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Lack of Response of Sheriff's Deputies at Stoneman Douglas High School During the Recent Shooting Incident were Discussed; The Investigation of Donald Trump's Campaign Aides Involving Russian Meddling in U.S. 2016 Election was Reviewed. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired February 24, 2018 - 13:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: So the radical story of Patty Hearst airs tomorrow, 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. And we've got so much more straight ahead in the "Newsroom" and it all starts right now.

Hello again and thanks so much for joining me this Saturday I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington D.C. And we begin this hour with new questions about the immediate response to the Parkland, Florida, shooting. The Broward County Sheriff's Office is investigating the actions of three Broward County deputies who were outside the school and had not rushed in when other officers from Coral Springs, Florida, had arrived.

This is in addition to the one Broward County Sheriff's Deputy who did not enter the building as the shooting unfolded. That officer has since resigned. This as we're learning chilling new details about warning signs before the massacre. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live for us in Parkland, Florida, where this kind of make shift memorial has been set up behind you. We're hearing more from the Broward's Sheriff's Office as well?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are Fred. First we heard from the Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel that he was sick to his stomach when he watched surveillance video that showed one of his Deputies take up a position outside that 1200 building at Stoneman Douglas for upwards of four minutes while the killer was inside.

And now we're learning through sources with the Coral Springs Police Department that they were surprised when they arrived on campus and found three other Broward County sheriffs on that campus taking up defensive positions behind their vehicles with their weapons drawn. None of these four men making an effort to enter that building and as the Sheriff said do their job, which would have been to approach the killer and kill the killer.

This disturbing information coming to light, Fred, as the Broward County Sheriff's Departments now says they will be investigating the actions of those officers. And sources say after these tapes are reviewed we could expect a report likely in the next week.

WHITFIELD: Alright Kaylee Hartung lots of questions, thank you so much. So there were countless warning signs and red flags leading up to the shooting. Concerns from strangers, teachers, neighbors, and acquaintances but somehow the shooter still fell through the cracks of multiple law enforcement levels.

Here's a look back. The FBI failed to follow up on a hotline tip call warning that the shooter is going to explode. Broward County Sheriff's Office said that they received 23 calls over the last decade about the shooter and his family. Police visited the shooters home 39 times over 7 years.

The shooter posted pictures of guns on Instagram and made violent comments on the social media site. And Florida Social Services investigated the shooter after he posted violent videos. A Broward County Deputy found the shooter had knives and a BB gun. The shooter had been removed from Stoneman Douglas High School for disciplinary reasons.

And educators referred him to counseling. Deputy Mayor of Rochester New York, Cedric Alexander, joining me right now, he was also a former public safety director in Georgia. Cedric good to see you. So many are just - so many are just so aghast that there are so many warning signs that came before that day of the massacre, and people are wondering how in the world could this have happened?

Is this an issue of somehow he fell through the cracks, or people didn't know what to do with these warning signs? How do you see it?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, DEPTY MAYOR ROCHESTER NY: Well I think this particular case is a good example of we have so much information that's out there that's not connecting to where it needs to connect at a certain period of time. If you go back and you consider the fact there was 39 calls for service over a 7 year period that may sound like a lot Fred but the fact of the matter is, is that Broward County probably answers anywhere from a half a million to a million calls a year for service.

That's a lot of calls for service. And what we have to do is make it --

WHITFIELD: Yes but when it involves the same subject that is unusual. Thirty-nine calls right?

ALEXANDER: But I will tell you this being -- having been a law enforcement professional you're going to find a number of cases like that for calls for service where officers go to the same house over and over and over. Now what has to happen here, we're going to have to find a way and create a system where we have those types of calls for service where there are guns involved, where there's mental health, where there's an outcry for help. And we got to find a way to flag those so appropriate help can be intervened at the right time. But it is a huge task when you're answering that many calls for service. So we have to create a system, or it hasn't create but a system has to be created that will alert us in not just

[13:05:00] intervene but really close that case or keep that case open, where someone is actually working it, Because if we don't, then we're going to see more of this going forward.

WHITFIELD: So what do you mean by that? Because, you know, and there are still so many things that we don't know. These are the reported things that we do know. The 39 calls, you know, many calls from people who said he was using, you know, dangerous language to the social media kind of postings.

But when you say, you know, there has to be some sort of system to allow you to intervene, when apparently or at least reportedly there had been attention paid to the household and then once it was discovered this individual is also receiving some kind of mental health, that he was considered kind of a low grade, you know, danger. So what are you suggesting needs to supplement or even replace what's already in existence? Officers come, you know...

ALEXANDER: I believe...

WHITFIELD: ... family members say ...

ALEXANDER: Yes, yes...

WHITFIELD: ...there's mental health treatment already, but then what?

ALEXANDER: Here's going to be the huge capacity of work that's going to be placed on law enforcement across country as a result of a failure in a whole lot of places, is that there are thousands of calls like this are placed every day, and millions of calls like this that go out. In addition, if we go up on social media at this very moment, Fred, we'll see a host of sites, personal sites, where people are waving guns, they're masked up, they're making erratic statements that can be deemed threatening and there are thousands of them.

A lot of things has to happen. Social media's going to have to develop a parameter of what they're going to tolerate and not tolerate go up on those websites. So they've got to tighten their belt. Social services in our states are going to have to tighten their belt to make sure there's adequate follow-up. The FBI in this case that took ownership that something went wrong, they'll go and they'll look at what they need to do in order to tighten their system so you don't have this failure of what we just saw here recently.

So for all of us, it's just a matter of tightening our procedures because oftentimes the procedures are there, Fred, but they're not followed through on. But we have to be able to make sure that connections is made between those who are potentially threatening and dangerous and making sure that social service, law enforcement, and others are able to intervene and not just go there to show up and check a box to say we went there, but really to get some real help there to those people who may need it.

So we can't take any of this lightly anymore because this is very, very serious. And for those who go up on social media, making these types of gestures that are threatening, I implore upon you to stop because this is just getting to be too much and we cannot allow ourselves, as a society and as a nation, for our law enforcement to try to be tracking all of these events. We need help from the public and we need help from the social media corporates as well.

WHITFIELD: All right, Cedric Alexander, we'll leave it there for now, thanks so much. All right, coming up, three Trump campaign officials have pleaded

guilty in the Russia investigation, and while we're learning more about them, we don't know much about the man behind the investigation. We're going to take a closer look at Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Next.



WHITFIELD: All right, we're following breaking news. Russia is delaying a key U.N. vote on a Syrian cease-fire. CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth joining me now with more that. Richard, what can you tell us?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley walked into the chamber an hour ago and said we'll see if Russia has a conscience. Russia has been holding up for at least the last three days a vote on a cease-fire resolution that would end hostilities for 30 days inside Syria where hundreds of people are dying in a Damascus suburb. Many council members want a vote. They wanted it Thursday and they remain furious with Russia that things have been delayed. The council is meeting behind closed doors. It is not clear if and when there will be a vote though patience has run out here.

WHITFIELD: All right, Richard Roth, keep us posted, thank you so much.

And, we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Special Counsel Robert Mueller filing new criminal charges in his ongoing Russia investigation. Paul Manafort now facing several new indictments. Prosecutors say the former Trump campaign chairman secretly paid millions of dollars to former European politicians to lobby for Ukraine in the U.S. Manafort now faces five federal criminal charges in Washington on top of the 18 charges in Virginia.

The new indictments coming down just hours after his associate, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to two criminal charges. Gates is now the third Trump associate known to be working with Mueller's investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller isn't taking a break or backing down despite repeated attacks by President Trump and GOP lawmakers. But as news from the Russia investigation surfaces, Mueller himself remains a bit of a mystery. CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger takes an in depth look at the man behind one of the most important and polarizing investigations in modern political history.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Fred, during his nine months on the job, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been busy, indicting 22 people and companies, securing five guilty pleas and on Friday, getting the cooperation of Trump campaign aide Rick Gates. But who is this virtually silent Special Counsel, a man of few words but clearly lots of action. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is a mystery man. Perhaps the most private public figure in Washington, but as the leader of the Russia investigation, he's also at political ground zero.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the public trust in this whole thing is gone.


BORGER: And in the sights of a President who wanted him fired.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN REPORTER: Last June, the President ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Muller backed down after the White House counsel threatened to quit.


BORGER: Putting Mueller in the bizarre position of investigating whether the President tried to fire him. But you'll never hear about it from Mueller.


GARETT GRAFF, AUTHOR: I mean, this is someone who has turned down more press conferences and interviews than most people in Washington ever get the chance to give. He doesn't really like talking about himself. He doesn't really like speaking with the press.



BORGER: At the start, Mueller was a bipartisan favorite.


UNIDETNIFIED SPEAKER: He would have been on anybody's list of let's say the top five people in the country to have taken on this kind of a responsibility.


(BEGIN VIDEO) REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: We all need to let Mr. Mueller do his job. I think he's the right guy at the right time.

(END VIDEO) BORGER: With a long resume. At 73 he's been involved for decades in some of the Justice Departments most celebrated cases. Mobster John Gotti, Panamanian Dictator Manual Noriega, and the Pan Am 103 bombing in Lockerby Scotland in 1988, as case that still remains personal.


ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: I'll never forget the visit I made to Lockerby where I saw the small wooden warehouse in which were stored the various effects of your loved ones. A white sneaker, a Syracuse sweatshirt, Christmas presents and photographs.



GRAFF: He's been effectively the same Bob Mueller in every place he's ever worked. Whether that was the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco in the 1970s, whether that was the George H. W. Bush Administration in the 1980's, whether that was the D.C. Homicide Prosecutor's office in the 1990s, or the FBI in the 2000s.

He is hard driving, he is tenacious, he is incredibly through, and has a very strong sense of right or wrong. (END VIDEO)

BORGER: Not Republican or Democrat.


MUDD: Four and a half years of whatever 2000 meetings I didn't hear him say anything political.

BORGER: Really in Washington?

MUDD: I know that sounds weird. He might have said that guys a jerk. I didn't see it as a partisan issue.



BORGER: How would you describe his politics?


BORGER: As in there are none?

MONOCO: He's not - he's a-political. He's non partisan. He is a as I think has become quite clear a pretty law and order guy. But he doesn't speak of things in political terms.


BORGER: Which is partly why President Bush picked him to run the FBI in 2001.


GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The FBI must remain independent of politics and uncompromising in its mission.


BORGER: Muller arrived at the FBI just seven days before 9/11. He served most of his term under Bush and when President Obama asked him to stay for two more years it required and act of Congress. The Senate approved 100 to zero. His MO a by the books guy even after hours.


MUDD: People told me after the Christmas party why were going to the directors house a guy who never really interacts with us. At the end of the party he would flick would the light so it's going seven to nine at 9:03. He's like well it's on the invitation.


BORGER: Married for 50 years to a former teacher, the father of two daughters there still wasn't much small talk about family at work. A literally buttoned up and buttoned down boss.

(BEGIN VIDEO) GRAFF: I remember director you where a white button down shirt every day. Can you wear like (inaudible) or something?



GRAFF: I asked him finally years after years after he had been director, what was the deal with the white shirts when you were at the FBI? He said I understood I was leading the FBI through a wrenching period of change. I wanted to wear the white shirt because I wanted the other FBI agents to be able to know that this was still the agency they had signed up to join.


BORGER: His dress code as unforgiving as his work ethic.


MONACO: He was in the office between 6:00 and 6:30 every morning and he would always plop his briefcase down on the chair opposite my desk. Not sit down and (kibitz) or shoot the breeze. Immediately what's happening what's going on?



BORGER: What if you're not a good briefer?

CAROLOS FERNADEZ, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Then you're done. Then you're done. I mean the boss likes a good briefer. People used to wake up at 4:00 in the morning and study for two hours before briefing the boss. It was like the big test of the day.



MUDD: There's not a lot of back and forth very quickly you're going to go through the details of the case.

BORGER: Would you assume that he is managing the special counsel investigation the same way?

MUDD: Oh heck yes. I wouldn't assume it. That is his - it's not like a professional choice that's his DNA. What's going on today? What do you got? What do you got? What do you got? I don't want to hear a lot of noise I want to hear I want to hear what the facts are let's talk about it.

What's your judgment? What do you think? OK, next here's our decision let's move on lets go. I never saw him as security or nervous ever, ever.

BORGER: Ever? Not ever?

MUDD: Never.


BORGER: The pressure on Muller now is special council is intense but he's seen worse.


GRAFF: You forget that this is a man that in his early 20s he fought in Vietnam. I don't think there's anything in Washington that's going to give him any type of fear that he faced when he was a young man.



BORGER: Mueller grew up in the wealthy Philadelphia suburbs and attended an elite boarding school, a classmate of John Kerry, then to Princeton. But the combat death of classmate David Hackett in Vietnam inspired Mueller to join the Marines.

(BEGIN VIDEO) GRAFF: He was wounded in combat, shot through the leg, received

Bronze Star with valor, Purple Heart, and, you know, was right back in the fight a couple of weeks later.



ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL AND FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: I always did consider myself fortunate to have lived through the war in Vietnam and there were many men such as David Hackett who did not. In some sense, you feel you have been given a second lease on life and you want to make the most of it to contribute in some way.


BORGER: After graduating at the University of Virginia Law School, Mueller soon found his way to the Department Of Justice and remained there for most of the next four decades.


MUELLER: My colleagues here at the Department Of Justice past and present...


BORGER: With two short breaks to give private practice a try.


GRAFF: Bob Mueller has been notoriously unhappy every time he has tried to be in private practice. He just can't defend guilty people. He'll meet with a client, they'll explain the problem and he'll say, well it sounds like you should go to jail then.

BORGER: So he'll tell his client...

GRAFF: Sounds like you're guilty. Bob Mueller is someone who sees the world in very black and white terms.


BORGER: By 2004, Mueller was running the FBI when his phone rang. It was James Comey then Deputy Attorney General. It was the first time Mueller and Comey would find themselves in a very controversial legal drama.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: I was very upset. I was angry.


BORGER: Comey was worried the Bush Administration was determined to keep a warrantless eavesdropping program that Mueller, Comey, and their boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, thought was illegal. But Ashcroft was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, leaving Comey in charge. (BEGIN VIDEO)

COMEY: I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the Attorney General was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that. I called director Mueller with whom I'd been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week, and told him what was happening. He said, I'll meet you at the hospital right now.


BORGER: They had to literally race Administration officials to Ashcroft's bedside.


COMEY: Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances.


BORGER: In the end, Ashcroft backed Comey and Mueller.


GRAFF: He enlisted Bob Mueller because he knew that Bob Mueller had this incredible nonpartisan reputation in Washington. While Comey might be able to be personally blamed for having political motives or thinking politics, no one was going to be able to attach that label to Bob Mueller.


BORGER: That was then. Now Trump used their relationship with suspicion.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (Inaudible) is very, very good friends with Comey which is very bothersome.

(END VIDEO) BORGER: Mueller loyalists deny it, but it's all part of the new landscape as he investigates the President.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Congress, we just assume politics infects and invades everything.


BORGER: And it has. News of disparaging text messages about Trump led Mueller to remove a member of his team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they're devastating. They're beyond showing political preferences. It very much impacts people's perception of fairness.


BORGER: Then the President declassified a document challenging the FBI's professional behavior.


TRUMP: I think it's a disgrace. What's going on in this country, I think it's a disgrace.


BORGER: The intended message to Mueller was clear. Your investigation is contaminated. Mueller remains silent, instead, letting his work speak for itself.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: He is the best hope to produce a product that my fellow citizens can have confidence in. It will not come from Congress let me assure you of that. It is not going to come from a bunch of politicians. I hope it can come from a former Marine who is the head of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney, but he's got to be mindful of the perception. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and I'm going to wait on the product that he produces.


BORGER: And just when will that final product be produced? Just one more thing Mueller is keeping to himself. Fred.

WHITFIELD: Mystery indeed. Coming up, President Trump has proposed arming teachers in the wake of the Florida school shooting and while some have criticized the suggestion, one school district in Texas is already doing that. That story next.



[13:34:01] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back, I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida has now confirmed to CNN that they are investigating claims that three additional deputies waited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while students were gunned down.

School Resource Officer Scot Peterson resigned from his position after it was discovered that he didn't enter the school once the shooting began.

President Trump suggested that arming adept -- and I'm quoting now, "adept and highly trained," end quote, teachers with guns would prevent future school massacres. The idea has been met with both criticism and praise. But one school in Texas is already putting the president's proposal into action.

Here now is CNN's Ed Lavandera.


STEVE CLUGSTON, CALLISBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: We'll do whatever is necessary to protect our kids and staff.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the stark message that greets you when you walk into one of the two school buildings in Callisburg, Texas. Superintendent Steve Clugston oversees what the school district calls the Guardian Program.

[13:35:02] It's a small force of volunteer school staff allowed to carry a concealed firearm and Clugston says they're equipped to confront an active shooter.

CLUGSTON: We don't want to be at the mercy of, you know, somebody that's intent on doing harm. We refuse to be -- to be that person.

LAVANDERA: In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the idea of arming teachers has sparked outrage.

ASHLEY KURTH, TEACHER, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Am I supposed to have a Kevlar vest? Am I supposed to strap it to my leg or put it in my desk?

SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: I don't believe teachers should be armed. I believe teachers should teach.

LAVANDERA: But in some, mostly rural communities across the country, the idea of arming teachers is welcomed, even by some students, like this freshman and junior at Callisburg High School, who asked that we not identify them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel protected. I don't feel like they're going to threaten me in any way. I feel like if someone came in, that I know that they're going to handle it. So I feel very protected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel really safe knowing that I can like come to school, and if there's like an incident that does happen, that they'll be able to like protect us.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Out of the roughly 1,000 school districts across the state of Texas, there are about 170 that have a policy of allowing teachers or administrators to carry a firearm on campus.

Here in the small town of Callisburg, their Guardian program was implemented about four years ago, in large part because the city does haven't a local police department. They rely on county sheriffs. And in a county this large, it can take many minutes for those deputies to respond to something like a shooting scene inside a school.

(Voice over): Clugston says the school's Guardian force undergoes active shooter scenario training once a year and routine target practice at gun ranges. But critics say that isn't enough. The school officer at Stoneman Douglas, who was trained far more extensively, waited outside the building as the gunman unleashed a deadly massacre. Steve Clugston is convinced that if his Guardians face the same ordeal, they won't flinch.

CLUGSTON: We're trying to put our teachers in a position to be better equipped to protect their kids. And I have -- I have complete faith in our team that they're willing to stand up and protect our people.

LAVANDERA: The armed teachers here haven't faced the worst-case scenario. So the question remains, how will they react if they're forced to face a killer?

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Callisburg, Texas.


WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in Brandon Thompson into the conversation now. He is the Dean of Students at Friendship Public Charter School right here in D.C., in southeast D.C., and he was also part of that group that met with the president at the White House following the Parkland shooting, that listening session, well, Brandon was there.

You said the president in that conversation, you told him actually that you do have, you know, checkpoints at your school. You've got metal detectors that greet the students there.

Does that system, Mr. Thompson, I should say, you know, make you feel more comfortable and your students more comfortable?

BRANDON THOMPSON, DEAN OF STUDENTS, FRIENDSHIP PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL: I think that the key thing for us at our school, Friendship, where we have such a family feel, and so we have armed ourselves, our school has armed ourselves with school counselors, school psychologist. We put them on a huge thing, so knowing our students within the classroom, but knowing them outside the classroom, and so huge thing for us was the checkpoints.

When our students walk into the door, they're greeted. They're also there where we're able to have like counselors and psychologists and student -- other student representatives to be there to also be able to instill certain things in them. So I think for us at our school, we are armed to be able to know our students and pretty much know what's going on with them.

WHITFIELD: In the case of Parkland, they seem to know this young man. There were a lot of red flags that fellow students, teachers, had let authorities know about. In fact he was even expelled, you know, from the school. But when you heard the president directly while you were in that listening session at the White House say he proposes arming teachers with weaponry, you were a social studies teacher at that school just two years ago.

If you were asked to, you know, pack a weapon going to school, A, what would your reply be? And then, B, you know, how does that impact I guess your approach to teaching?

THOMPSON: So personally for me, I would not carry a gun. I went to school. I was educated, different college, to become a teacher. I want to teach. A police officer and a teacher have two different mindsets. A teacher is more empathetic and wants to be there to support a student. However, a police officer has a total different mindset. So for me personally, I would not carry a gun.

[13:40:03] I think it also takes away from what you're doing as a teacher. A teacher has a million and one things to do. Grading papers. Calling parents. And so the last thing you want to be is a correction officer trying to follow up on a teacher. And I think about the other casualties that will come behind that. So for me --

WHITFIELD: And what do you mean by that?

THOMPSON: So for me thinking about casualties as -- we've had several moments within, you know, African-American community, Trayvon Martin, those things. We have other casualties in schools where teachers may felt threatened and it wasn't a real threat. And we had other things in school. So I wouldn't do it then. I also think about the person that's carrying a gun. If I'm responsible going into a hallway to shoot a gun, a 6'1" black man holding a gun, it may not turn out, you know, great for me.

WHITFIELD: You're afraid that if first responders come, see you, holding the gun, and you have been assigned to help protect the student body, that now there's a mistaken identity problem.


WHITFIELD: You might be mistaken for the gunman as opposed to the teacher who is armed to help?


WHITFIELD: To serve and protect?

THOMPSON: Yes. And so, like, going back to those things of having students having those check-ins as we do, we -- you know, at our school we do have metal detectors and we also have x-ray bag machine. And so having those things and also having been at a place with having counselors and school psychologists and one, with my principal, Miss Booth, Miss Booth oftentimes has an open door policy, so our students can, at Friendship, we instill core values in our kids.

So it's their responsibility, if they see one of their friends or not feeling so good today, they'll come and say, hey, such and such is not feeling well today. And so at that point, it triggers me. It triggers other staff members to go in. So we can ensure that they're -- you know, they're having a good day. And so oftentimes, we're able to get through a tough time that students are having or a situation because we have those people.

We have a school psychologist. We have trained people to deal with the mental health. But also we, like I said, we get to know our kids. So we're able to help them through different situations.

WHITFIELD: It's something you mentioned to me. You thought that if schools are going to be armed, there are other things they ought to be armed with. What are those things that you have in mind?

THOMPSON: So things they should be armed with. One, I would say you need a trained school psychologist, someone and pretty much knowing your students and the demographics. And so like I said at the White House, we're in Ward Eight, one of the most impoverished wards in D.C. So we do have like family members and staff members that come from Ward Eight, that know what our students are doing.

We do have teachers who are on our security team, guys who live in the same area with some of our students. And so they actually know the students. We actually know our parents. And our parents will call and text us and say hey, before a student gets to school, he's not having a good day today. So arming your school with a counselor, arming your school with a school psychologist, social workers, a director of student report service, these are positions that people are trained to be able to get to know a student and so we're able to have that.


THOMPSON: We also have a school resource officer.


THOMPSON: And so people actually -- the kids actually know him and actually get to talk to him.

WHITFIELD: It sounds like you've created a kind of familial environment.

THOMPSON: A family feel.

WHITFIELD: Dean Brandon Thompson of Friendship Public Charter School right here in southeast D.C., thanks so much. Appreciate it.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. And we'll be right back.


[13:47:50] WHITFIELD: The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is reigniting the gun control debate. President Trump speaking yesterday, again reiterating his support for banning bump stocks. They are the devices that can turn semiautomatic weapons into rapid fire guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to be very powerful, very strong on background checks, and especially as it pertains to the mentally ill. We're going to get rid of the bump stocks and we're going to do certain other things.


WHITFIELD: The debate first surfaced in the wake of the Los Vegas shooting rampage last October. A lone gunman was armed with 12 rifles equipped with bump stocks. The National Rifle Association says it supports the ban but Congress has been act to -- has been slow to act.

Joining me right now, Avery Freeman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor.

Good to see you both.



WHITFIELD: OK so President Trump has said, you know, he supports the ban on bump stocks but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is not so sure that a ban on accessories is possible.

So, Richard, what kind of legal issues could gun manufacturers actually raise with such a ban?

HERMAN: Well, Fred, you would think the president would surround himself with the most intelligent legal minds and politicians in the country before he gets up and panders and makes an ignorant statement that we're going to get rid of bump stocks. And then he assigns Jeff Sessions to do that.

Sessions has no authority to do that. Sessions can't do that because, like you said, ATF has defined a bump stock as an accessory. As a part. It's not a firearm. So therefore you can't ban it. And simply for the viewers, Fred, an automatic weapon is a weapon that is -- machine guns are banned. You depress the trigger and rapid fire comes out.

A semiautomatic weapon, you have to depress the trigger each time to get a shot. The bump stock is a plastic piece that goes on the back of the rifle.


HERMAN: When you press the pressure with your arm, it turns that semiautomatic into an automatic.

[13:50:03] If you get rid of a bump stock, they'll put a towel there. They'll put a piece of genius there. They'll put some other device there. Bump stock is not even the tip of the iceberg, Fred. But for our purposes, Congress has to act. It's never the right time. Dianne Feinstein proposed a bill on October.


HERMAN: Not the right now. Now is not the right time. Congress has to do it.

WHITFIELD: But -- and if there were, if there, though, Richard, a ban would it be the banning of the manufacturing, the banning of the sales? I mean, can you -- can you do that in a free enterprise?

HERMAN: Right. It will be the banning of taking the bump stock and attaching it to any rifle to convert that rifle into a machine gun. That's what the ban will be.


HERMAN: And that's what the law is in some states.

WHITFIELD: So, Avery, how do you see this especially when you're talking about this, you know, new poll, CBS poll, revealing how the nation feels on this issue? 53 percent of Americans saying they would support a ban on bump stocks. How do you see it?

FRIEDMAN: Well, I see it as -- at least what came out of the White House this week when the president says to the attorney general, look, I need you to do research on this. Well, that's a diffraction because the ATF has already done the legal research. That legal memorandum concluded that the executive branch cannot regulate. In fact, in 2013, Congress requested a copy of the ATF legal memorandum on bump stocks, and so Congress knows, so when the president says we're going to ban bump stocks, and he wants the attorney general to do research, the problem is it's already been researched ultimately, I agree.

I think the executive branch, there is nothing it can do. It has to go to Congress. I also agree that the California Senator Dianne Weinstein (sic) also proposed legislation right after Las Vegas, and you know what? It died. So at the end of the day, whatever is being said that the White House is going to do something, unless it uses the bully pulpit p, Fredricka, and goes to Congress and says, I support this regulation, it is not going to happen. It is Congress or nobody.

WHITFIELD: Hmm. And then --

HERMAN: And that's not going to happen either, Fred, because if you're getting on an annual basis $3 million to $8 million from the NRA, there's no way you're going to risk that, invoke to ban anything the NRA stands for. And you know, I got to --

FRIEDMAN: That's why the president has to stand up.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, then --


HERMAN: He's not going to give them the money. He's the president. He can stand up all he wants. He's not going to give the Congress, the senators and the House -- he's not going to give them the money. They want the money and they're not going to jeopardize it. It's such a bad situation, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Well, you know, it's interesting because, you know, Florida's Governor Rick Scott has, you know, topnotch ratings from the NRA.

HERMAN: Right.

WHITFIELD: At the same time, he is calling on his state to ban the purchasing of bump stocks.

HERMAN: Right.

WHITFIELD: In fact this was him yesterday. Listen.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: It's obvious, we can't trust the federal process which is why we have to make these changes here in Florida. I'm an NRA member. I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment. And the First Amendment and the entire Bill of Rights for that matter. I'm also a father and a grandfather and a governor.

We all have a difficult task in front of us. Balancing our individual rights with our obvious need for public safety.


WHITFIELD: So is, Richard -- you know, Richard, is that the issue? That the battleground is different on the federal level versus on the state level?

HERMAN: It's different, Fred. But this is the same governor who just recently struck down President Obama's bill that if you have mental health issues you can't get a license. He says, no, you should be able to get a license if you have mental health issues. So this guy is just talking out of his butt. It's so --

FRIEDMAN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

HERMAN: It's so frustrating. Listen to the garbage these people spew.

WHITFIELD: So perhaps he's changed his mind or evolved especially as a result of what had just happened in his backyard.

FRIEDMAN: That's right. That's exactly right.

HERMAN: Wrong. He's a liar. They're all liars, Fred.

FRIEDMAN: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute.


FRIEDMAN: You know what, look. Look, we have a different situation. Parkland I think has changed America. And there are governors around this country, whatever position they've taken in the past, the fact is that the governor is right. There has to be a balance.

Look, I don't think this has anything to do with the Second Amendment, but the bottom line is that if Congress is not going to do it, it really shifts to the states like Florida, like Ohio, like Pennsylvania to take action here. It's going to be the leadership of the governors because don't count on Congress, it's not going to happen.

HERMAN: Not going to happen in Florida either, Fred. New York has a law that says --

FRIEDMAN: We'll see. We'll see.

HERMAN: You can't buy a bump stock and then attach it to a rifle, but you can buy a bump stock, so that's the law with bump stocks. But bump stocks are not even the tip of the iceberg, Fred.

FRIEDMAN: We'll see.

HERMAN: It goes much deeper than just a bump stock.

FRIEDMAN: It goes deeper -- it's goes to AR-15s which were used in Florida.

[13:55:06] Let's see if the governor wants to tackle that. That's the real issue.

HERMAN: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there, gentlemen. Thank you so much.

HERMAN: Hey, Fred, we have to give a shout-out to (INAUDIBLE) who took such good care of our producer Sarah Edwards there and taught her how to surf.


WHITFIELD: That's right. All right. Mahalo. Avery Friedman --

FRIEDMAN: Mahalo is right.

WHITFIELD: Richard Herman --

FRIEDMAN: Good to see you, Friend.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. OK. Love being here. It's always good. All right. Thanks so much, guys. Appreciate it.

All right. We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right. Hello, again, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in the nation's capital.

Right now pushback growing against the National Rifle Association. Major airlines are joining a growing list of companies cutting ties with the NRA. Delta and United Airlines are just two of the multitude of big corporations that are taking a stand in the gun debate since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 students and staff dead.