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Broward Sheriff Under Scrutiny for Officers' Actions; Guns Expected to Dominate Week's Political Dialogue; South Korea Says North Korea is Open to Talks With U.S.; China Moves To Abolish Term Limits. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 26, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:31:43] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Broward County sheriff on the defensive. Questions -- new questions over his department's response to the Florida school shooting and warnings about the gunman.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: It's important for the public to see the facts that the FBI acted appropriately.


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

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

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

NOBLES: And, I'm Ryan Nobles. It's 32 minutes past the hour. Thanks for starting your day with us.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordering an investigation into the law enforcement response to that deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Scott calling for 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 called on the governor to suspend Sheriff Scott Israel for what they term incompetence and dereliction of duty.

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Are you really taking any responsibility for the multiple red flags that were brought to the attention of the Broward Sheriff's Office about this shooter before the incident, whether it was people near him, close to him, calling the police on him?

ISRAEL: Jake, I can -- Jake, I could only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercise as my due diligence. I have given amazing leadership to this agency.

TAPPER: Amazing leadership?

ISRAEL: I've worked -- yes, Jake. This -- there's a lot of things we've done throughout this. This is -- you don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy not going into a -- these deputies received the training they needed.


NOBLES: 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 10 years. Two of those calls under especially close review, both suggesting Cruz might be planning to shoot up a school.

ROMANS: 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 Democratic source tells CNN the bill has more than 120 co-sponsors, though how far it will go in a Republican-controlled House remains an open question.

NOBLES: Yes, that's right.

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


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

IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To be honest, I don't know. 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.


[05:35:08] NOBLES: The president will talk about guns with the nation's governors today at the White House.

A new CNN poll shows seven Americans in 10 favor stricter gun laws. That's up sharply from the 52 percent who said that in October. That was after the shooting in Las Vegas.

But the partisan gap is wide. More stringent gun control favored by 93 percent of Democrats but fewer than half of Republicans.

ROMANS: Let's bring in Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer for the "Washington Examiner." Good morning.

You've seen those polls there. There's another poll in "USA Today" that shows Americans overwhelmingly want something done about guns and they overwhelmingly think Congress won't do anything. I haven't heard from Republican leadership on Capitol Hill -- what they plan to do, if anything about guns.

Where does this -- is that a non-starter?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, first of all, President Trump has proposed raising the age restriction on buying an AR-15 -- guns like an AR-15 --


HASHMI: -- or semiautomatic weapons.

He also talked about arming teachers, as well as looking into more comprehensive background checks and extending it to mental health issues.

You know, it's possible that something on the federal level may work but really, it comes down to law enforcement. If you don't have the proper law enforcement to enforce existing gun laws, with respect to the Parkland shooting and Sheriff Scott Israel who absolutely is responsible for his deputy not going in. I mean, that's terrible leadership, first of all. But even the best gun laws done work if you don't have the law enforcement to back it up.

But if you want to go and talk about gun control on Capitol Hill you may have Democratic support for it. Republicans may not be in support of it. However, from December 2017, it has gone up significantly up until the Parkland shooting that Republicans are a little bit -- at least more in favor of imposing stricter gun laws.

NOBLES: Yes, and it seems to be two threads, right? There's the law enforcement -- the lack of their response versus changing gun laws and two different conversations happening. Both probably need to be addressed.

But we need to transition and talk about the release of the Democratic memo. It happened on a Saturday. Obviously, a lot of back and forth from both Republicans and Democrats on this.

You know, Siraj, I think one of the things that might be lost in this conversation though is that we're really talking in the contents of these memos about a very narrow thread when it comes to this entire investigation into Russia, and that is about the acquisition of this FISA warrant against Carter Page.

I mean, we don't really know what impact this has at all on the Mueller investigation, right, because not a lot of information and all that many leaks are coming out of his shop.

HASHMI: Right. As far as we know, special counsel Robert Mueller -- Carter Page may be just an accessory or a complete tangent to his investigation. I mean, he's looked at Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Alex Vanderzwan. All three of them pleaded guilty to indictments.

And then, you have the 13 Russian nationals who through the Internet Research Agency, which is a link to the Kremlin, indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft.

So, Carter Page is kind of a subplot to this major plot that we see going on with special counsel Mueller.

I don't expect this Dem memo-Nunes memo to really have as much of an impact as I think we're making it out to be but if anything, it gives more credibility to the Steele dossier and what role it actually played considering the fact that when was it actually verified and corroborated by the FBI and DOJ when these FISA applications were submitted to the FISA court.


ROMANS: Siraj, I know you were at CPAC, right? You were at CPAC.

HASHMI: I was, yes. I was.

ROMANS: Mona Charen, the conservative columnist, was there and got a lot of attention. Got booed on the stage. She was on a panel talking about her disappointment in her own party -- listen.


MONA CHAREN, CPAC PANELIST, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I am disappointed in people on our side --


CHAREN: -- for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women. And because he happens to have and "R" after his name we look the other way, we don't complain.

The Republican Party endorsed Roy Moore for the Senate in the state of Alabama even though he was a credibly accused child molester. You cannot claim that you stand for women --

AUDIENCE: Not true, not true.


CHAREN: -- and put up with that.


ROMANS: I mean, what's stunning to me is you hear the women in that audience who are disagreeing with her.

She wrote an op-ed. She said in "The New York Times" that this is so freeing.

[05:40:00] "There's nothing more freeing than telling the truth and it must be done again and again by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability."

Ouch! Other than that, that was really a Trump central CPAC, wasn't it?

HASHMI: Yes, I mean Trumpism has taken over the Republican Party and the conservative movement. I spoke with a number of folks at CPAC who may have not been in favor of Donald Trump before, particularly in 2015 and 2016, but have basically opened their hearts and let him in.

And, I applaud Mona Charen for at least telling the truth about the President Trumps and Roy Moores of the party because it's impossible to maintain the moral high ground but specifically if you're going against your political opponent in the Democrats by championing those type of people and saying that they are the moral beacons of the party when, in fact, that they have objectionably horrible behavior, specifically toward women.

And, God forbid, Mona Charen tell the truth. That inconveniences Trump and the Republican Party.

ROMANS: Were you surprised she was booed?

HASHMI: No, not at all. I mean, I completely expected that at CPAC.

I mean, there were people who were talking about legal immigration and people were getting -- a speaker was getting booed for saying that they were -- they thought a naturalization ceremony was one of the more beautiful things about American culture.

I mean --

ROMANS: They got booed.

HASHMI: -- if you're not for legal immigration, what type of immigration are you for? ROMANS: Right, right.

NOBLES: CPAC is different than it used to be. You know, pro-life issues, the Tea Party movement was big at CPAC. Now, you're talking about alt-right -- you know, a big alt-right element there now. You're talking about this big hard line on immigration.

It's amazing how different that conference was as opposed to what it was just a couple of years ago.

HASHMI: It's completely different and the fact that it's actually smaller doesn't pass the eye test. They might say that it broke record numbers but I honestly did not see it. It lost --

ROMANS: Interesting.

HASHMI: It's going to be very damning on the Republican Party if they lose in the midterms, and they're working against history.

And one last thing I will say --


HASHMI: -- is that they are actually -- that the complacency and the apathy has set in and they are going to pay probably dearly for it.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right.

Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer from the "Washington Examiner." Nice to see you this morning. Thank you, sir.

HASHMI: Thank you, Christine. Thank you, Ryan.

NOBLES: Thank you.

ROMANS: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto calling off his official visit to Washington after a -- what we're told is a confrontational phone call with President Trump last week. According to "The Washington Post" he canceled his plans after President Trump refused to publicly affirm Mexico's position that it will not pay for a border wall.

A White House official telling CNN any meeting between these two leaders would be awkward and counterproductive given that the president has repeatedly promised to get Mexico to pay for it and Mexico has repeatedly said it won't.

NOBLES: New reporting this morning from Axios. President Trump is advocating the death penalty for major drug dealers. Sources telling the site that the president is a fan of Singapore's capital punishment policy, citing their low rates of drug use.

The president might also advocate legislation requiring a 5-year sentence for people convicted of dealing two grams of the synthetic opioid Fentanyl. The law currently requires that sentence for people who deal 40 grams or more. Well, should the U.S. lower its demands to being nuclear talks with North Korea? A key U.S. ally says yes. We'll go live to South Korea, next.


[05:48:12] ROMANS: All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us this morning. Hi, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, friends.

So look, this is going to be a big week. You've got your lawmakers are back in Washington, D.C. You've got the kids down in Florida are getting ready to go back to school this Wednesday.

So the question is the obvious one. Will they do anything to stop the shootings?

Now, on the state level, you have Gov. Rick Scott. He put out some proposals about raising the age for access to weapons.

But now, there's all this momentum towards investigating the police response to the shooting down there. The more information comes out, there are definitely questions about who didn't go inside, what was known. The sheriff there -- Sheriff Israel, who was a big part of the CNN town hall, now under fire.

But, you know, lawmakers are going to have to stay focused. You have to talk about the police response, know what happened there.

But the fundamental question with these shootings is not police response to the mass murder, it's the ability to access weapons for the people who want to create mass murder in the first place. So we'll cover all of that for you.

We have new poll numbers, Christine, about who wants what and why when it comes to solutions --

ROMANS: Right.

CUOMO: -- to school shootings. We've got lawmakers on -- taking the invitation to come on today to discuss this. We'll see what happens. We'll see where their heads are.

ROMANS: All right. Chris Cuomo, nice to see you this Monday morning. Thanks, sir.

NOBLES: Thanks, Chris.

ROMANS: "The New York Times" and multimedia outlets reporting Harvey Weinstein's film company slated to file for bankruptcy protection. Last-ditch talks to sell its assets to an investor group collapsed.

The $500 million deal would give a -- would have given control to a team led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former head of the Small Business Administration, but the discussions came to a halt after the New York attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against the Weinstein Company and its co-founders.

NOBLES: Public schools in West Virginia will remain closed today, the third day of a statewide strike by teachers and other school employees. They are demanding higher pay and better benefits.

[05:50:08] The strike began last Thursday with teachers protesting at the state capitol in Charleston. Some sat in the gallery during legislation sessions while others gathered outside the building.

The state's school superintendent says a decision is expected today on whether to pursue legal action against the striking teachers' union.

ROMANS: All right.

A high-stakes privacy rights case heads to the Supreme Court this week. Details on the case on "CNN Money," next.


[05:55:05] ROMANS: North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics has come to an end. Now, the world wonders if Pyongyang and the U.S. could get to the table. At least one side says it's ready.

Let's bring in Paula Hancocks live from PyeongChang. This peaceful abyss (ph) will extend into talks potentially down the road.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, that's certainly the hope from the South Korean side, even from the North Korean side, but the U.S. is being a little bit more coy when it comes to this offer of talks.

Now, we've just heard in the last couple of hours from the head of the North Korean delegation Kim Yong Chol, who has said that the doors are open for dialogue with the United States. That being given to us from the South Korean presidential office.

We've also heard from South Korea's President Moon Jae-in who has said that the U.S. needs to lower the threshold when it comes to conditions to start these talks with North Korea, saying that it is imperative that the two are talking. Also saying that it's very important that North Korea does start the process of denuclearization.

Now, we did have a statement from the White House yesterday saying that if Pyongyang is willing to talk then certainly, this could be the first step towards denuclearization. But it appears they want to see some proof of that first.

So what we're hearing from the South Koreans is lower the threshold -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Paula. Thank you so much for that in PyeongChang.

NOBLES: Another major international story. China's communist party celebrating the way for President Xi Jinping to remain in power indefinitely. It is a bold break with decades of established rules.

Let's get the latest now from CNN's Matt Rivers. He is live in Beijing -- Matt.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we already knew that Xi Jinping was the most powerful Chinese politician since Mao Zedong. He's the head of the Communist Party here and he set himself up to be extremely powerful for a long time.

But this latest move really solidifies that. We could be talking about President Xi in 2024; maybe even in 2034. That's what he's opened the door here to with this latest bold move by amending the constitution. That will be going into law in early March.

Why does this matter, though, to the United States? Xi Jinping wants China to match the United States militarily, economically, investing in developing countries. That is where he wants China to go. He now has the political capital -- the overall authority to be able to do that. That's the leader that the United States is going to have to deal with for a very long time to come.

NOBLES: All right. Matt Rivers live in Beijing. Matt, thank you.

ROMANS: Well, let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning. Here's what you need to know for the day.

A solid start to the week. Global stocks and U.S. futures are higher, continuing Friday's tone. U.S. stocks rallied as fears over higher interest rates eased, at least for now. All the major averages higher for the week.

The tiniest news or shift in opinion about interest rates can move stocks. Three percent, folks, is the number to watch. If you see bond yields touching three percent, tenured note yields touching three percent, that's a four-year high. That makes people very nervous.

Rising interest rates -- a rapid rise could signal faster interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

Microsoft and the Justice Department sparring before the Supreme Court his week in a high-stakes privacy rights case. The verdict will decide if law enforcement can force U.S. tech companies to hand over foreign data.

The case stems from a 2013 warrant for e-mails they restored on a server in Ireland. Microsoft did not think a domestic warrant covered data 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. "BLACK PANTHER" roaring past $700 million worldwide in the second week, $108 million in the U.S. alone. The second-best profit weekend of all time. This record is also a watershed moment for Hollywood.

"BLACK PANTHER" is Marvel's first film with an African-American director and primarily black cast. I am told it is wonderful. It's getting great -- I think 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so I'm going to go see it.

NOBLES: And I have a 7-year-old just aching to get to the theater.

ROMANS: I guess -- I worry about the violence but the violence, I'm told, is like pretty cartoonish --


ROMANS: So maybe -- we'll see.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

NOBLES: And, I'm Ryan Nobles. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


ISRAEL: One person didn't do what he should have done. It makes me sick to my stomach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever didn't do their job has to be held accountable.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to end our country of what's happening with respect to that subject.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I'm hopeful that the president may be willing to take on the NRA. If he does, there may be a bunch of Republicans who will follow.

TRUMP: The memo was a nothing.

SCHIFF: I'm not surprised that the White House tried to bury this memo. The FBI acted appropriately.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: They are advocating that's it's OK for the FBI and DOJ to use political dirt paid for by one campaign.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your new day. It's Monday, February 26th, 6:00 here in New York and here's the "Starting Line."