Return to Transcripts main page
Sheriff: Armed Deputy at School Never Went In; Trump Stands by Proposal to Arm Teachers; Missouri Governor Indicted on Felony Invasion of Privacy. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired February 23, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY DEPUTY: What I saw was a deputy arrive, and he never went in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's another gut punch. This is another piece of failure in the system.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The SRO officer did not do his job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A teacher, how they react to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crying white mothers are ratings gold.
TRUMP: I really think the NRA wants to do what's right.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Young people are acting like adult leaders, and the adult leaders are acting like children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole idea that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as we allow the NRA leadership to dictate policy, we're going to have this issue.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, February 23, 6 a.m. here in New York. Chris is on assignment this morning. John Berman joins me. Happy Friday.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Friday.
CAMEROTA: Great to have you here. So here's our starting line.
A major development in the investigation of the Florida high school massacre. Broward County's sheriff said that he is devastated and, quote, "sick to his stomach" after learning that the only armed deputy at that school failed to act by never actually going into the building is stop the gunman. This comes after the FBI's stunning admission last week that it failed to investigate a very specific threat about this killer.
We're also learning that police had repeated warnings about the gunman for years. His family, guardians, a counselor, even strangers who saw his posts online tried to alert authorities that he was violent, he was a threat and he was a potential school shooter. These developments, another blow, of course, for all the families of the victims and the survivors there.
BERMAN: A staggering systemic failure again and again, nearly every step of the way. So will the president address this when he speaks to some of his staunchest supporters at a conservative conference. That's just hours from now.
President Trump has proposed giving bonuses to teachers who carry guns. The NRA likes that, but it don't like the president's plan to raise the age level to buy a gun. So does the president have the courage to fight them on this? For its part, the NRA focusing most of its ire and political power on the FBI. And really mostly the media. Let's begin our coverage with Rosa Flores live in Parkland, Florida, with new, stunning, tragic details -- Rosa.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning.
As you mentioned, this story just gets more and more disturbing. Now we're learning that the morning signs that this killer had a very violent behavior had been out there for years.
And of course, a week ago we learned that the FBI didn't follow on a tip. And now we're learning from the Broward County sheriff that he is sick to his stomach, because the one resource officer, the one armed police officer that was at the school when the shots rang out, stayed outside and didn't go inside the building.
ISRAEL: What I saw was a deputy arrive, and he never went in.
FLORES (voice-over): The only armed police officer stationed in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resigned amid revelations that he waited outside as the massacre unfolded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What should he have done?
ISRAEL: Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.
FLORES: Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel telling reporters that surveillance video shows the deputy, scot Peterson, taking a position outside the building for four minutes as gunshots rang out but failed to stop the attacker.
ISRAEL: Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean, these families lost their children. We lost coaches. I've been to the funerals. It's just -- there are no words. FLORES: Peterson retired Thursday after being suspended without pay.
SCOTT PETERSON, RETIRED SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: I'm Scott Peterson. I've been a police officer for 30 years.
FLORES: Peterson, seen here speaking at a school board meeting in Broward County in 2015. Records show he was recently nominated twice for deputy of the year. Two other deputies now on restricted duty. They're being investigated for how they handled tips warning about the killer.
Authorities announcing that they have received 23 calls involving the killer and his family starting in 2008 when the killer was just nine years old.
The most serious warnings began two years ago when an anonymous caller alerted police that the killer threatened to shoot up the school on Instagram and posted pictures of himself with a gun. "The Miami Herald" reported that seven months later, a peer counselor reported that the killer "possibly ingested gasoline, wanted to buy a gun and attempted to commit suicide by cutting himself."
Days later, an investigator for Florida's Department of Children and Families determined that he was low-risk. Later that month, the family that initially took the killer in after his mother's death called police to report a fight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911 emergency. How can I help you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. There was a fight in my house with a kid and my son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Punching 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 weapons, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me ask my son. What kind of weapon did he get? That he's going to get?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Remington.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Remington. It's not the first time he's pointed a gun at somebody's head.
FLORES: The family also revealing this disturbing detail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He'd also dig in the backyard, because he knew he was not allowed to bring it here and we found that he did buy himself a box. He was going to bury the gun there.
FLORES: The next day, a tipster from Massachusetts called the sheriff's office to report that the killer was collecting guns and knives, telling them he "will kill himself one day and believes he could be a school shooter in the making."
[06:05:13] FLORES: As this community continues to mourn the 17 lives that were lost here, the school district is planning to reopen the school. Today teachers and staff returned for the very first time. On Sunday, there is an orientation scheduled, and students are scheduled to return on Wednesday -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Rosa Flores for us in Parkland, Florida, for us. Rosa, thanks so much.
The president with new chances to make clear where he stands on this. Will he battle the NRA? Today he holds a short press conference with the Australian prime minister. This comes after an address to the conservative CPAC conference. CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House with the very latest -- Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John.
President Trump seems determined to solve this problem of violence in schools his own way. He calls it an offensive posture versus a defensive posture. And the centerpiece of this is a controversial proposal to arm teachers inside schools. Take a listen to how he explained it yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think a concealed permit for having teachers and letting people know that there are people in the building with a gun, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And there are, of course, millions of teachers in the United States. So such a proposal would likely be pretty expensive. And the White House added no details on how exactly all of this would be paid for or how any of it would really work.
Now, the president also made some eyebrow-raising comments yesterday about the term "active shooter drills." He referenced his own son Barron saying that he thought that that -- those kind of drills are scary for children, and he doesn't like it. He interrupted his education secretary to point that out.
Now, later on the White House deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, had to kind of clean that up and say, you know, the president was referring to the branding of those drills, not the act of preparing students for how they would save their own lives if they were in such a situation.
All of this really kind of unwinding as the president has been trying to hold these listening sessions. And we will, of course, hear from him again two more times today. We'll see how much more we get from him on this unfolding situation, John and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Abby, thank you very much for all of that. Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano.
James, I want to start with you. Let's just start with this deputy who was the armed guard at the school. Right? And I mean, this just shows how flawed the idea that one armed guard could take down a crazed active shooter is.
But what -- what do you think happened here? Why didn't that armed guard enter? Was he scared? I mean, how often are these deputies themselves trained for active shooter drills?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, Alisyn. This was a colossal failure of the system. And remember, systems are made up of fallible human beings like all of us. But in this instance, I can only describe this with two words. I am shocked and appalled.
And listen, everyone in the system is entitled to due process. And I understand the sheriff is going to do a deep dive and find out where this breakdown occurred.
But, listen, as Mark Twain once famously said, courage is not the absence of fear. It's the mastery or control of it.
I can tell you, in 25 years in the FBI, leading SWAT teams, as a member of the hostage rescue team and in combat theaters, I was scared out of my mind. But our training is what conditioned us to go to the sound of the guns. What happened here was somebody who elected not to do so. And again, he's entitled to due process. But what a disappointing additional piece of this failure of the system that we just learned yesterday.
BERMAN: And whether or not he could have stopped him could have stopped this killer who had an AR-15 with a handgun, we don't know.
BERMAN: What we do know is the protocol now is to try. The protocol is for that officer to go in and try to stop.
And David Gregory, what strikes me is that this is the final failure in a string of failures that we're learning here. I'm going to put up this graphic here about just how many times authorities were warned about the killer here in very specific terms.
You know, February 2016, you know, a caller warns of a threat to shoot up the school. You know, you look down, the killer himself allegedly warns that he wants to shoot up a school.
And then in, you know, January 5, 2018, a specific warning that this person could be a school shooter. So the person that everyone warned would be a school shooter turned out to be a school shooter, David. DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I think that, in
the middle of this debate about gun safety, we have to keep as much attention on a failure within the system, within the law-enforcement community to identify and then do something about this threat.
But we also have to remember a couple of things. One, you can identify this threat pattern. The question is still what do you do? I mean, should he have been incarcerated? I mean, was there a reason to take him off the streets? He was in a broken family situation. That becomes a question, too, that may look clearer in hindsight and maybe not so much at the time, especially if there are mental health issues. But -- but looking at a train of evidence like this that law enforcement is tracking becomes very difficult.
The other piece of this goes to the level of training. This is, of course, appalling. I mean, this is just a horrible thing to learn about a deputy sheriff's on site, an officer on site, and not confronting the shooter. We have no idea. I mean, you've got somebody who's coming in, who's determined. You're telling me this kid wasn't suicidal? I mean, you're coming in to shoot up a school, you're not worried about dying. So I mean, he would take on all comers.
And it kind of -- this is the point that I think the president needs to be thinking about as he -- as he takes a fulsome look at school security. You know, you know there's a lot of schools have sheriff's deputies posted outside the school. That's not a sufficient deterrent to somebody who's going to bring an AR-15 into a school and kill people. Right? I mean, they're not going to be moved in the same way.
So the idea that teachers might be armed, I don't think is as much of a deterrent. That really has to be looked at.
But the fact is, there has got to be enough active training as part of a hardening of schools to be able to deal with something that's incredibly difficult, which is somebody meandering the halls with a high-powered weapon, particularly if it comes near a passing period, whether it's the end of school or another passing period where it's very difficult because there's a lot of innocent people walking around.
CAMEROTA: But James, just one thing. Why is there one thing that we're not talking about? When we talk about this relentless string of red flags that were missed, and there were, why are we not talking about the one place that could actually have made a huge difference, the point of purchase? Why didn't the seller of these guns -- this kid was able to collect an arsenal.
Why wasn't the seller asking questions of "Are you depressed? You seem sort of strange. Are you antisocial? How are you feeling today? Why do you need 10 guns? Why do you need an AR-15?" That's the one -- I mean, if there's one place that could have made a difference, it's that this kid who was so psychiatrically flagged, not get his hands on a gun. Where is the seller? Why aren't we talking about that? GAGLIANO: Alisyn, you know, it's one of those things where, if you
look at all these pieces that we see now, obviously in hindsight, and it being 20/20, how could we have missed the 39 visits by police. The FBI missing the tip line call. The number of people that came in contact with Cruz and said that he was absolutely psychotic. There's a number of different places here.
Now, there's one thing to keep in mind here. As a fledgling criminologist, as we look at these things, these type of mass shootings, you know, the 18- to 20-year-old, only -- this only occurs with an 18- or 20-year-old being involved about 10 percent of the time.
CAMEROTA: OK. But it is still young men. It's still suicidal or angry young men. That's a commonality. So should gun sellers start asking them some questions?
GAGLIANO: Well, they can ask questions, and certainly, we need to tighten up the universal background check system, and I think that's going to happen.
But keep in mind: we've had this argument many, many times before, this discussion. "If you want to give away civil liberties, I can keep you safe. Because what I'm going to do is I'm going to impose martial law. And I'll keep everybody safe."
CAMEROTA: Yes, but I'm talking about giving up your civil liberties, your Second Amendment right. I'm talking about asking some more probing questions of a kid like this.
GAGLIANO: But what if you asked those questions, Alisyn, and the kid lied through his teeth? A lot of times there are evil people, and that is a problem, trying to -- trying to discern this.
GREGORY: But I do think -- but Alisyn, hang on a second...
BERMAN: The frustration -- I mean, the frustration I think Alisyn has here, that we all have here is we need a system flexible enough to handle when the shooter himself tells you he's going to be a school shooter.
BERMAN: A system flexible enough, when there are multiple warnings, to react to that. And I get that. One of the questions now is, obviously, what to do about it and where the sides will all find common ground here.
And we're left with this challenge of will the president stand up to the NRA on a few of these things where he's different from the NRA, namely raising the age limit maybe, you know, stricter background checks, maybe bump stocks.
Listen to some of the language yesterday that the president used and that the CEO of the NRA used, Wayne LaPierre. See if you can notice any daylight between them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, HEAD OF THE NRA: It should not be easier for a mad man to shoot up a school than a bank or a jewelry store or some Hollywood gala.
TRUMP: I want my schools protected just like my banks are protected.
LAPIERRE: We must immediately harden our schools.
[06:15:02] TRUMP: We have to harden our schools, not soften them up.
LAPIERRE: We drop our kids off at school that are so-called gun-free zones that are wide-open targets for any crazy mad man bent on evil to come there first.
TRUMP: 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."
BERMAN: They're singing the same song there, David Gregory. They clearly agree on those points. So will they be at odds on others?
GREGORY: Yes, I think they probably will. I mean, I think if the president wants to pursue tightening up background checks, the federal system for getting firearms where there has been legislation, the NCIC background check system, you know, he can do that. And it sounds like the NRA would -- would not back that.
I mean, we saw after Newtown when Wayne LaPierre was talking about, you know, having a good guy with a gun is the best antidote to a bad guy with a gun. That's the issue. I mean, the -- you know, I think what Alisyn is making is why not make it as difficult as possible, what you're really talking about is profiling.
You're saying, "Look, let's come up with a profile matrix of potential killers and, you know, run that background check against those kinds of people, which is not dissimilar to what has been done for travelers coming into the United States."
GREGORY: And it is an abridgment of individual rights. And it will be a huge fight about that. And the question is whether gun sellers are really in the position to start asking those questions that are law enforcement questions.
But what you want is to make it as difficult as possible to get the deadliest weapons. And when you have Wayne LaPierre who stands up in the wake of this shooting and says, you know, there's people out there who hate the Second Amendment, he's actually right about that.
But then he goes on with this hyperbole about, you know, the people who hate freedom. That touches the nerve that takes us way off track from what we're dealing with here. Which is to be fair, we have to have all of these discussions at once. We have to talk about a breakdown in what was known about this shooter, a breakdown in the ability for him to walk in and buy a weapon, as well as hardening the school.
CAMEROTA: Yes. But I'm not just talking about profiling; I'm also talking about bearing responsibility. When we have these conversations, yes, that sheriff's deputy who stayed outside and didn't go in, bears some responsibility. Yes, the 23 times the Broward County Sheriff's Office got a phone call about this and wasn't able to lock him up. The system bears some responsibility And the seller of all those guns bears some responsibility here.
Gentlemen, thank you.
Ahead on NEW DAY, we'll continue this conversation. So we're going to be speaking with the NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch about this gun control debate.
BERMAN: New fallout for the embattled governor of Missouri. Will he have to resign after being indicted in an alleged blackmailing scheme. A live report next.
[06:20:42] CAMEROTA: There are new calls for the Missouri governor, Eric Greitens, to step down after the once rising Republican is indicted on felony invasion of privacy. Greitens is being investigated for allegations of blackmail surrounding an affair.
CNN's Ryan Young is in St. Louis. This is a very strange story, Ryan.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a strange story. The details are also kind of confusing as well. When you think about this, you have a sitting governor that now has a mug shot.
Take a look at this mug shot. We know that a grand jury here in St. Louis indicted the governor on that one charge of felony invasion of privacy. This also is back to a 2015 affair that the governor admits.
Now, just take a look and think about this part. The ex-husband of the woman that he had an affair with secretly recorded her during a conversation. In it she admits to the fact that she had a sexual affair with the governor.
And then, through that, there was a conversation about him showing her how to do a perfect pull-up where she did it partially naked. He then apparently took a picture of her while she was blind-folded. And she claimed in that secret recording, that the governor was going to use it to blackmail her, that if she ever said anything about the affair, that he would spread the photos around.
The governor denies this. In fact, in a statement he says, "As I've said before, I made a personal mistake before I was governor. I did not commit a crime. With today's disappointing and misguided political system, my confidence in the system is shaken but not broken. I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses the office to score political points." That was a statement the governor said after being taken in custody.
When you think about this, there's also an investigation going on now from the statehouse to figure out whether or not -- whether or not the governor can continue being governor with all these charges that are facing him. He's supposed to be in Washington today. That's not going to happen. He's going to be back here at the courthouse next month.
BERMAN: Ryan Young for us in St. Louis. Ryan, thanks so much.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin.
David, first to you. Here you go again. Another sitting governor charged with taking naked pictures of someone, allegedly, to use later in blackmail. I haven't heard one quite like this, David.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, you know, maybe in this -- in a new era where certain politicians can seem to escape this kind of scrutiny he can fight it out. But I think he's going to find out how quickly how difficult that's going to be if his public support collapses while he's trying to fight this, even if he's trying to argue that it's politically motivated.
I just don't -- I think it is very hard to hang on under these circumstances.
CAMEROTA: Michael, legally speaking, a governor indicted sounds complicated. But he doesn't have to step down.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, he doesn't. But there's a pretty clear procedure under the law of Missouri with respect to impeachment. It's a Republican-controlled legislature, so we're not sure whether they'll find the political will to do so.
But there is a procedure in place that -- the statute is pretty clear on its face. It essentially says if you take a picture of a person who is in a nude or partially nude condition in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy against that person's will and disseminates it, you commit a felony. That's pretty much clear what he did here, according to the indictment and what has been reported in the media.
So I'm not sure, really, where he comes off with his version of this is a witch-hunt, politically motivated prosecution. We hear that a lot these days. It's generally not availing, because it's not a defense.
CAMEROTA: All right. I mean, the colloquial term is revenge porn. Right? So that's the colloquial term that we've all become familiar with, that teenagers aren't supposed to engage in. And that's what..
BERMAN: Governors aren't either. Governors aren't either.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for clarifying that.
BERMAN: Want a great segue here?
BERMAN: You know who we doesn't have naked pictures, as far as we know?
BERMAN: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But it would not be for lack of trying. Because he's investigated just about everything else. He's turned up just about everything else you can possibly imagine right now in the Russia investigation, including, Michael Zeldin, this new indictment -- these new indictments in Virginia on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
You know, we've talked a lot about what they're about. It's about tax crimes, money laundering. Michael, one of the interesting things I've heard you say on this, is that the nature of these charges, some of these charges at least, it's almost impossible to mount a defense. Because you can't bring the charges unless you have these documents that basically prove that a crime was committed.
[07:25:08] MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. In my view, and having prosecuted the money laundering side of this, what they call the failure to file a report of your foreign bank account, the prosecution presents a case which is I call a witness from the Department of Treasury and I say, "Do you have a record of this report on file?" and they say no.
And then you call IRS, say, "Does the law state -- does the federal government require you to file such a report?" They say yes. You say, "I rest." And if the president hasn't filed, which he doesn't appear to, and he didn't include it on his tax returns, and he has a tax return preparer who says, " I asked my client did he have foreign bank accounts?" And he said no, there's really not much room there to defend yourself. Maybe you can defend yourself under it's a politically motivated prosecution or a witch-hunt, too, but that, again, is not a legal defense. It's a political one.
CAMEROTA: So David, I mean, the fact that the noose appears to be tightening on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, what's the political upshot?
GREGORY: Well, I mean, I think it it's still the legal upshot. Which is if you're the special prosecutor, what have you got so far? You've got a plea deal with Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, with ties to Russia that seemed inappropriate. You've got Paul Manafort with similar ties to Ukraine working for a guy who's a puppet for Putin.
And his deputy who may be willing to make a deal. All of this seems to be with the idea that they have information that can implicate others around the the president with regard to any kind of collusion to meddle and influence our presidential election. We don't know that that's the case. It may stop with these individuals. And there may be a compelling case, as Michael was saying, just against Manafort and Gates and separately against Flynn for lying to the FBI. Maybe it stops there.
But I don't think anybody could look at this and not think he's looking for leverage against others who might be within the White House as he investigates.
BERMAN: Is that what you see here, Michael, leverage? Is the idea how long do you want to go with Rick -- to jail Rick Gates to defend Manafort. Paul Manafort, how long do you want to go to jail, perhaps, to keep quiet about other things that might be going on?
ZELDIN: Right. I think, though, there's a couple of theories. One is these cases, as opposed to the failure to file your tax case that we just talked about are not simple cases to prosecute. They take a long time, and they take a lot of witnesses. And you know, you never know with a jury.
So one aspect might be that the prosecutor just wants a plea to avoid having to try this case. But I don't think Manafort or Gates really face a prosecutor who's afraid to try this case. It seems, therefore, that you have a prosecutor here who wants to hear from Gates and Manafort about the core collusion and also the interference with the election counterintelligence aspects of the mandate that he has, and he needs their testimony.
And I think he's pressuring them in a way to try to get that testimony to determine, really, what happened in the 2016 election, because that's his core mandate.
CAMEROTA: OK, gentlemen, thank you for all that context. Michael Zeldin, David Gregory.
So there is a new development on that attack of U.S. forces in Syria by Russian mercenaries. Was it carried out with the blessing and even the go ahead of Vladimir Putin? We have a live report from Moscow next.