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Nationwide Demand for Gun Control; DOJ And AT&T Return to Court; Expelling Russian Diplomats; VA Secretary to Go. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired March 26, 2018 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:30:16] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Survivors of the Florida high school massacre keeping up their momentum. Five weeks after a gunman killed 17 of their fellow students and teachers, hundreds of thousands of people turned out in more than 800 marches around the globe. The students shaking Washington with their impassioned speeches pushing for stricter gun control laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HOGG, STUDENT AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: When politicians say that your voice doesn't matter because the NRA owns them, we say, no more! When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we say, no more! And to those politicians supported by the NRA, that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say, get your resumes ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let's bring in that student you just saw there, David Hogg, and his sister Lauren.
Great to see you guys.
LAUREN HOGG, FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE SURVIVOR: Nice to see you.
DAVID HOGG, FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE SURVIVOR: Nice to see you too.
CAMEROTA: So tell me about yesterday. I mean tell me about Saturday.
David, what -- what do you think that the outcome was?
D. HOGG: I think the outcome was really a great start. And what we witnessed on Saturday was really the birth of a revolution. This is just the beginning. Nobody should be thinking this is the end, especially the politicians that are out there that are supported by the gun lobbying and the NRA. That was just an outpouring of support to show the materialization of what support we have online.
CAMEROTA: And do you have evidence, Lauren, that politicians are listening?
L. HOGG: Definitely. Just seeing the stuff on Twitter that they've been talking about, Rubio posting his thoughts on what happened, I just think it's definitely working and we're getting politicians attention.
CAMEROTA: You know, I want to talk to you about Senator Marco Rubio because my eyes were open when I was there. You guys have sort of targeted him as somebody who you don't think is doing enough and who you sort of depict as being callus. But, you know, I had a chance to talk to Scott Beigel's mom. He, of course, is your geography teacher who was killed in the massacre. And she said that Marco Rubio, behind the scenes, has reached out to her, had all sorts of conversations with her, talked about how what they've done so far on Capitol Hill in terms of the Fix NICS Act, in terms of the Stop School Violence Act that's part of the omnibus, yes, these are low-hanging fruit, yes, you want more, but should you be giving credit for even these incremental steps, David?
D. HOGG: I think it's important to realize that it's good that we're having these incremental steps. But just like we saw in Florida, where we rose the age to 21, you can still purchase a gun at the age of 18 if it's a private sale. And like with many of the laws that were -- they're passing right now, where they tried kind of fixing the Dickey Amendment, they didn't give any more funding. What they did is they said like you officially can do research, but we just aren't going to fund it. And they're leaving a lot of loopholes in here and trying to seem like they are doing things, when in reality these laws have more holes than Swiss cheese.
CAMEROTA: I understand. But I guess my point is, is that if you're trying to get everybody together, if you're trying to have solutions, do you think it is helpful when you say things like, Marco Rubio is putting, you know, for a dollar and five cents or whatever your coupon said, that's how much he values students? I mean do you think that's unnecessarily provocative?
D. HOGG: No, I think it's not enough -- I don't think it's even provocative enough because I -- Marco Rubio is still supported by the NRA, which works to ensure not the safety of gun owners and the safety of Americans everywhere, but to insure that they sell more guns. And at the end of the day, so long as he is being paid by the NRA, he's not going to work to fix anything that is going to be concrete change. He's going to make laws that get him re-elected but actually don't have any major effect.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, look, I'm not a Marco Rubio spokesperson. But now that I've heard what he's doing behind the scenes, he is sponsoring all of these various bills, two of which were part of the omnibus, and so things are happening. And all I'm suggesting is that maybe you're ire is misplaced, you know, since he is actually trying to work across the aisle?
D. HOGG: Yes, I think it's a great step that he's trying to work across the aisle. But I think so long as he's supported by the NRA, no matter what he does, there's always going to be loopholes in anything that he does. Because we've seen again and again, we've passed gun legislation in this country. And, at the end of the day, you can pass as many laws as you want, but if those laws are not very strong and they have so many loopholes that the NRA works so hard to insure that they have, they aren't going to be strong enough. Hey, they're just not.
CAMEROTA: So, Lauren -- Lauren, one of our Fox News contributors is Rick Santorum. He's a former Pennsylvania senator. He had a suggestion instead of marching for what he thinks that you kids should do. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How about the kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that -- where there is a violent shooter, that you can actually respond to that.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: How are they looking at other people -- I would ask you, they took action.
SANTORUM: Yes, they took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn't take action to say, how will I, as an individual, deal with this problem. How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter? What am I going to -- those are the kinds of things where you can take it internally and say, here's how I'm going to deal with this, here's how I'm going to help the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:35:19] CAMEROTA: What's your response to that?
L. HOGG: I just think it's completely absurd that he's even thinking about teaching us CPR when we're having gun violence all across America and even in our schools. The fact that he's saying CPR when my friends are dying on our floor and nothing's being done about it is just horrible. I think he's just using it as a distraction to get the attention away from guns.
D. HOGG: And I have two things to say on that. I think it's important to realize that we -- there are many programs out there that work to ensure, especially in communities that are heavily affected by gun violence, I saw last night on the news that there's a program in Chicago where they work to insure that students are able to respond and administer whatever first aid they can, assuming the person's still alive. But, at the end of the day, if you take a bullet from an AR-15 to the head, no amount of CPR is going to save you because you're dead.
CAMEROTA: By the way, he's a CNN contributor. I knew him from Fox News. But he is a CNN contributor.
Last, I want to ask about how you guys are going after the NRA. You know, in I think the intro spot that we just played there, you said that the NRA is responsible -- is allowing the slaughter of kids. Look, again, I don't want to be an NRA spokesperson, but obviously they don't want the slaughter of children. NRA members have children themselves.
D. HOGG: Yes.
CAMEROTA: People who work at the NRA have their own children. Do you think that you are polarizing in saying things like that and maybe it would help to get the NRA on board with what some of your asks are?
D. HOGG: I think if the NRA was on board, they would actually implement safety and they would actually give people grants to these schools and not just make it a few grants. If you look into it, their programs to actually ensure just school safety alone have not been enough. What they do, what the NRA does, from my perspective, they don't teach enough gun safety. They don't -- they were a good organization and many of the members of the NRA are safe, responsible people. I've said again and I'll say it -- I'll say it now again too, many -- most members of the NRA are safe, responsible gun owners that are just trying to protect their Second Amendment rights to own a weapon.
What the problem is, is when the people at the top are paid by the gun industry to ensure that they scare -- that they scare American citizens and that they're able to sell more guns and scare more people as a result. They don't get people enough training to own these guns.
And I want people to understand, we are not trying to take your guns. We understand that you have a right to the Second Amendment and to own a firearm. We just don't think that if you have a criminal history, a history of mental illness, or a history of domestic violence, that you should be able to get a weapon. And I think that's something that we can all get behind. I think a lot of the time people just misconstrue us and manipulate us into seeming like we're trying to take your guns. And that's what the NRA's been doing too where they're trying to scare people into buying more guns so that they can make more money and scare more people. And I think that's just plain wrong.
CAMEROTA: Well, look --
L. HOGG: And I completely agree with David. I think the main problem is that the people at the top of the NRA are not showing what most of the members of the NRA want, and that's to be a responsible gun owner. But they're whole agenda is just selling more guns. And I think that's wrong that they're not representing the people they're supposed to be representing.
CAMEROTA: Well, look, it sounds like you all are going to try to find some common ground. I know you have another event planned for April 20th, a school walkout. We will, obviously, be following you.
D. HOGG: And actually we have --
CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, quickly.
D. HOGG: We have town halls on April 7th that we're calling for right now in every congressional district. And if the congressman doesn't show up, if they -- if they can't reschedule and they just refuse to show up -- CAMEROTA: Yes.
D. HOGG: Invite their opponent. It's as simple as that. Go to townhallproject.org and creatively your event there.
CAMEROTA: There you go.
David Hogg, Lauren Hogg, thank you both very much for being with us.
D. HOGG: Thank you.
L. HOGG: Thank you.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: In just hours, the anti-trust battle between the Justice Department and AT&T is set to resume. What will play out today in court? We have a preview, next.
[08:42:44] CUOMO: All right, in just hours, the high stakes anti-trust trial between AT&T and the Department of Justice is set to resume. What can we expected today as both sides make the case about the proposed merger deal with Time Warner, which, of course, owns CNN.
Let's bring in CNN Politics media and business reporter Hadas Gold, and CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.
Hadas, what are we looking for?
HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: So today we're going to from more witnesses, including our boss, Turner's CEO John Martin. Ad he's actually one of the government witnesses, which means that he'll probably be what's called a hostile direct, which means that it's not going to be the typical witness from a certain side where they're a little bit more friendlier and on the same terms. So that's going to be an interesting witness today.
And we're also expecting in the near future other witnesses such as representatives from YouTube, as well as from Sling TV. These sort of new over-the-top services that people are using. And they're going to try to make the case that this merger will hurt them, whereas AT&T, when they bring up their witnesses, will try to make the case that this is necessary to bring more efficient services to people and also that they need this to compete with places like YouTube, like a FaceBook, like a Netflix.
CUOMO: Brian, give me a second.
Hadas, let me get one more byte from you about the idea of -- all right, so if Martin is there as a hostile direct, what will be the main argument of this -- of the DOJ here? What are they going to try to establish with him? GOLD: So what's pretty interesting is that the government is trying to
argue that Time Warner content, including CNN, places like TNT are what's called must-haves. That they are so necessary for viewers to watch that if they somehow get more leverage in terms of negotiating, that's going to harm other competitors. So they might be trying to ask from John Martin, for example, you know, couldn't you ask, couldn't you get more money out of this? Couldn't you use it as a tool against your competitors? What kind of discussions have you been having with the other executives, AT&T, in terms of how this could hurt or help your competitors? That's what they're trying to -- going to get at.
CUOMO: Well, a very intelligent and sophisticated guy. We'll see how that goes.
So, Brian, in terms of what this could mean, this trial, to the overall media industry, what's the range?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think there's always this debate that people have about how much of a hand the government should have in the media business, but more broadly in the business world. How much of a hand should the government have in regulating and trying to control how the marketplace evolves? Normally, I think people would expect a Republican administration to have a pretty much a handoff approach. That's what would be predicted in the past. You would expect Democratic administrations to have more of a hands on approach. What we're seeing here is different and that's why it's so curious and interesting and potentially important for the rest of the business world.
[08:45:24] The Trump administration, the DOJ, taking a hands on approach, trying to guide the marketplace and say, no, more media consolidation is not inevitable. No, these companies don't automatically have to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So, there, of course, has been this political shadow of whether the Trump administration's trying to punish CNN. But if you take that to the side, because that's really not being debated at the trial, and just look at this argument about marketplace competition, it's so interesting to see a Republican administration essentially try to make the argument that actually we do need to manage this marketplace, not let these mergers keep happening and happening. And this will, of course, affect others down the road. There's a domino effect here of other companies trying to merge, looking to merge, interested in getting bigger and depending on what the judge decides in this case, that could affect all of them as well.
CUOMO: Key considerations, not a jury trial, it's a bench trial, a judge will make this decision.
CUOMO: Brian Stelter, Hadas Gold, thank you very much.
GOLD: Thanks, Chris. CAMEROTA: All right, President Trump could expel Russian diplomats in retaliation for the poisoning of that former Russian double agent. Will that have any effect? Will it actually happen? That's next.
[08:50:34] CUOMO: President Trump could announce today whether or not he plans to expel a group of Russian diplomats. The president's National Security Council making that recommendation in retaliation for the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England.
Let's discuss with CNN military and diplomatic analyst and former State Department spokesperson, Rear Admiral John Kirby.
John, good to have you.
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Thanks, Chris. Good to be with you.
CUOMO: So is this the right move? Yes, we saw you guys in the Obama administration expel some Russians, not under these circumstances, but, again, retaliation for bad behavior. Is this a legitimate move?
KIRBY: I think it is, Chris. And I think it will be even more legitimate and more powerful if as we think will happen other European nations, up to 20 so we've been told, may also kick out diplomats, Russian diplomats, as well. So if you have 20 nations in Europe plus the United States all doing this together on the same day, it is symbolic but the symbology matters to Vladimir Putin. It will -- it will thwart his efforts to try to show that the west is in disarray and disunity and that he can -- that he can just act at will with whatever he wants to do.
CUOMO: There are two sides as to whether or not to do this. There are two sides as to whether or not to move the embassy to Jerusalem. There are two sides as to whether or not to do tariffs. On those other two, Trump moved right away.
CUOMO: On this one, there's a whole cajoling campaign going on, why? Is that a meaningful distinction in your mind?
KIRBY: I don't know, Chris. I mean, yes, you know, he was slow to implement the sanctions that Congress had passed in an overwhelming bipartisan matter. That was a little troublesome to me. But I think if they're trying to coordinate this with other European nations so that this all kind of lays out on one day, I think that makes sense. I think there's a logic there. It shows unity with the west and I think that's important.
CUOMO: Does Russia care? I get they'll care about the optics. You seem to be saying that we did something wrong. Trump has been pretty light on us and now this is tough. But does it matter? KIRBY: It matters to Vladimir Putin. I think it does, yes. Now, look,
is it going to change his counterespionage efforts, is it going to stop him from, you know, interfering in elections and doing all the other maleficent thing that he does? No, probably won't.
We need to look at how many diplomats are expelled. That will be really interesting to see the number. And, you know, the larger the number, obviously the stronger signal that transmits to him.
But I think also it matters to him because he is -- he's paranoid about Russia's place in the world and he wants to project power and strength. He wants a sort of revisionist Russia back on the world stage. And If so many nation, European and the United States, all expel these diplomats, I think that's definitely a middle finger right to him and that image, that matters to him.
CUOMO: Let me ask you something. You have experience understanding the comings and goings in a White House. We've never seen anything like this. And the latest is that we think that the VA secretary could be on his way out.
CUOMO: He's had his issues recently in terms of a fiduciary arguable breech.
CUOMO: Do you think that -- that move would make sense?
KIRBY: Well, I think -- look, if the president has lost confidence in any of his officials, he has every right to change them out. So if he has lost confidence in Shulkin's ability to lead the VA, then absolutely he needs to make a change. That's his right. And I think, to be honest with you, the American people elected him to do.
I am also troubled by Mr. Shulkin's travel habits and the way he spent taxpayer dollars. That bothers me a lot. I also think you need to give him credit for some of the things he has done. He has made it easier for whistle-blowers to call out bad practices. He has made it easier to hire people that work at the VA -- or, sorry, easier to fire people that work at the VA that aren't make -- that aren't doing their jobs. And he deserves credit for this recent provision that was in the omnibus bill that the president signed last week that allows people with other than honorable discharges, veterans with other than honorable, to get free mental health care going forward. That's really important and will help save, I think, thousands of lives.
KIRBY: So it's a mixed pictured. I'm worried about his practice in terms of his travel. But I do think that you can't just chalk up his entire tenure as a being an ultimate failure.
CUOMO: Right. No, of course, we've got a lot of vets and their families that watch the show and there was a reform package that was being hammered out that was supposed to be in that omnibus and it was.
CUOMO: And there's a lot that needs there -- needs to be done there still. We will stay on that.
Let me ask you something. The reason I wanted your insight into turnover is, there's this assumption that, well, you know, he changes the secretary out, he puts one in he likes, that's all good. Like nothing happens below that man or woman that requires consistency and continuity.
CUOMO: And that's my concern. When you change someone at the top, how much of a wrench does that throw into the works? How much of a recalibration and a restarting and a slowdown as a result of that adjustment happens?
[08:55:13] KIRBY: Yes, it does. It depends on the leader and what kind of reforms or changes that leader was trying to put in place. But it can definitely throw wrenches into the normal daily grind of a bureaucracy. There's no question about that.
Plus, you have to remember, if Shulkin leaves, there's going to be people around Shulkin, his inner staff, that are probably going to leave too. You know, when Secretary Hagel left as secretary of defense, I left because I was his spokesman. So that -- that definitely causes some churn.
That said, Chris, and this is really important for the American people to understand, most of these bureaucracies are managed on a day-to-day basis by mid-level and sometimes senior-level civil servants, career foreign service officers, military officers, people in the civil service that do this job day in and day out regardless of who's in the Oval Office and they're very dedicated to that task. And I think -- so we need to -- yes, there will be some changes, but the daily grind of the bureaucracy and the major policies and programs that they implement and execute will go on. And I think that's really important for people to understand.
CUOMO: And every time we see that they aren't going on and there is a problem that -- we see with the vetting.
CUOMO: You know, the vetting is done by people underneath, makes people wonder why just throwing this blanket deep state all over everything may be more trouble than its worth.
KIRBY: Yes. It's -- it's -- their --
CUOMO: But, John --
CUOMO: I appreciate your perspective. Very helpful for us this morning. Be well.
KIRBY: OK. Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman begins right after this break. Please, stay with CNN and have a good Monday.
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