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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Manafort Faces New Chargers, Gates Cooperating With Mueller; Florida School Massacre; Sources: 3 Broward County Deputies Appeared to Stay Outside Building as School Shooting Unfolded; Deadline Tonight for Kushner to Retain Interim Security Clearance. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired February 23, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:13] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next breaking news, special counsel announces new charges against Paul Manafort. This just hours after finalizing a stunning plea deal with Manafort's deputy that potentially includes undercover work. Could his information lead all the way to the White House?
Plus breaking news in the Florida school shooting. Sources telling CNN at least two more sheriffs deputies were outside the school as that shooting unfolded and they didn't go in.
And a student wounded in the shooting and still recovering, not happy with the president's call to her in the hospital. What did Trump say? I'm going to ask her. Let's go OutFront.
And good evening I'm Jim Sciutto in for Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight breaking news. One step closer to Trump. Rick Gates, Trump's former deputy chairman signing a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He is the highest ranking member of the Trump campaign team to cooperate with special counsel pleading guilty today to charges of conspiracy and lying as part of the Russia probe.
By agreement, Gates must now fully cooperate with Mueller. That includes his agreement to, "participate in under cover activities as directed by law enforcement agents or the special counsel's office." And Mueller is not done putting the pressure on Trump's close aids. Less than two hours after finalizing the stunning deal with Gates, Mueller's team filed new charges against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort relating to his lobbying work.
Here is why the Gates deal takes this investigation to a whole new level. Gates was there during the Trump campaign. He repeatedly traveled a board Trump's campaign plane right through the election. He was there during the transition working on the inaugural committee. And since then he helped found a pro Trump political action committee. What he knows and what he shares with investigators could potentially lead all the way to the Oval Office. Other than Manafort and Trump's own family, few people were higher in the trump campaign.
Earlier today President Trump was pressed for his reaction to gates plea deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mister President, any concerns about Rick Gates?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any concerns about Rick Gates?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: I would, yes. I would. We will be there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press.
TRUMP: Great place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rick Gates cutting a deal with Mueller?
2TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Now, prior to the campaign, Gates was Paul Manafort's right hand man for nearly a decade. Manafort has already pleaded not guilty to charges in Mueller probe. Manafort issuing today a statement insisting on his innocence, lamenting gates plea and throughout showing no sign so far of caving in the Mueller pressure. Statement reading, "Notwithstanding the Rick Gates pled today, I continue to maintain my innocence. I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface, he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled up charges contained in the indictments against me."
Gates is the fifth person to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation. Evan Perez is out front tonight. Evan, so how much closer does this get Robert Mueller to President potentially?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Potentially a lot closer, Jim. Rick Gates is now a very important cooperating witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation. And look, that's a big deal not only to Paul Manafort, Gates business partner, but potentially others in the Trump campaign who are still under investigation in this Russian meddling investigation.
After all, Manafort was the former campaign chairman. And in court today, prosecutors described the scheme in which the two long time business partners allegedly 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. Gates pleaded guilty to two criminal charges, one was conspiracy to defraud the United States. And the second was making a false statement.
Now we know that plea negotiations have been going on for about a month. And it was during one of those meetings with prosecutors and FBI agents that Gates admits now that he lied. That's one of the charges he pleaded guilty to today. Charges we have seen in the last couple of days, Jim, shows that the government believes this criminal activity continued during the time of the Trump campaign. So as you said, there is no doubt that today's guilty plea brings this investigation closer to the president.
SCIUTTO: And Gates was close to the president during that campaign. And busy certainly today at the D.C. Court. Less than two hours after this guilty plea, you had new charges filed against Paul Manafort. What else can you tell us about the new charges today?
PEREZ: Right. In court they sort of described a little bit of this. It essentially adds up to a campaign in which they hired former European politicians to act as lobbyists on behalf of Ukraine here in the United States.
[19:05:08] Now, again, we were expecting some of this, thanks to some of the great reporting Kaitlain Collins of CNN here in our team. So we were kind of expecting something else was happening. What this clearly shows though, Jim, is that they're trying to pile on the charges to put more pressure on Manafort and see if he will flip against I don't know who else in the campaign.
SCIUTTO: Yes more charges means more potential years in prison. A lot of pressure. Evan Perez, thanks very much.
OutFront now, former adviser to four presidents including Nixon and Clinton, David Gergen, former Assistant United States attorney and associate independent counsel for the Whitewater investigation, Kim Wehle, and former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, Richard Painter.
Kim, if I could begin with you. How significant is to see Rick Gates, someone who worked both closely with Paul Manafort, but people might forget he worked closely with the president, both to plead guilty now but also to cooperate with Robert Mueller?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: Well, it's significant. Because the indictment reads like a me too. That is Manafort and Gates worked side by side and so it's hard to know what Manafort can know now in addition to what Gates said, that is Gates has a lot of information.
But I think in macro level it's really important to keep in mind what we're talking about here, you know, three people close to the president who have now pleaded guilty to felonies. And in the Whitewater investigation we didn't come close to this in the level of the scale and the scope. And it's very, very serious implications for the integrity of our government right now and I encourage everyone who's watching to actually read these indictments. They read like a crime novel.
SCIUTTO: Yes. You make that point. So three people now, David Gergen, close to the president, with the association's, communications, travels with the president. The others of course being Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos at lower level. Should the president be concerned as he watches this unfold?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Absolutely. Everyone in the White House should be concerned. We're no longer talking about people can be dismissed as Aron (ph) boys or coffee boys --
GERGEN: -- you know, aren't important. These people were actually held important positions chairman and deputy chairman of the campaign. They went all the way up through the transition into the White House. What we're seeing here is that Mueller has piling up multiple charges against people and basically telling them you have a choice, you can spend the rest of your life in jail, or you can tell me the truth. And Gates decided, you know, I'd rather not spend the rest of my time in the slammer and he's going to spend some time but not as much time as he would have. And that puts pressure on Manafort.
Manafort is I think playing a very risky game. I think he's playing for a pardon. And, you know, if he holds out long enough maybe the president will pardon him. But when you have this many claims by the special prosecutor whether it's this serious as millions of dollars going around, and by the way, paying people to lobby on behalf of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine, and behalf of a pro-Russian position, that actually sort of smells a lot like, you know, some of the things that are being investigated with regard to the campaign.
So I think this is dangerous. I think we do have to caution that we haven't yet seen an underlying crime charged with regard to the Russians election in and the collusion, and this may not go to the president, it may go into the White House but stops short to the president and makes big difference politically how far you up it goes.
SCIUTTO: You know, Richard, it looks more and more almost like a mob prosecution here, right? You go after the capos (ph) and kind of work your way up the organization. And as David teed up there when George Papadopoulos, when his name came up for instance they called him a coffee boy. But, I mean, you look at Rick Gates, I mean he's the deputy campaign chairman, he worked for the Trump Inaugural Committee, he helped found a pro-Trump PAC after the campaign. I mean, you cannot argue that Gates was a coffee boy.
RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER W.H. ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, you cannot. Gates is very high up in the organization in the Trump campaign and then the transition. What we see here is that President Trump has surrounded himself with a lot of people who are very dishonest who have committed crimes, who have contacts with the Russians, and who have lied about their contacts with the Russians. That's what we know at this point. We don't know what crimes, if any, President Trump is guilty of, although he certainly has gone out of his way to try to convince people he's guilty of obstruction of justice.
But this investigation is certainly making a lot of head way and it's bringing in a lot of President Trump's associates. The president should be very worried about this. And Paul Manafort, if he's holding out for a pardon, and he's going to risk the rest of his life on the word of Donald Trump that will get a pardon if such a promise was made, or any implication he'll get a pardon, I think he's taking a risk that's a very big one and one that I certainly wouldn't take because I wouldn't trust President Trump.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's another Friday too with the special counsel where you have a series of indictments that -- in this case guilty plea that blow up this idea that the president has sold for many months that the whole investigation is a hoax.
[19:10:16] But Kim, I have to ask you, because you worked for special counsel, you've worked as a prosecutor. Rick Gates based on his guilty plea, he lied on February 1st. He lied two or three weeks ago in a conversation with special counsel about reaching a deal. I mean, how dumb from a legal standpoint for lack of a better word is it to lie to someone as you are trying to negotiate a deal?
WEHLE: Well, obviously it ended up with additional charge in the indictment so that was dumb, right. It's illegal to lie to the FBI. But also just shows that he's got something to hide. And, you know, again, back to the broader constitutional question, the person that he was having a conversation with was a member of Congress. And we all have to remember here, we're talking about Russians actually interfering with our electoral process. That's the integrity of our democracy here. And if it's gone the tentacles of that have gone beyond what we know about. It's very, very, very serious stuff.
SCIUTTO: David, just a point here is, as Richard brought up, they were doing work for, I think you brought up, pro-Russian candidate in Ukraine. I mean, folks will often imply well it was their work before the campaign. It's totally irrelevant. But there is a Russia tie there. I mean, does it reasonably raise the question, again, as you noted we don't know if this is going to lead to Trump, and there is no underlying crime established yet, but does it raise the question why Paul Manafort was selected as Trump's campaign chairman in light of those years of work?
GERGEN: Yes. That was a very good question. Yes, the answer to that is yes. I mean, anybody who hired Paul Manafort had to know that he came up with a lot of baggage. Everybody in politics knows that. So in hiring him they took him despite the baggage. And that suggests that they thought he might not only be effective in the job but they suggest maybe he's an ally in some of this other staff or knows things that we need to keep quiet, whatever.
I'll have to tell you, this is still not as big as Manafort, I mean it's not as big as Watergate. This is not unprecedented in scope. What is unprecedented I have never seen a campaign has been so deeply entangled with the Russians of all people. You know, on multiple levels, that -- it smacks some sort of corruption that we have political corruption as well as perhaps financial corruption that we have not ever seen with a foreign nation in this way.
SCIUTTO: Speaks to his judgment. David, Kim, Richard, thanks very much, as always.
OutFront next breaking news, sources telling CNN that several Broward County deputies did not go into that school as that deadly Florida shooting unfolded. This as we learned the tipster told the FBI just weeks ago she feared Nikolas Cruz "shooting the place up."
Plus a teenager who is wounded in that shooting. You can see her injuries here. Just a young little girl. She's slamming the president as of he called her. She will be my guest. And Jared Kushner, could the president's top aide and son-in-law be cut off from top secret information tonight?
[19:17:03] SCIUTTO: The breaking news, stunning developments tonight in the Florida shooting. Sources tell CNN Jake Tapper not only Broward County Sheriff Scott Peterson who did not enter the building as the shooting was happening, three other Broward county deputies were also outside the school and did not rush in when other officers arrived. This comes as we are learning chilling new information to warning to the FBI just weeks before the massacre. Martin Savage is OutFront.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The call to FBI tip line about Nikolas Cruz could not have been more clear, warning that Cruz is "going to explode." CNN reviewed the transcript of the January 5th 2018 call informing the agency about the Parkland, Florida shooter. The unidentified women spoke of Cruz's Instagram feed. She talked about post about guns. And was "Afraid something is going to happen."
The caller also talked about Cruz's history of violence in school and said she worried about him, "Getting into a school and just shooting the place up." Forty days later, Cruz did just that. The FBI admits it failed to follow up on the tip. The missed call is just one of a growing list of failures by authorities that could have prevented tragedy if only they had been handled differently. They include the case of school resource officer Scott Peterson seen here in 2015 speaking about his job.
DEP. SCOTT PETERSON, SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: We are all here for the same goal to protect our kids.
SAVIDGE: Peterson resigned and retired rather than face suspension without pay and a pending internal investigation into what he did or did not do at the time of the high school shooting. Broward County Scott Israel says for at least four minutes as the attack was going on, school surveillance video shows Peterson just standing beside the building rather than entering to engage the gunman.
Some angry parents have suggested Peterson was more worried about retirement than protecting students. Something the officer seem to joke about it 2015.
PETERSON: I'm always way out. I'm 30 years.
SAVIDGE: But Peterson is not the only shows deputy accused of not reacting properly. Sources telling CNN say some Coral Springs officers were shocked to see deputies standing outside the school shooting site even as they rushed in. But at a news conference today the Coral Springs Police Department refused to talk about those accusations. Instead, first responders talked about what they did.
OFFICER TIM BURTON, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Immediately I grabbed my rifle. And I start running.
SAVIDGE: Officer Tim Burton believed to be the first Coral Springs officer to arrive on scene. Charging alone toward the building.
BURTON: I thought I was going to encounter the shooter as soon as I made the left-hand turn in the parking lot. If he was trying to escape or get away.
SAVIDGE: Instead Burton found only silence. First Coral Springs officer to arrive heard no gunfire. But Officer Jeff Heinrich did hear gunfire. In fact he heard it all. Recounting the moment the shooting began.
SGT. JEFF HEINRICH, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT: I hear what I now know to be five or six gunshots. At first, I honestly thought they were fireworks.
SAVIDGE: Heinrich was off duty and without his weapon, volunteering at the high school watering the baseball field. Moments later, more gun fire. He knew it was real. He also knew his wife, a teacher, and this son, a student were both inside.
[19:20:14] HEINRICH: Kids started to run, kids started to scream. At that time I heard a round of probably about another five or six shots.
SAVIDGE: Wearing just shorts and a T-shirt, Heinrich ran in the direction of gun fire, first standing to a (INAUDIBLE) wounded student then as other officers arrived grabbing (INAUDIBLE) gun.
HEINRICH: He got his gun, his secondary weapon and we systematically cleared back toward the 12 building.
SAVIDGE: Jim, I just want to go a little more into this dispute that has now come up between departments, Coral Springs, and Broward County Sheriffs Department. A statement came out from Coral Springs just a short time ago, the police department, they say the Coral Springs Police department has not made any official statement to the media regarding these allegations, as it's still an open investigation and is being handled by the Broward County Sheriff's Office. That's true. The lead investigation here is being handled by Broward County.
I should also point out that emotions are running exceedingly high in this community. As you know with the stages of grieve, there's shock, there's grieve, and there's anger. It's pouring down out of this community like a tidal wave primarily because they have heard so many miss steps by police and by sheriff's deputies. And by the FBI. Jim.
SCIUTTO: No question, and Martin makes a good point. It is early in this investigation and it is not necessarily the time to definitively assign blame. They're still looking into it. Martin Savidge there.
OutFront now Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie. Superintendent Runcie, thanks very much for joining us. You heard the news we had tonight. This account that some four deputies perhaps didn't go in the school. School resource officer that didn't go in, at least an account where three others stayed outside. I'm curious what your reaction is. And is it your feeling that the first responders failed the students in the school?
ROBERT RUNCIE, BROWARD SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: You know, when I heard about the first situation yesterday when I was briefed by the sheriff, I was just shocked, outraged, angry. Today's news just even worsens the pain and grief that this entire community is going through, to realize that more could have been done, that potentially lives could have been saved. This is just outrageous. And, you know, I just can't find words to describe the disappointment of this type of news coming to us over the last couple of days.
SCIUTTO: And, of course, no one can take it more painfully than the parents of the students who died in there.
We now have the transcript of this call to the FBI in January. And you read it, it's just damming. The caller worried that Nikolas Cruz was capable of "getting into a school and shoot the place up." It went on to say, "I know he's going to explode." It just appears that we have evidence that the system failed these students really across the board here.
RUNCIE: Yes, you know, we tell our students, we tell our teachers, people in our community that if you see something, or hear something, tell someone. We have tip lines available. And here we have the key law enforcement entity in the country not following up appropriately on dangerous tips. We've got to take every single tip seriously. If 99 of them don't pan out, we don't want to be wrong just one time. They all have to be taken seriously. They all have to be investigated and appropriate action needs to be taken
Then we've got to look at the laws that we have to give law enforcement additional powers and strength to be able to intervene, take weapons away from individuals who are displaying erratic behavior, maybe signs of mental illness. They should not be allowed to have guns.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because we're now aware as well of the entire list of calls about issues with this shooter involving the home where Cruz was living. Twenty-three calls. One involving self harm. Another involving an allegation of shooting at a chicken.
I spoke to a teacher last week who said that people on campus were aware that he was not allowed to come on campus with a backpack. I'm just curious what the school district knew about Nikolas Cruz before the horrible events of last week. Was this reported to the school district?
RUNCIE: I'm not aware of a report to the district within the past week. I do know that this is a child or a young person that had some serious behavior and mental health concerns. He's been in traditional schools. He's been in behavior centers. Alternative schools.
[19:25:12] I'm at the time that he committed this atrocity, he was not enrolled in Marjory Stoneman Douglas and in fact had been out of the school for at least a year in an alternative school. So, you know, this, again, I believe that there needs to be a better coordination among all of the various agencies that touch troubled youth and individuals. Mental health institutions, juvenile justice, law enforcement, school systems, we got to be able to share information more effectively, be able to provide the right type of interventions, take action as appropriately, rather than operating in silos which occurs far too often.
SCIUTTO: Yes. You heard the president again today defending his proposal of arming teachers or arming at least some adept teachers as he described them. As a superintendent of schools, do you think that would make your schools in your district safer to have armed teachers?
RUNCIE: Absolutely not. That's not a solution to this problem. If we really want to enhance security presence on school grounds, then let us invest and security presence on school grounds, have law enforcement officers. The governor put a proposal out today and I need to applaud him for that, to provide funding for more school resource officers in school districts. That's what we need to do. We need trained officers not teachers who are there to educate.
You know, instead of putting guns in the hand of teachers, we need to provide better compensation for our teachers, better benefits and really do the things that we know we need to do to enhance that profession. So absolutely not. I don't think that's a solution that's going to get us anywhere. More guns in schools are going to create more opportunities for situations that are undesirable.
SCIUTTO: We had a teacher on last night from Parkland who echoed your thoughts. We know that the Broward County Sheriff's Office is saying Deputy Scot Peterson had been told that Cruz had talked about shooting up the school. So the student resource officer, he was aware of it. I'm going to speak to a student from Stoneman Douglas who was injured in the shooting and she told us in that conversation earlier today as we got ready for the interview that she wasn't surprised that he didn't come in. He worked there for a number of years and she never seen him in her words doing much. I'm curious if you had any indications that he wasn't doing his job or might not do his job properly?
RUNCIE: No. You know, we work with our law enforcement agencies. We have agreements with them to staff our schools with individuals who are trained, who are capable. I mean, our schools are some of our must vulnerable sites in our communities. We want to make sure they are safe and secure for every student, every adult that's there. And we need the best law enforcement individuals at those schools. We need to start looking at the quality of the folks that being put and placed and assigned to school grounds.
I think there also maybe this some type of rotation process. So, you know, someone doesn't think that this is some place you just come to spend the last few years and retire. This is serious. We need to make sure that we have the best safety and law enforcement individuals working in our school grounds.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, I know you've got tough job going forward as you try to pull that community back together. Superintendent Runcie, thanks for taking the time with us tonight.
RUNCIE: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: And OutFront next, the shooting left Samantha Fuentes with shrapnel behind an eye, bullet fragments in her legs. Tonight she has harsh words about her phone call after the shooting with President Trump. She will be my guest.
And breaking news, a source telling CNN that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warned White House Counsel Don McGahn two weeks ago about continuing issues involving Jared Kushner's security clearance.
[19:30:41] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Breaking news: sources telling CNN tonight that during the high school mass shooting, three Broward County deputies had not entered the building. Instead, they appeared to stay outside. This is after we learned that the deputy assigned to protect the school campus, he didn't go inside either.
And tonight, we are hearing from one of the students who was shot during that attack and spoke to President Trump while still in the hospital.
Samantha Fuentes is OUTFRONT. She's a senior at Marjory Stoneman High School.
Samantha, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SAMANTHA FUENTES, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN HIGH SCHOOL: Thank you for having me.
SCIUTTO: Samantha, listen, I know you lost good friends in the shooting and, of course, you paid -- you're paying a price. You got shot in one leg, shrapnel in another leg, and I'm sure viewers as they look at you there, their heart goes out to you. The first question is, how are you doing in the days since this attack?
FUENTES: You know, just taking it one day at a time. I can't say that I'm not exhausted, but I have all the support in the world by everyone that I love right now.
SCIUTTO: Well, keep them close to you. So, you have just gone through this. You are sitting in your hospital bed. You receive a call from President Trump. Tell us how that conversation went.
FUENTES: It went quite interesting. One of the first things he said to me was that he heard that I was a big fan of his. And that he was a big fan of mine. And he was just trying to console me and let me know that everything was going to be OK.
He then commenced to call the shooter a sick puppy and probably used the word, oh, boy, probably a solid eight times. I can't say that I was consoled or helped.
SCIUTTO: You didn't feel -- well, do you have any idea what gave him the impression that you were a big fan of his, as he said to you?
FUENTES: I'm not quite sure. It's not like we've had any prior engagements to that phone call. So maybe it was just an assumption.
SCIUTTO: You know, it was interesting, and I know you expressed some surprise that he brought up the shooter in the conversation in light of what you went through. How did that part of the conversation go?
FUENTES: I don't think he's ever had to have that conversation with someone before, and it was definitely clear in that moment, because he didn't express any real empathy. But it's kind of hard to express empathy when you don't understand.
SCIUTTO: I get that. I mean, I imagine, listen, it's a difficult phone call most of all for you in light of what you've been through. You told one of my colleagues before this interview that you've never been so unimpressed by a person in your life. I don't want to put you in an uncomfortable position. But what were your emotions as you said that and experienced that?
FUENTES: It's just that when you go through a very traumatic experience such as this one, you have to be very delicate in the way that you phrase your words to people. And I don't feel that he took any caution or any regard for what I was going through. And that kind of hurt my feelings. But I can't say that I don't respect him and I can't say that I don't respect him as a president. Though I do appreciate the concern.
SCIUTTO: Of course. I understand. And you are very respectful. I've noticed this as I've talked to other of your classmates as well.
You are young. You've been something horrible that none of us -- most of us never have, but you are handling this with great poise and maturity. I want to headache sure you are aware of that. I want to ask you if I can a bit about the school response. We are looking more about the school resource officer Scot Peterson waiting outside the building.
And, listen, I'm always reluctant to place too much blame on any one individual. I mean, there's fear -- there's fear in the moment. I want to play though what Peterson said at a 2015 school board meeting about his job. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOT PETERSON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: I'm almost on my way out. I'm 30 years. So, I have other police officers that they have made homes there. You know, they are part of that community. We are all here for the same goal, to protect our kids. To protect our property.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: You had interactions with him. You saw him at work before this all happened. Do you think too much pressure or responsibility is put on folks like this in a situation like this?
[19:35:06] FUENTES: Absolutely not. When you become a police officer, you take an oath to protect and serve. And I don't feel that Peterson protected and served his children, just as he claimed he would. He broke a promise. And that's obvious in his inaction.
Do you feel, because we've been learning about just other missed signals here, there were warnings about Nikolas Cruz before this. Do you feel let down not just by the school resource officer and the police, but other authorities involved here, the FBI, the school district?
FUENTES: Absolutely. I can't say that I'm not disappointed. And I'm not surprised either.
SCIUTTO: Goodness. Why aren't you surprised?
FUENTES: Well, I mean, everyone in our school, including parents and teachers and faculty and students, everyone, has reported this kid. And we thought that we did everything in our power to get him off of school grounds, get him away from us, because he was a violent and malicious person. And that was obvious. And kids would even joke about how he was going to be the next school shooter.
And as students, we can only do so much. We thought that if we put it into the hands of the law and into the hands of our government, that it would be handled. But unfortunately, as students now, we have to take action because our government is failing us, our system is failing us, and we won't be stopped.
SCIUTTO: You are saying that other students used to joke about him becoming a school shooter?
FUENTES: Absolutely, because of how violent he was and erratic he was.
SCIUTTO: Goodness. You did do all you could do. And I think you should be conscious of that, you're definitely you and your classmates stepping up now.
Classes I know are meant to resume next week, next Wednesday I believe at your high school. You are still going through a lot. Are you planning to go back?
FUENTES: No, I don't intend on going back. But that has little to nothing to do with my fear of returning to the campus. This is because I want to take this opportunity to advocate for my cause and recover. I want to take as much time as possible to spread my message. And in doing so, I'll be taking myself out of school, just finishing it online, and getting out as soon as possible. SCIUTTO: Samantha, you and your classmates have captured the
attention of a nation and you should be proud of that. I really do wish you the best and I wish you a swift recovery. I know you have a lot still to go through.
FUENTES: Thank you. I appreciate that.
SCIUTTO: OK. Take care of yourself.
FUENTES: You too.
SCIUTTO: OUTFRONT next, can Jared Kushner do his job without access to top secret information? You may find out tonight.
And breaking news, damming new details what the FBI knew before the horrible high school shooting, what does this mean for the embattled agency, and even for the director?
[19:41:33] SCIUTTO: Breaking news, deadline is tonight for Jared Kushner to keep his access to classified information. And President Trump is blaming the delay on, quote, a broken system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's taking months and months and months to get many people that do not have a complex financial, you know, complicated financials, they don't have that. And it's still taking months. It's a broken system and it shouldn't take this long. You know how many people on that list? People with not a problem in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Tonight, however, "The Washington Post" is reporting that it's not merely a broken system. In fact, the White House was told by the deputy attorney general just two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay Kushner security clearance process.
Bradley Moss, he's an attorney who specializes in security clearance law, and Phil Mudd is a former FBI intelligence adviser, former CIA counterterrorism official as well.
Phil, significant information, the White House getting a call from the Justice Department saying significant information. We are now 13 months 2into this administration. Kushner still doesn't have a permanent clearance.
How much more information would you need to not grant it at all?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I suspect none. That's a kiss of death, that phone call.
Look, the FBI can't say how Kushner is caught up in the Mueller investigation. They can't say in some circumstances what they are developing on Kushner.
Butt let me give you a couple of facts here, 13 months for senior official to get clearance? I got mine in nine months and I'm just a regular Joe off the street. The second thing is you understand, that's an accelerated clearance when the White House says this is one of the top guys to the president, get it done. I think that phone call after 13 months to the chief of staff doesn't tell him he has to rescind the security clearance.
But again that's a kiss of death phone call because the message to John Kelly is this isn't going to end any time soon for someone who is at the top of our list to get him a clearance as soon as possible. That's the FBI and the Department of Justice saying, it's not going to happen, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Now, Bradley, the president of course blaming the system here. But Jared Kushner could have made it a lot easier had he not had to revise his form many times. His initial FS-86 did not mention any foreign contacts.
He updated it in the spring with some 100 foreign meetings but did not crucially mention that June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. He then updated it again. There was some further omitted information.
I suppose the question is if Phil or I or you applied for a clearance had those repeated omissions, would we get a clearance ever?
BRADLEY MOSS, ATTORNEY WHO SPECIALIZES IN SECURITY CLEARANCE LAW: I don't know if you'd get a clearance ever, but you certainly would face a whole lot of obstacles let alone getting approved. There are, of course, always mitigating circumstances of why someone might make omissions. And certainly Jared Kushner has some explanations he's already put out. But that's the kind of stuff you hear about in an actual appeals process which comes after you've been denied the security clearance.
Right now, he's getting the benefit of the doubt in the midst of the investigation, despite having made multiple omissions. He submitted the SF-86 and then was given six months to just provide the initial set of foreign contacts and was allowed interim access that entire time.
Phil is right, no one who is a rank-and-file official, a government contractor, whose name is not Jared Kushner, would ever been allowed to maintain interim access that long despite that type of omission.
[19:45:06] SCIUTTO: It kind of reminds you of those arguments during the campaign about Hillary Clinton saying, well, if anybody like me, I would go to prison for the rest of my life.
Now, the president said today he's going to leave it up to chief of staff to decide whether his own son-in-law retains his interim security clearance. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRIUMP: General Kelly respects Jared a lot. And General Kelly will make that call. I won't make that call. I will let General Kelly make that decision. And he's going to do what's right for the country. And I have no doubt he'll make the right decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So the president says Kelly will make the decision, but he also respects Jared a lot, going to do what's right for the country.
Phil Mudd, it doesn't sound like he's taken away the right to overrule perhaps the chief of staff on his son-in-law?
MUDD: No, he just set him up. Look, Kelly put out the memo saying, we can't have people under indefinite security clearances like this, the interim clearances forever. What the heck is he supposed to do with Jared, saying the first case that cross my desk, I'm going to violate the memo I just put out. I think the real interesting question is not only what Kelly does, I think he's got to rescind the clearance.
This isn't the end of the story. This is the president of the United States. If he wants to maintain access for Jared, the sensitive information he can, I suspect the president given his words today is going to say, look, I understand what General Kelly did, but Jared is so important to American security, I'm going to order that he maintain access to top secret information after General Kelly decides he can.
SCIUTTO: And, Bradley, just to be clear, the law does allow the president to do that if he wants to?
MOSS: Correct. The president can grant access to classified information to anybody he wants. And quite honestly, if in the end exceptions can be made for Jared Kushner, you almost wonder why they went through this whole ordeal in the first place. Why go through the charade of submitting all this documentation in 13, 14 months of investigation, if he's going to overrule security in the end.
This is why we have the anti-nepotism law that DOJ threw out for Jared Kushner.
SCIUTTO: Well, Brad and Phil, thanks for walking through us with this.
OUTFRONT next, more on tip that the FBI received just weeks before the deadly high school shooting.
And the voices that make this gun control debate very different than all the rest so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do we have to march on Washington just to save innocent lives?
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[19:51:21] SCIUTTO: Breaking news: we are learning new devastating details about a January 5th phone call in which a tipster warned the FBI directly about Nikolas Cruz. According to the transcript we now have, the identified caller told the FBI she feared Cruz was capable of, quote, getting into a school and just shooting the place up. I just wanted to get it off my chest in case something does happen and I do believe something is going to happen.
The FBI says that information though was never passed on to the FBI's Miami field office.
OUTFRONT now is Josh Campbell. He's a former FBI supervisory special agent.
Josh, so this caller very clear about her fears here and apparently, there were multiple warning signs coming from multiple directions. How does this slip through the cracks? How were the dots not connected here?
JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: So, it has to be a subject of a very extensive review. This is what we ask the public to do, to call law enforcement, to pick them up, the whole adage of, if you see something, say something.
CAMPBELL: Well, usually, what happened in this situation, information would come into the FBI tip line, the people that are taking that information will do a cursory review to determine, is there something that warrants additional investigation? Does it have merit or is it just clearly not something that we need to look at?
That system broke down. That should have made it to the Miami field office where additional steps could have been, you know, followed up on. And, you know, I talked to one of my former colleagues in the FBI that says the bureau's heart is just breaking particularly those in Miami because they are the ones who were sitting there having to deal with the family members and they themselves weren't provided this information.
SCIUTTO: I just talked to a little girl who survived, you might have seen her on the air, still showing the wounds and she just said, you know, she feels let down.
But I have to ask you legally, just so folks at home understand, let's say you get a warning and you do take it seriously, what would have the FBI told, should have told the field office? Go swing by his house, pick him up? I mean, what are the options if you do follow through?
CAMPBELL: So, it's hard to look at it in the abstract, because we simply don't know. I mean, as you know, Jim, from your extensive coverage of intelligence community, I see the government receives volumes of information and they have to discern what is specific, what is credible.
In this instance, and this is what makes it even more heartbreaking, is that it appears to be specific and credible. And so, the FBI would have taken the information, would have looked through their holdings and presumably had picked upon this YouTube post that we heard reported before, and, you know, looked at the situation and said, we may have something here. That would have been forwarded to the office, they would have done a knock and talk or talk, or they would just talk to a local law enforcement in order to follow up and try to assess, is this person someone we should be concerned about?
I have to tell you, as a former FBI agent, FBI agents are paid and trained to talk to people. They're supposed to, you know, size them up and determine who they are dealing with. That's the unknown. We'll never know what happened because they didn't have the opportunity to go face to face.
SCIUTTO: Josh Campbell, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT next, the voices of students turned activists, growing even louder tonight.
[19:58:28] SCIUTTO: It has been an extraordinary week of emotion for this country as the reality of an unimaginable tragedy set in. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, they are persevering, leading the conversation by mobilizing and marching, by refusing to remain silent, by confronting lawmakers and demanding actions before another school and another town becomes another staging ground for the unthinkable.
Here are some of their voices.
RYAN DEITSCH, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Why do we have to speak out to the Capitol, why do we have to march on Washington just to save innocent lives?
LORENZO PRADO, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: That is what we do to things that fail, we change them.
CAMERON KASKY, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Can you tell me that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?
SAMUEL ZEIF, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I lost a best friend practically a brother. I am here to use my voice because I know he can't.
CARLY NOVELL, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: All we are trying to do is make sure this doesn't happen to anyone in America. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To all these victims' lives to be taken without
any change in return is an act of treason to our great country.
JUSTIN GRUBER, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: There needs to be significant change in this country because this has to never happen again.
SOFIE WHITNEY, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Help us so children don't fear going to school. Help us so mass shootings aren't inevitable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: It is darn impressive kids. The parents, we should all be proud.
Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto.
"AC360" starts now.