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Congress Under Pressure over Gun Control; Midwest and Northeast Get Battered; NRA and Second Amendment; Wade Dedicates Season to Parkland Victim; Hicks Before House Intel Committee. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired February 27, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Instead of turning off our mind when all of a sudden it comes to guns.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Why is this the only threat in our society, if you think about it, that we don't combat it? We look for reasons not to combat it.


CUOMO: It is the only threat in our society we do this with.

And you have to remember, the president says, I'm thinking about reopening mental institutions. Look at how they apportion the money for opioids. You want resources for people who are suffering from mental health, and that's what addiction is, you should be putting those resources on the ground. There's not enough money to help people who find themselves in these kinds of situations. So the talk and the action, as you said, often a disconnect.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Phil, David, thank you very much.


CUOMO: All right, so we are getting reports of frustration inside the White House. Surprise. Surprise. No, it's different this time. It's over the lady on your screen. Ivanka Trump's trip to South Korea. What is behind growing tension involving the first daughter, next.


CAMEROTA: A source tells CNN that Ivanka Trump's visit to South Korea irked White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. We're told that senior officials in the West Wing aired some serious concerns about the trip since Ivanka has little experience in government or diplomacy and has not even played a role in discussions about North Korea. White House officials disputed the notion of any tension surrounding this trip, claiming that Kelly and General H.R. McMaster we are very supportive.

CUOMO: Rain, strong winds are going to hit the Midwest and Northeast today.

[06:35:01] CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast.

I thought it was supposed to be nice today and tomorrow in our area. What happened?


CUOMO: Oh, good.

MYERS: It's supposed to be nice for you. But that is Thursday, Friday when you get the rain.


MYERS: But the rain has been all the way through the plains. Thirteen river stages at major flood stage or more and there's more rain on the way.

This weather's brought to you by Purina, your pet our passion.

And it's the rain that will be the problem. Up to five more inches of rain making the areas that are already flooding even worse. Here's today. We move you ahead to tomorrow. The rain is in the same spots.

But then for you, Chris, here's where it gets here. Here's where it gets messy. Thursday into Friday. But finally by Friday afternoon, it is all gone. We're talking about major rain in the major flood areas already. We certainly don't need anymore, but we're going to get it.


CAMEROTA: Chad, thank you very much for that forecast.

So, did the founding fathers really intend to give everyone the right to own a gun, even a semiautomatic weapon? Up next, how the NRA has reshaped American's view of the Second Amendment.


[06:40:11] CUOMO: All right, we're talking about the threat that these mass shootings pose on our society, that's obvious. What can we do about it is less obvious. We're talking about gun control. It's the big part of a national discussion right now. Both sides digging in. A big aspect is the Second Amendment, right? It gets waived around as a reason not to do anything.

Joining us now is constitutional lawyer Michael Waldman. He is the author of "The Second Amendment: A Biography."

It's good to have you. Appreciate it.


CUOMO: All right, so let's try and nail down some of the nuts and bolts of this situation, the Second Amendment. I will offer up arguments in favor of it. The Second Amendment, it is my right to have a weapon, any weapon that I want, and you are trying to take that from me with any further restrictions and it's as big a bedrock principle as the First Amendment.

WALDMAN: So the idea that the Second Amendment gives you an unlimited right to a gun is not in the Constitution. The conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger said it was a fraud on the American people. The Second Amendment reflects individual rights to gun ownership as recognized by the Supreme Court only since 2008. Before that, it was seen as referring to the militias, which were these like -- think of the minutemen, which were the state armies of people who owned their guns at home and were actually required by law, white men were required by law to own a gun and be in the militia.

But even now with the idea that the Supreme Court has upheld that it's an individual right, you can have gun restrictions and strong gun laws. We have rights in this country and we also have responsibilities.

CUOMO: So, two points, one historical, one practical. The historical one, is it true that in its earliest interpretations, that the Second Amendment wasn't about individuals telling the state, we'll have guns whenever we want, it was the opposite. It was the state, largely because of Washington's influence where he couldn't get enough well- armed, well-trained people to get an arm, which is what he wanted, not these individual militias, saying to the individuals, you must have a musket, you must know how to use it, you must have it for your own and bring it when we call you.

WALDMAN: It's such a world that's so different from what we know now. It was a universal draft, basically. George Washington wanted the strong Constitution. A lot of people who were opposed to the Constitution were worried that the government, the big central government, would be too strong. They wanted to protect the state-run local armies basically.

Now, they had an individual right to gun ownership to serve the duty of being in the militia. Our question to the founding fathers would make no sense, just like their answer to us makes no sense.

But when you look at the -- when they were debating the Second Amendment and writing it up on the floor of the House of Representatives, it was about this issue of military service and they were very concerned about the public good.

CUOMO: The practical consideration, from the gun advocate's perspective. Waldman, you're already killing me with restrictions. If I want to get a gun legally, it's so difficult for me and it's so easy for the bad guys. And every legal change that you're going to make, makes it hard for me, the law-abiding person wants to just exercise my constitutional rights, and easier for everyone who wants to hurt me and my family.

WALDMAN: Well, when Justice Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice, wrote that opinion ten years ago in the Heller case, the Supreme Court said, you know, you could have restrictions on guns that were unusually dangerous or that were in the hands of the wrong people, whether it's the mentally ill who shouldn't have guns or something else. And we have those kinds of restrictions all the time. We have them on cars. You have the right to drive a car. They don't ban cars. Nobody's calling for that. But we have speed limits and you have to pass a driving test. And they have air bags. These are the kinds of --

CUOMO: You have to wear a seat belt, even though you don't want to.

WALDMAN: You have to wear a seat belt, even if you don't want to. And that's the kind of restriction that would make guns something that were much less dangerous to society.

The kind of weapon of war that we saw in Florida, and we saw, let's not forget, in Las Vegas, by somebody who was well over 21, that kind of weapon can be banned constitutionally. The courts have upheld that across the country. And we should not be afraid to admit that as a country, that we can actually protect ourselves and our rights at the same time.

CUOMO: And the proof of it was the Brady Bill, the assault weapons ban in '94.

The aspect of forcing state law enforcement officials to put into effect certain regulations, that got knocked down in the Prince case at the Supreme Court level. But the overall law and the concept of banning assault weapons did get constitutional legitimacy.

Brother Waldman, thank you very much.

WALDMAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: This is a long conversation but it's good to get some facts here at the inception. Thank you very much.

[06:45:02] Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, this story that we're following. Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade dedicating his season to one of the Parkland massacre victims. How the tragedy became personal for Wade. The "Bleacher Report," next.


CUOMO: All right, big moment in sports here. Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade got really emotional about one of the Stoneman Douglas students laid to rest. That student was laid to rest wearing his jersey.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

This was a big moment in an absolute fashion, but also a relative fashion because Dwyane Wade would wind up addressing critics of sports stars as well here.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. You know, Chris, a Fox News host said that NBA players should not talk about politics and just shut up and dribble. And Dwyane Wade said, yes, this is a perfect example of why he will never just shut up and dribble.

And the student we were referring to, his name is Joaquin Oliver. He was one of the 17 people who lost their lives in the shooting. And he was known for his love for sports, especially the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade. He was laid to rest wearing a Wade Heat jersey. And that really hit home for Wade, who said he's dedicating the rest of this season to Joaquin.


DWAYNE WADE, MIAMI HEAT: I don't even know the word, you know, for it. Like I said, like I retweeted on Twitter, I said, you're going to make me cry. It's emotional even thinking about that. That his parents felt that burying him in my jersey was something that he wanted. So, you know, I take a lot of pride in what I've done in this state and what I've meant for the youth. So I appreciate it.


[06:50:08] SCHOLES: And, Alisyn, the Heat will be wearing Stoneman Douglas patches on their jerseys for the rest of the season.

CAMEROTA: So, Andy, when I was down in Parkland, I had the honor of being around all of Guac's (ph), as they call him, that's his nickname, friends at the vigil. So there were probably 20, you know, young men, I mean all different -- you know, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, all hugging each other, all crying. So I know what Guac meant to that school and to his teammates. They talked a lot about him. So thank you for showing that tribute as well.

SCHOLES: All right, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, other news.

To Washington, Hope Hicks, one of the president's closest and most trusted allies, goes before the House Intelligence Committee today. What will they ask her? Congressman Jim Himes, on the Intel Committee, tells us, next.


CAMEROTA: Sources tell CNN that White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is set to appear before the House Intelligence Committee today. Will she invoke executive privilege as Steve Bannon did?

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. He's a member of the House Intel Committee.

Good morning, congressman.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: What are you hoping to ask Hope Hicks?

HIMES: Well, hopefully -- we start with what we hope won't happen, which is the kind of expansive invocation of executive privilege that, of course, we saw from Steve Bannon, who said that the president was asserting his privilege, not over -- not just over the conversations that he had had with the president, but with conversations that extended back into the transition. It's going to be very hard, obviously, to get a comprehensive feel for what went on, on matters of interest to the investigation if individuals won't even talk about the transition, much less what's happening in the White House. So we're hoping, as we have seen from other White House officials, to actually be able to have a reasonably comprehensive conversation.

[06:55:34] CAMEROTA: But if not, if she goes the Steve Bannon route, if she does invoke executive privilege, because, remember, Steve Bannon, former chief strategist to the president, said the White House had asked him, I think, to invoke that. So if she does that, what's your recourse?

HIMES: Well, that's a good question. And as I think you know, Alisyn, it is the White House that has to assert executive privilege. A witness can't just say I'm not speaking because the White House may decide to invoke executive privilege. But -- so our recourse, to answer your question, is, at the end of the day, we could adjudicate what executive privilege actually is and where the limits lie.

And that may be important. You know, this investigation, as you know, has gotten -- has acquired a partisan flavor over time. But there are larger issues at stake here. The assertion of executive privilege that we saw from Steve Bannon, I think, was as broad an assertion of executive privilege as anyone in this town has ever seen. And, obviously, Congress has an interest in making sure that executive privilege is exactly what it is designed to be, which is a protection for the president's advisers when they are advising the president.

CAMEROTA: So, if she is more forthcoming than Steve Bannon and if she does agree to answer questions, are you focused on that Air Force One plane trip where the statement -- the misleading, false statement was crafted about what the real point of that Don Jr. meeting with Russians in Trump Tower was?

HIMES: Of course we are. If there was an effort to hide what really happened in that meeting, and that initial statement that came out was not actually all that accurate to what happened in that meeting, it is important for us to know why that effort was made and who felt they needed to make that effort and why. So, of course.

But, you know, there are, obviously, lots of broader issues at stake here, Alisyn. This investigation and the Congress is interested in the full array of possible contacts with Russians on the part of everybody associated with the campaign or everybody period. So, look, we're going to be -- you know, this is a potentially interesting witness because word is that she is perhaps the closest adviser, along with one or two other people to the president. She was obviously there from the very beginning. So we are really hoping that she can cast a lot of light on what, if any, the contacts were with Russian individuals starting from very, very early on going straight through to the present day.

CAMEROTA: There's a couple of new polls hot off the presses. They've just come out. This is a CNN poll. It's just come out this hour. So I want to share with you how Americans are feeling about portions of this.

Is Congress doing enough to prevent foreign influence in elections? Thirty-seven percent of Americans say yes, 60 percent say no. What more could you all be doing?

HIMES: Well, I do think there's a lot more we could be doing, starting with speaking with one, clear voice out of Washington on acknowledging that this attack took place. And this, you know, sadly, this whole issue acquired a partisan sheen. Before the election, when President Obama comes to the Capitol and says I need the leaders, I need you, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and everybody to say we are under attack by the Russians and in a bipartisan basis we will not tolerate that. And, of course, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell says, no, I am not going to do that.

And, sadly, there are echoes of that today. And maybe this has changed with the indictments that Robert Mueller -- the indictments of over a dozen Russian individuals and three Russian entities. You know, it -- the president of the United States, until recently, has called the Russian attack a hoax, as fake news. If we can't speak with one voice on the most serious attack we've had on the core of our democracy --


HIMES: The Russians aren't going to take it seriously.

So, yes, of course, there's a lot more that we, not just the Congress, but that the government needs to do to make sure that our elections are protected.

CAMEROTA: Well, to that point, there's another question in the new CNN poll just out this hour. How is the president handling Russia and his approval or disapproval numbers? Thirty percent of American approve over the way the president's handling the Russia investigation, 55 percent disapprove. As you can imagine, congressman, some of this breaks down along party lines. But, still, what do you see in those numbers?

[06:59:50] HIMES: Well, it's not at all surprising. I mean, you know, the president has, from the start, called this investigation fake news. He called the Russian attack a hoax.