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Former Senior Trump Campaign Rick Gates Struck A Deal With The Special Counsel; Big Companies Are Turning Their Backs On The National Rifle Association; President Trump Today Declaring That His Plan For School Safety; U.S. Ambassador To The U.N. Nikki Haley Launching A Scathing Attack On Russia For Stalling The Cease-Fire; You Tube Became A Platform For Spreading Conspiracy Theories About The Parkland School Shooting; Ivanka Trump Is In South Korea Ahead Of The Closing Ceremonies For The Winter Olympic Games. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 24, 2018 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:14] RYAN NOBLES, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ryan Nobles in today for Ana Cabrera.

And in the President Trump today declaring that his plan for school safety, in his words, will quote "shootings will not happen again." That is what the President tweeted about an hour ago on a weekend when big companies, lots of them are turning their backs on the National Rifle Association, dropping the support and benefits for the group, because of the NRA's response to the Florida high school massacre.

I will show you the growing list of companies in a moment, but first these words from the President just a few minutes ago, of course, from his twitter feed. Quote "armed educators and trusted people who work within a school, love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept and have annual training, should get yearly bonuses. Shooting shootings will not happen again. A big and very inexpensive deterrent." Finishing by saying up to states.

Plenty for our analysts to talk about their on both sides of the debate of guns in America.

It is the same debate that is driving several large companies to ditch the NRA. These are just a few of them. But the big standouts Delta and United Airlines, six major rental car companies, banks, cybersecurity firms, they are dropping the benefits they used to offer NRA members and in many cases, demanding that the NRA take their names and logos off of the website.

Also today, more details about how police officers responded when bullets started flying inside of the Florida high school. How many cops showed up, and how long they waited outside while students and teachers were dead and dying inside. Today, two different police departments are at odds over who should have done what.

Let's go live now to CNN's Kaylee Hartung. She is in Parkland, Florida. Kaylee, about that police response, we are told that one police

department is now upset about how another department's deputies behaved that way. What can you the tell us?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Ryan. And as people are visiting the memorial behind me today, they have told me they are devastated to hear these reports. You know, we first heard from the Broward County sheriff's department that their sheriff was sick to his stomach when he first saw surveillance video that showed one of his deputies the school's resource officer take up a position outside of that Stoneman Douglas building for upwards to four minutes while the killer was inside. But now we are learning from the Coral Springs police department that the one deputy was not the only man who did not do his job that day. Coral Springs police saying that when their officers arrived on the scene, they were surprised to find three other Broward County sheriff's deputies outside of that school building taking up defensive positions, their weapons drawn behind their vehicles. That means four deputies who chose in that moment with he gunman inside attacking students and teachers not the go inside that building.

Broward county sheriff's department is saying that the investigation is open into the actions of the deputies that day.

NOBLES: And Kaylee, it is not just the local response that is being looked at. Last month someone who knows the school shooter called the FBI and told them that he was problem. What do we know about that?

HARTUNG: Well, earlier this week, the FBI admitted that they improperly handled and failed to act on a tip that came into their hotline on January 5th from a woman who was familiar with the killer. And now we have a transcript of that call log. Listen to what she said as I read it.

She told the FBI quote "he is only 18, but he has the mental capacity of a 12 to 14-year-old. If you are going on to his Instagram pages, you will see all of the guns. I just want somebody to know about this so they can look into it. I just know I have a clear conscious if he takes off and just start shooting places up. I know he is going to explode."

Now, in addition to that, she told the FBI that the killer had been purchasing guns and ammunition with money from his mother's bank account. And yet, when that call was over, the FBI agent who took the call, went to a supervisor, they determine there was no imminent threat and the case was close within the hour.

This is just another one of the red flag that went up about this killer before February 14th. And we have heard from his former classmates and the neighbors of the emotional outbursts, he was prone to having. But now with the help of our affiliate WPTV, we have a 911 call from last November that the killer made that gives you insight into the mental state following one of the outbursts. Take a listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I was just -- somebody attacked me. I don't know where I am in. I'm new in the area. He said he was going to gut me if I came back. The thing is that I lost my mother a couple of days ago and so, like I'm the dealing with a bunch of things right now. And she (bleep) me and threw me out of the house. And he started attacking me, and kicked me out of the house.


[15:05:30] HARTUNG: That call from last November a couple of weeks after the killer's mother died. He had moved in with some family friend, had gotten into the altercation with that family's son and left the house. That's what led to the call. But Ryan, you can hear the instability in the voice there.

NOBLES: No doubt. Chilling to hear the audio there.

Kaylee Hartung, thank you.

The list of the companies cutting ties with the NRA, a got a little bit longer today. Delta and United joining some other big corporations by cutting discounts offered to NRA members. This move comes as threats of consumer boycotts mount following that deadly shooting.

I want to bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval now.

And Polo, how intense is the pressure been?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is intense enough, Ryan, for some of these major companies to say no to the NRA.

Let's start with United Airlines. They took to twitter early this morning saying and announcing that they plan to part ways with the National Rifle Association. Let me read you the tweet that they posted earlier morning when they made that announcement.

United saying that quote "United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting. And we are asking the NRA to remove our information from the website." And if you logged on to Delta Airlines twitter account, you saw a very similar message posted as well. That Atlanta-based airline making their decision official as well when they took to twitter saying that Delta is also reaching out to the NRA. And is also severing ties and asking, as you read the lower portion of the tweet, asking them to remove Delta's information from the Web site as well.

And when you look at the list again, you can see there are so many recognized brands, recognized companies as well that decided to go in that direction, particularly after this mounting heat that was that we watch and watched play out on social media. Several of these companies are taking heat for their partnership with the NRA, particularly after the Parkland shooting, Ryan.

What is interesting here, though, these companies, these massive corporations have not said specifically why or when they reached the decision, but you read between the line. It is certainly a result of politics and business intersecting.

NOBLES: And there is more to this, Polo. This conversation continues. The pressure on Amazon right now as well. They are one of the most valuable companies in the world and they stream NRA TV and they are getting some pressure to stop that. What is the latest on that?

SANDOVAL: Yes. NRA TV is used as a channel there on that platform on What we are hearing from several gun safety groups is that they are hoping to put pressure on amazon to essentially part ways with NRA as well. However, when you hear from at least one host of the National Rifle Association television, you can hear that they are certainly trying to put some pressure on amazon not buckle under some of the requests that have we seen online. The host of the NRA TV Grant Stitchfield going online saying I would hope that Amazon realizes and these knuckleheads on social media realize that the five million NRA members are the most patriotic and most pro-American members of our society. We have every right to be on Amazon.

Noteworthy, there is at least two other major internet giants including Roku and also Apple that hosts or at least offer channel platform for NRA TV. They have not said much. Roku did say, however, that customers have their options. They can choose what to watch and what not the to the watch. Amazon, though, no response from them quite yet.

NOBLES: All right. Polo, likely, the beginning, not the end of this conversation.

Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

Now, let's go back to the day that the gunman opened up fire on a Florida high school, killing 17 people, students and staff. We do have some new details this weekend about how one police officer who responded to the scene and stayed outside, but there are many more, and as many as four sheriff deputies waited outside of the school with the guns drawn and taking cover behind the police cars.

Well, I'm going to talk about this with James Gagliano who is our law enforcement analyst and retired FBI agent. Also with me today, political commentators Symone Sanders and Alice Stewart because there is, of course, a very sharply divided political aspect to what happened in that day and the days since.

But James, let's start with you. And obviously, you understand the training aspect of all of this. How would the sheriff's deputy have been trained to respond to something like this? Would it have been and shouldn't have been his job the go in there to confront the shooter in this situation?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Ryan, one word here, the deputy's actions were unconscionable. Now listen, we can talk in the macro sense of the colossal collapse of the systems, the colossal failure, we had to connect the dots from the mental health of this, to the lower jurisdictional level of the police to the FBI's mistake in not following up on this very actionable lead.

But the conduct of the deputy and deputies there from Broward County, I cannot fathom them. I have spoken to a number of onboard law enforcement professionals. I have spoken to a number of retired. I can't tell you one person in that cadre of folks that says this was in corporate actions. I understand the argument. He was wearing a level three or a level vest which is not design to stop AR-15 rant. It was traveled 200 feet per second. I understand that in a situation like this the old school way of doing this pre-Columbine was to stay outside, create a perimeter and wait for the cavalry to get there. And post-columbine, April of 1999, we go to the sound of the guns. And if you are not built for this profession, and it has nothing to do with courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the mastery of it. If you are not built to go to the sound of the guns, he should have resigned long ago.

[15:11:00] NOBLES: And he has resigned, James, in response.

GAGLIANO: Too late.

NOBLES: -- to the fallout related to this.

And let's talk about the politics about it a little bit now as we bring in Alice and Symone.

And Alice, I want to go to you first. This is obviously become a question for Republicans, particularly the Republicans in the Congress. Are they going to do something about this. From your sense as a conservative, do you see momentum in that direction?

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I certainly do. I have talked with many members of Congress. Several of them have met personally with the President and they tell me that the President is very committed to doing something here.

And it is more than just about gun control. There are many factors as he has outlined. And they are looking at several factors. Stricter background checks would have gone a long way in case. This kid that did this shooting should have never, never been able to have a gun, neither should other people with their type of mental illness and the red flags that went up. Stricter background checks are critical and that is something that the President is pushing for.

We are also looking at hardening schools, no more gun-free school zone, making sure that people know when they go on a school campus, there are guns that are there to return fire, and many other factors that go into this which will also be what the President is getting a lot of heat for, but something to consider arming the teachers or arming other people at the school. A drawn gun outside the school building which is what we had here does nothing to stop this. A drawn gun inside of the school whether it is a teacher or another trained professional will go a long way to stopping this.

I don't think it should be mandatory for all teachers. But as the President said, these need to be people that are adept at firearms and well trained. I know that Congressman Mark Meadows has talked with the President looking at ways to fund this. It can't be done all in the federal level but possibly providing tax incentives for retired law enforcement or military officials that have the training that can do this.

But as the discussion that I know Republicans and Democrats across the board are willing to engage in.

NOBLES: Symone, I get the sense that you feel differently.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Ryan, if I may. We just talked through the scenario, of a real life scenario that just happened in Parkland where there were trained officers on the scene that would not and did not go into the school, they had their firearms drawn. So if trained officers have an issue, what makes folks think that we should be putting the guns in the hands of the teacher, guns in the hands of the janitors, guns in the hands if other folks inside our schools who are already tasked with the enormous task of educating kids in a public school environment. Many schools are underfunded. And so I think we are having a unrealistic conversation here.

There are many things to this. And yes, the mental health aspect. Yes, we need to tighten the background check. We need to close the gun show loopholes. But I believe and many other folks believe we also need to ban the semiautomatic assault weapons. These are weapons of war that don't belong in the streets, definitely not in the hands of children. So I think that is the conversation that we are not - that our Republican friends are not necessarily having that I think we should be having.

NOBLES: Let's get back to this point though about arming teachers, James. I want your law enforcement perspective on this. Is this a wise decision? Is this something the President should be pushing for and practically is this something that you are going to apply nationwide?

GAGLIANO: And I am not known on CNN for being an agnostic or offensive. But I'm going to agree with a lit bit of what Alice said and I'm going to agree a little bit what Symone said.

Here are the fact. When an law enforcement officer goes out to the range to complete their quarterly training, generally speaking, they hit the target 75, 80, 85, maybe 90 percent of the time. That's a paper target with no rounds coming back at you. What we have found in studies from the criminology side is that generally speaking during an adversarial contact, five to seven yards, which most of these contacts happened, that drops down to 17 to 18 percent.

So Ryan, one out of every five rounds hits a target. So the notion of arming teachers and trying to keep them proficient, I agree with Symone, I think that is a fool's errand. However, let me give you another example, I teach the at St. John's University. I'm a retired law enforcement officer with 25 years in a job and former SWAT team leader. I work in a gun-free zone. So even though HR 218 allows me to have a concealed carry permit, I cannot carry my weapon on campus. That is nonsensical. We have to figure out a way to come to the middle on this and figure out some sensical solutions. [15:15:15] NOBLES: All right.

I want to pivot now to this conversation about corporate activism, and this push by companies to dissociate themselves with the NRA.

And Symone, I want to ask you. I know -- we have seen this type of pressure work in the past. Do you think it is effective. And I also want to ask you, how would you feel if corporations took a similar stands on an issue like abortion and stuff doing business with a group like Planned Parenthood. If that something that you think would be effective?

SANDERS: So let me say this. I think-I don't think we saw corporate - we definitely did not seen the corporations act until the last 24 to 48 hours. I would like to know in that time, the spokesperson for the NRA repeatedly attacked young people via social media who has recently been victims of the gun massacre at their school, high schoolers. And so part of it is that the NRA is still a brand. They are sill an organization. There are in fact some could argue a company, and you cannot send your spokesperson out to say and do things and not think there will be some repercussion. If they were really a business, perhaps the spokesperson should not be out attacking students and young people who were just victims of a gun massacre, and they in fact, the NRA, the gun lobby.

And so I think that is really the nuance here in my opinion because we have not seen these corporations move and act. They didn't act post- columbine. They were not acting post-Pulse. They did not act post- Las Vegas. I do think Parkland is different because the students are involved, but I think this particular case here, the NRA has been extremely vocal on this. And I think anyone can all agree, regardless of the sides of the aisle you are on, you should not attack victims particularly children who just recently lost friends and teachers in a gun massacre at their school.

NOBLES: Well, to Symone's point, Alice, are you concerned at all that this could be a slippery slope when you see corporations starting to are get this active in politics and taking these dramatic stance like boycotting an organization like the NRA.

STEWART: I wish these corporations would be more involved when it comes to -- if they are so concerned about life which is an important issue, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the country, taking over 300,000 unborn children every year, where is the corporation outrage for that? If we want to have the conservation about life.

But I think we spent most of the show talking about many other factors than guns. And that the anti-gun lobby is loud and proud and certainly effective in getting the message and pressuring corporations to engage in actions like this.

But it is much more than guns. This is not - this is about taking all guns out of the hands of some people, not some guns out of the hands of all people. And there are five million NRA members across this country who will stand strong on their support of the second amendment and the right to bear arms and they should be able to bear arms. And the NRA is there to protect those rights and to stand up for them, so I don't --

SANDERS: So I just want to say one thing, Ryan. For one, no one is ever talking about taking away the second amendment and all gun guns for all people. Two, we have a real live situation of a Lionel Castille who worked at school, who was -- who with a licensed firearm on him, who was pulled over by the police officer. And when he told the police officer that he was a licensed gun carrier, he had his firearm on him. He was reaching for the I.D. He was shot and killed.

And so, we have to have real practical implications here. So it is not that folks want to take the guns away from everybody. No one is ever saying that. No one on the left or the progressive people, not even myself.

You know, I'm from Nebraska. I have gone hunting. No one is trying to take guns away from folks. But what people are saying is weapons of war should not be in the anywhere in the country, and especially in the hands of children where folks are saying that we should not be arming teachers. What people are saying as we need to get to the heart of the issue. And I want to talk about (INAUDIBLE) everything else, but you , you know, it is not knives out here killing the folks, like knives did not take out everybody, and getting take out 17 people at Parkland and semiautomatic rifle did.

NOBLES: All right. We are going to leave it there. Symone Sanders, Alice Stewart and James Gagliano, thank you all for your perspectives.

And ahead this hour, reaching a deal, a former Trump campaign aide cuts a plea deal with the special counsel. So where does the investigation go now?

Plus, hell on earth as the situation in Syria somehow gets even worse. Just moments ago, the U.N. security council took up a cease-fire resolution. Hear Nikki Haley's desperate plea to her counterparts.

And then later, Ivanka Trump visits South Korea for the Olympic closing ceremony. But the games are not the only thing front of mind, how fresh U.S. sanctions are playing on the world stage.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[15:23:57] NOBLES: Welcome back. What we thought would happen for weeks finally happened. Former senior Trump campaign Rick Gates struck a deal with the special counsel. Now Gates will testify against his former boss, Paul Manafort a bout a year-long scheme to evade taxes and launder upwards of $30 millions of dollars.

The question now, where does the Robert Mueller investigation go next?

Joining me from Washington is CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero, plus White House reporter from the "Washington Post" and of course CNN political analyst Josh Dawsey. Carrie, let's start with you. You have read the charging document and

statement of offense in the Gates' deal. What is your biggest takeaway?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he has pleaded guilty to a thousand and one which is lying to federal investigator. And he has also pled guilty to conspiracy, a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. And that is the overarching theme of not only some of the charges against Manafort and Gates, but also the charge that the special counsel brought against the Russian nationals.

So this entire investigation in terms of looking into Russian influence on the election and all of the different individuals who are now being drawn into that investigation pertains the to conspiracy to defraud the United States. And so, that was in the Manafort's and Gate's situation, involved in their money laundering activities and tax evasion, bank fraud and things like that. And With respect to Russian influence, it was an attempt to affect the election. And these are just the charges that we have so far. So the special counsel's office still has in my opinion a long way the go. But certainly the events of the last week or two are significant markers in that investigation.

[15:25:47] NOBLES: And Josh, of course, this changes the calculus a little bit for Paul Manafort. Do you think that this put a lot more pressure on him to cooperate with Robert Mueller?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is clearly frustrated with the statement yesterday saying that he said that he - how disappointed in his former business partner Rick Gates for pleading. He was pretty explicit in the first part of the statement released by his team.

The two of them were almost interchangeable. They were together in all of their business venture. They often accompanied each other on the campaign. He was his deputy. And he certainly knows everything Mr. Manafort has been doing, his meetings, his transactions and the documents as we saw in the indictment. So it is certainly not a good sign for Mr. Manafort that Mr. Gates has plead guilty.

You know, that said, Mr. Gates also has lots of information about how the Trump campaign work. He was in the White House for meetings. He was not a small bit player in the campaign. And even after the administration began, he was the one who was a fairly frequent visitor to 1600 Pennsylvania, particularly in the early months. So this is significant development that he has pleaded guilty and has agreed to cooperate with the federal investigators and federal prosecutors.

NOBLES: And to the that point, Josh, even though, obviously, there is Manafort and then there is President Trump, you mentioned that Rick Gates was around that campaign, went into the transition a lot longer than Paul Manafort did, is it possible for Mueller to draw a direct line from Gates right to the President?

DAWSEY: Well, it is hard to say. And don't make any predictions or assumptions at this point, because as we have seen from the special counsel's investigations, there is a lot of twists and turns that no one saw coming. I certainly though, you know, think it is noteworthy how involved he was. Rick Gates was someone who was frequently at Trump tower, was in strategy sessions, knew what was going on, even in the early days in the transition. And he was a key player. And I don't want to say it will go straight to the President. I don't think we know anything along those lines yet, but he certainly has a lot of information about the President and the campaign activities.

NOBLES: And Carrie n the plea deal rick gates admits to had lying to investigators. And we have seen this charge appear over and over so far in the course of the special counsel investigation. Obviously, former national security adviser Michael Flynn pled guilty to that charge.

Let's listen to what Democratic congressman Jim Himes had to say about that.


REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: You read that the indictment and the level of detail that Bob Mueller has. This is a man who knows pretty much everything. So, you know, again, as this investigation proceeds, I think that Mueller is sending the signal that I know a lot more than you know, and be very, very careful how you answer my questions.


NOBLES: So, Carrie, do you read this a message from Mueller to the everyone who is interviewed and who is going to be interviewing with him?

CORDERO: Well, it is more than a message, because it carries criminal penalties. And so anybody whether they are brought before the grand jury that the special counsel's office has convened or whether they are interviewed by investigators as a part of the investigation, either way, they can be held liable. They can be charged if they lie to in either of the situations. And we know that there have been many individuals, some that we know about publicly who were connected to the campaign, worked on the campaign. We know that there have been White House officials as well as there are probably others that we don't know who have appeared before the grand jury or been interview and all of those individuals if they lie during the course of those interviews or those appearances, this office is clearly willing to charge them for that act.

NOBLES: All right. Carrie Cordero, thank you for that. And Josh Dawsey, thank you for joining us. We appreciate your being here.

And just a head, they are waiting to die. A grave warning from U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley as the U.N. security council votes on a Syrian cease-fire. Her desperate plea is next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:34:11] NOBLES: We have some breaking news. The U.N. security council has just adopted a cease-fire in Syria. A vote to stop the relentless bombs and allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations into and out of the hell-scape that is worsening with every passing minute. And I do want to warn you that the pictures that you are going to see are horrific, graphic and necessary to show.


[15:35:21] NOBLES: Absolutely heartbreaking. A hero in a white helmet drags a screaming child from a surreal landscape of rubble and dust. This is in Ghouta, a rebel enclave, but it is the civilians who are dying in staggering numbers. More than 400 of them now since just Sunday. Women, children and the elderly killed while waiting for the vote on the other side of the world.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley launching a scathing attack on Russia for stalling the cease-fire.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: As they dragged tout 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 kid to the bombing and the shelling? How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children? And after all of this time, hardly anything has changed in the resolution except for a few words and some commas. The Syrian people should not have to die waiting for Russia to organize their instructions for Moscow or to discuss it with the see Syrians.


NOBLES: I want the bring in Richard Roth now. He is our CNN senior U.N. correspondent.

And Richard, despite those awful pictures, the obvious tragedy taking place in Syria, this felt like a showdown between Russia and the United States here in New York City. Talk us through what happened on the floor of the U.N.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: These days it seems that every big meeting is a showdown between U.S. and Russia. There maybe another one Monday on Yemen. Behind the scenes of the negotiating rooms, ambassador Haley was present with the Russian ambassador and others on the council. And ambassador Haley we are told was pushing hard for firmer deadlines, firmer access, better words, stronger words inside this resolution.

Nobody knows if the Syrian government or all other actors in this big country of Syria going through some much violence will comply. Basically, it is interesting, Haley was not around Thursday and Friday. She was giving a speech Thursday in Chicago. I asked where she was about yesterday, nobody told me. She certainly has a very forceful style that diplomats have told me sometimes can get things done, whether she was the difference. There was such frustration among the councilmembers, we don't know. But they were only in there for two hours, today. Thursday and Friday, it was like eight to ten hours without and agreement.

Whether this helps the carnage end and the people can get badly needed aid and evacuations, we are going to know soon.

The Syrian ambassador just finished speaking, Ryan. And he said we have shown maximum self-restraint. It is the terrorist and the group. And he wanted an end to other countries being inside of Syria. The same type of talk, we have heard over the years. But Russia fought back in its remarks. The ambassador challenging ambassador Haley's rhetoric which he has done quite often.

NOBLES: And while the squabbling continues, the deaths continue to mount.

Richard Roth at the United Nations. Thank you.

Coming up, debunking the horrible conspiracies theories that the student survivors of the Parkland shooting are paid actors. A look at how the false rumors got such widespread traction even making it to the top of the You Tube's trending section.

That is next. Stay right here.


[15:42:36] NOBLES: It is the spot million goes to for funny clips, movie trailers, or viral TV moments. But for a brief time this week, You Tube became a platform for spreading conspiracy theories about the Parkland school shooting.

At issue, a video claiming that 17-year-old David Hogg, on outspoken survivor of the shooting was actually a paid actor. Let's be clear, that is simply not true. The video was eventually removed for violating You Tube's policy on harassment and bullying but not before it rose to the top of the site's tending section. The You Tube later blamed an algorithm that failed to detect a true nature of the content.

Hogg and others victims have already had to endure what has been a vicious smear campaign as far right websites post a mixture of rumor innuendo and outright lies that the students were make everything up. We are taking their talking points from the anti-gun lobby.

I want to bring in my panel now to talk about this. CNN political commentator and senior columnist for "the Daily Beast" Matt Lewis and opinion contributor and the host of the Dean Obedallah Show on Sirius XM radio, Dean Obedallah.

Matt, let's start with you. To the President's, Donald Trump Jr., she actually liked a pair of those conspiracy tweets about Hogg. Are appalled when you see prominent people like that and your party give credence to these lies.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look. It is either malicious or it is ignorance. And either way, it is inexcusable. We have to be very diligent about this. We have to be, you know, I think it is incumbent upon all of us now to be skeptical of the things that we see. I would hope that the Trump, that the President's son was not intentionally trying to advance this, you know, scurrilous rumor, but we have to be much better consumers of news. Because it is so easy now for people to manipulate information and to put it out there and easier than it used to be.

NOBLES: Yes, no doubt.

Well, Dean, it has really been extraordinary to watch how these student survivors have reacted to being accused of being paid actors. Take a listen to one of the responses.


RYAN DEITSCH, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: It is absolutely ridiculous to say the least like to think that I am a good actor is just -- I mean, if anything it is a compliment and I hope that the academy is watching.

CAMERON KASKY, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: If you had seen me in the school's production of "fiddler on the roof" you would know that nobody would pay me to act for anything.

[15:45:02] DAVID HOGG, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I would like to thank people have been saying this about me. The have been great advertising, because it means what I'm doing is working. Without those people saying that, we would not have nearly as many people here.


NOBLES: And these kids don't seem to be bothered by this. And they think that it is actually positive that they are using humor to try and respond to some of these attacks?

DEAN OBEDALLAH, SIRIUS XM HOST, THE DEAN OBEDALLAH SHOW: I think humor is a great coping mechanism. And I think it is so sad that these kids, just because of their political views have been demonized by people like former sheriff David Clark, Donald Trump Jr., I think he knew what he was clicking on, frankly. It is politics.

The idea - these kids just eight or nine days ago living their life, typical high school kids, dreaming of a better life, maybe going to college, a guy walks in with a weapon of war. They have to deal with the bloody rampage and then be attacked by some of the extreme voices on the right. It is one of the most vile things I have seen in a year-and-a-half of vileness that I thought nothing could stun me. So there is sense of humor about it. I think it inspires to us that they are tough and they are going to keep fighting. And they are going to keep fighting this fight and they here for a safe from gun violence.

NOBLES: And I think we can all agree that this kind of conduct isn't appropriate and beyond the pale.

But, Matt, I wonder, is this incumbent to a certain degree on us as consumers to know and root out what is real and what us fake?

LEWIS: Absolutely. Look, I think that the sad thing is there are a lot of Americans out there who are not really sophisticated consumers of information. And part of it is that the technology has happened so fast. I mean, our brains are the same brains we had hundreds of years ago and, so, you know, thousands of years ago and back with evolution.

We are trying to adapt and trying to cope with dramatic changes of technology. And if you are an older person, let's say you, get on the Facebook once in a while, maybe you are a conservative, you already distrusts the media. You don't believe the liberal media, that's fine. But maybe there is a good reason for that sometimes.

You are now susceptible to these lies. And it is super, super dangerous. We have to be very cautious in terms of being consumers of information. If you see something like this, check it out. Assume, you know, don't just believe that because Alex Jones says it or because, your aunt emails you. Do not believe that it is true.

NOBLES: Right. Right.

And now, let's go to the debate now over the gun.

And Matt, there are striking similarity between what the NRA leader Wayne Lapierre said at CPAC and what the President said in the same day during a discussion on school safety. Let's take a listen to both.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA LEADER: It should not be easier for a mad man to the shoot up a school than a bank or a jewelry store or some Hollywood gala.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want my schools protected just like my banks are protected.

LAPIERRE: We must immediately harden the schools.

TRUMP: We have to harden them, not soften them up.

LAPIERRE: We drop off the kids at schools that are so-called gun-free zones that are wide open targets for any crazy madman bent on evil to come there first.

TRUMP: A gun-free zone to a killer or somebody who wants to be a killer, that is like going in for the ice cream. That is like, here I am, take me.


NOBLES: So we saw that the President, Matt. He did conduct a listening session with the victims, but realistically, and not just the President, it is the Republicans in general, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell. Can they separate themselves from the NRA when it comes to the policy push? LEWIS: They can. I actually think that it would be very smart for

Donald Trump to do so even though they have heavily funded his Presidential bid. I think he could have a sister Souljah moment, and only Nixon goes to China moment where Donald Trump could actually transcend his base for once and that is what Bill Clinton did and would have done.

Look, I don't know if Donald Trump just thinks like Wayne Lapierre or whether they are singing off of the same choir sheet. I personally think that it would be great to harden the schools, to secure them better, but that it should only be one facet of the much larger reform program. And I think the fear here is that they want to just do that, right? We are not going to do anything else. We are just going to put, you know, more security in schools. And I think that would to be a mistake.

NOBLES: And we know, he is still talking to the NRA. We know that definitively he had a conversation with Chris Cox, the executive director.

So unfortunately, we are going to have to the leave it there. But yes, this conversation is obviously ongoing so that influence still exists in some respects, right.

Matt Lewis and Dean Obedallah, thank you so much for joining us.

President Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump is in South Korea delivering a personal message from the President, putting pressure on North Korea and cheering on the American athletes. We will take you live to PyeongChang ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[15:54:26] NOBLES: Forget Rex Tillerson or Mike Pence. According to the President, we, quote "cannot have a better or smarter person representing our country on the Korean peninsula than his daughter, Ivanka Trump. She is in PyeongChang ahead of the closing ceremonies for the winter Olympic games. The backdrop to her visit, the heaviest sanctions on North Korea to date. Part of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign to force the company to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Joining me now live from PyeongChang, CNN's Will Ripley.

Will, what are we learning about Ivanka's stop in South Korea and her involvement in umping up the pressure on North Korea?

[15:55:06] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Ryan, more than a year into the Trump presidency, there's still no U.S. ambassador to South Korea. So Ivanka Trump came here with two missions. One, the photo ops that we saw in the bright red snow suit, smiling, waving, taking pictures, cheering on U.S. athletes. But the more important role really for her was the back channel discussions all the way to the top of South Korea's leadership with South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, where she laid out President Trump's North Korea strategy. And she talked about these new sanctions that were announced by the treasury department where they are basically trying to isolate North Korea even further economically by cutting off all of the ships that the U.S. says they have been using to conduct illicit transfers of raw materials out at sea, out away from the eyes of spy planes and what not so that North Korea can sell these materials to countries like China and Russia, which obviously are not affected by the current sanctions.

So the U.S. treasury is trying to crack down on that. Ivanka Trump laying out the policy even as her father made some pretty provocative comments on Friday, saying that if the diplomacy doesn't work, he is prepared to move to phase two, which a lot of people are believing could be a military option, a strike against North Korea to stop them from developing the nuclear capabilities.

So a very sensitive situation. And by the way, just hours from now, Ryan, she will be sitting possibly in the same VIP box, Ivanka Trump, with the high ranking North Korean delegation.

NOBLES: All right. Will Ripley, we will watch for that. Thank you so much for joining us live from PyeongChang.

Stay with us. We will be back in a moment.