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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Young Shooting Survivors Meet Trump, Demand Change; Admin Officials: Putin "Has Been Warned" About Future Meddling; Photo Shows Trump Notecard Prompt: "I Hear You"; Broward County Implementing Armed Guards at Local Schools. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 21, 2018 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: OutFront next, unprecedented event, the CNN town hall on school shootings and how to stop them as people who lost love ones to guns demand action. Plus President Trump hears from parents and survivors of shootings all speak with two people who spoke to the president today, do they think it made a difference. And the White House says he has warn Russia about meddling in U.S. elections, the warning so they say going to Vladimir Putin himself. Let's go OutFront.

Good evening I'm John Berman in for Erin Burnett. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

OutFront demanding action. And extraordinary of passion and anger President Trump face-to-face with students and parents who lost loved one in school shootings including last week's massacre that killed 17 in Parkland, Florida. One father asking to President how many children have to get shot?

And tonight a national town hall here on CNN at this pivotal moment in the gun debate, many of the tonight's participants and members of the audience have been deeply and personally affected by last week's mass shooting in Parkland.

You're looking at live pictures right now from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida where several thousand people are expected to fill that arena for the two hour CNN town hall. Florida's senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson they have agreed to participate along with Congressman Ted Deutch whose district includes Parkland. The National Rifle Association's spokeswoman Dana Loesch will represent the NRA.

President Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott will offer the opportunity to participate tonight and take questions from students, see there appearing live or from rural location both decline CNN invitation to appear. While the president will not be in Florida at the town hall, he did hear directly from shooting survivors and their families inside the White House. Andrew Pollock told the president that his daughter was killed in Parkland, shot nine times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW POLLACK, DAUGTHER KILLED IN STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING: I'm very angry that this happened because it keeps happening. 9/11 happened once. And they fixed everything. How many schools? How many children have to get shot? It stops here with this administration and me. I'm not going to sleep until it's fixed.

And, Mr. President, we are going to fix it. All the school shootings, it doesn't make sense. Fix it. It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it. And I'm pissed. Because my daughter I'm not going to see again. She's not here. She's not here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Parkland students Sam Zeif described how he texted his family during the shooting and how hero teacher Scott Beigel lost his life saving his Zeif's younger brother then he poured out his heart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMUEL ZEIF, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: No brothers or sisters, or family members, or anyone should ever have to share those texts with anyone. And that's why I'm here. I lost a best friend who is practically a brother. And I'm here to use my voice because I know he can't. And I know he's with me cheering me on to be strong. But it's hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel for all the families who have lost --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And then he made a promise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I feel for the ones that are here.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to go starting about two minutes after this meeting, we're going to work. This is a long-term situation that we have to solve. We'll solve it together. And you've gone through extraordinary pain, and we don't want others to go through the kind of pain you've gone through. It wouldn't be right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I want to talk about both of these important events today. One that is about to get started shortly right here on CNN. Alisyn Camerota is at the town hall in Sunrise, Florida. Jeff Zeleny at the White House for us. Let's start in Florida. Alisyn, an emotional day already. What are we expecting tonight?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Oh, my gosh, John, I mean what a remarkable moment that was at the White House and that was just a taste of what we expect to see tonight at this extraordinary event. Perhaps I can turn around and you can see behind me that hundreds of people have already trickled in to take their seats here at the BB&T arena.

We expect 7,000 people to fill this arena over the next hour. There are going to be students here. There will be teachers. There will be parents. There will be Democrats and Republicans. There will be survivors of the Parkland massacre, meaning the kids who hid in a closet and watched their best friends die. And there will be the National Rife Association. So everybody here all in one room.

[19:05:04] John, you were down there. I don't have to tell you. You've covered the school shootings as have I so often after a horrible tragedy, people retreat to their corners, they dig in and they don't engage with each other. But tonight that's not going to be possible. Everybody is going to be on this one stage together. They have to confront the students who are demanding answers. The students are coming with suggestions and they're coming with demands. And the politicians both Democrat and Republican have to hear them. So that starts again at 9:00 tonight here.

BERMAN: Alisyn, it's going to be such an emotional night. And as you noted, you know, you were there one week ago tonight following the shooting. You now, what's the one moment that you're going to be looking for?

CAMEROTA: Well, I just spoke to these three young women, they're juniors at Douglas High School, they are part of a drama troop, and they came here not actually with any sort of political message or any sort of demands. They came here because in their grief on Monday one of them named Sawyer Garrity (ph) wrote a song. That's what she did to channel her grief she wrote a song and its called "Shine".

And tonight she and her friends in the drama troop are going to perform it for the 7,000 people here and for everyone around the world watching. I've read the lyrics. It is about their deep grief and the strength that they feel in coming together and in the solidarity of students across the country who are supporting them. It is going to be a must see moment. It's at the end of the town hall so they are feeling good and they want to get their message of unity out. So everybody should stick around to watch that.

BERMAN: We will be listening for that moment. Sounds amazing. Alisyn Camerota in Sunrise, Florida. Alisyn thanks so much.

President Trump tonight hearing from students, families and teachers about the issues of the school shootings. Jeff Zeleny out front live at the White House. And Jeff, it was emotional gathering inside the White House and President Trump right in the middle of it.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, it was indeed and it was the stories of those six students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who one week ago were walking the hallways of that school, were hiding from the shooter. Today they were in the state dining room of the White House telling the president their stories directly, of course they were sitting alongside family members sadly from Sandy Hook and Columbine. These Florida students were not born during the Columbine shooting two decades ago, that under scores how long this has been a very American problem.

The president said it has been a problem for too long. He said now is the time for action. Of course that is where the difficulty begins. You heard variety of different stories of what should be done. Should school teachers and officials be armed? The president spoke out in favor of that. A mother from Sandy Hook said, no, that is not what should be done. The problem should be addressed before a shooter gets to the school.

But in a very emotional moment, a student who was in the school at the time said, Mr. President, why should I be able to buy an AR-15?

Now we do know the president has been talking behind the scenes here about potentially supporting raising the age limit for purchasing this type of a weapon. But the NRA tonight said it is not in favor of that. So, John, that speaks to the question. What will the president do here? Will he confront the NRA? Will he lead his own party? What specific solutions will be done?

We also got a sense, this was the president unlike we've seen, setting unlike we have seen him, John, and a photographer in that state dining room captured a photograph I'd like you to look at of the president holding that piece of paper there. He said what would you most want me to know about your experience? And at the bottom, I hear you.

So a bit of a coaching moment for this president doing the act of what all American presidents sadly have had to do, confront this violence face-to-face. Clearly the president moved by the stories. But John, the bigger question is, will this time be any different? John.

BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny at the White House for us. OutFront now Fred Guttenberg, his daughter 14-year-old daughter Jamie was one of the 17 people killed in the mass shootings at the Stoneman Douglas High School one week ago. Fred, I'm so sorry for your loss. And I know this has been a difficult week.

FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF JAMIE GUTTENBERG: Thank you.

BERMAN: I know you're going to be attending this town hall tonight that's taking place in that arena where you are. What do you want to hear tonight?

GUTTENBERG: I want to hear people speak truth to action. As the kids have said, well, they have used some real serious language, but you know what, my daughter was haunted last week. She wasn't just simple little thing. She was massacred. My daughter who was the energy in the room. She brought beauty and joy to everyone she was around. And she was haunted in school.

I am enraged to hear our politicians, including in that little circular sit down session in the president's office today, not be able to use the phrase that guns are a problem. I am enraged.

[19:10:12] I want to hear our elected officials, I want them to look me in the eye and acknowledge the role that guns played in the haunting of my daughter. I started my day today with my wife visiting her at her cemetery. The idea that these politicians can't come to grips with reality and start talking facts as to what it was that brought my daughter down and killed her. My daughter was haunted in school. Running to save her life. And what I heard today is that we need to arm students and teachers so that we'll have shootouts in the hallways? I mean, come on. There was pandemonium. My daughter and others kids were running for their lives. So what are we supposed to have, more casualties? I'm enraged. I want to hear about real solutions but you can't talk about real solutions until you can actually say what the problem is and the problem is guns.

It's not -- and I don't diminish anything else with regards to mental health or all the other factors, because they are all critically important. OK. But guns are the issue. And I will tell you, I support the second right -- the second amendment. My son was shooting with his grandfather just a couple of months ago. This is not what it is for me. However, OK, we have to get real about this.

BERMAN: The mayor of Parkland actually delivered your message to the president in that room. Told the president that you, sir, want the issue of guns addressed. You must address the issue of guns you asked. And as you mention, one of the ways the president has done that is to suggest arming teachers. Listen to what he said for a moment here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: An attack has lasted on average about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police to come in. So the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: This is a nonstarter for you?

GUTTENBERG: Listen, I want every elected leader to stand with me and these kids. Because these kids have been unbelievable. However, OK, that statement, and I hate to say it, he's intentionally making himself purposely useless, OK. That is a nonstarter. That is a way to create a conversation around something that is not going to save lives. OK. And as long as we can't talk about the real problems and the real solutions, that is making our self purposely useless.

BERMAN: The president does seem open, if you read his body language, and listen to White House aides, open to the notion of raising the minimum age to buy AR-15, assault style weapons. Right now it's 18. Any 18-year-old can walk in and buy an AR-15. The president seems open to raising that to 21. Yet the NRA tonight came out and said no they're not in favor of it.

GUTTENBERG: I heard. I heard.

BERMAN: Do you think the president will stand up to the NRA on this issue?

GUTTENBERG: I'll say I hope so. I think his language and the way he is speaking through the haunting last week of these kids through today suggests not. But I'm an ultimate optimist. I believe we are going to get something done here. I hope he will be part of it. I am thrilled by these kids and what they have done and movement they started. And I want them all to just come on my back while we do this. Because we're going to get this done.

BERMAN: Yes.

GUTTENBERG: All I did was send -- I sent my daughter to school. It's all that I did that day. On Valentine's Day. And today I'm visiting her in her cemetery. I'm sorry, we have to talk truth and we have to talk real solutions.

BERMAN: You, sir, owe no one apology. You say you want these kids to jump on your back and you'll lead them in this discussion. I think a lot of these students and we're going to see them tonight are telling us to jump on their backs and they will lead us in this discussion.

GUTTENBERG: They are unbelievable.

BERMAN: You've been watching then for the last week. You know, your daughter's classmates calling for gun control measures. You know, your daughter was also a dancer. And we have seen these pictures from dancers across the country posting images with a hash tag orange ribbons for Jamie.

GUTTENBERG: Yes.

BERMAN: What does this mean to you? Does this bring you any comfort?

GUTTENBERG: my -- listen, a week ago my faith was shattered. What people have done this week to honor my baby, what people have done this week has restored my faith.

[19:15:05] What it also tells me is that people are demanding real solutions. They are wrapping their arms around my daughter, turns out orange -- and orange is her favorite color, but I also just learned today that it's also the universal color of gun safety in this country. What an amazing just connection but you're right, this orange ribbon started at a little dance theater, you know, Parkland Dance Theater in Parkland where my daughter danced and it went worldwide.

You have Broadway shows dedicating their performances to my daughter and putting these on. It says to me that people want change. It doesn't matter how much money the NRA has and how much money they are willing to spend. Citizens vote. Citizens will demand these kids are powerful.

My faith in our students, in our youth is so strong after what has happened this week because you are 100% right what you said about them.

BERMAN: Right.

GUTTENBERG: They have just taken this country on their back and they're not given up. BERMAN: Right.

GUTTENBERG: Because they want to do one thing. They want to go to school, that's it. This is so common sense and simple.

BERMAN: And that's what this discussion will be.

GUTTENBERG: I'm sorry.

BERMAN: No, as I said, you, sir, have to apologize for nothing. Thank you so much for being with us tonight. Thank you for taking part --

GUTTENBERG: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- in this CNN town hall event. Discussion is so important and we value your input, sir. So thank you.

GUTTENBERG: Appreciate your time.

BERMAN: OutFront next, shooting survivors confront the president begging him to do something about guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZEIF: I don't understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war. An AR.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That student is my guest next.

Plus breaking news the White House says tonight that the U.S. is taking direct action against Russia to address election meddling. What exactly does that mean?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:2:18] BERMAN: Breaking news President Trump value to take action on gun restriction after a listening session at the White House today. The president hearing from survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida which was one week ago today, as well as parents who lost children in the previous school shootings in this country. It was a conversation that was frank and at times emotional.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK BARDEN, SON KILLED IN SANDY HOOK: Nobody wants to see a shootout at a school. And deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school with the outcome knowing the outcome is going to be suicide is not going to care if there is someone there with the gun. That's their plan anyway.

ZIEF: How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How can we not stop this after Columbine, after Sandy Hook? I'm sitting with a mother who lost her son. It's still happening. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Those two men join me now. Samuel Zief, the student who survived last week shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School and Mark Barden lost his son Daniel in the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012. Sam, I got to say, it takes a lot of courage to do what you've done over the last week, not only texting with your brother during the shooting itself, but today, you know, speaking your mind that I think showing your heart to the country, you know, face-to-face, with the president of the United States. What did you takeaway from this session today?

ZEIF: It's just a start, really. There is going to be a lot more to come, and it's going to coma lot more. And, you know, this was us starting at the top. And if this doesn't go how we want it to go, we're going to start at the bottom, and work the judiciary and we're going to work our way right back up to the top and we're going to solve this. We're going to stop this.

BERMAN: Mark, there was one sentence that you said that I think maybe a lot of people missed but I got to tell you, hit me right in the gut. You said you'd been in this room, you've been in this building, the White House before more than once talking about school shootings, talking about ways to solve this problem. So what was going through your head this time once more you're there having this discussion?

BARDEN: That's what I was thinking, John. I'm thinking here we are again. This time. Another time with a room full of people, new people, who are just now starting this journey after another horrific mass shooting. And, yes, I was one of the new people in the room five years ago ringing our hands, begging our Congress to try to do something. This is my little Daniel. He was shot to death in Sandy Hook elementary school just a little over five years ago and here we are trying to address this and try to come up with solutions. And we took this back home and built this ourselves and we decided to do something at the community level. That's what we're doing with Sandy Hook.

BERMAN: We're so proud of the work you've been doing. I'm so happy that you continue to show pictures of your son Daniel so we can all remember what this all about.

BARDEN: What this about. People need to remember.

BERMAN: You know, Sam the only issue of solutions, right, President Trump talked about arming teachers. This is a solution that he sees and seems to support and others do as well. This is what the president said.

ZIEF: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This would only be obviously for people that are very adept at handling a gun. And it would be, it's called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They would go for special training. And they would be there. And you would no longer have a gun freeze zone. Gun free zone to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun free zone is let's go in and let's attack. Because bullets aren't coming back at us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: How would you feel about teachers carrying guns at your school? When you go back next week?

ZEIF: I don't know if I'm going to be going back next week. But on that topic, teachers get emotional too. And to arm every -- like to arm any teacher, they're there to teach. They're not -- they're not supposed to be there to protect us and have to worry about if they are going to have to shoot a kid that day. There should be people there for that.

I spoke with a teacher who was there in that room with me. And she's been teaching for 19 years. And she said if one day she came to work and they said, all right, we're going to start arming you guys with firearms, she would quit. Teachers and 19-year-olds are still people. And everyone is different. There is no way to -- you just can't. You just can't arm every single teacher.

[19:25:14] BERMAN: The president suggested that it would be only teachers who go through certain training. And I want to ask Mark about the same issue but I don't want to let something you said pass right there. You're not going to go back to school next week. Why not?

ZEIF: I don't know how they expect me, my classmates and I, to step back on a campus where people we know were murdered. Like they're going to fence off the freshman building or tear it down or whatever. It's just like a horror movie that never ends. And I don't know how I'm going to go back on set.

BERMAN: Mark, yes, again, you mentioned I think your wife is a teacher. And you thought a lot about this issue of arming teachers. And you suggested that you don't think arming teachers with weapons is the right idea. But instead arming them with what?

BARDEN: Arming them with the tools to recognize somebody who is at risk of hurting them self or somebody else. And then intervening and getting them to the help that they need before they pick up a gun or any weapon to hurt themselves or hurt somebody else. That's a solution that works that we know we have available right now. We can start doing that immediately. We know that it works. We've already stopped school shootings with students who have been trained who have followed that model and prevented a shooting before it happened. So it's absolutely doable. We are ready to go.

BERMAN: You know, Sam, one of the things that you seem to suggest is that 18-year-old shouldn't be able to buy an AR-15. And in fact, look, if you listen to the president he seems receptive to the idea of maybe raising the age limit to 21. The president might be willing to go there at least tonight he is. The NRA put out a statement over the last hour, where they said no. They're not in favor of it. Is this something you will push the president on it?

ZEIF: Well, when I say an 18-year-old shouldn't be able to, that was direct reference to myself. Nobody should be able to. Nobody.

BERMAN: Mark, you've been listening, you know, I think to Sam next to you, I think work through a lot of these things that you worked through five years ago. Any advice you can give him as you are with him right now?

BARDEN: It's a work in progress and still working through it as we were just discussing. And I will say I have so much admiration for the outspoken powerful incredible voice of these high school young people. They are making a huge impact in this country. They are not going to put up with this. And they are going to get results. And I'm going to it be here to support you. And I'm going to offer you the same advice that my dear friend Vice President Joe Biden offered to us, which is go home, take care of yourself. You know, this is a long hard road. And please, please don't, you know, just take care of yourself.

ZEIF: Thank you.

BERMAN: More important, Sam Zeif, thanks so much for being with us. Sam, please lean on the man beside you. I think he is a font of wisdom that he has. Lucky for all of us that he's there. So thanks very much.

ZEIF: Thank you.

BARDEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: OutFront next, breaking news, Russia warned the Trump administration saying tonight they have taken direct action to address meddling in the 2018 election. So what is it? And the president pledges to, "Get things done." When is he going to get more specific?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:52] BERMAN: Welcome back to special edition of OUTFRONT, looking at live pictures outside Sunrise, Florida, less than 90 minutes away from special CNN town hall, "Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action".

There's also breaking news from Washington. Multiple senior officials tell CNN that the Trump administration has warned Russia against meddling in the 2018 election. And that includes a personal warning to Vladimir Putin himself, that is according to officials.

Our Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT.

Pamela, what else do you tell us about these warnings?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Multiple senior officials say that the Trump administration has sent warnings to the highest level officials in Moscow, including Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, to not meddle in the 2018 election. One of the officials I spoke to says: he has been warned. We have sent a clear message to Russia not to do it.

And this official also says that part of the warning to Russia is that it will have severe consequences, severe negative consequences, and could do a lot of damage to the relationship if it does meddle in the 2016 elections as it has before.

Now, of course, John, you can ask the question -- well, under the Obama administration there were at least three warnings directly to Russia. John Brennan and his counterpart and between President Obama and President Putin and Russia continued with this behavior to meddle in the 2016 election. But when I pressed on that, the official says there were other measures, other types of direct action the administration is taking that it cannot discuss because it is classified.

I also asked if President Trump has spoken directly to President Putin about this matter. And the official wouldn't say, but said that it is using other channels with other professionals that are, quote, more effective to get the message across to Moscow. But, of course, all of this is against this back drop, John, of the president tweeting recently that his administration has been tougher on Russia than the Obama administration. And his top aides have had to back down stories they feel are unfair that have been skeptical of that claim considering the fact that other sanctions have not been imposed since January 29th, the administration is saying that it's going through a punitive review that is ongoing and that more action could be taken -- John.

BERMAN: Pamela Brown at the White House for us tonight. Pamela, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT now, former CIA and NSA director, General Michael Hayden.

General, thanks so much for being with us.

You know, look, President Trump has been reluctant in the past to admit that Russia interfered in the election. He has very barely done it at all. Yet, now the administration claiming they have warned Russians including Vladimir Putin not to interfere in the 2018 election.

How significant is this?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, to the degree that is true, that is really good news. But frankly, I don't think the administration, I don't think I'm being hyper critical, I don't think the administration has earned the benefit of the doubt in terms of Russian meddling and American response to it.

So I'd like to learn an awful lot more about this. And, frankly, John, within the last week, both the president and vice president has said that Russian meddling in 2016 had absolutely no effect on the American election of that year. Which is not I think a good premise to begin with if you want to go back now and threaten the Russians about future intervention. BERMAN: It's also not the findings of the intelligence community.

They say it's not the finding in the indictments handed up last week. Rod Rosenstein said there is no allegation in this indictment but he limited it to that.

Also, you know, Pamela Brown's reporting is, that she didn't get a direct answer on whether President Trump had directed this message directly to Vladimir Putin, but the body language was no, it wasn't President Trump it was from other channels. Does it need to be from the president himself?

HAYDEN: I think so. Either directly through Vladimir Putin or the president can speak publicly through the American people, through the international news media to the Russian president.

Let's keep in mind I don't want to be skeptical here, but not willing to grant the benefit of the doubt here. John, the last time the two presidents met, our president said I believe him when he says they didn't do it.

[19:35:08] BERMAN: Again, one reason to be skeptical is because of what we heard from the intelligence chiefs, what was it just last week when they said they hadn't received direct instructions from the president yet to stop Russian interference. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt direction.

SEN. JACK REED (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: As directed by the president?

WRAY: Not specifically directed by the president.

REED: OK.

Director Pompeo, have you received a specific presidential direction to take steps to disrupt these activities?

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I'm not sure how specific.

MIKE ROGERS, NSA DIRECTOR: For us, I can't say I've been explicitly directed to, quote, blunt or actively stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Right. So that moment definitely happened.

Let's look at it from the other side. What would it take for the Russians to get the message U.S. is serious here?

HAYDEN: Well, I think we would have to act in extraordinary way, John. So what you had was five intelligence chiefs here. So, I think if you were able to talk to them in classified environment could list the things they are doing individually within their own lane to blunt the Russian effort.

But what we need here is a synchronized whole of government and dare I say, John, whole of society response to what the Russians did to affect American thinking in electoral processes in 2016. That requires extraordinary energy, extraordinary focused and extraordinary structures, none of what we get in our system without the personal intervention of the president.

BERMAN: So, General, I want to ask you about the school shootings last week in Parkland, Florida, 90 minutes from the CNN town hall that we're going to hear from the students.

I was talking to Lisa Monaco who ran Homeland Security inside the Obama administration. She said this is a homeland security issue. So it does I think dovetail to some of the areas you are so involved in right now.

One of the remarkable things we have seen over the last few days is conspiracy theories about the survivors of this shooting, people saying that these students are actors who are speaking out. Other folks saying, you know, they are marching because George Soros is paying for them to march. You know, from where you sit as someone deeply concerned about U.S. security intelligence, what role do these conspiracy theories play and what should we think about them?

HAYDEN: Actually, John, your second question relates to the first topic that we discussed. Russian bots, the alt-right media here, some major news organizations and occasionally the president himself try to delegitimize opposition by invalidating them, by saying they are fronts for something or someone else. And here, we now have these really to my mind, to my eye, very genuine young people, rather than arguing the point they are raising, we are seeing an effort to delegitimize and invalidate them by claiming that they are fronts for someone else.

It's a suggestion of one, fractures in our society, and, two, John, fractures that Russian effort is trying to exploit.

BERMAN: General Michael Hayden, sobering warnings tonight. Thanks for being with us.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: OUTFRONT next, so what will President Trump do now that he's heard pleas like this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think it would happen to me. If I knew that I would be at the school every day if I knew it was that dangerous. That's enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And breaking news, deputies in Broward County schools ordered to carry heavy gun power on school grounds, AR-15s. The mayor of Broward County is my guest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Breaking news, just over an hour away from CNN special town hall on guns, just one week after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida. Town hall comes just hours after President Trump held a listening session at the White House with parents and students trying to prevent another tragedy.

And there was this photo showing President Trump's note card for this session, the piece of White House stationary is five points. We can see three of them. The first two are, what would you want me to know about your experience? What can we do to make you feel safe? And finally, I hear you.

OUTFRONT now, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, CNN chief political Gloria Borger, and former adviser to four presidents, David Gergen.

Gloria, first to you, you know, we are looking at the note card. I think I hear you at the end is getting a lot of focus, as if the president had to be reminded to empathize. But the first two questions are spot on or I think what the people in that room wanted asked and people in this town hall want asked tonight as well.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think so. In that regard I think the president went out of his way to just be a listener. He did sort of talk about the question of whether concealed carry might be something, people ought to think about for teachers.

But generally, I think the president, you know, was in listening mode. I don't think you have to remind yourself to be empathetic, it's not one of the president's great skills as we know. But I do think the people walked away today thinking they were heard and there were differing points of views and there was no vitriol, which we are so used to in this kind of a debate inside that room at least. And that the president was hearing them out.

BERMAN: David Gergen, you know, we have seen presidents act before in these times, President Obama, the comforter in chief, those things. How did President Trump do today? There were divergent views in that room.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALSYT: Sure. I think we should cut him some slack on the note cards. Presidents who go into meetings like, especially if they know they were going to emotional, and they may very well themselves, they'd need those and they frequently bring those kind of things. And I think in this case, he deserves credit for bringing people in and listening.

But the real test is still ahead. It is what he does. It's what action he takes. So far, what we are hearing from the White House are mostly half measures.

Even the controversial measure you brought up earlier on the program about lifting the age to 21 before you can buy an assault weapon, if you look back at the 14 deadliest mass shootings, 11 of them were committed by people over 21.

[19:45:06] The problem is not the age particularly. That's a piece of it.

But if you really want to get action, what about those other 11 who got their hands on big guns and shot down a lot of people.

BERMAN: You saw cut the president some slack over the note card. One thing in this event -- this event was not about the president. So many events the president attends seem to revolve around him. This wasn't about him.

GERGEN: I agree.

BERMAN: He didn't put himself at the center of it. He was seated there and he listened but he didn't make it about him.

Mark Preston, David Gergen just brought up this fascinating issue of whether or not the age limit to purchase an AR-15, a rifle, should be raised from 18, where it is now, to 21. This isn't a giant step, but tonight, and I think it's in advance of our CNN town hall that they're doing this, the NRA comes out with a statement that they are opposed to this. They are opposed to raising the age limit to buy an AR-15 to 21.

Where does this debate go now? Will the president take a stand on this?

PRESTON: Well, there is going to be several fronts about this debate right now. Of course you have liberals and Democrats that are clearly on one side. You have the NRA on the other side. Part of the Republican Party that's in the middle that want to see some sensible gun solutions that perhaps the NRA doesn't care about.

But you also have a lot of Republicans, and quite frankly Democrats who are from states in the Midwest and down in the south who agree with the NRA.

Now, the president himself we never know which way he's going when it comes to specific policy issues. What he said today, though, I think caught the National Rifle Association off-guard. I think it caught conservatives off-guard.

But I don't think they are too surprised by it. This has happened on the past on other pieces of legislation, you know, in the year plus that he's been in office.

But I do have to say this, John, tonight is going to be amazing moment. They'll be more than 7,000 people in this arena behind me. Think about that, a town hall with 7,000 people. There is going to be high emotions.

But we are going to hear from the NRA. They did accept our invitation and that does say something for them to come here. As well as Senator Marco Rubio who has come under a lot of criticism for his support of gun measures that many, if not most people, in this hall do not favor. BERMAN: We'll talk about Marco Rubio in just a second because I think

he's a fascinating case study in this discussion. But so too is this discussion of age limits, Gloria, because as David Gergen was saying here, this isn't a giant thing, necessarily.

BORGER: No.

BERMAN: This feels like a very narrow thing that -- Jeff Flake, Republican from Arizona, is proposing to cosponsor a measure with Dianne Feinstein, Democrat, on this. You know, there are Republicans for it. It seems like there is an area there could be agreement. But even on this, the NRA is saying no.

BORGER: Sure. And what you are doing is anybody link around the edges. You're doing a little bit of this and that, and maybe you're going to change background checks. Who knows if you can even get that done? That couldn't get done after Newtown, for heaven's sakes.

So, you're nibbling here and you're nibbling there. I think the real challenge for this president who says that he is not bought by anybody, including the NRA, which has contributed millions and millions of dollars to elect him, I think this is a moment for him when he says I am going to do this and I don't care if the NRA supports me or not. And the question is whether he can bring along conservative Republicans who are afraid of being primaried in their home districts by more conservative Republicans who are pro-Second Amendment and say I'm going to do whatever the NRA says no matter what.

BERMAN: It seems he can do this. The president could get this much done if he wanted to.

GERGEN: Absolutely. This is a test presidential courage. It's one of the moments you can line it up and say, he acted presidential today. Is he going to have the guts? Is he going to stand up to special interests groups?

Great presidents have done that in moments like this. They have recognized needs of the country and they have acted appropriately. You cannot listen to those kids and not think he ought to do something bold and courageous.

BERMAN: I'm very interested to see what the NRA says about this tonight at the town hall.

And, Mark Preston, you brought up Marco Rubio who has had, you know, complicated relationship with guns going back far weigh. I mean, after the Orlando night club shooting, he got back in to the Senate race because he felt those issues were important right now. Do you think he'll move?

PRESTON: I think everybody is going to have to move at some point. It's really about varying degrees. How far will people move and I think we'll hear something from Marco Rubio tonight. Will it go as far as perhaps people in this building want him to go? I don't think that's going to happen, but I do think, given what we saw, what, a week ago, we have never seen this we've never seen this kind of political action, certainly not in recent times when it comes to this issue and it really is red hot right now.

BERMAN: David Gergen, Gloria Borger, Mark Preston, thank you for help setting up this town hall. I know you were a key player in it and thanks so much for being with us tonight.

[19:50:05] OUTFRONT next, we're live at CNN's town hall with a local mayor who asked this tough question, when did we decide that we love our guns more than we love our children?

And the voices of grief just aren't going away. They're getting louder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We more than anybody else understand the violence that comes through certain guns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The breaking news coming up in just one hour. CNN's town hall. You're looking at live pictures right now. Florida lawmakers, families, and students affected by last week's mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the high school there will be in attendance.

The students of Stoneman Douglas High School leading this, forcing lawmakers to hear their voices. They were set to meet with Governor Rick Scott and other officials.

OUTFRONT now, from the site of tonight's town hall, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr.

Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for being with us. If I can ask you about a little bit of news tonight, we just learned from the Broward County sheriff that deputies will be at local school grounds throughout the county as they return to school from vacation and return to school next week, carrying rifles. Do you believe that is the right solution here?

[19:55:00] MAYOR BEAM FURR, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, I'm not going to second-guess the sheriff, but as a teacher for a long time, I hate to think that it has come to that, I'll be honest, but I can understand if -- for the time being if it is going to make some of the students feel a little safer, maybe it's a short-term, you know, thing to do.

BERMAN: You're sitting in the hall tonight where there is going to be a massive CNN town hall, what do you want to hear tonight?

FURR: First of all, I am extremely proud of the students of Broward County and I'm looking forward to hearing their honest questions. They don't have a filter and they are willing to ask and question the lawmakers as to what their thoughts are and I think they are going to demand explanations. So, I'm very much looking forward to hearing what they have to say and hearing the dialogue.

BERMAN: We looked at remarkable pictures today all day of students from across Florida and across the country walking out of their classroom to show solidarity with the students of Stoneman Douglas, including from high schools in Broward County. What did you think when those kids walked out of class today?

FURR: Well, I think these kids have absolutely sparked a fire not only here, but throughout the United States. We're hearing from kids from all over the place and these kids have really, are saying what they want -- I'm sorry, the anthem is about to go on. Excuse me, just a moment.

BERMAN: Mr. Mayor, we are going to let you listen to that. I don't think it is appropriate to be talking over it. Thanks so much for being with us and thank for being part of this town hall tonight.

So, this movement, this call for action might not be growing at all had some teenagers remained silent. Instead these students armed with passion and voice decided to speak out and take a stand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know exactly what needs to be done. I just know what we are doing now is nowhere near enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time for change wasn't now. The time for change was years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My innocence, our innocence has been taken from us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never again should a student be silent by gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the politicians, if you aren't with us, you are against us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friends and I, my community and I have stared down the barrel of an AR-15 the way you have not. How dare you tell us we don't know what we are talking about?

(CHANTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 19-year-old who can't purchase an alcoholic beverage should not be allowed to purchase an AR-15.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you for taking steps to save us or are you for taking NRA blood money? We are not letting the United States be run by that terrorist organization.

STUDENTS: Our blood. Your hands! Our blood. Your hands!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowing that you had the opportunity to ban assault weapons and you didn't, like are you proud of that now? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me? Now is the time to focus on

the past and not the future to prevent the death of thousands of other children? You sicken me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your job is to protect us and our blood is on your hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Donald Trump wanted to listen to us, he should have taken the first invitation. We are not going to come to him. He needs to come to us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say that tougher gun laws -- we call B.S. They say a good guy with a gun stops the bad guy with a gun -- we call B.S.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not puppets. We are very astute and capable individuals who want to see change in our country because we know we are the leaders of the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The voices of the students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students who are leaders of this discussion, the students who will be right at the center of the CNN town hall. You're looking at live pictures tonight.

And just within the last few hours, there has been movement in both directions on this front. President Trump suggesting, hinting he might be open to raising the age limit to buy assault style AR-15 rifles. The president seems open to it. But then moments after that, the NRA came out and said they oppose it.

What will the NRA say about that tonight? One of its chief representatives will be on that stage you're looking at. And as you just heard moments ago, Broward County has announced that deputies with rifles will be at the school when they return to school next week in Parkland, Florida.

Thank you so much for joining us. CNN's live town hall comes up from Florida at 9:00 p.m.

"AC360" starts right now.