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Debate on Gun Laws and Mental Health After Florida Shooting; Teachers to be Armed in School. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 22, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: That's it for us. Time to hand it over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.
We have shocking breaking news on the Stoneman Douglas School shooting. The school resource deputy who armed and in uniform waited outside, outside the high school as shots rang out over and over and over as heroed teachers and students gave their lives to save others.
The deputy did nothing to stop the shooter. Nothing protects all those students and teachers. It was his job to keep them safe. That's exactly why he was carrying a gun, and he never even went inside. We want you to listen to the reaction. This is from Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, the deputy resigned today after he was suspended without pay. But this is another disgraceful failure to protect the students and teacher of Stoneman Douglas. A failure by the very people who were charged with keeping them safe.
And the argument that the answer is more guns? Well, this proves that that's just not true. There was more guns. There was another gun. No one did anything.
Let's go right to CNN's Martin Savage. He is live for us outside Stoneman Douglas High School. Martin, good evening to you. The new details tonight about the school resource deputy at Stoneman Douglas High School not going into the building as the shooting was going on inside. I mean, this is a big deal that cannot be understated. What can you tell us about this? MARTIN SAVIDGE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. It's a horrifying change to
the narrative, Don. Just imagine what these families have been going through as far dealing with the loss. They had already been told by the FBI that there been a solid tip warning about a possible attack on a high school that had been mishandled, and now to hear that the SRO, the resource officer, this is the school resource officer that is armed, he is in a sheriff's deputy uniform, he has a sidearm as you pointed out. His only job was to protect this campus.
He was there at the time of the shooting but he did not go in. In fact, that was a point that was stressed by Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County as he broke the news this afternoon. You could hear the emotion, you could see it in his face, and he was just devastated that this officer, which had sworn to protect, was standing outside.
And as far as their investigation has revealed, for about four minutes. And remember, this all -- this entire attack took six minutes. Just to think of what he might have been able to prevent. As you know, in the aftermath of Columbine high school, it is supposed to be the practice of all law enforcement to engage the gunman in any way. Don't wait for backup, don't expect SWAT. Make sure you try to disrupt the shooter any way, anyhow, even if but for a few seconds to allow victims to get away. Don?
LEMON: It's just unfathomable, Martin. Do we know if Sheriff Scott Israel knew about this last night before the town hall, CNN's town hall?
SAVIDGE: We don't know for certain, but I would say that he had a pretty good idea about all of this. Because I have to tell you, concern about where was this officer had been circulating almost from the moment that the shots stopped.
Family members that we have talked to have been very upset, and they have been pushing this. Where was he, where was he? We've asked this question at news conferences and the answer has always been, he was on the campus, it's 45 acres, it's big. But now we understand that police begin to realize quickly where he was, outside the building not stepping in.
So I would say the sheriff, I can't answer specifically since he told that deputy this morning that he was going to be suspended, it seems pretty clear that the sheriff had an idea last night how serious this all was.
LEMON: Sheriff Steve Israel. So Martin, there were other disciplinary actions taken today against other deputies. What do you know?
SAVIDGE: Right, there were two other deputies now that have been put on what's called restricted duty. This is as a result of all those red flags.
[22:05:02] This goes back to the fact that Broward County sheriff's deputies responded to Nikolas Cruz's home, I think since about 2008, almost two dozen times. And in some of those instances, there were serious concerns raised about the young man's mental health, about guns, and about perceived threats that either family members or others in the neighborhood thought they knew about Cruz, including specific threats of doing something horrible at this school.
And the sheriff believes the deputies could have done more, should have done more to either intervene or to report and make sure everyone knew the seriousness of the potential threat of this young man to the community. So they're being investigated.
LEMON: Martin, also Florida Governor Rick Scott making an announcement tomorrow. What's that about?
SAVIDGE: Well, as you know, Rick Scott has been meeting with law enforcement, he's been meeting with students from Stoneman Douglas high school. They made their way up there to Tallahassee and they gave lawmakers and the governor an earful as to what they believe should be done.
So the governor promised to them he was going to have some sort of action plan and that's what's supposed to be unveiled at 10.30 tomorrow morning. It will deal, we are told, with the issue of school safety, trying to make schools safer. On top of that, also trying to prevent guns, weapons getting into the hands of those who are mentally unfit to handle them. It's a tall order, but the governor says he is going to fight for it.
LEMON: Thank you, martin. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now CNN political commentator Van Jones, the host of the Van show, legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund. Good evening to both of you. As I was reading this story, Van, viscerally I could your -- everyone in the studio was like, what's going on here? What's your reaction to this?
VAN JONES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I mean, it's bad enough. And the idea that somebody could have done something, the idea that you have unarmed coaches -- my dad was a basketball coach at a junior high school in Jackson, Tennessee. The idea that an unarmed coach would put his body on the line and die and somebody is yards away with a gun and won't even open the damn door to help children? I mean, that is -- that is -- I mean, maybe this is old news, but --
KEN CUCCINELLI, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Van, that's why he's there.
JONES: That's why the guy is there. And so, for me...
JONES: ... you're talking about now a whole generation of young people feeling let down literally at every level. Obviously there are adults who are heroes for them, but you've got adults at the FBI, you've got adults at the local level, you've got adults in Washington, D.C. that have let these children down, let these young people down. The young people are acting like adult leaders and the adult leaders have been acting like children and cowards and I'm just shocked to hear it. LEMON: Yes. Ken, you know, it's one of the most visceral arguments
that the NRA has, by the way. If you stop a bad guy with a gun, you need a good guy with a gun. But that armed officer, resource officer on campus waited outside the school building. I mean, it's just another heart-wrenching detail for everyone affected.
CUCCINELLI: Right. And realize, in these mass shootings, it is often the case that the simple confrontation -- it's why law enforcement since Columbine is trained to engage quickly. If you remember Sandy Hook, as soon as that shooter knew police were on the way, killed himself.
We had one in Appalachian law school here in Virginia. Two students ran to their cars and got guns -- this is Southwest Virginia in 2002 -- and just the confrontation ended it. The shooter put his gun down face down, and that is not unusual in these circumstances.
So for this officer whose very job was to confront this kind of a challenge, to sit, really, on his hands during the unfolding of virtually the whole event adds to an already terrible tragedy. I would note what Van said. You've got a coach here who is willing to give his life to protect the students in his charge, and, you know, you raise the question, Don, about a good -- you stop a bad guy with a gun with a good guy with a gun. That's true.
I'm not sure I would put that deputy in that category, but I'm sure I would put that coach in that category. And I do think there is some room for the discussion not to mandate anything in that front but to recognize that for people who are willing and capable to train and be willing to serve as protectors inside the school is something that we ought to have an open mind about.
LEMON: Yes. And there's, listen, lots of discussion and people feel a number of ways about it.
LEMON: That teachers and coaches already have, their job is already big enough.
JONES: Well, listen...
LEMON: Do you think that this belies a whole good guy with a gun argument?
[22:09:56] JONES: This is so baffling that it's hard to get your mind wrapped around it. What I will say is, you know, I got a chance to work in Oakland, California for a long time working with young people in trouble. I would go to classrooms, they would have 32 kids in a classroom, six books and no chalk.
So when you're talking about, you know, schools that -- where teachers are underpaid and they don't have basic resources, the idea that teachers are now supposed to go buy an AK-47, a bazooka, a hand grenade and train to be, you know, special forces...
LEMON: Why would you add, I mean, come on, let's just be honest, why would you add more guns to the environment?
JONES: Yes. From my point of view it doesn't make a lot of sense.
JONES: And so, you know, I -- but listen, we're having the conversation, this is important conversation. Different people will have different ideas.
CUCCINELLI: Well, guys, let's have an open mind about a different perspective.
CUCCINELLI: Let's have an open mind about a different perspective. I mean, you're both foreclosing the idea right off the bat, and it is a reasonable idea. It is -- I mean, it would have fulfilled the mission that the SRO was supposed to fulfill and didn't and failed to.
LEMON: Well, the thing, the SRO had a gun.
CUCCINELLI: Yes, teachers have a -- can I finish this thought?
LEMON: No. The SRO had a gun and didn't use (Inaudible) OK. You've spoken a long time. The SRO had a gun and didn't use it. And to add more guns to an environment -- we keep saying that, well, you know, the problem is mental issues, the problem is this, the problem is that.
In every study, the only difference, the only reason that this happens is because we have so many guns in this country, too much access to guns. Every single country, other than the United States, does not have this problem, and the only reason, and we should be honest about it, is that we have too much access to guns.
Not that guns need to be confiscated or we need to get rid of them, but it's too much access to guns. If this person did not have an access to a gun, this would not have happened, bottom line.
CUCCINELLI: In Washington, D.C. you have some of the most restrictive gun laws in America, and it's certainly a land of peace and harmony. All the people doing the killing are illegally obtaining the guns. The notion that that's going to happen isn't the solution.
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: That's part of the problem then.
CUCCINELLI: And you brush aside -- you brush aside the idea that other responsible people who have shown a commitment to these children...
LEMON: NO, I think that people who have guns...
CUCCINELLI: ... might be willing to undertake that responsibility.
LEMON: Most of the people who have guns are responsible and use them responsibly. That is not the issue and you're conflating two different issues.
CUCCINELLI: Of course.
LEMON: That's not the issue. But you don't -- do you need a military grade weapon on the streets of the United States, anyone who is not a police officer or who is trained or licensed to use it? No, we don't need that. Why do we need to have that silly argument and pretend that it's anything other than our access to guns?
CUCCINELLI: If it's a silly argument, then it's not an argument at all.
LEMON: Go on, Van.
JONES: Ken makes a good point in talking about, let's have an open mind and let's have a full conversation. I am actually glad that we...
LEMON: An open mind, though, Van, doesn't mean being stupid. Come on, let's be honest.
JONES: I'm trying to go somewhere with that.
JONES: Let me try to -- let me try to lay out, you know, what I think the concern is with the idea that we would be adding guns to that environment. Ken, you're pointing out the positives. The positives are maybe somebody would use that gun to stop an intruder.
JONES: There are some real negatives as well. You know, African- American and Latino kids already get treated fairly badly in schools as it is. They're more likely to be seen as a threat, they're more likely to be expelled, they're more likely to be suspended for the exact same behavior. Videotape. The exact same thing. This kid is a threat. This kid is a class clown if they're white.
And so there is concern, I think parents have and you heard now African-Americans educators coming out saying, if you just start passing out guns in schools as they are given some of the bias that's there, you might wind up having, you know, those guns used against students in ways that are not good.
So, I just thought, I appreciate what you're saying, but the down sides of this compared to maybe, you know, some of the other ideas that are out there, I would rather explore those other ideas first.
CUCCINELLI: Well, I will say we're seeing a divergence -- more of a divergence in the laws of various states in recent years than I think I recall over a long period of time. And over the next few years, we're going to see by how things play out in various states some degree of data about how those differences are reflected not just in our schools but in our communities as a whole.
And I think we need to pay attention to that, I think we ought to follow the data where it leads. Obviously you have constitutional protections. The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right, but that doesn't mean that, as the Supreme Court said, there isn't some constitutional room for regulation.
You've heard President Trump talk about bump stocks, that's ally more related back to the Las Vegas incident. But I don't hear a lot of resistance to the banning of bump stocks which can essentially turn a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic weapon.
[22:15:02] JONES: One of the challenges we do have is that the NRA has had such a grip, almost like a reign of terror over the officials, that we haven't had much experimentation. I'm not a gun expert.
And so, what I would say is by now after all these mass shootings, we should have tried enough things, we should have passed enough things that we should have more data. The reality is we haven't done much of anything despite, you know, funeral after funeral, body count after body count because the NRA has held back any experimentation, innovation or reform. I think that is over now. I think we are now finally getting to what might work.
LEMON: Let me ask you something, do you have kids, nieces, nephews, whatever, in school?
LEMON: Right. I don't know the last time he was in school. But do you want Ms. Johnson bearing a gun or Mr. Williams or Coach Edwards or sister -- I went to a Catholic school -- or Sister Angelie Mary Margaret, do you want her carrying a gun? I know I don't.
Because the kid -- I was such a bad kid and people get blamed for doings things that they didn't do. I just don't -- to me, students and staff -- I mean, teachers and staff have such a big responsibility already, the last thing they need is a powerful weapon that can take someone's life.
CUCCINELLI: Don, let's differentiate between...
LEMON: It doesn't makes sense. We should stop pretending that.
CUCCINELLI: ... all of the teachers or everybody -- it doesn't make sense, we don't need to discuss it.
LEMON: We keep pretending though, Ken. No, Ken, we keep pretending that guns are not a factor...
CUCCINELLI: Yours and what I say is not making sense.
LEMON: Because you keep pretending that guns are not a factor in shootings. That's like saying I had a car accident but the car wasn't a factor.
CUCCINELLI: No, it isn't. You're completely misstating what I've said. Shootings happen from guns, bullets come out of guns. So if someone shows up with one, what are we going to do? We can start at that point, or we can go back a long way before it...
LEMON: Call the police?
CUCCINELLI: ... and talk about the law enforcement system, talk about the mental health system, do all those kinds of things. The police are minutes away...
LEMON: But that's the thing. Also, Ken, let me ask you this, though. Here's what bothers me. People keep talking about the mentally ill. We keep putting mental illness and mental problems in one big category. And it's not, it's on a scale just like everything else. You cannot compare a psychopath to someone who maybe is bipolar, someone who has another issue that's smaller.
And sometimes people are just disturbed and angry. It doesn't mean they're mentally ill because they went in with a gun and they shot someone.
LEMON: So to say that someone who is mentally ill shouldn't have a gun, mentally ill people aren't usually aren't violent. And we keep pretending or saying or using whatever it is to say that mentally ill people should not have a gun and they're violent and they are the ones that are -- it's not. And usually it's an angry person or someone who is just hell-bent on some sort of revenge. It doesn't mean that they're crazy, it doesn't mean that they are mentally disturbed, they're just angry. And the bottom line is that they had access...
CUCCINELLI: They had a chance to prove that as part of the discussion.
LEMON: They had access to a gun.
JONES: Can I add one thing to that, Don, which I think is also important. And you know, we just have to be very honest here. We talk about mental health usually when the shooter is a white person. We say, geez, what small kings can we do, maybe we can add a cop here, maybe we can do this thing, maybe we can bring our hands about mental health.
When a Muslim does it, we got a thousand ideas. Ban a mall, we got to do something about this. A Mexican does it, build a wall, you know, black kids, more cops, more prisons. And when it's a white kid, thoughts and prayers.
LEMON: Mental health.
JONES: And mental health. That's it. And so...
CUCCINELLI: Yes. When Virginia tech happened...
JONES: My problem with that is that it means that we're under addressing a section of the public that seems to be developing a pattern, and we can't talk about that and deal with that as aggressively as we want to deal with other lethal threats to the country.
LEMON: Yes. OK. Thank you all. Thank you both.
CUCCINELLI: In Virginia tech -- all right.
LEMON: Go ahead. No, no. Go ahead. I know we're three minutes over, but that's OK. I'll give you the last word.
CUCCINELLI: No. At Virginia tech, we recognized just where Florida is seeing law enforcement failures, we had mental health failures in the Virginia tech tragedy. That shooter was from the same high school that shot two police in my Senate state, Senate district including a friend of mine the year before. And it was mental health in that situation, too. So let's not ignore it.
LEMON: I didn't say we ignore it but let's not pretend that...
CUCCINELLI: It's a very real.
LEMON: It is very real but the real part of that that person who had access to a gun. Thank you. Don't miss the Van Jones show this weekend with special guest Steph
Curry. I'm going -- he's going to talk. They'll talk about basketball. I would like to sit down with you guys and talk. About stardom, his community activism and what championship Warriors are doing, what they're doing instead of going to the White House. That's the Van Jones show on Saturday at 7 eastern.
LEMON: Seven p.m. not 7 a.m.
JONES: Four p.m. on the West Coast.
LEMON: When we come back, the president says he wants to arm teachers. Thousands of teachers say we don't want to be armed, we want to teach them. I'm going to talk to the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The president doubling down today calling for some teachers to be armed, and even suggesting giving out bonuses to teachers who undergo gun training. So what do teachers think?
I want to talk now about that with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. We appreciate it. I want you to listen to what...
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Glad to be with you.
LEMON: Absolutely. I want you to listen to what the president had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns. So, maybe 10 percent or maybe 40 percent. And what I would recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus.
Frankly, they would feel more comfortable having the gun, anyway. But you give them a little bit of a bonus. So practically for free, you have now made the school into a hardened target. For instance, if the coaches, who I guarantee had plenty of experience with weapons, if they had guns, you need a heart, because no matter what you do to keep them gun free, they'll be able to get in there and crawl through the back of a window or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: SO, Randi, what do you think? WEINGARTEN: You know, I wish he would actually know something about
schools. So let's take it. Number one, there was, even though the deputy didn't do anything, there was a man with a gun, you know, and Nikolas Cruz walked right in. So obviously that wasn't a deterrent to Mr. Cruz.
[22:24:58] But number two, most importantly, teachers and students and teachers need schools to be safe sanctuaries for teaching and learning. They don't need armed fortresses.
And Van was absolutely right. But it's not just black and brown children. Kids can't fear their teachers. If you think pragmatically about what this proposal means, it's ludicrous and it's only people who have no idea about teachers are about who would propose this.
So, now think about it. Kindergarten teacher what is she going to do? Wear a gun on her hip or is she going to lock the gun up or is she going to keep the gun with ammunition in it? A coach, is the coach going to use the gun, or keep the gun with him, keep it in the field? What happens in a school as big as Douglas if the shooter is on one hall and there are people with guns there but they're all in the other hall?
What this does is gives a false sense of security when we know it doesn't solve the problem and it could make things worse.
LEMON: You held a telephone town hall with 60,000 educators last night. How do teachers feel about this proposal?
WEINGARTEN: They hate it. And frankly, you know, I want to -- before the NRA starts saying, we're against the second amendment, there is a lot of teachers who are responsible gun owners. There are a lot of people who are republican.
And two -- one of them -- we had several on the phone. One really articulate gentleman said, I am a gun owner, a proud hunter. And I think this is ridiculous. We have former marines who think it's ridiculous.
In fact, the people who know most about guns think it's ridiculous because they understand what an AR-15 or an AK-47 does. Ninety rounds a minute. How is it that anyone, even that great coach who may have a handgun at home, how are you going to set up and deal with kids who are running through the halls?
How are you going to find the shooter? How are you going to kill the shooter? What I'm concerned about, again, is that this is going to create or could create a full sense of security when what we need to do is keep guns out of schools and keep these kind of, you know, these kind of awful instruments that can kill people in a nanosecond, keep them out of the hands of private citizens. Why do we need military guns in the hands of private citizens?
LEMON: So I want to ask you, because you already talked about the resource officer who did nothing. So I think you think that that sort of belies the good guy with a gun argument, correct? WEINGARTEN: I think it - I mean, look, I think it debunks it, but
there's also, you know -- sorry -- look, I'm a social studies teacher, sorry to bring up some facts. There are also studies that show that the higher incidence of gun usage in a community means that there are more kids that get hurt. Lower incidents of guns in a community, like in Australia, like in New York State these days means that fewer kids get hurt.
LEMON: So what do you -- give me -- what are your suggestions? How do you -- how do we go about tackling this?
WEINGARTEN: So, first off, let's lift up what the kids are doing in Douglas. Many of us have fought these fights for years and we have not been able to break through. And I just want to give a shout out to those kids who have been amazing. And let's also lift up the teachers who did everything they could to shield kids because that is teachers' first instinct.
But I think you've got three things we can do to actually help end or certainly mitigate the scourge of gun violence. First, you have to attend to school safety issues and there's a bunch of ways to do things. Yes, we have too many active shooter alerts and drills, but unfortunately we have to do some of those things.
We also need to have very well-trained security and resource officers on the perimeter of schools, and if a community wants it, they should be armed. If a community doesn't, they shouldn't be. So there's a bunch of those things.
The second thing is we need not just mental health services after the fact, but we need social workers, we need nurses, we need guidance counselors, we need wraparound services so kids have the services and the interventions to deal with anxiety and day-to-day stress.
[22:30:01] And so when you see a situation like Nikolas Cruz which every single kid in that school said, we knew this guy, this kid is a problem, you could actually deal with it. And third, we need, like in Australia, like in Canada, we need commonsense gun safety regulations. Whether it be background checks, whether it be reducing the number of assault weapons that are used by the military, or whether it be bump stocks or whether it be reducing munitions. We know that these things work. When Senator Feinstein's bill was law, it reduced the number of gun incidents in the streets and in schools.
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Yes. Randi Weingarten, always a pleasure. Thank you.
WEINGARTEN: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, the president's rumbling, confusing, and contradictory tweets about his position on arming teachers is all this helping or hurting? Is the country to come together to make sure a shooting like the one in Parkland never happens again.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:34:59] LEMON: President Trump calling the confessed Florida high school shooter a, quote, "sicko," and suggesting the answer is more mental institutions.
Here to talk about this and other developments, CNN contributor Frank Bruni, a columnist at the New York Times. Frank, good evening to you.
First, I've got to get your reaction to the news about this resource officer at the high school in Florida waited outside while the students were gunned down. It's another heartbreaking element of this tragic story. But what does it --does it say something more about how we think responding -- we think of responding to these shootings?
FRANK BRUNI, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, I mean, I think it's interesting to look at that in the context of the president's proposal that we arm more teachers. You can -- you can give more people guns, you can put more guns out there, which I think is a terrible idea. You can't predict how people are going to use them or that it's all going to work out the way you want it to.
I mean, this is a deputy sheriff who apparently was trained, I mean, who is supposed to be carrying a gun, whose whole function is to presumably rush in and help in a situation like this, and he had a very human and very unfortunate reaction and he seemed to freeze in terror. How do we know that teachers with guns which, again, horrible idea, how do we know they wouldn't freeze in terror, too? I think it's an interesting fact to put up against what the president has proposed.
LEMON: All right. We'll talk a little more about that, but I also want to talk about the president's response to the shooting. He went on a tweet storm this morning giving us some insight into his thoughts on guns.
Just a part of what he said. He said, "I never said give teachers guns like was stated on fake news CNN and NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience. Only the best 20 percent of teachers. A lot would now be able to immediately fire back if the savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. I gun-free school is a magnet for bad people. Attacks would end!"
Well, what do you think?
LEMON: I mean, he sounds like he says he didn't say it, but then he's defending it and by defending it, it sounds like he's advocating for it, right?
BRUNI: Right, he said it was misreported and then he confirmed that he said it by kind of talking about it some more. But there is another element to that that I think is really unfortunate and not helpful at this time. He's made it all about him, right? So here he is, he's fresh off a Wednesday meeting in the White House
with students and teachers where he's trying to play the role of consoler in chief, a role that does not come to him naturally. But he is staying on script. He's telegraphing some empathy. He's doing those things that you want from a leader at this time.
And then Thursday morning he gets up and he's obsessed with his own P.R., his own press, the slights against Donald Trump. The slights against Donald Trump don't stack up against 17 deaths at a high school. And when he makes it all about whether his words are being taken accurately and they were, when he makes it all about his mistreatment by the press, he cannot play the role of leader that we need at a time like this.
LEMON: You know, when in front of the camera today, this is what the president said. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of the problem is we used to have mental institutions, and I said this yesterday. We had a mental institution where you take a sicko like this guy -- he was a sick guy, so many signs -- and you bring him to a mental health institution, those institutions are largely closed because communities didn't want them, communities didn't want to spend the money for them, so you don't have any intermediate ground.
You can't put them in jail because he hasn't done anything yet but you know he is going to do something.
So, whether it be talking seriously about opening mental health institutions again, in some cases reopening. I can tell you in New York, the governors in New York did a very, very bad thing when they closed our mental institutions, so many of them. You have these people living on the streets. And I can say that in many cases throughout the country, they're very dangerous. They shouldn't be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I'm glad he brought that up, and I'll get to your response. But the people living on the streets in New York City, guess what they don't have access to?
LEMON: Homes and guns.
BRUNI: And guns. Don, there is so much wrong with what the president just said there. There is so much that kind of misunderstands reality or misrepresents it. First of all, it's not easy to involuntarily commit someone. He makes it sound like it would be the easiest thing in the world and no huge fraction on civil liberties to take someone who showed signs of danger and just stow them in a mental institution. That's not something we do in this country for very good reasons.
Also, he's conflating mental illness and the anger and other impulses that have motivated these school shooters. Some of them probably fit the definition of certain mental illness, others don't. And he is stigmatizing mental illness with what motivates some of these shooters, and that's irresponsible.
[22:39:58] LEMON: I just want to read something, Frank. You don't have to respond to it. I want to get it in earlier, but, and this is from the New York Times. It's a study in the difference between us and other countries.
Americans make up 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world's guns, OK? There it is right there. If mental health made the difference, then data would show that Americans have more mental health problems than do people in other countries with fewer mass shootings.
A 2015 study estimated that only 4 percent of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues, Frank. And whether population plays who or fewer video games, as some people have proposed, video games also appears to have no impact. Americans are no more likely to play video games than people in other developed countries. What do you say to that?
BRUNI: Listen, we should be talking about mental health because we should be talking about all of the above. Because the problem is that severe and the stakes are that high. But what you're getting at, which is very true, is that we talk about mental health frequently or video games, whatever, as a way of not talking about sensible gun safety regulations and restrictions.
And that's the problem. We cannot keep talking around that. That is the core of this issue. That's the one thing we know we could do that would make the problem better, is to get some of these guns off the streets, to make it harder to get guns, to eliminate assault weapons. We know that's a wise course, and when we talk about some of the other stuff, it's a way not to talk about what's wisest and best.
LEMON: Frank Bruni, always a pleasure. Get back here to New York. We like having you in the studio. Thank you, sir.
When we come back, Robert Mueller putting the squeeze on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates filing new charges against them. Will he get them to make a deal?
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LEMON: A brand new indictment filed by special counsel Robert Mueller putting more pressure on former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Prosecutors allege the two long-time business partners laundered $30 million, failed to pay taxes for almost 10 years and used real estate that they own to fraudulently secure more than $20 million in loans.
Senior crime injustice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is following this for us and he joins us live. So Shimon, another bombshell in the special counsel investigations? What's going on? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: Yes, that's right,
Don. More charges. And one of the things here is the penalty that these new bank fraud charges and some of the other charges here that these two, that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates now face could put them behind bars for almost 30 years, significantly more time than what they face in the previous charges, the previous indictment.
You know, the thinking here is that this could put pressure on the two to cooperate. Now similar to the first indictment, the charges today stem from money the two made doing lobbying work on behalf of the pro- Russian foreign leader of Ukraine. The two men, according to the indictment, took this money and engaged in a scheme to hide it from U.S. authorities.
They allegedly put some of this money, millions of it, which was unreported, it was put into real estate as well as offshore bank accounts. And the indictment says they used their new properties that they got from these real estate deals as collateral to take out fraudulent bank loans, Don.
LEMON: CNN had reported that Rick Gates had been working on a plea deal with Mueller. How will these new charges impact that, Shimon?
PROKUPECZ: Well, these new charges certainly add to the mounting pressure and that's the key here. There's mounting pressure on these two and, you know, these two guys who were the former Trump campaign advisers. The goal here, we think, is to have them cooperate.
You know, as you mentioned, Rick Gates was in talks to cooperate with the special counsel investigation, and we're told despite these new charges, there could still be a deal. But the key here, Don, really tonight is that there is every indication that really what the Mueller team wants with these new charges is they're attempting, really, to get Manafort to flip as well.
LEMON: Thank you, Shimon. I appreciate that.
When we come right back, our legal experts weigh in. Will there be a deal?
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LEMON: Robert Mueller filing new charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
Joining us now to help make sense of all this. CNN legal analysts Laura Coates and Michael Zeldin. Interesting, hiring all the good people, all the best people. But now Laura, 32 counts of tax, financial and bank fraud charges. What do these new charges mean? Is this all a play to get Manafort and Gates to cop to a plea deal?
LAURA COATES, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it could mean one of two things. One it definitely means Mueller that Mueller has had a very fruitful investigation. These are all very straightforward charges. Either you have the accounts or you don't. Either you declared it in a bank statement or tax return or you did not. Very, easy charges to prove with documentation. Not a whole lot of
witnesses necessary to have this. So, one he's got a very strong case. On the other hand, it could be that he is trying in some way to pressure them to try to cop to a plea in the case in federal court here in Washington, D.C. and this is happening in the eastern district of Virginia, a very separate jurisdiction and venue.
So it could be he is trying to put pressure. But let's not forget he may not have any information that would cause Manafort to flip on a bigger fish. It may be they are trying to pressure Gates to flip on Manafort and for Manafort to ultimately preclude the government from having to do a full blown trial at the taxpayer expense. That may be it.
LEMON: Yes. Michael, Paul Manafort -- did you want to say something before I ask a question, Michael?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: No, no I'll wait for you.
LEMON: Paul Manafort has responded to these new charges via a spokesperson saying this. "Paul Manafort is innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and he 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 2006 election interference/collusion." So what do you think Mueller is doing here? Turning up the pressure?
ZELDIN: Well, he is doing possibly a couple of things as Laura pointed out. One is first in the indictment against Manafort and Gates what you had there was a conspiracy to launder money and failure to report foreign bank accounts.
In this case -- and they did that -- they said that latter as a pattern of behavior involving other crimes. Here in this indictment is the laying out of what those other crimes are, the tax crimes.
So you read the two indictments together and you see that there is a conspiracy to launder money, the failure to report that money on your -- in your foreign bank accounts with your taxes. And now we get the tax charges. So this is all one bundle.
It really should be tried together in one case. But Manafort refuses to waive venue as he said, let this case be tied together in the District of Columbia. So he is going to face two trials which is really sort of silly on his part.
The interesting thing, Don, in that last statement that you read from Manafort is, he repeats the president's line of no collusion. Well that has nothing to do with his case of course. But I don't know whether he is trying to signal to the president, pardon me, I'm still on your team. Because otherwise, I don't understand why you would include that in a statement professing your innocence.
LEMON: Laura, it had been reported that Rick Gates and Mueller were in a plea deal and plea deal talks. Shimon Prokupecz reported these two new developments don't mean that's other. But do the new charges does it make cutting the deal any more or less likely?
[22:55:00] COATES: Well it doesn't preclude a deal from happening. It's still a very real possibility. But what it does remove is a great deal of leverage that Gates already didn't have a lot of.
Remember he already had a 12-page indictment that was filed by the Mueller investigative team. It's not as if he had a whole lot of bargaining chips in his corner. And Mueller remains to have the most amount of leverage in the scenario.
But there is or could be continuing talks. He has a new lawyer who has noted his appearance in the case, who is known for being able to execute plea deals but also known for going to trial.
But again, Don, these are very straightforward cases, very straightforward in the eastern district of Virginia about tax fraud and everything else.
And one other point about the statement that was issued by his counsel or by his spokesman, remember, the idea that the Ukraine is totally separate from any ties to Russia is an absolutely farce. Remember the person that they working on behalf of Yanukovych was somebody whose life was saved after he was ousted by Vladimir Putin process.
So there is a connection there in terms of the ties between Russia and Ukraine. Whether that forms the basis of collusion ultimately down the line is a different story. But we can't separate the two. And she spokesman is being -- nonsensical in this attempt to do so.
LEMON: Michael, could Mueller file more charges as time goes on to continue to turning the screws here?
ZELDIN: Sure, I mean he could file money laundering charges in Virginia. What we saw in this indictment was that these guys were charged with bank fraud. So they now engaged in bank fraud. They get proceeds from that bank fraud which they use. That is in and of itself textbook money laundering. It's a 20-year felony.
And so they could add those charges into the Virginia indictment, as well, Don, the thing to keep in mind is that these tax charges are just federal tax charges. There will be state charges that could be brought as well and the president has no pardon powers.
As well, these were probably joint returns between Mr. And Mrs. Manafort and Mr. And Mrs. Gates which could mean that the Mueller team could say to the Manafort/Gates defendants we're going to look at your wives as also being possible you know, targets for indictment.
There are a lot of pressure points here that Mueller has, and a lot of additional indictments that he can bring, which leads me to conclude as Laura does, that most likely Gates pleads first and then Manafort has to make a big decision.
LEMON: Michael, Laura, thank you. I appreciate it.
COATES: Thank you. LEMON: When we come back, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is indicted
on felony charges over a naked picture of his former mistress. We're going to talk to the lawyer representing that woman's ex-husband.
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