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Families Grill Sen. Rubio At Town Hall; Trump Suggests Arming Teachers; Russia Warned Not To Meddle In Midterm Elections; Golden Finish At the Winter Olympics. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 22, 2018 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:13] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED GUTTENBERG, DAUGHTER KILLED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING: Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Angry families make a statement in a riveting exchange of views and ideas on guns. Senator Marco Rubio took a beating but he did have the decency and the courage to show up there, the only Republican.


ANDREW POLLACK, DAUGHTER KILLED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING: How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here with this administration and me.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Families of several school shootings also made their case at the White House. The president suggested arming teachers, an idea now getting pushback from lawmakers and law enforcement.

ROMANS: And, an instant classic overnight at the Olympics. The U.S. and Canada needed a shoot-out to settle the gold medal in women's ice hockey. Wait until you see the move that finished the game.

Welcome back to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUARDT: I'm Alex Marquardt. So great to be with you again.

ROMANS: Good to have you.

MARQUARDT: It is now 31 minutes past the hour.

It was a powerful day of nationwide advocacy by survivors, families, and gun control supporters following the Florida school shooting. The day was capped off by an emotional CNN town hall on gun violence. There were signs, at least, that some marginal change might be possible. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was the only Republican willing to face his critics. He said that he backs raising the minimum age for owning a rifle to 21.


SEN. MARCIO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: 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.


I traditionally have not supported relooking at magazine clip size and after this and some of the details I've learned about it, I'm reconsidering that position and I'll tell you why.


I'll tell you why. Because while it may not prevent an attack, it may save lives in an attack.


ROMANS: So, Rubio defended his position -- his opposition to broader gun violence legislation including an assault weapons ban.

Here's an exchange with Fred Guttenberg, a man who lost his daughter Jaime in the Florida school massacre.


RUBIO: 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.

GUTTENBERG: Senator Rubio, my daughter, running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas --

RUBIO: Yes, Sir.

GUTTENBERG: -- was shot in the back --

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

GUTTENBERG: -- with an assault weapon -- the weapon of choice --

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

GUTTENBERG: -- OK? It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war.

The fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that, I'm sorry.


ROMANS: Rubio also faced some tough questions about a big source of his funding. Here's Stoneman Douglas high school student Cameron Kasky.


CAMERON KASKY, JUNIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, PARKLAND, FLORIDA: This is about people who are for making a difference to save us and people who are against it and prefer money.

So, Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?


RUBIO: The positions I hold on these issues of the Second Amendment, I've held since the day I entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official.

Number two -- no, the answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda. And I do support the Second Amendment and I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe. And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer.

And that's why I support the things that I have stood for and fought for during my time here.

KASKY: No more NRA money? No more NRA money?

RUBIO: It's -- there -- that is the wrong way to look -- first of all, the answer is people buy into my agenda. Our goal here is to move forward and --

KASKY: Wait, so, hold on. So right now, in the name -- in the name -- in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?

[05:35:00] RUBIO: I think in the name of 17 people I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this --

KASKY: No, but I'm talking about NRA money.

RUBIO: -- from getting a gun.


RUBIO: This very evening, I have told you that I support lifting the age from 18 to 21 in buying a rifle. My understanding before I walked out here is that that organization is not in favor of that.


MARQUARDT: Rubio is right about that. They're not in favor of it.

He has an A+ rating from the NRA.

But before the town hall, the NRA said it opposes raising the age to buy an AR-15.

The group did send a spokeswoman to that town hall. Her name is Dana Loesch. She would not budge on NRA priorities and suggested that local law enforcement had missed crucial warning signs.


DANA LOESCH, SPOKESWOMAN, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm.

He had already taken bullets and knives to school. He had already assaulted people. He assaulted his parents, he assaulted other students.

Thirty-nine visits and this was known to those -- to the -- to the intelligence --

SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: What -- so, you're saying 39 visits --

LOESCH: -- and law enforcement community.

ISRAEL: You're --

LOESCH: Now, I'm not -- look, I'm not saying that you can be everywhere at once --


LOESCH: -- but this is what I'm talking about.

ISRAEL: You're not the --

LOESCH: We have to follow up on these red flags.

ISRAEL: You're not --


ROMANS: CNN's town hall followed an entire day of action and emotion across the country.

At the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee, busloads of Parkland students lobbied lawmakers, although a number of lawmakers declined to meet with students.

Outside, thousands more students and other protestors from around the state rallied, demanding lawmakers take action to curb sales of assault-style rifles.


PROTESTORS: Vote them out. Vote them out. Vote them out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Those are chants -- "vote them out" -- aimed at lawmakers who will not act.

Governor Rick Scott has promised a gun proposal by tomorrow. The students who met with him were hopeful.


CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, SURVIVED PARKLAND HIGH SCHOOL MASSACRE: I felt supported. I felt like he will make a change and he will help us and hopefully, provide the safety for all the other students.

AMANDA DE LA CRUZ, SURVIVED PARKLAND HIGH SCHOOL MASSACRE: Small steps count and he's really cooperating on participating with those small steps.


MARQUARDT: All across the country, students walked out in solidarity with those survivors and victims of the massacre. In Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, Kentucky, and Illinois, students marched out of class, even defying threats of discipline from their school districts.

Look at this. At Coral Springs High, students forming a heart in the middle of the football field to show their support.

ROMANS: All right, that's really something.

Joining us now to discuss this again, "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan, live in our Washington bureau. Good morning. Nice to see you.



ROMANS: Really, quite a day there.

I want to play some sound at the president's listening session at the White House. There was a father there who really struck us. He's surrounded by his three sons. His daughter had just lost her life in Parkland and this is what he said.


POLLACK: All these school shootings, it doesn't make sense. Fix it. It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it.

And I'm pissed because my daughter, I'm not going to see again. She's not here, she's not here. She's at North Lauderdale at whatever it is -- King David Cemetery. That's where I go to see my kid now.


ROMANS: Just heartbreaking and I think he makes a really good point. You don't have to be for gun control to be against school shootings. We can figure out a way to do this.

Any idea -- is there a sense that this time is different?

KOPAN: Yes, that was a really compelling moment, Christine, and it's hard to say whether this moment's going to be different. I mean, how many times have we seen things that we thought were going to different?

I mean, you go back to Sandy Hook and those small, small children were the victims in those cases and it felt like if anything, that would be the seminal moment in American history.

And, you know, I found it so tragic that in that room you had a father whose child was killed in Columbine, which is almost 20 years ago now. To have victims of school shootings spanning two decades in the same room, it's tragic.

And, you know, there was an interesting conversation as we've been listening to and talking about there's varying degrees of support for having more security in schools, there's a lot of talk about gun control. But there was also a conversation about what one Sandy Hook mother called mental wellness.


KOPAN: And, you know, the Sandy Hook parents have come together with a proposal and a program that really speaks to intervene in troubled kids' lives and try to bring them help. Not necessarily flag them for some sort of issue but to try to help them and also --

ROMANS: Super important.

KOPAN: -- intervene with students who are suicidal.

So, there's a lot of really interesting conversations happening now but action is TBD.

[05:40:03] ROMANS: The -- some of the Columbine parents, too, have -- they talk about -- they talk about supporting the kids in the school.


ROMANS: There's bullying, there's these broken boys. There's a really interesting op-ed this morning in "The New York Times" about these broken boys and how to find them and support them.

We talk about arming teachers, but what about more school psychologists?


ROMANS: People who could intervene and help kids.

MARQUARDT: And then, you know, we're looking for solutions all across the board, not just -- not just the gun control. That really did strike us -- that moment with the father there, but equally passionate are the teachers. And down in Sunrise, Florida where that town hall was held last night, a teacher posed a question to Sen. Marco Rubio, who we should say was the only Republican to show up. Governor Rick Scott, of Florida, declined an invitation.

But let's play some sound from this teacher's question to Sen. Rubio.


ASHLEY KURTH, TEACHER WHO SHELTERED 65 STUDENTS IN HER CLASSROOM: Am I supposed to get extra training now to serve and protect, on top of educate these children? Am I supposed to have a Kevlar vest? Am I supposed to strap it to my leg or put it in my desk?

How am I supposed to go on that way?


RUBIO: Well first, I don't support that.

I would admit to you right now I answer that as much as a father as I do as a senator. The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that, quite frankly, I'm comfortable with.

Beyond it, I think it has practical problems.


MARQUARDT: Wait -- Tal, essentially, what the teacher was saying there is -- correct me if I'm wrong -- what the president is now suggesting, and suggested at that listening session, that teachers carry weapons, right?

KOPAN: That's right. So, the president did bring that up as a possibility and there are folks in the room who were speaking in favor of varying degrees of increased security in schools, but there was also pushback immediately in the room to the president's suggestion that teachers be armed. And as you see, teachers very much are not entirely in favor of this proposal.

There are law enforcement (audio gap). There's a variety of issues including the notion if there was some sort of school shooting incident to have some sort of shoot-out in the school. There's a lot of concern that that makes things less safe, not more safe.

So again, it's unclear what actions will actually come out of this White House listening session and what President Trump will actually try to push through Congress or propose, but there was certainly a lot of swift pushback to that suggestion as the way to move forward on this issue.

ROMANS: There was a radio show yesterday -- a radio host was talking to an Upstate New York Congresswoman -- a woman named Claudia Tenney, who is a gun rights -- always has been a gun rights advocate and she said something that got a lot of attention yesterday about who commits these mass shootings and who covers it up -- listen.


REP. CLAUDIA TENNEY (R), NEW YORK: It's interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but we don't want to -- the media doesn't talk about that either.


ROMANS: Now, the question from the -- from the radio host was a question about inner-city violence and the victims of mass murders.

But saying that Democrats -- that many of these people that commit mass murders are Democrats and the media's covering up, what do you make of that?

KOPAN: Well, it's unusual and it certainly begs the question how you could even make that argument. I don't know that you can make that argument with any factual basis.

And look, the media typically doesn't report the political leanings of any shooter unless it's relevant -- when there's a terrorist action that is defined as having some sort of political motivation underlying it. Certainly, when a terrorist or a shooting happens that is specifically designed for a particular cause, that would be something that's relevant.

But I don't see how in many of these mass casualty events where there are no political motivations at play necessarily that a person's individual background would even be relevant, especially when you talk about how troubled some of these individuals --

ROMANS: Right.

KOPAN: -- are and have such a complicated history.

So, you know, it's a -- it's a sort of stutter-stopping moment for a lawmaker to bring that up. She's sort of defending it and trying to explain it but it's certainly a bit unusual to go there for a politician.

ROMANS: You know, that Las Vegas shooting -- all those people. There still is no motive declared in that --


ROMANS: -- Vegas shooting?

MARQUARDT: No motive. They're still looking at that. And also, no action that was taken.

The one thing that came out of Vegas --

KOPAN: That's right.

MARQUARDT: -- immediately was this talk about -- ROMANS: Bump stocks.

MARQUARDT: -- bump stock legislation --

ROMANS: Bump stocks.

MARQUARDT: -- and nothing changed.

Then we have the Sutherland Springs massacre after that. And now, of course, Parkland as well.


MARQUARDT: So -- and then, Tenney drawing into stark focus here that despite all this emotion that it's going to be really tough to get anything done on Capitol Hill.

ROMANS: Yes, it's still ugly politics.

All right, nice to see you. Thanks, Tal.

MARQUARDT: Thanks so much, Tal.

KOPAN: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Now, big drama on the ice in PyeongChang. The U.S. and Canada going to a shoot-out in the women's hockey final. Coy Wire is live in PyeongChang, next.


[05:49:45] ROMANS: Tech's biggest companies are, once again, the platform for conspiracy theories, forcing both YouTube and Facebook to apologize.

A top-trending YouTube video suggested David Hogg, an outspoken survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is an actor.

Hogg was also trending on Facebook with false theories about him. Several of the top results suggested the same false information. Hogg, of course, has knocked down those claims.

[05:50:11] Facebook removed the content and YouTube took down the video but this isn't the first time they have been unable to or unwilling to stop the spread of conspiracy theories.

For example, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas last year, that prompted both companies to pledge to use human beings, not algorithms, to moderate content.

Facebook plans to hire an additional 20,000 people to do this. It has 2.1 billion users, though. That's like having one cop on patrol for every 100,000 citizens.

YouTube faces a similar problem. Trending tabs constantly update all over the world. It doesn't have enough employees to monitor them all.

MARQUARDT: All right.

Well, the Trump administration is saying that the U.S. has warned Russia not to interfere with the midterm elections. That official adding that the U.S. has taken what they're calling direct action to address Russian election meddling going forward.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us in Moscow with the latest.

Fred, do we have any sense of what this direct action is? Russia doesn't strike me as the kind of place or kind of administration --


MARQUARDT: -- that will quake in their boots after a warning from the U.S. administration.

PLEITGEN: No, I don't think they're quaking in their boots at all, and we really don't know what exactly that direct action is. The only indication that we have from the administration is that they say that these are meetings and talks that are going on -- what the administration says, is at the highest levels. Now, it's unclear what exactly that means.

But, of course, we do know that just a couple of months ago the heads of many of the Russian intelligence services were actually in and around the D.C. area visiting some of the U.S. intelligence agencies, and it's unclear whether or not they talked about possible meddling in the 2018 elections.

But it's interesting that Mike Pompeo, the head of the CIA, was saying just a couple of weeks ago that he believes that there are those same patterns that we saw in 2016 ahead of the presidential election -- that those were continuing up until now.

But you are right. The Russians certainly not quaking in their boots. What they have been saying over the past couple of months is that there has been no election meddling on the part of the Russians and they don't intend to do so in the future, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, and I saw a photo yesterday of Ambassador Jon Huntsman visiting with the minister of defense, so they are talking.

Anyway, thanks very much. Fred Pleitgen there in Moscow.

ROMANS: All right, 52 minutes past the hour. We'll be right back.


[05:57:00] MARQUARDT: Welcome back.

Team USA talking gold in the women's hockey at the Olympics in a thrilling final.

Coy Wire has more from PyeongChang and as there. Coy, what was the scene?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning, Alex. It was awesome.

Dating back 20 years, Alex, no other nations have taken Olympic gold other than Canada and the U.S., but with Canada winning the last four it seemed like the U.S. was going to need a miracle.

Well, look at what was written on the local bus that just happened to pick up Team USA's parents on the way to the rink -- "Miracle." Meghan Duggan's mom on the left, Kacey Bellamy's mom on the right posed for this picture.

You mentioned, Alex, earlier, 38 years to the day after that famous miracle on ice when the U.S. men beat Russia.

Now, the game went through overtime and a shoot-out -- into a sudden death shoot-out where American Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson pulled off a move that the team calls "oops, I did it again." And yes, she did it real good. The team named it after Britney Spears, seriously.

Jocelyn gives the team the lead. The crowd goes crazy, the team goes crazy.

Then all eyes turn to Madison Rooney, a 20-year-old goalie for Team USA who had to try to stop the four-time Olympian from Canada, and Madison rises to the occasion.

The epic, dramatic finish as American women capture Olympic gold for the first time, Alex, in 20 years. It was an incredible scene and, indeed, they are probably still celebrating.

MARQUARDT: It looks just like that scene from 38 years ago -- incredible. All those gloves flying in the air.

All right. Thanks so much, Coy.

ROMANS: All right, to business now.

Twitter cracking down on spam bots, suspending thousands of suspected accounts. Some conservative figures lost thousands of followers as a result. They blame Twitter for a lockout on conservative accounts. Twitter denies this saying it regularly suspends suspicious accounts and it will reinstate them once they confirm a human is actually behind it.

It is the world we live in.


ROMANS: All of this misinformation.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUARDT: And, I'm Alex Marquardt. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many more people have to die before something changes?

RUBIO: If you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle.

KASKY: Anyone who is willing to show change, no matter where they're from, is somebody we need on our side here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would just like to thank you again for coming out. That's a lot more than what can be said for our so-called president and governor.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you had a teacher with -- who was adept at firearms, it could very well end the attack very quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's an insane idea.

LOESCH: None of us support people who are crazy getting their hands on a firearm.

ISRAEL: You're not standing up for them until you say I want less weapons.

POLLACK: We, as a country, failed our children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not falter. We will not stop this movement.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, February 22nd. It's 6:00 on the east coast.

Chris is in New York this morning.

I am in Parkland, Florida again for an amazing conversation. Last night was extraordinary. The world watched this remarkable town hall on CNN about guns and school safety. This happened just one week after the massacre that killed 17 people at the school that you see behind me.