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Armed Deputy Failed To Enter School During Shooting; 911 Calls: Police Warned Cruz Was Armed; President Backs Raising Age on Gun Purchases; New Charges Against Manafort & Gates; Missouri Governor Indicted In Sex Pic Case; Did Russia Aid Attack On Americans?; Ceasefire Deal In Syria; American Figure Skaters Stumble Again; Ivanka Trump Arrives In South Korea. Aired 4-4:30am ET

Aired February 23, 2018 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:00] SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: A deputy arrives and takes up a position and he never went in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Florida officials reveal an armed guard on campus did not try to stop the Florida shooting.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump looking far and wide for solutions to curb gun violence in schools, but expecting to play to his base today when he speaks to a conservative political action group.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And with the Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin getting direction from the Kremlin to attack American with Syria a damning new report this morning suggest so. We have reports from the White House, Moscow, Jordan, New Delhi, Seoul and Pyeongchang, on your Friday morning. Good morning welcome to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.


ROMANS: Good to see you.

MARQUARDT: I'm Alex Marquardt. It is February 23rd its 4:00 a.m. here in the East.

The armed deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high has resigned. The investigation found Scott Peterson failed to enter the building during last week's massacre in Parkland, Florida. The school resource our server retired on Thursday after he was suspended without pay. Peterson was armed and in uniform when the shooting began. The Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says that video, witness statements and an interview with Peterson all show that the deputy did not engage.


ISRAEL: Devastate, sick to my stomach. There are no words when these families lost their children. We lost coaches. I have been to the funerals. I have been to the homes where they sit and shiver. I have been to the vigils. It's just that there are no words.


ROMANS: No comment so far from Peterson who had garnered two Deputy of the Year nominations in recent years. The sheriff put two other deputies on restricted duty while his office investigates their actions during calls to the gunman's home before the shooting. Today, Governor Rick Scott about to announce his plan to keep Florida student safe and schools safe including improvements to school security and ways to keep guns away from the mentally ill.

Also today teachers and staff begin returning to Stoneman Douglas High with a variety of support services available to them. Student return to classes next Wednesday on a modified schedule.

MARQUARDT: And the list of missed opportunities to stop the Parkland School gunman Nikolas Cruz keeps on growing. CNN affiliate WPBF has obtained a series of newly released 911 calls -- excuse me. One is from a woman who took Cruz in after his mother died last year keep listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911 Emergency, how can I help you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. There was a fight in my house, a kid and my son.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm confronting him and that's when he left the house. But I need somebody here because I'm afraid he comes backs and he has a lot of weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of weapon, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Um let me ask my son. What kind of weapon did he get? That he's going to get?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK and who did this?


(END AUDIO CLIP) MARQUARDT: A records obtained by CNN also show that the host family warned local law enforcement that Cruz had "put the gun to others heads in the past."

ROMANS: President Trump flashing out his suggestion on arming some teachers in the wake of the Parkland School shooting, the president now proposing extra pay for those teachers who undergo firearms training.


TRUMP: I think a concealed permit for having teachers and letting people know the there are people in the building with guns. You won't have, in my opinion, you won't have these shootings because these people are cowards. They're not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns. The people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus.


ROMANS: And the White House says the proposal has not reached a policy or legislative stage, yet a spokesperson unable to say who would pay for the bonus -- where the money for training or bonuses would come from.

MARQUARDT: And overnight, the "New York Times" is reporting that the Justice Department now plans to crack down on prospective gun buyers who lie on their background check forms, prioritizing those prosecutions away to enforce existing federal laws without angering gun rights activist.

For more on the president's search for a solution to school shootings, let's bring in CNN Jeff Zeleny at the White House.

JEFF ZENELY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Alex, President Trump said he wants to do what his predecessors have been unable to do and that is get some type of action on guns.

[04:05:00] He held the second listening session with state and local officials on Thursday, one day after of course he met with students and family members from the Parkland, Florida shooting as well as other shootings from Columbine and Sandy Hook.

Now, the president delivered tough talk specifically aim that would be school shooters he said more guns in schools would prevent more shootings.


TRUMP: We have to harden our schools. Not soften them up. A gun- free zone to a killer or somebody that wants to be a killer, that's like going in for the ice cream. That's like here I am take me. They see that as such a beautiful target that they live for gun-free zones.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZENELY: Now, on top of arming teachers or other school officials, the president proposed to raising the age limit to purchase some type of weapons. From 18 to 21 years of age now that is opposed by the National Rifle Association. But what else Press Secretary Raj Shah said on Thursday, the president is not entirely concerned about being specifically aligned with the NRA.


RAJ SHAH WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: In dealing with school safety issues, we don't expect to agree with the NRA on every single issue.


ZENELY: Overall, the president says he believes the NRA wants to work toward limiting school shootings. It seems as each day goes on here there may be less impetus to do something less dramatic. But all of this comes as the president today is scheduled to hold his press conference with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull here at the White House, Christine and Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right, thanks to Jeff Zenely from the White House.

Now, the president is set to speak to the Conservative Political Action conference later this morning. Yesterday, the head of the NRA gave a really wide ranging speech there his first since the Parkland school shooting, Wayne LaPierre fiercely defending the second amendment and accusing Democrats of pushing with he called their socialist agenda.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, HEAD, NRA: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In every nation, in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedom are destroyed and their firearms are banned and confiscated.


MARQUARDT: LaPirre are also repeated his calls for schools to increase security repeating the gun right slogan, "To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun."

ROMANS: And there's the news, of course, that there was good guy with at gun who did not engage with the shooter on the scene.

MARQUARDT: That's right.

ROMANS: Corporate America entering the national gun debate, the world's largest asset manager BlackRock putting gun companies unnoticed, names likes like Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands. BlackRock is the largest shareholder of both and his questioning their response the Parkland shooting. The BlackRock isn't the only financial reacting to the shooting first the National Bank of Omaha will stop issuing an NRA branded visa card telling CNN costumer feedback caused it to review its NRA ties.

The bank had been taking heat online over to the relationship to the NRA. And it's not alone. Activists are asking companies that offer discounts to NRA members to cut ties including enterprise holdings, the owner of several car rental services. Enterprise says it ended the discount program effective March 26th for NRA members but did not explain further.

MARQUARDT: And that is something under discussion as well is whether credit card companies should stop --

ROMANS: Financing, purchases.

2MARQUARDT: Using -- people using -- allow to use their credit cards to purchase guns. All right.

Well, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates faced new charges in the Special Counsel's Russian investigation. Robert Mueller's team claim that Manafort and Gates, long time business partners, laundered $30 million, failing to pay taxes for nearly ten years and used their real estate fraudulently to secure more than $20 million in loans. Manafort has already pleaded not guilty to charges that Mueller filed last October. His spokesperson says Manafort is innocent of the new allegations as well. Gates pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges but is now negotiating a plea deal.

ROMANS: In a move bound to anger pro-immigration groups, the agency in charge of the US immigration services, updating its Mission statement to omit the phrase "nation of immigrants."

Instead, the US citizenship and immigrations services new mission statement emphasize safeguarding the integrity of lawful immigrations system and securing the homeland and official at the immigration services that change "reflects the director's guiding principles to the focus on fairness and efficiency".

MARQUARDT: And Missourians Republican Governor Eric Greitens is denying that he committed any crime. The St. Louis prosecutor yesterday announced that Greitens's indictment for first degree felony invasion of privacy. CNN affiliate KMOV last month reported at that a mans claims that Greitens tried to blackmail the man's ex-wife. With a photograph that Greitens took during a sexual encounter, right, and admitted the extramarital affair but denied resorting to blackmail.

On Thursday, the governor said the political charges -- the charges where political and called the situation a "personal mistake" from before he took office.

[04:10:05] ROMANS: All right, 10 minutes past the hour, potentially gigantic twist in the resent attack on U.S. personnel inside Syria, was the Kremlin giving instruction to an oligarch with ties to Putin and indictment, Robert Mueller? We're live in Moscow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MARQUARDT: Welcome back. Breaking overnight, a potentially major escalation between the United States and Russia. It follows an attack this month by Russian mercenaries on positions held by American and allied forces in Northern Syria.

The Washington Post now reporting that the Russian oligarchs believe to control those mercenaries was in close touch with the Russian and Syrian officials. Intercepted communications reported show that the oligarch told the high ranking Syrian official that he secured permission from the Russians from what he termed a fast and strong initiative.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Moscow. Fred, this is an incredible story. What more do we know this morning?

[04:15:05] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's an incredible story that's pretty far reaching so this oligarch name is yet gaining precaution (ph). And what we know is that, he is the main guy who was indicted by Robert Mueller last Friday for running the troll factory that meddled in the U.S. election in 2016.

Now, we've also linked him to this militia that's operating there, in Eastern Syria, it's called Wagner. And, you know, the reason or one of the reasons why people believe that they actually tried to move into that area that was controlled by pro-U.S. forces because that area is very rich in oil fields and guess who controls the oil company that would have benefited a great deal of those Russian mercenary who would have taken that area, it's the same guy its also Yevgeny Prigozhin.

2So he certainly had a big economic initiative to try and do this. However, we are trying to get some comment from him. We have tried in the pass we've gotten no answer and so the Russian government has an answered or has not commented on his either but you're right this is potentially a big escalation and certainly a big twist in the events that are going on around the election meddling and around this is well. Alex.

MARQUARDT: And, of course, the Russians saying they had no control over those mercenaries. Thanks very much, Fred Pliegten in Moscow.

ROMANS: All right. The United Nations' Security Council meeting this morning devote on a 30-day ceasefire in Syria. On Thursday, the emergency expectation of the Security Council failed to even vote on a cease-fire to end Assad regime bombardment of Eastern Ghouta. The U.S. accuses Russia of blocking efforts to halt the bloodshed there. A state department spokeswoman pressed on what the U.S. is doing to stop the violence?


HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We will continue to have our people there on the ground, frankly. We have Americans who are there who are assisting Syrians trying to get back to a normal life. I don't know what more you expect us to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: CNN's Jomana Karadsheh live in Oman, Jordan with more. And I guess, the big question, is there anything the U.S. can do to stop the bloodshed there? I mean, it seems as though, in Ghouta there are so far away from normal life. It's really a stretch of imagination to think that there could be a ceasefire vote that will change that today.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENTS: Absolutely. And people there have really given up on the international community whether it is the U.S. or others to try and help them when it comes to this situation, this relentless bombing campaign that continues for a sixth day in a row.

Activists are telling us that bombing, shelling and air strikes are continuing on Friday, a devastating dust whole being reported between some day and Thursday. At least, 400 people are reported to have been killed, more than a thousand others have been wounded this are the same time as we see this catastrophic humanitarian situation where. They are running out of just about everything and hospitals there are being bombed one after the other.

Operational medical facilities are struggling. They are using expired medications and running out of all kinds of supplies, and people are dying slow and painful death we are hearing. Christine.

ROMANS: 400 casualties so far. Just unbelievable the carnage there for the civilians. Thank you so much for that Jomana Karadsheh, keep us up to speed on the situation on the ground.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, Ivanka Trump has landed in South Korea. She will lead the U.S. delegation for the closing ceremonies at the Olympics. We are live there next.


[04:22:48] MARQUARDT: An American figure skater tumbles again and down to the worst Olympic showing ever.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more from Pyeongchang for us. Good morning, Coy.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: Good morning, Christine and Alex.

Alex, you said it maybe the biggest disappointment in U.S. figure skating history, right, American women finishing 9th, 10th and 11th. Since World War II, a top placing American woman had not finished lower than sixth, imagine that.

Reining U.S champ Bradie Tennell. She is known for her consistency, but she had fallen off season, fell in our short program and failed execute on two jumps last night. And then the most seasoned of the three, Mirai Nagasu float absolutely unseasoned. Karen Chen finished forth in the World Championship last year but she couldn't put together clean skate either.

It was 15-year-old Olympic athlete from Russia that stole the show, Alina Zagitova, Packing that tail end of her performance with jump that she landed seemingly with ease. And just as she did where she broke the world record in a short program, she shocked a two-time world champion and her own teammate 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva. She took gold and will now forever be crowned an Olympic champ.

Earlier, I caught up with the most dominant alpine skier in the world right now. (Inaudible) Mikaela Shiffrin, she took gold and silver here in Pyeongchang adding to the gold that she had taken back in Sochi. Just 22 years old. I asked what she had learned along her journey maybe that she would want to share with her younger self. Interesting answer listen.


MIKAELA SHIFFRIN, TWO-TIME OLYMPIAN: Everybody is obsessed with learning a lesson before they're ready to learn it, and those kinds of things happens for a reason. Like I didn't necessarily believe in fear or destiny or luck, you know, I think hard work is important. But certain things are just supposed to happen when they do.


WIRE: All right. Two of those medals went to team USA who made a big jump they're up to fourth now. Norway still continuing their dominants with 35, coming up in a bit Christine and Alex, we will hear from Lindsey Vonn who spoke out after failing to medal in the last event in Olympic skiing competition.

ROMANS: All right. Coy Wire, thank you so much, we're at 6:30 in the evening. Thanks, Coy.

For a first daughter Ivanka Trump has landed in Seoul, South Korea this morning she is leading of course the U.S. delegation at the Olympics closing Ceremony.

[04:25:06] CNN's Will Ripley is live in Seoul for us. Hey, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Christine. And, yes, Ivanka Trump now on the ground. She flew commercial by Korean Air arriving at the Incheon Airport in Seoul. She will have dinner at the South Korean Blue House, the equivalent of the White House, this evening with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Not present at that dinner, the North Korean delegation they will be arriving on Sunday in time for the closing ceremony which Ivanka Trump will also be attending. The big question on everyone's mind, will they be seating together again in the VIP box, will there be any awkward moments like we saw in Vice President Pence basically ignored the North Korean delegation that ignored him as well.

Another interesting and controversial twist here is who North Korea is sending they're sending their former Spy Master Kim Yong-chol. He is widely suspecting this country of being the mastermind of an attacked on a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, back in 2010 that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

A lot of people here are asking why would Kim Jong-un sending someone like that to the closing ceremony of the Olympics and what kind of message is he trying to send after being accused of going on a charm offensive. Christine.

ROMANS: Fascinating, all right we know you'll be watching for us. Will Ripley in Seoul. Thanks Will.

MARQUARDT: All right, the Broward County Sheriff says he is devastated.


INDETIFIED MALE: Scott Peterson was he there when the shooter was still inside of the building?

ISRAEL: Yes he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so what should he have done?

ISRAEL: He went in address the killer, killed the killer.


MARQUARDT: More on that and other opportunities to stop the Florida school shooting next.