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Kushner Stripped of Secret Clearance; Mueller Probes Trump's Business Dealings; Students Return to School after Shooting; Wade Has Best Game. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET
Aired February 28, 2018 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:33:05] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Not one, two, three, but maybe four really important developments. Some involving Jared Kushner and all of them involving the Russia investigation, all of them jolting the Trump White House.
Sources tell CNN, Special Counsel Bob Mueller is now looking into the president's business dealings with Russia before the 2016 campaign. Now, remember, this was a red line for President Trump. He said if Mueller looks into my money, my family's money, we have a problem. I don't know how this won't qualify. What may be his response? We may learn when he starts tweeting in moments.
The president's son-in-law, another big headline, stripped of his top security clearance. All right, what does this all mean? Why did it happen? What does it mean going forward?
We have CNN contributor and a former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub.
It's good to have you, sir. You're the perfect guest for this morning.
We have two things to unpack. We have what Trump -- what this means for Trump in terms of the special counsel looking into him and his money, and then we have Kushner.
Let's start with Kushner. Kelly pulling the clearance. Right move?
WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Well, yes, absolutely. I mean it's been such a strange situation to have so many people in the White House walking around with interim clearances and accessing very sensitive information. And, of course, these are all the fruits of nepotism because there's a sense that the White House has been reluctant to pull the trigger on denying clearances to people who shouldn't have clearances. We saw that with Rob Walker (ph), the White House staffer accused of spousal abuse, because to deny their clearances would create a situation where it's hard to explain --
SHAUB: Why you haven't denied Jared Kushner's clearance.
CUOMO: So it -- it all grows out of the Rob Porter situation, fine. And there's a lot of political undertones to this. You know, will Kelly survive moving on the family? Would he be able to do it if he didn't have the tacit approval of at least the president? Those are political questions.
However, what happens now if the president says, yes, no, I've got that you have your process. I need Jared to do these things. I'll let him see classified information anyway. That's my call.
[06:35:10] SHAUB: Well, I don't think we can rule out that will happen and I'm not sure we're going to know that will happen, at least not unless somebody leaks that, because the president has the authority to do it. But, you know, the White House, or at least the executive office of the president, recently released a memo where they wrote it's -- just because something is legal doesn't make it right. And I think that would be the case here if the president says, we're going to ignore all these security concerns and put very sensitive, classified information in my son-in-law's hands because of nepotism.
CUOMO: Or because, like everything else, I think this is a hoax, I think this is a witch hunt and you'll probably never find out anyway. The last part is a very key component, thank you for raising that, because if we don't find this out, we may never know. That's an important consideration.
All right, now, in terms of what's happening with Trump, he didn't release his taxes. He's never opened the books on his businesses. So did lack of transparency at least contribute in your estimation to these questions from the special counsel looking into his financial dealings even before the campaign?
SHAUB: I have a hard time believing that Robert Mueller is just on a fishing trip because he wants to see what he doesn't know. There had to have been some bread crumbs that led him there.
But it is also true to say that there's been a severe lack of transparency stemming from the president not releasing his tax returns the way every prior president in modern times has done.
You also have to understand the limitations of the financial disclosure report he files, which my office reviewed and, in fact, I signed his financial disclosure report. That report doesn't require you to disclose business partners, business liabilities, ongoing projects, any of the kind of stuff that could give us a clue as to whether there were serious concerns in a security area because he's vulnerable to blackmail or to leveraging for financial reasons.
CUOMO: So when Trump and his people say he has provided more disclosure than anybody else in history, look at all this paper we let you guys see, you say quantity is not quality?
SHAUB: No. He's produced less information than his predecessors, at least since the enactment of the ethics and government act, which set out the standards for financial disclosure. He -- his financial disclosure report was compliant with the law. So I signed that. Of course they asked to not have him have to sign it and he'd have been the first person out of all of the millions of financial disclosure reports that have been filed to not certify that his report is true.
CUOMO: What are Shaub's big questions going forward?
SHAUB: Well, I think one of the glaring things, just standing out there in plain sight, is that the president has refused to enforce sanctions imposed by a bipartisan majority in Congress against Russia. And so Russia has faced no consequences as a result of their meddling in our election. And we heard yesterday that he hasn't directed anybody to really proactively go after an effort to stop it from happening again.
So I think that raises legitimate questions about, what are his links to Russia? Do they have something on him, whether it's financial leverage or embarrassing information? And I think that's absolutely fair game for Robert Mueller to look at.
CUOMO: All right, important insight.
Walter, thank you for helping us understand these things better. You get these issues. You were there. You worked with him. Thank you very much.
CUOMO: All right, another story for you this morning. What does this mean? $31,000 for an office dining room set. That is the price tag for HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Under scrutiny now because that's a lot of damn money. What's going on with that, next.
[06:42:37] CUOMO: All right, some important headlines for you. A United Nations Security Council diplomat tells CNN North Korea has been sending supplies to Syria. Supplies that could be used to make chemical weapons. That diplomat says North Korea is providing the Assad regime with acid-resistant tiles, vials and thermometers. The information comes from a report on North Korea by a U.N. panel of experts. The report also claims North Korean missile experts visited Syria in 2016 and 2017.
The FBI and NCIS on the scene of a hazmat incident at Fort Meyer. The base is located near the Pentagon, so it's a sensitive area. Eleven people, including Marines, were sickened Tuesday but they don't know what the substance was that was sent in this letter. Three of those people were treated at the hospital for non-life threatening conditions. But the problem is, they don't know what it was. And yet eight others who are suffering from itching and nasal irritation, one even had a bloody nose. The FBI is testing the substance at its lab in Quantico, Virginia.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is under scrutiny and rightfully so. $31,000 of your money on a new dining room set for the secretary, Ben Carson. This coming after a CNN report about a top HUD employee who says she was pressured by her former boss to find funds beyond the $5,000 legal limit to renovate Carson's office. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELEN FOSTER, EMPLOYEE, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: He told me again that $5,000 wasn't enough and that we needed to find more money for the project. And at that point I said, I can't do that because that is illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: That's Helen Foster. She alleges she was demoted after resisting that request. A HUD spokesman says the Carsons were not aware of the $31,000 purchase.
All right, now, let's get back to Parkland, Florida. A very important day there. The kids are going to go back to school. What's in their head? What's in their hearts?
Alisyn Camerota on scene.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Chris, listen, the activity is really picking up behind me. There is a convey of dozens and dozens of police vehicles that you can see driving by me right now. They're all heading in this direction. And there's a gathering of all sorts of motorcycle police officers right there at the opening of the parking lot as students start bringing their cars here.
So the police cars, the police vehicles, they're from all over the place. I mean there's the Broward County. There is the Hollywood Police that are driving right now. Pembroke Pines Police are driving by right now. It is a huge show of force from police all over this region. Hollywood Police right behind me.
[06:45:16] And we just watched as the teachers and staffers started showing up. A long line of cars stretching down the block here. They are first in to this school. They are getting their classrooms ready for the 3,000 students who will be joining us. So I just can't tell you how -- what show of strength is here behind me right now.
But, listen, one of the only bright spots in the two weeks since this massacre is that Stoneman Douglas High School won the state title in hockey. So one of the winning players is going to join us next with his sister and what they plan to do today.
CAMEROTA: I am here in Parkland, Florida, outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And there is a huge police presence here. In just the past 10 minutes, we've watched as dozens and dozens of police vehicles, easily 100, from all of the surrounding towns. I mean I've watched as not only Broward County, but Hollywood, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, you can see all of them gathering here for this huge show of strength and force as these 3,000 kids for Marjory Stoneman Douglas go back to school today. [06:50:03] And behind me there's a huge cluster of police officers who
are about to go across the crosswalk. I just can't tell you how -- what a feeling of sort of solidarity it is with all of these surrounding towns coming to protect Stoneman Douglas and to show them how much they care about them. So it has been an unimaginably difficult two weeks here, obviously, for the community.
But on Sunday, they had a bright spot when the high school boys ice hockey team pulled an upset victory and won the state title.
So joining me now is Matthew Horowitz, he's a member of that hockey team, and his sister Stephanie.
Thank you both so much for being here.
Before we get to your big win, to you, Stephanie, what is it like for you to see all of these police officers? Is it comforting or upsetting or what is it like to go back into school with this situation?
STEPHANIE HOROWITZ, FRESHMAN AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I mean it's definitely comforting to know the -- we're safe. But just knowing why we're safe now is overwhelming. And I'm still fearful of going back to school.
CAMEROTA: You're a freshman. You lost friends.
S. HOROWITZ: Yes.
CAMEROTA: You lost two friends?
S. HOROWITZ: Five.
CAMEROTA: You lost five friends in this because it happened in the freshman unit. And so what are -- when -- what are your feelings as -- in one hour from now you're inside there?
S. HOROWITZ: I really -- I don't know. I just -- I'm still in shock from everything that has happened. And going back into school, I just -- I'm just worried that it's going to happen again.
CAMEROTA: For sure. I don't blame you. I mean of course the emotional scars of all of this stay with us forever.
Matthew, as we said, the one bright spot for everybody is that you won the title. So tell us about that moment.
MATTHEW HOROWITZ, SENIOR AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: It was exciting. And I felt like it was one of those Cinderella stories. Like it was just a meant-to-be thing. And we were just happy to bring some joy back to the community. And we all -- we ended up putting the medals on the memorials in front of the school.
CAMEROTA: You did?
M. HOROWITZ: Yes. So I think that was a good thing that we did. CAMEROTA: Of course it was a good thing. Everybody was so excited. And so it was a Cinderella story because you guys were the underdogs, right?
M. HOROWITZ: Yes, we were the fourth seed and we beat the first seed in the semis and then the second seed in the championship.
CAMEROTA: Did you feel pressure to win because of everything that had happened and because your high school needs a win?
M. HOROWITZ: No, we didn't feel pressured. We just -- we thought it was just like almost a meant-to-be thing. And more or less we -- we just had a fun time. And it was a good stress reliever.
CAMEROTA: Totally. I mean did it feel like -- because you were the underdogs, did it feel like you had some divine intervention?
M. HOROWITZ: not really.
CAMEROTA: OK. It was just your skill.
M. HOROWITZ: Yes, it was just us playing hockey.
CAMEROTA: That's really great.
How are you feeling?
M. HOROWITZ: I'm feeling OK. Kind of excited actually to go back to school. I feel like we need to. And it's time. But it's still a little traumatizing.
CAMEROTA: It's overwhelming, right --
M. HOROWITZ: Yes.
CAMEROTA: To see all of this outside of your school. I mean this is just supposed to be a high school. You're just supposed to be going in there. And to see all of this happening.
You're a senior. So you want to get back in and get back at it. But for your sister, it's different.
M. HOROWITZ: Yes, I don't know how she's going to do another three more years here. I don't understand that.
CAMEROTA: What's the answer to that?
S. HOROWITZ: You've just got to do it. I love all the kids here. And I can't imagine switching schools or just going anywhere else. I still want to be with the people that experienced this with me.
CAMEROTA: What have these two weeks been like? What have you two been doing during these two weeks?
M. HOROWITZ: Well, the first week was full of funerals, day in and day out it was just a funerals and a lot of vigils. And then we went off to -- it was just like a lot of hanging out with friends, just like everyone being together, coping, and then we went to states, so --
CAMEROTA: I mean full of funerals. That's not something that any of us have in your vocabulary for a week.
M. HOROWITZ: Yes.
CAMEROTA: Are you getting counseling? Are you -- what is the therapy to get through this?
S. HOROWITZ: I went to grief counseling the first day it was offered, the day after everything happened, and I saw three or four grief counselors. And it definitely helped a little. But just being with friends and being with my group of friends -- we lost one of the members of our friend group. Just being with them is the best therapy.
CAMEROTA: I understand. And you're going to have an opportunity to be all together today.
S. HOROWITZ: Yes.
CAMEROTA: We wish you all strength and we will check back in with you, obviously, as we have been doing every single day. It's going to be really hard, but you guys have shown just -- the rest of the country tremendous strength.
[06:55:02] Thank you both, Stephanie and Matthew Horowitz, thank you for being here.
M. HOROWITZ: Any time.
S. HOROWITZ: Of course.
CAMEROTA: OK, so Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, as you know, he honored this Parkland shooting victim and he hit a game winner in the process. So we have all of the details of that emotional moment in the "Bleacher Report," next.
CUOMO: Just a day after dedicating his season to Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, Dwyane Wade had the best game of the year.
Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."
Very, very cool.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Chris. You know, since being traded back to Miami, Dwyane Wade hadn't had much of an impact, averaging just nine points a game. But he had one inspirational performance last night.
This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.
Joaquin Oliver was one of the 17 students who lost their lives in the Stoneman Douglas shooting. He was such a big Miami Heat and Wade fan, he was laid to rest wearing Wade's jersey.
Well, Wade writing "Oliver" on his shoes last night. He then went out and had his best game of his season, scoring 15 of the Heat's final 17 points, including the game winner with five seconds left on the clock. After the game Wade posted on Instagram, Juaquin Oliver and Henry Thomas, thanks for being my angels tonight. Thomas, who was Wade's agent, passed away last month.
All right, the Warriors are in D.C. to play the Wizards tonight. The team skipping the annual trip to the White House to celebrate the NBA title. Instead, the Warriors visiting the National Museum of African- American History and Culture with students from Kevin Durant's hometown. Durant and Steph Curry have been outspoken about President Trump in the past, saying they would not go to the White House. President Trump, meanwhile, rescinded their invitation back in September. No media was allowed with the group as the players wanted to just have time alone with those students, Chris. But pretty cool how they were able to turn a negative situation into a positive.
[07:00:00] CUOMO: Great. Memories those kids will never forget and for the right reason.
Andy Scholes, thank you very much.
SCHOLES: All right.
CUOMO: And thanks to you, our international viewers, for watching us. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. But for our U.S. viewers, "NEW DAY" has news in this Russia investigation and a lot of it.