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Broward County Sheriff Department Criticized for Deputies Not Entering Florida High School During Shooting; Businesses Severe Ties with NRA; Congress Under Pressure To Act On Gun Control; Conservative Columnist On Getting Booed At CPAC. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 26, 2018 - 8:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We're following a lot of news, so let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't fix this now, when will it change?

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are advocating that it's OK for the FBI and DOJ to use political dirt paid for by one campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your New Day. It is Monday, February 26, 8:00 in the east. Stoneman Douglas high school students are going to return to school this Wednesday. Lawmakers are returning to Washington today. They have a big question hanging over their head -- what will they do to stop the shootings? In Florida, Governor Rick Scott is ordering an investigation into the police response to the shooting. The sheriff, grilled in a CNN interview about the red flags missed, defended his office, siting his amazing leadership and insisting he will not resign. CAMEROTA: So this morning a new CNN poll suggests that the Parkland

massacre has changed Americans' views on guns in a way no other mass shooting has. Seventy percent of people now favor tighter gun laws as compared to 52 percent who felt that way after the Las Vegas massacre in October. So we have all this covered for you. First, let's go to CNN's Kaylee Hartung. She is live in Parkland, Florida, with the latest there, Kaylee.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, as we continue to learn of warning signs missed and hear disturbing details of immediate reaction to the attack, there is much frustration. But the students and teachers of Stoneman Douglas who I've spoken to say they don't want to get involved in the political finger pointing. Their focus remains on changing gun laws, moving forward, and returning to classes on Wednesday.


GOV. RIC SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: We have to do a thorough investigation, and whoever didn't do their job has to be held accountable.

HARTUNG: Florida's governor ordering an investigation into law enforcement's response to last week's deadly school shooting amid criticism that Broward County sheriff deputies waited too long to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school as the killer opened fire inside. Sheriff Scott Israel coming under scrutiny as he welcomes the investigation into his department.

SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY: I've giving amazing leadership into this agency --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing leadership?

ISRAEL: Yes, Jake. You don't have 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 about whether or not they protect the community?

HARTUNG: Florida Republican lawmakers Richard Corcoran and 73 others sending a letter to the governor Sunday demanding Sheriff Israel be suspended for incompetence and dereliction of duty, this after Florida state representative Bill Hager wrote a similar letter to Governor Scott just a day before.

ISRAEL: Of course I won't resign. It was a shameful letter. It was politically motivated. I never met that man. He doesn't know anything about me, and the letter was full of misinformation.

HARTUNG: Sources telling CNN that when Coral Springs police officers arrived on the scene they were shocked to find three other Broward County deputies who had not yet the entered the building. The Broward County sheriff disputes this, saying it was only the school resource officer, and he has resigned. Meanwhile lawmakers returning to work this morning under national

pressure to act on gun reform. As a new CNN poll shows, 70 percent of people say they favor stricter gun laws. With Congress already looking at a list of options on the table including banning bump stocks, improving the federal government background check system, changing the legal age to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21, restricting the size of gun magazines, or an all-out ban on the purchase of AR-15 style weapons.

Ivanka Trump weighing in on her father's proposal to arm teachers.

IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think 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.

HARTUNG: Amid all the political fallout, a somber first day back on campus as students returned for orientation Sunday, their first time on school grounds since surviving the massacre.

TARIZIL PHILIP, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: It was really scary. I didn't know how I was going to feel. When I went in and saw the fence around the freshman building and all the windows were covered, I was just like, I just can't believe something like this happened.


HARTUNG: President Trump will meet with many of the nation's governors this morning at the White House. He says Parkland is first on their list to discuss. And after a difficult couple of weeks at the White House, a new CNN poll puts president Trump's approval rating at 35 percent, that's down five percent over the past month. Chris, Alisyn this matches his lowest approval rating since taking office.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kaylee, thank you very much for all of that. Let's bring in CNN political analyst Josh Green and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. So Jeffrey, do you think that that gets the president's attention the -- 75 percent approval rating --

CUOMO: His 35?

CAMEROTA: Yes, yes, his 35.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Alisyn, I don't. I think he is locked in on his position here. Remember he at first said let's raise the age, and then he dropped that. Let's see if he brings that back. The one idea that he is embraced clearly is arming teachers, which --

CAMEROTA: And ban bump stocks.

TOOBIN: And banning bump stocks, yes, too look at. It hasn't happened. More guns in schools is his answer. More guns -- he said 20 percent of -- we have 3.5 million teachers in this country. Giving 20 percent of them guns is 700,000 guns. That's a very good market for gun manufacturers. I don't know what it does for school safety.

CUOMO: Josh, it has been suggested that the way that this changes politically is if the Democrats make this their hill to die on, that they will work on nothing else with the other side until this gets done. That's relevant obviously because of the filibuster rule in the Senate. Is there indication that the Democrats are ready to go all in on making something happen?

JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don't think there is necessarily. We saw a big push after the Newtown massacre and that led to nothing. I think the thing to look at is what Republicans and what Republican voters want to do on new gun regulations. These national numbers have come out and made clear that a majority of Americans now want stricter regulations. But what Republican politicians are focused on is what are the people voting for me or for my opponent in a primary going to think, and there's no clear indication that there's been a lot of movement there.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Jeffrey, in terms of what law enforcement could have done differently, the sheriff the Broward County was on with Jake Tapper this weekend, and Jake tried to get to that, and the sheriff had a somewhat confusing answer. Here's that moment.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think that if the Broward Sheriff's office had done things differently this shooting might not have happened?

ISRAEL: Listen, ifs and buts were candies and nuts O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.

TAPPER: I don't know what that means. There's 17 dead people and a whole long list of things your department could have done differently.


CAMEROTA: So that wasn't that satisfying. But when you look at the list of all the things that the department -- all the signs the department missed, what do you think in terms of law that they could have done differently with this gunman?

TOOBIN: I think it's very difficult. And, you know, I thought that answer was bizarre. I don't know what he was talking about. I also think the idea of blaming the cops for this is a little misleading. Remember, you had -- you had a 17-year-old in there, I forgot how old.

CAMEROTA: Nineteen.

TOOBIN: Nineteen, with, you know, an assault weapon.

CAMEROTA: He had an arsenal, by the way.

TOOBIN: One cop in there, he goes in starts firing, how many -- how many students does he hit? It's very difficult. CAMEROTA: I understand. But the fact that this kid was known to the Broward County sheriff's office, they had gone something like 23 times on house visits over the past decade. He was known, and so legally what else could have been done?

TOOBIN: But it's difficult to do things when people have not committed crimes. Yes, they've gone to the house and he was obviously a troubled, disruptive kid. But we don't punish people in this country for things they might do in the future. It's heartbreaking to think that we had so much notice about this guy, but we have notice about a lot of troubled young people who don't do terrible things.

CUOMO: But it leads to the politics. Here's the irony. Right now you're hearing a lot of this, Josh, from the right, from the NRA. They like it because it's not about the guns. But when they go down this road, because it happens to be a real thing. Not to demonize the mentally ill, they are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crimes statistically, but the problem will be with the Democrats. When they go down this road of yes, we have to vet better. This is crazy. They went to this guy's house 23 time and they couldn't do anything. It should be part of the calculus of background checks, we'll find a mechanism. That triggers privacy concerns and suggestions that you will chill the number of people who go to get help because they'll be afraid of being flagged. Those are Democrat issues, and it takes us back to 2013 when they couldn't get all Democratic members to vote for gun control legislation then. They didn't have the 60 votes back then within their own party. The Democrats could stand in their own way, true or false?

GREEN: I don't think that's true at all. That's picking nits with what's some Democrats might have said when the larger issue here is the National Rifle Association refuses to allow background checks. They punish people who vote for those. And take a look at Trump's --

CUOMO: Dana Loesch says they started the background check system, which is of course untrue. But it just shows you --

TOOBIN: But look at the direction of what Trump has actually done and proposed as president on gun control. He signed legislation making it easier for mentally ill people to get guns, and his own budget released earlier this month would have cut funding for background checks systems. I think the problem is more on the Republican side when it comes to introducing even cursory measures that would impose new regulations and do things to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people.

CAMEROTA: Josh, I want to stick with you for one second because you have reporting on this. So for the first time we're seeing companies, rental companies, airlines, a bank that are saying we're actually going to sever our business ties with the NRA. What's changed? Why is this time different than Las Vegas or all of the litany of other tragedies?

GREEN: What's interesting to me is as a "Business Week" reporter is that it's not politicians but business leaders who have moved quickest in response to the shooting, in response to the never again activists like we saw earlier on the show. I think that's motivated largely by the fact that the NRA for all its political power is a small organization with 5 million members which doesn't really have a lot of sway in the broader U.S. economy. If you look at a company like Delta Airlines, for instance, which announced last week that they're going to sever ties and end their business relationship with the NRA, they have 180 million customers every year. So against the broad backdrop of American society, people want action on guns. The only thing holding it up here is the political process and the fact that the NRA has a kind of hammer lock on Republican politics that even slaughters like we've seen in Newtown, in Las Vegas, and now in Parkland, Florida, haven't been able to change.

CUOMO: Do companies matter?

TOOBIN: What is amazing is how companies have become -- you know, corporate America has become a progressive force in certain areas. Think about the LGBTQ rights, climate change, and now -- and now gun issues. It is an incredible flip.

CUOMO: But targeting the NRA, is that the most efficacious route? Because in those other ones they went after municipalities. We won't hold it in your state.

CAMEROTA: And by the way, here they're targeting the NRA members, not even the NRA. They're saying, you members, you are not going to get a discount on my airline anymore. That's even different.

TOOBIN: I don't if that counts as targeting. Taking away a benefit.

CAMEROTA: Why not?

GREEN: I don't think it's targeting at all. You have to look at the other side here which is that there are a lot of Americans very angry about the unwillingness of Republicans to move forward on gun control legislation. These people fly by airline tickets, they rent cars, they stay in hotels and these companies understand. They're not necessarily doing this because they approve or disapprove of some kind of public policy. They're doing it because the majority of the country and the majority of their customers are going to react in a way that hurts their bottom line.

CUOMO: Does it create change is what I'm saying?

GREEN: It creates pressure in the sense that it isolates -- further isolates the NRA and presumably will make it somewhat more difficult to continue to have them refuse to condone --

CUOMO: But don't they like playing the victim and saying you're coming after my rights?

GREEN: I don't know about that. I think they just want to keep the laws as they are. So the real acid test is going to come today now that Congress is back in session and is under public pressure to do something on gun control. Whether they'll move forward even with incremental things like expanding background checks or raising the age where you can purchase an assault weapon. CAMEROTA: Look, you're right. This is where the rubber meets the

road. Jeffrey, you're negative Nelliness --

TOOBIN: I know we're arguing about this --

CAMEROTA: We're arguing because you've been here before. I get it. You've seen this movie before. I'm telling you this is a different version of the movie. Look at the public polling. The public polling after Las Vegas was 52 percent, today it's 70 percent of Americans want something done. So why are you still so pessimistic?

TOOBIN: Because the NRA's ratings still matter to the vast majority of Republican politicians. That's why. Not because the NRA gives campaign contributions, but it's the NRA's ratings and the sway that they hold over Republican Party voters. But Alisyn, you're going to prove me wrong.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I am.

TOOBIN: OK. So let's watch.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I am. Starting right now.

TOOBIN: I am the cynic who is --

CAMEROTA: You are. Your jaundiced view --

TOOBIN: I know.

CUOMO: If you're waiting for the media to create the change here, you're going to wind up winning because this has to be about the lawmakers. I'm going to back to one more point, Josh, with you. I don't see how the Democrats don't wind up having to be the ones to do something here. The GOP is not going to do it. The NRA is part of that reason, but there are a lot of other reasons why it's not going to be top on the agenda. Again, you hear that? That's McConnell and Ryan silence on yet another issue that could be relevant to the American people.


The Democrats are going to have to make a decision. That this is the functional equivalent of the abortion issue for them.

That we will do nothing -- this is a moral imperative. We won't work with the other side. Nothing until something gets done on this. I just don't know that they have the resolve.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Chris -- how is this the Democrats job? The Democrats --

CUOMO: Because the Republicans won't do.

TOOBIN: But the Democrats can't control the agenda. They can't bring up bills. They can't stop --


CUOMO: I'll take you both on but one at a time.

GREEN: Democrats are the ones that want to move forward on this issue and Republicans by and large don't. The reason this hasn't happened yet is there's a Pew poll last year that showed that gun owners are 80 percent more likely to have reached out to a member of Congress about gun policy over the last year.

In order for Alisyn's prediction to come true, in order for that to change, Democrats and their voters and people motivated by these activists need to reach out to their elected officials, Democrat and Republican, only then will the status quo --

CUOMO: Exactly what I'm saying what he said. The Democrats will have to decide that this is the hill they're willing to die on. Their voters are going to have to go to the polls. Lawmakers are going to have to say we have the filibuster in the Senate. We'll muscle up on this. Whatever it is. We are not going to move forward on anything until you address this issue. That's the only way I see anything happening.

TOOBIN: Perhaps, but I just think you have it backwards here, that the pressure here is on the Republicans to do something about it. The Democrats have, you know -- had 48 votes in the United States, 49 votes in the U.S. Senate. Not a majority. Their ability --

CUOMO: You just said nothing is going to happen.

TOOBIN: That's right.

CUOMO: Unless what?

TOOBIN: Unless the Republican Party changes.

CUOMO: Unless what would make them change?

TOOBIN: Public pressure but --


TOOBIN: Manifested by their voters.

CUOMO: Their voters wind up being Democrats voters punishing people as polls, showing they're going to come out, contacting legislators. Democrats saying we do have some leverage in the Senate. You're going to work with us or you're going to get nothing on what you want.

TOOBIN: I was with you until your last argument. I don't think it's going to be Democrat voters or Democrat politicians who are going to make a difference here. They are the minority.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We'll end on this. There are already Republicans who have been very vocal about wanting to do something bipartisan and are proposing bill. This week we'll see if the rubber meets the road. TOOBIN: Yes, we will.

CAMEROTA: And I'll have you back to eat your hat.

CUOMO: He'll find a way out of it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Josh. Thank you, Jeffrey.

All right. Listen to this, a conservative was booed during her speech at CPAC. Why? Here's a little portion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You cannot claim that you stand for women and -- and put up with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She claims that she stands for him.


CAMEROTA: Wait until you hear what happened next. That columnist tells us why she's now happy this happened.



CAMEROTA: So, there was some booing at the conservative conference, CPAC, on Sunday. A conservative panelist criticized the Republican Party and the president and that did not go over well.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 -- and put up with that.

And the Le Pen name is a disgrace. Her grandfather is a racist and a Nazi. She claims that she stands for him and -- and the fact that CPAC invited her is a disgrace.


CAMEROTA: That panelist, Mona Charen, says after that security had to escort her from the building. Joining us now is Mona Charen. She's a syndicate columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Mona, thank you very much for being here. Why did security have to escort you out after that?

MONA CHAREN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, that I do not know. I never felt personally threatened but they did -- they did send several burly security people to see me to my Uber.

CAMEROTA: Wow. So, listen, they -- that audience didn't want to hear your message, they didn't want to hear about Roy Moore or hear what you had to say about one of the other speakers, Marion Le Pen, who as you point out said that she is the natural heir to her grandfather who is a holocaust denier. I mean, how do you interpret the CPAC audience being more on their side than what you were trying to say?

CHAREN: Well, I'm not sure exactly where the whole CPAC audience is. Obviously, there was a huge contingent that was booing me and so we can presume whatever you like about them. I did also get some applause.

I do think there are a lots and lots -- millions of conservatives who resist this trend, this movement of the Republican Party in the direction of blood soiled nationalism like we are seeing in Europe.

The Le Pen family is the antithesis of American conservatism. It stands for racism, xenophobia and conservatism is about our Constitution and limited government and individual rights and treating people with decency and with manners. These are all conservative values that a lot of us still uphold.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, are you saying that all these millions of people like-minded as you are sort of closet conservatives now because those are not the voices that we hear certainly not at big headline events like CPAC.

CHAREN: Right. So, one of the problems is that the term conservative has now been associated with Trumpism and people say if you're very right wing you're a Trumpist, but that's actually a very confused message because, of course, Donald Trump is not for small government, not at all.

He is not for free trade. He's not for many things that are traditional conservative positions. So, I would resist the attachment of the label conservative to Trumpism. I would call it ethno- nationalism.

[08:25:07] CAMEROTA: So, then, how do you explain what goes on at CPAC? I mean, CPAC has been for years, the gathering of conservative voices, but if you're saying it's not the William F. Buckley conservatives, let me just tell you some of the lineup. Wayne LaPierre, Dana Loesch, Marion Le Pen, the former sheriff, David Clark, these are the most extreme voices so is that what CPAC now represents?

CHAREN: That is what CPAC represents alas, but my point is it isn't what conservatives represent and I just felt if somebody said it we would test the proposition that this is the drift of the entire Republican Party and conservative movement and the response to what I did kind of suggest, no, it isn't.

CAMEROTA: Here's what you write in your op-ed in "The New York Times" today, "For traditional conservatives the past two years have felt like a twilight zone episode. Politicians, activists and intellectuals have succumbed with numbing regularity featuring every principle they once claimed uphold. But there remains a vigorous remnant of dissenters, I hear from them. There were even some at CPAC." But to your first point about the twilight zone episode. What do you think it is about Donald Trump that has allowed so many conservatives to kind of, I don't know, surrender their old conservative ideals?

CHAREN: You know, there is -- there has been a tremendous demonization of the left that has gone on for many years. Now, I actually have been a very harsh critic of the left and the left has a lot to answer for, certainly in this country and also around the world.

It's 100 million body count for the communist movement in the 20th Century. It's one of the great evils, but there has been a tendency, a slightly hysterical tendency, I believe, on the part of the American infotainment world to suggest that we are in a civil war or something.

We are in a death struggle between conservatives and liberals and that, you know, this is the Flight 93 election and therefore no matter what Donald Trump says or does, no matter how unacceptable his behavior, we have to be behind him because otherwise the left is going to destroy us.

And I think that this is overwrought, and I think if you sell your soul then what have you achieved? What have you won in the end?

CAMEROTA: When you say the right-wing infotainment. I hear Fox News, I mean --

CHAREN: Fox is part of it. Not all of Fox. There's still some good people on Fox, but Fox is part of it for sure. Also talk radio and the internet, Breitbart and it's a broad group. I would say, by the way, though just to be fair that there's tremendous amount of bias and special pleading on the part of the left wing press too and always has been and I've always been critical of it.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, I guess the point is, Fox News originally, the -- at least mission statement was to counter what they heard as left winged bias.

CHAREN: That's right.

CAMEROTA: And that something seems to have shifted in their message.

CHAREN: Now they've become cheerleaders and I think lots of people on CNN have become nothing but critics. The idea of just presenting the news neutrally and letting the viewer decide needs to make a comeback.

CAMEROTA: All right. Mona Charen, thank you very much for sharing your experience at CPAC and your thoughts with us.

CHAREN: Thanks for having me.


CUOMO: All right. Lawmakers are returning to Capitol Hill today. Will Congress be able to find common ground on gun laws? Probably not. So, what would it take to make a change? We have a Republican congressman, a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment next.