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President Trump Supports Raising Age to Buy Rifle, NRA Rejects That: "Our Poistion Has Not Changed"; President Trump Suggests Bonuses for Armed Teachers. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired February 22, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

New charges in the Russia investigation, a new indictment accusing President Trump's former campaign chairman and the chairman's former deputy of money laundering on a grand scale.

Also tonight, a new promise from the president a week and a day after 14 students and three staffers were shot and killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unlike for many years where people sitting in my position did not take action, they didn't take proper action. They took no action at all. We're going to take action.


COOPER: Well, keeping 'em honest tonight, the question tonight is what will that action actually look like? Will it be meaningful? Will he incorporate the concerns of the parents and students and teachers and members of law enforcement he's being hearing from? Or merely echo the latest voice in his here which happens to speak for much of his base, the National Rifle Association?

Writer Tom Friedman who joins us shortly puts the question bluntly: will the president be able to lead?

No question the president has in the last eight days seen and heard a lot that might affect his thinking, as have we all. He watched as we all did the full dimensions of the horror become known. He saw the vigils, thousands of classmates and students of the 17 fallen kids and staffers, friends, neighbors. He saw the students march to Florida state capital and heard their calls for gun control.

He listened to raw emotional pleas at the White House.


SAMUEL ZEIF, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: We need to do something. And that's why we're here. So let's be strong for the fallen who don't have a voice to speak anymore. And let's never let this happen again. Please. Please. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, if you watch our CNN town hall last night, the president saw so many powerful, moving, and deeply thoughtful people confronting their elected officials, telling them that doing nothing is no longer an option.

This morning, the president first put out a string of tweets, calling for arming and training teachers. Then he listened to the head of the NRA deriding the notion of keeping more guns out of schools.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous. If that's true -- and just think about this -- if that's true, armed security makes us less safe, let's just go ahead and remove it from everywhere. Let's remove it from the White House, from Capitol Hill, and remove it from all of Hollywood.


COOPER: So that was NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, this morning. Just a couple hours later, here was President Trump.


TRUMP: A gun-free zone to a killer or somebody that wants to be a killer, that's like going in for the ice cream. That's like, here I am, take me.


COOPER: The president also said this about whether he'll be taking on the NRA, the lobby that spent about $31 million to get him elected.


TRUMP: I don't think I'll be going up against them. I really think the NRA wants to do what's right. I mean, they're very close to me, I'm very close to them.

They're very, very great people. They love this country. They're patriots. The NRA wants to do the right thing.


COOPER: Well, there does appear to be at least a little daylight between what the NRA wants and what the president seems to want. He's going against the NRA on raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21 from 18, if he sticks to that idea. The NRA opposes it.

And he says he wants to ban bump stocks, which can make AR-15-style rifles fire as fast as machine guns, which the organization has not yet endorsed or opposed. For a moment, though, I just want to return to the president's belief

that he won't have to take them on because, he says, the NRA wants to do the right thing.

Keeping 'em honest, he said those words just a few short hours after Wayne LaPierre and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch made some pretty controversial statements at CPAC.


LAPIERRE: The elites don't care, not one whit about America's school system and schoolchildren. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them, it's not a safety issue. It's a political issue. They care more about control and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate any individual freedoms.

DANA LOESCH, NRA SPOKESWOMAN: Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. Now, I'm not saying that you love the tragedy, but I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying, white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back.


[20:05:01] COOPER: That was this morning. And again, this afternoon, the president said he didn't think that he'll need to oppose the NRA.

So, will the president follow through on the age restrictions and bump stock ban given his record on such issues as immigration, floating bipartisan compromises, and then gravitating back to the base? We shall see.

Meantime today, another funeral. This one for Stoneman Douglas assistant football coach, Aaron Feis. Team members as pallbearers, teenagers burying their teachers.

More now on what the president is actually inclined to do about all of this, if anything. For that, let's go to CNN's Pamela Brown at the White House.

Has the White House signaled how it plans to turn these, you know, ideas or things talked about into actual action?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House keeps saying, Anderson, that it is still in the listening phase. The president continues to test out different ideas. But it is far from clear whether he has settled on a set of ideas in order to address this issue. Though, he has signaled today that he's willing to push Congress on the gun issue, Anderson.

Sources tell us he has been telling his aides that he wants to lead on this issue, unlike his predecessors. But this is a president with fractured relations on Capitol Hill and also, you just look at history, Anderson. Past bills aiming on gun control and to address the gun issue in the wake of school shootings have withered away, have failed.

So, it's unclear exactly what this president will do that's different. Here's what Raj Shah, the press secretary, had to say when I asked him that exact question, how the White House will turn ideas into action?


BROWN: -- sure that action will be taken?

RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I mean, look, as I said, as I told Major, right now, we're in a listening phase. There's a policy process. Eventually, there'll be a legislative process.

BROWN: And is he willing to go against the NRA ultimately? Because the NRA is standing firm that it does not support age limits for semiautomatic rifles. Is the president willing to stick with his --

SHAH: He's willing to do what's right to ensure safe -- to ensure we have safe schools.


BROWN: So, among the ideas that the president has floated, Anderson, is arming, quote, highly adept teachers and also giving them bonuses, those teachers who go to firearms training. But today, Raj Shah was pressed on the specifics of that. How would that work? Where would the money come from? And he was unable to provide those specifics, saying, again, they're just in the listening phase right now -- Anderson.

COOPER: The NRA opposes the president's idea of raising the age limit on semiautomatic rifles. What's the White House saying about that?

BROWN: The president seemed to signal today that the NRA would eventually get onboard. When asked about this, he said, I don't think I'm going to be going up against anybody. And shortly after that, the NRA sent out another statement reiterating that it opposing raising the age limit for those buying semiautomatic rifles. So, it's sort of unclear how that's going to play out.

Raj Shah addressed that and said that the White House isn't going to be in agreement with the NRA on everything, but you heard the president also say today that he is very close with the NRA, that they're good people, they're patriots. So, we'll have to wait and see how this plays out, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Pam Brown, thanks very much.

Earlier this evening, I spoke with "New York Times" columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman about this question, of whether the president can and will take on the group that spent tens of millions of dollars to make him president.


COOPER: Tom, do you believe the president can actually stand up to the NRA? I mean, do you think he has the will to stand up to them?

TOM FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's a good question, Anderson. I think he does have the will.

And if a conservative president, a Republican president like President Trump particularly given the sort of unique political characterization, if he actually said, you know what, enough is enough. Enough is enough. And we actually have to do something meaningful and significant to reduce gun violence in this country, and I'm going to be a bridge between, you know, where the NRA is and where the public is.

And I'm actually going to move the needle on this. I'm actually going to lead. I'm actually going to lead. I'm going to go out and I'm going to build a constituency for common sense gun laws.

He absolutely could do it. And he could actually make an historic impact, if he so chose to lead. I've never seen any sign of his willingness or ability to do that up to now, but he could do that.

COOPER: Yes, I'm trying to think of some example in his administration, where he has done that. It seems like while he floats ideas, he reverts to whatever he thinks is going to play the best with his small base.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean. Up to now, he's really wanted to be president of the Trump base and not president of the United States. And he's not been a build-bridger -- bridge builder. How much courage does it take to cut corporate taxes as a Republican president, you know? And that's really the only major achievement he's undertaken, so far.

So, he actually could be an historic figure, if he so chose. But I don't think he has either the intellectual firepower to sort of handle, you know, this issue, or the political focus and staying power to see it through, because you would have to take on part of your own base.

[20:10:01] I think many Republicans -- and I believe many Republican lawmakers would actually be relieved if the president were to lead on this issue and they weren't out there on their own, but -- naked against the NRA. But again, you know, Anderson, we've seen so many times, he'll float an idea and then the next three people who come in the office say, hey, boss, your base won't like it, and he melts away.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, I think to that televised meeting he held on immigration with Republicans and Democrats --

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

COOPER: -- you know, he said one thing, seeming to agree with the Democrats, and then as soon as Representative McCarthy jumped in and sort of corrected him, he, you know, reverted back to the Republican position.

Over the last couple of days -- I mean, the president has talked about arming teachers, raising the age to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21, banning bump stocks, strengthening background checks. It doesn't seem like he has a clearer sense exactly what he would even want to do. Or, again, he may just be throwing things up and seeing if anything sticks.

FRIEDMAN: You know, when you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. And so I think that's just it. He's throwing stuff out, seeing what the base, his base might buy, might not buy.

But he's not sitting back and saying, I actually have some ideas. You know, I really believe that this is not an issue of freedom, as LaPierre said. You know, I don't have the freedom to park an F-15 in my driveway and tell my neighbors, that's how I intend to fertilize my backyard. I don't have the freedom to get an M1-A1 tank.

So, we all don't have the freedoms to have any weapons we want. This is about how do we balance the right of Americans to want to own guns, to hunt, to do marksmanship for sport, to want to have protect themselves, how do we balance that with the need to ensure that these weapons don't fall in the hands of people who use them for the kind of mass shootings, not only that we've seen in Florida, but we're now seeing week after week. It's insane!

COOPER: In your column about this, you address Cameron Kasky, who's a young student of Stoneman Douglas who wrote an essay for I also interviewed him on the ground there. He's a remarkably poised young man.

You offered him a bit of advice writing, if your generation and mine want to get serious about a gun control crusade, we all need to get out of Facebook and into someone's face, the NRA's.

You believe that's the key here. Tweeting about this, Instagramming about this, is not enough.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, you know, I feel one thing social networks have done, Anderson, is they've created a generation of faux activists, where people post something, they say, I tweeted about it. Well, that's like firing a mortar into the Milky Way galaxy, you know? I mean, at the end of the day, things change when enough Americans come together and elect representatives who share their values on a certain issue.

And therefore, the only way to win on the gun issue is to run for office yourself, vote for someone who's running on that issue, help someone vote for someone who's running on that issue, raise money for someone voting the right way on guns, or go out and help, you know, people register to vote so they can participate in this process. But that is the only way.

The NRA does not win in the chat room. It wins in the cloak room of state legislatures and the national government. And it wins there with bags of money and bags of votes. And unless we get bags of money and bags of votes to pull these people the other way, we're going to lose. And it doesn't matter how many times you tweet about it or I write a column about it or CNN does a special about it.

This has to be won -- this is about getting power. It has to be won with power. In our system, that means votes and representatives. And that's where I hope this activism will go.

I hope there's a million-kid march, but most of all, I hope that every school creates a cell that says, we are going to register people to vote, we are going to support people on this issue, we are going to change this the only way it can be changed in the polling booth.

COOPER: Tom Friedman, thanks very much.


COOPER: We're going to have more with Tom Friedman in our second hour of "360." We'll talk about the president and Russia, and why he says our democracy is at stake.

Just ahead, back to Florida and breaking news on the deputy assigned to protect Stoneman Douglas High School. He's now a former deputy after allegedly failing to do anything during the shooting. As the funerals continue in Parkland, we'll talk to three educators, each a survivor of a different school shooting about President Trump's proposal to pay, train and arm teachers.

And later, the governor, the indictment, and lurid allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail. The strange twisted and politically significant story, when we continue.


[20:17:52] COOPER: There's breaking news tonight in the Parkland aftermath. A Broward County deputy assigned to guard Stoneman Douglas High School has resigned for his alleged actions or lack of action during the shooting.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in south Florida for us and joins us now with the breaking news.

What have you learned?


Yes. Ever since the gunfire practically stopped at Stoneman Douglas High School, the question has been, what happened to the school resource officer? Where was he during this whole horrific massacre? After all, it's a trained sheriff's deputy. He's in uniform and he has a sidearm.

Apparently, there had been an investigation underway by the Broward County Sheriff's Office. Scott Israel is the sheriff. He gave the answer today. That officer, according to their investigation, did nothing for at least several minutes while the gunfire was going on, while children and staff were being murdered inside the building.

He said that the officer could be seen outside the building. It was his duty to intervene, he did not. The sheriff deeply emotional as he spoke a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words.

I mean, these families lost their children. We lost coaches. I've been to the funerals. I've been to the homes where they sit and shiver. I've been to the vigils. It's just -- there are no words.


SAVIDGE: There was an investigation that was going to be launched. The officer was to be suspended. Instead, that officer said that he was resigning and immediately retiring.

But you can imagine, these families were told by the FBI several days ago that they had a solid tip about the possibility of the school being attacked, but it got dropped. Now those same families who lost children are being told that there was an armed deputy just outside of the building who did not respond as their children were being murdered -- Anderson.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Martin Savidge, thank you very much.

I want to talk more about this idea that the president seems to have latched on to, which he talked about and tweeted about today, arming teachers, training them, paying them bonuses for taking part.

[20:20:04] Joining us now are Ashley Kurth, a teacher at Stoneman Douglas, also Kent Friesen, who taught at Columbine, and a former Sandy Hook library clerk, Mary Ann Jacob.

Ashley, I want to start with you. You sheltered I think 65 students in your classroom last week during the shoot-out. You're a registered Republican, you voted for Donald Trump. You're a strong Second Amendment supporter.

Do you wish you had a gun last week? Do you want to be armed moving forward and trained?

ASHLEY KURTH, TEACHER, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I can honestly say no. Before the events that took place on Wednesday, I might have been had a different sense of opinion and I was one of those teachers that, you know, some of the other schools I worked at thought, maybe, yes, you know, having an armed or something that would deter them would have any type of impact.

But it's one thing to have those thoughts and to think, yes, in the thought of a crisis, that I could be the one to stand up and maybe help protect these kids or do something more and stand up and it's another thing when you have them just running, screaming at you. I can't -- I could not imagine trying to figure out where, if I was armed, in a realistic world, you know, if it's strapped to my side and I teach culinary, where I'm essentially trying to teach the kids how not to, you know, cut their hands when they're using knives, that I would have a sidearm strapped to me that I would have to pull out. And as I'm pulling kids into my room and stuff like that, then have to figure out, OK, switch to law enforcement brain function and say, OK, where's the shooter? Where are my options? You know, if I fire, am I going to be nervous that I'm going to hit another kid?

COOPER: Right.

KURTH: And that's going to be another issue to deal with? And on top of which, you know, with all of that, it came to the reality of, all the fights and stuff that we break up at schools and just the kids themselves going off on each other for social media. I mean, they're children that have strong emotional reactions that we deal with on a daily basis, of a boyfriend broke up with them on Twitter or they're upset of a grade that they got. And they go through floods of emotions in an instant and having somebody on school campus that is armed -- I mean, our SRO officer was in the front and we all knew he was there.

But in the same sentence, if there were more people that had that around when fights are getting broken up or things like or even a live short on and we're trying to find this person, our first priority is to the students and getting them safe. I mean, that's the first thing I reacted to, I just started grabbing kids, because it was like looking at my 7-year-old son.

COOPER: Mary Ann, as she was just saying, the adrenaline one faces as what the military refers to as a kinetic environment like this, when there's shooting going on, nobody knows how they're going to respond until they're actually respond. And soldiers and police are trained for months and months and months.

You helped shelter 19 fourth graders at Sandy Hook Elementary. You warned other teachers and students of the active shooter situation. Do you think teachers should be armed?

MARY ANN JACOB, LIBRARY CLERK, SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Oh, absolutely not, Anderson. I think, you know, especially listening to the story that we just heard from, that happened last week in Florida, and the fact that the trained guard who was a trained policeman with a firearm wasn't even able to react.

Imagine, you know, by just pa paying a stipend to a teacher that you expect them to be able to respond in a situation like that, like a trained sharpshooter. You know, in an elementary school, if you're in a classroom with 20 first graders, what do you put one of the 6-year- olds in charge while you go out to engage the shooter and hope that they're safe while you're gone? You know, our first responsibility when we're in a classroom with children is to keep them safe.

And I know I'm confident in the situation we were in at Sandy Hook, that every single teacher did everything they could to keep those children safe. And if anybody, including a guard, had a weapon, they would have been gunned down by the shooter in our situation, who had an AR-15 and was able to shoot, you know, 190-some-odd bullets in under three minutes. I mean, who could survive that barrage? COOPER: Kent, I mean, 19 years ago, Columbine, you helped shelter

students in classrooms, you helped administer first aid to gunshot victims. Where do you land on this?

KENT FRIESEN, FORMER TEACHER, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL: Well, the same as the other two ladies said. I mean, there's no reason for us to have a gun. We're not trained. We don't have the liability. And that's the least of our worries.

But our first and foremost thing is to take care of our children, the children we have in our classroom. You know, we were trained to at least lock down and try and keep them calm and trying to keep them safe and make sure that they're OK.

But to strap on a gun for this, you know, we don't have the training. Let's put I this way, with the SRO officer did not do his job. What would a teacher -- how would they react to that?

[20:25:01] We had an SRO officer and it was very difficult for him to react. So, it all happens, you know, it just happens that many of them don't know how to take care of, you know, what to do -- who knows what's going to happen.

COOPER: Ashley, if there were guns in classrooms, you know, in a lock box with the bullets separate and you have students of all different ages in various classrooms -- do you think it's inevitable that somewhere at some time some student is going to get ahold of a gun and play around with it?

KURTH: I mean, I work in a classroom that I have knifes that I keep locked up. The kids get them out, they use them during class and then they get locked up, and they're kids and they mess around them and we have to keep continuing to remind them, you have to walk properly with it, you have to hold it properly, you have to utilize it properly.

So do I think they would mess with an arm? Yes, I fully think that they would. They're kids! They like to see stuff on TV and they interact with it and they're curious, no matter what their age, they are curious.

Even the ones that are at, you know, they're raised with families that have guns and they know gun safety and they go and they go hunting with their family and stuff like that. I mean, they're -- they know to respect it, but at the same instance, some of them just get very highly emotional. And it's not their fault that they do it. They're human and they're children.

So, having something like that in their vicinity and access, I don't think is a very smart idea.

COOPER: Mary Ann, you know, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I mean, the reaction from the NRA was more guns in schools. Does it surprise you that this idea has now come back again, five years later?

JACOB: It doesn't surprise me that the president is talking about it. Everyone else that I know and that I've heard and that I see on TV is outraged by it. But as long as we allow the NRA leadership to dictate policy, we're going to have this issue.

I don't believe the average gun owner in this country thinks it's a good idea. My family has guns in our home. My sons and my husbands are avid sportsman. We believe in the Second Amendment.

But we believe that gun ownership comes with grave responsibility. And every gun owner I know believes that. So, you know, to talk about the NRA as if it's all of the people who belong it to versus the NRA leadership I think are two very different things.

COOPER: That's a good point.

JACOB: So, you know, I don't understand why as a country we're allowing this narrative to dictate policy. Because we know that as gun ownership has increased in this country, so have deaths by guns. So clearly that is not working for us. We need to change it.

And every single person watching this show tonight needs to get involved. I just heard from one of your previous guests that voting for people who support gun violence prevention measures makes a difference. We have to stop tweeting what we think and doing it.

COOPER: Kent, do you think real change is --

KURTH: Physical action.

COOPER: Physical action, you're saying.

Kent, do you think real change is possible?

KURTH: Physical action.

FRIESEN: No, really, I don't. Columbine was almost 20 years ago. And as soon as we had Columbine happened, there were many of us teachers that prayed and prayed that this would be the end. But in the -- in light of things, we knew it was just going to be the beginning of things.

It hasn't stopped. There's been no major legislation. Nothing seems to work. We throw on more AR-15s on the market, more AK-47s on the market. It doesn't seem to stop anywhere.

Now, I do know that there needs to be a bigger and better mental health program, where they will be able to identify who might be a risk person for guns.

KURTH: That doesn't -- but there's still people that are doing that. It's valuable. There are people who are in charge of vetting that. People are human, humans make mistakes.

FRIESEN: Correct, I agree humans make mistakes. But I don't think enough is being done -- enough money is being allowed to go into the mental health program in order to find out who are these people, identify these people, and be able to help law enforcement identify them. But also --

JACOB: But you know what, none of these things are going to solve the problem individually. They all need to be worked on.

FRIESEN: Correct.

JACOB: You know, this is like --

FRIESEN: Correct.

JACOB: -- saying, well, let's not have speed limits, because there are still people who don't drive the speed limit. We know that prevention of accidents is because there's graduated licensing laws and there's air bags and cars are made safer and there's speed limits.

Every single one of those things is a contributing factor to the fact that we have lower deaths by cars, you know, per person.

COOPER: Yes, it's a combination.

FRIESEN: Correct.

JACOB: The same thing with this. Background checks, safe storage, better mental health, laws that prevent guns from being in the hands of the wrong people. All of those things together are going to make a difference. And if our lawmakers can't support that, we need to vote them out.

COOPER: Yeah. I want to thank you all for this discussion.

KURTH: And we have a large amount of kids that are in the process of doing that.

COOPER: Yes. Well, I want to thank you --

JACOB: Good for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These kids will not be stopped.

COOPER: -- for you this discussion. It's an important one. And I appreciate all you've done for educating America's kids.

Just ahead, special counsel Robert Mueller hands down new indictments alleging some massive money laundering against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates.


COOPER: It's breaking news tonight, the special counsel Robert Mueller, has issued new indictments against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman and his longtime associate, Rick Gates, who also worked on the Trump campaign.

Now, nothing in the indictment mentions President Trump, but it's chock-full of details about millions and millions of dollars allegedly being flung around the planet, hidden. Before we dig into the details, Paul Manafort's spokesman has just put out a statement. Paul Manafort, it reads, "Is innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges. The new allegations against Mr. Manafort, once again, have nothing to do with Russia and the 2016 election interference/collusion. Mr. Manafort is confident that he will be acquitted and violations of his constitutional rights will be remedied".

With me now is CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and also our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

So, Jeff, first of all, tell us more about the specifics of the indictments. What do they cover?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they cover very similar activities to the first indictment, except there's more of a focus on the tax issues here. Basically, the gist of it is that Manafort received millions of dollars and Manafort and Gates received millions of dollars from his work on behalf of Yanukovych, who was the Ukrainian leader who was allied with Vladimir Putin.

[20:35:04] In this case, they're accused of receiving that money in the court -- in phony loans that they were actually using the money as if it were income, but treating it as if it's loans, so they didn't have to pay taxes on it. So the tax charges are at the heart of this case.

COOPER: So, I mean, is this a move, Jeff, to pressure Gates and Manafort into taking a plea deal or pressuring Gates in order to flip on Manafort and then maybe Manafort to flip on somebody else?

TOOBIN: That's exactly what it is. It's worth remembering that Paul Manafort is 70 years old. If he's convicted in both of these cases, he is almost certainly going to die in prison. That's really the choice he's facing. Is roll the dice and hope he gets acquitted on both of these separate cases now, or plead guilty and cooperate. Rick Gates is much younger, but he has young children. And the choice for him is whether he wants to watch these children grow up or not. They are under enormous, enormous pressure to flip and plead guilty and Gates apparently has been close before. My experience is, when people are close to pleading guilty, they wind up pleading guilty.

COOPER: Gloria, I mean there's no mention of the Trump campaign in these charges. That certainly can't sit well with the President, who's made it very clear that he wants this all to go away.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLTICAL ANALYST: Sure, there is no mention of the campaign, because this happened before the campaign and before Manafort joined the campaign. And I spoke with Ty Cobb tonight, who is the internal lawyer working for the President, who said that the White House has repeatedly declined to comment on the matters involving Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates, given the fact that none of the charges pertain to the campaign or to the White House. And so what they're saying is this is completely separate from us, we have to nothing to do with this. And you know, Anderson, for the past year, they have consistently described Paul Manafort as a bit player in the campaign, who was only there for a period of, what, four or five months.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: But I will remind you that he was also in that Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in Don Jr.'s office.

COOPER: I've never met a more important bit player, by the way, or interviewed a more important bit player.

BORGER: Exactly.

COOPER: I mean Jeff, the other thing that this signals is that the investigation is certainly not going away anytime soon, and this could very well go all the way, you know, I don't know -- I mean up to the election, up to 2019, couldn't it?

TOOBIN: Well, certainly into 2019. Because the first case, the Washington, D.C., prosecution isn't even scheduled to begin until May, and that strikes me as very optimistic, given the complexity of that case. Now this case -- the second case, which was filed in Virginia will have to get on line behind that case. This almost certainly takes the investigation into 2019 and perhaps, you know, well into 2019. So, you know, everyone who has been saying that this investigation is wrapping up and it's coming to a close, it's quite clear, when you consider last week's 13-defendant indictment, this indictment today, this case is going well through 2018.

COOPER: Yes, yes. Jeff, Gloria, thanks.

When we continue, a look into Senator Marco Rubio's apparent new positions on gun control in the heat of last night's CNN town hall in Florida.


[20:41:59] COOPER: At last night's CNN Town Hall, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was buffeted by an audience of angry students and parents, many of whom didn't agree with his positions on gun control.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not.


COOPER: Well, in the 2016 election season alone, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA contributed more than $3 million to the Florida Republican, but at the town hall, Rubio did seem to put some distance between himself and NRA orthodoxy. Sunlen Serfaty tonight reports.


RUBIO: What I said -- and then I'm going to tell you what we're going to do. SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under pressure from an emotional and grieving audience, Florida Senator Marco Rubio showed new openness to a number of more restrictive gun measures. Breaking with the NRA. The organization that has given him an a-plus top rating and some members of his own party. Rubio now says he supports raising the minimum age for raising a rifle from 18 to 21.

RUBIO: I absolutely believe that in this country, if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away.

SERFATY (voice-over): A dramatic change from his initial reaction in the aftermath of the parkland shooting. On the Senate floor last week, one day after the shooting, Rubio didn't have any specific answers.

RUBIO: If we do something, it should be something that works. And the struggle up to this point has been that most of the proposals that have been offered would not have prevented, not just yesterday's tragedy, but any of those in recent history.

SERFATY (voice-over): And another shift last night at CNN's Town Hall, Rubio now says he is open to limiting large-capacity magazines.

RUBIO: I traditionally have not supported looking at magazine clip size. And after this and some of the details I've learned about it, I'm reconsidering that position. So we'll have to get into that debate, but that is something that I believe we can reach a compromise in this country. And that I'm willing to reconsider.

SERFATY (voice-over): Quite a switch from 2013 after the Newtown massacre. Then he voted against a measure to ban high-capacity magazines.

RUBIO: We were all heartbroken by the recent tragedy in Connecticut. We must effectively deal with the rise of violence in our country. But unconstitutionally undermining the Second Amendment rights of law- abiding Americans is not the way to do it.

SERFATY (voice-over): And doubled down, signing an open letter with other conservative senators, saying he opposes any legislation that would infringe on the American people's constitutional right to bear arms. Last year in the days after the Las Vegas shooting, Rubio only said he would be open to the idea of banning bump stocks, but last night, his position evolved to this.

RUBIO: I will support -- I will support the banning of bump stocks.

SERFATY (voice-over): Notably, though, Rubio refused last night to turn down donations from the NRA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?

RUBIO: The answer is people buy into my agenda. SERFATY (voice-over): When asked if he'd support banning semiautomatic rifles outright, he also refused to do it, saying it was complicated.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


[20:45:11] COOPER: Well, the politics with gun control, of course, are always treacherous, even with Senator Rubio's promise to change some of his positions. Nothing at all is certain in Congress.

With me now, CNN's political director, David Chalian, and CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

David, how much political capital did Senator Rubio spend or earn last night at the town hall? I mean he seems to be doing a lot of clarifying and pushing back, because obviously difficult crowd and I think he gets credit for showing up and taking some very tough questions unlike the governor of Florida or the President.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I totally agree with you. He definitely gets credit for showing up. He knew this would be a totally hostile environment for him and he went anyway. And, you know, forgive me for taking off my cynical hat for a moment, but these are his constituents that experienced this. And, you know, he felt a responsibility perhaps to be there and take these questions, apart from the politics of it. But to your point, Anderson, I think he probably did spend some and probably earn some political capital there in his home state.

I do think, though, Marco Rubio, an interesting figure to look at. And you can look at him individually. I don't think it's instructive, this one senator changing on these positions, to have politics of guns been sort of upended, writ large. I'm still looking to see what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell come forward with and say, what is their priority legislatively on this issue?

COOPER: Dana, I mean, the President is saying today he doesn't like active shooter drills in schools. He said he would prefer focusing on hardening up the physical facility. Then his spokesman tried to walk that back saying the President didn't like the branding of the drills, that he just wants a different name for them. Does that add up for you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. Absolutely not. I mean, I guess maybe it does in the Trump White House, because he knows from branding, for sure. But if you kind of look back in history, that's happened way before the three of us were in school, but during the Cold War, they did drills where kids were told to go under their desks, duck and cover. And some of those kids were even given dog tags with their names on them in case they died and told that. So -- and you know, as far as I know, there were no mass school shootings back then. I mean, the branding was pretty harsh back then. And so, no, of course not. That is not the issue. It seemed as though that was kind of a creative way to try to thread the needle and explain what the President meant when he said what he said.

COOPER: Because, I mean David, on the one hand, he said he wants teachers armed who are, you know, especially trained and who undergo training. The idea that you wouldn't have some sort of training for teachers and students and administrators about what to do if there's an emergency in the school if someone comes into the building, you know, whether you call it an active shooter drill or a code red drill or whatever it may be.

CHALIAN: Right. Its two sides of an equation, right? You're just going to train on the school safety side, but not on the school sort of emergency response side? It doesn't make sense. You would need to train in all those areas.

COOPER: How significant is it, Dana, that you have a Republican President heavily supported by the NRA now publicly, at least at this stage, sort of at odds with the organization over the age requirement for buying a rifle. And again, you know, the definitely in the details, we'll see how long he sticks to that idea, given his penchant for changing his mind or sort of floating things and walking them back.

BASH: Very significant. And it's not just that he's a Republican President, Anderson. He's a Republican President who just before his hundredth day in the White House, went NRA convention and said the eight-year assault on the Second Amendment is over. He made a promise that the federal government is not going to do anything to take away their guns. And now you have him almost a year later, at odds and so that is significant. There is no question about it. If he continues down that road, it's going to be the open question about whether he can give people like David was talking about Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan political cover --

COOPER: Right.

BASH: -- to come along with him.

COOPER: Yes, Dana, David, thanks.

Up next, breaking news, a criminal indictment for the governor of Missouri over a photograph of a woman with whom he had an affair.


[20:53:27] COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight, the Republican governor of Missouri Eric Greitens indicted late today and made allegations of sexual misconduct and a blackmail, the governor was taken into custody and later released on his own recognizance. He was charged with first (ph) felony invasion of privacy. Now, in statement tonight, the Governor said, "I did not commit a crime". CNN's Randi Kaye has the background.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A former NAVY seal and a Rhode scholar, long thought to be a rising star in the Republican Party. Now, Missouri Governor Eric Greiten is taking heat for not only an affair but for accusations of blackmail that some may call deviant. The woman who has yet to be identified told her husband at the time, that Greiten's threatened to use a photo of her doing a nude pullup to get her to keep quiet. The governor denies blackmailing her, but the woman's accusations were recorded on tape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): He said, "I'll make you feel better, I'll make you feel good. Come down the stairs. I want to show you how to do a proper pullup and I knew he's being sexual and I still let him. And he used some sort of tape, I don't know what it was. And taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me.

And he stepped back, and I saw flash through the blindfold and he said, your never going to mention my name, otherwise, there will be pictures of me everywhere.

KAYE (voice-over): That was the woman talking to her now ex-husband back in 2015, reportedly just days after her first sexual encounter with Eric Greitens. She reportedly did not know she was being recorded.

[20:55:00] (on-camera): According to KMOV, the station that first brought the story the woman told her husband Greiten scared her but in that same recording KMOV reports the woman said Greitens apologized to her after the photo and told her he deleted it. Stunning accusations about the governor who during his campaign billed himself a true family man.

GOV. ERIC GREITENS, (R) MISSOURI: I'm Eric Greitens. I'm a NAVY seal. I'm a businessman. I'm a native Missourian but most importantly I'm a very proud husband and father.

KAYE (voice-over): After news of this broke, Greitens and his wife released a joint statement on Twitter admitting only to the affair. It reads in part, "There was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility. With God's mercy, Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger.

Greitens' lawyer release a statement too denying there was any blackmail, calling the claim false. Attorney James Bennett told CNN that the Governor denies the picture was taken and denies the claims being on a recording. He described the relationship as consensual and said it lasted multiple months and took place years ago before Eric Greitens was elected governor.

Randi Kaye, CNN New York


COOPER: Well, coming up, the President shares a number of his thoughts about gun control including how he feels about gun free zone, active shooter drills and armed teachers. We'll have the latest from the White House, next.