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Magazine Profiles Hope Hicks; Tension Mounting at FaceBook; Shooting at Maryland High School. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 20, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:38] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hope Hicks, said to be one of the few people in the West Wing that President Trump trusted. "New York Magazine" profiled the former White House communications director in a revealing cover story titled "What Hope Hicks Knows."

Joining me now, Olivia Nuzzi, the Washington correspondent for "New York Magazine," who wrote this piece.

So she refused to go on the record with you. You spent a lot of time with her, though. Spoke to, what, 30 people around her. And it's a fascinating read --


HILL: I have to say, especially when we get a sense of where she was in this decision to leave the White House. And as you point out, she had struggled with it and thought about leaving a couple of times before it actually happened.

NUZZI: Right.

HILL: So why did she stay?

NUZZI: It's -- you know, it's an interesting question. Sort of the central question with Hope Hicks, why did she go there in the first place in 2015 and then why did she stay? I think in 2015 it was a much easier choice to make. It didn't seem like that serious. Nobody knew that President Donald Trump would become President Donald Trump. Nobody knew he would even win the primary at that point. But she made choices along the way to continue to be there through the most controversial political moments of our time.

And I think in the end it really -- it was about loyalty for her. I think that's why she stayed. And, you know, people talk about loyalty with Trump staffers all the time. But I think, for her, it really was about, you know, she made this agreement basically to support the president. And I think -- I think she did not feel like it would be holding up that -- her end of the bargain if she left.

HILL: He relied very heavily on her, as we know. And you walk through some of this in the piece that in many ways I mean she was his right- hand woman. She would remember details. She has near photographic memory. She had --

NUZZI: Right, it's very deep in a lot of ways.

HILL: It is in a lot of ways. She keeps these amazing notes. And yet John Kelly was, to your reporting, extraordinarily dismissive of her. How did that dynamic figure in?

NUZZI: Well, I don't think it -- it worked out in the end, right? One of them is leaving the White House and another one, John Kelly, is seeming to be on his last leg according to a lot of different reports.

But I think basically John Kelly, it seems like when he came in, just remember the kind of guy John Kelly is. There's this 29-year-old woman in there with all of this power who's feet from the Oval Office. The president relies on her more than anybody else. And he can't quite make sense of her, much in the same way that he couldn't quite make sense of Jared and Ivanka. And so I think that he did come to respect her, but there were -- there was apparently a lot of griping, a lot of insults, a lot of under-the-breath kind of comments according to my sources.

HILL: You also suggested that Corey Lewandowski may be the person who exposed these allegations against Rob Porter. Why would he want to do that? What's the end game for him?

NUZZI: It's complex. I don't know how much -- how much time we have here. But it seems like getting rid of Rob Porter was twofold. It was -- it was a neat way to get at John Kelly and perhaps become the chief of staff, if you're interested in that, which my sources say Corey Lewandowski certainly is, and a lot of other reporting seems to cohobate that.

And then there is the issue of perhaps some jealousy with Rob Porter. Corey Lewandowski was rumored at least and was accused of having an affair with Hope Hicks during the campaign. That was never confirmed. And, in fact, it was -- it was denied, but not that strongly by Corey Lewandowski. But it seemed like this is a neat way to kind of get two different things that you might want if you were Corey Lewandowski in this situation.

HILL: It's an interesting tactic, to say the least. He has reached out to you since this was published.

NUZZI: Yes. And I want to be very clear. I reached out to Corey Lewandowski probably over a dozen times over the last few weeks trying to get him to sit for an interview with me, answer my questions. We sent him questions before the story was published. And, of course, he did not answer any of them. And then last night, after the story was published, he contacted me to tell me that I am a dishonest person with no facts, but I already know that.

HILL: So that's how he feels about the article.

NUZZI: And that's how he fees. But he did not say anything specifically that I reported was untrue. He did deny that he had anything to do with pushing out the allegations against Rob Porter by his ex-wives.

HILL: OK. And something else that stands out. We know that this president is not someone who apologizes, and yet you write, he told her he cared about her happiness, that he understood her decision and he would help her do anything she wanted to do in her life. He said he hoped she would go make a lot of money. Then the president added something else. I'm sorry for everything you've been through.

[08:35:02] That is a lot coming from President Trump.

NUZZI: It is highly unusual. We don't hear him saying "sorry" a lot. If that quote did not include, I hope you go make a lot of money, it would sound like a made-up quote. It would sound like something that President Donald Trump would never say.

I think he really, to the extent that he has the capacity to really care for somebody else, I think he does care for Hope Hicks.

HILL: She is leaving this position, right, she's still young, as we point out. There's potential legal debt there. A lot has happened her.

NUZZI: And legal implications as well.

HILL: And legal implications. Does she have any regrets?

NUZZI: That would be a question for Hope Hicks if she inevitably writes a book or does a big sit-down interview. I don't know. I can't speak for her. But be -- having been around her a bit, and she is -- this is some new reporting, she is going to be leaving the White House by next Wednesday or next Thursday.


NUZZI: That is the new timeline after the publication of my story. I don't know if she has regrets. I think she tends to look at things like it's -- like this was an adventure, a strange adventure, which is a privileged position to have.

HILL: Interesting, as we look at that. Who else have you heard from? You mentioned Corey Lewandowski reached out after this was published. Hope Hicks? Anyone in the White House?

NUZZI: I've heard from several people inside the White House. And the, you know, the reaction has been sort of a little disturbed by some of the things in this story.

HILL: Which things in particular?

NUZZI: You know, some of the stuff involving Corey Lewandowski, some of the things involving John Kelly. But, again, nobody's really pushed back on any of the actual specific points of the reporting.

HILL: They're not disputing -- so they're not disputing it.

It's fascinating, too, you open the piece talking about the office that Hope Hicks has, which is essentially a broom closet, but she can hear the president from there and how there was all this jockeying among the men in the administration to have --

NUZZI: With Omerosa.

HILL: Yes, and Omerosa, that's true. I almost forgot that part. That they had to have, you know, the office that seemed to came with the cachet, the office that came with the view.

NUZZI: Right.

HILL: The fact that she ends up in the broom closet and doesn't really care where she is in many ways speaks to the image that a lot of people have of Hope Hicks. She does things quietly. She keeps to herself. We've rarely heard her voice even.

NUZZI: Right.

HILL: She's behind the scenes. How much of that is by her own design, that she wants that to be the image she puts forth? How much of that is who she truly is?

NUZZI: Well, that -- that's a really good question and it's one of the central questions about Hope Hicks is, you know, is she playing a game or is she sitting it out? And that -- it's kind of allowing her to win it nevertheless. And I don't really know the answer to that. I think it might be the latter.

HILL: It is a fascinating piece. Olivia Nuzzi, appreciate you coming in.

NUZZI: Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, we have breaking news from St. Mary's County, Maryland. This is on the eastern shore. The school district there just released a statement saying there is a school shooting at Great Mills High School. You can see it right there on the map. The school is on lockdown. Officials say the event is contained. The sheriff's office is on the scene. And the school district says there will be more information to follow very shortly.

Again, this is southeast of Washington, D.C., in Maryland, about two hours away from Washington. We are told -- the school there telling us there has been a school shooting. The event is contained. We do not yet know any accounts of injuries or casualties in this incident. We'll bring you much more information as it comes in. We'll be right back.


[08:42:25] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

HILL: We are following breaking news out of St. Mary's County, Maryland, where the school district just releasing a statement about a school shooting at Great Mills High School. We know the school itself has been put on lockdown. Officials, though, say the event is contained. The sheriff's office on the scene there.

The school district says more information will be forthcoming. We are expecting a press conference at some point this morning. We do not yet have any timing on that. But, again, the sheriff saying the event is contained. Parents, understandably, being asked not to come to that location there. Obviously the school's on lockdown. They are being sent to another nearby high school where then they can get more information moving forward.

BERMAN: Yes, that high school, just so you know if you are watching this right now, it's the Leonard Town High School. Parents are being told to head there. Students will be brought there for reunification. That statement from the sheriff's office just moments ago.

And, again, the other statement that the event is contained. We are waiting to hear directly from officials there.

In the meantime, a CNN exclusive, tension inside the walls of FaceBook. Top executives tell us there is mounting frustration with Mark Zuckerberg. He has been out of the spotlight since the news broke that the personal information of some 50 million FaceBook users was harvested by a data firm linked to President Trump.

Our Laurie Segall here now with more.

Frustration inside with Mark Zuckerberg. Interesting.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, I think a lot of people want to hear from Mark. You have to -- we, as the public, we want to hear from Mark. I thought it was interesting talking to sources inside that say, you know, it's -- he's not getting his hands dirty with this. He's very involved behind the scenes. He's a well-respected leader. But this is a moment of crisis for FaceBook and executives at the top level are saying, we want him out in front of this. We don't other -- want other people, you know, taking the punch for a lot of this.

And another thing that was really interesting that executives said to me is, the challenges and the conversations happening behind closed doors at FaceBook about our future, these conversations about how they deal with fake news, our data, privacy, Russian influence, they're very nuanced conversations. And people say, well, it's really hard to have those conversations publicly. But executives are pushing because they say it's important to have these nuanced conversations publicly.

Someone said to me, there are legitimate tradeoffs. You know, if we crack down on fake news, it could potentially do something -- we look at censorship with data privacy, you know, this will impact developers. So I think there is a larger sense that they want their leader out in front of this as, of course, do the press, but as of course do the public want to see Mark during this time.

HILL: Well, to your point, they want to see more from Mark Zuckerberg on a public level. You say he's involved behind the scenes. But what about the other executives as well? Where is Sheryl Sandberg on this?


[08:45:02] HILL: Why aren't we hearing from Sheryl Sandberg? One would think that that would be another person that FaceBook could put out there.

SEGALL: Right. It's really interesting. Someone said that they are their own brands. Mark and Sheryl are their own brands. And so this was an interesting bit (ph). There's a bit of tension because if you look at Mark, he went around the country and did a whole tour in the last year. People were wondering, is he going to run for office. He wanted to burst his own filter bubble.

There's this idea inside that he's in his own filter bubble. He has his own personal communications team that's protecting him. And someone really said this team is looking out for Mark and not looking out for the company. And now there's more people at the company, I think you're going to see increased pressure for him to speak publicly and get in front of these issues.

BERMAN: Well, look, we just spoke to Republican Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota. Republicans and Democrats, they don't agree on much. This morning they agree they want to see Mark Zuckerberg. I mean has this company lost control of its narrative right now? Congress is going to be involved here very shortly.

SEGALL: It's really interesting. Someone actually said to me, you know, if we haven't been able to tell the story, so the story is being told for us.

HILL: Yes.

SEGALL: Which I thought -- you know, we, as journalists, we talk about that all the time, well, you need to talk, you need to say something. But I think there's beginning to be an uprising within of people who say, look, this has been bad, but these are really challenging questions and these are problems that have come along with having 2 billion users, one of the most powerful platforms in the world, and we have to have public dialogue on what this means and what are the nuance -- philosophical questions we need to answer as we're trying to solve these problems behind closed doors because if we don't have these conversations, we're all having them and we're wondering what's going on.

HILL: And to the point that you're both making, what you were hearing from lawmakers earlier, Congressman Jackie Speier told us as well, she said, look, we could talk about -- we could start to talk about regulation. That is something I would imagine that FaceBook does not want. But, again, but then to Laurie's point here, if you're not getting out and you're not telling your story and you're not letting people know where you're at and that you're actually concerned, that's what's going to come your way.

SEGALL: Yes. And the problem is, we see this story in distilled-down blog posts. We see it in after-the-fact FaceBook Live. You know, that's, to a degree, it's just not enough with these issues. And one thing an executive said to me, he said -- I said, should there be regulation? He said, well, we should have a conversation about a good type of regulation. There should be regulation for online advertising, he said, because the buzz word around campus is transparency. We're going to try to make our ads more transparent. But that means good people will come to us and the bad ones will go to Google or Twitter. So there needs to be an industry standard. We need to all come together and have this discussion.

But we just see it broken down in blog posts. We see these after the fact instances. And I think that -- hopefully that's going to change.

BERMAN: All right, Laurie Segall, thank you very much for that information about turmoil, perhaps, at least a little, within FaceBook right now. Thanks so much.

We're going to have much more on the school shooting in Maryland. Again, breaking news from Maryland. A school shooting in St. Mary's County. Much more straight ahead.


[08:51:54] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, and we do have breaking news in St. Mary's County, Maryland. The school district there just released a statement saying that there has been a school shooting at the Great Mills High School. That school is on lockdown. Officials say the event is contained. The FBI and sheriff's office are on the scene. The school district says there will be more information to follow.

Again, we're using very specific information here because this is exactly what we are getting, confirmation that there has been a school shooting, statement that the event is contained. This tweet moments ago from Congressman Steny Hoyer, who is from Maryland. He writes, I'm closely monitoring reports of an incident at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County. My prayers are with the students, and parents and teachers. Please follow instruction from law enforcement responding on the scene.

Let's bring in James Gagliano, former FBI supervisory special agent, to help us decipher what we know.

Again, it's not much. We don't have reports of any injuries yet. But the one sentence, this event has been contained, what does that mean?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, we're just, I think, just under a month from the Parkland shooting, John. And, obviously, the big takeaway in Parkland was, we got away from what the methodologies in law enforcement were post Columbine, which was, we have to interdict these things immediately. If there's a report of a school shooting, officers that arrive on scene are to go directly to the sound of the guns.

The old tactic was contain and negotiate. As you're moving to interdict a subject or subjects now, you then form a perimeter behind it.

Now, what does containment mean? Making sure that there's no ingress or egress routes that attackers could be coming in or trying to leave. Obviously finding out who did it is important, but the preeminent purpose of law enforcement in this incidence is to interdict and stop the shooting.

HILL: So, stop that. So being that it is contained, let's hope that that means that there is nothing else happening. Again, we don't have reports of casualties or victims at this point. We want to make that very clear. Simply that it's locked down and contained.

We talked about the changes since Columbine. And I know you know about that quite well based on your experience. But even just in terms of the changes that we may or may not have seen in the last month plus since Parkland, have there been significant changes in the way this is addressed?

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. And Columbine, to your point, Erica, was just under 19 years ago. So April of 1999.

One of the big things we're putting out to the public now is we see a proliferation of these things is this. We have to put victims that are in these situations, people that are experiencing in this one the front line. They must know this, their first option is to run. If you're not able to run away from the sound of the guns, it is to hide. Your last resort is to fight if you must. And then absolutely anybody that gets outside of that scene is to go to law enforcement and tell. Any bit of intelligence you can provide law enforcement helps to mitigate the scene quicker.

HILL: And some of that intelligence now comes on social media.

BERMAN: Hang on one second, guys. I believe we have someone from the school on the phone right now, a student, Matthew Taggert (ph).

Matthew, can you hear me right now?

JONATHAN FREESE, STUDENT AT GREAT MILLS HIGH SCHOOL (via telephone): No, no, that's my -- that's my teacher's name. My name's Jonathan.

BERMAN: Jonathan.


BERMAN: Jonathan, tell me where you are right now and what's happening?

[08:55:02] FREESE: I'm in my math class right now when it happened. And we've been on lockdown for about 30 minutes or so.

BERMAN: You're on lockdown right now inside your math class.


BERMAN: We're looking at live pictures, I should tell you, right now. Matthew, tell me what it is that happened.

FREESE: It's Jonathan.

BERMAN: Jonathan. Sorry. Jonathan, tell me what it is that happened.

FREESE: I heard about a couple people got shot about 7:00 or so. One person supposedly dead what I've heard. At first I heard that someone put a gun against their head. And I thought it was one person that got hurt trying to maybe get the gun. I'm not really sure. That's pretty much mainly all I know at the moment. I'm still a little shaken up about it even happening. I didn't think it would really happen. It happened in the art hallway. That's pretty much all I know at the moment.

BERMAN: Did you hear gunshots, Jonathan?

FREESE: I'm surprised I didn't. But we're quite a bit a ways away from the art hallway. But the school's pretty close. So I'm really surprised I didn't hear it.

BERMAN: What are you hearing right now from school officials? What are you being told to do?

FREESE: Right now the police are going through classrooms and checking, making sure students are safe. And soon we're going to be escorted out of the school. So I'm not sure how longer I can stay on the phone. But -- so they told us to leave our stuff in the classroom because we're going to be escorted by the -- the police and everything responded really quickly. So I'm really happy about that.

HILL: And, Jonathan, is this something that you have done training for in your school?

FREESE: A couple times. I didn't really expect for this to happen. I do feel safe, though, because they always have police in our school. And they're ready for something like this. It's something they couldn't really prevent because they have a couple officers, but they're really well-trained officers. And there could have been more casualties, which I'm glad there wasn't. Everyone is well trained for it.

BERMAN: And have you been told that the event is over and that you are safe as far as you know at this moment?

FREESE: As far at this point, yes, I know I'm safe. They had a lot of officers respond. Some classrooms can see outside the school. Ambulances, fire trucks, everything, everyone responded. It was probably like five minutes I already heard sirens outside the school.

BERMAN: And you and the students who are in that room right now, what's this last hour been like for you?

FREESE: Yes. Really curiosity. People are trying to find out what happened still because it's still kind of like closed off. We can't go anywhere. So we're just stuck in a classroom trying to find out on social media maybe what happened, on Snapchat or stuff like that. It spreads like a wildfire, so --

HILL: And -- so you say you're in your math class now.


HILL: What has your -- what has your teacher been saying to everyone? What's the discussion? You all are getting to -- on social media, seeing what you can find. What's the conversation with your teacher at this point?

FREESE: He's really casual. He wants to make sure the students are calm. No one's really like crying or anything at the moment. I know there's people traumatized. And I'm not sure who it happened to, but I'm -- hopefully they're OK, or will be OK. But he's very supportive about this.

BERMAN: Well, look, you know, we're glad you have the teacher, we're glad you have each other right now, and we are glad you are safe.

It's about 9:00 in the east right now.


BERMAN: What time do you believe that the shooting happened?

FREESE: About like 8:20, 8:15 or so.

BERMAN: 8:20.

FREESE: It happened fairly quickly, right when school started, actually.

BERMAN: And what time does school start?

FREESE: It starts about 8:00.

BERMAN: So, 8:00. So not long after school started.

FREESE: But -- yes. It went pretty quickly.

BERMAN: And --

FREESE: The halls are usually really crowded by then. So if there was something that happened, to respond, it's not easy to get to.

BERMAN: And, again --

FREESE: Especially students (ph).

BERMAN: The word you are getting is how many people are hurt?

FREESE: Yes. Seven last time I heard.

BERMAN: Seven people hurt.

FREESE: Yes. At first I heard one -- I'm going to have to let you go because the police are outside the door right now.

BERMAN: The police are outside the door right now and you're being let out?

FREESE: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: OK, Jonathan -- Jonathan Freese (ph) on the phone with us, a senior at the Great Mills High School.

Jonathan, can you stay on the phone with us as you walk out?

FREESE: I have to go.

BERMAN: All right, we lost Jonathan.

Jonathan's been in the classroom right now, in a math class. He says school starts at 8:15. The shooting happened just after that.

HILL: Pointing out that he believes it happened in the art -- what he referred to as the art hallway. Couldn't hear the gunshots. Said he was surprised that he couldn't hear the gunshots. And then they went on lockdown. Students trying to get information on Snapchat, getting on social media to try to figure out what happened. He's telling us he has heard seven people injured.

BERMAN: 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.