Return to Transcripts main page


Florida Republicans Call for Broward Sheriff's Suspension; First Responder: At First, "I thought Maddie was Dead"; Wounded Student Speaks. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 26, 2018 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- laws in the wake of the Parkland massacre. He's due to address the nation's governors shortly. You're looking at live pictures of the White House. It will happen there within the next few minutes.

Also, any minute, a student who was wounded in the attack that claimed 17 lives will speak to reporters for the first time from the hospital that saved her life. Madeleine Wilford was shot multiple times. She was among those visited by the president days after the shooting and on Saturday, she was featured in an e-mail sent out by the president's re-election campaign, complete with a link to a campaign donation page. CNN's Kaylee Hartung in Parkland, Florida. You know, Maddie's story of survival, her fight to recover is truly, truly remarkable. Kaylee?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, John. And three victims remain hospitalized, but Maddie Wilford has been sent home and she's now ready to share the experience of this journey with us. She'll be alongside her parents, Missy and David, as well as her medical team from Broward Health North and the first responders who helped get her to safety. She suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and has endured several surgeries over the past nearly two weeks now.

Maddie, we should say, was a member of the girls' basketball team at Stoneman Douglas High School. That team was scheduled to participate in a regional quarterfinal game the day after the shooting. That game originally postponed, but then the team decided to forfeit the remainder of their season in the wake of this tragedy. Maddie, feeling the support from her teammates and many of her classmates as she's been in the hospital, but also from President Trump and the first lady. They visited her at her bedside two days after this tragedy occurred. And then as you mentioned, a picture of that visit was then used in an e-mail, for President Trump's re-election campaign. We expect to hear from Maddie and those supporting her very shortly here, John.

BERMAN: All right, Kaylee Hartung in Parkland for us. We'll bring you her remarks live when they happen. Again, Maddie Wilford shot multiple times.

I want to go to the White House now. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is there. And Kaitlan, we're due to hear from the president very shortly, addressing the nation's governors and he promises that the issue of school shootings at the very top of his agenda.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right, John. He said last night when he's meeting with these governors today, soliciting their input, that that is going to be one of the first things they talk about and what is important there is who is going to be in that room and one of those people is Florida governor Rick Scott, who on Friday announced he was backing a plan to raise the age limit in Florida to buy not just any kind of gun, but every kind of gun from 18 to 21.

Now, that's an idea the president actually floated last week as he was having these listening sessions, these very emotional sessions with some survivors, teachers, parents, from that Parkland shooting in Florida. But the president has since -- backed off that he hasn't brought it up as much as his other ideas. His other big idea is arming teachers in school. He says he wants only arm teachers who are good at using firearms and have them due a concealed carry while they are on school grounds. And he's also floated the idea of giving teachers who do just those bonuses.

So back to the age limit though. That's something that the NRA has roundly rejected. They actually doubled down on their criticism of raising the age limit to buy a firearm to 21. So the question today is what input does the president take from these governors and how does that square with the NRA? And at the end of the day, John, the people want to know what the president's concrete proposals are for gun safety measures in the wake of that shooting.

BERMAN: Yes. We just heard from Republican Congressman Charlie Dent who told us he does not know where the president stands, he can't tell from the public comments exactly where he is on some of these key policy issues. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, we're waiting for the president to speak there.

In the meantime, I'm joined by Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. He joins us from Tallahassee. He's one of the dozens of Florida Republicans calling for the resignation or the suspension or flat-out firing of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Mr. Speaker, thank you so much for being with us right now. You're one of 73 lawmakers who called on the governor to basically fire the sheriff right there. The sheriff had a chance to respond here on CNN. Let's listen.


SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Deputies make mistakes. Police officers make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But it is not the responsibility of the general or the president, if you have a deserter. You look into this. We look into this aggressively and we'll take care of it and justice will be served. I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I've given amazing leadership to this agency.


BERMAN: You convinced, Mr. Speaker?

RICHARD CORCORAN (R), SPEAKER, FLORIDA STATE HOUSE: No. It is really disappointing. I mean, basically what happened to great leaders where the buck stops here, I think that it is not an incident of one person. It's not an incident of two people. It is just a systemic failing. The Constitution says that if you have neglect of duty, malfeasance, misfeasance or incompetent that we have the right to ask the governor to remove you from office and he scores high on all four points.

[10:05:06] You watch any of the interviews from day one to day 12, and he's got more people under investigation in his own office than he does trying to track down and put to the death penalty a massive mass murder. And so, what we're saying is enough is enough. Let's get someone in there, I applaud Governor Scott, he's got our FDLA agents from Tallahassee that are going to go down. They're going to start investigating and figuring out what is going on down there because they clearly can't do it themselves.

BERMAN: There are those who look at this and say, look, this is political. What is happening here is an attempt to distract from the debate on guns. Is that fair?

CORCORAN: No, it is completely unfair. Let's walk through it. All you have to do is watch any of the interviews including Jake Tapper's 30- minute interview. So first, It took him eight days to figure out that his SRO on the ground in the school didn't go into the classroom despite shots being heard and admitting that shots were being fired. And in fact, really to think that this is the sheriff, the chief law enforcement of the county and his number one priority is the safety of his citizens, has the largest mass shooting on a school property and he didn't immediately come flying into his office and say give me the video, I want to know what happened. I think he knew all along.

But then there is that failing. Then there are the officers outside, in the Coral Springs police have to go in and they see them sitting outside. Then he stops first aid responders from going in. So at the point they finally do get inside, which we know there is no shooting from all accounts by the Broward Sheriff's Office, so at that point, now they're telling first responders not to go help people, then the investigations that have been ongoing for over a year of this child, he admits those failings and now investigating two of those calls. He's investigating the -


BERMAN: The other part of this is - I'm sorry to interrupt. But the other part of this is you are not doing this in spite of trying to work through new gun safety measures. You are part of an effort as I understand it to pass some of these laws that Governor Scott has proposed, including raising the minimum wage, to buy certain weapons, including a waiting period for certain weapons, including new money for gun safety. You are in favor still of passing that. You're not saying hold off on this while we investigate or try to get rid of the sheriff. Are you?

CORCORAN: No, we've met with the parents. We've met with the children. We've met with stake holders. We've rolled out a package. Governor Scott rolled out an excellent package. We've rolled out an excellent package. The Senate has rolled out an excellent package. That says never again, never again do we want any child to have to face these kinds of consequences and our packages are -- including which are the most robust first of its kind in the nation, a marshal program that allows sworn law enforcement officers, fully trained to go in there and maybe certified as a teacher but now they're going to be in there protecting our children. -- A coach who was in the doorway had a gun. I can promise you that coward would have never got in the building.

BERMAN: Sounds like you're supportive of some of the proposals that the president has of perhaps arming more teachers. You're in support of also I understand of raising again the minimum age to buy some of these rifles to 21. Is that correct?

CORCORAN: Yes. But I -- that is correct. But I want to go back, it is not arming teachers. They're training -- the marshal program -

BERMAN: I understand. I understand.

CORCORAN: They're certified greater than the sworn law enforcement officers when it comes to handguns and tactical training and precision pistol training.

BERMAN: You have until March 9th, you know, to pass some of this legislation, before you guys go away. Can you get it done by March 9th?

CORCORAN: Make no mistake about it, we'll get it done. Come hell or high water.

BERMAN: That's a promise.

CORCORAN: We've got 17 people - that's a promise. We've got 17 people who lost their lives because of abject neglect and breakdown on government's part. We're going to fix it. Make no mistake about it.

BERMAN: All right. So, you know the NRA is opposed to at least raising the age right now. You're someone who has been supportive by the NRA in the past. Are you concerned that they're opposed to that specific measure?

CORCORAN: Look, I'm a member of the NRA. I'm an A-rated legislator in the NRA. I'm a concealed weapons permit holder. I have six children. I don't care what any special interest group thinks. I don't care -- I've been sued more time by the teachers union than any other speaker in the history of the state. I don't care about special interests. What I care about is keeping our citizenry safe. What I care about is protecting every single school child so that what occurred never happens again. I don't care who comes against us. The package we have is does that. I applaud the governor. I applaud the Senate and we'll get it done.

BERMAN: Speaker, Richard Corcoran, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your time. We appreciate your promise to get this done by March 9th. We'll be watching very carefully. Thank you so much, sir.

All right, we have live pictures right now of this news conference right now. Again, we're about to hear from Maddie Wilford, a student who has since recovered from multiple gunshot wounds. Let's listen in for a second.

LT. LAZ OJEDA, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA FIRE DEPARTMENT: That day started like any other day. We run some calls and when the call came in, we're almost dumbfounded.

[10:10:05] We couldn't believe it. Our station is at the southernmost point of the city. And when the call came in, there was so much going on that we -- for some reason, we weren't dispatched right away. Our captain took the initiative of self-dispatching us, putting us in a call. I believe we were the third rescue on scene.

And when we got there, I looked at the organized chaos, which is what we firefighters work under, organized chaos. And I reached to -- I actually asked Captain Patino. I go Cap, in a few minutes, I'm going to get a patient, I'm going to need staffing.

And his words to me were, don't worry, we'll stick together as a crew. At that point, Maddie was brought to us. I want to digress a little bit. Because what happened inside that school as it was related to me by Will Glover, who saw Officer Fernandez, and sergeant -- sorry, I missed your last name, I can't pronounce it. But when they were clearing the rooms, at first sight it was believed that Maddie had deceased. She looked very pale.

And at that point Officer Fernandez shook her to elicit a response from her. And I believe she gasped, she moved. But she made signs of life. At that point, he asked a nearby S.W.A.T. officer to come over and that officer put a chest seal on Maddie. I come to find out after the fact that Maddie had pneumo. And I'm not a doctor but in my estimation, that chest seal prevented that tension pneumo from progressing and perhaps killing her sooner. I thanked that officer. I thanked Officer Fernandez for bringing it to her.

So, back to when I got Maddie on the back of the rescue. When we got Maddie on the back of the rescue, we right away went to work. The officer had put the chest seal. He had also wrapped an emergency bandage around the chest seal and she had a pretty bad injury to her right elbow, which we addressed right away. We started working on her, we -- she was in what we call the compensated shock. Her blood pressure was very low for us. At that time, Driver Engineer Lubinger (ph) started an IO on her right shoulder. We started infuse her fluids. We gave her oxygen. Her oxygen saturation went from 70s to the 100s.

I want to say something that I thought was -- because I also teach at high school and I'm always stressing how the basic things are more important than the -- than some of the advanced procedures we perform. I looked at Maddie, and she didn't look 15 because we had been told to take her to Broward general. Someone said it I didn't see who said it, 30 miles away from the school, 30 miles with the patient in decompensated shock. I looked at her. I gave her sternal rub, hey, how old are you? No response. Second sternal rub, hey, how old are you? She came around. She told me she was 17. So at that point I looked at Will and I go, Will, we're going to North Broward. It's only 10 miles away. So the rest of the story is pretty simple. We revitalized her in the back, we reanimated her with fluids, gave her oxygen. We came over here and this place was, wow -- I've never seen so many doctors, so many staff in the ER. When I got there, I -- we transferred her to the gurney. And we gave a report to the nurse. And we went back to work. That's all I got for you.

BERMAN: Listening to first responders describe how they helped save the life of Maddie Wilford 17 years old. That was Lieutenant Laz Ojeda from the fire department down there, just talking about how he rubbed her sternum right there.

[10:15:03] She woke up and at that point, he knew he had a chance to save her life. Very, very emotional. We're going to stay with this. We're going to take a quick break. We'll come back when Maddie Wilford starts speaking. Stay with us.


BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures from Deerfield Beach, Florida right there. There in that black sweatshirt is Madeleine Wilford. She was shot multiple times in the attack in the high school in Parkland, gunshot wounds -- let me read this to you. One went through her back crushing her ribs, piercing through her right lung, exiting her stomach. Several went through her shoulder. She was treated by some of the people sitting at that table right there. They're giving a very emotional news conference and we will hear from Maddie any second. When that happens, we will bring it to you live.

In the meantime, new reaction this morning to the Democratic memo released that tries to refute the Republican claims of abuses by the FBI in the Russia investigation.

[10:20:03] Joining me now, CNN national security commentator, former House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers. Mr. Chairman thanks so much for being with us. You have had a chance now to read both memos. What is your assessment of this Democratic response?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it would have been a little more powerful had they taken out the politics of it, number one. They made it immediately about refuting the Republican memo. The one thing I thought that the memo did accomplish from their perspective is opened up the notion that there was a lot more information that needed to be put on the table before anyone could come to a conclusion. Did the FBI in fact lie to a federal judge in order to get a warrant or at least cause information to be delivered to the judge they knew not to be true. Those are pretty big allegations and what we got here now I think is that he said/she said kind of a moment on both of these memos that is unfortunately not going to get us anywhere close to where we need to be to make good determination about what exactly happened. BERMAN: No, whole lot of politics on both sides to be sure, first from the Republicans and now in tone least in the Democratic response right there. But you know, you did work in the FBI and then the Intelligence Committee also. The way that the Democrats lay it out here, they try to make the case that there really isn't very much unusual about how this process played out. Did that read that way to you?

ROGERS: Yes, exactly. Actually it was probably a little better prepared as far as timeline than I think the Republican memo was in that regard. That they tried to lay out the reason why there were other pieces of information that would have influenced someone's decision to go forward.

And I think that was the biggest part of it. And I'll tell you why you know there is politics on both sides of this. Both parties voted to let the Democrat memo go out. There were clearly things, you can tell by the redactions that included sources and methods.

And so in this heated charged political environment both teams were willing to allow information or at least give the perception they were allowed to give information that probably they both knew were going to be or should be redacted if nothing else or if it did come to light would give not just us, America citizens, but intelligence services a better understanding of collection techniques. That's what bothered me most about this whole thing.

BERMAN: The Democrats were transparent from the beginning, they would let the FBI weigh in, though, and redact things that they were uncomfortable with. You know the Republicans only brought in the director the Sunday after they approved the memo to be released.

Let me read you one part that deals with one of the key claims the Republicans made here, the FISA judge was never told a political motivation. Specifically the Republicans are very upset that the judge was not told that the research was ultimately funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. The actual wording, The Democrats provide, for the warrant application, is this.

"The identified U.S. person never advised source number one as to the motivation behind the research into candidate number one's ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate number one's campaign."

Democrats look at this and say, hey, you know what, the judge was told there was a political motivation here. This was opposition research. The Republicans say, yes, but they didn't spell out Clinton in big capital letters. Do they both have a case here or do the Democrats case that the FBI did what they normally do here as that went out?

ROGERS: Here is the thing, now you just want more information. Remember, that application is probably 50 pages long. And so clearly they were both taking -- parsing pieces of that application to support their position on this. And that's why -- I think it was completely wrong if the FBI used any of its authority at all to make a political case to go to the judge. I think that's wrong. I also think it is wrong if the United States Congress uses its investigative authority to besmirch someone's character or ruin their life in any way. I think everybody needs to take a time-out here and get back to trying to determine the truth, what happened. And so now if this committee comes out with any finding, I bet half of Americans are going to say, yes that's great, and the other half are going to say I don't believe it, whichever side you're on.

BERMAN: I think that's the most important thing here as you correctly point out, Chairman Rogers. The other thing is, you know, the special counsel, you know, issued indictments for 13 Russians for meddling in the U.S. election. That may be more important as well. Chairman, thank you so much.

I want to go back to Deerfield Beach, Florida right now. We're listening to this remarkable news conference on Maddie Wilford, 17- year-old student, injured in the Parkland shooting. Let's listen in.

MISSY WILFORD, MOTHER OF SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: It has been her classmates. It has been those moments where she could feel normal, and that has helped her psychologically heal. I know that there are a lot of resources out in the community that for all the youth and the students that are going to be returning on Wednesday.

[10:25:04] As a mom, I just have to say to you do not be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. If you need help, it is OK. It is OK to feel the way that you feel. I know that our son is experiencing a different feeling. Madeleine is healing her wounds right now, but will be healing emotionally for a while as we all will as a community.

And we're grateful for the visit from the leader of our church who came and offer a blessing to her, from the prayers. And also the president who came and I have to thank all the Broward County Sheriff Department. I'm telling you, they were here, 24/7. We could not get on the floor. I mean, we are very -- they were on her watch eight hour shifts. They would come in sometimes I was afraid I wasn't going to get on the floor. Are they going to let me in? But they did. They were doing their job.

And one of the highlights out of this tragedy, I know this may sound silly, but they gave us an escort home. And it wasn't just an escort, they said, we're going to have, you know, a police escort home. I thought one car. And then they show up and there is four on the motorcade, three, like, Tahoe's, they blocked off the saw grass. I mean this is an action and I have never experienced anything like it. And my teenage son is in the back seat with me and we're, like, this is like chips. All these people are flying by. We're, like, wow. They really went above and beyond.

And one last thing about Madeleine, she knows who she is. And she knows where she wants to go and what she wants in life and that strength and power is what helps you heal. And it makes you want to get up. It makes you want to keep going. She's an inspiration to me and all those that have reached out to us and the doctors and staff, mainly our friends and family that from people that I grew up with went to college with, people that we don't know crossed the country, across the world, you have been an inspiration to me and for those of the moms that I have not been able to visit their children passed, I love you, I'm here for you. Those that are left in the hospital, I will come and visit with you.

We have had so many visitors. I just have to say it helped her mentality. It helped her heal. Thank you to all, thank you for your time for coming. And I'm thinking that Madeleine might like to say a little something. So appreciate it, thank you very much.

MADELEINE WILFORD, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I'm Madeleine Wilford. And I would just like to say that I'm so grateful to be here and it wouldn't be possible without the officers and first responders and these amazing doctors and especially all the love that everyone has sent. And I was sitting on the couch today just thinking about all the letters and gifts everyone has given and just, like, all the love that has been passed around. I definitely wouldn't be here without it. And I just want to send my appreciation and love out to all of you. And that, like my mom said, at times like these when I know that we need to stick together and I've seen a lot of, like, positive posts about what has been going on at the school and I just love the fact that we're sticking together at this and I'm just glad that I'm making a full recovery and everything has been going so smoothly. So that's all I have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point, we're going to have the family, if they want to stay, they can stay. And then we'll open it up to questions for the first responders and physicians, up to you.

BERMAN: Madeleine Wilford, 17 years old right there. She has titanium plates holding her ribs together. She was shot multiple times, walking out right now of the news conference, just to be there, an act of defiance, an act of courage, an act of bravery. Her first words were, you know, "I'm Madeleine Wilford. I'm so grateful to be here." And she gave her thanks to the first responders who helped save her life. She gave her thanks to the doctors and nurses inside that medical facility that helped save her life and helped her recover. And she gave her thanks to all of those around Florida. And I think, really, around the country.