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Delta Airlines and United Airlines Severe Ties with NRA; New Report Indicates Multiple Armed Deputies did not Enter School During Florida Shooting; Former Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates Cooperating with Special Counsel; U.N. Security Council Adopts Cease-Fire Resolution in Syria. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 24, 2018 - 14:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: 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. CNN's Polo Sandoval joining me now live from New York. So Polo, these moves come over intense customer backlash. What more can you tell us?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, let's start from the start and how did this corporate backlash come about. The National Rifle Association offers to its members in exchange for their membership fees discounts for several large companies, for services from them. Since the Parkland shootings, several of these company, if can put them back up on the screen, have been under tremendous criticism by critics to basically cut their relationship with the NRA, including United Airlines which just this morning posted as you saw there that they are reaching out to the NRA notifying them that they are essentially cutting or ceasing ties with them, the specific tweet reading "United has notified the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting, and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website." We can put up the Delta Airlines tweet as well. You can read for yourself. It is very similar as well.

And when you are look at these companies and organization, Fred, the important point is that they have not said when and why they chose to sever ties with the NRA, but if you certainly read between the lines you will see that there has been this social media campaign calling on Delta Airlines and other companies to cut those ties. So that is where we are right now.

We have not heard much more from these large companies, but I can tell you that the list has been growing, as you can see it there, even First National Bank of Omaha saying that the customer feedback prompted them to renew its contract with the NRA, that they no longer offering the NRA visa card, and of course several large rental companies that you see ther4e as well, Fred.

WHITFIELD: The pressure is also Amazon, a global company, and mostly over the streaming of NRA TV. What is the latest on that?

SANDOVAL: That's because Amazon offers a channel that essentially has NRA TV, so there have been two gun safety groups that have calling on Amazon and not just that but also Apple and Roku to sever its ties with the NRA. Well, as close as response to possible is what we have seen so far from an NRA host. I want to read you a portion of that that we have here for you there. Grant Stinchfield, host for that channel, saying, quote, "I would hope that Amazon realizes and these knuckleheads on social media realize that the 5 million NRA members are the most patriotic and the most pro American members of our society. We have every right to be on Amazon."

Now Amazon has not responded. The last we checked they are still offering that channel. Roku did respond, though, Fred, saying customers have their choice. They can tune into whatever channel they would like. But again, that is something we're closely tracking, and also to see if the NRA will address these latest develops of several major companies severing ties with them.

PAUL: Polo Sandoval in New York, thank you.

All right, we are also following the new details about the immediate response to the Parkland shooting. Sources telling CNN it was not just one Broward County deputy, the school's resource officer who did not enter the building as the shooting unfolded, but now we know that three other Broward County deputies were also outside of the school and did not rush in. When Coral Springs police officers arrived, they made that observation. The Broward County sheriff's office is investigating these claims, this as we are learning new information about a warning, many warning signs before the massacre. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live for us in Parkland, Florida, where behind you a lot of people have gathered at that makeshift memorial. What more have you learned about how the Broward County sheriff is looking into all of this?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, first we heard from Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel that he was sick to his stomach when he saw surveillance video that showed one of his deputies take up a position outside that Stoneman Douglas high school building for upwards of four minutes while the killer was inside. That man the one armed law enforcement officer assigned to protect the children and teachers at that school.

But now with the help of the Coral Springs Police Department, our sources are telling us that their deputies when they arrived were surprised to see that there were Broward County sheriffs there on the scene in defensive positions with the weapons drawn behind their vehicles who also chose not to go inside. Those Coral Springs officers then went inside of the high school, and their surprise continued when those Broward County sheriff's deputies did not follow.

In light of the information the Broward County sheriff's department is saying they are looking into the actions of the deputies who respond on February 14th to Stoneman Douglas. Sources say a report could be available next week.

WHITFIELD: And then, Kaylee, there were so many missed signals on so many level, neighbors, acquaintances, fellow student. What are the explanations of how those things are being looked into? HARTUNG: Well, it seems as if every day covering this story, Fred, we

learn of another warning sign missed. Last week the FBI admitted that they improperly handled and failed to investigate a tip that came into their hotline on January 5th. Now we have gotten a look at a transcript of the detailed warning an anonymous woman familiar with the shooter gave to the FBI that they ignored.

Listen to what she told them. She said, quote, "He's only 18 but he has the mental capacity of a 12 to 14-year-old. If you go onto his Instagram pages you will see all of the guns. I just want someone to know about this so they can look into this. I just know that I have a clear conscious that if he takes off and just starts shooting places up, I know he is going to explode." This woman went on the tell the FBI that with money from his mother's bank account the killer had purchased weapons and ammunition, and yet when this call was over the FBI agent who received it went to the superior. They discussed it, decided that there was no imminent threat and chose to do nothing, Fred. That case was closed within the hour.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much.

Up next, the pressure mounting on former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. This as his former righthand man pleads guilty in the Russian probe. We will discuss next.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. New charges and a new guilty plea in the Russia investigation. Those new charges adding to the growing list of indictments against Paul Manafort. Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleging Manafort secretly spent millions to secure a lobbying effort for Ukraine through former European politicians. The indictments filed just hours after Manafort's former business associate Rick Gates pleaded guilty to two criminal counts of his own.

Here with me now, the managing director of Beacon Global Strategies and former majority staff director of the House Intelligence Committee Michael Allen and CNN political analyst and congressional reporter for the Washington Post Karoun Demirjian. Good to see you both. So Michael, one has to wonder, especially with Gates, is this about pressuring Manafort or is this about prosecuting Manafort in terms of trying to get more information on him by taking the plea deal of Gates?

MICHAEL ALLEN, FORMER MAJORITY STAFF DIRECTOR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: So I think there are at least two parts of this. One I think it is checkmate on Manafort. Whereas he may have wanted it to go to trial, you got one of his inside guy, that is really seriously getting to a conclusive stage I think.

But the other thing is that Gates was also on the Trump campaign and he may likely be able to give sort of a view on an important critical window on the collusion question. So we'll have to see what he has to say.

WHITFIELD: OK, and perhaps the intentions, Karoun, behind these meetings, whether it be at the Trump Tower in June or whether they'd be other coordinated meetings with the Trump campaign and people with Russian ties?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Even if Gates is not the guy in the room for all of these episodes, he is high up enough in the campaign. He sticks around until the Election Day. He's still in an advisory role after that even when you get to the Trump administration being the administration in the White House. So he is potentially privy to a lot of information that he may have gotten from Manafort who he has been extremely close to for years before even this campaign got off of the ground.

But also, it is like you were saying it's kind of a dominos question. Gates and Manafort have been a package deal. If Gates is now cooperating with Mueller, does that mean he has information that squeezes Manafort harder. And does Manafort as the former campaign manager have information about people, either people who were in the Trump Tower meeting or people who he was working for that would be interesting to the special counsel.

It seems that Manafort is not as willing to play ball thus far as Rick Gates, but certainly the pressure is growing on him as all of these other things transpire over the last few days.

WHITFIELD: The president has been remarkably quiet, because often he says something whether it's tweeting or something.

ALLEN: For now.

WHITFIELD: For now. Look at the clock. But it seems as though the president has tried to distance responsibility by saying all of this stuff happened long before my campaign, before Manafort or even Gates involvement. Is that enough?

ALLEN: I think it sort of gets him through the weekend or gets him through these indictments, but if it helps on the collusive activity, it will later come to him. But in and of itself, this is an investigation of Russia's influence in the United States. And if over time Mueller is able to paint a portrait of serious money laundering, illegal influence peddling not only here in the United States, but now we have learned a little bit about what Manafort was up to vis-a-vis European politicians. So this could grow and it could be historic in the sense that Russia and all of their activities could be laid bare.

WHITFIELD: And these associations can no longer be coincidence. You've got people in the orbit of Trump with these associations with Russia. You have the president who does not want to say anything negative about Putin and he certainly does not want to encourage these sanctions that Congress had already voted on to be put in use.

DEMIRJIAN: Right. I think for a lot of people these things all look, that is why we are asking all of these questions. That's why there's formal investigations both in the government in the executive and on Capitol Hill.

There's always been two things at play here, though. Was there wrongdoing on the part of the Trump team? And was there wrongdoing on the part of all of these Russians who are affiliated with the kremlin to some extent?

I think we have pretty much answered the second question yes, we're just trying to parse out exactly how at this point, which is why things like the indictment from a week ago, distant memory now, detailing those 13 Russian that were involved in the whole online operation, why these questions about the foreign lobbying which is a very big problem and a very big discussion in D.C. that we almost aren't focusing on even though it would be culturally really important shifts, really important information to have in terms of how this foreign infiltration is potentially going to be expanding in the future as well.

We are very, very focused on the Trump issue and whether there is wrongdoing there because that is a sitting president, and because it's also more politically gripping than talking about these systemic issues of, you know, nonregistered foreign lobbyists and Russian infiltration that really is in the weeds, but it is very, very important if you want to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't become a pattern and doesn't happens in future elections.

WHITFIELD: And what is, Michael, then the level of chaos or even confusion in the White House? You've got all of this, and then the backdrop continues to be security clearances or the lack thereof. Jared Kushner, and you've got the president saying to his chief of staff, I know you are going to do the right thing, you handle it after Kelly said he is changing the rules. So what is that all about?

ALLEN: I think it is just another cloud overhanging the White House. We have had some reporting I think from CNN actually that part of the delay in the security clearance for Jared Kushner is related to the fact that he is wrapped up in the Mueller investigation. So if that is true, then the interim clearance is not going to be lifted. It's not going to be made permanent any time soon, and so this issue is just going to continue to play out. And what is Secretary Kelly going to do? I think he will end up doing the right thing which is saying you can't have access --

WHITFIELD: What is that? That is what the president said, do the right thing.

ALLEN: Well, the right thing in my view is to say, listen, you can't survive on the interim clearance at your level of national security decision making.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Michael and Karoun, good to see you guys.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, still ahead, another day ahead at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Speakers including the budget director Mick Mulvaney and Republican Congressman Devin Nunes. More in a live report next.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. This is breaking news, the U.N. Security Council adopts a Syria cease-fire resolution. CNN's Elise Labott is with us now on the phone. So Elise, tell us more about this agreement.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, look, this has been three days in the making. The Russians have been delaying the vote while they tried to work with the security council on the text of this resolution which is in essence a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, particularly in the area of eastern Ghouta which is this besieged rebel-controlled area that is really being pummeled by the Syrian regime over the last several weeks. About 300 people have been killed.

The last couple of days have kind of been a showdown that reached a denouement today between Ambassador Haley of the United States and the Russian ambassador. The U.S. wanting immediate language to put in this cease-fire and unfettered humanitarian access to get medical care and food to these besieged areas. The Russians continuing to water it down and delay implementation.

And so, you know, not only Ambassador Haley, I'm told, but also the Security Council is really sending the message to Russia that the Security Council cannot have another resolution that talks about a cease-fire. And given the fact, Fred, that Russia has been vetoing a lot of these resolutions, it's very significant that Russia adopted this text today. Nobody is very optimistic that the regime will comply, but diplomats telling me they think it could be a good first step, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then what kind of timeline are we talking about? Is this immediate?

LABOTT: It is supposed to be taking place immediately. Immediate action --

WHITFIELD: Let me interrupt you, Elise, because we are listening to the Ambassador Nikki Haley.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: -- that we bring this council some or of the voices of the Syrian area of eastern Ghouta who have suffered so much while waiting for this Security Council to act. A doctor treating patients in a makeshift hospital described the conditions she is facing. Quote "We are mental and emotional wrecks. There is nothing more we can do. We are bled dry." In a haunting video, the doctor walks into a room with a crying mother and she says, quote, "I am waiting for my son to die. At least he will be free of pain. I was just making bread for him when the roof fell in. He is going straight to heaven. At least in heaven there is food."

Another message we received yesterday that I think was said to you in all of the closed consultations, but I think it is important to say it again was one that was an emergency call from a doctor in eastern Ghouta, quote, "We have a horrible situation here. We are being targeted with all kinds of weapons nonstop. We lack everything -- water, food, medical supplies, shelter. This is a disaster. Everyone is just waiting to die."

Today, the Security Council finally took a step toward addressing these devastatingly levels of human suffering in Syria. The United States wants nothing more than to see the cease-fire in this resolution implemented immediately across the country. It is critical that the Assad regime and the allies comply with our demand to stop the assault on eastern Ghouta and immediately allow food and medicine to the reach everyone who needs it.

All of us on this council must do our part to press the Assad regime as hard as we can to comply. But we are late to respond to this crisis, very late. On Wednesday, the secretary-general made an emotional plea for an immediate cease-fire in Syria to allow the very basic necessities to get to the people. Kuwait and Sweden had a version of this resolution ready to go for a vote. But Russia called for a delay.

On Thursday, in an effort to stall, Russia called for the open meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria. In that meeting 14 members of this council were ready to impose a cease-fire. But Russia obstructed the vote again. And then yesterday this council sat around for hours ready to vote only to have Russia delay it again.

Every minute that the council waited on Russia, the human suffering grew. Getting to a vote became a moral responsibility for everyone, but not for Russia, not for Syria, not for Iran. I have to ask why. At least 19 health facilities have been bombed since Sunday, 19. As they dragged out the negotiation, the bombs from Assad's fighter jets continued to fall. In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and the shelling? How many more images did we need to see of the fathers holding their dead children --

WHITFIELD: All right, you are listening to the U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley there saying while the 30-day cease-fire for Syria is great, she says it could have happened sooner. Why are we so late? She puts a lot of that blame on Russia delaying votes many times over. We are going to continue to follow the developments out of the U.N., this after a unanimous adoption of a 30-day cease-fire in Syria.

And thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in D.C. Up next, "Vital Signs" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. But first, here is this week's Turning Points.



MANDY HARVEY, SINGER/SONGWRITER: I grew up doing anything I could get my hands onto with music. I always had hearing troubles. I was born with deformed eustachian tubes and a connective tissue disorder. I started my freshman year for vocal music education. Over a period of about nine months I lost my residual hearing. I wanted to become a choir director, that was my only dream. And it died.

But my dad, he asked if I would learn a song to sing. I just closed my eyes and I let go, and I opened my eyes and my dad was crying.


HARVEY: I was recently on "America's Got Talent" and I finished in fourth place. Singing without sound is a lot of work. Most of it starts with the visual tuner. I perform without shoes so I can feel the band, so I can feel the beat. I really want to connect with people, and take them on a journey with me.