEY VONN, OLYMPIC SKIER: I think it is stubbornness.


VONN: You know, I never want to wave the white flag. I always want to continue to try and work hard and to be physically as strong as I was before takes a lot more work and a lot more maintenance. You know I have to get up earlier and warm my knee up. You know, my knee takes some tender loving care.


WIRE: The crown jewel, if you will, of the Winter Olympics, women's figure skating begins later tonight on the East Coast. And Mirai Nagasu, she became the first American woman to ever land the triple axel in an Olympic competition when she helped the U.S. take bronze in the team competition earlier.

Well, listen to this, her parents Kiyoto and Ikuko missed it. They were working at their small Japanese restaurant. It's called Restaurant Kiyosuzo, it's in Arcadia, California. Mirai used to sleep there as a kid while her parents worked because they couldn't afford a babysitter. Well, Mirai is out for redemption after not being picked for the last the Olympic team. We asked her, though, about that special move that sets her apart from her competition.


MIRAI NAGASU, OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: I love the triple axel. I didn't quite nail it at the U.S. championships, but I was saving it for the Olympics and to be a part of that exclusive club is awesome. It is a jump that takes a lot of height and spring. And you know, I go, here we go. And hope for the best.


WIRE: All right. Let's get your medal count. Norway is leading the way with 29 medals overall. Germany in second with 23.

[10:55:03] Canada in third with 19. Then Netherlands and France rounding out the top five. The USA, just 12 medals overall in sixth.

It's been 20 years, John, since they didn't finish first or second in a Winter Olympics medal count. Americans at these games are struggling.

BERMAN: Yes. Norway, the powerhouse, the international powerhouse of Norway.

Coy Wire, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

So from grief to action, students from Parkland, Florida, boarding buses, heading for the Florida state capital as we speak, demanding new action on gun control. How will lawmakers respond? Stay with us.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. It could be --