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Mueller Indicts 13 Russians For Election Meddling; How Kremlin- Linked Russians Tried To Sway The U.S. Election; CNN: Shooter Went On Racist, Anti-Semitic, Homophobic And Gun-Obsessed Rants Online; FBI Admits It Failed To Act On Tip About Florida Shooter. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired February 17, 2018 - 08:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Russia story is a total fabrication. This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. The entire thing has been a witch hunt.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Thirteen Russians indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal here was simple -- damage Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We truly regret any additional pain that that has caused. The FBI has determined that protocol was not followed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this situation, the system clearly failed us.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The doctors did a great job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sent her to school yesterday. She was supposed to be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really care what people who defend the Second Amendment have to say. Their arguments are invalid unless they've experienced this.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We have a lot to cover this morning. Thanks for being with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rene Marsh in for Christi Paul. President Trump spent more than a year calling it a hoax, a witch hunt, and a total scam. But now Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians for interfering with the 2016 election. BLACKWELL: In documents, the Department of Justice claims Russian effort involved unwitting Americans including Trump campaign associates, but the president says these charges have vindicated him in the Russia investigation.

Our other top story, the stunning admission from the FBI, the bureau says it failed to act on a tip about the Florida school shooter and now some are asking could that tip have prevented the made massacre that ended with the deaths of 17 students and teachers. We'll have more on the latest developments from Florida in a moment.

MARSH: But we start with new charges, allegations and denials in the Russia investigation. CNN White House correspondent, Abby Phillip, is here with us live this morning. Abby, you are getting some brand-new reaction from the White House this morning?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. These 13 indictments make it very clear that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election and today, H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, reacted to this in Munich. Take a listen.


H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really in-controvertible and available in the public domain whereas in the past it was difficult to at attribute brute for a couple reasons.

First, technically, it was difficult, but then also you didn't want to divulge your intelligence capabilities. But now that this is in the arena of a law enforcement investigation, it will be very apparent to everyone.


PHILLIP: Well, these comments from the president's top national security adviser come after months of President Trump calling this investigation a witch hunt and a hoax. Now, Trump himself responded on social media yesterday to this indictment news, he wrote, "The Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014 long before I announced I would run for president.

The results of the election were not impacted, the Trump campaign did nothing wrong. No collusion." The president is right in part of that response in that that the efforts did start in 2014, but they heated up in the midst of 2016 when the Russians were instructed to help President Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton according to these indictment documents.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also noted yesterday in his press conference on this issue that these indictment documents specifically do not indicate that there was any witting collusion by Americans and also that there was no evidence that there was a change to the outcome of the election.

However, Robert Mueller special counsel investigation continues, and we simply do not know what more there is to come.

MARSH: And there certainly feels that there is a lot more to come. Abby Phillip reporting for us live this morning. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And let's go now to CNN senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance in Moscow. Matthew, what has been the reaction from the Kremlin to these indictments?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there has been no reaction so far from the Kremlin, but other Russian officials have fallen back into the traditional Russian response whenever they are confronted with allegations of meddling of meddling in the U.S. election or in U.S. politics, and that is denial.

The Russian foreign minister speaking at a security conference under way right now in Munich, Germany has described the allegations and the indictments as blather, and he said that he has not seen any facts to date that would demonstrate that the Russians intervened in any way or tried to manipulate the U.S. elections.

So that has been the response of the Russians. We're expecting to hear more of that kind of denial in the days ahead as the week begins here in this country.

[08:05:05] BLACKWELL: And tell us more, Matthew, about the IRA, the Internet Research Agency, their role in what we saw outlined by the DOJ?

CHANCE: This is the fascinating thing about these indictments because through what the IRA did, the Internet Research Agency, it paints a very vivid picture of exactly how it's alleged that the Russians intervened and meddled in the U.S. political process.

We're talking about things like setting up fake accounts of U.S. nationals, pretending they were U.S. nationals, setting up fake accounts, and then intervening in blogs to try to skew the debate one side are or the other.

And also, this Internet Research Agency used stolen identities of real Americans to do that. It began monitoring its own activities back in 2014, and of course was very well funded more than a million dollars every month in order to perpetuate these things.

I mean, one of the more interesting things as well is that it used social media platforms to organize protests rallies for and against certain sort of hot issues in the United States. One was organized in May of 2016, an anti-Islam rally, which caused some controversy at the time.

And so, the whole point of the Internet Research Agency was it sow discord and chaos in American society.

BLACKWELL: All right. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. Matthew, thank you so much.

MARSH: All right. Let's bring in our Samantha Vinograd, CNN national security analyst, she served on President Barack Obama's National Security Council, and Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst.

Samantha, I want to start with you first. These indictments, the 13 Russians, what do you think happens next in this investigation?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that we're probably going to see more indictments down the road for two reasons. There are two people that are very good at their jobs, Vladimir Putin and Bob Mueller.

Vladimir Putin as Donald Trump pointed out in his tweet has launched an attack against the United States for years. And I think that we're really at the tip of the spear in terms of understanding the breadth and depth of how deeply Russia penetrated our digital platforms like Facebook and like Twitter.

We've seen both Facebook and Twitter revise upward their estimates of how many people Russia was able to touch. So, I think that we'll probably going to see more information come out and more names of people that were implicated in this ongoing information warfare campaign.

And again, Bob Mueller is also very good at his job. He has a broad range of skillsets that are part of his team, and so, I imagine that again as the depth and breathe of the Russian information warfare campaign becomes more digestible, we'll see more indictments come forward.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the first hint of that is actually in the introduction on page one, Samantha, where it says defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other with persons known and unknown to the grand jury to defraud the United States, which means that they have more names there and those might be coming out soon.

Paul, let me come to you. The significance of the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivering this yesterday considering the context that most people heard his name and saw him leading up to this indictment?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it was interesting that he took on that responsibility instead of Mueller. Of course, he is the supervisor of Mueller in the chain of command in the Justice Department.

But this indictment when you read through it, it is almost 40 pages in length, about 99 allegations, showing a very sophisticated heavily funded effort by the Russians to penetrate the U.S political system.

And what struck me was what they did in the end was they parroted the issue approach of Donald Trump. They supported anti-immigrant, anti- Black Lives Matters, anti-Muslim messages in places around the country in an effort to shift the election to Donald Trump.

Now, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tried to say that there was no evidence that the election was influenced, but frankly, I don't know how he can say something like that given the fact that it was such a close election. A shift of as little as 37 or 38 electoral votes and Hillary Clinton would be president. So, how can you possibly say that this multimillion-dollar sophisticated effort didn't shift the American election. I think this indictment is strong evidence that possibly the election was shifted by Russian interference.

BLACKWELL: Yes, he said in response to a question, and I have the quote here, there are no allegations in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election. So, no assertion from him that it didn't, but they are just not listed in the indictment, which may be an important distinction moving forward.

CALLAN: Exactly. Yes, I agree.

[08:10:07] MARSH: And really what is so stunning about this indictment is just the level of detail. If you read it, and we actually have some sound from Rod Rosenstein yesterday. Let's play that and talk about that on the other side.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities from both political campaigns and staged political rallies.


MARSH: So, this was not just social media. These were real Americans on American soil that they used as a tool in this very, very sophisticated scheme here. Samantha, to you, can the intelligence community get a handle on this before our next reaction or is the horse already out of the barn?

VINOGRAD: I think so and I certainly hope so. You know, in listening to Rod Rosenstein and reading the indictment, this is espionage 101. We have big personas, front groups, recruitment of local assets, as he says real Americans. These are old spy tricks.

Vladimir Putin just did a good job of modernizing them. And I do think this is the most detailed public account that we have to date of how Russia has launched their ongoing attack.

But we know, for example, that the Department of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence just yesterday briefed 50 state election officials on threat assessments and cyber vulnerabilities. So, I think that information sharing is definitely under way and I certainly hope that we're not too late.

BLACKWELL: Paul, to you. The response from the White House, the response from the president, they released a statement -- the White House released a statement they said from the president, which he says that he cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful, calling Russia a bad actor.

That is a major tonal difference from the president when we've heard him call it a hoax, it's a made-up story, fake news. Do you expect the president will be able to I guess keep up with the rhetoric that the White House is putting out on his behalf considering what we've heard from him about this investigation thus far?

CALLAN: I think, Victor, it's going to be very difficult for the president because this idea that the whole Russia interference in the American election was as he said a hoax and a witch hunt, and something essentially made up by Hillary Clinton forces to rob him of his legitimacy as president.

And now suddenly, we have this meticulously documented effort by the Russians over a four-year period across the country to disrupt the election. I really don't know how the president can walk away from that.

But he's been placed in a contradictory position and frankly at the end of the day, his own legitimacy as president is challenged by this indictment. You know, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes. And the election of course was determined by the Electoral College.

But there were a number of states in which the votes were razor thin. And if those votes had shifted even slightly in her favor, she would be president. So, I think you're going to see some detailed analysis in the days to come about where the evidence is that possibly the election was overturned by these Russian efforts.

BLACKWELL: Yes. They have said that no votes were changed by their efforts, but there is no way really to know how or if it impacted the outcome. So, that has been the line from the (inaudible) community.

CALLAN: That's right.

MARSH: And the former head of the CIA saying that he actually believes how could it not influence voters. But Paul, I want to stick with you for a moment. Let's talk about strategy because we know that those 13 individuals will not be brought here to the U.S. for trial.

Besides giving us a window into how the Russians meddled in the U.S. election, what else is at play here, what other value did Mueller have in putting out that indictment? I suppose he is also sending a message to the Russians?

CALLAN: Well, I think he is sending a message to the Russians that we're on to them now and because remember, a lot these operatives had to come and work in the United States in the early stages of this conspiracy.

So, they are on notice that we're watching for them and they will be arrested in the future. But I think a more important message was sent to the American public as well. Mueller has been ridiculed so much by the president as leading this hoax witch hunt investigation.

I think Mueller saw that it was time to step up to the plate and show that the Russian investigation is real. Now, the good news for the Trump campaign was that there was no indictment of any of his campaign officials. They were described as unwitting, you know, participants in the Russian conspiracy.

They met with Russians. They were involved in efforts with Russians, but most of the time in an unknowing capacity. But nonetheless, the influence in the election was spelled out in clear detail by Mueller.

MARSH: All right. Samantha, Paul, thank you so much for joining us.

[08:15:08] BLACKWELL: So, there were alarming social media posts and a very detailed phoned in continue to the FBI. But despite the red flags, Nikolas Cruz still managed to turn his violence words and thoughts in to action at a school in Florida. We'll have details on some of the signs that were missed, coming up.


MARSH: Red flags everywhere, CNN learning that the Florida school shooter was part of a private Instragram group and went on racist homophobic and anti-Semitic rants. And he expressed an obsession with guns and violence.

BLACKWELL: Someone even called in a tip to the FBI in January about this shooter's disturbing social media posts and warned the bureau that he had some erratic behavior designed to kill people. But the FBI now admits that it never acted on that tip, but we know that this man acted on his violence words and killed 17 people.

[08:20:08] The shooter is back in court on Monday. Public defender there says that he expects Cruz to plead guilty. CNN's Rosa Flores is live in Parkland. Rosa, tell us more about these messages and this Instagram message group that Cruz belonged to.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, this is a private group and one of our CNN colleagues got access to it, and there's no other way to put it, these conversations are disturbing and disgusting. As you mentioned, they include racial slurs, hate speech, anti-Semitic slurs as well.

He even goes to says, quote, "My real mom was a Jew. I'm glad I never met her." But in this chat, he also discusses killing animals, tormenting animals, and even again says, quote, "I think I'm going to kill people," which is of course extremely relevant to what happened here on campus on Valentine's Day.

And there are other conversations that are extremely relevant and that is about his body armor and the weapons that he purchased. In one of the conversations, he says, "I got paid $330, I'm going to go buy body armor. Oh, I got a $30 discount and free shipping."

And then when he is discussing his weapons with these other five individuals, one of the individuals even says that there is this off- market accessory that you can purchase to make your AR-15 automatic.

Now we know from law enforcement sources that the weapon that he used did not have that accessory, it was not an automatic weapon. But, Victor and Rene, this just gives us a glimpse, it opens a window into the conversations that he was having with other people. And as you mentioned, there are people that tipped off the FBI and that tip fell below the cracks and that's why so many people are asking themselves this morning, could this have been prevented -- Victor and Rene.

BLACKWELL: And we will put that question to our next guest. Rosa Flores there for us in Parkland. Rosa, thanks so much.

MARSH: And joining us live now, CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano. He is a retired supervisory special agent at the FBI. James, Tom Fuentes told us that missing this tip was among the most catastrophic mistakes he can remember at the bureau. Would you agree?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Rene, I would absolutely agree with the former assistant director. Listen, it is a complete understatement that this has left us reeling, meaning the community of law enforcement professionals past and present. This was an egregious error.

Before we can actually identify where the breakdown happened, we have to understand the FBI is an agency with 35,000 employees. It is made up of professional support employees and about 12,000 special agents.

Now it's somewhere along the way, whether this was human error or systems error, and remember, I mean, even computers, they are programmed by humans. So, we have to get to the bottom of exactly where this happened.

That certainly isn't going to bring any solace or comfort to the families of the 17 slain children. I'm down here so I can see and feel the palpable and visceral effect that this shooting has had on this amazing community down here.

The FBI director did the right thing, he got out in front of this and said we made errors. We have to figure out what they are and fix them. That transparency is absolutely what we expect from institutions like the FBI.

BLACKWELL: I want to get to the FBI director and the calls for him to resign. You are on record saying that Chris Wray, the director of the FBI, should not resign. But I want to get to Rosa Flores' question, could this have been prevented.

If the FBI had forwarded this on to Miami and followed up on those tips, do you believe there is enough here if they found it that they could have intervened before the shooter went to the high school?

GAGLIANO: That is a fair question. And I'll stay on record with maintaining that it would be wholly just fruitless and a fool's errand right now to talk about relieving the FBI director over this. As far as the red flags, I teach criminal justice at St. John's University in Queens, New York.

We have to be careful here because the FBI gets thousands and thousands of what we call yellow flags on a daily basis. Now, the tip that they got, it does appear to be very definitive, it absolutely deserved to be run down.

At a minimum, what we do in the FBI is conduct knock-in talks, which means we go to this person's house, we knock on the door, and then agents that are trained in doing this study the person's body language, their tone, the words that they use and try to build together an assessment of whether or not this person is just speaking in haste or in the heat of the moment or imploring impulsivity.

And unfortunately, you know, we have first amendment protections and a lot of people say some awful, awful things online. Yes, this should have been chased down. There is no excuse about that whatsoever.

But again, in hindsight, it is easy to say it was a huge red flag, but again, having seen this so many times before, there are so many of these leads that get chased down every single day and turn out to be nothing. It is regrettable and that in this instance this was one that ended up resulting in 17 stolen lives.

MARSH: So, James, there are a handful of states that have something called red flag laws in place that would allow law enforcement even family members to get a judge's order to prevent someone from getting a gun if they are perceived as a threat. Do you feel like that sort of law needs to be in play nationwide? Do you feel like there are limitations for law enforcement in that way and that would be the sort of thing that could help?

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. And Rene to your point, we cannot look at this in a vacuum, and I've been on record that I believe we need to take a look at pieces of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment has its utility, but it has been around for 200, well, since 1791, and we need to adjust things.

The same thing with our HIPAA and our FIRPA privacy requirements and stipulations that make it very difficult for people that have mental health conditions to have that information shared with law enforcement. I understand the respect and the need for privacy.

I understand the counter argument that says if you had this shared with authorities, people won't come forward. We have to find the sweet spot and we have to take a look at this. It will involve putting together all these different things. The law enforcement response to this once the shooting started was textbook.

They did an amazing job. I think everybody is in concert with that. We need to go back and look at what we could have done better as a nation to prevent this from happening.

MARSH: We certainly do. James Gagliano, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

BLACKWELL: All right. Our other big story, it was not just the indictments against 13 Russians, Special Counsel Robert Mueller also filed a response to Paul Manafort's request for changes to his bail agreement. Next, what the DOJ says it found out about his personal finances and possible fraud.


[08:31:45] RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Rene Marsh in Washington for Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, in Washington, too.

MARSH: Welcome.


BLACKWELL: Good to be here.

Thirteen Russians have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 election.

MARSH: Documents say the effort involved unwitting Americans including Trump campaign officials. And on the same day the special counsel response to a request by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

BLACKWELL: And Manafort wanted a change in his bail terms. Instead he got a filing from Robert Mueller showing what the DOJ says is evidence of criminal conduct and bank fraud.

MARSH: Well, joining us now to discuss all of this, Juana Summers, CNN Politics senior writer and CNN political commentators Jack Kingston and David Swerdlick.

I guess, Juana, we can start with you. This news on Manafort, I mean, what do you make about these developments now? We know that new allegations from Mueller concerning Manafort. How significant is this?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: We're still trying to get a lot of the details here, Rene. What we know is that Robert Mueller's office told the federal judge that it found evidence that Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, committed bank fraud that was not addressed by that indictment last October.

This comes of course as there is legal wrangling over a $10 million bail package for Paul Manafort. So still trying to figure out exactly what has happened here. Some of the details of those documents released by the special counsel yesterday also kind of give a hint that there may have been someone other than Manafort involved. We don't know who that person was. So our team still trying to learn just how big of a deal this will be and what will happen with that underlying bail deal that's still being negotiated.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's turn to Jack.

Jack, I'm coming to you about this indictment of these 13 Russians. And I've jotted down something that HR McMaster, National Security adviser, said about this indictments and what it does now. It says it now makes the evidence incontrovertible and apparent to everyone that Russia meddled. Apparent to everyone including the man who called it a hoax, a witch

hunt, fake new, made-up story about the Democrats to cover up Hillary Clinton's loss?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think that the president probably will make a definitive statement to the degree that they were absolutely interfering. And I think that we should not focus on that as much as the outrageous fact that they did interfere. You know, not just through these three companies, but think about 80 employees who work full time to spy on us and to interrupt us, and to meddle and go far beyond that in the election.

I think that's where the focus needs to be. And I'm going to grant all the Trump critics, if you want to focus on the fact that the president did not -- wasn't strong enough about this in terms of what their interference was, I would give that to you. But on other hand, I would also say that the people who for over a year now have said the Trump campaign was involved in this and they were up to their neck in collusion, I think it's time for those critics to also say perhaps we were wrong about this and that Russian interference was aimed at all campaigns. It was aimed at America in general in terms of creating chaos and disruption.

BLACKWELL: OK. Well, several things there. This doesn't speak specifically to collusion. So that part of the investigation continues on the sidelines. Probably the main line. This is another element.

[08:35:10] But, Jack, when you say that, you know, people should move on from highlighting that the president didn't acknowledge the involvement of Russia, the president was briefed on this a year ago. Not these specific over these 13 Russians, I don't mean to say, but it was hooked on the involvement of Russians 13 months ago.

KINGSTON: OK. Then, Victor, it's got to be fair game to talk about the October 22nd, 2012 criticism by Barack Obama of Romney when he mocked Romney for saying that Russia was a geo-global threat.

BLACKWELL: No. Not relevant at all.

KINGSTON: Absolutely it's relevant because again in August of 2016, Barack Obama was warned that Russia was interfering in the election and in September at the G7 summit all he did, and he admitted this, he told Vladimir Putin you all better cut this out. I mean --


BLACKWELL: You bring up an October -- you're bringing up an 2012 debate on an indictment that starts in 2014. April of 2014.

KINGSTON: Under his watch.


KINGSTON: Under his watch.

BLACKWELL: Hold on. Hold on.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, just one point to Congressman Kingston's statement there. Look, I think it is fair game to criticize President Obama and the Obama administration for any response to Russian meddling in the election in 2016. They were in charge of the intelligence apparatus. Going back to 2012, though, one, that was a debate. Not an intelligence operation. Number two, remember that it was in 2014 that Russia invaded Crimea and the president's response was to huddle with Chancellor Merkel, was to huddle with other European and Canadian leaders and put tough sanctions in place on Russia.

So when the rubber met the road, Obama did have a robust response to the Russians and I think that speaks more to the issues than these sort of talking points about whether or not the administration said something in the debate in 2012.

MARSH: And David, I mean, I want to pick up on what Jack has said here. I mean, he said, you know, don't pay attention to the fact that the president didn't believe that this Russia investigation was credible.

What do you make of that considering, you know, we just heard the head of the FBI saying that the president has not directly asked the FBI to look into Russian meddling considering the president last month didn't take the opportunity to add more sanctions on to Russia? Is it fair to say, let's look away, let's move on? I mean, this is the president of the United States.

SWERDLICK: No, that's a good point, Rene. No. So again, I think Congressman Kingston is half right in what he was saying a moment ago. There is nothing in what we found out yesterday that's a smoking gun that says aha, Trump and his inner circle was in cahoots with the Russians. But on the other hand the president's tweets that says look, no collusion, nothing to see here, that hasn't been established either.

To your point about sanctions, there is still this big question hanging out there at the 50,000-foot level, Rene, about why President Trump has been so solicitous of the Russians. That's one question. There is another question about Russian interference that was reported out yesterday in that indictment from the special counsel. And then there is a separate question about some of the folks in Trump's inner circle that we just still don't have the answer to yet.

KINGSTON: And David -- David, and then there is the major question about the dossier and how much the Clinton campaign worked with Russian operatives to get information for that dossier and how much this dossier has been used to drive a wedge in the American political system. So I think that is a very legitimate question.

I'm going to agree with you on most of what you've said, by the way, but I would also put down -- put Uranium One in the mix in terms of what were the Clintons doing and why did Bill Clinton get paid $500,000 for a speech right at the wake of auspicious approval. You know, I mean, just legit questions. If it's good for the goose, good for the gander. Let's all Democrats and Republicans put everything on the table.

SWERDLICK: Congressman, I agree with you. What's good for the goose is good for the sauce, and I think it's fair to talk about what was in that dossier but what's in the dossier doesn't change all the other things that are being investigated by the special counsel, by the congressional committees. And I think that when you start to reach down to that level and you start to reach down to Uranium One, it's less about what was going on with the Trump campaign and more about what's going on with the Clinton campaign, which should be looked into, but is a separate issue .

BLACKWELL: Let me get -- before you respond, Jack, let me get to Juana, and not just looking back over the last four years here, but ahead to the midterms that are just a couple of months away. I mean, we're just months away from the primaries here. We heard from DNI Dan Coats earlier that they're so happy with what happened in 2016 that 2018 essentially is a goal.

How does the president's essentially denial of their interference impact their ability to combat the interference moving forward?

SUMMERS: I think we heard a lot about more this week when we have that threats here on Capitol Hill. We a number of lawmakers say, Angus King of Maine was one of the senators who said this, if the president does not even acknowledge that these threats exist, it becomes harder and harder for our intelligence community to even him combat them.

[08:40:06] I think that one of the things that goes missed in this, but I think is rather interesting is that these interference in the U.S. election system, it dates back to 2014, this sort of long reaching, very unprecedented attempt to interfere with our election systems. And while most Americans may not be tracking this as closely as all of us are, I think the fact it does raise a new level of concern of what could happen in these next all-important midterm elections.

Will there be these continued interference and will the president address and acknowledge it rather than just saying no collusion, which as David noted, is not something that was not said by the special counsel in this indictment. Something that was not said by the deputy attorney general. There was no statement made on that. It was not weighed in on here.

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right. All right. Juana Summers, David Swerdlick, Jack Kingston, thank you all.

KINGSTON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come, a group of students from Stoneman Douglas High School say that talking is just not enough anymore when it comes to preventing school shootings. Why they want action on gun control? Why they want action on problems of mental health in their own words? That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:45:22] BLACKWELL: President Trump and the first lady visited a hospital in Broward County, Florida, last night where many victims of Wednesday's high school shooting, they were taken. Several are still there being treated. Just a few now. They also dropped by the sheriff's office to praise the law enforcement officials who responded to the incident.

MARSH: CNN correspondent Dianne Gallagher is in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Dianna, this morning are you hearing more about the victims and their conditions?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Rene. So we're At Broward North and this is where the majority of those victims who were injured were taken. There were three who remain here, three who remain in another hospital in Broward County. Only one victim is still in critical condition. We're expecting another update on those conditions a little bit later today.

Broward North is the hospital the president and first lady visited last night. They spent a little less than 20 minutes here talking to the doctors, the first responders, and visiting two patients, a male patient and a female patient. That is 18-year-old Maddy Wilford, she's a basketball player in Stoneman Douglas. She was shot several times according to her mother's Facebook post and has been through several surgeries as well last night in the Parkland area.

There was another vigil that friends of those who were killed and those who were injured showed up to, other students who lived through that shooting placed candles and angels and flowers and photos of the friends that they lost.

And you know, Victor, Rene, you were sensing something here in Florida that is beyond just grief now. There really does appear to be a call of action of some sort here. The students who lived through that shooting, many of their messages very political in nature now demanding some kind of action from somewhere.

MARSH: Dianne Gallagher, reporting live for us this morning. Thank you, Dianne.

BLACKWELL: And Dianne, that's exactly what we heard from a group of students there at Stoneman Douglas High School. I sat down with them and asked them how they feel about the national conversation and the president coming to visit after the shooting.

They talked about talk not being enough. They need more. They want action from the president and from their governor. Here's more of our conversation.


ALFONSO CALDERON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: If I may, I'd like to send a message directly to the president. I'm thankful that every day he wakes up and in his own way he tries to do the best or what he thinks is the best for us. But realistically, we just need something more. You know, because we keep trying to go back to the old ways, maybe do something a little bit different. We just need change.

CAMERON KASKY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: I'm speaking as somebody who has seen anguish, who has -- who knows some of the people who were murdered. And I'm saying we're not -- it's not time to just talk. And I think we need to ignore Donald Trump a little bit here. Because Donald Trump is just trying to get this over with until the next news happens.

BLACKWELL: What do you have to say to the president?

SOFIE WHITNEY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SENIOR: I want us to be able to have a voice and actually hear what he has to say. And I want us to be able to have an influence at least for a second on plans that he has for the future.

ALEX WIND, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: If he's going to come here and speak and not listen to us, he shouldn't come here at all.

SAWYER GAMTY, STONEMAN DOUGLAS JUNIOR: I want him to see the devastation that this has brought on our community and I want him to do something.

CALDERON: When he was on the trail, he always talked a lot about gun violence in inner cities and low-income neighborhoods and all that, but Parkland is one of the richest communities in the country. Parkland is -- I think it's voted top 10 safest cities in the country.

I used to think oh, that would never happen to me. I don't live in an inner city. I don't -- I'm not like that. Look where we are now. If you just -- it's a wake-up call. I think a face-to-face discussion with him might do something.

BLACKWELL: Do you think you'll get it?



CALDERON: I don't think anybody can understand what we're going through. But I think it is human-to-human conversation. We can try. We can be hopeful. There is always hope.


BLACKWELL: Yes, they wanted to have a conversation with the president. The president went -- this was obviously recorded before the president went and there was no conversation with some of the survivors there at the school. The president obviously went to the hospital but one element we talked about was the old duck-and-cover drills that their parents, I guess grandparents went through in school. They don't do that anymore because the cold war is over.

I asked if they expected that their children would have to do school shooter drills like they have to now. And they said the reason we're doing this, the reason will be coming active is because we don't want our children to have to do those drills.

[08:50:05] MARSH: In many ways they feel like they are leading the adults here.

BLACKWELL: Or at least trying to.


BLACKWELL: Trying to. Quick break. We'll be right back.


BLACKWELL: There is a movie out this weekend, I don't know if you heard about it, "Black Panther?" I mean this is more than just the new hot Marvel film, this is for some people a movement.

MARSH: Yes. Yes, I'd say so. The film opened in theaters last night and tickets sold out across the country. Analysts are forecasting a $160 million opening weekend.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The film is praised for its mostly black cast and for showcasing the rich histories of an African nation, something seldomly portrayed in Hollywood.

Here's some fans' reviews of the film so far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was freaking awesome. They did such a good job with all the graphics and the editing and then all the culture that was in it, and all the representation.

[08:55:08] It was a really great movie. And they did a good job. Wakanda forever for show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just glad that there was some type of imagery that showcased just like all the ethnic backgrounds within the black community and just opening us up to more things and celebrating us as a whole, too, so the whole world can see, you know, things that we do and things that, you know, we can become.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was phenomenal. It was -- it met my expectations and exceeded it. There are so many things that they covered, social justice, political correctness, love, appreciation for one another, appreciation for mankind.


MARSH: And so, you know, the rule is you can't just show up. You have to wear the garb.

BLACKWELL: As we see.

MARSH: That's what everyone has there so --

BLACKWELL: As we see. MARSH: It truly is a movement.

BLACKWELL: You heard that, Wakanda forever, the woman said.

All right. That is it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for CNN NEWSROOM.

MARSH: "SMERCONISH" is coming up after a short break.