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McMaster Could Leave White House Over Tension With Trump; First Daughter To Lead U.S. Delegation At Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony; Beyond The Call Of Duty; What's Next For Students Who Survived Shooting? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 23, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:40] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sources tell CNN that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster may soon be out of his current role and return to the military. Sources in the administration also say that tensions are flaring between Gen. McMaster and President Trump.

Joining us now with his thoughts is CNN national security analyst, retired Gen. Michael Hayden. Hayden is the former director, of course, of both the CIA and the NSA.

General, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: Why do you think H.R. McMaster is leaving -- or possibly --

HAYDEN: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- leaving, and are -- does it worry you?

HAYDEN: Well, I mean, we see these reports periodically so that suggests very strongly that the magic simply isn't working in the relationship between the general and the president.

Alisyn, I looked at this one two levels -- one's personal, one's structural.

On the personal level, that's got to be a bond of trust. That's a really intimate relationship between the president and the national security adviser. One hopes, in the best of circumstances, it begins with shared values that then move in the direction of a shared worldview, and I simply don't think that's happening.

The president's tweet over the weekend after H.R. laid out the case against the Russians at the Munich Security Conference, that tweet didn't just contradict the general it actually publicly humiliated him. And so, you get a sense as to the personal relationship may not be where it needs to be. And then structurally, the national security adviser is there to create a process that is methodical and disciplined on behalf of a president who is neither methodical nor disciplined. So, my fear is no matter who gets that job there's still going to be a stress point there.

CAMEROTA: About that tweet that you're talking about that seemed to undercut H.R. McMaster's efforts to vocalize that it was incontrovertible that Russia had meddled, here's the president's tweet that you're talking about.

"General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion was between Russia and crooked H., the DNC and the Dems. Remember, the dirty dossier, uranium, speeches, e-mails and the Podesta company!"

That sounds like the president was angry -- I mean, I can only try to parse the words here -- that Gen. McMaster even said that the evidence was incontrovertible.

HAYDEN: You know, I don't know that he was angry about what H.R. said but he was indifferent to H.R. -- his standing with our allies and frankly, his standing with the president. He seemed as if he didn't care that he was going to create some serious collateral damage here with that tweet.

[07:35:17] And, Alisyn, as you suggested earlier, why would we be concerned if H.R. would leave?

Let me do kind of a little Venn diagram in front of us here.

If this is the universe of the people who would want that job, this is the universe of the people that the president would accept for that job, and this is the universe of people who would actually be good at that job, we're getting to a really small number inside where those three circles overlap. And so, I don't know who would follow Gen. McMaster in that task.

CAMEROTA: That is worrisome because if that Venn diagram shows that there's only one person named H.R. McMaster, that is going to be a problem.

Next topic.

You know, the administration is asked time and again -- Sarah Sanders fields these questions all the time, the president fields these questions all the time -- what are you doing about Russian meddling? The midterms are coming up. What are you doing about it?

And, in fact, we've heard the intel chiefs say that they haven't been directed by the president to do anything in particular.

So, our reporting from Pam Brown yesterday is that the administration responded to CNN's questions about this and I'll just read portions of it. U.S. officials, on Wednesday, tried to assuage these concerns about the White House's stance on Russia telling reporters that the administration has taken quote, "direct action" to address Moscow's election meddling under the Trump administration, including delivering quote "a direct warning to Putin."

He has been warned, one senior administration official said. The official declined to detail any specifics about those actions that the administration is taking, citing concerns, including the classified nature of some of this information.

So, are we just supposed to accept that Putin has been warned and he'll back off?

HAYDEN: You know, I would not, personally. And look, I really hope that what Pam reported is absolutely factually correct and beneath the surface and we're really going after this, but I don't see evidence of that.

And frankly, Alisyn, you take the president's tweets, you take other things the president has said, he's certainly not publicly voting the intellectual foundation for pushing back against the Russians, so I'm fairly skeptical.

And then, as you point out, you ask all the intelligence chiefs have you been specifically directed by the president to do anything here and they all say they're doing their jobs but they have not gotten that specific direction.

Now look, we're doing some good things with protecting the voter rules, OK, to prevent the actual manipulation of the vote tally. That's great.

But, you know, Alisyn, that's not what happened in 2016. What happened was the Russians messing with our minds and our political processes by affecting the flow of news inside the information space, and I don't see any action with regard to that coming out of the government.

CAMEROTA: All right. General Michael Hayden, thank you very much for your expertise on all of this.

HAYDEN: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alisyn.

Ivanka Trump in South Korea for the closing ceremony at the Olympics. So is a former spy being sent from North Korea to represent that country. What we know about him and whether the two will meet, next.


[07:42:07] BERMAN: The agency in charge of U.S. immigration services updating its mission statement to no longer include the phrase "nation of immigrants." The new statement for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services emphasizes safeguarding America's integrity in securing the homeland.

The agency director says the statement reflects the guiding principles focusing on fairness, lawfulness, and efficiency to quote "protect American workers."

CAMEROTA: President Trump is threatening to pull immigration enforcement agents out of California. The president says the state is doing a lousy management job in patrolling illegal immigration. It's not clear how serious the president is about that proposal.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, of California, says the president's comments are not only mean-spirited by patently false.

BERMAN: First daughter Ivanka Trump has arrived in South Korea. She is heading up the U.S. delegation for the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games on Sunday. This comes as North Korea is sending a controversial figure to represent them at the end of the games.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Seoul with the latest. What do we know about this, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Ivanka Trump's face has been plastered over every channel here in South Korea and we know that she is at the Blue House right now having president -- or having dinner with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea after they had a meeting.

They met after a visit to the U.S. ambassador's residence here in Seoul, about five minutes from where I am. Ironic because the U.S. still doesn't have an ambassador here in South Korea.

At that meeting, President Moon gave President Trump a lot of credit for the resumption of inter-Korean talks. And he said that President Trump has been asking about the ticket sales at the Olympics which have been pretty good, although not entirely meeting expectations.

And also, releasing new pictures overnight of a photo that President Trump signed for President Moon Jae-in, wishing him good luck at the Olympics, saying "We will win, Mr. President."

But, of course, there's a controversy here as well. North Korea is sending their former spymaster Kim Yong Chol. This is the man widely believed here in South Korea to have orchestrated an attack in 2010 on a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

Now, he will be coming here to South Korea, presumably sitting in the same VIP box with the South Korean president and Ivanka Trump. And a lot of people here are wondering why Kim Jong Un would send somebody accused of taking South Korean lives to an event that South Korea is trying to dub as the "Peace Olympics" -- John.

CAMEROTA: I'll take it here, Will. My gosh, that is controversial. Thank you for letting us know. So, these kids survived the shooting at their school and now they're spearheading a mission for tighter gun laws. But what happens when these students head back to class next week?

We talk with two Florida shooting survivors about the suggestions that they're hearing from the president and other leaders and what they think, next.


[07:49:08] BERMAN: There are some troubling stories overnight but there were heroes among the first responders who arrived on the scene in Parkland, Florida as this school shooting played out.

Our Rosa Flores spoke with some of them who went beyond the call of duty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Active shooter situation in Parkland.

GEORGE SCHMIDT, PATROL OFFICER, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: You're anticipating that you're going to take gunfire. You're looking for it.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These first responders were among the first to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a gunman fired indiscriminately at students and teachers.

NICHOLAS MAZZEI, SERGEANT, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: The first thing we saw, there was a victim right outside the west doors. We checked on that victim and that victim was deceased.

IVO CECILIANO, CAPTAIN, CORAL SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT SWAT MEDIC, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: At that moment, I actually felt sick, but I know I have a job to do.

FLORES: The building, they say, riddled with bullet holes. Inside, a chilling silence.

MAZZEI: You'd think there'd be smoke alarms and screaming. It was eerily silent.

SCHMIDT: Very poor visibility just from the amount of gunfire that had taken place. Spent shell casings all over the ground. You could see multiple victims in the hallway immediately that were beyond assistance.

[07:50:12] FLORES: Inside classrooms, students and teachers taking cover and calling this 911 center. Dispatchers say victims were afraid to speak so they listened for breathing as a sign of life.

KATHY LIRIANO, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE AND FIRE COMMUNICATIONS, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: You just have to be quiet, and that's OK as long as I can hear you breathing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White male, burgundy shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wearing a black cap on --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are monitoring the subject right now.

FLORES: Sergeant Mazzei was on the second floor when this came over the radio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went from the third floor to the second floor.

MAZZEI: We were very prepared for. We anticipated engaging him.

FLORES: Turns out the video was not live, it was on a delay. So they advance to the third floor.

SCHMIDT: I look down and I'm standing on top of the rifle. His rifle's there, his vest is there.

FLORES: -- and then a faint call for help.

SCHMIDT: I open up the door again -- I'm sorry.

FLORES (on camera): Take your time.

SCHMIDT: -- and the kid deserves a lot of credit.

CECILIANO: I had a firefighter texting me the whole time. I'm looking for my friend's daughter that's on the third floor. I don't know --

FLORES (voice-over): As for these heroes who respond to the unthinkable, they felt blessed to hug their own children.

CECILIANO: And he goes, daddy, I love you. That was tough for me.

FLORES: And even though they hope it never happens again --

MAZZEI: But if it does I want to make sure that I'm there.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, Parkland, Florida.


CAMEROTA: Boy, that's hard to hear them have to process all of this.

So, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are expected to return to school next week. How do they feel about that in light of all of the developments in just the past 24 hours?

Let's bring in two of those students who survived the shooting. We have Christine Yared and Connor Dietrich. Guys, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us.

Christine, I just want to start with some of the developments that we've just learned in the past 24 hours and get your response to that. What do you think of what happened with the armed guard at your school who we now know didn't follow his protocol to go into the building and confront the gunman somehow, but stayed outside?

CHRISTINE YARED, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I think it's very disappointing that he didn't go into the building. It's his job as our school officer to protect the children and to make sure we're safe. He was armed, he was prepared, he had a gun, and he could have fought against the killer.

While meanwhile, everyone else in the building had nothing to protect themselves and teachers and students were throwing themselves in front of each other trying to save lives while he stood outside armed and did nothing to help them for four minutes.

CAMEROTA: Connor, did you know that deputy? I mean, was he a sort of very visible, well-known presence around your school?

CONNOR DIETRICH, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Basically, we only ever saw him when he was directing traffic. If you were close to where he was on campus, which I never really was, you might have seen him, but I don't even know his name. I saw him rarely.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, let's talk about some of the suggestions now to make schools safer, right? Some of the things that the president is suggesting, as well as various lawmakers.

What do you both think about arming teachers, and obviously, the teachers who would be willing to do this -- willing to get the training? Not just any teacher who doesn't think they could handle this. A teacher who's willing to get the training.

Would that make you feel safer, Christine?

YARED: Personally, no. I think that one, if there were a situation where there was a school shooting and police had to come in and they see adults with guns, they wouldn't be able to tell who was the teacher and who was the killer and it could lead to more distraction which could lead to more tragedy.

As well, adding in more guns is not a good idea. The teacher could potentially injure themselves or a student. Someone could steal the gun.

Teachers already have to go through so much and they have so much hard work. They shouldn't have to be put through extra training.

CAMEROTA: Connor, what do you think?

DIETRICH: We don't really want any more guns in our school. It's hard just -- all of our friends are dead because of one single gun and our teachers -- they would have to lock their guns away.

So, this all happened in a matter of a few minutes. For them to have to go their door, unlock their door and get their gun out while someone is shooting into the room -- there's also reaction time going into this -- they just wouldn't be able to get to it in time.

CAMEROTA: OK. So what about maybe having extra armed deputies in the school? Is that one -- is that a good suggestion to you both?

DIETRICH: I was actually just in Tallahassee with the group that went to talk to -- in the House of Representatives, and we all talked about bringing in more SROs per student -- like ratio.

[07:55:00] I think having them stationed around school would be much easier for us, but then -- I mean, then again, we just had an officer who stood outside the building and did nothing while we all -- all of us students were in grave danger.

CAMEROTA: From where you sit, is there an answer? What are you calling for?

YARED: I think we should have stricter gun laws -- more reform on our gun control. Better background checks making sure that people with mental issues don't have access to guns. Raising the age at which one can buy a gun.

Additional things like that, I think could play a big difference in shootings.

CAMEROTA: Connor, your thoughts?

DIETRICH: We discussed a lot about implementing more mental health programs, so we would have psychologists on campus that could talk to us if we're ever feeling like we're going through something hard, which I feel like in Nikolas' case might have helped him. I don't know. I can't speak for him.

But he was obviously feeling alone which is no -- it doesn't give him an excuse to do this to everyone but if we had someone who was there available for him to talk to he might have had a different outlook on what was going on.

CAMEROTA: So, Christine, how are you feeling with the word that your school is expected to reopen on Wednesday?

YARED: I'm OK with it. I would like to go back to school and see all my friends and teachers and make sure they're doing OK.

I want to get back to some sense of normalcy, although it's not going to be that normal. We're missing a building, we're missing teachers, classmates, but it would be nice to get back to school.

Of course, we're not going to give up this fight even if we're back in school.

CAMEROTA: Connor, how are you feeling about having to go back to school?

DIETRICH: I'm genuinely very scared. You know, we have to trust the school that this doesn't happen again. We have to make sure we have enough security to make sure we're all safe. We have to go back to class and look at those empty chairs where our friends used to sit and know what happened to them.

We're all here. We're all going to -- not going to fight until we get what we want out of this. So to go back to school, it's going to be scary but if we don't go back it's almost like Nikolas wins.

CAMEROTA: Do you feel that you have the safety at school that you need? Have your teachers, and your administrators, and your principal told you that you'll be safe? What have they changed?

DIETRICH: Well, I don't feel like we had the safety we could have, seeing as how our SRO didn't do his job.

Our security guards -- I won't lie to you -- did a fantastic job at their job. They -- I got sick out in the hallway and security actually hid me and a couple of other students. They got a room that we could into fairly quickly.

I feel happy with the way security handled it but they're not armed. We needed someone with a gun who could have actually helped the situation at hand.

CAMEROTA: Well, Connor and Christine, we know that you all say that you're not quitting. We won't quit following you and talking to you throughout all of this every step of the way.

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us.

YARED: Thank you.

DIETRICH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of new so let's get to it.


SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: What I saw was a deputy alive and he never went in.

JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER AGENT, FBI: It's another gut punch. This is another piece of the failure in the system.

DONALD TRUMP, 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. A teacher -- how they'd react to that.


TRUMP: I really think the NRA wants to do what's right.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, "THE VAN JONES SHOW", AUTHOR, "THE MESSY TRUTH": Young people are acting like adult leaders and the adult leaders have been acting like children.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: 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.

CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, February 23rd, 8:00 in the east.

Chris is off; John Berman joins me. Great to have you.

BERMAN: We have a bunch of new developments overnight.

CAMEROTA: We sure do. Let's get to those because here's the investigation into the Florida high school massacre. The Broward County sheriff now he's quote "devastated and sick to his stomach" after learning that the only armed deputy at the school failed to act by never going into the building to even try to stop the gunman.

We're also learning that authorities had many repeated warnings about the gunman for years. His family, his guardians, a counselor -- they all tried to alert authorities that he was violent and that he posed a threat, and that he was a potential school shooter.

BERMAN: Yes. Will the president address this systemic failure when he speaks to some of his staunchest reporters at a conservative conference this morning?

President Trump has proposed giving bonuses to teachers. Give teachers guns, he says.

The NRA likes that but it doesn'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 is focusing most of its ire and political power on the FBI and the media.

We want to bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon and "CNN POLITICS" reporter and editor-at-large Chris Cillizza. Gentlemen, thanks for being with us.