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Mueller Issues First Charges Alleging Russian Interference; Special Counsel Charges 13 Russians With Election Meddling, Accused of "Information Warfare" Against U.S.; Trump: Russians Indicted For Meddling Shows "No Collusion"; CNN: Kelly Changes Security Clearance Process Amid Porter Scandal; Trump Meets with Victims from School Shooting; FBI Says it Failed to Act on Recent Tip About Shooter; Report: Former Playmate's Alleged Affair with President. Aired on 7- 8p ET

Aired February 16, 2018 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:23] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: "OutFront" next breaking news, 13 Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Will President Trump believe it now?

Plus, Trump just arriving in Parkland, Florida to meet with family members who are grieving the loss of loved ones in this week's shooting. And the FBI stunning admission, it failed to act on a tip warning about the gunman just weeks before he killed 17 people in that high school. Who dropped the ball? Let's go "OutFront."

Good evening, I'm Jim Sciutto in for Erin Burnett tonight. And "OutFront" tonight breaking news, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicts 13 people for meddling in the 2016 election. It is an investigation that President Trump has called a hoax repeatedly, a witch hunt. But now, the Special Counsel has indicted 13 Russian nationals charging them with crimes, conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The indictment says that the Russians wage information warfare on the U.S. involving unwitting Americans, including Trump campaign associates. President who arrived this evening in Florida has long refused to accept that Russia meddled, period, despite repeated consistent and firm statements from everyone of the nations intelligence chiefs to the contrary.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. Also, it could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure.


SCIUTTO: Well soon after the indictment was made public, the President tweeted this defense, "Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong, no collusion!" But to be clear, this indictment makes no judgment either on collusion or the impact of Russia's interference and the special counsel's investigation is by no means over at this time.

As of 2014, the President is correct. The Russian campaign began then. But as the indictment makes clear by 2016, these Russians, "Engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and to support Bernie Sanders and then candidate Donald Trump."

CNN's Evan Perez is out front tonight. Evan, this indictment really lays out to a legal standard really the greatest detail of Russian interference that we've seen so far.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It really does, Jim. This is an extraordinary document providing details on a Russian information warfare operation. It was intended to exploit political divisions in this country, for instance, aiming to discourage African-American voters from going to the polls. The ultimate goal according this detailed indictment was to elect Donald Trump and to damage the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

The Russians called it operation lockup (ph), apparently named for section of Saint Petersburg, Russia and that's where the Internet Research Agency did its work. Dozens of employees showed up every day to work posing as every day Americans who are politically active in the 2016 election race.

The biggest name in the indictment is Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin. He is an oligarch known as Putin's chef. He owns a catering company that is closely tied to the Russian government. It had a monthly budget of about $1.25 million and it was a sophisticated operation. They helped organize political rallies and stoking political passions on Twitter, on Facebook, and other social media sites.

As far back as 2014, they sent people to so-called purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida. Swing states that helped decide the U.S. presidential elections and the Russians were in touch with people connected to the Trump campaign in Florida and elsewhere. But in this indictment there is no information alleging that anyone connected to President Trump or his campaign were knowingly involved. And we'll never know, of course, is that anything that the Russians did change the election result that really came down to 77,000 votes in a handful of states, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Information warfare by Russia. Evan Perez there in Washington. Pamela Brown also in Washington, "OutFront." Pamela, are White House officials concerned that this indictment contradicts the President's long stated doubts on the Russia probe? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, White House officials are pushing back tonight on the notion that the indictments contradict what the President has said. They site his recent statements in Vietnam where he said he believes in the intelligence community's assessment that Russians meddled in the election. But as you know, more often Trump has -- President Trump has cast doubt on accusations of Russian meddling.

[19:05:07] He has questioned whether the Russians were responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee. He has called the entire Russia story a hoax perpetuated by his political enemies. He even convinced CIA Director Pompeo to personally meet with the conspiracy theorist who denies that Russia hacked the DNC.

But tonight, a White House official told me that when he calls the special counsel on Russia probe a witch hunt, he's actually referring to the collision part of the probe, not the Russian meddling part in the election, despite the fact that President rarely makes that distinction.

And the White House, Jim, is also making the case that the indictment supports what the President has said that there is no collusion, pointing to what the deputy attorney general said today that there is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the illegal activity. But he was very careful to keep his statements limited to the allegations in just today's in indictment. And he also said, Jim, the Mueller investigation is ongoing.

SCIUTTO: No question, Pamela Brown. "OutFront" tonight, John Dean, President Nixon's White House Counsel during Watergate. Juliette Kayyem, she's assistant -- former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama. Richard Painter, he was White House Ethics Lawyer for President George W. Bush, and Tim Naftali, and former Director of the Nixon Presidential Library.

John, if I can, as Pamela made the point there, the President is not always very clear about what exactly he's calling a hoax, but he has repeatedly cast doubt on the entire Mueller and Russia investigation. Does this effectively bury the President's hoax claims?

JOHN DEAN, PRESIDENT NIXON'S WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It certainly should. It couldn't be more clearly laid out. They've gone -- this is a speaking indictment. It really lays out the facts very closely and the bulk of them relate to a fraud against the United States under 18 U.S.C. 371, which is ironically the central statute that was involved in Watergate as well. It's a very broad statute and to me this looks like an indictment on which you build additional coconspirators and bring them into the picture.

SCIUTTO: It's a good point because we notice that too. It establishes this interferences criminal where I imagine, Richard Painter, if Robert Mueller in his continuing investigation were to find evidence, there is no evidence to be clear contained in this indictment of Trump associates knowingly colluding. But if you were, it seems to establish a precedent there as John is saying that this would be criminal behavior to collude with a foreign government.

RICHARD PAINTER, WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, yes, indeed. And this is a lot more serious than Watergate, because Watergate did not involve the Russians. They didn't use the KGB to break into the Watergate complex. There is a lot more dangerous for national security what happened here.

This indictment only concerns part of the Russian investigation, that is the social media side where the Russians were buying the Facebook pages and Twitter and the rest of it. The other part of it is the hacking of Hillary Clinton's email and the DNC now getting the dirt on Hillary. We know about the Trump Tower meeting.

The Trump Tower meeting was collusion, we know that. The question is whether it was illegal collusion, whether the valid campaign finance lost or computer hacking lost after the fact of some other lost (ph) that has yet to be determined. But if someone did criminally conspire with the Russians, they're going to be liable, criminally liable for the entire conspiracy.

And this is only the beginning with respect to the indictments that I would expect concerning Russian interference in the election and anyone who colluded with them is just this indictment does not name Americans as having colluded with Russians with respect to misconduct charged in this indictment. But this is only part of the picture and we have yet to see where the Mueller investigation leads, but this is very, very serious. It's critically important for our national security that we get to the bottom of this and take this investigation seriously.

SCIUTTO: Tim Naftali, Deputy A.G. Rosenstein who, of course, made this announcement today has often been in the President's cross hairs, as has Robert Mueller, as has the whole investigation. Following indictments of 13 Russian nationals for interfering in U.S. election, can the President fire Rosenstein or Mueller?

TIM NAFTALI, PRESIDENT NIXON'S WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL DURING WATERGATE: No, in fact, I think this a game changer. I think any attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation at this point could credibly be described as treason. This is a very different -- we're in a very different situation now. This is the first time we've had an indictment in this case involving a foreign government.

There have been indictments of foreign governments before. It is usually intelligence efforts, the illegal, the famous illegal for example in New Jersey that gave us the Americans. But this is an indictment of a foreign covert action. And this means that the activities of Russia were organized and that they were more than just a hacking attack.

[19:10:10] This was actually a dirty tricks campaign by Russia. The timing of this is fascinating. The chronology makes clear that they started targeting the United States when, in April of 2014. Why April of 2014? U.S. sanctions after the occupation of the Crimea started in March of 2014. So this was directed against the U.S. government in reaction to our outrage of the invasion of Crimea. In 2016, so it was shaped. It was weaponized in 2014 and then it wad reshaped in 2016.


SCIUTTO: The President is talking now live in Parkland, Florida. Let's have a listen.



TRUMP: It's very sad something like this would happen. But the job of the doctors did, the nurses, the hospital, first responders, law enforcement, really incredible. The speed that they got the victims over to the hospital was like record time. One case 20 minutes, in one case 19 minutes from the time of the shots. It's incredible thing. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do our gun laws need to be changed, Mr. President?


SCIUTTO: The President there speaking expressing his thanks to the emergency responders there helping to save some of those lives. And of course, I believe there are still seven students that are still recovering from their wounds in this and we shouldn't forget them. Tim, you were completing your thought about the impact of this.

NAFTALI: Well, I was just saying that this is a game changer. And in 2016, the Russians who created this capability to affect American public opinion then shifted it and focused against the Hillary Clinton and in favor --

SCIUTTO: And/or Donald Trump.

NAFTALI: And also Bernie Sanders.


NAFTALI: It's not just Donald Trump.

SCIUTTO: And that's a fair point, very wide ranging. And Juliette, what's interesting about this is that that is consistent with the intelligence community's assessment which is that early on this was about just turning things up, interfering in the election, but sometime in mid-2016 the focus, the goal really became to help Donald Trump, hurt Hillary Clinton.

KAYYEM: Right and that was to sort of, you know, support people like Jill Stein or sort of push people away from Hillary Clinton. And I think the question that the indictment doesn't answer but is one certainly that you can imagine is being looked at is why. Why was Russia so keen on Donald Trump winning? Now, was it they hated Hillary Clinton maybe? Or was it because they knew he would be more sympathetic to them? And the question is how did they know that? So that then gets to the financial side of the investigation, which we haven't heard much from lately that we know that Mueller is going down that path. What are the financial links between the Trump organization and Russia that would suggest the Russians really wanted Trump to win and Trump was -- let's just say supportive of those efforts? We know that the Trump people were supportive of those efforts. They met with them.

The second thing I just want to say, little piece of good news here, because -- very little this week. The amazing thing about what happened today is the extent to which what Russia did was exposed by the investigators on Mueller's team. Why is that important? Because exposure of what they did is really the only way we're going to stop them from doing it in 2018 because Donald Trump refuses to enforce the sanctions.

So I do think there is a piece of good news here, which is sort of this name and shame it. We've named individuals. We can tell the Russians what they're doing. And I suspect that Russians are very nervous right now. From a Homeland Security perspective, protecting 2018 is as important as figuring out what happened in 2016.

SCIUTTO: It's a good point, because foreign intelligence services do not like to have their activity exposed in such clear form as we're seeing here.

John Dean, does this force the President's hand now to add further sanctions on Russia as the Republican controlled Senate and House required him to do by legislation they passed last year?

DEAN: Well, you would think a normal presidential operation or the commander-in-chief of the United States, whoever his party would be, would react to this, would react both proactively and retroactively. And we see not a sign that's going to happen.

Trump still takes this too personally. And I think that he ought to almost recuse himself and turn it over to a vice president or somebody to just not ignore the dangers we're facing because they spelled out in great detail in the indictment and we're vulnerable. We're an open society. And he's doing nothing, as far as he's concerned, to protect us.

SCIUTTO: Richard Painter, I know that the White House tonight as Pamela Brown was reporting earlier saying, listen, the President was only singling out really the collusion portion of the investigation as a hoax.

[19:15:02] But, frankly, CNN's reporting just in the last week is that the President's thinking is still questioning Russia's meddling. And listen to the way he's described this in the past.


TRUMP: As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people.

I'll go along with Russia. It could have been China. It could have been a lot of different groups.


SCIUTTO: Not exactly a winning endorsement of the assessments here. Does this have to force the President to accept this publicly, wholesomely?

PAINTER: That doesn't sound like a President to me and that's the problem. We have no leadership and we are vulnerable. We're going to be vulnerable in 2018 for two reasons. One is our FBI and our CIA, our intelligence services are under attack by the President of the United States. They are defensive line against this thing happening again.

And we have Congressman Nunes coming out with this bogus memo attacking the FBI. Well, that's making Putin very happy. He can do this again quite easily. And American voters are vulnerable. They are so wrapped up in the right-wing and left-wing identity politics and the rest of it that Putin can play us easily because we don't see ourselves first as Americans.

We see ourselves as being White or Christian or whatever group we happen to belong to and we want to be angry at the other people, Republicans versus Democrats, this entire thing has been made into a partisan issue when it isn't. It's about the United States defending its own democracy against foreign intervention and I am very worried about 2018.

And the President of the United States when he talks the way the President did in those clips that you just played is showing actually no leadership, no ability to defend our country even though he is the commander-in-chief.

SCIUTTO: Juliette, we know Russia is interfering again, director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo said as much last week. What is the U.S. doing right now to defend against new attacks like this?

KAYYEM: So there is actually a bunch of briefings going on or at least offers to state attorney generals and state secretaries of state how to protect their networks and how to protect the apparatus of voting. But that's actually not what the indictments today were about. They were about sort of influence campaign, sort of, you know, propaganda campaign.

And this is where it's really important that we start to talk about platforms like Facebook and their obligations. Facebook is like this un-indicted coconspirators in the indictment that were released today. It's all over the place and we know the Mark Zuckerberg, you know, sort of -- was denying it and now he's worried about it.

But unless we start holding these media platforms that are actually publishers, they are publishers of Russian propaganda, unless we hold them responsible for controlling the content, we're not going to get any where with the propaganda campaign. But in terms of the elections themselves and the voting, I'm actually slightly more confident about that because there is a lot of stuff that is going on in the last two years to protect those systems.

SCIUTTO: Juliette, John, Richard, Tim with me here in New York, thanks very much.

"OutFront" next, how will the indictment bombshell impact the congressional probes into Russia? I'll ask a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Plus, Trump just moments ago visiting with Florida shooting victims, thanking doctors (INAUDIBLE) as the FBI admits it missed the frightening and detailed tip warning about the high school shooter. And Melania Trump, you see there, ditching the President boarding Air Force One by herself after a new report emerges alleging that he had an affair with a Playboy model.


[19:21:56] SCIUTTO: The breaking news, just stunning new details tonight about the scope of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's wide ranging indictment of 13 Russians today, members of the group posed as Americans. They traveled around the United States. They even targeted their efforts on swing states to maximize their influence on the U.S. election.

"OutFront" tonight, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's a member of the House Intelligence Committee which, of course, is doing its own investigation of Russian meddling. Thanks very much Congresswoman Speier for joining us tonight. I want to ask you first, what's your reaction to this indictment?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the indictment is a clear message to all Americans that the Russians are now criminally held responsible for influencing the election. You know, there has been so much by the President himself trying to suggest that, "Oh, we don't really know what's going on, maybe the Russians or maybe someone else." And so there hasn't been the clarity. And so a lot of people have thought, "Why are you even investigating them?" So now I think it's going to be more understandable to the American public.

SCIUTTO: The President, of course, responded very quickly today to this. He tweeted just after the news broke, "Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong and no collusion!" In your view, are those questions settled about the impact on the campaign and whether there was collusion with Trump associates or campaign aides?

SPEIER: Absolutely not. And, you know, the President doesn't seem to appreciate that that was just the beginning in 2014. In 2016, they had 18 Russian nationals who flew to the United States to develop intelligence, to create environments so that they could be effective. And then they weaponize Twitter and Facebook and other social media outlets. And then they had R.T., Russia Today, which is a propaganda machine, but moves around as if it's a T.V. cable show. And so the combination was very sophisticated all out attack on the United States and it was the cyber war. And if it had been bullets instead of words, we would be having a different discussion right now.

SCIUTTO: But let me zero in if I can on that question of collusion, because the indictment is very specific. It says, and I'll quote from it, "Russians communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign." Uses that word, unwitting, and here's what Rod Rosenstein said in that press conference just soon after the indictment was released.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.


SCIUTTO: Your committee is doing its own investigation. Have you unearthed evidence of collusion?

SPEIER: So I can't say that we have unleashed that kind of information yet.

[19:25:02] I can tell you, and you certainly heard about a number of meetings that have taken place that would suggest that there could be. And we haven't --


SCIUTTO: You're referring to the Trump Tower meeting for instance, 2016?

SPEIER: That's one of them. That's one of them. I mean, the fact that WikiLeaks was able to get all of that information, all of those e-mails, and then do the dumps that they were so effective at doing at different points that were critical during the campaign, there is other information that would suggest there certainly was an interest to coordinate, whether or not they were successful in making that connection is still unknown.

SCIUTTO: If I can move on for a moment from Russian interference, I want to ask you about another story. You said on the show last week to my colleague Erin that Chief of Staff John Kelly should lose his job after the allegations were made public that his top aide Rob Porter has been accused of spousal abuse by two ex-wives as well as a girlfriend.

As you know, Kelly and others were aware. We've learned that now. Today, Kelly announced an overhaul of the security clearance process for currents and incoming officials. Based on what you seen on that, are those changers enough to address your concerns? Did you still believe Kelly should step down?

SPEIER: So the problem with General Kelly is that he was defending Rob Porter even after these allegations came out, even after the photograph came out. And if you look back at his history as a general, he defended colonels who were under his chain of command who were being charged with sexual harassment, driving under the influence, not only once, twice, and on the third time that one of these colonels was brought to justice, he was brought to justice over child abuse and child endangerment. So I would suggest that it's time for him to move on, because he does not appear to be able to assess what integrity is and to demand it.

SCIUTTO: Congresswoman Speier, thanks so much for taking the time tonight.

SPEIER: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And breaking news, President Trump tonight in Parkland, Florida. He just met with shooting victims in a hospital there. This as the FBI makes really a stunning admission, the agency failed to act on a tip about the school shooter.

And Peter Wang, just 15 years old, he lost his life in the shooting, last seen holding a door open to let other students escape. I'm going to speak to a family friend.


SCIUTTO: Breaking news, President Trump in Florida at this hour. He was at Broward Health North Hospital where he met with doctors as well as victims of the school shooting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have done an incredible job. The doctor was amazing. He saw numerous people and incredible recovery. Incredible. And first responders, everybody, the job they've done is incredible. And I want to congratulate them.


SCIUTTO: According to officials, seven people are still hospitalized at two locations this afternoon. Nikolas Cruz opened fire at his former high school. Seventeen people lost their lives.

And tonight, the state's governor, Rick Scott, is calling for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign after a stunning admission from the agency. The FBI admitting it failed to act on a very detailed warning about the high school shooter. That tip placed on January 5th, 40 days before the shooting by a person closed to Cruz who contacted FBI.

Here is FBI special agent Robert Lansky.


ROBERT LANSKY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: The caller provided information about Nikolas Cruz and potential of him becoming a school shooter. Under normal protocol, this information should have been provided to the Miami field office. There appropriate steps would have been taken.

The FBI has determined that protocol was not followed. The information was not provided to the Miami field office. And no further investigation was conducted at that time.


SCIUTTO: Just a shame for the families involved.

We are also learning that the caller provided crucial information about Cruz's gun ownership, his desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts.

Also breaking tonight, we are just learning that Cruz does plan to plead guilty to these crimes. Broward County public defender telling CNN it will allow him to avoid the death penalty and a long painful trial for all involved.

We have a team of reporter standing by. Boris Sanchez is OUTFRONT live at the hospital where President Trump just left. Kyung Lah, she is at the high school.

I want to start with Boris if I can. The president meeting with victims and doctors, congratulating them for their quick work.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. We don't have too many details about specifically which victims the president met with. But we do know he met with daughter of Broward County sheriff deputy who was shot in the arm. She's apparently in much better shape now.

The president, as you noted also meeting with a number of medical professionals, congratulating them for their efforts along the first lady as well. This is something that the president has become familiar with, playing the role of consoler in chief. Unfortunately, over the past three months there has been three separate shootings with large numbers of fatalities the president has been forced to respond to.

This time around doing so facing tremendous pressure not only from Democrats but family members and classmates that were affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Many of them very angry at lawmakers and articulate and passionate about the president taking action on gun control, though we did hear from the president yesterday, he spoke to the nation for about seven minutes, pledging to explore new avenues to bring safety to campuses around the country and hinting at the potential to provide more resources for people with mental health issues. He did he not mention gun control. He did not mention the word guns at all.

So, we didn't really get a chance to see what kind of a reception he got from victims here, if any of them brought that up to him, we understand the president is now headed to a second location, Jim. We're going to keep an eye on where he goes and update you as we get information.

SCIUTTO: Boris Sanchez, thanks very much.

We should note the president signed legislation last year that weakened restrictions that disallowed people with mental health problems from getting guns. We'll see what legislation follows this.

I want -- a brief note, we're just getting this now, that the president after leaving the hospital there is now arrived at the Broward County sheriff's department. He's going to be getting a briefing from law enforcement. He's also expected to make some comments. As soon as we have those, we're going to bring those to you here.

I want to go to now to Kyung Lah. Remember, she's at the high school where this horrible shooting took place.

Really just a major development tonight, Kyung, in the investigation. The FBI not acting on the tip, this must be horrible news for the families to hear there that perhaps this could have been presented.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of concern and talk certainly about the gun debate, but also where were the balls dropped, where were the red flags ignored? And one of them that looking at squarely tonight is the FBI.

That six weeks before the shooting happened, Jim, that there was a tip that came into the tip line. And that the caller was very specific. Someone close to Nikolas Cruz had very specific information about erratic behavior, the guns that he possessed and his intent to carry out a school shooting.

The FBI admitting in a stunning statement that this should have been enough -- should have been enough to be seen as potential threat but protocol was not followed here. The information was not forwarded to the Miami field office, and that they simply made a mistake.

The FBI coming forward to this community to apologize.


LANSKY: The FBI remains dedicated to keeping the American people safe. On behalf of myself, and over 1,000 employees of the Miami field office, we truly regret any additional pain that this has caused.


LAH: Now the attorney general is ordering a formal review into how this happened. And, Jim, we are also learning a little more information about the guns, that this shooter did manage to purchase five firearms and did so legally within the last year -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: All those warnings, and yet still buy the guns. Kyung Lah, thanks very much.

OUTFRONT now, Josh Campbell. He's a former FBI supervisory special agent, and Tim Clemente, also former FBI counterterrorism agent. Tim, if I could begin with you. Clearly, a stunning admission by the

FBI. Clearly FBI made a mistake here. How is this possible?

I know you weren't on the inside for it. But a lot of judgment calls involved with this. You get tips, you follow some up, you don't follow others up.

But as you look from the outside, can you figure out how this might happen?

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: First, Jim, let me say, I'm infuriated by it. I don't know how it happened, but likely it was somebody calling a tip line, calling into a FBI field office, and it may have been afield office in Florida or could have been anywhere in the country. It might have been at FBI headquarters.

Call comes in. Typically, there's a duty agent that might answer. And I don't know if that duty agent was just ignorant of what this lead may have meant and decided not to do anything, or they did the wrong paperwork. They're supposed to do a communication to supervisor in their office so that it could go to Miami division.

So, there's a lot of different ways it might have fallen through the cracks. But people are responsible. People need to be held responsible publicly by the new director.

Director Wray is only in there a short period of time. And, thankfully, a lot of the middle management problems within the bureau have not put their tentacles into him at his point. And I'm hoping he can really clean house and do a very public display of how the FBI is dealing with us, and other problems of politics within the bureau, especially in upper management.

SCIUTTO: Josh, I know the FBI gets a lot of tips, not just about a potential school shooter, but terrorism, et cetera. But on this particular case, the thing is there seemed to be multiple warnings coming into different places, right, because you had the caller to the FBI, police visited his house some 20 times, you had social media postings.

I mean, I remember after 9/11, one of the big changes was bringing all this information together as best as possible. Are their mechanisms for that in the FBI to bring together multiple includes from multiple directions so that agents can peace this together?

JOSH CAMPBELL, : There are mechanics but in this situation, the system clearly failed us. I share Tim's, you know, comments there about this being infuriating. There is a system in place supposed to ensure that this doesn't happen.

You know, when these types of shootings occur, people ask themselves why, why had this happened, especially the victim family members, how could this have happened to my family member? It compounds their tragedy to learn that at least part of the why may have been human error by law enforcement. This isn't supposed to happen. When information comes in, we continue

to urge the public, if you see something, say something. If you have information to provide, we want that information, tell us, we'll do the right thing. It is just infuriating when you see that the information didn't get to where it needed to go.

And the last thing I'll say, Jim, is that I try to put myself in the situation of someone in the Miami field office, you know, this is instance they weren't provided by the tip line. There is nothing they could have done because they didn't have the information yet they are the ones that have to go before the cameras, they are the ones that have to go before the families and try to explain what happened.

SCIUTTO: You know, you can say today, we saw the FBI at its best and worse, right? The FBI managed to track Russian meddling in the election, all over the world, and yet missed this tip right here at home.

It strikes me again when you speak about, Tim, information sharing here, that despite all these warnings, this kid was able to buy five firearms in the last year. I mean, are there mechanisms to get warning information out to the shops and the places where people buy guns? Does that happen?

CLEMENTE: Unfortunately, Jim, there have no mechanism at all for that to happen. You look at gun shop -- clearly no gun shop owner wants to be the person responsible for selling a gun to this psychotic young man. And so, the problem is they search the database, you do a records check, that's really all that's done. You do a FBI records check and a state records check.

[19:40:00] SCIUTTO: That's just for felonies?


SCIUTTO: What's the red flag prevent you from getting a gun?

CLEMENTE: Well, right now, it's a criminal conviction or criminal arrest that would prevent you from getting a gun. There's nothing as far as mental health flags or anything like that are nationwide or statewide, and I think that needs to be done.

The laws are in place. What this kid did was illegal. His purpose for buying the gun was illegal. He violated enough laws, including the worst law of humanity which is murder.

And so, we need to try and find a way to get the data to the people that need it and the people that need it in a situation like this are local law enforcement, local mental health professionals, and clearly local sellers or anybody that is selling weapons so this individual and individuals like him cannot purchase a weapon.

SCIUTTO: Josh, are you aware the Florida Governor Rick Scott, he released a statement, reading in part, I'm going to quote from it, we constantly promote "see something, say something," and a courageous person did that to the FBI and FBI failed to react. See something, say something is an incredibly tool and people must have confidence and the follow-through from law enforcement. The FBI director needs to resign.

In your view, should the accountability go all the way to the top here?

CAMPBELL: Accountability does go to the top. I this I talk about resignation would only be premature and perhaps a distraction right now. I think we need to focus on exhaustive review to look back what happened, what mistakes were made to ensure that they don't happen again, because here's my fear, as the governor mentioned there, you know, we constantly tell the public, we need your help, we need your help, pick up the phone, call law enforcement.

What I hope what doesn't happen, is I hope that our viewers that are watching perhaps right now don't look at the situation and say, you know what, I may have some information, I thought about giving it to the police, but we see what happens to that information whenever we report it, nothing really happens.

We can't get to that place. We have to keep conditioning the public if they see something, provide that to law enforcement and it will be acted upon.

SCIUTTO: Tim, final question here, if I can. There is often talk about the kinds of weapons involved here. So here's another school shooting with an AR-15. We saw it in Newtown, we saw it in San Bernardino, a terror attack using AR-15. We saw it in Aurora in the movie theater.

This kid according to our reporting fired 150 shots. He had multiple magazines. Are there other weapons where you could pull something like that off, fire 150 shots in a span of minutes, high powered shots? Does the gun make a difference in adding to the carnage?

CLEMENTE: You know, Jim, it might sound like it would when you think of 150 rounds. But if he was firing a 12-gauge shotgun with double odd buck, each pull a trigger would be nine .38 caliber pellets going down range which could cause a lot more carriage.

SCIUTTO: Yes, but wait, a double gauge shotgun does not have 20-round magazine, makes it easier, doesn't it?

CLEMENTE: No, you can get drum magazines for some shotguns. But a shotgun that holds nine rounds, like, a lot of different brands out there that have a nine-round 12-gauge magazine, and that the 12 gauge round is almost three quarters of an inch in diameter and it shoots multiple pellets at the same time. So, even if you only had nine rounds in it, still 81 projectiles you're sending down range.

It's not the weapon. The problem is the person that's holding that weapon and what their intention is. It's what in here and here that matters. Not what's in your hand.

SCIUTTO: You are saying a higher poi erred weapon that can fire more rounds doesn't make a difference in how many people you can kill when you want to kill people?

CLEMENTE: No, what I'm saying, Jim, is there are worst weapons more readily available than a 223 caliber AR-15. An AR-15 is a weapon of war if it's an automatic weapon. This is semiautomatic which requires an individual trigger pull to send one bullet down the barrel. A shotgun sends multiple projectiles down the barrel with one trigger pull. That's what I'm saying.

It's far more devastating including to human beings at close range, far more devastating. And thankfully, he wasn't using that. I wish he wasn't using any gun and we weren't having this conversation in a hypothetical sense.

SCIUTTO: Well, Tim and Josh, thanks very much for sharing your expertise with us.

We are standing by for the president who is now meeting with law enforcement. He's getting a briefing into the shooting and we do expect him to comment during or after that law enforcement briefing. We'll bring that to you right away.

Meanwhile, OUTFRONT, we are learning more about those who died in the shooting, including this student last seen in his ROTC uniform, helping others to escape. A family friend is here.

And a Playboy model reportedly had an affair with Trump and claimed the "National Enquirer" helped cover it up for him.


[19:48:24] SCIUTTO: Breaking news, we are standing by now for the president to attend a briefing in Florida by local law enforcement. We are going to bring that to you live as it happens.

Also tonight, we are learning more about some of the other victims including 15-year-old Peter Wang. According to his friends and classmates who were there, Wang was last seen in his grey ROTC uniform holding a door open, helping other students to escape.

OUTFRONT now, Jesse Pan. He's a friend of Peter.

Thanks so much, Jesse, for joining us. Let me just say, we are thinking about your family tonight. I imagine this must be just an extremely difficult and gutting time.

Can you hear me OK?


SCIUTTO: OK. Well, Jesse, let me ask you, the story of Peter's heroics really during the moments of the shooting, people saw him helping others escape and he may have lost his life for that.

PAN: Yes. It is very sad. He is a nice kid, you know. Yes, I can hear you right now. SCIUTTO: Tell us what you can about him. What we should remember

about him.

PAN: He is, you know, the hope for his family. And he is very generous, and cares about other people always, you know? I know him about 10 years and we always, had a family dinner, party together. And I always pick up him from and he is very generous, and cares about other people always. I know him about ten years.

[19:50:00] And we always, had a family dinner, party together. And I always pick up him from his school and drop off. You know, I can't believe it happened to him, you know. It's very sad.

SCIUTTO: Those stories of him helping his classmates escape, saving lives it seemed, is that how you remember him? I imagine that doesn't surprise you.

PAN: Yes. He always help other people, you know, since I know him. He's a very polite kid. Always care about his friends, family.

SCIUTTO: How is his family doing now tonight? Just, we are really just two days away from losing him. How are they doing?

PAN: Yes, it is heart broken for his family. He is the smart kid and also, he is the only one of the kids that can speak bilingual and a big help to is family. And his parents doesn't speak much English, and then, you know, he always translates and helps his parents. You know, the reason why his family moved to Parkland, they bought a new home, because of the school.

He has always achieved his goals and the Parkland school is the best school in the area. So, it is very sad this happened to his family.

SCIUTTO: Goodness, they moved there for the school.

Let me ask you this if I can. How do you and his family want him to be remembered tonight?

PAN: I want to -- you know, I hope everyone can remember him, he is -- I am sure other people would do the same, like if this happened, especially, you know, we want people to donate money. And he is always trying to be a military and one day and to serve our country. And like, you know, I suggest, like you know, people to raise money, donate to a fund like a JTROC.

SCIUTTO: It sounds like he did a grate great service already saving lives. Jesse, please share our thoughts with you and his family tonight. We thank you for coming on.


SCIUTTO: Just a sad story and there are 17 of those stories tonight. And we keep telling them and they are impossible to forget.

OUTFRONT next, we are moments away from President Trump. He's attending a briefing in Florida. We're going to bring that to you -- the moment we have it, we'll bring it to you live.


SCIUTTO: And welcome back.

There is a new report tonight alleging that Donald Trump had an extramarital affair with a Playboy model. First Lady Melania Trump drove to Air Force One separately from the president today, walking to the White House South Lawn of Marine One by himself ahead of his trip to Parkland, Florida.

"The New Yorker's" report describes an affair between President Trump and a Playboy model and "The National Enquirer's" alleged role in keeping it secret.

Brian Stelter is OUTFRONT.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, in a bombshell story, "The New Yorker" is detailing evidence of a nine-month affair that started in 2006, and the payoff scheme to keep the story from going public before the election.

RONAN FARROW, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORKER: Karen McDougal feels that she ultimately was in a sense cornered to a set of contracts that she finds onerous and exploitative. She's frustrated I think with her inability to speak in her view and she has regrets about this.

STELTER: Ronan Farrow writing that "The National Enquirer" paid $150,000 for the exclusive writes to McDougal's story in 2016, but then never published it. The company in charge of the tabloid which is unabashedly pro-Trump says it did not find McDougal's story credible.

But former employees of American Media Inc., which owns "The Enquirer", says this is a classic catch and kill. You buy a story unfavorable to Trump and you kill it. You bury it.

STU ZAKIM, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS EXECUTIVE, AMERICAN MEDIA INC.: What it really means is it takes the story out of the market so that it won't see light of day.

STELTER: Why? Well, American Media's chairman, David Pecker, is a long time personal friend of Trump's.

ZAKIM: These guys met many years ago and have maintained a friendship for a long time, and David Pecker takes care of his friends.

STELTER: It's a back-scratching relationship, with Trump sometimes praising "The Enquirer".

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have always said, why didn't "The National Enquirer" get the Pulitzer Prize for Edwards and O.J. Simpson and all of these things?

STELTER: During the presidential campaign, he even mentioned that while implying that the father of Senator Ted Cruz father was involved of the assassination of President Kennedy.

TRUMP: On the cover of "The National Enquirer", there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.

STELTER: That was debunked.

More recently, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski claimed that the White House threatened to run a hit piece on them through "The Enquire".

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: They said if you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story.

STELTER: On Twitter, Trump called those allegations fake news.

More fake news is also how the White House describes the alleged affair between Trump and Karen McDougal, just like it has denied the alleged affair between Trump and porn star Storm Daniels.

Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen admits he paid $130,000 for Daniel's silence ahead of the 2016 election. And which tabloid has been all over that story? No, not "The Enquirer", but its rival "In Touch" magazine.


STELTER: There you go. Some media competition.

Now, Jim, "The National Enquirer's" parent company says the idea that it could influence the president by holding back or disseminating damaging information, they say it's nonsense. But the evidence is pretty overwhelming. And my question for them is how many other stories have they done this with. How many have they caught and killed to protect President Trump?

SCIUTTO: Part of the pattern. Brian Stelter, thanks very much.

OUTFRONT now, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston.

Mark, you now have two stories here, fairly well-documented. You have the Karen McDougal story. I spoke to Ronan Farrow earlier today. You have the Stormy Daniel's story. Evidence of a pattern it seems.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Apparently, President Trump has some deep pocketed friends who are willing to pull money out of themselves, out of their own pockets, to try to protect him. Now, we saw that with Michael Cohen who said that he used his own money. Did not ask, and did not expect to get reimbursed by President Trump, and, of course, as we just heard from Brian Stelter right there, that we have this media executive doing the same exact thing. SCIUTTO: Yes. Did you take any notice of the White House response to

this story, adding the phrase the president says it didn't happen, whereas in the past it has been a straight up denial? Here, quoting the president as denying it. Do you think there's any importance to that, or is there any meaning to that rather?

PRESTON: Well, Jim, it kind of dovetails what we heard from Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she was at the podium this past week when she's discussing the Rob Porter incident, right, situation, when she said, I am giving you the best facts, I'm paraphrasing, that I have at the time, or we had at the time.

And that is the first time we have heard that from her. In some ways inoculating herself from having to go in front of the media and speaking to the world with inaccurate information at times or misleading information at times. And I think what we've seen in this situation regarding, you know, President Trump and the first lady was the first thing.

SCIUTTO: Final question here, just quickly. The personal issue is one thing. And voters can make their own judgment about that, the American people. When would it become illegal for a payment like this to be made?

PRESTON: Well, if it was done in order, much like we saw with the Michael Cohen situation, if it was done in the event to try to help get President Trump become elected, then it could become problematic. And that's when you go back to what we saw, Michael Cohen, his personal lawyer and his statement, Jim, when he revealed that he made that comment, he said this was a personal payment, this was not a campaign expenditure.

SCIUTTO: They all happened within days and weeks of the election.

Mark Preston, thanks so much.

Thanks to you for joining us tonight. So much news. We appreciate you staying through.

"AC360" starts right now.