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Shooting at Maryland High School; Package Explodes Inside Texas FedEx Facility; Sources: Trump Lawyers Meet With Mueller's Investigators; WAPO: Trump Team Tries To Limit Scope Of Mueller Questions; Trump Adds New Lawyer, Intensifies Attacks On Mueller. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired March 20, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It sounds like he's trying to get this information as best he can, and it's not coming in particularly fast and furious. So he's collecting what he can. So we do not know if the information he has about the seven students is the most current information or if it is, in fact, accurate.
But the good news from his perspective is the incident does appear over. He is being led out of the classroom right now. And by all accounts, the students who were there are safe. And that is what probably means when officials tell us that the event is contained.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We also asked him, too, there's been so much discussion obviously in the last few weeks since what happened in Parkland, Florida, about whether or not he and his fellow students and that school there, whether they had done any training for an event like this. And that's when he had told us that there were police officers, regularly scheduled at their school. He intimated there had been some training. He wasn't real clear about it but did say I didn't think we'd ever have to use this and praised the officers who were there at his school he says on a daily basis.
BERMAN: And he did make clear that there are police and had been police at his school regularly. We do not know what their involvement was in bringing this event, whatever it was to conclusion. But students now being led from their classrooms after reports of a school shooting, a school shooting that did take place at the Great Mills High School in eastern Maryland. Reports from that student we just heard of some injuries, we're getting many more details.
CNN will stay on the breaking news right now with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We'll pick it up from there. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning everyone.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Dave Briggs. We begin with that breaking news out of Maryland. There has been a shooting at Great Mills High School in the city of Great Hills, Maryland. That's in St. Mary's County, about an hour and a half outside of Washington, D.C. You just heard the conversation on "NEW DAY" with the student inside the school. It sounds like this has been contained.
Jean Casarez is standing by with the breaking details.
Jean, what can you tell us at this hour?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, we're continuing to get information now. And this is just the infancy of this situation but we can confirm that the FBI is on the scene, ATF out of Baltimore field offices, they are on their way to the scene at this point. This is the St. Mary County public schools, specifically Great Mills High School. And they confirmed a short time ago that there had been a shooting at the school.
Let me read you from the school itself. "There has been a shooting at Great Mills High School. The school is on lockdown right now. The event is contained. The sheriff's office is on the scene. Additional information to follow."
And that is it at this point. They are telling parents, do not go to the school, do not go to the school. There is currently still a lockdown at this point. And of course authorities including, as I just said, the FBI and the ATF out of Baltimore field offices are there at the school to discern exactly what this dire situation is.
ROMANS: All right. Jean Casarez, we'll let you get back to working the phones and working your sources.
Now, let's bring in James Gagliano, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI supervisory special agent. We're told the FBI is on the scene. We're told it's a lockdown situation. Parents are told not to go to that location while the investigation here begins.
What do you think authorities are doing next here?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. Law enforcement has got to be in the business of predictive analysis, Christine. And part of that is, there is really four things that could be occurring in a situation like this. One is active shooter who just wants to hurt, kill as many people as possible. The second is a situation where somebody may try to barricade themselves, take hostages and conduct a negotiation.
The third, some type of domestic dispute, or sometime of workplace, a disgruntled employee returning, and the final one is somebody who just wants to make a splash and commit suicide and do it maybe in front of a group of people. Those four considerations have to be taken into an assessment because as law enforcement is moving to the sound of the guns, as we have learned time and time again now, post-Columbine and obviously post-Parkland, they've also got to be cognizant of the fact of containing the situation, making sure that nobody is able to skirt outside of it that could possibly be involved and make sure that they get to it and interdict it as quickly as possible.
BRIGGS: Containing it, but waiting, not staying outside as we saw in Parkland.
GAGLIANO: Yes. BRIGGS: That's about five weeks ago now. We heard from the student
Jonathan Freese inside the school. He believes seven people were hurt. He says regularly police officers were at the school. That may explain the quick response we've seen here.
GAGLIANO: Dave, after Parkland, you just said five weeks ago, most school districts now are trying to bolster security. And that's a discussion and the debate that kind of got drowned out a little bit after Parkland with all the partisan noise. But it is a very, very real issue that we need to address. How do we harden our schools.
ROMANS: We know there have been 16 school shootings this year before today.
[09:05:03] So these kids, these children and the staff have been for years now training for mass casualty events. It sounds as though some of the students who are inside that building, you know, they didn't think they'd ever have to use that training. But they're training the children for this.
GAGLIANO: Absolutely. And another thing else, and we've got to take into consideration here and the kind of piggybacks off of the serial bombings that are going on in Texas, we have to be concerned about copy cats. Parkland has been in the news, it leads every newscast obviously. Somebody sees that and is a depraved individual or somebody that has a propensity to commit evil and they want to act on that in the same way. And that's some real concern for law enforcement is that people might see something and then decide to do the same thing.
BRIGGS: All right. James Gagliano, stick with us as we get more information. We'd like you to dial back into this conversation. But now we're going to bring in Corporal Julie (INAUDIBLE) from the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office.
Corporal, what can you tell us?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably about 8:15, 8:20 or so. It happened pretty quickly.
BERMAN: And what time does school start?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIGGS: That is the interview I believe John Berman had with a student there at Great Mills High School, Jonathan Freese. Do we have the corporal with us? OK, 9:06 now, a.m. Eastern Time.
Corporal, what can you tell us about the shooting at Great Mills High School?
ROMANS: All right. We have lost her. We're going to try to dial back with her soon.
James Gagliano is still here with us.
Where do we proceed with the investigation right now? Do we think -- it is a lockdown situation. It sounds like it might be contained but we don't know if they have the gunman or the shooter or the perpetrator in custody here.
GAGLIANO: And Christine, one thing that I've learned from being in the military as well as in law enforcement, initial reports are always inaccurate.
GAGLIANO: So we're going to learn some more as we go along. The important thing is, you pointed out earlier, was the training that these students across the nation are undergoing now in how to respond, and reminding people of this, from the FBI perspective, when something like this happens, wherever you are, the first thing you should do as a civilian is run away from the sound of the guns.
If you can't do that, it is to find a safe, secure, hopefully a covered and concealed place to hide and lastly fight if you must. And then the corollary to the end of that is, and then once you're outside, make sure you share any intel you have, no matter how unimportant you think it is with law enforcement. Run, hide, fight, tell.
BRIGGS: All right. We have a tweet from Governor Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland. "We are closely monitoring the situation at Great Hills High School. The police department is in touch with local law enforcement ready to provide support. Our prayers are with students, school personnel and first responders."
You talked about the students are prepared for things like this. I have a 6-year-old who has already done drills, she may not know what for, but has done them several times. How about the police response? What do you think they've learned in the wake of Parkland and recent shootings into how quickly and how exactly to respond?
GAGLIANO: The first mass shooting that we really discuss on record for law enforcement was the Texas clock tower shooting on August 1st, 1966.
GAGLIANO: That was basically the genesis of creating law enforcement SWAT teams. Let's fast forward all the way up now to April of 1999 in Columbine. Law enforcement -- now granted, we hindsight being 20/20, waited outside for 47 minutes until they had a homogenous SWAT team to make entry.
We've made some -- we've some advancements. But if you look at Newtown, if you look at the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, we're still trying to deal with two different paradigms, the old law enforcement secure clear, which you're moving slowly, you're taking land, if you will, and moving forward slowly and then what we learned the methodology after Columbine which was go to the sound of the guns. Those two tactics are in conflict right now. And I think after
Parkland five weeks ago, we've determined we have to adjust our tactics. The bad guys will always adjust theirs. As law enforcement we have to adjust ours.
ROMANS: There's something about the target of a school, for some reason, the sick, demented mind find some sort of glory in the school shooting in particular. It's different than an airport, it's different than a library, it's different than some of these other targets we try to harden up.
GAGLIANO: Well, and we're very careful before we -- you know, people always ask, well, why don't you call this an act of terror and terrorism has a distinct definition. It is violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political or social goals. People that look at schools could be operating with that premise. They could also be operating on the premise of just creating terror. Because these are depraved individuals.
Many of them are megalomaniacs, they're replicates, and they look at the situation and they go, this is where I'm going to create the biggest splash, the biggest shock value, and as more and more of these shootings proliferate, copycats look at that and say well, if there were 13 casualties in that one, I'm going to up that number.
ROMANS: So many of these high school kids are getting ready this weekend for the March for Lives on Saturday, in D.C.
BRIGGS: Saturday in D.C. across the country and around the world.
[09:10:06] ROMANS: To talk about safe schools and their right to be able to go to school without being afraid of being shot. And then here is the 17th school shooting of the year.
BRIGGS: Talking with students and principals around the country, they tell me their biggest concern is a current or former student because they know how to get in and get out of schools. How big a concern is that?
GAGLIANO: Absolutely. Look at bank robberies, the bank robbers always case the joint, as we say in law enforcement vernacular. Somebody there's a familiarity with the plans for the building. They know where they can enter, what doors are unsecured, we're going to have to unfortunately in this new paradigm, Dave, move to a situation where every school has a single point of entry with security and armed guards.
GAGLIANO: Now I've been on the record as saying I don't think arming teachers is a solution because law enforcement officers, it has been studied for years, law enforcement officers generally on a range with nobody shooting back at them, 75 percent, 80 percent of their shots are going inside the target.
What we've learned in adversarial contact, and most of that is between five and seven feet, we learn that law enforcement's proficiency rating in firearms drops down to 17 percent, one out of five. So I don't know if arming teachers is the answer.
BRIGGS: All right. CNN law enforcement, James Gagliano, unfortunately, we may need you again based on what's happening in Austin, Texas, as well. Good to have you here today. Thank you.
ROMANS: All right. We're following other breaking news this morning. Texas rocked by a fifth explosion in less than a month. The latest package blowing up inside a FedEx facility, just outside San Antonio. The FBI tells CNN it could be connected to the four other explosions an hour's drive north in Austin, Texas.
CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera is live in Austin.
Ed, what are the latest details you have?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the focus here this morning, that the FedEx delivery facility in the suburb of San Antonio called in Schertz, which is about an hour's drive south here where we are in Austin, and that is where ATF investigators and FBI investigators have descended again after an explosion.
FedEx officials tell us that one employee at the facility suffered minor injuries. And now the focus is trying to connect the dots here if indeed this fifth explosion is indeed connected to the four we've seen so far in Austin, that investigators believe are all connected. So far FBI officials have told us this morning that they suspect that this fifth explosion is indeed connected to the other four which will create all sorts of interesting questions for investigators as they try to figure out who is behind all of this.
We're in the neighborhood where the Sunday afternoon or the Sunday evening explosion took place. It was just right here on a small street in between two homes, going into a trail head of a wooded area that you see back there in the distance.
As we stand here, Christine, it's really kind of interesting, how in the world or why in the world was this particular spot chosen. And one of the things we've heard from investigators over and over again over the last 24 hours is that the concern with this one is this is where the trip wire had been set up, and it really suggested that the bomb maker had a level of sophistication that was much higher than originally shown in the three previous explosions.
And also the method by which it was delivery really kind of seem to add to the randomness of the attack. Now if this fifth explosion is indeed connected to these four attacks in Austin, it kind of again, once again changes the method of the operation which is something that I started picking up on yesterday, that investigators are very concerned about as well -- Christine and Dave.
ROMANS: All right. Ed Lavandera, come back to us as soon as you have more details. Thank you so much.
BRIGGS: The evolution of this -- ROMANS: That's right.
BRIGGS: Serial bomber, terrifying the area.
OK. Ahead a legal shakeup as Bob Mueller, the special counsel, ramps up. We're following all the breaking news on the White House reshuffling its legal team.
ROMANS: Plus new undercover video showing a data confirm linked to the Trump campaign bragging about using dirty tricks to dig up material on political opponents. You've got to see the latest.
BRIGGS: All right. Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. Just an update, 9:18 Eastern Time, we're following the latest on a school shooting at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland. Reports of shots fired, a student inside saying seven people were injured. Still trying to confirm all those details. We'll bring you up to date on that.
And the fifth explosion in the Austin, Texas, area as that town continues to be terrorized.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, this morning, growing signs of turmoil between President Trump and his legal team, this as CNN learns an interview between the president and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, could be scheduled within weeks. Sources say White House lawyers met with Mueller's team to discuss what Mueller wants to know from the president and "The Washington Post" reports the president's lawyer handed over documents on key events to try to limit the scope of that interview.
BRIGGS: In the meantime, new controversial lawyer added to the White House roster, and reports others on that roster could be on the way out. CNN's Abby Phillip live outside the White House. Abby, good morning to you. Let's start with the Mueller meeting. What are you hearing?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine. The first time President Trump's lawyers and attorneys for the special counsel have met happened recently in an effort to get ahead of this potential interview between the president and investigators.
Now, this sit-down meeting between Mueller's team and the president's lawyers went over some of the questions that the president might be asked in an effort to potentially limit the scope of a potential interview with President Trump.
Some of the key bits of information that Mueller's team is interested in are the Comey firing, the firing of the former FBI director, and also Jeff Sessions' potential involvement in that. But they're also interested in the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn's phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
[09:20:03] And they're interested in hearing some more about the intelligence leaders and the conversations they may have had with folks in the White House including the president about the ongoing probe into Russian interference.
Now these questions seemed to all center around a big question of what did the president do as it relates to any of those situations and what exactly did he know about the things that were going on in his administration, especially as it relates to people like Michael Flynn who we already know has been indicted on some charges by the special counsel investigation.
So, there's a lot going on here, but it seems very much that based on this sit-down meeting, they are preparing for a potential interview with President Trump in the coming weeks.
ROMANS: It's pretty interesting color from that meeting last week with Mueller's team. What are they saying?
PHILLIP: Yes, "The Washington Post" is reporting that Mueller's team has told President Trump's lawyers they're interested in two main things, what did the president do and what was his mindset around when he did it.
Those two questions are really key for the investigators as they go forward. One of the things that the Trump lawyers have done in an effort to prepare for a potential interview is provide some documentation that gives the Mueller investigators a sense of what the conversations were -- official conversations were happening within the White House around some of those key events I just discussed.
The idea here, trying to limit as much as possible the scope of the questions being asked directly to President Trump if there is, in fact, a sit-down interview.
BRIGGS: All right. The Trump legal team also, Abby, looks like it will grow as he brings on a new lawyer. What can you tell us about this addition and how it might change the tone?
PHILLIP: That's right. This addition of a new lawyer, Joseph DiGenova is known in Washington circle as being a pretty strident presence on television. He appears on cable often.
He also controversially is someone who has put forward this conspiracy theory that the president what subscribes to which is that the FBI and senior officials at the DOJ are essentially trying to frame the president with this Russia investigation.
All of this makes him a fairly controversial figure but also someone who seems to be much more aggressive presence in the Trump legal team, especially at a time when there are other attorneys like John Dowd and Ty Cobb whose futures within this team are a little uncertain -- Dave and Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Abby Phillip, thank you so much for that.
BRIGGS: All right. Joining us now is Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst, and CNN national security commentator and former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers. Good to see you, Gentleman.
Paul, let's start with you, this new addition, he nailed his audition on Fox News, a flame thrower when it comes to lawyers. What does this new addition tell you about the direction of the Trump legal approach?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's really a shocking development because on the one hand, you have his current -- the president's current lawyers cooperating with Mueller, maybe scoping out allowing the president to give testimony.
But if you put DiGenova on this team, this guy is a bomb thrower who says there's a deep state conspiracy out to get Trump that the FBI is part of that conspiracy, the Department of Justice is part of that conspiracy.
He's even gone so far as saying there should be a federal grand jury investigating the FBI and the Department of Justice. I think this will cause a mixed messaging situation. You have one lawyer aggressively attacking the investigators and you have two other lawyers, Dowd and Ty Cobb cooperating to a certain extent with the investigators.
So, it's a very confusing situation and I think not a good way to approach a criminal investigation.
BRIGGS: Yes, DiGenova has said in the past on Fox News that there was a brazen plot to exonerate Hillary Clinton and frame Donald Trump for a made-up crime, just to give you some background on what he believes is happening.
ROMANS: So, Mike Rogers, with that addition, you know, how does the president prepare, his lawyers prepare to talk to Mueller's team about how he's going to sit down and what circumstances he'll sit down in this investigation?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, wouldn't you like to be in that first strategy meeting? You've got some lawyers trying to take the approach that they may have to sit down with the special prosecutor and at some point, may either have to go before a grand jury or later testify in court.
So, there's a lot to deal with for his legal team and adding somebody as bombastic as DiGenova. And my concern if I were the other lawyers would be that's the president's default position. So, what happens in the real strategy session moving forward I think that's going to be completely up for grabs.
ROMANS: And one always wonders is it really a strategy or is this a president who is surrounding himself by people who he relates to. He's a street fighter, Mike Rogers, and he might be comfortable having someone take that position where he normally would be on Twitter firing on Bob Mueller and Andy McCabe and whoever else he thinks is against him. Now he has someone else to do it for him.
[09:25:12] ROGERS: Could be. Maybe that's why he wanted to bring DiGenova in, is to be the bomb thrower out in public, to continue challenging the credibility of the FBI, continue to impeach the witness -- the potential witnesses and Robert Mueller himself, the special counsel, the investigation. That's been the style so far.
I'm not sure the president realizes the Ninth and Fourth Circuit Courts have used his tweets in cases. In this case it was the immigration casework. The more he gets out there on Twitter, the more he continues to do this, the more likely it is those tweets will be admissible for both the special counsel and others in this particular case.
So, maybe there's some grand strategy here. Let's put our hat on for a minute, that in fact Trump is going to back off on his Twitter comments and have Joe DiGenova get out on tv and continue that rant.
BRIGGS: It's difficult to garner any strategy from the last year and a half and where exactly the Trump administration is weaving. I'm not sure he knows day to day. Does this team need continuity, Paul? Could it be, to Mike Rogers' point there, a good strategy to have the lawyer be the flame thrower and the president to dial back on Twitter, not that anyone expects that to happen?
CALLAN: Well, I think it's a good idea to pull the president back from tweeting about the investigation that's a huge mistake and can be used against him in a court of law, but to throw somebody in the front who is a lawyer, whose position is it's a deep state conspiracy to frame the president, while you are trying to cooperate.
Remember, Dowd and Ty Cobb are trying to present the public image that the president has nothing to hide, he's being totally cooperative with these investigators. That's a mixed message, and what it's going to say to Mueller that the Trump people are not sincere in providing cooperation because DiGenova's message is the message he's sending to the public.
BRIGGS: In 1997 in "The Wall Street Journal" he said the nation could conceivably benefit from the indictment of a president. Of course, then he was talking about Bill Clinton, but those words could come back to haunt this president, this man and his legal team. Mike Rogers, Paul Callan, thank you both.
ROMANS: Nice to see both of you. It's that time of the morning, we're moments from the opening bell. "Wall Street" expected to open lower. Big tech fell yesterday led by a seven percent drop for Facebook driving down the market overall.
Today, it's all about interest rates. The two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve kicks off. The Central Bank should hike interest rates. Higher rates worry investigators, of course. The other big concern on Wall Street, a trade war, especially with reports that President Trump will impose new steep tariffs on China this week. The "Washington Post" puts that price tag at $60 billion worth of goods each year.
BRIGGS: And some breaking news out of Maryland, the school shooting, we'll have the latest for you when we return.