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FBI Not Ruling Out Terrorism As Possible Motive; Six Gunshot Wound Victims In The Hospital; Suspect Followed Correct Procedure To Check Gun; GOP Prepares For Battle To Repeal Obamacare; Seventy Two Million Under Winter Advisory As Winds Pick Up; Trump: "Gross Negligence" By DNC Allowed Hack; Senate Intel CMTE To Hold Rare Open Hearing Tuesday. Aired Noon-1p ET
Aired January 7, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:03] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Others trapped on planes and inside airport for hours. The Broward County sheriff tweeting this photo this morning. A child asleep inside a TSA security bin with the message, "It's been a long night for everyone."
Although the airport has reopened today, that investigation is just beginning. The FBI saying they're not ruling out terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: We apologize for that audio. The more we learn about Esteban Santiago, the shooter, the more red flags emerge about his troubled past and possible mental health issues. Santiago will make his first court appearance on Monday.
Let's begin with CNN's Rachel Crane, who is live for us at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. So, Rachel, what are we learning about the investigation?
RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the press conference just concluded and law enforcement officials said that they have turned over the airport to airport officials and they have finished processing the crime scene.
They also did not release any of the names of the victims. They did confirm that five were dead. However, they changed the number of victims that were suffering from gunshot wounds from eight to six saying that three of them were currently in the ICU, three of them were in good condition.
They also said that they have in fact concluded their interview with the suspect. They said it took several hours that he was in fact cooperative and that he is now in the county jail.
The FBI did not give any specific details about the gun that was used, but they did describe more about the weapon. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE PIRO, FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: He used a semi-auto handgun. It was a .9 millimeter. We're not ready to release the make of the handgun and every indication is that he did follow TSA procedures and checking in the weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CRANE: Now, they have not -- they have not ruled out any motive here including terrorism. Now, they are trying to piece together this investigation. Spoke to over, to 175 witnesses and many members of Santiago's family, including his aunt.
FBI agents spoke to his aunt yesterday. She spoke to CNN today saying that Santiago changed after he came back from his tour in Iraq with the National Guard in 2011.
She told CNN, "He had visions all the time. His mind was not right. He seemed normal at times, but other times, he seemed lost. He changed."
Now, here at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, business is beginning to get back to normal. But we have seen long lines here all morning. The sheriff said that many of the flights were in fact canceled, many delays.
They are operating at 85 percent of their normal operations and they also mentioned how they were dealing with the challenge of getting the 20,000 bags and personal items that were left behind during the evacuation, back to their owners -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz underscoring that earlier. The complications now, many people who fly into that airport, it's a very busy airport for many who will then embarking on cruises.
Today's a big day for that, but people can't get on the cruise ship if they don't have their ids because a lot of that was left behind at the airport.
All right, in addition to the five people killed, six were wounded. Three of them are in intensive care. CNN correspondent, Ryan Young, is joining me live now from the Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. What more can you tell us?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, very complicated. Obviously you look at all the heroes who were there at the airport yesterday. The officers who ran into that line of fire to try to stop and neutralize that suspect.
But you have to think about the doctors and nurses here at the level one trauma center to help the people who were victims. Of course, you had a stream of ambulances coming here and they got ready by setting up the disaster program that they already have in place. Of course, they were able to help several people who were rushed into the ICU. We do know we're getting updates from the sheriff's department, they're telling us what the conditions of the victims who are here. In fact, the sheriff talked about that about an hour ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: We have six gunshot wound victims at the hospital. Originally yesterday, we leased there were eight gunshot victims. They were actually only six. Three of them remain in good condition. Three of the victims remain in ICU as of this press conference. We will not be releasing the identity of any of the six.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: We've been told by the hospital, all critical updates will come from the sheriff's department. We are outside waiting to see if any family members would like to talk to us, but as of right now, not really a lot of activity outside the emergency room besides the normal activity you would see in a day to day basis.
But I think we should all remember the fact that the doctors and nurses here did such a good job in terms of trying to save the people who arrived here after that shooting at the airport yesterday. As soon as we get more information in terms of updates, patient information, we'll pass it on to you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much. Ryan Young, appreciate that in Fort Lauderdale.
All right, the accused gunman's aunt is speaking out. You heard Rachel Crane talk about that a bit. Here's more on that now. The aunt telling CNN that her nephew had changed since returning from Iraq in 2011, saying, quote, "His mind was not right. He seemed normal at times, but other time, he seemed lost. He changed," end quote.
Let's talk more about this CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's also the former assistant director of the FBI. Also with me, CNN aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation.
So, Mary, while we're still learning more, about Esteban Santiago and that there were these observations made by family member, is it presumed that that kind of information would be attached to his ability to fly in any way? What precautions or protections are underway already in place to try and prevent anything like this from happening?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, in the United States and there are arguments on both sides of the issue, but you have to be a judge. You have to have a judgment that you are mentally incompetent or have an involuntary restrain or checking into a hospital.
You have to have a domestic violence restraining order against you. There's a list of items that are disqualifying for having a firearm and certainly for traveling with a firearm or for travel. And the firearm restrictions greater than those on traveling.
On traveling, there are fewer, and just having concerns about someone doesn't arise to the level of a disability from firearm possession and ownership or travel on any of those levels.
For -- to have stopped him from traveling with his gun, he would have had to have a court order judging him incompetent or an involuntary confinement in a mental institution.
WHITFIELD: All right, so then he lawfully was able to transport his firearm. We know now from details coming from law enforcement that he checked his luggage and picked up his luggage on the other end once arriving from Anchorage and Fort Lauderdale and got his firearms and ammunition out of that checked luggage in the bathroom and then came out and opened fire on people.
So, is it your position that this makes for a better argument that there has to be some separation between checked firearms and ammunition in future? That's something Congress will have to tackle with, but do you feel that this is going to be a good example of trying to make that argument if that argument is to be made?
SCHIAVO: Yes. I think this has to be part of the national debate now. The problem is this is where the right to travel in the Constitution runs headlong into the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution. And airport is like a city and these Constitutional rights exist there in the airport.
But for the interim to try to deal with these problems happening again, the fastest way would be to limit ammunition or in the checkout procedure, for example, last airline, you have a long gun, you were supposed to claim it at the bag check office by presenting your claim form and your ID.
So you could put another level in there, when you claim a gun, so it's not just rolling around the bag claim, for example, say if it was rolling around the bag claim and somebody stole it, then you have another problem, so you could put additional restrictions on the amount of ammunition or how you retrieve the gun.
WHITFIELD: OK, Tom, how do you see this precipitating movement toward new regulations or do you see this as revealing gaping holes about not enforce existing regulations?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I see it as revealing gaping holes that aren't going to be changed too easily if at all. Now, for example, even if you have guns go into the special baggage area like you would have with golf club or snow skis or long guns, that's fine. The person goes to that area, picks up their gun, goes to the bathroom, and comes out shooting.
[12:10:00]You're not preventing, at some point, a person is going to get their hands back on that gun, back on their ammunition and be in a position before leaving the property of the airport to shoot.
Additionally, we're not even talking about the people, that gun was checked in on the other end. When he left Alaska or went to the airport in Anchorage, he checked in that gun, so at that point, he could have shot up the ticket counter area, the people waiting to go to the gate.
The people getting out of their cars on the sidewalk. So the only time that gun was not in his possession was actually after he checked his bag, it was loaded on the plane and until he picked it up on the carousel at the Fort Lauderdale airport. So, before getting on the plane, after getting off the plane he was in a position to access those weapons.
Secondly, the baggage claim area is a pretty open area. Family members come to help you know, a lone traveler with multiple bag of luggage, so those carts pull up next to the sidewalk, people get out, go in and help.
But any car could roll up and people could come storming into the baggage claim with firearms. They're not going through any kind of major security check, if any, to get into baggage claim and most airports, they may have one or two police officers down there, but they can be easily outdone in a situation like that.
So this is the only way I see adding security at baggage claim is just you're going to have a lot of police officers heavily armed at all of the different baggage claim areas and watch the people as they pick up their bags and leave the airport. So, it's still going to be a difficult challenge.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Revealing lots of potential vulnerabilities. All right, thank you so much, Tom Fuentes, Mary Schiavo. Appreciate it.
All right, coming up, repeal and replace Obamacare, it's one of the top items on the agenda for the GOP come January 20th. We'll look at what that means financially for Americans across the country, next.
Plus, another campaign promise, building a wall. Trump says Mexico will eventually pay for it. We'll look at what Congress says about footing the bill.
WHITFIELD: All right, Republicans are gearing up for the battle to take down Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan vows to repeal multiple key policies including funding for Planned Parenthood. President Obama says if Republicans have a better than then he's all for the repealing and replacing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If it works, I'm for it. If -- if something can cover all Americans, make sure that if they have a preexisting condition, they can still get coverage, make sure that prescription drugs are affordable, and encourage preventive measures to keep people healthy. If you can do all that, cheaper than we talked about, cheaper than Obamacare achieves and with better quality and it's just terrific, I'm for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I'm joined by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the architect behind Obamacare. He is also the chair of the Department of Medical Ethics for the University of Pennsylvania. Good to see you and happy New Year.
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, ARCHITECT OF OBAMACARE: Nice to be here.
WHITFIELD: So, Dr. Emmanuel, you have met with the president-elect. What is your sense in terms of whatever he really is behind a repeal and replace simultaneous or whether he's an advocate of repealing it and then somewhere down the line, replacing it?
EMANUEL: Well, far be it from me to speak for the president-elect. That's his job and his staff's job --
WHITFIELD: But what did you gather in your conversations with?
EMANUEL: He has said that he does want to create a system that is good for all Americans, that gets universal coverage. That allows people with preexisting conditions to keep their insurance. That allows children to be on their parent's health plans and that actually is affordable to Americans.
And I genuinely believe he does not want to have a situation or create a situation that creates lots of disruption, even chaos, in the insurance markets and leaves lot of people uninsured. I can say the one phrase he made very clear to me is we don't want to hurt anyone.
And I think it's become imminently clear over the last month or so, as people have been talking about the issue, that if you repeal and delay, that is you repeal the bill without part of the Affordable Care Act like the mandate, like the subsidies without a clear plan what is going to take their place, you will create disruption in the insurance markets, have millions lose coverage and many people will be worse off.
WHITFIELD: Others have used language like repealing it and not replacing it right away could create a death spiral and it would cause destabilization. Do you see it that way?
EMANUEL: Well, it's undeniable that that would be the way. Just imagine you're the president of an insurance company like United or Aetna or Humana and someone tells you the marketplace you're in, you're covering millions of people. That marketplace is going away in two years.
Are you staying that marketplace? Are you devoting any resources to building up that marketplace to doing all the hard work that's necessary to sell an insurance product in that market place? The answer to that is clearly no.
And so, they will -- the insurance companies will pull out and there will be plenty of people who will want insurance and not be able to get it. I think that's clearly going to be a serious problem. And I think it's beginning to dawn upon the Republicans that you know, that you need a replacement bill.
What's also becoming clear is Republicans have had seven years since passage of the Affordable Care Act to come up with a coherent replacement. They have not come up with a coherent replacement, which does the things that President Obama said.
You know, makes coverage available to everyone including people with preexisting conditions, increases quality, gives them incentives to get preventive care, and keeps cost under control. They couldn't come up with it over seven years tells you how hard it is to really devise a plan in the health care market.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and there have been at least more than 60 defeated attempts to repeal. So, we know that President Obama went to Capitol Hill, talked to Democrats and he said he essentially instructed them you know, don't help the GOP, you know, dismantle and replace. It's their movement.
[12:20:00]Let them stand on their own two leg to try to repeal or come up with a new plan, so, if Donald Trump or you know, anyone with an administration were to reach out to you, would you refrain from offer suggestions or assisting in a plan that would support a repealing and replacing?
EMANUEL: Look, I'm exactly what President Obama said he was, which is there are things which we know the Affordable Care Act needs to be reformed and could be improved. And you know, even day one after passage, we knew that there were problems with the bill. It wasn't perfect.
It's a compromise and as it's been implemented, you know, unintended consequences become obvious problems have become obvious. There are improvements to be made to the bill. I am a big believer and what we need is a good piece of legislation.
I don't care whether it's a Republican or Democratic. Ideally, it would be bipartisan and I'm willing to help in getting to the right answer --
WHITFIELD: Because you want to see this continue to work for the 30 million who have signed up.
EMANUEL: -- as high quality.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
EMANUEL: Absolutely and not just 30 million. Remember -- OK.
WHITFIELD: No, go ahead. I'm sorry there was a delay on that. So I do want you to finish your point on that.
EMANUEL: Lots of parts of the Affordable Care Act don't just affect people who didn't have insurance before. They affect all of us by improving the quality of care at hospitals, by keeping costs under control, by giving us all free preventative services with no deductibles and copays that's something every American got because of the Affordable Care Act.
So we're all big beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act. It's 310 million people, not 30 million people, that have been beneficiaries and we all need to keep that into account because when they repeal certain provisions, it's going to affect all of us, not just those who got insurance through the changes or the Medicaid expansion.
WHITFIELD: Dr. Emanuel, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
EMANUEL: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: All right. And we will be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Thousands without power, flight delays, icy roads, the southeast is iced over and the strong winds and snow are moving up the east coast now. New York City is about to feel the worst of the storm soon. Here's a live as the ice storm continues all the way up to Maine.
Polo Sandoval joins us live now from Raleigh, where instead of ice, you've got beautiful snow there. Folks who are out enjoying it, but there's a lot of caution being sent to people, too. Hi, Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred, and that warning is coming from North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, telling the residents throughout the state the storm is not over yet. Now, some of the snowfall may wrap up soon, but the threat could still be there.
Especially some of the residential areas, the ones that sit on hills right here, so the recommendation by Governor Cooper right now is folks simply stay home. It's a non-commuting day. Folks don't necessarily have to get to work unless some of the lucky ones who get to be out and about today for work.
So officials here are recommending that people simply stay home because the temperature is going to continue to drop tonight into single digits, so much of the precipitation that's been falling throughout the day, throughout the region will likely harden.
So we could see some black ice situations throughout and in around the region here and we are likely not going to see temperatures go above freezing until possibly Tuesday according to several meteorologists. So the people here, they're left to make the best of it.
In fact, some families here in this neighborhood, they decided to take their kids out since they had nowhere to go, since many of the businesses may still be closed. They said let's just hang out here in the neighborhood, but again, that warning going out to some families and drivers. If you don't have to be out and about, simply stay in because while the snow may be wrapping up the worst could still be ahead when it gets bone chilling cold tonight.
WHITFIELD: Good warnings. All right, thank you so much, Polo Sandoval. Appreciate it. Trying to find a little hot cocoa in between these live shot hits.
All right, next, new information from the Florida airport shooting. How the suspect allegedly got his gun into his checked baggage.
[12:31 04] WHITFIELD: All right, we're learning new details about the deadly shooting at Fort Lauderdale's airport. The FBI saying this morning that it has not ruled out terrorism and it is still looking at all possible motives for why the 26-year-old army veteran allegedly pulled a gun from his checked luggage and then opened fire, killing five and wounding six others. Esteban Santiago is cooperating with authorities. We know that he did follow the correct procedures to check that firearm.
CNN's Rene Marsh has a look at the process.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOV'T REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Once he retrieved his checked luggage and baggage claim, sources say Esteban Santiago went to the bathroom and emerged firing the gun. It is legal in some states to carry a gun and ammunition in your checked luggage only. TSA has very strict guidelines for this. And by all accounts, the shooter followed all of the procedures. Airport police in Anchorage, Alaska that's where he originated said that the suspect declared the gun before the flight and had it properly stored in his checked luggage. It was in the proper casing.
Again, the TSA guidelines are extremely strict. The firearm must be unloaded. There has to be stored in a hard side case. That case has to be locked and only the passenger should have the key or the combination to that case. And again, you have to declare that gun at the ticket counter. He followed all of those rules. But he took advantage of the fact that every airport in America has a soft target. Parts of the airport before he get to the security checkpoint they're vulnerable. It's a known vulnerability and law enforcement officials say it's virtually impossible to get that vulnerability to zero.
Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: All right, I want to talk more about the vulnerability of soft targets with our security panel, Matthew Horace is a former executive with the ATF and CNN law enforcement analyst, Mary Schiavo is back with us, a former inspector general Department of Transportation.
So, Matthew you first, you just heard, you know, Rene Marsh saying law enforcement officials she talks to says it's really possible, you know, to reduce that kind of vulnerability. He lawfully checked that firearm. But what the person does on the other end well, you know, that's anyone's guess. So, in your view, does this kind of underscore a vulnerable across airports, across the country?
MATTHEW HORACE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, absolutely, it does, Fredricka, it always have. We're going to be talking about it with -- is when the incident happens. The fact of the matter is there are hundreds if not thousands of people that travel with their firearms, follow the law and successfully pick up their guns and go about their merry way. In this case, he exploited this vulnerability and I think we're going to have create the broader discussion into how to avoid this in the future.
WHITFIELD: You know, Mary, when we talk about soft targets, I don't know if a lot of people would automatically think that an airport is a soft target because there are security measures in place. People have to go through, you know, checks, there are magnetometers, et cetera. But this does underscore, this is a soft target because this is a large gathering place for people. And while some people go through security, there are areas around an airport where security, you know, is not at the same level as in other parts of the airport. So, what are people, you know, how are they to digest what happened yesterday and moving forward, how to feel safe when you travel?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, you're exactly right. An airport is really two halves and they're unlike each other. Air side is of course very secure. And then land side, where you drive up and you check in and go to the bags. It's a very chorus, very soft and that's been known literally since the '60s and '70s when in Europe, there were bombings at the bag claim.
But I think what people need to do and need to think about right now, including our national debate for the long run, but for right now, we have to make it secure so there aren't copy cat killers. And so we can get our business, get our travel in, and go on with our commerce. Since that's what this is, interstate commerce, a constitutionally protected right. And I think in the interim, we're going to have to come up with some interim measures.
[12:35:17] I think I mentioned earlier today that one way would be to stop the transport of ammunition. You can get ammunition delivered to your door within a day or two. You know, for I was former someone with a former badge, I bought ammunition online myself. So that can be done for the short-term measure and you can have a requirement that once you get your gun, you must immediately leave the airport.
By the way, the NRA suggests that, if you're traveling with a secure weapon and that's your bag, leave the airport immediately. So is there is no --
WHITFIELD: So that you check your luggage if you -- it's one thing when you have a long arm, you know, in a hard case. We heard described earlier from Tom Fuentes, you check it. You have to retrieve it from another portion of the airport. But with a handgun, it's something he's able to put in to his luggage and pick up in the same common area that others were picked up their luggage.
So then, you know, Mary, does this mean that in the interim, a rule, you know, would have to be put in place to say everyone and anyone who is traveling with a firearm would have to a, identify that they are checking a firearm so that the airline or airport can candle that piece of luggage differently?
SCHIAVO: Yes. And the airline knows which bags those are and who those people are. So it's not that big of a verb on the airline. I said in the long run, we need a national debate. But in the short run, we just have to make the airports secure so they can operate. And so I would suggest that would be one way you could do it in the short-term.
WHITFIELD: So, Matthew, right now, people don't necessarily, unless you have a long arm reveal with in the airline that they are checking a piece of luggage and ammunition?
HORACE: No. Not, all they have to check their gun. They have to declare it and it goes --
WHITFIELD: But you don't have to reveal. You don't have to be transparent about it and say as I'm picking by boarding pass, if the counter, "Oh, by the way inside is."
HORACE: Yes, you do, going into the airport. It's leaving that that brings the problem.
WHITFIELD: All right. Mary Schiavo and Matthew Horace, thank you so much to both you. Appreciate it.
And we'll be right back after this.
[12:41:04] WHITFIELD: All right, President-elect Donald Trump down playing Russian meddling in the election this despite receiving a full briefing on the classified version of the intelligence report yesterday. That report say with high confidence, those hacking efforts were ordered directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin. And that Putin's goal was to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump.
Trump instead casting blame on the Democratic National Committee for allowing the hack. And tweeting about how the U.S. will have a great relationship with Russia when he is president.
CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is covering today's developments for us. So Sunlen, Donald Trump continuing to tweet about this intel report.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He does Fred. And what we've seen from him again is him trying to really shift the blame away from Russia. And to focus on the politics of this instead, really trying to define this in partisan terms, you know, blaming the Democrats in his opinion for not protecting themselves and really blaming Democrats for what he basically is describing as them being sore losers in this elections for keep continuing to bring all of this up.
Trump tweeted this morning, "Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big they are totally embarrassed." And then later went on to say "Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched."
Now, the nuance of the details of what exactly was in this classified report are important here, especially with these Trump claims on Twitter. The classified report did not say that the voting machines were affected, rather they said that there were a variety of tactics that the Russians used to influence the election and importantly, did not say that the hacking affected the election, rather that was the intention. So those details is very important here.
And clearly, the intention is enough to get many people on Capitol Hill, many Republicans as well members of Donald Trump's own party, to say that this is a national security concern. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.
All right, tomorrow morning, you will hear from top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. She is one of Jake Tapper's guests tomorrow State of Union. See it only on CNN beginning at 9:00 a.m. eastern time.
All right joining me right now to talk more about this, CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis, who is also a senior contributor for the Daily Caller and Lynn Sweet Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun Times, all right, good to see both of you and happy New Year. You got a little flurries behind you there. The storm is on its way there in Washington there Lynn behind you.
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: I'm going to go home and shovel.
WHITFIELD: That's right. OK. Get that exercise. But in small doses, be careful.
All right so, Donald Trump calling the Friday meeting, you know, with the intel chiefs constructive and then even praising the officials. He says he will appoint a team within 90 days to figure out ways to stop foreign hacking. And then you look at the tweets coming from him this morning and within the past 24 hours even really saying, you know, anyone is stupid to not see, you know, the value in getting along well with Russia.
So mix messaging once again, "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only stupid people or fools would think that is bad." So, Lynn, this mixed messaging, is there already a feeling that his relationship going in is fairly damaged or tarnished with the intel community? Is he able to recover from that?
SWEET: Yes, he can recover. Everything gets real on January 20th. And to quote Ronald Reagan, I think when it come to the Russians, you know, the famous phrase that he had is, you know, "Trust but verify."
No one is against a good relationship with Russia as long as that's truly what it is. And if Donald Trump can somehow have our two superpowers bonded together to create a better world, that would be an incredible legacy of a Trump administration. But we're not quite there yet. And one of the things that you do build relationships on is a solid information and let's just see, let his actions be stronger than his tweets come January 20th.
[12:45:20] WHITFIELD: And Matthew, you know, it seems like Donald Trump still has the problem of separating the issue of legitimacy, November 8th election, the outcome and what the intel is saying about Russia's influence versus the overall big picture of Russia another country meddling with democracy, period, and how that's the outrage that is being expressed on so many levels including from the intel community. But Donald Trump doesn't seem to be expressing that outrage still.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Now, it seems unusual that he would not be a little more passionate toward, you know, about what happened. This is a big deal. A foreign government trying to interfere your elections is a very, very, very big deal.
I think there are two potential arguments. One of which I think is more noble than the other. One argument would be that Donald Trump simply sees that the big battle of our time is against radical Islam. And then that battle, he may see Vladimir Putin and Russia as an ally, just as we allied with Stalin against Hitler. That is one theory. I also though think --
WHITFIELD: But can you do that without dismissing the intel community?
LEWIS: Well, I think that leads to the last sort of noble argument here that you alluded to earlier, which is a sense that Donald Trump doesn't want to concede that Russia did this because the implication that it might discredit or delegitimize his presidency and his election, I think that's some thin skin if that is leading to his tweets.
SWEET: Well, I guess my point is, is that the Russian attack on the United States is not to be taken lightly. And he's getting off to a bad start with the intelligence community. But we'll see, if excuse me, get so worked up here. I think we just have to see what he does as a result of all this.
WHITFIELD: And so, Matthew, you know, swearing in, just days away now. I mean the 20th of January. And the relationship, I mean, whether yesterday's meeting with the intel chiefs could help mend in any way the relationship. That relationship starts right away. As soon as the president is sworn in to office, those briefings, regardless of what style of briefings he wants, the decision making will be a large part predicated on what kind of intel comes his way.
So, are we looking at the ground work being set that he'll be cherry picking, the validity of intel? The occasions in which he wants to use it to his advantage or not based on his reaction to how that intel relates to Russia's behavior?
LEWIS: Right. And we just don't though yet. I mean, there's some very good signs I think in terms of the people he's surrounded himself with. Some of the advisers, Mattis is a prime example of somebody that I think brought a lot of reassurance, you know, to skeptics.
I do think that it's healthy for a president to be skeptical of intel. On the other hand, there is a problem when there's a wide consensus. And he doesn't seem to want to believe what, you know, essentially, everybody is telling him. So, I think Lynn is absolutely right. We're in the pre-game phase now. There are some things that I'm seeing that are comforting to me there are some things that I'm seeing that are alarming me. Let's see how he actually governs.
WHITFIELD: And then Lynn, the skepticism, if we want to call it that Donald Trump skepticism, how might that bleed over influence the hearings of some of his nominees next week?
SWEET: Good question. Because they will be asked what they believe, they will be asked by what is the yardstick that you use to get information, if you're, you know, Rex Tillerson's secretary of state, for example, who is supposedly picked in part because of his close understanding of Russia, his relationship with Putin.
It will be interesting to see what he believes. But what's most important is what a President Trump can figure out is a way to get information that he sees is credible. Somewhere in this vast intelligence apparatus are people he's got to find to trust and or have Pence do it to give him informed information from which to make policy.
WHITFIELD: All right. Lynn Sweet, Matt Lewis, both in what appear to be whiteout conditions. But we know right now, snow flurries, accumulation, you know, we'll see how it pans out the rest of the day. But it's a beautiful backdrop for you just days away now from inauguration. Let's hope it's not a snowy day like that for inauguration. All right, Lynn Sweet and Matthew, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
[12:50:16] LEWIS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON BURR: This is somebody jam on something that we made is nothing but pride. Hi I'm Jason Burr.
FRANK SCHLEY: And I'm Frank Schley with Georgia cord of guitars.
The custom guitar company where we make electric guitars out of historically significant work. And this wood is really special. I was born in the 1400 so it's older than a country. And in 1856, it was cut down to be used in a dam in the Chattahoochee river in Columbus, Georgia.
BURR: The materials matter because it makes a connections to help weave the story around that guitar to make a piece of history come alive. And that really gets into the spirit of what we're trying to accomplish here.
Giving this material a second chance at life to a really chance to sing and become something even more beautiful than it was before.
SCHLEY: The burning is a special thing that brings the sap out of the guitar and cooks it and that really adds a lot of character and depth to the wood than you wouldn't normally see.
BURR: One of our main strategies is to really put the guitar in the hands of musicians. And it really gives us a chance to shine along with them. And the social media piece plays back into them as well.
[12:55:05] SCHLEY: Absolutely.
BURR: Promote them and they promote us. To be able to be financially successful at doing something you're passionate about, that's been the real measure of success for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, many questions still lingering this morning including how did the suspect get to Fort Lauderdale. And how did survivors escape.
CNN's Tom Foreman has more in the suspected gunman's deadly path.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the Fort Lauderdale airport. And based on everything that we've heard about this alleged shooter's travel plan, after leaving Alaska, laying over in Minneapolis and heading here, this is where he would have arrived, at Terminal Two, specifically at Gate Five at this terminal. If we move in closer, I can show you that Gate Five is the one right back in this area.
Now, people who were on some of the plane say the walk from here down to the baggage area would be about 50 or 60 yards, if he traveled the same way you would expect somebody to normally do on a plane like this. It would be a path something like this through the area down to the escalator down here and then down to the baggage area. The baggage area is all in here. That's where he would have retrieved his bag with the gun. And then if the witness accounts are correct.
And then people talk about in going into the restroom. Well, there's also one over there, there's also one right over here. If that were the case, he could have gone in an come right back out firing, roughly about 45 minutes after his plane officially touched down. And we do know that some of the victims were actually right in this area.
Now, what about this business of taking a gun on a plane? As a civilian, you cannot do that in a carry on bag. But it is legal for you to do it in a checked bag. Aside from local and state regulations, here's the TSA for the federal regulations are you must tell the airline that you are carrying a firearm. It must be unloaded. You can't have any shells in the chamber or in a clip that's loaded on to it. It must be in a locking hard shell case. And only you can have the key and the combination. You can't have a whole lot of people with that information. And lastly, if you are carrying ammunition, that also has to be locked up. Many gun owners will actually lock it in with the gun itself.