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Florida Aftermath Spark Outrage; Trump Blames FBI for Florida Massacre; World Headlines; Oxfam Haiti Scandal; Florida School Shooting; Russia Investigation; Bafta Awards. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 19, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. president plans to hold a listening session after the Florida mass shooting. But after one of his tweets, some of the survivors may not be so willing to speak with him.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, new revelations in the Oxfam sex crime scandal. A newly released internal report details threats and intimidations during the aid agency's investigation.

HOWELL: And with the close of the BAFTA awards, the countdown to the Oscars now begins. More later on the Time's Up movement traveling from Hollywood to London.

We're live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. And we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

And I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN Newsroom.

And we start with anger turning into action in the U.S. State of Florida. A deadly school shooting killed 17 people there last Wednesday. Well, now many of the survivors say they will march on Washington to demand tougher gun laws.

They're calling it the march for our lives and want students to descend on the Capitol on March 24th. Survivors and reporters held this rally Saturday to condemn lawmakers beholden to the gun industry.

HOWELL: In the meantime, the U.S. president has been in the U.S. State of Florida. He took time there to meet with a couple of survivors of the shooting.

The White House says the president plans to discuss campus safety with students and teachers this week, but that may be overshadowed by a tweet that he made about the shooting on Saturday. A tweet linking the shooting to the Russia investigation. It has sparked outrage.

Our Boris Sanchez reports.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An interesting item being added to the president's schedule for this week on Sunday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the White House announcing that the president would be hosting a listening session with some high school students and teachers to talk about campus safety.

What's unclear right now is exactly who the president is going to be hearing from. The White House not telling us if he is going to be hosting survivors from last Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior high school in Parkland, Florida, which is only about 40 miles from where the president is spending his long weekend at Mar- a-Lago.

Sources telling CNN that the president opted not to go golfing on Saturday or Sunday, in part to show respect to the victims and families of that shooting. However, the president is staying inside, and sources tell CNN that he is watching cable news and growing frustrated with what he sees of the president apparently having dinner with his two sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday night.

And sources tell CNN that they encouraged him to be tougher on the FBI after it was revealed that the FBI mishandled the tip about the shooter involved in last Wednesday's attack.

The president apparently went to the residence at around 10 p.m. and then at 11 p.m., we started seeing the beginning of this tweet storm. The president going on some 13 tweets attacking some of his favorite targets including democrats, the media, as well as his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

One tweet in particular raised a lot of eyebrows and drew anger from some of the survivors of the shooting. Here is that tweet now, the president writing, quote, "Very sad that the FBI missed many of the signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They're spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud."

That tweet getting several responses from some of the survivors of the shooting at the high school, many of them upset with the president, saying that he crossed the line by making this all about himself.

We got a chance to ask them, our colleague Federica Whitfield asked some of the students if they would take part in that listening session with the president. They told us they would not be approaching the president.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida.

HOWELL: Boris, thanks. And as you imagine, many students are outraged by President Trump's response to the shooting. Here is what two of them told CNN earlier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a town hall for Wednesday which President Trump was asked to be at. And he denied that invitation to plan his own town hall, which is absurd.

I can say right now I won't be at the listening session. I'll be at the town hall. I believe that most of my colleagues will be at the town hall and not at the listening session. If Donald Trump wants us to -- wants to listen to us, he should have taken the first invitation. We're not going to come to him. He needs to come to us. You go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the facts that he has organized this just proves that he is scared of us and he doesn't want to have the face us, and that he wants to try to divide us.


[03:05:04] HOWELL: You get a sense these students mean business. These students from Stoneman Douglas High School there and we will hear from another student survivor later this hour. Her family has suffered through multiple mass shootings.

Now as for the shooter himself, he repeatedly shared racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views at a private Instagram group chat.

CHURCH: Yes CNN got a look at the details. There are new details copping out about what the gunman apparently did right after the rampage.

CNN's Martin Savidge has the latest now on the investigation.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are learning a number of new things about the investigation and what happened in the aftermath of the shooting, beginning with this surveillance video that CNN has obtained.

This is about 30 minutes after the attack has allegedly been carried out by Nikolas Cruz. And this video would seem to show him walking normally by himself, free without any indication of the horrific attack of which he has now been accused.

Then there is the information we received from the Florida Department of Children and Families. This is the child welfare group. In September of 2016, they became aware of a post that Cruz put on Snapchat that showed him cutting his arms and saying that he wanted to buy a gun.

Investigators were so disturbed; they went and paid a visit to his home. They talked to his mother. They talked to Nikolas, and they talked to mental health experts who were also helping in his case. But after that all that investigation, they came out and essentially said that there was only a low risk that he might carry out any harm against either himself or against anyone else.

They really didn't see a horrific red flag. And then there is the Snead family. This is the family with which Nikolas Cruz was living right up to the day of the attack. And they said that they had no idea that they have this monster living under their roof.

They said that, yes, he was odd. He was quirky. And they took him in because he just lost his mother. But they also felt he was improving. They did know he had guns and they required that they be locked in a gun safe, and that these adults be allowed to have the key. It turns out now that apparently there was more than one key.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Parkland, Florida.

HOWELL: Martin, thank you for the report. Some people who knew the shooter, they're asking themselves if they could have done anything more to prevent what happened.

CNN's Gary Tuchman talked with a friend of the gunman.


GARY TUCHMAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT,CNN: The Florida gunman was said to be a loner, but we talked to a 20-year-old man who says he was a friend of his, part of a group of four people who hung out together at the same alternative school. What Allan Verella told us is both depressing and unsettling.

A lot of people we talked to say that the shooter had no friends. But you were his friend.

ALLAN VARELA, NIKOLAS CRUZ'S FRIEND: Correct. We went fishing. We hung out at malls and stuff. And we were all walking. We would just walk to parks and just talk and walk around and laugh.

TUCHMAN: What kind of stuff did you talk about?

VARELA: We talked about our daily lives and what we liked and make jokes and stuff, just like any other regular teenager.

TUCHMAN: You told me he was different than your other friends, that his behavior was different. What would he talk about that made you realize he was different than your other friends?

VARELA: His humor. His humor was kind of crude. It was kind of dark. And the way he just presented himself, he would talk about ISIS and guns and stuff.

TUCHMAN: Did that concern you when you heard him talking about things like that?

VARELA: A little bit, yes. But at the time, no. Because he was smiling. He was cool. And we all presumed they were just jokes. But I guess within those groups there is something lying inside of him. Again, his crude humor, he would joke around like school shootings and stuff.

TUCHMAN: What would he say about school shootings?

VARELA: He would joke because we would be looking at photos. And he would joke about the photos and stuff. I really want to be there for him. I really did. I wish -- I felt like I could have stopped it. And I know it wasn't my fault, but I felt like I could have stopped him. I could have been there for him. Seventeen people wouldn't have lost their lives.

TUCHMAN: If you would have stayed in touch with him. VARELA: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Because it had been a few months since you talked him. Obviously, it's not your fault or your responsibility. But you feel deep in your heart you could have done something.


TUCHMAN: Allan Varela tells us he wishes he would have turned back the block and said he is heart sick for the family members of all the victims.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Parkland, Florida.


CHURCH: Incredible interview from Gary.

HOWELL: It is.

[03:09:59] CHURCH: Well, one prominent political donor is trying to push republican politicians to take action on guns. And he is putting his money where his mouth is.

HOWELL: Republican real estate developer Al Hoffman says that he won't cut any more checks for candidates or political groups who do not support a ban on assault weapons.

CHURCH: Hoffman says the scenes of the Parkland school shooting last Wednesday urged him to act.


AL HOFFMAN, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER: When that tragedy occurred, now, I thought my God, what can we do? And the only thought that came to me that now I've got to adopt a plan whereby we contact every republican donor around the country to endorse the adoption of a ban on assault weapons. The majority of people in the country are for that.


HOWELL: Al Hoffman there. And he is not alone. Several republican lawmakers are now calling for sensible gun laws. Listen.


JOHN KASICH, (R) GOVERNOR OF OHIO: I was talking to a friend of mine this morning. He is a big gun collector. I said if all of the sudden you couldn't by an AR-15, what would you lose? Would you feel as though your second amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn't buy a God darn AR-15?

These are the things that have to be looked at. And action has to happen before -- and look, you're never going to fix all of this. But common sense gun laws make sense. CARLOS CURBELO, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: What we need is

congressional leaders, specifically in my party to allow some of these bills to come to the floor for debate. There are a lot of republicans who are prepared to support reasonable common sense gun safety laws, new laws, stronger laws that protect rights for responsible citizens, people who are responsible gun owners, but will prevent those who want to do harm to innocent people.


CHURCH: But in the aftermath of this deadly shooting, republican Senator Marco Rubio said gun restrictions would not have prevented this massacre. And this is what he said Sunday.


MARCO RUBIO, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I know people don't want to hear it, but it's a complicated issue. And I hope we'll have a chance to delve into the reasons why it's complicated. It's not unsolvable. Should it be addressed. I've never said -- I've seen it. It's unfair. I've never said we can't do anything. I said we need to aim to do something that works.


HOWELL: Well, the National Rifle Association spends a lot of money to defend their right to bear arms.

CHURCH: Some of that money goes to candidates in donations and other forms of support like issue ads. Here is a breakdown of the NRA spending in the 2016 election. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group. Now both political parties accepted the NRA's money, but republicans outpaced democrats by more than $800,000.

HOWELL: Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri and Barbara Comstock of Virginia, they received the largest donations from the NRA.

CHURCH: Twenty other republican lawmakers make the top recipient list, including Senators Chuck Grassley, Rand Paul, and we just heard from him, Marco Rubio.

HOWELL: Right. And the NRA spending has surged over the past five years alone from a little over $3 million to more than $5 million.

CHURCH: And you can join us for a special CNN town hall with students, parents, and others impacted by the Florida school shooting. Stand up. The students of Stoneman Douglas demand action airs live on Thursday at 10 in the morning Hong Kong time. Nine at night on Wednesday in New York.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, a former campaign aide of the U.S. President will reportedly cooperate with the special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation. Why Trump's former campaign chair might be worried about that, ahead. CHURCH: Plus, in a flurry of tweets, President Trump signaled the

issue that was forefront on his mind over the weekend. We'll have the details for you when we come back.


HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. The Court of Arbitration for sport has register and anti-doping case against an Olympic athlete from Russia.

CHURCH: The International Olympic Committee has requested the procedure against curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii. He won a bronze medal at Pyeongchang in the mixed doubles event.

HOWELL: No hearing date for that case has been scheduled yet. The spokesman for the president of the IOC says this revelation proves that the anti-doping system at the Olympics is working. Listen.


MARK ADAMS, SPOKESMAN, IOC PRESIDENT: On the one hand it is extremely disappointing when prohibited substance mace have been used. But on the other hand it shows the effectiveness of the anti-doping system at the games, which protects the rights of all the clean athletes.

If this case is confirmed, if this case is confirmed, it will be considered by the OAR implementation group shared by IOC executive board member Nicole Hoevertsz who reports to the IOC at the end of the Olympic Games.


CHURCH: A new report says a former Trump campaign aide has agreed to plead guilty to fraud.

HOWELL: All right. That is giving a fresh break to the Robert Mueller investigation. Our Sara Murray has details for us.


SARA MURRAY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT,CNN: Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates has apparently struck a deal with special counsel Bob Mueller. According to the L.A. Times, Rick Gates will plead guilty. He will also testify against his co-defendant in a criminal case, Paul Manafort, who is also his former business partner.

The two of them were facing charges for financial crimes that were unrelated to the presidential campaign, and they had pleaded not guilty.

Now as part of this deal, according to the L.A. Times, Gates could serve about 18 months in prison. That's far shorter than what he could have served if he had gone to trial and been found guilty.

But of course if you're Paul Manafort, if you're the co-defendant in this criminal case, this is worrisome news for you. It means Gates can testify against him, but it also puts additional pressure on Manafort to cooperate with Bob Mueller in the special counsel's probe.

[03:19:55] And as of right now, it's not clear what Mueller could be building up to. Is this just about Paul Manafort or could Gates' cooperation be a building block towards something larger? Could bit a building block to a potential case or potential charges against President Trump or another Trump associate? That is not clear yet.

But from the White House perspective, they are downplaying any potential plea deal, essentially saying look, if Rick Gates wants to flip on Paul Manafort, that doesn't make a difference to us here in the West Wing. It has nothing to do with the president. It has nothing to do with his top aides.

They sort of see these plea deals as related to activities that all occurred before the presidential campaign. They don't believe it's going to touch the president or the West Wing.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: All right, Sara, thank you.

The U.S. president has had a lot to say about the Russia investigation. He launched a tweet storm while hunkered down at Mar-a- Lago in Florida. More than a dozen tweets since Friday when Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for meddling in the U.S. election.

CHURCH: Mr. Trump seems to be focusing his irritation on the Russia investigation itself instead of what the indictments reveal. He tweeted Sunday that they are laughing their asses off in Moscow.

So let's talk more about this with Leslie Vinjamuri. She joins us from London. She is an associate professor in international relations at SOAS University of London. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: Let's start with Rick Gates agreeing to plead guilty to fraud and cooperating with the Mueller Russia probe. What could this mean for Paul Manafort? But ultimately, what could it mean for President Trump?

VINJAMURI: Well, thing is what we're all watching. Mueller is a very savvy and highly experienced person when it comes to this kind of thing. And he is clearly pursuing a strategy of getting individuals to cooperate with him in the hopes one would assume of getting more information.

Now at the moment it seems like this is primarily focused on Manafort, on what Gates can tell us about Manafort. But it might leave Manafort to reveal more information.

But there are at the moment a lot of unknowns. What is very clear is Mueller has been tremendously effective on a number of accounts. And to the extent that he can get people like Rick Gates to cooperate with him, it's very significant.

Remember, the Gates was part of the campaign in the summer of 2016 during that very significant meeting that's been talked about a lot in Trump towers. So there are a number of things that might come out of this. But at the moment we just don't know.

CHURCH: No, we don't. But we'll continue to watch it very closely, we can be sure of that. So I want to turn now to Mr. Trump's tweet storm that we mentioned over the weekend. Specifically, this one where he says, "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooting. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud."

So Leslie, these words of the president enraged many students who survived that school shooting. They were appalled that he linked the shooting tragedy with the Russia probe and the FBI. How does his handling of this school shooting compare to other presidents before him who have dealt with similar tragic events?

VINJAMURI: Well, not favorably. Not favorably on its own terms. Certainly not favorably, you know, if you're on Twitter as so many of us were over the weekend, watching the comparisons, the shots of the photo, photograph shots of President Obama side by side with President Trump responding to different tragedies. The comparison is remarkable.

But the students have every right to be deeply upset at the president's response. And the attempt to turn this into something that's about undermining -- further undermining trust in the FBI and making it about the Russia investigations and trying to discredit those investigations in the after, and such a recent aftermath of what has been an extraordinary tragedy when really what we would expect from a president is to simply recognize the extent of the tragedy and the victims involved.

But then to take this as an opportunity to begin what needs to be a very serious national conversation that most Americans recognize as a very important conversation to be had about gun laws and changes in those in a number -- on a number of dimension.

CHURCH: And Leslie, survivors of the school shooting are turning their outrage into action as we've been reporting by organizing this march, they're calling march for our lives in Washington on March 24th, pushing for tougher gun laws and putting the National Rifle Association on notice.

Could this be the turning point that many people have been looking for in regards to gun control? And how might President Trump deal with this when he holds what he is calling a listening session with students and teachers to talk about safety at school.

[03:25:06] VINJAMURI: Well, this is extraordinary. It's been quite phenomenal to watch the level of student activism in the last few days organizing this march, the organizing of the national school walkout day on April 20th, the anniversary of Columbine.

And what this might hold the possibility for is to -- now, remember, American public opinion, for the most part is in support of stricter gun laws. Of course people vary across which particular gun laws they're willing to support. But a majority of Americans would like to see more gun laws, tighter gun laws.

So the student mobilization has the ability to get those Americans who would like to see stricter gun laws mobilized around this issue.

What we know is that Americans who don't want more restrictive gun laws are more likely to phone their congressman, they're more likely to vote on this issue. Those Americans who want tighter gun laws don't tend to vote on this issue, and they don't contact their congressman. They're not as politically active.

The NRA has been tremendously effective not only at funneling money to congressmen in support of holding back efforts to restrict guns, but they've also been very effective at mobilizing the American public who don't want those tighter gun laws to be active on this issue in politics.

If students get out there and mobilize, they have the potential to get Americans very actively focused on this issue in a way that will make it much more difficult for President Trump not to take it seriously, not to respond. And not to simply turn it into an issue that is about something, which it really isn't about, which is the FBI and the Russia investigation.

CHURCH: And these students are showing they are determined and they're going to keep doing this until they see some concrete changes. Thank you so much. Always good to talk with you, Leslie Vinjamuri. Many thanks.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on Newsroom, funerals are being held for the victims of the school shooting. One of the victims a teacher is being hailed as a hero. We'll explain.

CHURCH: Plus how the family of one student who survived the Florida massacre has had to endure multiple mass shootings.


CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to our viewers joining us here in the United States , and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. All 65 people on board a plane that crashed in the snowy mountain range in southern Iran are all presumed dead. Aseman Airlines says on Sunday the twin-engine turboprop disappeared less than an hour into flight from Tehran. The cause of the crash still under investigation.

CHURCH: Former Trump presidential campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to testify against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. That is according to "The Los Angeles Times." The report says Gates will plead guilty to fraud charges and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

HOWELL: U.S. President Donald Trump says Moscow must be, and I'll quote the president here, laughing their asses off at America amid the ongoing Russia investigation. This comes just as -- there is a number of one of his tweets focused on the probe into election meddling. Mr. Trump also suggested the FBI missed signals about the Florida school shooter because it is too busy spending time on the Russia investigation.

New revelations to the Oxfam sex crime scandal. The aid agency has released an internal report from 2011.

CHURCH: It details how the agency dealt with allegations of sexual crimes by some of its staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The report reveals that three aide workers physically threatened and intimidated a witness during an internal investigation.

HOWELL: Important details here. Let's bring in CNN's Phil Black following the story live in London. Phil, what more can you tell us?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, hello. This report has finally been made public by Oxfam after it was widely reported following its initial leak to the Times newspaper of London. And now as you touched on, we can see some more of the details about the very specific allegations that Oxfam was investigating at the time against its staff in Haiti following the horrendous earthquake that took place there back in 2010.

Oxfam says it is now releasing this report, making it public, although it has redacted, certain names and details have been blacked out, releasing this report now in order to be as transparent as possible to essentially overcome the great breach of trust that it says has occurred.

As you touched on there, one of the very interesting details, in addition to the fact that yes, it was investigating the use of prostitutes by its staff locally, it says that three of those suspects were under investigation became aware of the investigation as it was underway because an investigation document was leaked to somebody.

They then physically threatened and intimidated an Oxfam staff member, one of the witnesses in the ongoing investigation. That charge, if you like, of bullying and intimidation, well that was then added to the list of poor behavior that was given to the reasons for their eventual dismissal.

We do also know it says that the country director says that during his initial interview, that he admitted to the use of prostitutes as something that he has since more recently denied through an interview with Belgian media. And crucially, it's also interesting to note that among the lessons learned section of this report, it talks about the need for better mechanisms when identifying problem staff to essentially let other agencies and organizations across the sector know that there could be issues with particular individuals, so they don't essentially working somewhere else.

That's crucial in the overall story because of course Oxfam it seems didn't really do that. Other staff members did go and work for agencies. Some of these people were dismissed for poor behavior including the use of prostitutes. And it seems they did not implement those recommendations to be found within their own report charge.

HOWELL: Phil Black following the story live for news in London. Phil, thanks. We'll stay in touch with you as you learn more.

CHURCH: We want to turn back now to Florida where funerals are being held for many of the 17 students, teachers, and coaches who died in last Wednesday's school shooting.

HOWELL: The entire community has been devastated by what happened. Families there are grappling on how to heal. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more down from Parkland, Florida.


[03:35:00] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This south Florida community continues to mourn the loss of 17 lives after last Wednesday's fatal shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.

Scott Beigel, a 35-year-old geography teacher, was among those laid to rest on Sunday. He has been hailed as a hero over the last week because of his actions in his final moments of his life trying to protect his students from the gunman. But as friends and family reminded us, he was a hero for more than his final moments, also for the way that he lived his life.

The impact that he had on his students, those athletes that he coached on the school's cross-country team, and also the campers that he counseled at a summer camp he began attending as a child. He was remembered for his compassion and kindness, also his humor and wit.

Alex Schachter was also remembered. A young man who loved music. This 14-year-old played the trombone and the baritone in the school's marching band and orchestra. He was one of four children who had already endured the loss of their mother in 2008.

We also remember the life of Jaime Guttenberg, a young, talented, and beautiful dancer. Orange was her favorite color. So dancers across this country could be seen over the weekend in competition wearing orange ribbons to remember her. Alex and Jaime both had brothers who also attended Stoneman Douglas. They both escaped last Wednesday without harm.

On Monday, the life of Luke Hoyer will be remembered, a 15-year-old who was the youngest of three kids. He loved the game of basketball, playing video games, and eating anything sweet, his family said. This community continues to mourn and heal.

In Parkland, Florida, Kaylee Hartung, CNN.


CHURCH: Another student is with me now. Carly Novell is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and survived that horrific shooting. She joins me via Skype from Parkland, Florida. Carly, thank you so much for being with us at this very difficult time and under these very sad circumstances. Our thoughts and prayers of course are with you and all the students as you they deal with this nightmare. How are you coping with all of this right now?

CARLY NOVELL, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I've been coping by talking to people and trying to raise awareness and keeping myself busy. But the feelings have been off and on and at some points, I feel numb. At other points, I feel everything at once. So it's been kind of hard.

CHURCH: Yes, I understand you're still working through this. So much to process. And Carly, I do want to read out this tweet you posted. It sent chills up and down my spine. This is what you said. This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn't be repetitive. Something has to change. Hashtag Douglas Strong.

And then you tweeted this. We don't want higher fences and metal detectors. We don't want our teachers to have guns. We don't want to go to school in a prison. We want change. We want genuine lasting change.

Incredible words there, Carly. What type of change do you want to see happen? What are you proposing here?

NOVELL: I just want something with gun control to happen, whether it be assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons that aren't in the hands of civilians or something with mental health and if someone has a mental illness and background checks. And it shouldn't be so easy to get a gun. And I don't think that if you're not allowed to drink, you shouldn't be allowed -- you should be allowed to have a gun. It just doesn't make sense.

CHURCH: Do you think that these students will push this as far as they can until they see some sort of concrete solution?

NOVELL: I think that we won't stop until something changes, and I don't know how long that will be. But personally, I'm not going to stop talking about this. I -- I can't just sit here and keep watching these things happening in our country with no change. And it's just heartbreaking every time you see a shooting in the news.

And all of the media flocks to it, and everyone is talking about it for a solid three days, and then they stop caring. And I can see it happening here, but I think the students won't let that happen. And I hope that something comes out of that.

CHURCH: Why do you think it's different? Why do you think your generation is making a change here? Do you think it's the part that social media has played here? Do you think it's that you as teenagers have grown up having to do these drills? You've lived with this fear of someone coming into your school and shooting

[03:40:00] at students in the school. What do you think has made this different?

NOVELL: I think it's a combination of those things, but I -- I don't know. I just felt passionate about it. And I think my school is full of passionate people and outspoken people, because everywhere there is people that are talking. And I don't know why it's different, but I'm happy it is. But it is too late. This should have happened a long time ago.

CHURCH: Yes, it is certainly too late. But if you and all of the other students who have been so incredibly brave throughout this whole nightmare, and you continue your march and your sense that something needs to change, something needs to be done, then that's when social change does take place. So we thank you, Carly Novell, for your bravery, and we wish you well. Thank you.

NOVELL: Thank you so much.

HOWELL: The news continues here on CNN. Ahead, CNN learning more about a Russian troll factory that produces ads and messages designed to sow discord in American society. We're live in Russia after the break.


CHURCH: Well, one monitoring group says that Russian-linked bots are promoting pro-gun messages on Twitter. So beware. The group says the bots are meant to sow discord in the U.S. while emotion is high from the Florida school shooting.

HOWELL: The United States has been paying close attention to Russian troll farms since their alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Let's bring in CNN's Matthew Chance, getting a good look at one of those places highlighted in Mueller's indictment. Matthew is live just outside the internet research agency troll farm

[03:45:00] in Saint Petersburg, Russia. And Matthew, so, you know, we've heard reports about Russian trolls actively playing a part in the gun debate here in the United States. The question to you, is it business as usual there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right. And that could very well be one of the things that the trolls in Russia are focusing on now, because the whole point of this operation, according to the U.S. Justice Department, indictment was to sow discord in the u.s. political system.

I'm talking to you right now as you mentioned outside perhaps the most infamous of the Russian troll factories. This is called the internet research agency. By all accounts, it's closed down now. Apparently it is meant not to be operating anymore. You can see there is a big red sign on the window there which says, building for rent.

But we've been watching all morning. People come and go inside that building. And we actually called the rental agency, the telephone number there. And they said, look, there are at least two floors of the building which is still occupied. And they don't expect those two floors to be vacant for at least another 30 days. And so for all intents and purposes, it seems that that internet research agency is still running in this building behind me.

Of course it's from there, as you mentioned, that operatives basically internet blogger provocateurs orchestrated a whole campaign according to the latest U.S. indictments to meddle in U.S. politics, from posing as American citizens to insert themselves in chat rooms and distort the conversation towards a sort of more pro-Russian line, to buying political advertising in the United States that supported one candidate over the other.

And of course organizing actual protests on the streets in the United States. Protests about hot political issues such as race relations or anti-Islam rallies that were staged, all organized and paid for from these offices right here. Now, the Russians of course deny any knowledge of this. The reaction officially from here according to the Russian foreign minister who spoke over the weekend saying he hasn't seen any facts, and it's all just blather.

There has been other negative reaction rejecting it as well. But the whole point, of course, of these internet troll factories from the point of view of the Russian government is that they are separate, they are unofficial, they are deniable. And of course that's exactly what the Kremlin and others here in Russia are doing, denying it all.

HOWELL: Matthew Chance live outside the internet research agency there in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Thank you for this piece of the puzzle.

CHURCH: All right. Let's take our last break for this hour. Next here on "CNN Newsroom," it's one of the last big award shows of the season before the Oscars. We will tell you who won big at the Bafta Awards in London in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, politics took center stage at the British Academy Film Awards ceremony. Stars wore black on the red carpet to stand against sexual harassment and gender inequality. But that didn't overshadow the awards celebrations.

HOWELL: Right here are some of the big winners. Gary Oldman took home the best actor prize for his role as Winston Churchill in the World War II era film "Darkest Film." And Frances McDormand won lead actress for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." It is the story of a mother trying to get police to investigate her daughter's murder. The movie also won four other awards, including best film.

CHURCH: And film critic Richard Fitzwilliams joins me now from London to talk more about this. Great to have you with us. So, stars wore black in support of "Time's Up" and "Me Too." How much talk was there about that issue? And of course with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" winning best picture, was that the top choice for most people in attendance?

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, FILM CRITIC: Well, there is no doubt first it was an absolute triumph for the "Time's Up" and "Me Too" movement because this was a dignified and forceful protest which the film community is undoubtedly starting, which is a universal attempt to attack abuse, harassment, and also dealing with issues such as equal pay, and I think that everyone was on board on that issue.

Regarding "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," this is a movie, of course, about a very angry woman. And it's well scripted. It's a superbly dramatic film, somewhat of a black comedy. It's also apparently Anglo-American was classed as a British film.

And there is no question winning both best picture and outstanding British film as well as an award for Frances McDormand for best actress for playing as you mentioned a ferocious mother who has been brutally bereaved and Sam Rockwell as a racist cop, and the screenplay, what a really good night for a movie that was so dominant.

It swept out "Dunkirk." "The Post" was of course ignored in the nominations. Guillermo Del Toro did win best director for "Shape of Water," which is a fantasy movie involving the relationship between a mute and a sea creature. So it's switched around a bit. But undoubtedly "Three Billboards" overwhelmingly the winner.

CHURCH: Yes, and Frances McDormand, you mentioned, she won as best actress. I want to talk about Gary Oldman too in his role as Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour." He won best actor award. He has won three other awards now for his role. Do you think this could signal an Oscar?

FITZWILLIAMS: I think he is all but got the Oscar in the palm of his hand with a performance as Churchill as the statesman at a pivotal moment in British

[03:55:00] history, May 1940. Interesting that both "Darkest Hour" and "Dunkirk" celebrated this, who led Britain so well which paid tribute to the very moving speech. But it's a superlative performance. He inhabits the role. I mean, the makeup involved, four hours each day, was absolutely extraordinary. There has never been a Churchill like this. He really did deserve an award, which I think that means he will definitely win at the Oscars.

Interesting, though, to see the Bafta as a precursor of the Oscars. The last three years, they've chosen different films possibly because of the Oscar's alternative vote system for best picture, which may mean that "Get Out" or "Shape of Water" or "Three Billboards," all of them could win. It's very, very difficult to predict. But last night undoubtedly was a feather in the cap for the British film industry because there was such a vast variety of British talent, eight out of the 20 acting nominees. And also you had "God's Own Country," "Paddington Two," "Death of Stalin," "Darkest Hour," such a marvelous mix.

CHURCH: Yes, it is. A great selection there for viewers, most certainly. Richard Fitzwilliams, always a pleasure to chat with you. Many thanks.


CHURCH: And we thank all of you for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell at the CNN Center here in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "New Day" is next. For our viewers around the world, the news continues with our colleague Max Foster live in London. Thanks for being with us.

CHURCH: Have a great day.