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EARLY START

Armed Deputy Failed To Enter School During Shooting; Opioid Crisis Draining America's Workforce; Ivanka Trump Arrives In South Korea; U.N. Set To Vote Again On Ceasefire Deal In Syria; Backlash To Title Of Trump Jr.'s Remarks In India. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 23, 2018 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[04:30:41] SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: A deputy arrived. He takes up a position and he never went in.

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Outrage in Florida as officials reveal an armed guard on campus did not try to stop the Florida School shooting.

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

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: He's talking about teachers there. President Trump looking far and wide for solutions to curb gun violence in schools, but expect him to play to his base when he speaks to the conservative political action group today.

MARQUARDT: And was a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin getting direction from the Kremlin to attack Americans in Syria. A damning new report this morning suggests just that.

We have report this morning from the White House, from Moscow, Jordan, New Delhi, Seoul and Pyeongchang, South Korea. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alex Marquardt.

ROMANS: Nice to have you here this Friday morning. We have missing to our week actually.

MARQUARDT: Yes --

ROMANS: We're doing good for the happy hour. Dave Briggs is on vacation. I'm Christine Romans.

The arm deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has resigned. In investigation found Scot Peterson failed to enter the building, failed to enter the building during last week's massacre in Parkland, Florida.

The school resource officer retired Thursday after he was suspended without pay. Peterson was armed. Peterson was in uniform when the shooting began. But Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says the video, witness statements, and an interview with Peterson all show this armed deputy there on campus did not engage.

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ISRAEL: Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words. 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.

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MARQUARDT: No comment so far from that deputy. Peterson who had garnered two deputy of the year nominations in recent years. The sheriff put two others deputies on restricted duty while his office investigates their actions during calls to the gunman's home before the shooting.

Today, Governor Rick Scott of Florida set to announce his plan to keep students their safe including improvements to school's -- school security and ways to keep guns away from the mentally ill.

Now, also today, teachers and staff begin to returning to Stoneman Douglas High with a variety of support services available to them. Students returned to classes next Wednesday on a modified schedule.

ROMANS: The list of missed opportunities to stop the Parkland School gunman Nikolas Cruz that lives keeps growing. CNN affiliate WPBF has obtained a series of new released 911 calls. One is from a woman who took Cruz in briefly after his mother died last year. Listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911 emergency. How can I help you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. There was a fight in my house. There's a kid and my son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of weapon ma'am?

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Remington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Remington. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and who did this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nikolas Cruz.

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ROMANS: Records obtained by CNN, excuse me, also show the host family warned local law enforcement that Cruz had put the gun to others heads in the past.

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

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

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ROMANS: The White House says, the proposal, it has not reached the official policy or a legislative stage yet. The spokesman was unable to say where money for training or bonuses for teachers who carry firearms would come from.

[04:35:00] MARQUARDT: And overnight, "The New York Times" is reporting that the Justice Department plans to crack down on prospective gun buyers who lie on their background check forms, prioritizing those prosecutions a way to enforce existing federal gun laws without angering gun rights advocates.

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

JEFF ZELENY, 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.

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

Now, the president delivered tough talk specifically aimed at would-be school shooters. He said more guns in schools would prevent more shootings.

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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. They live for gun-free zones.

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ZELENY: Now, on top of arming teachers or other officials, the president also proposed 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 I want to ask Press Secretary Raj Shah said Thursday the president is not entirely concerned about being specifically aline with the NRA.

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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.

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ZELENY: 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 dramatic. But all of this comes as the president today is scheduled to holds his press conference with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull here at the White House. Christine and Alex?

ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you for that.

The president is set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC later this morning. Yesterday, the head of the NRA was aired, gave a wide ranging defiant speech, his first since the Parkland shooting. Wayne LaPierre, defending the second amendment accusing Democrats of pushing what he called, their socialist agenda.

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WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO OF THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: In every nation, in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, they're freedoms are destroyed and their firearms are banned and confiscated.

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ROMANS: He slammed the media, slammed the deep state. He said -- LaPierre, 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. There was a good guy with a gun at that school in Parkland, a trained, armed deputy who did not engage.

MARQUARDT: And what does that suggest that a teacher would be more willing to engage than a trained deputy whose job it is to do that.

All right, well, Missouri's Republican Governor Eric Greitens now denying that he has committed a crime after the St. Louis prosecutor announced that Greitens indictment for felony invasion of privacy. CNN affiliate KMOV reported last month that Greitens was accused of trying to blackmail another man's wife. Greitens allegedly took a photo of her during a sexual encounter. Greitens admitted the affair, but denied that he resorted to blackmail.

On Thursday, the governor said, that the charges were political and called the situation a quote, personal mistake from before he too took office.

Now, there's also a new fallout from the national mayor, Megan Barry's affair with her former head of security. State investigator say, there is potential evidence of a crime after finding nude photos on the work phone of Rob Forrest. He is Barry's former security chief.

Court documents say, that Forrest time cards reveal that the pictures were taken while he claimed that he was on duty. The documents do not explicitly say that the woman in the photos is the mayor. But that's not easing her concerns.

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MEGAN BARRY, MAYOR OF NASHVILLE: I'm furious. As you might imagine today when I learned that there might be photos of me. If they exist, they were taken without my knowledge. They were taken without my permission.

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MARQUARDT: Now, Barry has already apologized for her affair with Forrest. She says, she will not leave office. CNN has reached out to an attorney for Forrest. But we have not heard back.

ROMANS: All right, 39 minutes past the hour. Coming up, job market is strong. And many businesses though still struggle to find workers.

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PAUL TAWCZYNSKI, CO-OWNER, TAFT FARMS: We have had ads running in the paper, ads running online. And I have a stack of applications of people that I wouldn't dream of hiring.

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[04:39:53] ROMANS: Why are so many businesses falling short hiring workers? Where do these missing workers go? We'll tell you next.

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ROMANS: All right, the job market is very strong. But many businesses tell us they can't find workers. So why aren't more Americans actively looking for work?

One reason, a surprising reason, the opioid epidemic. I recently visited Berkshire County, Massachusetts where employers big and small tell us they have jobs available. But the workers are missing.

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ROMANS (voice-over): Taft Farms has been in the family for decades. Dan Tawczynski and his son Paul have seen every kind of economy, but this, this is new.

TAWCZYNSKI: We have had ads running in the paper, ads running online. And I have a stack of applications of people that I wouldn't dream of hiring.

ROMANS (voice-over): A shortage of workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems as though, all the employable workers are employed.

ROMANS (voice-over): The job market is booming. But the percentage of Americans working or looking for work is near a 40-year low. Economist Alan Krueger noticed the link between the missing workers and opioid use.

[04:45:11] ALAN KRUEGER, ECONOMIST: If you look at the counties where more medication is being prescribed, we've seen a bigger drop in the labor force participation rate for both men and for women. And increase in the prescription rate can account for between 20 percent and 25 percent of the decline.

ROMANS (voice-over): Contractor John O'Brien knows the signs.

JOHN O'BRIEN, CONTRACTOR: I have a little list in my head of things I watch for. Person X is really, really good on certain days and on other days it looks like he's just completely lost. A guy who has a backpack and he's very protective of it and he brings it absolutely everywhere we go and it's always that big backpack. That's a really good red flag.

ROMANS (voice-over): This is a new part of the economic story, the opioid epidemic, a personal tragedy now holding back the labor market.

KRUEGER: We have an epidemic that is killing over 30,000 people a year. That's going to have macro economic consequences. If the U.S. is going to see faster growth, it's going to come about because we find workers somewhere. The best source, I think are the workers who are at the labor force trying to figure out ways to make it possible for them to regain their footing and return to the labor force.

ROMANS (voice-over): Amy Borden was once one of those missing workers. Now, 11 years into recovery, she's employed.

(on camera): When you think of the hurdles to getting to where you are and then to hear from employers who say, you know, I just -- I'm not ready to hire somebody in recovery.

AMY BORDEN, FORMER OPIOID ADDICT: I think the judgment and the stigma has to go away. It has to. You have to listen to the person and just be understanding that it's a disease. Without financial stability, most people will relapse because of the stress of, how do I support my family? So we have to be given the opportunity. ROMANS (voice-over): Treating the epidemic is imperative for families, communities, and business.

(on camera): So you can really see how not being able to get workers can hold back how much you can grow and how much business you can do.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. I can hire two guys or three guys today. And it makes expanding my business very difficult not having the resources to get everybody who's calling.

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ROMANS: So now tax cuts and deregulation over the past year what you hear from small business owners is their biggest concern is finding workers. And to see this correlation between about a quarter of the missing workers in the labor market, about a quarter of that growth has been because of opioid prescriptions.

So we talked a lot about how to fix it, right? One way to fix it is, doctors have got to stop prescribing endless amounts of it, six pills, how about just six pills. And families when they get these prescriptions have to be taught what can happen if you become addicted to them and their need for money for treatment and job training program.

MARQUARDT: And this time, it's also tell you that there isn't nearly enough treatment, right?

ROMANS: No. There's not. So it will take money. But this, I guess, looking at it through the prism of how it holds back the American job market is an investment. Treating addiction and getting workers back on their feet is an investment in the American economy. We can't grow unless we find those workers and get them back in.

MARQUARDT: Well, a great piece and another trouble angle at this horrific story that's really sweeping the country.

ROMANS: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: First daughter, Ivanka Trump has landed in Seoul, South Korea this morning. She touched down just a few hours ago to lead the U.S. delegation at the Olympics closing ceremony. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Seoul with all the details. Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alex. Yes. You should see the news here in South Korea. Ivanka Trump is plastered on every channel. Analysts talking about everything from what she's wearing, to what she's saying.

Obviously, she's getting a rock star welcome here. And she'll be at the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent of the White House for a dinner with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in tonight. But all eyes will be on her this weekend as she attends the Olympics in Pyeongchang, cheering on U.S. athletes.

And then at the closing ceremonies on Sunday when the big question will she be sitting in the VIP box with the North Korean delegation just like Vice President Pence was for the opening ceremonies.

Now, it's pretty interesting who North Korea is sending here to the South for the closing ceremony. They're sending their former spymaster his name is Kim Yong-chol. He is a very high ranking member of the Workers Party of Korea. The vice chair of that party, central committee.

But why it's so controversial here in South Korea. He was believed to be the mastermind of an attack on a South Korean naval ship back in 2010 that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

A lot of people here, asking questions, Alex, wondering why Kim Jong- un would send someone like that to what supposed to be in event symbolizing peace.

MARQUARDT: Not a subtle message there. All right, thanks very much Will Ripley in Seoul.

ROMANS: American figure skaters stumble again to the worst Olympic showing ever. Coy Wire has more from Pyeongchang for us. Coy?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. Good morning, Christine. Maybe one of the biggest collapses in U.S. figure skating history finishing 9th, 10th and 11th.

[04:50:01] In the last seven years, the top placing American woman haven't finished lower than sixth. Reining U.S. champ Bradie Tennell said she couldn't remember the last time she fallen. But she done that twice in the short program and failed to execute on jump last night.

Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen who finished fourth in the world championship, they couldn't put a clean skate together either. It was a 15-year-old Olympic athlete from Russia taking down a two-time world champ and her teammate to capture gold.

Alina Zagitova toped Evgenia Medvedeva. Alina landed her tricks seemingly with ease showing a rhythm, grace and athleticism that you never would have thought you'd see out of someone born in 2002. She broke the world record in the short program earlier. Now, she's forever Olympic champion.

Earlier, Lindsey Vonn was asked what these games meant to her though she failed to snag gold. She still did make history earning a bronze becoming the oldest woman to ever capture an Olympic alpine medal at 33.

She dealt with hateful comments on Twitter after saying earlier, she went visit the White House have invited. She persevered through the recent death of her grandfather. This was most likely her last ever Olympics.

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LINDSEY VON, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIAN: I appreciate everything so much more and especially with the -- also the passing of my grandfather. You know, you realize how short life is. And how much you wish you had more experiences that were meaningful. And this has been an exceptionally meaningful moments for me in my life and in my career as a professional ski racer. And I will never forget these games.

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WIRE: We talked to Lindsey's teammate Mikaela Shiffrin about an hour ago. We will hear more comments from her in the next half hour or so.

ROMANS: All right Coy, thank you so much.

MARQUARDT: Thanks, Coy. Appreciate it.

Well, there's been a potentially gigantic twist in the huge story, a recent attack on the U.S. personnel inside Syria. Was a top Putin ally calling the shots with help from the Kremlin? We're live in Moscow next.

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[04:55:44] ROMANS: Breaking overnight, a potentially major escalation between the U.S. and Russia. It follows an attack this month by Russian mercenaries on American and allied forces in Syria. Now, "The Washington Post" is reporting the Russian oligarch believed to control these mercenaries was in close touch with Russian and Syrian officials.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, live in Moscow with the very latest. This is just astonishing story.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It certain is an astonishing story. This man didn't give any precaution. And apparently he told some people in Syria that he gotten the go ahead for a major operation. So again, this is yet gave any precaution.

And the interesting thing about him, Christine, is that he's also the main guy indicted last Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for running a troll factory that allegedly meddled in the U.S. election in 2016.

Now, the interesting thing about him, he's not only have we found out that he runs this militia inside Syria that fights on behalf of the Assad government, but it's essentially also tied to Russia itself, even though the Russians denied it.

He also stood to gain a great deal if this offensive would have worked out because the area that those mercenaries were trying go in to has a large amounts of oil fields. And he's actually in charge of the oil company that would have gotten massive money out of oil deals had those been returned to the Syrian government.

So we have not gotten comment from him yet and also no comment yet from the Russian government. Christine?

ROMANS: Fascinating. All right, keep us posted. Thanks, Fred. MARQUARDT: The United Nations Security Council's meeting again this morning to vote on a 30-day cease-fire in Syria. On Thursday, an emergency session of the Security Council failed to even vote on a cease-fire to end the Assad regime bombardment of Eastern Ghouta near the capital of Damascus.

The U.S. accuses Russia of blocking efforts to halt the bloodshed. A new bombardment is being reported this morning. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh live in Amman, Jordan with us this morning. Jomana, is there any indication that a cease-fire could work or is actually in the works?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have to wait and see, Alex. As the bickering in this blame game continues in the Security Council. The suffering continues in Eastern Ghouta for a sixth consecutive day.

Activist today this morning are reporting more intense shelling and bombardment. Hundreds of bombs in the past 24 hours, they say raining down on different parts of Eastern Ghouta. The death toll staggering between Sunday and Thursday, more than 400 people killed, more than -- a 1,000 others reported wounded in this relentless bombing campaign on Eastern Ghouta.

Of course with the catastrophic humanitarian situation and hospitals being bombed and besieged, people are reporting that many of the wounded are dying a slow and painful death, in this part of Syria that the United Nation is now describing as hell on earth. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Four hundred dead in a place that is already seen so much, so much death and heartbreak. Thank you, Jomana in Amman.

ROMANS: All right, Donald Trump Jr. preparing to take the stage with the business -- at a business conference in India today. A last minute change has been made in an attempt to distance the president's son for many political activity.

CNN's John Defterios live in New Delhi with more. Good morning, John.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christine.

This is the fourth day in the ground for Donald Trump Jr. and the most challenging if you will to separate diplomacy from business. Since three and a half hour, he's going to appear in this hotel behind me, the Taj.

And what was supposed to be a lofty speech about Indo-pacific relations or actually U.S.-India relations would you break it down has been in a sense shifted a lot to a fireside chat with the media partner of the event, the economic times.

He should be on stage for about 30 minutes. It will followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. We're waiting to see the dynamics between the two of them. And then after that, a very expensive private dinner for those who put down nearly $40,000 on a deposit for an apartment here outside of Delhi, but let's take a listen about blurring the lines between the two.

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REUBEN ABRAHAM, CEO, IDFC INSTITUTE: The question you've got to ask is at that point, the people are paying that money, are you paying that as a real estate investment or are you paying that to gain access to someone who is clearly very close to the White House?

[05:00:00] And those are the lines that I suddenly I'm uncomfortable with. But clearly, there is a very large number of people who are perfectly comfortable with that blurring of lines.

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DEFTERIOS: Reuben Abraham, once again, emerging market strategist based in India. Back to you.