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Calls for Broward Sheriff to Resign Over Shooting Response; Trump Talks School Safety With Governors; Ivanka Says It's Inappropriate to Ask Her About Father's Accusers; Democratic Intel Memo Released With Redactions; Companies End Discount Deals With The NRA. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired February 26, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:15] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. John Berman here.

In just a few minutes we might find out whether President Trump's position last week on new gun laws is President Trump's position this week. He is due to address the nation's governors at the White House. He made clear we'll be talking about Parkland. Less clear exactly what he will push for. What does it mean that he supports stricter background checks?

The president seems to have split from the NRA on the issue of whether to raise the age to buy a rifle to 21 and may be split from his daughter in degree of certitude at least on the issue of arming teachers.

And our new questions this morning and severe criticism for the law enforcement response to the shooting, the governor of Florida wants an investigation into Broward County Sheriff's Department. Many lawmakers in Florida want Sheriff Scott Israel gone all together for not doing more in response to calls, tips and warnings about the shooter dating back years. The sheriff offering a controversial and at times confusing defense to CNN's Jake Tapper.

Our Kaylee Hartung in Parkland, Florida, this morning, where, Kaylee, you know, students and teachers have had a chance to visit the school.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have, John, and that's been an important part of the healing process easing into a week that they are looking at a time of transition. But, you know, first, the missed warning signs started to pile up here. How many calls did the Broward County sheriff receive warning them of the danger that the killer was to himself and others and how were those calls handled.

Then there was word that the school's resource officer, the one armed deputy on the campus on that day chose not to go inside the school while the gunman was active. And then we learned from the Coral Springs Police their surprise when their officers arrived on the scene on February 14th and saw three other Broward County deputies who were in defensive positions behind their vehicles also not going into that school in the moment, and this is adding up to a lot of questions that need answers. Governor Rick Scott is now demanding those answers from Broward County

Sheriff Scott Israel and over the weekend, our Jake Tapper pressed the sheriff on the responsibility he bears.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: The local sheriff's department, they've got to be completely transparent. We have to do a thorough investigation and whoever didn't do their job has to be held accountable.

SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: I've given amazing leadership to this agency --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing leadership?

ISRAEL: I've worked -- yes, Jake. You don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy not going into -- these deputies received the training they needed.

TAPPER: Maybe you measure somebody's leadership by whether or not they protect the community?


HARTUNG: A lot of frustration now being aimed at Sheriff Scott Israel. More than 70 Republican lawmakers in this state have sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott demanding the sheriff's suspension for incompetence and dereliction of duty but the students and the teachers of Stoneman Douglas who I talked to, John, they have a very different perspective here. They're calling their movement, the Never Again Movement.

They say firing Sheriff Israel doesn't mean this won't ever happen again. They're not calling for anybody's job. Their focus remains on the change they want to see, a change in gun laws, that to them is the root of this problem.

BERMAN: Our Kaylee Hartung in Parkland, Florida, right now. Kaylee, thanks so much.

Let's get over to the White House now. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is there.

And again, Kaitlan, this is top of the agenda for the president today.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. The president is certainly under a lot of pressure to act. He seems eager to do something and he says that it will be at the top of the agenda today when he's meeting with those governors. And I should note that one person who's going to be there is Florida Governor Rick Scott who on Friday backed a plan to raise the minimum age in Florida to buy a firearm from 18 to 21.

That's something the president had briefly mentioned but has not focused on in recent days and has instead stuck with his big proposal of arming teachers with guns, something he continued to tweet about over the weekend saying that those teachers who were armed must be firearms adept and have annual training. He said they should get a bonus but one thing the president said this weekend really stuck out and that was that it should be up to the states which implies that there would be not be a federal solution here.

So that is something to keep an eye on today and certainly that's an idea that the president's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump was asked about. And here's what she said on the proposal of arming teachers in schools with guns.


IVANKA TRUMP, WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: 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.


COLLINS: Now, John, all of this pressure on the president comes as a new CNN poll shows that his approval rating of his job so far is only at 35 percent.

[09:05:08] But I should note that in gun-owning households 52 percent of people approve of the job he's done so far on gun policy but what we'll be looking to see if that changes with the new measures that the president is going to be propose here, John.

BERMAN: Yes. His January gains in job approval have evaporated.

Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks so much.

Joining me now Caitlin Huey-Burns, national political reporter for RealClearPolitics, Errol Louis, a CNN political commentator, and Patrick Healy, a CNN political analyst.

Guys, as we approach this week with Congress coming back into session, the big question, really the only question regarding guns and gun safety is, is it different now? Is something different that will cause action now?

In the new CNN poll suggests maybe. Right? 70 percent in our poll now favor stricter gun laws. This is different than it was after the shooting even in the Las Vegas in October. Look, 52 percent then. It's the highest number since back in 1993.

So, Patrick Healy, for lawmakers coming back, will this be palpable do you think?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's unclear, John, about whether President Trump wants to spend any political capital right now on federal gun legislation. In Florida you don't even see Republicans who control the House, the Senate, the governor's office being willing to come together and talk very seriously about passing some kind of gun control, instead you have this kind of political quagmire that is grown up in which Republicans are really focusing on -- now on Sheriff Israel.

That's where so much of the conversation is, and you have to wonder, OK, the Never Again movement, is it going to be able to break through in places like Congress, like in Florida, like in other states when this is now -- it seems like becoming so much about politics in terms of what the future is of the sheriff, so I think we're going to see something interesting today in terms of focus and tone from President Trump in terms of whether he talks about state solutions and state measures or whether he, you know, really puts any kind of pressure on Congress, on Paul Ryan, on Mitch McConnell for some kind of solution.

BERMAN: And he has -- he just hasn't offered clarity yet. He has said some things, offered some platitudes, but hasn't offered specifics that we'll be watching that very closely.

I will add that more than 70 lawmakers in Florida have called for Israel to be either be fired or step aside. Those same lawmakers are also pushing through the legislature there some gun control measures. They have until March 9th to do it. We will see if they do it.

Since Patrick brought up the issue of the Broward County sheriff, I want to play a little bit more of the interview he had with Jake. Not only did Sheriff Israel say he's been doing an amazing job but he also said this which was confusing.


TAPPER: Do you think that if the Broward Sheriff's Office had done things differently this shooting might not have happened?

ISRAEL: Yes, listen, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, you know, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.

TAPPER: I don't know what that means.

ISRAEL: I don't know what --

TAPPER: There's 17 dead people and there's a whole long list of things your department could have done differently.


BERMAN: I don't know what it means either. I mean, kudos to Jake for pointing out that it just makes no sense at all.

And Errol Louis, the question is, there are really two questions here. Number one, what good is a statement like that, an answer like that to the kids and families in Parkland, Florida? And number two, though, it's a different issue than the gun law debate right now. You can have the discussion about whether law enforcement response should have been differently, clearly it should have. At the same time you have a gun control debate.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's exactly right. In fact the point of the laws and the policy is to make up for or to anticipate that there may be problems. You know, you can create the best database reporting system in the world but if there aren't sort of competent systems in place to sort of activate it when the call comes in, it's not going to work. We know that.

Another approach, though, and this is what the children are calling for, this is what their families are calling for in a lot of cases, is to just do away with this issue about whether or not a last minute phone call dumped into a database is going to find its way to the right person who can take action. Instead simply get rid of the bump stocks, raise the age, deal with the large capacity magazines, deal with the assault weapons themselves.

It's not incompatible. And so, you know, what this is in a lot of ways people sort of diverting the attention from the larger question about the actual laws in policy and saying this one guy was the problem. If it weren't for this one sheriff and his incompetent deputy everything would have been fine. It's far from clear that that's true.

BERMAN: You can still say they could have done a much better job. You can still fix those problems and address the gun laws.

LOUIS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. Caitlin, I am going to take a major turn here because there's some other news this morning that I think bears mentioning. We played a little bit of Ivanka Trump's interview with Peter Alexander at NBC as she was departing the Olympics. And Peter asked Ivanka Trump, who is a senior adviser in the White House, about some of the accusations against the president of the United States, her boss, having to do with sexual misconduct. Listen to this. 2


[09:10:08] PETER ALEXANDER, NBC: Do you believe your father's accusers?

TRUMP: I think it's a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he's affirmatively stated that there's no truth to it. I don't think that's a question you would ask many other daughters.

I believe my father. I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.


BERMAN: There's a lot in that answer. Now that's the third time I've heard it. I heard even more that time than I have before. Number one, is it an inappropriate question to ask a senior adviser to the president?

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Absolutely not. The difference between Ivanka Trump and, say, the Obama children, of course, is that Ivanka Trump is a member of this White House. She's an adviser to the president. She's involved in policy decisions. She is out there in South Korea as a delegate. It's not inappropriate to ask her this question and this is the

troubling thing about having your children work in the White House, of course, that we've seen over and over again is this, you know, gray line of sorts. Right? The other thing that was interesting was she went on to answer the question.

BERMAN: She did. I just noticed that for the first time. She actually answered the question.

HUEY-BURNS: She answered the question. And she said she believes her father over the women and I think that's pretty newsworthy considering that she has positioned herself at least in this White House and in her previous career as a champion of women.

Remember she really went hard after Roy Moore and said, you know, there's a special place in hell for people like that. This is, of course, a contrast so I think that's pretty newsworthy.

BERMAN: I think you're right. I think you're right. And I think the headline for a lot of people was she won't answer the question but, in fact, she did and she's saying she doesn't believe the women there.

And also, you know, Patrick, if you want to weigh in this, I will note, you know, Chelsea Clinton who was never a senior adviser in the White House, she would get asked that question as well. I mean, her answer was largely the same, you know, I don't want to answer, but she was asked.

HEALY: Absolutely, John. I mean, as clearly Ivanka was sort of referring to Chelsea Clinton in this sort of, you wouldn't ask other daughters. I mean, that was sort of the reference but, in fact, Chelsea Clinton was asked this question and Chelsea Clinton like Ivanka Trump was appropriately asked the question because they were often called upon, both Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump, to be character witnesses for their fathers.

I mean, they were often, you know, put in media situations, put in interviews, certainly Ivanka Trump at the Republican convention where she was asked essentially to, you know, be again a character witness for her father. So it's totally legitimate but this moment is very different than the moment that Chelsea Clinton found herself in, you know, 20 years ago. First of all, Ivanka Trump is an adviser.

BERMAN: Right.

HEALY: She is, you know, an adult daughter of President Trump. But also you have this piece today this week that Monica Lewinsky has written in "Vanity Fair."


HEALY: It's very interesting, John, that really gets at how this moment is so different than what we were experiencing in the '90s in terms of the ability for women to say what happened to them to make claims against powerful men and not be instantly shamed or shunted aside or even sort of smeared by other people even family members. You know, it's perfectly legitimate that Ivanka Trump believes her

father. I mean, that is newsworthy but it's also not terribly surprising. I would have been very surprised if she said she didn't. But, you know, the Monica Lewinsky piece in "Vanity Fair" does bring you back to a moment where this conversation was very different.

BERMAN: Let me actually bring that up because it's as if all the political stars and moons align within one 12-hour period here because this piece by Monica Lewinsky in "Vanity Fair," it's fascinating. It's smart. It's also very sensitive and revealing about what Monica Lewinsky has faced over the last 20 years. I recommend everyone read it.

I want to focus on one thing that's getting a lot of attention right now. She talks about this idea of consent. She said, I -- I'll go back and read it because I missed the first part, we put it up there.

"I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led us there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station and privilege."

You know, of course through the lens of the Me Too movement I think now you can look at this and say, obviously, how could there be consent between a president of the United States and an intern?

LOUIS: Well, I mean, what's striking is in the article she says it has taken her this long, at 44 years old, to finally understand that she didn't have agency, she wasn't giving consent, that it was wildly inappropriate that there was ever any question about that. She didn't really realize that and it's fascinating. It does speak to not just her personal growth which is very interesting but also the way the conversation is changed over the decades.

BERMAN: You know, read for that quote right there, stay for the description of how she actually met Ken Starr in a restaurant. It will blow your mind.

All right. Caitlin, Errol, Patrick, thanks so much for being with us. I really, really appreciate it.

Dueling memos, both sides of the aisle have had their say in the Justice Department investigation into Donald Trump, so now what?

The president reportedly pushing to have his longtime personal pilot head up the Federal Aviation Administration. What do actual industry leaders have to say about that?

Plus, a very rare moment for the first lady, some of her first public marks of the year, Melania Trump will get right into the middle of a major policy debate and this comes amid new questions about the state of her marriage.


BERMAN: New this morning Democrats released their response to the Nunes memo. The president calls it a nothing, but it's a nothing he can't stop talking about first in a call to Fox News then in a half dozen tweets and retweets like this one.

[09:20:06] "The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuse is a total political and legal bust just confirms all of the terrible things that were done so illegal."

Joining me now CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. Counselor, you know, I have read both memos so have you. The president calls the Democratic memo a bust. Is it?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it's not a bust at all. As a matter of fact, it's the first time we're seeing a little bit of balance in the presentation of what information was available to the FISA judge when he issued warrants permitting surveillance of Carter Page.

I think, you know, my view of the whole thing just to step back for a minute is the saddest thing is that the president and the members of the Intelligence Committee have really blown up a bipartisan committee that tried to fairly in the past review intelligence issues. How is this committee ever going to work, cooperate in the future?

BERMAN: I think in some ways the bigger picture has obscured the memo wars. They're clearly a side show right now. But insofar as we're talking about the memo wars, we did learn some things in the Democratic memo.

Carter Page was on the radar a long time before the FISA warrant came out. We learned that they had talked to him before the FISA warrant came out. We know the FBI investigation started and we now know the exact language they used in describing the political motivations of the Steele dossier.

Let me read that, "The identified U.S. person never advised Source #1, Steele has some motivation behind the research and that Candidate #1 ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit #1's campaign."

So, that is how the FBI said there were political motivations. It doesn't mention the Clinton campaign but --

CALLAN: It's clear as day they're talking about the Clinton campaign and they're advising the court, this is opposition research so when you look at it look at it in that context. The reason they're using unnamed U.S. citizen, Candidate #1 is because the Department of Justice had a policy of masking American citizens who were used in this process but were not the targets of the surveillance.

Remember, this is a secret court where American citizens have no rights because they don't hear about what happens. So, this secrecy is understandable under the circumstances.

BERMAN: In as far as the veracity and reliableness of Christopher Steele himself, you've got a lot of experience as a prosecutor and witnesses because that's what Steele, who might be dodgy, but in the FISA application they sort of make clear that Steele is at least in their experience reliable?

CALLAN: Absolutely. A lot of prosecutors I've talked to kind of got a chuckle out of this whole thing because in let's say just a garden variety murder case, many of the cases that you investigate, the person who is your chief witness is someone with a long criminal record, who's been unreliable in the past and you may be using that testimony to get a search warrant and look for the murder weapon.

Here you have a British intelligence agent who was considered to be very reliable in the past who supplied information. Now and even he Steele in his report when he talks about that salacious stuff that Trump really gets upset about, he indicates that came from unnamed sources in the Soviet Union and he wasn't verifying each allegation but simply saying maybe this should be passed along.

BERMAN: So, one thing not in the Democratic memo that I think some Republicans are pointing to is any effort to refute what was in the Republican member that the Andy McCabe, who is the deputy director of the FBI said they have never made the FISA warrant application if not for the information in the Steele dossier, does that -- what does that tell you?

CALLAN: The thing -- when I look at that I have to look at that in the context of the entire process and what we're being asked to do is evaluate whether it was proper to issue the warrant, number one.

And number two whether there was supportive information. But we don't have all the information. This is like saying let's have a debate and we're just going to give you bits and pieces of the information.

We'll give you whatever bits and pieces we want to give, and we'll have that supervise by the president because he's the only one who can declassify the information we get. This is an unfair debate that's been supervised by the president and to ask the American people to reach a decision on it is ridiculous. We don't have the information.

BERMAN: Four separate judges, four separate FISA judges, all appointed by Republicans and 13 Russians indicted by the special counsel for meddling in the U.S. election. Paul Callan, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

Today, the NRA hitting back at companies ending their discount deals with the NRA. The list now includes banks, airlines, car rental agencies. Our chief business correspondent, Christine Romans joins me now. Will the NRA feel this impact?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's really psychological, I think, to be quite honest. You know, it's bad PR, at least today. We got a dozen companies now with all different kinds of stripes and walks of life and business who are saying no, we're not going to have discounts any more, special rates or special deals for NRA members.

[09:25:12] You know, the First National Bank, you can see there in the middle of your screen, that was a company, a bank in Omaha that had a Visa card, an NRA branded Visa card. It will not renew that contract.

Delta saying that it is not going to give any more discounts on flights for NRA members and it said in a tweet that they want the NRA to remove their information from the NRA website. Delta does not want to be associated nor does United Airlines.

The NRA hitting back calling this a shameful display of political and civic cowardice by saying that in time these brands are going to suffer because consumers will find other people to do business.

And, in fact, there are those on social media, John, who are this morning saying, thank you for putting all those logos on television. I'm not going to do business with these companies because I support the Second Amendment.

But still the voices of particularly young people have been very strong, pressuring these companies to sever ties with the NRA. I'm not the first one who said in the past couple of days, John, there's nothing more powerful than an 18-year-old consumer and that is what we're seeing here.

These companies want to make sure they don't anger a very powerful political and financial voice, millennials and younger consumers.

The stock market will open in three and a half minutes. It looks like it could be a higher day, finishing strong over the weekend. Last night, we saw European markets and Asia markets have opened. Some have closed a lot higher and so you're looking for a higher open this morning as well -- John.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thank you very, very much. Appreciate it.

So, what will you do to stop more mass shootings? That's the question Congress is facing today as they come back from a break. Stay with us.