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Delta Airlines and Other Companies Severe Ties with NRA; 911 Calls Involving Florida School Shooter Released; President Trump Suggests Arming Teachers as Measure to Stop School Shootings; Former Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates Cooperates with Special Counsel; Jared Kushner's White House Security Clearance Continues on Interim Basis; U.S. Curling Team Wins Gold Medal. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired February 24, 2018 - 10:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 on a Saturday. So glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. CNN Newsroom begins right now. And Delta Airlines is the latest company to cut ties with the NRA. They will no longer offer fare discounts for NRA members.

PAUL: They're joining a growing list of companies severing ties with the gun rights groups as the #boycottnra seems to be gaining some traction on Twitter.

BLACKWELL: CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is live in New York with more. Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi and Victor. Well, Delta now certainly the latest major America company to add itself to the list of companies that are choosing to severe ties with the National Rifle Association. The major U.S. airline taking to Twitter just a little while ago to make its announcement public. I want to show you that tweet that was posted by Delta Airlines, an Atlanta based airline, a little while ago here, saying, quote, "Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know that we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We'll be requesting the NRA remove our information from their website."

Delta one of several major companies that has offered some of the NRA members certain discounts here. You saw -- you put up that graphic a little while ago. I want to put that up for you once again so you can see that list. It has been growing for the last 24 hours. Rental car companies, Enterprise holdings, Hertz, Avis, and Budget, also First National Bank of Omaha saying that, quote, "Customer feedback prompted them to not renew their contract with the NRA." And they also would no longer be issuing its NRA visa card.

What is interesting though is that no details that we've been able to find both online or on social media from these companies that actually specify why they decided to do this. Of course, you really look back at the last several days here and that growing backlash with the list of these companies that was posted on Facebook and Twitter by some of these -- by certain activists that they were pushing for the boycotting of the companies. So that certainly could be a potential factor, and also these companies have not said when they decided to do this. But we also have seen that #boycottnra statement that has been circulating on social media. So this is certainly goes to show you at least in the world of politics and business, Victor and Christi, these companies are certainly going with the business side at least for now as this gun deep continues to rage on.

PAUL: No doubt about it. And then just a note here, we have reached out to both Delta and to the NRA, have not yet heard back from them regarding a statement for this. But Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Not a problem.

BLACKWELL: And just in to CNN, Broward County sheriff's office now confirms they are investigating the claims that three additional deputies waited outside the -- while the students, rather, were gunned down I inside.

PAUL: I want to get right over to Kaylee Hartung who is live in Parkland, Florida. What are you hearing there, Kaylee?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, first we were hearing that the Broward County sheriff was sick to his stomach when he saw surveillance video that showed one of his deputies, the man, the dedicated school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas stand outside the 1200 building for upwards of four minutes while that gunman was inside attacking students and teachers. But now we know it appears he wasn't the only one. Coral Springs sources now telling us that when their officers arrived on the scene, they saw three additional Broward County deputies outside that school building taking up a defensive position with their guns drawn behind their cars. This means four men were in place that day who could have entered that building had they chosen to do so.

This news disturbing to so many here in this community, but it's among the list of items we have of concerning red flags as we learn more about the killer. We've now obtained with the help of our affiliate WPTV 911 calls. Let me take you back to last November. The killer's mother had just died. He moved in with family friends. He got into an altercation one day with the son of this family and he left the home. What followed, two 911 calls, one from the mother of that family, another from the killer himself. Take a listen.


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: 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 weapons did he get? That he's going to get?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, and who did this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nikolas Cruz. It's not the first time he's pointed a gun at somebody's head.


NICOLAS CRUZ: Hi. I was just assaulted now. Someone attacked me. I don't know where I am. I'm new in the area. He said he was going to gut me if I came back. The thing is I lost my mother a couple weeks ago, so like, I'm dealing with a bunch of things right now. A kid came at me and threw me on the ground. And he started attacking me and he kicked me out of the house.


HARTUNG: There you hear the instability in the killer's voice. And for the first time we're hearing him describe his mental state after one of those emotional outbursts that we have learned he was prone to having. And Victor and Christi, I should mention our sources say as Broward County investigates the work of their deputies last Wednesday, a report will likely be forthcoming next week.

BLACKWELL: All right, Kaylee Hartung for us in Parkland, thank you.

PAUL: We want to talk about this with CNN contributor and law enforcement expert Cedric Alexander now. Cedric, good to see you. Thank you for being here. What is your first reaction when you hear this report that a total of four deputies stood outside, guns drawn, three of them at least behind their vehicles instead of going into the school as these children were being shot?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, certainly that's very concerning for all of us in the law enforcement community. I think one of the best things that could happen right now for Broward county sheriff's office is that they can have a complete investigation. There's going to be tons of video that's going to show where officers were during the time of this event. Also, who went in, who did not go in. Clearly there's evidence coming from Coral Springs who themselves are reporting that Broward deputies did not follow them in during the time of the shooting.

So this is of grave concern for us. But I think in all fairness, as you always hear me say, is I think there has to be a complete 360 degree investigation as to who was where and where were they located during the time of these shots. What's important here is that as communities try to continue to have a sense of confidence about their local police, officers that did go in did a tremendous job when they got there. The issue is here those that stood outside who reportedly have not done anything.

The other thing I would suggest to Sheriff Israel is that he conduct an external -- he has an external group come in, whether it's from the Florida department of law enforcement or some other agency that comes in and can do an independent investigation to make some determination as to what happened with his men and women who may have failed to go inside when that shooting was going on, which was tragic.

BLACKWELL: Cedric, part of the conversation this weekend about how to move forward to protect students is the proposal from the president of arming some teachers in schools. He says 10 to 20 percent who will be trained. What is your view of that proposal?

ALEXANDER: I don't think it's a good idea to train teachers to carry weapons inside a school. I think there's a lot of other things that can be considered. And these knee jerk reactions just does not work in any kind of way.

There has -- we all have to sit down. There has to be some assessment. Each school, each community is very different. The size of the school, the construction of the school is going to make a difference. And if we can somehow across this country take a real look as how do we best hearten that target, and considering the fact middle school sits in the middle of schools, they have a lot of entrances and exits. It's going to take a lot of money and a lot of resources to fortify these schools in a way in which we're talking about. But how can we do that in a very practical way?

And at the same time what I think is really going to be important, Victor, is that we add school resource officers, post certified police officers who are assigned to these schools and who are there to help protect, not just educate and regain relationship with those kids in the school but really protect those children because we live in a very different time. And I hate to say this but this is not going to be the last of shootings in this country, because we've seen them in movie theaters and malls, the west side of highway of New York City, and we see them in our schools unfortunately. As long as we have guns, that threat is always going to be there. But we have to protect our children, and what happened on February 14th we got to make sure never happens again in the history of this nation. We just can't do it any longer.

PAUL: I want to get back real quickly to the four officers that did not rush into that building, because in all fairness, we have not heard from them. There's been no explanation as to why they didn't go in there. Based on your law enforcement expertise, is there any instance that you can think of in a situation like that where it would be protocol to not rush into the building?

ALEXANDER: Look, you know, ever since the shooting back in 1999 at Columbine, and you heard it a number of times here on your show, is that one thing that we've learned, first officers to respond were to enter into the building if there are shots being fired if we know that someone is inside armed. There is no exception to it. Whether I get there first by myself or if I get there with two or three other officers at the same time, we're not waiting on anyone because what we have to do is get inside, attempt to locate that threat, take their attention of those that who are innocent and unarmed and focus their attention to us.

Is it going to be a nasty gun battle if we have service weapons that might be nine millimeters or 45 handguns going up against assault rifles, it very well may be. But that's what we signed up for. Certainly we want to be safe. But there are some times in your career, and this is one of them, where you're going to have to go in and confront that threat and you're going to have to do whatever it takes to protect those who can't protect themselves. And there is some indication that that did not happen and that certainly needs to be investigated.

PAUL: OK. I just have a yes or no for you here. Based on everything that you just said, do you believe that there could be charges brought against or some sort of consequence for these officers or these deputies if they did in fact fracture their protocol?

ALEXANDER: Well, that's going to certainly be left entirely up to that local sheriff's office there. And that's going to be based on their policy. That's going to be based on what is determined by the state attorney's office there if any criminal charges could be brought. I think that's a stretch, quite frankly. But I think within the policy of the agency there may be some things that they may be able to reprimand those officers.

PAUL: All right, Cedric Alexander, appreciate your perspective as always, sir. Thank you.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: While Stoneman Douglas students are prepared to head back to school next week, lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill.

PAUL: And Democratic Congressman John Garamendi told me what he is hoping happens from this point forward.


REP. JOHN GARAMENDI, (D) CALIFORNIA: And we also need to appropriate the money to get things done. In the president's budget he proposes to eliminate a program in the Department of Justice that would create safe schools. We're not going to let that happen. We actually should increase that. We also should be able to provide money for those programs that actually work in the schools to identify potential problems amongst the students and to work with those students making a safe school. I don't like the idea of arming teachers. It seems to me that is not going to be particularly helpful and creates a whole other series of problems.


BLACKWELL: And we'll get more on that gun conversation throughout the morning. But also the other big story we're following this weekend, the third Trump campaign official now has flipped in the Russia probe. The latest is Rick Gates, deputy chairman of the Trump campaign. What does this mean for Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort? We'll talk about that.

PAUL: Also, we have new reporting that the White House knew a couple weeks ago that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was facing major issues regarding his ability to get a White House security clearance.


BLACKWELL: Another former Trump campaign aide has flipped in the Russia investigation. Rick Gates is now cooperating in Robert Mueller's wide-ranging investigation into potentially election collusion and meddling. And that could include testifying against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

PAUL: Gates revealed in a letter to family and friends that he had a, quote, "change of heart" and he just wouldn't be fighting the charges against him anymore. Last hour I spoke to Democratic Congressman John Garamendi and asked him what he thinks this plea deal means for the larger picture, the Russia probe.


REP. JOHN GARAMENDI, (D) CALIFORNIA: I'm very, very pleased the Mueller investigation is moving along. I'm pleased that at least for the moment Congress is not trying to derail it. This investigation is getting awfully close to the Oval Office. This man, Gates, will -- first of all, Manafort was the campaign manager, then Gates was the deputy and stayed on throughout the campaign through right on into the new presidency. And so there is a very serious problem here at least among those two and the people they're associated with. We're talking about very close connections to the Russians.


BLACKWELL: All right, let's discuss now with Ron Brownstein, a senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic." Ron, good morning.


BLACKWELL: OK, so let's start here with the framing from Congressman Garamendi that this is getting closer to the campaign, closer to the president. What is the significance as it relates to the question of potential collusion between the campaign and Russia?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. The first point is that the charges still are not directly associated with the campaign. But it goes with what we have seen from the special counsel from the beginning. First of all, we have learned over and over that the special counsel Robert Mueller can keep a secret. In an era of pervasive media, he constantly surprises us. And I think we have to be very sober about acknowledging we don't know what he knows. But clearly the second point is that he's very organized and

methodical and works from the outside in. And I think you have to look at this, first the indictment and then the plea deal from Rick Gates as an effort to put pressure on Paul Manafort who has, as you pointed out, was the campaign chairman, basically the campaign manager for a critical period of the campaign who now faces some very stark choices about whether or not to cooperate himself with this investigation.

PAUL: I want to point out that Manafort did release a statement saying he continues to maintain his innocence. He said I'd hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface he chose to do otherwise. Do you get the sense that Manafort has an of what those reasons yet to surface are?

BROWNSTEIN: I can't even say whether they really are reasons. That is the kind of statement you put out if you intend to continue fighting the charges. But I think all legal analyst was now agree that he is in a very perilous position given how intimately involved Mr. Gates was in the same activities that the special counsel is alleging against him.

And, you know, there is also the question, beyond what Rick Gates can mean in terms of pressuring Paul Manafort, there is his own interaction in the campaign. And as you pointed out, he remained on after Paul Manafort left during the transition. He was part of a group that was supporting the president. So we don't know -- again, the great caution here is that we don't know what the special counsel knows except the lesson is that he knows a lot that we don't. So there's no -- we simply don't know whether Rick Gates has information other than what can put pressure on Paul Manafort. But at the least we know he can do that.

BLACKWELL: For months, Ron, there was nothing from the special counsel. We didn't see any indictments. We knew that work was continuing. Occasionally there would be a report of someone close to the campaign having to testify before Mueller or grand jury. And now there's this quickening of indictments and pleas. What do you make of that?

BROWNSTEIN: First, as I said, I think he is extraordinarily methodical. And we are seeing kind of a classic investigation that works from the outside in, that puts pressure on figures at the periphery to put pressure on more central figures to put pressure on figures at the absolute core of the question.

At the least, Victor, I think what has happened in the last couple weeks is that he has defanged I think those Republicans in Congress who were trying to undermine the investigation and he has made it extremely difficult for the administration to have any kind of plausible conversation about firing him. Particularly the indictment of those Russian actors made it clear that he is dealing with something of great seriousness that is of national security import. And I think at the least what has happened in the past few weeks is I think he made it politically impossible for the administration or the Republicans in Congress who are trying to undermine him to really seriously move against this investigation. There's just too much on the table that is too consequential to imagine the public accepting anything of the kind that was being discussed a few weeks ago.

BLACKWELL: Yes. A new spate of charges and a guilty plea in a matter of hours.


BLACKWELL: Ron Brownstein, thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, Ron.

So new this morning, as everyone still tries to absorb what happened at the high school in Florida, we're learning that Delta is the latest company to cut ties with the NRA. Will more big businesses follow suit? And what impact does it have on that group?

BLACKWELL: Plus, new reporting from the White House that the White House knew weeks ago that Jared Kushner faced significant issues getting security clearance. So what could happen now to his job in the West Wing?


PAUL: It's 28 minutes past the hour. Hope Saturday's been good to you so far. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, good morning.

PAUL: This has been a long rallying cry for the Republican base. If the other side has their way, meaning the Democrats, you're going to lose your right to bear arms.

BLACKWELL: President Trump repeated this morning during a CPAC speech. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will take away those massive tax cuts and they will take away your Second Amendment. By the way, if you only had a choice of one, what would you rather have, the Second Amendment or the tax cuts? Go ahead, Second Amendment? Tax cuts? Second amendment?


TRUMP: I'm going to leave it at the Second Amendment. I don't want to get into that battle. We're going to say you want the Second Amendment the most.


BLACKWELL: But repealing the Second Amendment, part of the bill of rights laid out by the founders, is not easy. Here's a reminder. It takes support from two-thirds of the House and Senate, needs approval from three quarters of the states, and we can add one more there, is not going to happen.

Now let's talk about the NRA. It wasn't always this way. The Supreme Court only clarified the gun rights interpretation of the Second Amendment 10 years ago in the landmark D.C.-Heller case. They NRA once promoted gun safety laws. Now the NRA is seen as a power in politics. But that does not mean they're widely popular. This CBS poll shows 46 percent think the NRA has too much influence on politics today.

We bring in now Adam Winkler, law professor at UCLA. He is the author of "Gun Fight, The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America." Also joining us is CNN commentator Andre Bauer. Good morning to both of you. Andre, let me start here with a tweet from the president. It's actually a retweet after some questioned his commitment to a few of the pillars that he's calling for in response to what happened in Florida. He tweeted this morning, "I will be strongly pushing comprehensive background checks with an emphasis on mental health, raise age to 21, and stop sale of bump stocks. Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue I hope." I want you to listen to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn on one element of that claim.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) SENATE MAJORITY WHIP: I think what we ought to focus on is things that will actually save lives. That's why I think the folks should be on the fix nix bill, which is the only bipartisan piece of legislation that can be signed into law. There is a lot of other ideas out there that people are proposing that I don't think will actually change any outcome. And so I prefer to focus on things that will actually save lives and will effect outcomes.


BLACKWELL: One of the elements he highlighted is raising the gun purchase age for all weapons to 21. Describe for us the fight the president has ahead with his own party if he's going to push these elements that he tweeted out this morning.

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Victor, there is going to be a substantial debate on this. But I think debate is healthy. No matter where you come from on this, they'll be some ideas that will be shot down, but both parties need to come together. There are extremists on both sides of both parties. But to engage in a debate will allow an opportunity for people to come with different ideas.

I don't believe in immediately nullifying someone's ideas. I think you listen and then they will hopefully find some common ground to reduce what has become just absolutely deplorable. All of us agree something has got to be done. What to be done is the big question. But I like to see folks from all different backgrounds come together and say what about this? What about this?

I served in the legislature in both bodies at one time as a young man. And I went into debate sometimes thinking one thing, but after careful consideration and a good plan laid out by different opposing views, sometimes they changed my mind. And that's what is healthy most for the process.

BLACKWELL: Adam, let me come to you. In your book "Gunfight" you write about the NRA meeting that changed everything, because the group wasn't always what people see today.

ADAM WINKLER, LAW PROFESSOR, UCLA: That's right. The NRA was formed in the 1870s after the Civil War and for most of its history it supported reasonable gun control laws. In the 1920s and '30s, for instance, supporting laws restricting concealed carry of firearms, laws that today's NRA challenges in court as a violation of the Second Amendment. The NRA in 1977 had a revolt at the membership meeting where a group of hardliners took over and ousted the existing leadership that was favorable to at least moderate gun control measures. And the NRA really devoted itself since 1977 to a hard- hitting political agenda of opposing any gun control laws.

BLACKWELL: So Adam, Delta is the latest company out today that announced they're going to cut ties with the NRA, ending discounts, asking for their company information to be removed from the NRA website. Do you expect that will have any impact on the NRA, on the policies that they propose or support?

WINKLER: I'm not sure what impact it will have on the NRA. Wayne LaPierre's speech at CPAC the other day seemed to be more about digging in than about finding places to compromise. But I will say we are seeing just a wave of private businesses express their unhappiness with the NRA by cutting their ties. And it shows that even though nothing's happening through legislation right now, the private market is stepping up to really make a stand against the NRA.

BLACKWELL: Andre, I want you to listen to President Trump. This was April at the annual NRA meeting, April of 2017. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law abiding gun owners.


TRUMP: No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans.


BLACKWELL: Andre, if a Democrat had proposed what the president is proposing now as it relates to background checks and bump stocks and the age to purchase a weapon, it would likely be received as federal agencies coming after law abiding gun owners and undermining rights and freedoms. So why are we hearing rejection of the policies but not the vitriol that has been reserved for Democratic lawmakers on these comments from the NRA? BAUER: I think we all can appreciate that the political climate

changed substantially in the last few months with the loss of so much life and so much attention given to it. The people want action. And so you're seeing the president -- we have got a president who is a businessman, and he's not dug in the sand on every issue. I think he is evolving and saying, look, we have to address the situation that has come to our attention. And as a leader, I think that's a good quality. I don't always agree with the president but I appreciate he is trying to make an effort to say, hey, we have a problem here. There were several different people at fault here. But what can we do to come together to throw some suggestions out there and find some solution to a problem?

BLACKWELL: Adam, to you. What we're not hearing -- we heard from Wayne LaPierre calling and saying that Chris Murphy and leader Pelosi hate individual freedoms based on their call for stronger background checks and stricter gun controls and criticized the NRA. We're not hearing anything about the president. Do you expect that they will stay quiet about this president as he continues to push these policy changes?

WINKLER: Well, I think one of the real keys is what are the policy changes that the president is really going to propose? So he proposed a ban on bump stocks. But that was a deal reached two months ago in Congress when proposed legislation was shelved in favor of ATF reconsideration. So that's not a new policy change and it's something that the NRA supported.

Things like the fix nix bill, it's a very marginal fix that provides some additional incentives for states to help out the background check system. It's a good reform but it's just not very meaningful. And, you know, so the devil is in the details. If the president really supports universal background checks, then that might get the NRA upset. But so far the NRA has been one of Donald Trump's biggest supporters, and I tend to think that Donald Trump is not going to do anything that doesn't have the NRA's support at the end of the day.

BLACKWELL: Here on the screen, the number of people who support the universal background checks almost universally here. You have got 97 percent of respondents who support it, and the three percent here is in the marge you in of error. So it could essentially be everybody. Adam Winkler, Andre Bauer, thank you both.

WINKLER: Many blessings. Have a great weekend.


President Trump says that Jared Kushner's security clearance is in the hands of his chief of staff, John Kelly. But amid these reports of bitter relationships between Kelly and Kushner, will the president's son-in-law keep his role in the West Wing?

PAUL: Also, a strong message coming from the White House after the president imposes the strongest sanctions yet on North Korea. We have a live update for you from Pyeongchang. Stay close.


PAUL: The White House was alerted two weeks ago that, quote, "significant information requiring more investigation" would delay Jared Kushner's security clearance process even more. This is according to "The Washington Post."

BLACKWELL: President Trump says the decision on whether Kushner keeps his temporary clearance, that will be made by the chief of staff, John Kelly. But he says he's frustrated by the system.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's taken months and months and months to get many people that do not have a complex financial, you know, complicated financials, they don't have that. And it's still taking months. It's a broken system. And it shouldn't take this long. You know how many people are on that list, people with not a problem in the world.


PAUL: The deadline for stripping officials of their interim clearances, by the way, was yesterday. Not clear if any action has actually been taken on that. But Samantha Vinograd is with us now, she's a CNN national security analyst and also served on the National Security Council under President Obama, and Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst, he also was Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ. Thank you both so much for being here.

Samantha, to you first. President Trump obviously, he could grant any clearances to Kushner. The president's advisors have determined that would be a pretty drastic step. Do you think it could come to that?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that it could when we looked at -- when we look at the pattern of selective hearing that President Trump has had since his campaign and since he's come into office. He should definitely listen to General Kelly, but he should also listen to his intelligence community. There is zero ambiguity here. The intelligence community in the Senate briefing said publicly that anybody with an interim clearance should lose access to sensitive intelligence.

And for whatever reason, Jared Kushner has gotten a hall pass on basic counterintelligence flags since the get go. So we have the biggest counterintelligence risk possible walking into the Oval Office every day, reading the presidential daily briefing, and also, Christi, working on policy issues where he may have a serious conflict of interest like China or Qatar or Israel. And that all need to stop so that policy can continue without undue influence.

PAUL: Michael, do you think that Jared Kushner should have clearance? Can he effectively do his job without it?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Two questions there. Should he have his clearance, what Sam says is absolutely right. But in addition, I would add that the FBI has told the White House that there are substantial law enforcement issues that they are investigating and that they cannot proceed to give him a clearance until they resolve those things. So these are not, as the president seemed to indicate, just complex financial dealings of a very wealthy man but these are concerns that FBI in their background inquiry have with respect to Kushner. So because of that I think it's hard to justify him retaining that clearance, especially when its look at the most serious level of classified documentation.

PAUL: So Michael, what might be the red flags be that they're looking at? Michael, I'm sorry. Go ahead, Michael.

ZELDIN: Sam knows way better than I do, but the issues are whether he's subject to compromise or blackmail or some other level of interference that would make him susceptible to foreign involvement with policy in the White House. That's what the clearance processes are designed to prevent. And that's what the FBI seems to be indicating to the White House are at play at the moment.

PAUL: Sam?

VINOGRAD: It is very unusual. I had one of the highest security clearances in the country. I had an interim for a period of time as did many of my colleagues. It is not usual for an interim clearance to be continuously renewed and rolled over when red flags have been raised by investigators. Typically a clearance when red flags are raised is adjudicated. Sometimes it's denied because there is concern about a counterintelligence risk which, as Michael raises, could be undisclosed foreign meetings, conflicts of interest relating to business transactions, gambling, name your bribery debt. But again, Jared Kushner, I think like Rob Porter is getting special treatment and just having this interim renewed over and over again.

PAUL: So Sam, let me ask you this, Sam. General Kelly made it known that President Trump's personal intervention would be problematic, let's say, if he essentially tried to drive this train. If the president did try to exert some authority here, help us understand what is at risk? Is it the relationships in the West Wing? Is it with the intelligence community? Is it amongst the top aides to the president?

VINOGRAD: I think there is definitely going to be an impact and probably already has been an impact on our foreign intelligence relationships. If you're a foreign country and you're used to sharing intelligence with our intelligence community knowing, for example, that it's going to end up in the Oval Office, it's just logical that you would hold back knowing that someone like Jared Kushner who doesn't have a fully adjudicated clearance is reading the PDB and may not be able to be trusted with that classified information. And I also think it has an impact on morale at the White House. I went to the NSE every day for four years. I never sat at the table and thought oh, wow, one of my colleagues may have a bias towards another country. I think that's probably the case right now when it comes to China or Israel.

PAUL: Michael, you have the last word. ZELDIN: The thought that I would add to what Samantha said is this,

that the president has for the past year attacked the FBI and attacked the intelligence agencies, discrediting essentially their points of view on whether it's the Nunes memo or whether there was Russian interference. And again here we find the FBI and intelligence agencies saying to the president we have concerns about what's going on here. Please back us up. And if there is an override, if Kelly decides to strip it and there is an override, I think the relationship between the FBI and the intelligence agencies and the White House gets even further severed, if such thing is possible.

PAUL: All right, Samantha Vinograd and Michael Zeldin, we appreciate both of you being here. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, team USA takes gold on ice, and we're not talking about hockey. The details of their big sweep -- there's your hint -- is next.


BLACKWELL: The miracle on ice, you know the story, underdog 1980 U.S. men's hockey team won gold. But this year there is a new miracle on ice and it is the curling team.

PAUL: Coy Wire has more on one incredible upset, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning to you, Christi and Victor. Not bad for a manager of a Dick's Sporting Goods, an engineer, and owner of a liquor store, Olympic gold medalists. Listen to the scene at their hometown curling club along Lake Superior on the borders there of Minnesota and Wisconsin after the folks back home saw team Shuster make history.




WIRE: Yes, Victor, some calling this a mira-curl on ice. John Shuster, John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton and his mustache militia, and Tyler George celebrating the USA's first ever Olympic gold in curling. And they did it by beating Sweden who is the number one ranked team in the world. They won 10-7 and they were led by their four time Olympian, their skip, John Shuster, proud husband, father of two, and with his teammates now Olympic gold medalists.

Earlier today I caught up with team USA star Lindsey Vonn. She made history in Pyeongchang to become the oldest woman ever to medal in Alpine skiing at 33. She was blasted on social media for saying that she wouldn't visit the White House if she were invited. I asked her how that online negativity affects her.


LINDSEY VONN, OLYMPIC SKIER: It definitely hurts. Like you said, no matter how you try to spin it in your mind or out loud, it always hurts. And I try not to read it. I try to stay away from it. But I also like to know what my fans are thinking and saying and feeling, and I like that engagement with them.


WIRE: Lindsey Vonn told me she hopes that her journey, Victor and Christi, and the journeys of the other strong women at these games like the U.S. women's hockey team will inspire young girls all across the nation.

BLACKWELL: Excellent. Excellent. And please stop trying to make mira-curl happen. It's not going to happen.


BLACKWELL: It is not going to stick. Thanks, Coy.

PAUL: He is a little prickly today, Coy. It's all right. It's all good.

So this is one of Victor's favorite stories.

BLACKWELL: Is it now?

PAUL: Yes, it is. This woman relaxing in her recliner says she was attacked by her roommate. This is a 74-year-old woman from Oregon. She says her male roommate tried to kill her because he didn't want to pay half of the electric bill. And she says he tried to suffocate her with a plastic bag and started punching her.

BLACKWELL: That's when she went for the berries.



CHARLOTTE SIMON, ACCUSED ROOMMATE OF ATTACK: That's when I reached for his gonads, and I just squeezed them as hard as I could. If I had a pair of cutters, he wouldn't be wearing them today. He'd be at the hospital.


PAUL: I never thought that word would be on our air. But she says she used her life alert to contact police. He's in jail. She's OK. She is one fierce 74-year-old.

BLACKWELL: There are so many things in this story, life alert, and Earl didn't want to pay half the power bill, and she is sniffing and snatching. OK.

PAUL: And with that, thank you so much for spending your time with us.

BLACKWELL: Much more ahead -- maybe not that story -- in the next hour in CNN newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield. It's after a quick break.