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Sheriff On Defense; Memo Drama; Democratic Memo Is Out; Weinstein Sales Falls Apart; Democratic Memo Versus GOP Memo; Chemical Used In Syria Strike. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 26, 2018 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:35] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I won't resign.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGON CORRESPONDENT: The Broward county sheriff on the offensive. New questions over his department's response of the Florida school shooting and warnings about the gunman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important for the public to see the facts and the FBI acted appropriately.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Democratic memo is out rebutting GOP claims of surveillance abuses of the FBI, the Democrats defend efforts to monitor Trump adviser with ties to Russia.

NOBLES: And breaking overnight. The end could be near for the Harvey Weinstein Film Company. Reports say, bankruptcy protection is the next step. Good morning. Welcome back to "Early start." I'm Ryan Nobles in for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to have this Monday morning, I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour. Florida Governor Rick Scott ordering an investigation into the law enforcement response to the deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida.

Scott calling for full accountability for the weigh on the Broward Country Sherriff office handle the mass shooting just 12 days ago. The Governor not going as far as dozens of Republican state lawmakers want. They called on the Governor to suspend Sheriff Scott Israel for what they term incompetence and dereliction of duty.

NOBLES: Sheriff Israel says his department will fully cooperate echoing the vow of accountability. Earlier Sunday, Israel rejected calls to step down saying those demands were politically motivated. Despite questions about the actions or lack of actions by his officers and red flags that were missed. The sheriff defending his response.


taking any responsibility for the multiple red flags brought to the attention of the Broward sheriff's office about this shooter before the indent or people near him or close to him calling police.

SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF OF BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about at the time. I exercised due diligence. I have given amazing leadership to the agency.

TAPPER: Amazing leadership?

ISRAEL: Yes, Jake. There is a lot of things we have done throughout this. You don't measure the person's leadership by a deputy not going into -- these deputies received the training they needed.


ROMANS: Sheriff Israel under scrutiny for what appears to be several missed chances to intervene before the 19-year-old gunman opened fire. The sheriff's office says it received 23 calls related to Nikolas Cruz or his brother over the past ten years. Two of the calls under especially close review. Both suggesting Cruz might be planning to shoot up a school.

NOBLES: The house and senate return from recess today with the gun violence issue looming. Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island set to introduce an assault weapons ban. One Democrats source tells CNN the bill has more than 120 co-sponsors. How far it will go in the Republican controlled congress remains an open question.

On Sunday, Ivanka Trump was asked about her father's controversial suggestion of arming teachers. She defended the proposal as one possible part of a larger solution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a mom of three young children. Do you believe arming teachers would make children safer?

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: To be honest, I don't know. Having a teacher who is armed and who cares deeply about her students or his students and who is capable and qualified to bear arms is not a bad idea. It is an idea that needs to be discussed.


NOBLES: The President will talk about guns with the nation's Governors at the White House. A CNN poll shows 7 in 10 Americans favor stricter gun laws. That is up from 52 percent who said that in October. After the shooting in Las Vegas. The partisan gap is why with more stringent gun control favored by 93 percent Democrats, but fewer than half Republicans.

ROMANS: Student were back in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school on Sunday for the first time since the shooting. The classes resume later this week, this kids had a chance to gather and support each other at an open house for parents, students and teachers. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more from Parkland, Florida.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Christine, Ryan this students and teachers express their anxiety to me in the lead up to Sunday open house, they were unsure how they would feel and react to being on the Stoneman Douglas campus for the first time. After an afternoon in which many students reunited with classmates and teachers for the first time since February 14th and had the chance to get their backpacks and their laptops, iPhone and wallets they left behind that day, sure it was difficult for many, but I'm told there was much more happiness among them than sadness. Listen to the tenth grader Tanzil Philip describe evolution of his emotion.

[04:25:24] TANZIL PHILIP, SOPHOMORE, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: It was scary. I saw the fence around the freshman building. All of the windows were covered. I cannot believe this happened. We decided to meet in theater room where I was located and we gave each other hugs. I'm happy a lot of my friends decided to show up. Without them, I would not have been able to do it.

HARTUNG: Students will return for classes on Wednesday. As teachers have told me, it will not be class as usual. It will take a while before academics are the focus inside the classroom. The superintendent says he wants to be accommodating to each student and teacher when it comes to needs and the emotional healing process. Moving forward, this could mean counselors in classrooms and service dogs or stress reduction exercises like yoga. Christine. Ryan.


NOBLES: Kaylee Hartung, thank you. In a much needed boost to school spirit, the Stoneman Douglas high school hockey team won the state title on Sunday. The victory over the tournament's top seed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the 17 that passed away out here. It has been a tough week. We came here to win. We all just came together and got the win.


NOBLES: Stoneman Douglas will compete in the high school hockey national championship next month in Minnesota.

ROMANS: All right. A growing number of companies are breaking up with the NRA, because their customers are demanding, their customers are using social media to raise their outrage. They are not targeting weapons makers or manufacturers. They are not targeting weapons makers, but people and customers are targeting companies that offer discounts to the NRA and NRA members. Symantec and MetLife and car rental companies ending relationships with the NRA. First national bank of Omaha tweeting that customer feedback caused them to cancel the NRA credit card. The delta and united airlines both ending their discounts for NRA members. The NRA calling this a shameful display of political and civic cowardice. Adding these brands will be replaced by others that want consumers who value constitutional freedoms. This companies are responding to their consumers, for years corporate America stayed away from political charge issues like gun control, but now companies are taking a stand on everything from climate change, immigration, gay rights, same sex marriage and that is actually good for business according to a recent poll, really important things for consumers -- consumers buy from companies that do the right thing. 83 percent in the poll from January of this year. It is important to buy from companies that do the right thing.

NOBLES: Christine, there is a lot of big names on the list. One that is not on the list, particularly Amazon.

ROMANS: that is right and fed ex as well and others. Calls for NRA TV not to be streamed with these products so far that does not work.

NOBLES: OK. Thank you, Christine. The House Intelligence Committee finally releasing the Democratic memo rebutting the claims of the surveillance abuses from the FBI. The White House signing off on the documents following negotiations between the FBI and the committee's top Democrat Adam Schiff over what should be redacted. The GOP accuses the Justice Department of using an unverified dossier of Trump about the lynch pin of the application on the surveillance on the one time Trump campaign adviser. But the Democrats memo argues the Justice Department gave the FISA surveillance court additional information. Beyond the just dossier written by former British operative Christopher Steele. And the memo accuses the Justice Department of misleading the FISA court. They say the DOJ failed to mention the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National committee paid for part of the dossier, but the Schiff memo says the department gave all the necessary political context and followed long standing practice by identifying the Americans involve by name. President Trump attacking Adam Schiff in an interview while also dismissing the Democratic memo entirely.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He will have a committee meeting and leak information. He is a bad guy. It is certainly the memo was a nothing.


NOBLES: It should be noted the list of the Democratic memo was delayed for weeks for redactions even though the White House allowed the GOP memo to be released quickly over objections from the FBI, of course it was released on a Saturday afternoon.

[04:40:00] ROMANS: The President is pushing to have his long time personal pilot John Duncan head the Federal Aviation Administration. According to Axios, Duncan has been interviewed for the post saying he was impressive. He flew Trump's personal plane during the 2016 campaign. Duncan has previously told people he would face delays flying Trump around. White House officials have been pushing back against critics of these potential appointments saying Duncan is more qualified than people realized.

NOBLES: A blow to California's Senator Dianne Feinstein as she is seeking another bid for her six term in the senate. The 84-year-old failed to win endorsement of the California Democratic Party at the state convention this weekend. Her opponent, Kevin Deleon made a impassion argument to delegates that it was time for a new generation of leadership. He too failed to earn the 60 percent support needed to win the Party's endorsement, but he got more than Feinstein. 54 percent to her 37 percent, she is still heavily favored to win in November in part, because of her unlimited resources and support among California independents and some Republicans in what they call a jungle primary.

ROMANS: All right. We are following the breaking news this morning. "The New York Times" and multiple media outlet reporting that Harvey Weinstein's film company is slated to file for bankruptcy protection after a last-ditch talks to sell to an investor group collapsed. The $500 million deal would have given control to a team led by Maria Contrares. A former head of a small business administration, but the discussions came to a sudden halt when the New York Attorney General's office filed civil rights lawsuit against the Weinstein Company and his co-founders.

Should the U.S. lower its demands to begin a nuclear talks with North Korea? One key ally says yes. We are live in South Korea next.


[04:45:58] NOBLES: North Korea's participation in the winter Olympics has come to an end. The last two weeks in Pyeongchang will be remembered for bringing the two Koreas together in a historic moment of unity. Now the world wonders if Pyongyang and the U.S. can get to the table. At least one side said that it is ready. Let's bring in Paula Hancocks she is live in Pyeongchang with the latest. Good morning, Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ryan, just in the last hour, we have new information from the North Korean delegation. The head of the delegation has said that the doors are open for dialogue with the United States. We are hearing this from the South Korean side. Similar to what we heard just yesterday. Obviously more definitive and more basic from the North Koreans saying we should talk to the United States. Now we're not hearing the same from Washington. What we have been hearing if Pyongyang wants to talk, they have to take steps to denuclearization. We are also hearing from the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He is really having a very tricky balancing act, trying to get the two side to talk with each other. He is saying the United States needs to lower the threshold in order to make these talks happen. We also spoke with South Korean unification minister on Sunday about keeping momentum the going considering the joint U.S. Military drills with South Kora will be coming up soon and annoying North Korea. All of a sudden, North Korea will talk to South Korea about the nuclear issue. Before they used to walk out and said they had to talk to the U.S.


position North Korea's nuclear issues on several occasions including the January 9 talks in the North Korea high level delegations reception with the President. North Korea listened closely to what we had to say.


HANCOCKS: We have confirmation there was no interaction between the U.S. and North Korea at these winter games. Ryan.

NOBLES: Paula live in Pyeongchang, thank you for that report.

ROMANS: China's communist Party clearing the way for President Xi Jinping to remain in power indefinitely. The Party announcing it intends to abolish term limits on the presidency, a bold break for the established rules dating back decades. Let us get the very latest with CNN's Matt Rivers live in Beijing. This is really a big deal, how he has solidified his power there?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely especially when you take the latest move, Christine in context of what he have seen here over the last six months. Don't forget it was in the fall of 2017 that Xi Jinping was not only reelected as the general secretary of the communist Party in China, but had his name enshrined in the party constitution. Only Mao had done that. You take this latest step, abolishing the term limits. That means Xi Jinping could remain the President of China and head of state for the rest of his life. He occupies the head of state position and he occupies the general secretary position of the communist Party. It really is unprecedented.

All of that may seem like inside baseball and Chinese domestic politics. Here is why that matters to the United States. Xi Jinping thinks China should be on the same level as the United States. They are expanding military and dominating world trade. They are investing in developing countries and want to go toe-to-toe with the United States. The United States now knows it will be dealing with that kind of a leader, that ambitious kind of a leader that wants China to rise on the world stage. Meanwhile, the United States is set with domestic political strive that right now doesn't exist in China.

ROMANS: Yes it is just fascinating contradiction. All right. Thank you so much about that Matt Rivers for us.

High stakes privacy rights case goes to court this week. Microsoft and the Justice Department will spar before the Supreme Court. We will tell you the latest on CNN money next.


[04:54:17] NOBLES: Eastern Ghouta in Syria still under heavy bombardment despite U.N. declared cease-fire. Hospitals and clinics reportedly 520 people killed and 2500 injured since relentless air strikes and artillery began pounding the Damascus suburb eight days ago. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is monitoring the situation, she joins us live from Amman, Jordan with the very latest. Jomana, the pictures are absolutely heartbreaking. It seems the let-up is not coming anytime soon.

JOMANAH KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That seems to be the case. This is what we are hearing from activists on the ground, Ryan, whom we have been speaking with and reporting that airstrikes and artillery shelling is continuing on Monday.

[04:55:04] On Sunday, it was a report of a real escalation with almost every part of eastern Ghouta pounded with airstrike, missiles and artillery shelling. And also reports of a ground offensive by the regime trying to push into eastern Ghouta. We received disturbing reports from activists and also from medical groups, including the Syrian-American Medical Society, SAMS whoa EDSON: reporting a suspected chlorine gas attack. According to SAMS they say one of the hospitals that they support in Eastern Ghouta received 16 patients on Sunday, including 6 children who they say where quote, suffering symptoms indicative of exposure to chemical compounds. Other groups are saying that it was seems to have been toxic chlorine gas. Now we can't independently verify the reports with no access to the area. Both sides of the conflict have accused each other in the past of using chlorine as a chemical weapon. That is something the regime has denied in the past. Of course in the midst of all of this, it is the civilians who continue to pay the heaviest price, Ryan.

NOBLES: All right. Jomana Karadsheh live in Amman Jordan for us monitoring the situation in Syria. Jomana, thank you.

ROMANS: Public schools in West Virginia will remain closed today. The third day of the statewide strike by teachers and other School employees. They are demanding higher pay and better benefits, the strike began last Thursday with teachers protesting at the state capital in Charleston. The state schools' superintendent said the decision is expected today on whether to pursue legal action against the striking teachers union.

NOBLES: Actor and film maker Kevin Smith surviving a major health scare. Early this morning, he tweeted saying he had a massive heart attack after a show last night. Smith was performing in Glendale, California. He went on to say if he had not canceled his second show, he would have died. He finished by saying quote for now I'm still aboveground.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN money this morning. Global stocks and U.S. futures are higher. U.S. stocks rallied Friday as fears over higher interest rates eased at least for now. Look, this anxiety over higher rates is what is behind Wall Street's recent swings. Until Friday both the DOW and S&P500 were on track for a 1 percent decline. Both rose more than 1 percent pushing all three major industries higher for the week. Quite a rebound, bond yields moved down further from the four-year high. That makes investors happy.

High stakes set privacy rights case goes to court. Microsoft and the Justice Department will spar for the Supreme Court this week. The outcome could determine if law enforcement could force U.S. tech companies to hand over foreign data. Some background here, in 2014, prosecutors serve Microsoft a warrant for emails related to a drug trafficking case. Some were stored on servers in Ireland. And Microsoft did not think domestic warrant did not cover measures abroad. The Justice department disagreed and now the Supreme Court will decide, a ruling is due by the end of June.

All right. The king still reigns supreme.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world.


ROMANS: If you haven't seen it, you are missing something. It roared past $700 million worldwide in the second week. Making $108 million in the U.S. alone. The second best week of all time. The record also a watershed moment for Hollywood. Black Panther is Marvel's first film with an African-American director and primarily black cast. My kids are like, mom, when will we see it?

NOBLES: My son. Every single day.

ROMANS: I have not seen it yet, but it is on the list.

NOBLES: Everyone seems to love it. That is for sure.

"Early start" continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I won't resign.


NOBLES: The Broward county sheriff is on the defensive. Questions on mounting over hid department's response to the Florida school shooting and warnings about the gunman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is important for the public to see the facts that the FBI acted appropriately.


ROMANS: The Democratic memo is out rebutting GOP claims of surveillance abuses at the FBI. The Democrats defend efforts to monitor Trump adviser ties to Russia.

NOBLES: And breaking overnight. The end could be near for Harvey Weinstein's film company. Reports say bankruptcy protection is the next step.

Good morning. Welcome to "Early start." I'm Ryan Nobles in today for Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning. It is Monday morning, I'm Christine Romans. It is February 26th, exactly 5:00 a.m. in the east. The Florida Governor Rick Scott ordering an investigation into the law enforcement response to the deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas high School in Parkland. Scott calling for the full accountability for the way the Broward County sheriff's office handled the mass shooting 12 days ago. The Governor not going quite as far as dozens of Republican state lawmakers want. They call on the Governor to suspend Sheriff's Scott Israel for what they term incompetence and dereliction of duty.