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Panel on Gun Control; Trump's Position on Guns; Trump Feud with Baldwin; Poll on President's Personal Life; Gay U.S. Athlete Reflects on Olympics. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] CARRIE LIGHTFOOT, TRUMP VOTER, AGAINST GUN CONTROL: Million or more than 120 million law abiding gun owning people in this country. And so, you know, the emotion is so hot. We do have to look at it a little more objectively, even though it's so painful. This isn't the time to make those decisions.


SCOTT POPPALARDO, TRUMP VOTER, PRO GUN CONTROL: Or when you're -- we have one every two months. So, you know, there is no time.

LIGHTFOOT: No, we can -- but we don't -- we don't -- it can't be an emotional response because we're talking about legislating for an entire (INAUDIBLE) --

POPPALARDO: But you can't -- you can't legislate --

PETERS: How much time was there between Los Vegas and this?


AMANDA MEYER, HRC VOTER, PRO GUN CONTROL: Why can't it be an emotional response? What's wrong with human empathy? Like, why is that a bad thing?

ENGELS: You can't have legislation -- legislation. You have --

POPPALARDO: It's not logical.

ENGELS: You have kids who should be grieving right now and instead adults are putting them on national television --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hold on, this I have to object to. I've never seen more motivated people come to a camera and want to tell their story about what they demand now.

ENGELS: They are compromised.

CAMEROTA: So these are not kids, trust me, who are being manipulated.

ENGELS: They're compromised.

POPPALARDO: They're not compromised. They're tired.

ENGELS: They are compromised.

POPPALARDO: They are tired.

CAMEROTA: Yes, just, they're motivated.

POPPALARDO: They watched their friends die --

ENGELS: They are compromised.

POPPALARDO: And you're going to -- you're going to -- you're going to bash on them.


CAMEROTA: Who -- show of hands -- would be comfortable raising the age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21? Three of you.

PETERS: It's an arbitrary age. It's like the drinking age is an arbitrary age.

CAMEROTA: But you'd be more comfortable with it being a higher arbitrary age.

POPPALARDO: Yes. You have 18-year-olds still in high school and you're going to sell them an assault weapon or any weapon for that matter. It shouldn't be.

LIGHTFOOT: They're -- at 18. So you're going to deprive all 18 to 20- year-olds --


LIGHTFOOT: The opportunity to -- to --

POPPALARDO: Yes. Yes, because I'm going to save the ones that maybe -- that maybe would have died --

MEYER: If they want to use a gun (ph), go join the military (ph).

LIGHTFOOT: If they have a Second Amendment right to own those guns --

POPPALARDO: They do, at 21. They have --

LIGHTFOOT: You can't legislate for the few creepos and the sickos.

POPPALARDO: All the -- the hate mail that I've gotten has been from normal gun owners --

MEYER: Right. Me too.

CAMEROTA: Can you tell us your experience? What did you do?

MEYER: So I chopped up my handgun as well because over time I've been sort of getting disenfranchised with this very interpretive reading of the Second Amendment. And then just seeing all the violence, not just from the mass shootings, but, you know, 100 people die every day in this country from gun violence. And it wears on you after a while.

CAMEROTA: Since you've done that, do you feel more safe, less safe?

MEYER: The only reason I feel less safe is because I've been harassed by the, quote/unquote, normal gun owners. Somebody posted my address online. People are saying I can't wait to -- or it will be hilarious when you get murdered. Get ready for some rape.

POPPALARDO: These are legal gun owners.

LIGHTFOOT: But these are the extremists.

POPPALARDO: It doesn't matter. They're out there. Just because they haven't committed a crime yet doesn't mean they're not capable of it. (INAUDIBLE) is capable of snapping.



ENGELS: The only solution to the problem you're describing is to completely take away firearms because at any point in time --


MEYER: Not all firearms --

ENGELS: If at any point in time a completely normal person could snap and use a pistol to hurt someone. So by that logic --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And (INAUDIBLE) a knife also. So I'm not saying --

ENGELS: So let's -- but let's just admit it, let's just admit it, you want to take the guns.

POPPALARDO: I'm not saying that.

MEYER: Not all guns. We're not saying all guns.

POPPALARDO: I have the right -- I have the Second Amendment tattooed on my arm. I've lived by it. Don't tell me that I want all guns take away.


CAMEROTA: Do you really have the Second Amendment tattooed on your arms?

POPPALARDO: Right here.

CAMEROTA: You really have the Second Amendment --

POPPALARDO: It says the right to keep and bear -- it looked a lot better when I was 18.

ENGELS: All of the decisions that are being made from her destroying the handgun, to him cutting up the AR-15, that's your personal prerogative. But when you start pushing your personal prerogative and infringing on my rights or anyone else's right, that is not your business.

MEYER: How does me cutting up a handgun infringe on your --

PETERS: Yes, I --

ENGELS: Because you're pushing -- you're pushing for everyone else --

POPPALARDO: I did not. I said specifically in my video this it is not the answer. This is a personal choice.

MEYER: I literally said it might not be right for everyone.

POPPALARDO: I said this is not for everyone.

CAMEROTA: Yes. We're going to put up the pictures for you, the image here of the 17 victims. What solace do you give to their families? What can you say to them about how this doesn't have to happen again?

JASON MONTES, TRUMP VOTER, AGAINST GUN CONTROL: The solace that I can offer them is, we'll do better in the future because, as it stands right now, we're not doing our job.

PETERS: There's nothing I can say that will help their grief. And the only thing I would say to these parents and these husbands and wives would be that they've started a groundswell, and they're going to rise up. And just like we stopped the Vietnam War in the '60s, they're going to do something about the guns.

ENGELS: It's extremely disheartening what happened. And I don't think anybody disagrees with that. But to put blame on organizations like the NRA is outrageous. Gun control wouldn't have stopped this individual. This individual was sick and he wanted to commit acts of depravity and he would have done it one way or the other.

MEYER: I would say to them that I'm so sorry that I contributed to a market that allowed this to happen, that the liberal reading of the Second Amendment is -- it's just gone too far.

LIGHTFOOT: I'm sorry that as a country that we allow our schools to be unprotected, but we protect jewelry stores and banks and airports and everything else and we're not protecting them. That's what we need to be doing.

POPPALARDO: I want to tell their parents that they didn't die in vain, that their lives meant something. And it's going to mean something in the very far future because the kids, their friends, are not letting them die, not letting them be forgotten. They're going to rise up and they're going to make change.


[08:35:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You know, look, this is tough.

One, that conversation just screams for a need for leadership because there's so many disparate voices in this that if you don't get them all to the table and you don't have start -- start having conversations, you don't start talking to as opposed to about -- you know, one of the women in there is running for the board of the NRA.

CAMEROTA: Yes, the one in the middle in the front.

CUOMO: You know, there are a lot of agendas at play here. That was a strong move by the guy having the Second Amendment tattooed on their arm.

CAMEROTA: They -- that's how strongly they feel about it. I think it's so instructive to talk to the folks because you can hear the anxiety about people coming to take their guns away.

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: So they call it a gun grab, obviously.

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: And so the more that gun control advocates can recognize that there's that real anxiety --

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: And try to assuage those fears, I think that would also be helpful.

CUOMO: Because there's propaganda and there are platitudes. You know, it is way too easy to say, you know, no gun control would have stopped this. Yes, it would have. If you had standards for access in place where one of these reports from these people who were close to this kid triggered a restriction of his access to firearms, then, yes, that would have stopped it.


CUOMO: He we have been put in treatment. And we know from science, when you treat people with these kind of suicidal, homicidal tendencies, they can be cured and stabilized.

CAMEROTA: All right.

CUOMO: But, you know what, it's an important conversation. Thank you for foring (ph) it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. He did not repeat his medal winning performance from Sochi. You'll remember that Gus Kenworthy, the Olympic skier, had won a silver and there were big expectations this time. But he says this Olympics was even better for him. And he'll tell us why, ahead.


[08:40:38] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, President Trump defending his decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, saying trade wars are a good thing.

CAMEROTA: The White House says President Trump has not changed his position on guns since Wednesday when he supported gun control measures. But last night the NRA tweeted that the president does not want gun control after meeting with the president and the vice president.

CUOMO: CNN has learned National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster could be leaving his White House post by the end of the month. This as Ivanka Trump comes under FBI scrutiny for one of her international business deals.

CAMEROTA: The $31,000 furniture order for HUD Secretary Ben Carson's private dining room has been canceled by Carson himself. The firm involved in that controversial sale is waiving the restocking fee. Well, that's good. So no taxpayer funds will have to be used.

CUOMO: Yes, at least somebody's doing the right thing.

A funeral is being held today for America's pastor, the Reverend Billy Graham. At least 2,300 guests are expected at the private service in North Carolina. In attendance, President Trump and the first lady.

CAMEROTA: OK, so for more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CUOMO: So, we know what happens Sunday, right, we get no sleep. Hollywood's biggest night is happening. Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway will reportedly be back to redeem themselves after last year's infamous Oscar flub (ph).

CAMEROTA: But that wasn't their fault.

CUOMO: Well, TMZ reporting they will present best picture again at the Academy Awards. Also, Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel now clearing the air on misleading reports telling "Variety" and "Vanity Fair" that he will not shy away from the Me Too movement at the Academy Awards. Some widely shared articles on the web suggested he would avoid mentioning Me Too and the Time's Up campaign.

CAMEROTA: That would have been strange. This makes more sense.

CUOMO: It does seem as though he has been more activist than he has been avoiding it. But, we'll see what happens.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, the White House insisting, just a short time ago, that the president has not changed his position on guns. What is his position on guns? We're going to get "The Bottom Line" for you, next.


[08:47:06] CUOMO: President Trump desperate for a win, stunned Republicans on Wednesday when he said this about guns.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to write the bump stock, essentially write it out. It doesn't make sense that I have to wait until I'm 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18. I don't know.

I like taking the guns early. Take the guns first, go through due process second.


CUOMO: Now, that's not how the Constitution works, but he was applauded for throwing ideas out there, trying to get something going, trying to get people out of their corners.

But then last night the president and the vice president met with the NRA behind closed doors. The NRA tweets this afterwards, the president does not support gun control.

Then this morning, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, tells reporters that the president's position on guns has not shifted since Wednesday's meetings.

So where are the facts in all of this? Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

I mean the only way this makes sense is if somehow in the NRA meeting there was -- the guy, Cox, heard something and took it to mean that nothing's going to happen at all, but maybe it was just on one aspect. I mean --

CAMEROTA: But, wait a minute, doesn't it also mean that the president plays to his audience? That he told the NRA something. He didn't actually go public --

CUOMO: I was giving him the best, but you're 100 percent right.


CUOMO: I was giving him the best reading, the best reading of this obvious contradiction is that Cox took a little bit and made it into a whole general proposition.

CHALIAN: But, guys, I think the larger point here is, what is the president's position? That -- that is what remains unclear, right? I mean he threw out some stuff on Wednesday. We'll see if there's any follow-through to it. Sarah Sanders says the president hasn't changed. She also said, he supports conceptually an assault weapons ban. Something he supported before he ran for president, flipped on it, said he opposed it, and I didn't hear him say he supported an assault weapons ban in the meeting on Wednesday, even in concept.

So -- so the -- it is not clear where the president stands right now and how much political capital he's willing to spend. What is clear is, he got a lot of conservative backlash and called the NRA in to try to fix his PR problem.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but, listen, it's too soon to fact check, I think, the president's position because he was supposed to put it out today, the position, the White House position, and now we are hearing that it might be delayed. But we have to hear what the White House position officially is.

OK, let's get to our kicker, OK, and that is the Twitter spat that's happening between Alec Baldwin and the president. They've both been quite active this morning. Would you like to do the first dramatic reading?

CUOMO: So, from the president --


CUOMO: The president's first one. OK. So this was the one that he did originally. He fixed this because he misspelled stuff, but it was still the same problematic tweet. Alex Baldwin, whose dying, mediocre career was saved by his impersonation of me on "SNL," now saying playing DJT was agony for him. Alex, it was also agony for those who were forced to watch. You were terrible. Bring back Darrell Hammond, much funnier and a far greater talent.

[08:50:04] CAMEROTA: That is a funny tweet. OK, so Alec Baldwin does appear to be enjoying this. Here is his response. Agony though it may be, I'd like to hang in for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, the farewell helicopter ride to Mar-a-Lago, you know, the good stuff that we've all been waiting for.

His second tweet to the president was, looking forward to the Trump Presidential Library. A putting green, rest in peace for chocolate cake, a live twitter feed for visitors to post on, a little black book with phone numbers of porn stars, you're in and out in five minutes, just like --

CUOMO: And we'll save the last one because it -- it went a little downhill from there, didn't it?

CAMEROTA: How can it go downhill from there?

CUOMO: Oh, it could and it did.

CAMEROTA: With that reference?

CUOMO: It started to get a little bit chippy after that.

CHALIAN: So my question is, who's forcing the president to watch "SNL." Forced to watch "SNL." I didn't understand that.

Guys, what Alec Baldwin did there, though, with the porn stars gets right at the heart of something that you know has caused tension inside the White House and perhaps very public tension inside the Trump marriage.

In our brand new CNN poll, we asked about whether or not this matters to people overall. First of all, does it matter if he had an extramarital affair? Do you think he had an extramarital affair? Or is it important to you that the sort of president represents moral character or just as long as he gets things done?

Take a look at these findings in our latest CNN poll. You see here, 77 percent certainly believe that Trump had an affair before the presidency. Sixteen percent say he did not. There's partisanship on that. There's no doubt about that.

We also asked, did the porn star get paid to protect the campaign, 65 percent say yes, 28 percent says no.


CHALIAN: Overwhelming majorities here of the American people believe the president had affairs and indeed paid the porn star.

CAMEROTA: But, hold on, where is the one about if people care? What's the answer to if people --

CHALIAN: Yes, so the people care one, we didn't have that up there, it's 52 percent yes character matters, 46 percent it does not.


CHALIAN: And if you compare that to the Clinton year, 1999, with impeachment and Lewinsky, it has flipped. The American people have flipped. So now a slim majority say it does matter.

CAMEROTA: All right, David Chalian, thank you. That was a very packed "Bottom Line." Thank you very much.


CAMEROTA: All right, U.S. Olympian Gus Kenworthy did not need a medal in South Korea, he says, to become a champion. The skiing star joins us live with why he says came away with even more. That's next.


[08:56:00] CAMEROTA: OK, American free style skier Gus Kenworthy did not medal at the Olympics in South Korea, but the athlete still made an impact at the winter games.

And Gus Kenworthy joins us now. Great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: OK. So you say that you did feel really gratified by the games, even without a medal. So what was so special?

KENWORTHY: Well, at the last games in Sochi, I was in the closet. And I think that when you're in the closet, it's hard to enjoy anything to the fullest. And I got a medal, which was incredible. I was part of a podium sweep. But then there was all these subsequent interviews afterward and I felt like almost everyone was like, what type of girl do you like? Like, who's your celebrity crush? What's your ideal date? And I just felt like I was constantly like lying by omission and avoiding answers and I was getting so stressed out and so anxious and really, really feeling the burden of being in the closet.

And this games, it was so nice to just be out. And Adam Rippon was the other out gay U.S. Olympian there. And we were the first. And it was cool just to get to be myself and be authentic. And the event didn't really go the way that I wanted it to and like that was -- that was -- that was a bummer. But it's sports and that happens. It comes and goes. So I was just happy to be there.

CUOMO: Well, you made it to the final and there are only a handful of people on this entire globe who can say that.


CUOMO: So good for you and thank you for representing us as --

KENWORTHY: Thank you.

CUOMO: As well as you do and giving your all. You should see the pictures of his leg from when he hurt himself there that are online.

Did you think that it was OK that being out and the politics around it became part of the Olympics?

KENWORTHY: I did think it was OK, actually. I mean for me, growing up, I never had representation in sport. I never saw someone that I could kind of look up to, emulate. And I think that if I had, it would have changed the course of my life. It would have given me a role model and made me realize that being gay was OK. And this is the most diverse team that Team USA has ever brought to the Winter Olympics. And I think that's important because representation matters.

CAMEROTA: So Twitter trolls freaked out about you. I was going to put some up on the screen but they're so disgusting it's really hard to do so for morning --

KENWORTHY: Yes, they're like death threats.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and just sickening things. Here's one. We've had to sensor it because it's so gross. Gross blank, blank you, go blank a blank. Sodom and Gomorrah will return. Sick, nasty blank. So you --

KENWORTHY: It's like a Mad Libs.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's right, fill in -- fill in the blanks. Preferably in a more pleasant way. But you -- you know, you fought back, I mean, and got YouTube to kind of change its policy sort of. I mean what happened next?

KENWORTHY: Well, for me, I was just -- I had talked about being out, being gay during the Olympics. And there was a lot of pushback from people being like, it's 2018, no one cares anymore. Stop shoving it in our face. And I was kind of just trying to say like, I'm actually not really shoving it in your face, I'm just existing. Like my boyfriend and I actually had a kiss before the contest and it was like the first time it had ever been broadcast and people made a huge fuss about it. But people were also really upset by it. But those same people aren't upset by someone kissing their wife after the contest and they'll say like this is such a cute moment. And so I think that's what was upsetting. And I just wanted to explain that I wasn't shoving it in anyone's face, I was actually just existing. And, yes, it's 2018 and it's very accepting, but also it's not because I get these comments daily.


CUOMO: Now, something else you did there that matters in a big way to a lot of people here in this country. Tell us about the puppies and what you learned when you were over there and what you did.

KENWORTHY: So. So, in Sochi, I brought back five stray dogs with my ex-boyfriend. And the Humane society International helped with that process. And it was amazing. We got to raise a bunch of awareness for dog adoption in the U.S. And also I got some pets. And it was just a really, really cool, amazing thing that happened.

And then coming into this games, the Humane Society International reached back out because there's a huge dog meat trade in Korea that I actually knew nothing about. And they kind of just informed me about it. Opened my eyes to it. And I wanted to sort of be a part of the solution, if I could, like lend my name, lend my time.

So after my competition, I visited a dog meat farm, which was like the saddest place that I've ever been. And it was actually one that the Humane Society International had shut down. The farmer had agreed to close the doors, and they had paid him to start doing something else. And that's what they're trying to do all over South Korea. And so 90 dogs will be flying back to the U.S. and Canada to that farm. And one of them will be coming home with me.

CUOMO: What's his name?

KENWORTHY: Bemo (ph).

CUOMO: Bemo, which means what?

KENWORTHY: It's from a cartoon "Adventure Time."

[09:00:00] CAMEROTA: Of course it is.


CAMEROTA: Well, Gus Kenworthy, thanks so much for being with us.

KENWORTHY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And congratulations to you on all of your success.

KENWORTHY: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman, whose nickname is also Bemo.

CAMEROTA: Uh-huh, strangely.

Have a great weekend.