Return to Transcripts main page


74 Republicans Ask Florida Governor to Suspend Sheriff Israel; Students Return to Class at Stoneman Douglas Wednesday; NRA Rejects Trump's Call for Age Limit on Gun Purchases; Mexican President Cancels White House Visit After Call Over Border Wall; President Trump Slams Democratic Memo; How Drug Addiction Hurts U.S. Business; The Radical Story of Patty Hearst; Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 25, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:03] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Sciutto in tonight for Ana Cabrera, and we are following mounting backlash tonight against the sheriff whose department missed the warning signs that may have prevented the deaths of 17 children and their teachers.

Seventy-four Republicans in Florida are now calling for the suspension of this man, but Scott Israel, the Broward County sheriff, is not only refusing to go, he is defending his, quote, "amazing leadership." This despite the fact that the department was warned numerous times about that 19-year-old gunman, that he was dangerous, that he was armed, and that he had explicitly stated plans to commit violence at a school.

At least 18 warning calls to police, red flags that Israel admits were missed by his department, but the criticism of Israel and his department doesn't end there. It turns out that on the day of the shooting, Broward County sheriff's deputies, at least three of them, waited outside the school while those children and their teachers lay dead or dying or injured inside the building.

Sheriff Israel was on CNN earlier today and he told my colleague, Jake Tapper, that none of that is his fault.


SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: You don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy, not going into a -- these deputies received the training they needed. Of course I won't resign. It was a shameful letter, it was politically motivated. I never met that man. He doesn't know anything about me and the letter was full of misinformation.

I wrote a letter back to the governor. I talked about all the mistakes that Hagar made in his letter. It was a shameful politically motivated letter that had no facts and of course I won't resign.


SCIUTTO: Now this is why the sheriff says that, in his view, it's all about politics today. He is an elected official, a Democrat. The letters calling for his removal are from the state's Republican lawmakers to the governor who is also a Republican.

But let's go live now to Parkland and to CNN's Martin Savidge and Kaylee Hartung.

Martin, I suppose the most important measure, factor here really is, what do the families in the area of Parkland think about the sheriff? Do they think he should be held responsible?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They do, indeed. Yes, they very much believe he should be held responsible. And it has nothing to do with partisan politics. It has to do with something far more basic. And that is personal pain. This community has almost daily faced what appears to be new and deeply troubling news about how these warning signs were missed, whether it's the Broward County Sheriff's Department, in particular, even the FBI, but especially Broward County because that is the primary law enforcement for this community.

And over the years, they were called to Nikolas Cruz's home, the young man responsible for the shooting, and many she they missed opportunities to intervene there. There's serious implications. You had a deputy hearing gunfire, it was outside of the building, and didn't go in, and then reports of other deputies that didn't go in, in the immediate aftermath.

For these families, those screw-ups, if you want to call them that, aren't just something that brings shame to the department, they lost their children because of these mistakes, so naturally the outpouring of anger is demanding that somebody take responsibility and that's their problem. You know, when they saw the sheriff on Jake Tapper's show earlier today, there was a man who refused to take responsibility in their mind. He is the leader of the department and they believe that he should be removed. Now they are adamant about that, Jake -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, they have many reasons to feel let down on a number of levels that this happened, and I can only imagine their feelings as a parent here.

Kaylee, we heard one of the students say in a press conference last week, they don't know if they ever want to go back to the school. I spoke to a student just a couple of days ago, said the same thing. As classes are preparing to reopen on Wednesday.

You were speaking to students and teachers today. What were they telling you?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, today an emotional day as many students went back on Stoneman Douglas' campus for the first time since February 14th, and the 1200 Building of Stoneman Douglas, the one that the gunman attacked, it's been fenced off. One student explained to me that as he approached that building today, he experienced intense sadness, but covering that fence were banners of support sent to Stoneman Douglas by other schools and organizations across the country. He said despite that sadness, he was uplifted in that moment. There's been such an outpouring of love and support for this

community, but they are drawing strength from within. A range of emotions were experienced by students and teachers here today. Listen to history teacher Greg Pitman share with us what he experienced.


GREG PITTMAN, TEACHER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: As I was driving to campus, actually before I made a turn about a mile and a half further down Pile Island Road, I was real anxious, and the closer I got, I was a little more anxious. And then we came in, went through security, went in and parked the car, went -- on the way to the rooms, saw some of the teachers.

[20:05:11] Everybody was relieved to see each other and then went to my room, and I kind of just sat a minute, and I unlocked the door so that obviously the kids could come in to get their backpacks and whatever. And the more students I ran into, it was much more -- I'm so glad to see you, I'm so glad to see you, I'm so -- and people were happy versus sad, and as opposed to a negative emotion. People were very upbeat and very relieved to see each other like you haven't seen them in years. And it's felt like it's been years since I've seen them.


HARTUNG: Mr. Pittman went on to say that when classes resume on Wednesday, it will not be class as usual. It will take some time before the focus is on academics.

Right now, Jim, the focus is on healing.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's going to be with them for the rest of their lives.

Kaylee, Martin, thanks very much for being there for us.

In the wake of this shooting, the president is reiterating his push for a federal ban on rifle sales to those under 21 years old. Here's him on FOX News last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Perhaps we'll do something having, you know, on age because it doesn't seem to make sense that you have to wait until your 21 years old to get a pistol, but to get a gun like this maniac used in the school, you get that at 18. I mean, that doesn't make sense.


SCIUTTO: Well, the NRA has rejected that proposal, although its spokeswoman did try to downplay the disagreement with the president.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS'S "THIS WEEK": He wants to raise that minimum age. Will the NRA back that?

DANA LOESCH, NRA NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Well, the NRA has made their position incredibly clear, the five million members of the NRA have made their position incredibly clear, and I do want to caution people --


LOESCH: Well, I do want to caution people because I know that people are trying to find daylight between President Trump and five million law-abiding gun owners and law-abiding gun owners all across the United States. These are just things that he's discussing right now. I think that it's great that as president he had all of these individuals, all of these constituents come into the White House. He had this listening session. He's really looking for solutions.

He wanted to hear what they had to say and that's what he's doing. So far nothing has been proposed yet. The NRA has made their positions clear.


STEPHANOPOULOS: No, he just said it doesn't make sense. The position is you do not want to raise the age.

LOESCH: That's what the NRA came out and said. That's correct.


SCIUTTO: Want to bring in our CNN political commentators now. Former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings and "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow.

Scott and Charles, thanks so much for coming.

And Scott, a brand new CNN poll just out this morning shows that support for stricter gun laws is higher than it's been in some 25 years. 70 percent now saying they favor more restrictive gun legislation. Now at the same time, we know that we've been at moments like this before. The NRA and others wield enormous power here.

Do you believe that the president can separate him and his party, at least put some daylight as we heard there from George Stephanopoulos between him and the NRA which has so many Republican backers?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the NRA doesn't run the government. The president and the Republican leadership in Congress, they run the government. They are not beholden to any special interest groups. That's number one. Number two, the reason that polling is like it is, is because the dam is breaking. People want answers. They don't want agendas. They want answers. They don't want their children going into school where they're going to be massacred.

So it strikes me that there are a number of policy proposals that are common sense and that could garner the support of most people in Congress, and nobody would lose a seat over it. Number one, I think the age issue that the president raised is absolutely true. It makes sense to people, so 21 years old. Number two, bump stock ban is a no- brainer. And number three, fixing and strengthening the background check system, which Senator Cornyn has a bill on, is something else.

Those three things could be done immediately while we sort out the larger issues of hardening schools, our culture issues, but those three things right there I think immediate widespread bipartisan support ought to happen right now.

SCIUTTO: Charles, you, like me, I know remember the moment, the momentum following the Sandy Hook shootings. Equally horrific. In fact, higher death toll, they were younger, and yet, even with the Democratic control of one House of Congress and a Democratic president, nothing happened. What is different now in your view if you think anything?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not exactly sure if things -- I mean, this feeling that these particular kids as advocates are very articulate. They are pressing their case. They probably have a lot of political public support behind them, but the cowards are in Congress, right? And that's where they've always been, and that has always been the problem we've had with moving forward in any way on any substantial gun regulations or any sort of legislation around guns.

And I try to make this point all the time as well. The fact that the NRA and their cronies in Congress forbid us by law from having the CDC be funded to study guns means that we have conversations like this and really kind of shooting in the dark.

[20:10:13] We don't know if the science would back up our proposal as being things that would help because we don't let the scientists do their work. And that is an incredible thing to have to say, and it is true. We forbid by law from allowing the ATF to even know how many of these guns are even being sold. We don't know how many of these guns even are in circulation in America. That's incredible.

And by law, we are forbidden from knowing that. We are forbidden from the ATF even asking the gun shops about what their inventory is. The only time you know is if they go out of business, then they have to turn over the inventory list of what they sold and what they have. And that can't even be computerized by law. It has to be kept on paper. So you cannot search it.

The NRA has forced us to live in the dark and so we have to propose policies on our best guesses about what we think would work. That is an incredible thing for us to -- way for us to live in America.

SCIUTTO: It's a fair point because folks have often made the point that to fight this, you have to fight it like a public health issue, right? And you needed data --

BLOW: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: -- to do it. To take those steps. Another thing, Scott, as you know, that the president has floated, in fact repeatedly now, is this idea of arming what he called adept teachers or armed educators, he used that phrase as well. Tonight, Ivanka Trump was weighing in on that proposal. Here she is in a new interview. Have a listen.


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS: You're a mom of three young children. Do you believe that arming teachers would make children safer?

IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER AND SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: To be honest, I don't know. Obviously there would have to be an incredibly high standard for who would be able to bear arms in our school, but I think that there is no one solution to creating safety.

ALEXANDER: You're advising your dad on this? Do you advise him on other topics?

I. TRUMP: I think that having a teacher who is armed, who cares deeply about her students or his students, and who is capable and qualified to bear arms, is not a bad idea, but it's an idea that needs to be discussed.


SCIUTTO: I spoke to a couple of teachers who were survivors of Parkland, Scott, who said they had no interest in arming themselves after this. Do you think this proposal has the potential of gaining support?

JENNINGS: I do not because I don't think -- I think Ivanka was being diplomatic. I don't think she wants to make her dad angry in a television interview but she knows what most parents know. We're trying to answer a different question here. The question isn't, how do we win more gun battles in the hallway? The question is, how do we prevent gun battles from happening at all at the school?

And arming teachers -- look, they've done studies on police officers, and highly trained people who would get involved in gun battles and close range situations. In fact I think one study on the NYPD, less than 20 percent accuracy on your shots in a close range gun battle for people who are highly trained.


JENNINGS: If you put a gun in any of our hands and plunged us into a chaotic gun battle in the hallway, I just don't see how that could be enough for us to say, well, we've guarded the schools now, everything is going to be fine. That's not really the answer. It's not going to go anywhere and it's not the solution I think the parents of America are looking for.

SCIUTTO: And let's just remind folks of the obvious fact it'd be our children who would be in that -- caught in that crossfire.


SCIUTTO: Coming from both sides.

Charles, maybe a chance for a final word.

BLOW: Yes, but I -- I want America to follow the money and the guns on that proposal. The president says 20 percent of teachers, that's one in five. The "Washington Post" did an analysis to this, trying to figure out how much it would cost. Number one, that would be 718,000 new guns in American schools. Think about that for half a second. And if they bought those guns at full price and did full training of those people, it would be over a billion dollars.

That's money into the coffers of the gun industry. That's -- follow the money on this idea. Don't just think about it as like maybe that helps, maybe that is not a crack pot idea.


BLOW: Follow the money.

SCIUTTO: Yes. What's the question? Right? As they say, who benefits from a move like that?

Charles, Scott, thanks very much. Appreciate your thoughts on this.

The online news outlet Axios is reporting two interesting stories tonight. First, it says that President Trump is talking privately about executing major drug dealers. A senior administration official telling Axios, quote, "He often jokes about killing drug dealers. He'll say, you know, the Chinese and Filipinos don't have a drug problem. They just kill them."

Counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, who is leading the anti- drug effort at the White House said that the president's position is more nuance and indicated that a policy announcement is forthcoming.

The other big Axios headline tonight, it says that the president's personal pilot is on the short list to lead the FAA. Trump reportedly telling administration officials that he wants John Duncan to head the agency. Sources tell Axios that while a decision has not been made, Duncan appears to have the necessary experience for the job. The FAA got a lot of money behind that organization.

[20:15:10] Coming up, the sheriff of Broward County, Florida, facing harsh criticism for not doing enough when so many people threw up red flags about a dangerous and unstable young man with guns. You will hear from the sheriff next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


SCIUTTO: It began with an explicit warning called into the Broward County Sheriff's Office. He could be a school shooter in the making. And it turned out he was. This call just one of many red flags that were missed, and now -- 17 people, rather, students and teachers are dead, and there is mounting pressure for someone to be held accountable.

Seventy-four Republicans are asking Florida Governor Rick Scott to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. The sheriff came on CNN today and spoke with my colleague Jake Tapper.


[20:20:02] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: On November 30th, fewer than three months ago, your office received a call from a tipster explicitly saying that Cruz could be a, quote, "school shooter in the making." According to notes released on that call, no report was even initiated.

At this point, sir, do you understand how the public, seeing red flag after red flag after red flag, warning after warning after warning, they hear that your office didn't even initiate a report when they got a call saying that this guy could be a school shooter in the making? How could there not even be a report on this one?

ISRAEL: Well, if that's accurate, Jake, there needed to be a report. And that's what we're looking into, that a report needed to be completed, it needed to be forwarded to our either Homeland Security or Violent Crimes Unit, and they would've followed up on it.


TAPPER: That's from your notes. That's from notes released by your office. I'm not making this up. This is from Broward --

ISRAEL: No. And that's -- and that's what -- the officer who handled that is on restrictive duty. And we are -- that's an active internal investigation and we are looking in to it. I can't tell you -- I can't predict how an investigation is going, but we have -- I have exercised my due diligence. I have led this county proudly, as I always have. We have restricted that deputy as we look into it.

TAPPER: In this case, you've listed 23 incidents before the shooting involving the shooter, and still nothing was done to keep guns out of his hands, to make sure that there were -- the school was protected, to make sure you were keeping an eye on him. Your deputy at the school failed.

ISRAEL: Jake --

TAPPER: I don't understand how you can sit there and claim amazing leadership.

ISRAEL: Jake, on 16 of those cases, our deputies did everything right. Our deputies have done amazing things. We've taken this -- in the five years I have been sheriff, we have taken the Broward Sheriff's Office to a new level. I have worked with some of the bravest people I have ever met. One person -- at this point, one person didn't do what he should have done. It's horrific.

The victims here, the families, I pray for them every night. It makes me sick to my stomach that we had a deputy that didn't go in because I know if I was there, if I was on that wall, I would have been the first in, along with so many of the other people.

TAPPER: I think there are a lot of people -- I think there are a lot of people, sir, who think that there are a lot of mistakes other than that one deputy.

The Broward County School Board entered into an agreement when you were sheriff in 2013 to pursue the, quote, "least punitive means of discipline" against students. This new policy encouraged warnings, consultations with parents and programs on conflict resolution, instead of arresting students for crimes.

Were there not incidents committed by the shooter as a student had this new policy not been in place that otherwise he would have been arrested for and not able to legally buy a gun?

ISRAEL: What you're referring to is the PROMISE program. And it's giving the school -- the school has the ability under certain circumstances not to call the police, not to get the police involved on misdemeanor offenses, and take care of it within the school. It's an excellent program. It's helping many, many people. What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system.

TAPPER: What if he should be in the criminal justice system? What if he does something violent to a student?

ISRAEL: Then --

TAPPER: What if he takes bullets to school?

ISRAEL: That's just been --

TAPPER: What if he takes knives to schools? What if he threatens the lives of fellow students?

ISRAEL: Then he goes to jail. That's not applicable in the PROMISE program.

TAPPER: That's not what happened. But that's not what happened with the shooter. There are at teachers at the school had been told, if you see Cruz come on campus with a backpack, let me know.

Does that not indicate that there is something seriously awry with the PROMISE program if these teachers are being told, watch out for this kid, and you don't know about it?

ISRAEL: We don't know that that has anything to do with the PROMISE program. I didn't hear about this until after the fact. I have heard about this information about a week ago. I do know about it. I don't know who the teacher was. It hasn't been corroborated, but that has nothing to do with the PROMISE program.


SCIUTTO: Really just so many unanswered questions still there.

Coming up, plans for the Mexican president to visit the White House put on hold after a testy phone call about Trump's border wall.

Where does this fight, this relationship go from here? We're going to talk to a former Trump campaign adviser next. It'll be live in the NEWSROOM.


[20:28:56] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. A testy phone call puts Mexican President Enrique Pena-Nieto's upcoming White House trip on hold. Again. The conversation between the two leaders was focused on President Trump's signature campaign promise, building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and getting Mexico to pay for it, something it has refused repeatedly. The point of contention Pena-Nieto's refusal to publicly state that Mexico would give in and ultimately pay for the border wall.

I want to bring in CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes to discuss.

Steve, listen, I know that this is an important campaign promise for the president. I know it plays well with his base. Is it good for the country for the president to go back to a close U.S. ally repeatedly and make that demand to pay for the wall when we know Mexico has no intention to do that?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Jim, I think it does. And listen, I understand this is a difficult issue. You know, clearly. But the president, if there was one issue that he was clear about in 2016, it was this issue. If there's one that really resonated with the Trump movement, with the 2016 movement, it was getting control of our immigration system in general and specifically the border wall.


SCIUTTO: Yes, but with no --

CORTES: When I worked for the campaign --

[20:30:07] SCIUTTO: With no real plan to back up that he would get Mexico to pay for it. I mean, what was that part of the promise based on particularly now more than a year into the presidency and you know, Mexico privately and publicly said repeatedly they're not going to pay for it. In fact, they take great offense to it.

CORTES: Well, listen, there's a lot of ways, Jim, that we can do that. We can tax remittances, we can put small tariffs on imports. There's a lot of ways to get that done but I would also point this out. I think it's important for America to pay for it up front. I think we will more than gain back what we spend on better border enforcement because we spend so much right now on our terrible porous border, on what's effectively been an open board for decades. The amount that we spend on ICE, on incarceration, on deportation is far, far more than what we've spent on sensible border enforcement, so this is a good investment for the United States. SCIUTTO: But let me ask you about sensible because you're a sensible

guy. You and I talk all the time. I mean, you got two issues here. You got the wall itself and then you got the who's going to pay for it part. So we dealt with the pay for it part.


SCIUTTO: The wall, I mean, you know, the way the border is, right, I mean, some of it is very mountainous, right? There are areas where no one could really, you know, go across at those points. So --

CORTES: Right.

SCIUTTO: I mean, the wall is principally a political promise. Is it not? I mean, the idea of actually building a physical barrier that goes from one end to the other? Because even Democrats are for enhanced border security or a virtual wall, et cetera. You know, is it necessary to insist on a physically kind of brick wall from end-to- end?

CORTES: Well, Jim, are they? I don't know. They used to be. I mean, for sure. Then Senator Obama, then Senator Hillary Clinton voted for hundreds of miles of border barricades back in I think it was 2007 or 2006. In 2013, a lot of the present senators including Senator Schumer voted for massively more border barricades. So they used to be. It's like Joe Biden, they were for it before they were against it.

Now listen, I have said many times, do we need an actual grand wall from sea to shining sea? I don't think so. I'm not a security expert. I'm not an architect. What I do know, though, is this. We must control our borders. If you don't have a border, you don't have a country. And I also know this. Mexico, I believe that we have a bright future together, and often, you know, the poet Robert Frost taught us many years ago in a poem that often good fences make for good neighbors. We have a bright future together, but a good fence is not only good for us, it's good for Mexico. And by the way --


SCIUTTO: I hear you on the fence. But on the issue of paying for it, clearly it's not helping the relationship. In fact, it's damaging the relationship to insist on Mexico paying for something that they don't think is their responsibility. So why -- beyond giving the president his own personal satisfaction about the campaign promise, why is it good policy to keep at this?

CORTES: Right.

SCIUTTO: And keep blowing up the relationship?

CORTES: Sure. Listen. It's a valid question. I think that when it comes to Mexico, when it comes to China, a lot of countries in the world, America has been taken advantage of, whether it's security policy, whether it's trade policy. We've been taken advantage of. We have played in the international arena, and I'm not just blaming President Obama, by the way. I would say President Bush as well.

We have operated as though we have a weak hand. Instead of knowing that we have the strong hand to play. That doesn't mean that we bully people around, but it means let's negotiate like we have the hand we have, which is strong. And we haven't done that in the past, and so I think what President Trump is doing, which to me is very refreshing, is saying, we want to trade with the world, but we want to be reciprocal and fair.

We want to have borders that matter and immigration policy that's sensible for American workers, whether it's Mexico, whether it's China. We are going to recalibrate our relationships with other countries, and it's going to be America First and it's going to be American workers first.

SCIUTTO: Steve Cortes, thanks very much as always.

CORTES: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, a total phony. President Trump escalates his attacks on a top Democrat after a Democratic memo rebuts many GOP claims of bias in the Russia investigation.


[20:38:13] SCIUTTO: President Trump firing back at Democrats after the release of their House Intelligence Committee memo on the Russia investigation. The document challenges Republican claims by committee chairman Devin Nunes that in his controversial memo released earlier this month. Committee's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, fought for weeks for his rebuttal to be released. Now that it is out, perhaps not by coincidence, on a Saturday afternoon, President Trump not holding back about its context or the author.


D. TRUMP: Well, all you do is you see this Adam Schiff, he has a meeting, and he leaves the meeting, and he calls up reporters, and then all of a sudden they have news, and you're not supposed to do that. It's probably illegal to do it. You know, he'll have a committee meeting and he'll leak all sorts of information. You know, he's a bad guy, but certainly the memo was a nothing.


SCIUTTO: CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz, he's read through all 10 pages of the memo with our team here.

And Shimon, of course the president dismissing it as a bust. You've read through it. What are the facts?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, the facts are going to speak for themselves in terms of what the president may think. But what this memo did for us yesterday was gave us a fuller picture of what the FBI, what the Department of Justice, the intelligence that they were dealing with in their application for the FISA court, specifically dealing with certainly Carter Page.

You know, the Republican memos tried to paint everything on the dossier that the FBI relied on the dossier, it was sort of the lynch pin into getting the FISAs. While the Democratic memo takes it further and said that there was other information besides the dossier that was used to get this FISA. In fact, what we learned was that the dossier and the author of the dossier didn't come to the FBI's attention until well after the FBI had opened its counterintelligence investigation which was in July of 2016.

[20:40:10] And then it was September of 2016 that Christopher Steele comes to them and shares information with them about the dossier. There were other things we learned in the memo, one of the things that I found certainly interesting was that the FBI had opened sub- inquiries into a number of Trump campaign associates besides Carter Page.

There were other people associated with the campaign that they were looking at, so, you know, what we saw yesterday was a fuller picture, certainly different than the ones the Republicans painted and that they only gave us a slice of the information that the FBI was dealing with. And certainly this now this gives a full circle and full picture of all the information the FBI had.

SCIUTTO: Shimon Prokupecz, thanks very much for walking us through it.

And coming up, the economy here in the U.S. is strong, so why are business owners struggling to find workers? One factor, the opioid epidemic. How human tragedy has sparked an economic crisis in parts of this country.


JOHN O'BRIEN, CONTRACTOR: I have a little list in my head of things I watch for, person X is really, really good on certain days and then on other days it looks like he's just completely lost.



[20:45:47] SCIUTTO: It is a disaster along wide stretches of the Ohio River this weekend. This is north of Louisville, Kentucky. People stranded inside their homes, cars, homes underwater. At least two people have been reported killed so far as a result of these high, fast-rising flood waters.

Louisville and Cincinnati are seeing the highest flood levels in 20 years. Weather officials blame days of heavy rain. They say it will be well into next week before those flood waters there recede.

The nation's opioid crisis is hurting more than just individuals and families. It's also taking a big toll on American businesses.

CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans shows us why. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The job market is

strong, booming really. There's 5.8 million job openings in America right now and employers are desperate to fill them, but economists are noticing a dangerous new trend -- an opioid epidemic sidelining workers.

I recently visited Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where employers say they have jobs available. They just can't find the workers.


ROMANS (Voice-over): Taft Farms has been in the family for decades. Dan Tawczynski and his son Paul have seen every kind of economy, but this -- this is new.

PAUL TAWCZYNSKI, CO-OWNER, TAFT FARMS: We have had ads running in the paper, ads running online, and I have a stack of applications of people that I wouldn't dream of hiring.

ROMANS: A shortage of workers.

DAN TAWCZYNSKI, CO-OWNER, TAFT FARMS: It seems as though all the employable workers are employed.

ROMANS: The job market is booming, but the percentage of Americans working or looking for work is near a 40-year low. Economist Alan Krueger noticed a link between the missing workers, and opioid use.

PROF. ALAN KRUEGER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: If you look at the counties where more medication is being prescribed, we've seen a bigger drop in the labor force participation rate for both men and for women, and increase in the prescription rate can account for between 20 percent and 25 percent of the decline.

ROMANS: Contractor John O'Brien knows the signs.

O'BRIEN: I have a little list in my head of things I watch for, person X is really, really good on certain days, and then on other days, it looks like he's just completely lost. A guy who has a backpack and is very protective of it and he brings it absolutely everywhere we go, and it's always that big backpack, that's a really good red flag.

ROMANS: This is a new part of the economic story. The opioid epidemic. A personal tragedy now holding back the labor market.

KRUEGER: We have an epidemic that is killing over 30,000 people a year. That's going to have macro economic consequences. If the U.S. is going to see faster growth, it's going to come about because we find workers somewhere. The best source, I think, are the workers who are out of the labor force trying to figure out ways to make it possible for them to regain their footing and return to the labor force.

ROMANS: Amy Borden was once one of those missing workers, now 11 years into recovery, she's employed. (On camera): When you think of the hurdles to getting to where you

are and then to hear from employers who say, you know, I just -- I'm not ready to hire somebody in recovery.

AMY BORDEN, FORMER OPIOID ADDICT: I think the judgment and the stigma has to go away. It has to. You have to listen to the person and just be understanding that it's a disease. Without financial stability, most people will relapse because of the stress of, how do I support my family? So we have to be given the opportunity.

ROMANS (voice-over): Treating the epidemic imperative for families, communities, and business.

(On camera): So you can really see how not being able to get workers, can hold back how much you can grow and how much business you can do?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. I can hire two guys, three guys today, and it makes expanding my business very difficult, not having the resources to get to everybody who is calling.


ROMANS: The people on the front lines say opioid treatment is a start. Critically important, job training and placement comes next, but America needs to shut this crisis down at the start. Limiting the number of pills prescribed, using them only temporarily, and with oversight.

[20:50:02] SCIUTTO: Just a devastating heartbreaking story. Christine Romans, thanks very much.

Every public school across West Virginia will be closed for a third time as teachers there strike over pay. Last week teachers from across the state gathered at the capitol building in Charleston demanding changes over lack of benefits and low wages. Public schools will be shut again on Monday as teachers and other school employees take to the picket lines once again.

Coming up, the stunning conclusion of the CNN original series, "THE RADICAL STORY OF PATTY HEARST." A look back at the incredible turn of events that led to the capture of the infamous heiress-turned- terrorist.


SCIUTTO: Tonight, it is the finale of a saga of privilege, celebrity, politics and violence. The conclusion of "THE RADICAL STORY OF PATTY HEARST" details that capture and trial of the famous American heiress who was kidnapped and then joined her captors in a series of bank robberies and other crimes.

[20:55:08] In her trial back in 1976 she was defended by the famed attorney F. Lee Bailey, who you may remember he would also go on to be part of O.J. Simpson's defense team. Here's what he said about the Hearst case.


F. LEE BAILEY, HEARST DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I must say, without equivocation the worst case I have ever taken on in my life was the "United States against Patty Hearst." She was more unpopular than the Boston strangler.

C,J. WESTRICK, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE 1976: I think the importance of the Hearst verdict was that people realized that money can't buy you out of going to jail.


SCIUTTO: Our own Ana Cabrera recently sat down with the series' executive producer and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to talk about it.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE RADICAL STORY OF PATTY HEARST": Just to refresh people's memory. She's kidnapped in February of 1974. In April of '74 she is shown on a security camera robbing a bank with her Symbionese Liberation Army colleagues in the Sunset section of San Francisco. She goes on the run at that point. Six of her colleagues are killed in a shootout, but she's eventually caught in September of 1975.

So she's been on the run for a year and a half after this bank robbery. But she's caught and she's put on trial for this bank robbery and her defense attorney is F. Lee Bailey. Famous lawyer then, still pretty famous now. And the trial is not really about what happened because it's on the -- I mean, everybody sees that she's in there with a machine gun. The issue is what was going on in her head.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Was she brainwashed or was she actually --

TOOBIN: Yes. Had she really gone over to the other side or was she acting under threat, under coercion? And that's what the trial was about.

CABRERA: You write about her being on the stand and that being a pivotal moment in her trial.

TOOBIN: It really was. And F. Lee Bailey made a terrible miscalculation. He wanted her to tell the story of the kidnapping, which she did, and it was very moving. But he didn't realize the judge would allow cross-examination on all the other crimes Patty Hearst had committed while she was on the run. Two other bank robberies, including one where a woman, Myrna Opsahl, was killed. Another time when Patty Hearst took out a machine gun and shot up a street in Los Angeles.

That forced Bailey to tell Patty Hearst to take the Fifth in front of the jury. And that, in many respect, really sealed her fate and virtually guaranteed that she'd be convicted, which she was.

CABRERA: We talked previously about public perception and how it's sort of wax and waned during the course of this crime and then the trial. What were the efforts to rehabilitate her public image when it was all said and done?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, when she was arrested, you know, the first thing she did when she -- was, you know, gives this sort of revolutionary salute to the cameras when she arrived at the courthouse, and when she was arrested they asked for her occupation and she said urban guerilla. By the time she was on trial, she was Patricia Campbell Hearst again. She was dressed in a conservative suit, her fingernails were polished, and she had become the figure that she grew up again.

That's the life she's led since then. She is in -- she has become a rich lady in the suburbs, as I think some people may know. She raises show dogs in the New York suburbs.

CABRERA: That's right.

TOOBIN: That's her job. So, you know, people are who they are, even with a very traumatic interlude.

CABRERA: Is there a legal or cultural legacy to this Patty Hearst case?

TOOBIN: Well, I think, you know, a lot of the phrases associated with the case Stockholm syndrome, brainwashing, you know, it's a story about whether we really know what's in people's hearts. You know, what are people really thinking. What are they really want? Which is one of the oldest human mysteries of all. And I think that's what makes this story so intriguing. And I hope when people watch the final two hours tonight, you know, we don't tell them what to think about it. But there is a lot to think about.

CABRERA: Can't wait to see it. Thank you so much, Jeffrey Toobin, for sharing with us.


SCIUTTO: A great story and a great show. That does it for me tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. The epic conclusion of the CNN original series, "THE RADICAL STORY OF PATTY HEARST" airs next right here on CNN.