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CT Governor: GOP Has "Blood On Their Hands" After FL Shooting; Trump Attacks Woman Accusing Him Of Kissing Her Without Consent; CNN Tracks Down Americans Enticed By Russian Trolls. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 21, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:30:25] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy says President Trump and Republicans have blood on their hands after the deadly massacre in Florida. He is now challenging lawmakers in Washington to get tough when it comes to gun control.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy joins me now. His state did pass strict gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. Governor, thank you for joining us.

Is that the reality that this is going to have to be done state-by- state, unfortunately, when states either see it happen to them or near them?

GOV. DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, I think it is and it does have to be done state-by-state.

The NRA has paid for Washington. You have senators who have received $5 million, $6 million, $7 million in contributions from the NRA. They are highly unlikely to do the right thing in large part because they've been bought off -- let's be honest.

You know, if you look at the top 10 states with respect to their death rate by guns, there are about three to four times the bottom 10. A place like Florida has a death rate that is over three times -- or about three times as high as Connecticut's death rate per 100,000.

CUOMO: So, let me -- let's just --

MALLOY: The reality --

CUOMO: Let's emphasize the point --


CUOMO: -- to give people context.

The percentage of ownership --


CUOMO: -- in a state winds up being an inverse correlation to the amount of death in that state. That the more guns you have, the more death you have. That upsets a lot of people's sense of more guns make you more safe.

What have you learned in Connecticut with the changes you made after Sandy Hook?

MALLOY: Well, what we know is that if you have a gun in your house, someone in your house is far more likely to kill themselves than if you didn't have a gun in your house.

And what we learned around Sandy Hook is that we need a higher level of protections, particularly from people who have mental illness in their families and in their backgrounds, who've been hospitalized. We don't allow those folks to buy guns for a period of time until they're -- until they're well again.

We did away with the sale of assault weapons. Something that you couldn't purchase in the United States until 1984, you can no longer buy in the state of Connecticut.

We require that all gun sales be recorded. Anyone who wants to buy a gun or ammunition has to have a permit to do these things. People are still doing it.

CUOMO: Have the numbers gone down? We know --

MALLOY: They still own weapons but it --

CUOMO: No, listen -- you have a robust gun ownership in your state.

MALLOY: We do.

CUOMO: But the idea of what have you seen in the numbers since Sandy Hook? I know it's a small sample size in terms of years but what have you seen?

MALLOY: Well, let's put it this way, Chris.

Connecticut has had the largest drop in violent crime of any state based on the last four years. We passed this law in 2013. We've had -- with respect to homicides, we've had a precipitous drop in homicides. Good rules, good laws make for good results in most cases.

CUOMO: What do you say to the lawmakers in Washington? You said they have blood on their hands. Anybody who knows you knows that you believe that deeply. You were saying it at the time after the Sandy Hook shooting happened.

What do you say to them today?

MALLOY: Well, what I say -- what I'm going to say to them, and I have said literally since Sandy Hook, is this coming to your neighborhood. This could affect your grandchild or your child. You're going to see people in your state killed in restaurants, and movie theaters, and schools, and in churches.

Why can I say that? Because that's all we've seen since Sandy Hook. This is playing itself out time and time again. A place like Florida has seen two mass murders in a relatively short period of time.

There are people out there now, perhaps in your community where you live or where your family lives back in your home state -- there are people there planning the next mass attack.

CUOMO: Now look, as you know, I and so many others were there during the massacre that happened in Sandy Hook and people felt that that would be a tipping point because so many young children -- so much vulnerability exposed there. And, of course, nothing changed on the national level. I want to give credit to your state and others that acted after it.

Do you think this could be different because this group of survivors speak for themselves -- are old enough to say what they saw, what they lived through, and how terrified they are and how much they want to be safe at school?

MALLOY: Well -- and first of all, let me say this. It was the tipping point in about 12 states -- New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts -- just a few of those states that tightened their gun laws.

With respect to these young people, they're going to voters soon. I think that they are going to make a change. I don't think it's going to happen overnight.

I think this -- these kinds of situations will play themselves out. But I think young people are starting to realize that gun ownership is not a panacea.

[07:35:10] I'll go back to the statistic. We're going to see 33,000 people die of gun violence this year. Many of those will kill themselves or family members -- we know that.

But that all -- all of those chances of that happening in your school, in your movie theater, or in your home are increased by the number of guns that are in your home, the easy way that you can get them.

Ninety-seven percent of Americans want universal background checks. They don't understand why you should be able to go to your local high school on a weekend and buy a gun without a background check at a gun show. It is insane to allow that to happen.

If you support that legislation -- if you - if you vote to allow that to happen in Washington or in your state capital, you do have blood on your hands if that's what you're allowing.

In fact, I'm going to point something out to you. The guns that are used in crimes in New York, and Connecticut, and New Jersey, and Massachusetts, in many cases, come from those very sales. That's the last time we can trace a gun being owned by someone, is in a state where these kinds of transfers happen. They come up route -- I-95.

Let's just do sane things. Let's make ourselves safer.

Let's not sell guns to people who have protective orders against them. Let's not sell guns to people who have mental illness. Let's not sell guns to people who are on the no-fly list.

We can't even do that in our country. That's insane.

CUOMO: Governor, thank you for making the case, appreciate it.

MALLOY: Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump taking to Twitter and attacking one of the women who says he forcibly kissed her. Why is the president doing this now? That's next.


[07:40:34] CAMEROTA: President Trump is publicly slamming a woman who accuses him of kissing her without consent at Trump Tower more than a decade ago. Rachel Crooks is the woman. She's now running for the state legislature in Ohio as a Democrat.

She retold her story for a "Washington Post" profile and the president then replied with a series of tweets, saying the incident did not happen and accusing his many accusers of making up their stories for money.

Let's discuss with CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, and Margaret Hoover. Margaret is a former George W. Bush White House staffer and veteran of two Republican presidential candidates -- campaigns, I should say.

Ladies, great to have you.

Ana, I'll start with you. Why is the president taking on this fight again?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Either because he's got zero self-control and can't help himself or because he's trying to distract, as in divert from the Russia issue and everything that's going on with that. Look, I have no idea why he tweeted about it. The only reason we're talking about it this morning is because he tweeted about it.

In the last, what, month, six weeks, we have learned that he was having an affair with a Playboy bunny and a porn star simultaneously, while his wife had just given birth. And basically, this reporter said dude, don't worry about it, you get a mulligan. So, his supporters give him mulligans.

Those of us who don't support him -- eh, we already think he's pretty gross so it really doesn't make that much of a difference.

We are talking about it because he inserted himself into the debate, much like he did with his response to that "Fire and Fury" book, and he has thereby elevated this into the national fray. When he tweets about it, it becomes an issue and I'm glad --

CAMEROTA: I understand that. I get it. Your --

NAVARRO: -- because this woman deserves to be heard.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and by the way, she's not alone.

Go ahead, Margaret.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I mean, that -- that's also the point here is that if he hadn't tweeted about it we probably wouldn't be talking about it. That in and of itself is a tragedy because there are 19 women who have reasonably credible allegations that the President of the United States actually assaulted them and we're not talking about it, and Republicans leaders aren't talking about it, Republican women aren't talking about it.

We have somehow still gotten to a place where the party that founded itself 170 years ago with women's suffrage has descended to a party that is led by a man who doesn't respect women and who has assaulted them, at least by reasonable accusation. That's the historic tragedy here.

CAMEROTA: OK, so we'll talk about it. Let's do it because here are the ones that have been vetted, so I'll read their names and tell you -- we'll just put up a -- she's not alone, in other words. Rachel Crooks is not alone.

So, in terms of non-consensual kissing, Rachel Crooks says that happened at Trump Tower. Cathy Heller accuses him of it. There's an anonymous woman who said unwanted kissing.

Temple Taggart said non-consensual embrace. Natasha Stoynoff says forced his tongue down her throat. Jessica Drake says non-consensual kissing.

Then it gets worse. There are other women who accuse him of groping.

Jessica Leeds, he groped her breasts on a plane. Karen Virginia, inappropriate touching. Kristin Anderson -- touched her under her skirt.

Jill Harth, unwanted sexual advances. Mindy McGillivray, he groped her at Mar-a-Lago. Ninni Laaksonen says he grabbed her butt. And then, there's Summer Zervos who has accused him of sexual assault.

So, as we've learned, Ana, when it's one man's word against almost 20 -- we've learned with the #MeToo movement, the women are to be believed.

NAVARRO: Look, I think most people in America believe the women here. And the primary reason why most people in America believe the women is because we heard Donald Trump, in his own voice, boast about what these women are accusing him of. Let us remember those "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tapes.

Yesterday, in that tweet, he asked who would do that? You would do that. You told us you would do that. You told us you got away with doing that because you were a celebrity.

You told us you grabbed women by the genitals. You told us you kissed women -- that you couldn't help yourself. You told us that you would do that.

I think most people believe those women.

The problem here is, Alisyn, that when it comes to Donald Trump there is a different measuring stick. There is a different standard.

As I've said before, I am old enough to remember when the Republican Party was against adulterer presidents.


NAVARRO: That is no longer the case. It gets a big shoulder-shrug right now from within the party. And I think for everybody else, our standards and our bar for him is so low that we would rarely bat an eyelash.

[07:45:03] And it is such a tragedy and unfortunate for these women. They are not getting their fair shake. They're not getting heard enough.

CAMEROTA: Margaret, how do you explain it? How do the Republicans give him a pass?

HOOVER: The Republican Party doesn't pretend to be a party of moral courage at the moment. They -- it is totally transactional and you see that in its best example is how the religious right has continued to rally around him knowing full well that he paid off a porn star when his wife had just had their child.

There is no --

CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, we've had some of them on the show. They say well, you don't love the sin, you love the sinner, and you have to --

HOOVER: God loves the sinner. You don't have to love the sinner. I mean, you don't have to support behavior in this world that is fundamentally against the principles you espouse.

CAMEROTA: I think it's also easier to love the sinner when the sinner admits that he's sinned. When the sinner -- when the sinner -- when the sinner asks God for forgiveness.

HOOVER: No. You know what, it's easy to love the sinner if you're getting a political transaction, all right, and that's the deal that people have made.

And that's the deal that Republicans have made in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. They think that they're still going to get policies passed with this president that they like at the expense of any sort of moral primacy or courage or anything, frankly, they can be proud of to tell their grandchildren or granddaughters about.

I mean, that's -- this is -- it's a sad state of affairs and it's not a proud time to be a Republican.

CAMEROTA: All right. Here's what Rachel Crooks says, Ana, about the president basically calling her a liar when she has told the story of him forcibly kissing her. Listen to this.


RACHEL CROOKS, TRUMP ACCUSER, RUNNING FOR STATE OFFICE: I'm not surprised that he called me a liar. I mean, that's not the first time. It is the first time, I guess, he's attacked me personally on Twitter.

But his whole approach to this has been to deny the allegations of myself and, like you said, almost 20 women who have come forward, so it's not surprising. But I would think, as our president, he would have more important things to do than to tweet at me and try to discredit my story.


CAMEROTA: Ana, do you sense that there's any political backlash against now -- now, in the #MeToo movement things have changed obviously since the president was elected. Do you think that women feel differently now?

NAVARRO: I think women feel differently and I think what we have seen is women supporting women. We have seen the power of numbers. We have seen that victims are believed. And I think that frankly, unfortunately and sadly for these women, they're not going to get their fair shake because the one lone case where that does not apply is to Donald Trump.

Probably the only backlash he's actually really feeling might be at home from his wife Melania, who doesn't look very happy lately and I don't blame her. It's got to be very hard to be hearing these stories one after the other.

It's a different world. It's a different set of standards when it comes to Donald Trump.

But I do think that one of the silver linings and one of the very good things that has come out of these women speaking against Donald Trump -- I think because of these women, because of their courage, because they confronted Donald Trump, and because Donald Trump ended up getting elected regardless, I think that served as a catalyst for so many other women who were just angry and frustrated and decided they were not going to remain silent any more.

So, I think that a lot of this #MeToo movement -- the Harvey Weinstein thing -- happened because women decided they were pissed off and weren't going to take it anymore when they saw a sexual assaulter get elected to the White House.

CAMEROTA: Final word, Margaret.

HOOVER: I just -- to Ana's point, I think watch 2018. Winter is coming.

I mean, these women have been mobilized and I think that's what you're going to see in real numbers and that's where it's not just one thing that the president has done, but it's a series of them over time. And I think winter is coming in 2018.

CAMEROTA: All right, you heard it here.

Margaret, Ana, thank you very much for all of that -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, another big controversy.

The special counsel's indictments revealing that some of you -- some Americans spoke with Russian trolls and were part of their efforts to interfere in the election. Who are those unwitting Americans? CNN tracks them down.


[07:53:28] CUOMO: Special Counsel Bob Mueller's indictments of 13 Russians, including information about Russian trolls, that were enticing unwitting Americans to help undermine the political system.

So, CNN's senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin went looking for some of those citizens and what they thought about this fact.



DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She may well be one of the unwitting Americans -- Trump supporters who helped the Russian Internet trolls infiltrate U.S. communities by spreading Russian-made messages without knowing it.

But, Florine Goldfarb, who still runs the Team Trump Broward Facebook page thinks that's all B.S., right down to the timing of when Robert Mueller decided to release his indictments.

GOLDFARB: I think it's a cover-up. That's my opinion. They're covering up what they have blundered on the -- on the shooting that was done at the high school.

GRIFFIN: One group the Russians operated under was called "Being Patriotic," calling themselves an online community. They were actually Russian Internet trolls, according to the FBI, trying to direct unwitting Americans to holding rallies, hosting Russian-made anti-Hillary Clinton messages -- even telling them what to print on their homemade signs.

According to the indictment, the Russians, under the online name "Being Patriotic," encouraged Trump supporters to stage a flash mob on August 20th and the "Team Trump Broward" group responded. Florine Goldfarb posted the information for the Fort Lauderdale flash mob on the Facebook page she still runs.

Co-chair of the "Team Trump Broward," Dolly Rump was there holding a "Crooked Hillary" sign. Dolly Rump wouldn't talk to CNN. Her husband told us, by phone, we are disgusting and not to bother them.

[07:55:09] Florine Goldfarb told us we are fake news, part of the cover-up.

GRIFFIN (on camera): But what part of it in this is a cover-up? What -- are you saying that's not true or what?

GOLDFARB: The Russians? I don't care if they were involved or not. That, to me, is the least important thing.

GRIFFIN: But they were involved with you. Did you guys know that?

GOLDFARB: They weren't involved with us. That's -- you know, just make sure that you report it correctly that, you know --

GRIFFIN: But you guys were involved with "Being Patriotic," right?

GOLDFARB: Very -- very patriotic, but not --

GRIFFIN: "Being Patriotic" was the group that contacted and helped organize some of these activities that you posted on your own Facebook account.

GOLDFARB: Those were legitimate.

GRIFFIN: Those were Russians.

GOLDFARB: They were not Russians. I don't go with the Russians. Come on, give me a break.

GRIFFIN: That's group was Russians.

GOLDFARB: I have nothing to do with the Russians. The group --

GRIFFIN: Well, apparently, you did.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Even though the indictment says the Russians organized the rally, Ms. Goldfarb says she never communicated with any Russians and no one at any of her events were anything but Americans for Trump.

The Russians, pretending to be Trump organizers, also reached out to Harry Miller in Boynton Beach, Florida, paying him to build a cage large enough to hold an actress depicting Clinton in prison uniform. He did just that, appearing at rallies.

On Friday, Miller, who now lives in Pennsylvania, tweeted "This is the cage the Russians paid for."

By phone, he says he learned about his unwitting involvement from the FBI and now believes it was Russians who called him on the phone and paid him between $500 to $1,000 to build his cage.

HARRY MILLER, TRUMP SUPPORTER (voice-over): I was really embarrassed. They had that beautiful Website. They were very supportive of the -- supportive of the candidate.

There was nothing -- nothing at all to lend you to think that's anything other than people trying to support a candidate.

GRIFFIN: The Russians weren't just recruiting unwitting Trump supporters. As CNN reported last October, a group calling itself "Black Fist" turned out to be Russians trying to infiltrate black communities and seed social unrest.

Other groups were encouraged by Russian Internet trolls. The whole protest against police, for and against immigrants, sometimes encouraging both at the same location to increase the possibility of violence.

The indictment also reveals this post-election protest outside New York's Trump Tower was organized by Russians on Facebook. It grew so large, even CNN covered it.

Micah White, one of the original "Occupy Wall Street" organizers, says he believes he was contacted by Russian trolls in May of 2016. He worries about the long-term effects.

MICAH WHITE, ACTIVIST, OCCUPY WALL STREET: If it is true that a Russian-created activist group is indistinguishable from an American- created activist group, that will make -- that will have negative impacts on our ability to create social movements that are positive -- that actually benefit ourselves and not some sort of foreign power.

GRIFFIN (on camera): So that -- people will always be wondering well, was this -- is this a real --

WHITE: Right.

GRIFFIN: -- event?

WHITE: And I think that may have been part of the goal of the Russian thing.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): For Florine Goldfarb, there is no Russian thing. It is all, as she repeatedly told us, B.S.



GOLDFARB: And please -- please report that. I don't believe that -- that's bull****. I know all the people that were with me, OK? They were at my meetings. They're all Trump supporters, OK?

GRIFFIN: Yes, but did you realize that you guys were in communication electronically with Russians?

GOLDFARB: Not me, not me. I don't know --

GRIFFIN: You were posting stuff on Facebook.

GOLDFARB: Hillary Clinton was and so was all her bandits. You were --

GRIFFIN: Some of the stuff that you -- you were in charge of the Facebook account, right? You were posting and re-posting almost word for word the information that was coming out of this Internet research agency --

GOLDFARB: No, goodbye.

GRIFFIN: -- in Saint Petersburg.


GRIFFIN: You don't believe that?

GOLDFARB: Nope, (expletive).

GRIFFIN: She just refuses to believe what appears to be fact that these Russian trolls were so adept at infiltrating the online political discussion in the U.S. that even, at times, convinced Americans where and when to stage protests, demonstrations, and even to build a Hillary Clinton cage on the back of a pick-up truck.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


CUOMO: Drew can tell you the facts. Whether or not you believe them is up to you.

We're following a lot of news. What do you say? Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are kids that are dead and they just -- they don't care.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: My goal is to come up with something that is going to move the needle.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to come up with solutions.

KAI KOERBER, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, PARKLAND, FLORIDA: We've fallen victim to lazy legislation for far too long.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We would like our FBI to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our high-schoolers are looking like leaders and our leaders are looking like high-schoolers. VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, CNN "VAN JONES SHOW," AUTHOR, "THE MESSY TRUTH": To stand over the bodies of children and poke your finger in the eye of your adversary is as low as you can possibly go.