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Update on Victims in Hospital; Student Recounts School Shooting; Trump to Speak on Massacre; White House Security Clearances; Lawmakers Grill VA Secretary; Bipartisan Group Reaches Immigration Deal; Florida State Representative Talks About Shooting. Aired 9:30- 10a
Aired February 15, 2018 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Behind me right now. They're setting up for a press conference right now. In just a few minutes we will hear from the county sheriff, I think potentially also Florida's governor, Rick Scott, and some officials from the hospital to get an update on the investigation here, to get an update on the people who are wounded and are still being treated.
Again, at this high school behind me, 17 people were killed, more than a dozen were injured.
We're continuing to learn more from the hospitals where the victims are being treated this morning.
Want to get straight to CNN's Dianne Gallagher for the very latest on that and more.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, at this time what we've been told is there are still 15 people who remain in the hospital. Five of those are in what the hospital is calling life- threatening condition.
That press conference you're talking about, we should be getting an update on those conditions at that press conference with some of the doctors and medical team who attended these patients and who were here when they were brought in.
Now, the hospital I'm standing at here, Broward Health North, that is where two of the patients who were brought in did pass away from those injuries. One of those was Coach Aaron Feis. And he has been one of the only who have been positively identified of those 17 victims. He was an assistant football coach for the varsity and JV team.
And according to the football program, their communications director, Coach Feis died by acting as a human shield. That when the shooter began shooting at the kids in the classrooms, he threw himself on them to protect them. Of course, again, he did die from his injuries here.
We've seen this outpouring of love for the coach from students and players and parents online and on our air talking about what a selfless person he was.
John, he attended that high school. He graduated from there. He went to work there and has worked there his entire career. Again, this is somebody who also acts as a security guard for them and is being called a hero this morning, John.
BERMAN: Deservedly a hero.
Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much for that.
Again, we're waiting for this press conference to begin right behind me with new details on the investigation.
Joining me now by phone is Rebecca Bogart, 17 years old, a student here at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who went through, I have to believe, was the worst day of her life yesterday.
Rebecca, thanks so much nor being with us.
I know how difficult this is to discuss. But tell me, how are you doing this morning?
REBECCA BOGART, STUDENT WHO LIVED THROUGH SCHOOL MASSACRE (via telephone): I'm just like in complete shock. So -- like I still don't believe this happened. It's just something that I would never, ever think that would happen here.
BERMAN: I don't think anyone wants to believe it happened, but the sad reality is that it did. And now we're all trying to find a way to cope with it right alongside you.
Yesterday, after 2:20, when did you know it was real, Rebecca?
BOGART: One -- I was in the freshman building where I heard the gunshots, and no one really knew what that was. But we all automatically knew to hide. We all hid -- I hid underneath the teacher's desk with a bunch of students and the teacher. And when we're hiding, I knew it was real when I saw the gunshots break through the window and saw a bullet through the blinds. And then I knew that this was not just a drill.
BERMAN: You're underneath the teacher's desk. How many people were under there with you?
BOGART: We have 30 students in our class. And half of them went underneath the cabinets. They went underneath the teacher's desk. And the other -- like ten kids went behind the computer cart. And, unfortunately, those kids -- like four of them got injured in my class. And just very traumatizing to watch and like listen to.
BERMAN: And you --
BOGART: We all tried to stay as calm as possible.
BERMAN: And you heard them. You were underneath the desk. I'm so sorry to interrupt you, Rebecca. You couldn't see much from outside -- from underneath the desk, but
you were hearing things. What did you hear? You heard your classmates get injured?
BOGART: Well, I didn't -- someone said that they're bleeding in the class, but I couldn't tell because I was hiding and I didn't want to go out and look. But they're screaming. So we tried to keep everyone calm and keep everyone as silent as possible because we knew what was going on.
BERMAN: When you were underneath the desk, Rebecca, what was going through your mind?
BOGART: I was just in fear. I didn't know what was happening. I was shaking. We all were. We were praying that whole -- everything will be OK. We're waiting -- my teacher was on the phone with the police. We were trying to get everything figured out. We didn't know what was happening and tried to stay as calm as possible.
[09:35:24] BERMAN: You were in the classroom for well over an hour. When you were finally let out -- the SWAT teams came in -- when you were finally let out, what did you see?
BOGART: The SWAT team came in and asked us to have our hands up and how many kids were injured. The ones injured left first and then we had to follow out. As I was leaving through the hallway, I see students on the ground, just blood everywhere. It was just so traumatizing to watch. And we just had to -- we were directed to go across the street and go as far from the school as we can. We had to -- me and a bunch of kids walked to Pine Trails from Stoneman Douglas.
BERMAN: Rebecca, what do you want people to know this morning about this -- about what you've been through? The country's struggling to make sense of this, not just what happened, but how to keep it from happening in the future. And now, you know, you're part of this. What do people need to know?
BOGART: Just like, don't take anything for granted. You never know. You -- I would never expect -- no one would ever expect this to happen. Hear -- you hear about this all the time on the news and you just never would think here. And just be aware of your surroundings and know what to do under anything. Just have a plan for anything that -- and (INAUDIBLE) gun people --
BERMAN: Be aware of your surroundings. Have a plan.
Rebecca, I'm so sorry again for cutting you off. I was having trouble hearing you.
But just know -- know that we're all with you right now. We're so sorry that you had to go through this. We're so sorry that this training is necessary, but you're absolutely right, pay attention to these drills. Be aware of your surroundings because, at this point, you just never know when you might need that.
Rebecca Bogart, thanks so much for your courage, thanks so much for being with us.
BOGART: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, just a short time from now we will also hear from the president of the United States. This is the first time he will speak since this deadly school shootings. Three of the ten deadliest mass shootings have happened in just the last several months. How will the president address this tragedy? Stay with us.
[09:41:51] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill in New York.
In just over an hour, we are expecting to hear from President Trump. He is set to address the nation following the school massacre in Florida. And this will be the first time we've heard the president speak publicly on that tragedy.
Let's get straight to Abby Phillip, who is at the White House now with more.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Erica.
The president will speak in a few hours here from the White House, offering some kind of guidance or condolences and this tragedy. He also, we know, according to White House officials who have spoken to my colleagues here at CNN, considered putting out a statement last night but ultimately did not, waiting to hear more about the details of this tragedy.
The White House, this morning, also put out a paper statement offering condolences to the families and also ordering flags here at the White House and at other federal buildings put down to half-mast. That's something that often happens in these tragedies that have become all too familiar, Erica.
HILL: Indeed it has.
Separately, I do want to touch on this Abby. CNN has learned the White House had more than 100 staffers working without full security clearance until November. That, of course, nearly a year into Mr. Trump's presidency. And Rob Porter was among them.
PHILLIP: That's right.
One year after the president was elected, several of his top staffers did not have full clearances, a sign of some deep troubles with that process here at the White House. Among the people who lacked clearances are the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. But also surprisingly, Don McGahn, the White House counsel. He's the person who ultimately is the sort of legal voice for this White House, also lacked the top full security clearance. And also Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.
There were a few other officials, including people like Gary Cohn, the top economic adviser here at the White House, who came from a complex financial background, who were able to get clearances. So there are some questions here about what is going on with the clearance process here at the White House. And it seems very much that a lot of top aides to the president still had not gotten the clearance that they needed to see top secret information here at the White House, Erica.
HILL: Abby Phillip with the latest for us from there.
Abby, thank you.
At this hour, VA Secretary David Shulkin is facing tough questions from House lawmakers about his taxpayer funded travel. Now, this comes after a blistering report from the inspector general which say Shulkin's chief of staff altered an e-mail that led to the VA paying more than $4,000 for his wife to fly to Europe with him last year.
Our CNN senior politics writer, Juana Summers, joins us now with the latest from Washington.
JUANA SUMMERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER: Hi, Erica.
Secretary Shulkin on Capitol Hill this morning speaking to the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He tells lawmakers that the optics of the situation are not great, that he regrets decisions that were made that take away from his focus of serving American veterans. That didn't seem to satisfy at least one lawmaker on that panel, though. Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado, he's a Republican who called yesterday on Secretary Shulkin to resign. He said it's not the optics of this situation that are bad, it's the facts that are bad here.
HILL: Well, we should point out, too, this is not the only issue that we're following. EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, as we know, also this week defending his travel. What's the latest there?
[09:45:05] SUMMERS: Scott Pruitt telling a number of New Hampshire media outlets this week that he actually has had a number of incidents involving his safety that have happened since he became the EPA's administrator. He says he personally has no involvement with where he's seated on planes, whether he flies first class or not. He says those decisions are left up to his staff and his security detail.
HILL: Juana Summers with the latest for us there.
Juana, thank you.
HILL: A bipartisan group of senators, we're learning, has reached an immigration deal which offers nearly 2 million dreamers a path to citizenship. Their compromise would also boost border security. It is still unclear, however, whether that effort has enough votes to pass.
Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill with the latest there.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica.
Well, I spoke with Senator Bill Nelson this morning, who was on the phone with Senator Chuck Schumer about 15, 20 minutes ago. He is optimistic that the bipartisan plan will pass. He says what happened yesterday in negotiations, it went from allowing dreamers' parents to stay in the country for three years, eliminating that, to prohibiting them from sponsoring their parents' for legal status. He believes that is what is going to get enough Republicans, as in 11 Republicans, to join Democrats to push this through.
The process, of course, they need 60 votes to move an amendment or a plan forward. There will be four different plans or amendments put forward. One is a bipartisan effort that is not likely to pass, too favorable to the dreamers. The second from Senator Toomey is also an amendment that would punish sanctuary cities, not expected to get the 60.
What is expected is the third one, that is the bipartisan plan, Rounds-Collins. It includes a ten to 12-year path to citizenship for DACA recipients, including the dreamers, $25 billion in a border security trust. What it does is it also, though, leaves in the diversity visa lottery program. And that is a big one that the president wants to eliminate, and that would be the fourth plan, expected not to pass. So we're going to wait and see what happens in the Senate, which of these plans gets that critical 60 and what the president and how the president reacts to it today.
HILL: Suzanne, thank you.
Still to come, a community in mourning. Their worst nightmares realized.
President Trump, as we mentioned, will be addressing the nation shortly. First, though, John Berman speaks to a state representative who says hell is waiting for this shooter. We're live in Florida, next.
[09:51:54] BERMAN: All right, John Berman in Parkland, Florida.
We are following the breaking news here this morning. The tragic, breaking news here this morning, I should say.
President Trump will address the nation in just a little bit. The first time he will address the school shooting here directly, though he has put messages out on Twitter. And I do want to make note of one thing. CNN has put out requests to
these three Republican lawmakers to join us on CNN. They declined our invitation. But they did appear on Fox News.
There are important questions to address for them this morning. Why is it that the FBI was warned in September that someone with the same name as the school shooter was bragging he wanted to be a professional school shooter, how could that happen, and then this individual still buy a gun? How could this individual be expelled from this school because of fear of violence and then still buy a gun? How could there be concerns about the mental health of this individual and he still be allowed to buy a gun?
These are important questions that, frankly, people should be willing to answer. The questions, the answers may not be easy, but the questions are important.
Want to bring in now Democratic State Representative Jared Moskowitz. He represents this part of Florida.
And, Jared, I know -- Representative, I should say, this is personal for you. You have kids in preschool here who went into lockdown during this shooting.
JARED MOSKOWITZ (D), FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, the way I found out about this is my wife called me at 2:30 while I was on the floor of the House to tell me that she couldn't pick up our kid because the preschool was on lockdown. She didn't know what was going on.
I made a couple of phone calls to law enforcement and they let me know there was an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School, where I went to school. And then, obviously, the news broke on TV and I told the speaker I had to leave session and I hopped a plane, I came here, I met the governor and the attorney general and, you know, the news was still fresh. We didn't know how many victims there was. But as we've seen with all these shootings, the number started at two and then went higher and now we know it's 17. And we're broken.
BERMAN: One victim is too many. One victim is too many.
As we said, there are a number of questions now. Questions that need to be asked. And I'm not suggesting the answers are easy. Many Republican lawmakers will not join us now to face these questions.
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state said, now is not the time to discuss guns right now. What's your response to that?
MOSKOWITZ: Well, they've poll tested that, right? I mean, now is not the time. There's never a time. There's never a time. But we should just be honest. Let's just look the American people in the face, let's go look the families in the face that I sat there for six hours until they found out that their kid wasn't missing, their kid was lying dead in the school. Let's just look them in the face and let's just be honest and let's tell them, we're going to do nothing. We're going to talk, we're going to spout off all sorts of different talking points from both sides of the aisle, but we're going to do nothing because we can't look at this just as parents, we have to look at this through a political lens for some reason, Democrats or Republicans.
But we've created this. We can pray to God. But God didn't do this. This is a manmade issue. It's only going to be solved by man. And we're not going to solve it because the system is rigged. Nowadays there's no really general elections anymore. It's primaries.
[09:55:08] BERMAN: You say we're going to do nothing here. You mean the system will do nothing?
BERMAN: And the Florida State House may decide to do nothing. And the U.S. House may decide to do nothing. What will you do? I mean, you know, people may try to stop you. People may argue that you're wrong. But how can you get past that personally?
MOSKOWITZ: Sure. They will stop me. Just two years ago I put amendments on the floor to ban people who were on the no fly list from being able to buy guns in the state of Florida. And they stopped me. They wouldn't hear the amendment because they didn't want their members to have to go on the board on that issue. They said, oh, the no fly list is not dependable. So, meanwhile, they want to talk about building a wall and MS-13 --
BERMAN: What can we agree on, though? What areas do you think there might be room for agreement right here? You know, handguns you can't buy until you're 21. Why not make it be assault weapons you can't buy until you're 21? Can you agree on that, do you think?
MOSKOWITZ: No, they won't agree to anything. I mean how about just background checks. How about the fact that its on your FaceBook you're telling everybody you're a Nazi and you want to go kill a thousand people. How about we take that into account when you want to go buy an AR-15? But we don't. We don't take it into account. Neither side will give an inch. They will do nothing.
And so we've seen this show before. We know how this movie is going to end. I'm going to do everything I can. Next week there's going to be a bill potentially on the floor to decrease background checks. The Department of Agriculture is trying to bring a bill that if you want to get a concealed weapons permit in the state of Florida, they want to decrease the background checks. I will fight against that. I will file 100 amendments and I will hold the floor hostage for 15 hours.
BERMAN: I will say this, I will say maybe there are laws that can make this better, maybe not. Maybe there is a societal fix or way to address it, maybe not. But we all need to keep trying. Don't stop trying to keep this from happening again because it's never acceptable.
Representative, thanks so much for being with us. We're sorry for you and your community. We're glad you were able to make it back to be with your constituents.
MOSKOWITZ: Well, thank you. We'll never be the same.
BERMAN: Thank you, representative. I'm sorry.
We're just moments away from a police briefing that's going to happen right here behind me. We could get new information on the investigation. We will bring this to you live. Our special coverage continues after this.
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