Return to Transcripts main page


Powerful Nor'Easter Hammers New England Coast; FBI Investigating Ivanka; HUD Cancels Dining Room Set; Arizona Coach Denies Wrongdoing; Georgia Teacher Arrested; Georgia Student Speaks out to NRA. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:28] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, if you're living in New England, please, pay attention. Coastal communities are supposed to be bracing for a powerful nor'easter. Emergency officials are asking people who live near the coast to evacuate. So make sure you're checking where you are and what you need to do.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Scituate, Massachusetts.

Right now it's just a little snotty out there, but what are you expecting?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Chris.

You know, coastal people are a hardy people, so they're used to weather conditions that get kind of rough. But right now we can already see the wind and rain picking up.

As we step out of the way here, we go right into the wind tunnel. You can kind of hear it battering us around. But if you look out there to the water, that's what they're concerned about. They could have a storm surge three to five feet and they could have waves up to 20 feet.

In fact, the evacuation order has already been given for this area. We're told around 8:00 this morning, firefighters will actually go to people's homes and help them leave if they want to. The high school has been already opened up in this area just in case for an evacuation area. We've seen them use sandbags and people also putting wood on the side of their homes because they know the flood is coming.

We are getting pelted and tossed around by this rain and wind. But at the same time, Alisyn, as you know, what they're worried about is the three consecutive high tides that will be hitting this area later on this afternoon. This could be interesting as the day continues.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Ryan, listen, take cover. Scituate is no stranger to big storms, but that one looks like a nasty one. So thank you very much for the reporting. We'll check back with you.

YOUNG: We'll do that (ph).

CAMEROTA: OK, this powerful storm is forcing the federal government in Washington, D.C. to close today. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray has our forecast.

What are you seeing, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Alisyn, this is a big one. In places like Scituate and Boston, conditions are only going to deteriorate throughout the day. And, in fact, they could be some of the hardest hit when this storm is all said and done. It's going to intensify. Here's all the rain -- mainly rain for the big cities. We are going to see heavy, wet snow. Upstate New York could pick up up to a foot of snow. We've already seen downed trees. Could see power outages as well.

Gusts up to 70 miles per hour along these areas, especially like New York, eastern -- Boston, eastern Massachusetts, and eastern Long Island. That's where we could see the strongest winds. Coastal flood threat is also a huge concern with the strong winds, three high tide cycles. So later this morning, tonight and tomorrow, that's where we're going to see the biggest flood threat across these areas. And you can see, as this goes forward in time, the rain sticks around throughout the day. By late tonight, we'll still be in it, but it will starting to pull away. By tomorrow, areas will look better.

Chris and Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Jen.

There are new ethics questions swirling around the White House. The president's daughter is the one facing scrutiny this time. Why? Next.


[06:38:23] CAMEROTA: CNN has learned that the FBI is now scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump's foreign business deals. Sources say they're looking into the negotiations and the financing surrounding the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver. And that's just one of the ethical issues plaguing the White House at the moment.

So let's bring in CNN contributor Walter Shaub. He is the former director of the Office of Government Ethics.

Walter, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: So, listen, I remember you were trying to sound the alarm even before the inauguration of the possible ethical red flags that you saw coming down the pipeline. What do you think of this news today that the FBI is looking into one of Ivanka Trump's business deals?

SHAUB: You know, sometimes it's just no fun to be right. But this administration has lived up to every dire warning I gave a year ago. And this is yet another fruit of nepotism in this case. And it turns out nepotism is the gift that just keeps on giving if you like gifts of disaster.

Here, they brought Ivanka Trump into the White House, same with her husband Jared Kushner, and they allowed them to keep the types of assets that you don't normally let a senior White House presidential adviser keep. And there's a reason you don't let them keep them. It causes conflicts of interest. It raises security clearance concerns. And, of course, the types of products they have kept, the types of assists they have kept, involved licensing deals and real estate deals, which are very complex things because you have to raise capital for the real estate deals, and often that involves foreign companies or foreign countries.


[06:40:09] SHAUB: And you have to work with partners overseas on licenses and trademarks. And so she's heavily entangled with these foreign interests because of a choice they made, which they made because of nepotism.

CAMEROTA: And is that why you think that as we've learned that Ivanka Trump doesn't have a full security clearance?

SHAUB: Oh, I'm sure it's a piece of it. And we know that because of the reports that the FBI is looking into this.

Now, to be fair to Ivanka Trump, the FBI is not looking into this, as far as we can tell, as some criminal matter that they've gotten involved in because they heard an allegation of wrongdoing. The FBI conducts the security clearance background investigations for White House officials. So you could literally say that the FBI is investigating every White House official or every top government official and that would sound worse than it is if you didn't know that it was part of the background investigation.

CAMEROTA: Good (ph).

SHAUB: But the fact that they reportedly zeroed in on this means that there's some details they need more information on, and that's concerning.

CAMEROTA: OK, but that is helpful context to know that this is part and parcel of the background check.

Ben Carson, the HUD secretary, he ordered a $31,000 dining set, piece of furniture. It's all mahogany. It's apparently beautiful. The velvet chairs that accompany it. $31,000. On what planet is that OK? I mean his budget was $5,000 for the entire office.

SHAUB: You know, this is all the tone from the top I worried about. I said in my speech back in January, before the inauguration, when I sounded the warning, the tone from the top was going to have an effect on his top officials and could trickle down lower.

So you've got the president spending tons of money, going to Mar-a- Lago just about every other weekend. And following that example, you've had other cabinet officials flying around on luxury chartered jets, or all kinds of other expenses, like coins with Secretary Zinke's name, or the cone of silence that Pruitt apparently installed at the FBI straight out of Maxwell -- FBI -- EPA, straight out of Maxwell Smart.

So now you've got Ben Carson taking his turn at living like a French noble before the revolution. And I think these guys think they were elected to be French -- or appointed to be French nobles before the revolution.

There's no reflection of the sentiment that in a republic you're a public servant. You're not nobility. And you're not supposed to be splurging with taxpayer money on these kind of luxuries.

And if I could just add, the most ridiculous line in Ben Carson's statement was that he was told the $25,000 that they added to the original $5,000 pot for redecorating was money that would have been, as he put it, lost if he didn't spend it on this dining room set. Well, that just goes to show how little he knows about government because it wouldn't be lost, it would be put back into the pot of money used for other important taxpayer projects. It would only be lost to anybody who wanted to buy a fabulous dining room set.

CAMEROTA: He's canceled it. We're happy to report that he has canceled that dining set and says that that was a mistake.

All right, Walter Shaub, thank you very much for giving us your thoughts on all of this.

SHAUB: Thanks.


CUOMO: A college baseball coach is refusing to consider a recruit from Colorado because of the state's marijuana laws. Now the school is taking action. The "Bleacher Report," next.


[06:47:45] CUOMO: All right, amid an FBI investigation into the recruiting scandal in college basketball, Arizona's coach returning to the sidelines saying he did nothing wrong.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

What have you got?


You know, Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller did not coach his team last weekend after an ESPN report claimed the FBI had a wiretap of Miller discussing payment to secure star player DeAndre Ayton. Well, after a week of discussions with the school, Miller returning to the sidelines last night. And before the game he proclaimed his innocence, slamming that ESPN report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN MILLER, ARIZONA HEAD COACH: Let me be very, very clear. I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying DeAndre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false, and defamatory. I'm outraged by the media statements that have been made and the acceptance by many that these statements were true. There was no such conversation.


SCHOLES: Now, despite Miller's denials, ESPN is standing by its original reporting.

All right, the head baseball coach at Texas Wesleyan University was fired on Thursday after an e-mail surfaced that he had sent to a potential recruit. In that e-mail, Mike Jeffcoat said his team was not looking at high school players from the state of Colorado because of their recreational marijuana policy and how he feared players from that state wouldn't pass drug tests. Well, Jeffcoat also told the player, quote, you can thank your liberal politicians. Well, after announcing the firing, Alisyn, yesterday, Texas Wesleyan's president said the school does not discriminate on the basis of the public policy of any state.

CAMEROTA: I guess they don't anymore, if they ever did, but that was quite a story yesterday, Andy.

Thank you very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: All right, so after her teacher fired a gun inside her school, a Georgia high school student confronts the NRA. And she joins us live, next.


[06:53:43] CAMEROTA: In the wake of the Florida school massacre, President Trump and the NRA are push to arm teachers as one way to prevent mass shootings. But just this week, a Georgia high school teacher was arrested after barricading himself in a classroom and firing a handgun out of a window.

CNN's Gary Tuckman has all of the details.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For those who support arming school teachers, Jesse Randall Davidson would not be the role model they're looking for.


Oh, my God, bro.

TUCHMAN: The 53-year-old social studies teacher at Dalton High School in north Georgia locked himself in his otherwise empty classroom and then is accused of shooting his handgun.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This is the classroom where the teacher was at. And this is the window where he fired his gun. And it's now boarded up.

TUCHMAN (voice over): The school principal says he went to the classroom door twice after hearing Davidson was not coming out.

STEVE BARTOO, PRINCIPAL, DAYTON HIGH SCHOOL: He told me he had a gun. And then shortly after that, they -- the -- I heard a gunshot.

TUCHMAN: Nobody was hit by the single gunshot, but panicked ensued. The 1,900 student school actually went into lockdown. If the police know the motive of the shooting, they're not saying.

KATE HABELIN, STUDENT, DALTON HIGH SCHOOL: I was shaking and crying and just like hold one of my best friend's hands and strangers' hands and just -- we were just communicating with everybody, trying to see what happened.

[06:55:04] ZIA SNEED, STUDENT, DALTON HIGH SCHOOL: All you hear is like the footsteps. And we didn't know who it was running in the hallway. So we were scared every time we heard footsteps, because we didn't know who was going to come from us, if it was good people, bad people.

TUCHMAN: The teacher is not unknown to local police. In March of 2016, a Dalton police report stated that Davidson had come to the police station to confess to having someone killed. Police eventually determined he made up the story. They found no murder victim. He wasn't arrested but received medical treatment. The school says it is aware of his medical history.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Sir, according to a police report, this teacher had said he was involved in the murder of a person who turned out to be a fictional person. Did you know about that and, if you did, why would he be allowed to continue teaching here?

BARTOO: I'm aware of the police report. But as far as I'm aware, he was fit to be at work yesterday.

TUCHMAN: But does that concern you knowing the specifics about that police report? If you didn't know those specifics --

BARTOO: Again, I'm aware of the report, but he was fit to be at work yesterday.

TUCHMAN: Well, why would he have been fit if that was in a police report that he (INAUDIBLE) --

BARTOO: I can't -- I can't answer a why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, that -- (INAUDIBLE) simply not allowed to (INAUDIBLE) at this point.

TUCHMAN: Well, it's a police report. It's not medical information. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But any information about his condition is. And

that's your question, sir.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Gary Tuckman, CNN, Dalton, Georgia.


CUOMO: Now, we have two very different things going on here. There you see a school that now has to cover for the situation and make sure that their behavior was OK, not exposing themselves to liability. That happens at an institutional level.

But how can you change these rules so that somebody who those close to him, they do know that he's in distress. He has had problems like this. When will that start counting in the process of who gets access to weapons and who does not?

So, when this story broke, a junior from the school tweeted the NRA, quote, my favorite teacher at Dalton High School just blockaded his door and proceed to shoot. We had to run out the back of the school in the rain. Students were being trampled and screaming. I dare you to tell me arming teachers will make us safe.

Chondi Chastain joins us now.

Chondi, can you hear us?


CUOMO: Thank you for joining us. How are you feeling this morning? How are your friends doing?

CHASTAIN: It's hard for all of us, but we are all staying together and staying strong.

CUOMO: So when this happened yesterday, first, let's talk about the moment and what that meant and then your reaction afterwards. When you got the signal that you needed to evacuate, what did people think was going on and what was going through your head?

CHASTAIN: Based on the events that have been happening around us, everyone thought that it was a shooting. And so we were all just terrified and running for what we thought was our lives.

CUOMO: And when you found out who was involved, you know this teacher. You like this teacher. What did you think about that?

CHASTAIN: I was completely shocked. I did not expect this at all from him. And now that I know more of the story, I feel like -- I just feel bad for him.

CUOMO: It seems like he is dealing with some serious personal issues. But when he would be in the classroom or he would be dealing with you at school, tell us about the man that you knew, the teacher you knew.

CHASTAIN: He was always really kind and funny. If he saw kids being bullied, he would stop it. If he saw quiet kids, he would always try to include them. He was just a great guy.

CUOMO: Well, that's important. The reason I'm asking you, Chondi, is because, you know, there is this temptation right now in society to say, if somebody has mental health, there's something bad about them. They're somehow inherently dangerous. We know that's not true in terms of statistics, but I just wanted to get a sense of what kind on of man this was. And to hear you say this was a good person, that he liked the kids, it's important that people know that about somebody, even if they wind up doing something like this.

So, in the aftermath, you decided to do something. You wanted to tweet the NRA. Why the NRA? Why did it matter to you so much? What motivated that tweet?

CHASTAIN: I already knew that it was a bad idea to arm teachers with guns. I just thought that it didn't sound very logical. And after this happened, this just shows -- this just goes to prove that it's not good.

I know that Mr. Davidson would never try to hurt anyone. And I just fear if it was a different teacher -- if more teachers have guns, this could have been a lot more tragic than it was.

CUOMO: The other thing, the other side of this is, well, God forbid if this were a shooter inside the school. If you had a number of your teachers who were skilled and wanted to volunteer and knew how to use a weapon, it might take that shooter out before he could take other people's lives. Why don't -- why doesn't that mean enough to you?

[07:00:04] CHASTAIN: You never know -- if you give a teacher a gun, they could be fine, right, whenever they're issued it. But you never know what could happen.