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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Trump: Armed Teachers Would Be "Major Deterrent"; Ex-Trump Aide Pleads Guilty, Escalates Pressure On Manafort; Trump Calls Russia's Actions In Syria "Disgrace"; Activists: 400 Plus Civilians Killed In Eastern Ghouta; Trump Jr. Abruptly Changes Speech To Fireside Chat; Former President of Georgia Calls out Trump, Putin; Saakashvili was Victim of Putin's Election Meddling Saakashvili to Trump: Uphold U.S. Values or Brace for Trouble. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 23, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:45] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right. Welcome to CNN. We are following some big developments in Washington this hour as we
continue our coverage on CNN including a new guilty plea in the Russia investigation by a former Trump campaign aide. More on that in just a
First though as you've been hearing President Trump is promising to protect gun ownership rights amid growing calls for gun reform after the Florida
school shooting we heard him reiterate some of his proposals at that joint news conference with the Australian Prime Minister Turnbull.
He also spoke to conservative political conference today, CPAC, just outside Washington. Now Mr. Trump ditched his prepared remarks at one
point calling them, quote, "A little boring" and gave a freewheeling talk reminiscent of a campaign speech.
The president repeated his support for arming some teachers to deter future school shootings. Listen to Donald Trump a bit earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Not all of them but you have a lot and you would tell people that they are inside, and the
beauty is it's concealed, nobody would ever see it unless they needed it. It's concealed so this crazy man who walked in wouldn't even know who it is
that has it. That's good. It's not bad that's good. And a teacher would have shocked the hell out of him before he knew what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Again, also at that news conference with Australia's prime minister at the White House, he discussed the issue of gun violence,
who was asked in fact a question -- a reporter asked four different questions, the same reporter.
He did not mention though the big other headline of the day that his former campaign aide, Rick Gates, has just pleaded guilty to two criminal charges
in federal court. Gates had vowed to fight prosecution, but just a day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveiled a 32-count indictment against
him and Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Gates told his friends and family that he's had a change of heart.
All right. Let's take a look at everything that has developed and transpired over the last several hours, both at that CPAC conference with
the Trump speech and at that joint news conference.
We're joined by White House reporter, Stephen Collinson, and CNN political commentator, David Swerdlick, who was an assistant editor at "The
Washington Post." So, he was asked by a rather sympathetic media organization several questions, one on the issue of gun violence.
I'm going to start with you, Stephen Collinson. He again reiterated his call for more on background -- more background checks for people before
they can buy a firearm, dealing with people who are mentally ill or have mental illness issues, arming guards at school, arming teachers did not
mention at all the ban or control of the sale of weapons, Stephen.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Hala. And I think it's significantly that he didn't do that, and it seems to me that the more days
of posthumous debate, the president is getting closer to the positions of the National Rifle Association.
One other thing he didn't mention today, which he mentioned in previous days was the idea that you could raise the age from 18 to 21, which you can
buy a rifle. That's something that seems to be percolating in Washington, but the president didn't mention that today.
But the idea that you would arm teachers that is something the National Rifle Association, the big gun lobby group in the United States, has been
pushing for years, and it seems that the answer to the latest school massacre and the previous massacres, the sort of what the president is
arguing is that you need more guns not fewer guns.
And while we are talking about this issue of arming teachers, which is usually controversial, no one is talking about the real issue, which is
should there be steps taken to stop the -- or limit the availability of these high-power powered rifles and semiautomatic weapons that can cause so
much damage in these massacres.
GORANI: And David, what's interesting is we are seeing that at least for some corporations out there they believe that their association with the
National Rifle Association, the NRA, the big lobby pressure group, has become toxic enough that they are now severing ties.
By that, it means they are not offering any more discounts. So, for instance, Alamo Rent A Car, Best Western Hotels, other corporations are
saying we are not going to offer NRA members discount anymore.
[15:05:14] But I find that particularly significant because this is the first time we've seen anything like this. I wonder if the public mood is
changing with regards to the NRA in America, David?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Hala, I don't know if the attitudes for the NRA writ large are changing throughout America, but
you are seeing both politicians and corporations being forced to choose sides, or at least look like they are taking a proactive stance on this
Because the shooting in Florida has generated so much outrage, because there has been so much coverage and because the students in Florida, in
Broward County have been so vocal and so passionate about the issue.
In the case of these corporations, you see corporations making this decision that they have got to show where they stand, similarly President
Trump as you and Stephen were just saying, he cannot just ignore this and wish it away.
He has to say things and make it look like he is being proactive on the issue. But as Stephen said his proactivity up to this point is to take the
NRA solution and push that which is that the solution to guns is in effect more guns by arming teachers.
Even though frankly, this is a ludicrous proposal. We don't have enough time here to discuss the many pitfalls if this really goes forward in
GORANI: And teachers have been quite clear, we've spoken to the head of the main teachers union in the United States. She said it was a ludicrous
idea. No teacher wants to carrying weapons in a classroom full of children or very few, at least, may be some do.
Rick Gates, the former campaign aide, Stephen, and this is very significant as well in this Mueller investigation pleading guilty, which suggests that
perhaps he is cooperating with federal authorities. What -- tell us -- A, how significant it is, and B, how it could impact the investigation going
SWERDLICK: Yes. He is cooperating with federal authorities. He pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring against the United States in a series of
bank fraud and tax schemes related to his work for the Ukrainian government and lying to the special counsel.
It's significant because what it does is it puts him in a position to testify against his former boss in business and in the Trump campaign, Paul
Manafort. Now the question we do not know the answer to is, is he going to testify against Manafort purely on this case of tax and financial crimes or
does he have something to say, given the fact that he was a deputy campaign manager of the Trump campaign?
He traveled on the Trump plane during the campaign. Does he have something to say about the issue of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and
Russia? Another way to look at this also is that it's a way to pull even more pressure on Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager, who now many
people believed that Mueller is trying to get Manafort to flip and testify against other senior people in the campaign and against Trump since he is
now facing a very, very difficult case and possibly up to 20 years in prison.
GORANI: And David, if you're at the White House or you're a White House attorney or in fact, if you're the president and you hear that a former
campaign aide has pleaded guilty with the FBI and therefore cooperating with authorities, what are you thinking now?
SWERDLICK: Look, you are thinking that you have to take this whole thing very seriously. We are a long way from the end of this, but yes, Special
Counsel Mueller is proceeding much like prosecutors do in a variety of cases, trying to roll up smaller fish in the hopes that you get some kind
of testimony or information about, you know, from proverbial bigger fish in the investigation.
We do not know yet who those bigger fish are, but he has secured this guilty plea with Rick Gates, with General Flynn, with George Papadopoulos,
and it is a slow progression toward building a bigger case around the ultimate subject of the investigation, which was how Russia essentially did
or did not infiltrate or meddled with the Trump campaign or with the American electoral system.
If you are at the White House now it has politically obliterated your narrative over the last year that this is a smokescreen and a hoax in terms
of the legal ramifications. I think we still have yet to see exactly what Special Counsel Mueller has in store, but he is laying out a trail of
breadcrumbs here that is clear to follow.
GORANI: President Trump was asked and also Malcolm Turnbull, both were asked about Syria, and President Trump had this, Stephen, to say about
Russia's role in Syria and Iran, as well as. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will say what Russia and what Iran and what Syria have done recently is a humanitarian disgrace. I will tell you that. We are
there for one reason. We are there to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS and go home. We are not there for any other reason, and we have largely
accomplished our goal.
[15:10:12] But what those three countries have done to people over the last short period of time is a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So, Stephen, he's saying what Russia essentially has done to people in Syria is a, quote, "disgrace." Iran and the regime as well, but
that is unsurprising. What do you think about that?
COLLINSON: Yes. It certainly jumped out at me that he mentioned and singled out Russia given the fact that the president has been low
throughout his presidency to do -- to say that Russia is at fault on many occasions and in many places in the Middle East and around the world.
But it was also significant when the president said the only reason that we are there is to go after ISIS. It didn't lead you to believe that his
administration is going to plunge into any sort of diplomacy to try and defuse what is turning into a very dangerous situation in Syria with all
these major powers nudging up against one another or to alleviate the terrible humanitarian situation that's unfolding there.
GORANI: Yes. Absolutely. And they do have the special forces there whose mission is still unclear to many people even who has been on the ground
reporting on it and the timeline is also unclear and perhaps more open- ended than people believe.
David, quick question about that the gentleman who asked four straight questions at the news conference from a news outlet that is sympathetic to
the Trump administration. There were no established media companies that were called upon. Is this the new normal?
SWERDLICK: So, I was just catching up with that story before we went on air. I think it was the one American news network --
SWERDLICK: -- correct me if I am wrong, they are right-leaning pro-Trump, sympathetic to Trump outlet and you still have legacy media major
newsgathering organizations like CNN, like my own "Washington Post" that do get ask questions in the daily briefing.
But over the course of this administration, they have given a lot of airtime to, you know, sort of alternative media fairly, frequently media
that is favorable or sympathetic to Trump.
"Newsmax," for instance, which is owned by Trump friend, Chris (inaudible). They get questions almost every day in the daily briefing with Press
Secretary Huckabee Sanders. Breitbart has gotten press credentials in this administration.
So, I would not say that it is a complete shift in paradigm, but we have seen this increasing gradually over the course of this administration.
GORANI: All right. David Swerdlick and Stephen Collinson, thanks very much to both of you.
Now to the horrific humanitarian situation in Syria, we could be one step closer to a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta. The operative word here obviously
when it comes to Syria is could. We are expecting a vote that's been delaying time and time again on a U.N. resolution.
It was meant initially to happen at -- not initially, it was meant last time it was announced to happen at 2:30 p.m. Eastern then it was moved to 3
p.m. Eastern. Its's now 3:13 p.m. Eastern. These are live images coming to us from the United Nations.
It is a resolution that aimed at establishing a ceasefire for 30 days, a ceasefire that would go into effect 72 hours after a vote. Evacuations and
humanitarian and medical evacuations would take place 48 hours after that.
But the Russians have objections. We are hearing from Russia's foreign minister that his country is ready to vote for the resolution, according to
"Interfax" that would temporarily halt fighting to deliver medical evacuations.
But there are things they are not happy with in the current wording of the draft, they want the ceasefire not to extend to fighting groups in Eastern
Ghouta. So, beyond ISIS and jihadist groups, which would mean essentially that those rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta would not be covered by the
Would not make the ceasefire toothless, right, because then you could say, well, we're still combating the rebels. We are not hitting civilians, even
though, we know civilians have been very, very badly hurt over the last several days.
Now a stop to the bombing, even temporarily, could not come soon enough obviously for these civilians in Eastern Ghouta. The Damascus suburb has
been hit by almost relentless bombing since Sunday.
Arwa Damon is tracking developments. She is in Istanbul. So, obviously, as I have been saying and we have been reporting and you have as well, the
bombing has been absolutely terrible.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, Hala, and it feels as if it's on another planet than the one where those debates are now
taking place at the United Nations. It's almost another reality. What's at stake is almost indescribable. The life that exists inside Eastern
Ghouta is hell.
DAMON (voice-over): It's known as the devil's (inaudible), a deliberate, heartless exercise. The dust from the first bomb had barely settled before
the second one landed.
[15:15:09] Children panicked and cry out into their father, but there's no time to wait, no time to watch, only time to run and try and stay alive.
With the intensity of the recent bombing, most spend their time underground in makeshift shelters.
It's disgusting and suffocating. Children get sick, but the hospitals are getting bombed. Childhood is not even a reflection of what it should be
and yet these kids' giggles reverberate almost surreally.
(Inaudible) carved out in the ground. Play games familiar to most of us, under circumstances we cannot even pretend to imagine. We wish, we wish
for aid, help her in Ghouta. We're hungry. Let them understand this, this little girl pleads.
In another reality, in what may as well be a world away. It's not that no one heard her cry or any of the others, it's that once again the powers
that control Syria's faith (inaudible).
The U.N. failed to vote on a resolution that would have seen a 30-day ceasefire put into place. This is Syria's story, one that is on a grizzly
(inaudible). A mother with her son goodbye. He's already been through this.
Say hi to your brother, Talab, she tells his bloody corpse. Tell him you died the same way he did. The Civil Defense team posted this video to
Twitter begging people to try to put themselves in the shoes of the father, whose son they are looking for you.
You hear sort of anguish slow cry and the question, is he alive? Miraculously the child is. There are no words for this or perhaps new
(inaudible) to be created that can describe the magnitude of the death, despair and heartbreak, and how (inaudible) failed Syria.
DAMON: And Hala, that is what is at stake. So, many Syrians that we have been talking to still today cannot understand how it is that the world
watched and allowed their country to become what it is right now.
GORANI: Well, you can understand their frustration. They cannot even agree on the wording of a resolution to impose a ceasefire on that part of
Syria. So, we are still waiting to see if the U.N. comes up with anything today. But I know a lot of people are not holding their breath. Thanks
very much, Arwa Damon in Istanbul for that reporting.
Still to come tonight, Florida's governor releases a comprehensive plan to keep students safe after last week's deadly shooting, but some people say
it is not enough, not nearly enough. We are live in Parkland.
Plus, the U.S. president's son make millions off the Trump brand in India, says it's nonsense that he is profiting from the presidency. We'll discuss
with a former White House ethics lawyer.
GORANI: Donald Trump's oldest son has been in India this week selling Trump-branded condos to eager investors. Well, Donald Trump Jr. was
prompted into a sudden rebrand Friday. In a last-minute move, his team change the title of a scheduled speech to a cozier sounding fireside chat.
The event was originally build as reshaping Indo-Pacific ties, the new era of cooperation, quite a mouthful actually. Critics had pointed out that it
sounded a lot like a foreign policy speech. Trump Jr. defended his trip saying that it was strictly business, unconnected to the presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I'm here as a businessman. I'm here, you know, not representing anyone. I'm
here and I've been coming to India for over a decade, so I understand the market. I understand the mindset.
I think these days I see him so little that we don't actually talk politics. You know, I used to be able to go -- it's not worth it. I get
enough -- every other minute of the day just watching from the sidelines. So frankly, we see him so little that when we're together, it's really
about being a family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: CNN's Jeff Defterios managed to make contact with Trump Jr. just before his fireside chat. Take a look.
GORANI: All right. He didn't answer any questions regarding whether or not there were accusations that perhaps there's conflict of interest issues
there and they do seem obvious, right? Many asked if the younger Trump is selling apartments or a back channel to the Oval Office.
Joining me to discuss this is a former chief White House ethics lawyer under President Obama and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution,
Norman Eisen. So, what do you make of it? I mean, there's really been no equivalent in American history where you have an established businessman
whose family works for the family business in the White House. That hasn't happened before.
NORMAN EISEN, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Hala, thanks for having me back and it hasn't happened before, and it hasn't happened for a
reason. It's wrong. A president should be dedicated solely to serving the public interest and should not maintain his business interests including
the business interest in these Indian businesses that his son is promoting.
That way if a child travels they know -- the people in the country know they're not lining the president's pockets. Here it's a conflict because
the United States has such critical security interest in India and there is Don Jr. talking about American policy and raking in the cash. It's a
tremendous conflict of interest that's why nobody --
GORANI: It's not illegal. But so around the world people would say it's your system that's broken if this is not illegal or if this is not breaking
any rules. Well, it -- there are rules that are implicated because the Constitution says that a president cannot collect cash or benefits from
Well, guess what these Trump projects rely to some extent on foreign benefits like permits to build. Do we really believe that there was no
special treatment benefiting Donald Trump from the Indian government?
Look at the effect it's having a policy where Trump is talking up India and talking down their neighbor, Pakistan. How do people know if that is
motivated by a desire to do the best policy for the United States and our allies or line his own pockets?
So, it's wrong and there are legal issues the Constitution prohibits foreign government benefits to the president. So, I don't think we can --
GORANI: He's extricated himself from the day-to-day management or from in fact the management executive leadership team of his company, so his two
sons are dealing with that. I mean, that's what the president is saying he's not in charge of the business.
EISEN: Well, we know that everything that the Trump family says has to be taken with a large grain of salt. The president was found by the
"Washington Post" to have lied over 2,000 times in his first year.
It's not true what you just heard Don Jr. say that they don't talk politics, they do. They just had a conversation when they were together at
Mar-a-Lago the other weekend that led to some very damaging political tweets by the president about the FBI.
So, I don't think we can now believe that they're not talking businesses and other media reports saying that they do.
[15:25:10] But here's the problem, even if they don't talk about it, Donald Trump and everybody else knows that he has a financial interest in these
Indian projects and that leads people to think you can influence his behavior with cash. It creates a race to the bottom around the world,
Hala. That is not what America --
GORANI: But what should be done so those who agree with you and say absolutely there should never be a president in the White House who has
business interests that could -- that could benefit financially or from a - - for one of his businesses from being in the White House.
So, what do you -- should there be other rules should then they are establishing a whole other political system because this might happen
again. You might have another business person in the Oval Office.
EISEN: Well, number one, the United States Constitution prohibits foreign benefits. So, my watchdog organization and others have brought lawsuits
across the country. We are asking judges to look into whether Donald Trump is getting government benefits in India. That is number one.
If he is, the courts are going to say you cannot do it and he's got to listen to the court sets, that is the first thing. Secondly, yes, we have
to change the laws. In addition to those constitutional rules, presidents should not be able to have these kinds of conflicts of interest.
Number three, we need more disclosure. We should see Donald Trump's tax returns. How dare he hide those. Every other president has provided them.
So, we know exactly what his interests are.
So, there is existing law that may stop this, and we need more laws and protections in the future. But Hala, the American people are disgusted
with this. Donald Trump has the lowest approval ratings in a new poll today, one that tends to be favorable to him, just 37 percent of the
American people approve of him.
A majority think he is unfit to be president. In part, it is because he has these conflicts. Is he doing what is best for the United States and
the world --
GORANI: The thing is he is the president and 37 percent approve of him, that is almost 40 percent. I mean, it is not a negligible number. An
investigation looking into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia might go on for much, much longer.
I mean, it seems as though, by and large, his party thinks everything is fine with regards to his conduct and this president is here stay and he's
EISEN: Well, a 37 percent approval rating is unprecedented for a president at this stage of his presidency, so low, and that is not politically
sustainable for him and he knows that periodically tries to make it better.
But the more to the point is that there are constitutional rules and the courts are looking at that. There are three cases now looking at whether
this kind of behavior is constitutionally prohibited.
Ultimately, it will be the court of public opinion, but the American people are smarter than this. They do not want a conflicted president. That is
why a historically large number, a majority of Americans think he is unfit.
And I believe that that hard-core about a third of the country who approves of his behavior will gradually become more and more disillusioned as they
see that these conflicts are leading to harm for the United States and our allies.
GORANI: Norman Eisen, thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate your time this evening.
EISEN: Thanks for the great questions, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Thank you.
Now to another controversial trip to India, this time involving an actual politician, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with his Indian
counterpart, Narendra Modi today. Their meeting comes at the tail end of Mr. Trudeau's week there, which to put it mildly, has not gone well from a
PR perspective, you might say.
Canada caused an upset earlier by inviting an alleged (inaudible) extremist to an official dinner, an invite later after they met Mr. Modi referenced
the issue indirectly saying there was no room for extremism in either of their countries.
Also, some raised eyebrows at some of the outfits Mr. Trudeau wore, but that's on a lighter note. Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump is in
South Korea leading the American delegation attending the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
So, she is also engaging in some diplomacy. After meeting with South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, Ivanka said her visit is designed to put
maximum pressure on North Korea and it comes just after her father slapped new sanctions on Pyongyang, specifically targeting the country's shipping.
President Moon reiterated the need to maintain the ongoing mood of dialogue and reconciliation with the North. Ivanka Trump as her father said today
in this news conference is unpaid. She is an appointed advisor in the White House.
[15:30:00] Still to come, while the debate heats up on arming classroom teachers, it's already a reality in some U.S. school districts. We'll take
you to one to see how that's been working.
GORANI: Raising the minimum age to buy a gun, keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill and banning the sale of bump stocks. Florida's
governor is proposing all of those measures to keep students safe after last week's school shooting. Rick Scott released a plan, this plan today,
saying it will help law enforcement do their jobs.
Now, officials say a deputy assigned to guard Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School waited outside during much of the gunman's rampage, didn't go
inside. He was armed but did not make his way inside for most of the time that the shooting went on. And President Trump took several opportunities
today to criticize that man. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What he did, he's trained his whole life. There's an example. But when it came time to get in there
and do something, he didn't have the courage or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job. There's no question about that. He was there
for five minutes. For five minutes. That was during the entire shooting.
He heard it right at the beginning. So he certainly did a poor job. But that's the case where somebody was outside. They're trained. They didn't
react properly under pressure or they were coward. It was a real shot to the police department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And speaking of the White House, it appears there's some sort of incident involving a car and a security barrier at the White House. Let's
listen in to developing story.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We still need to figure out was it someone who was traveling down that street and then missed the turn
and popped up on the curb and hit or was that their ultimate target. We don't know yet. I didn't notice the Secret Service since Ryan report there
is posting another tweet saying that the female driver has been apprehended.
So we should get some details on what has unfolded. But one thing to keep in mind in this case obviously with the White House is that you have many,
many layers and you can guarantee and I'm not going to get any of the tradecraft. But the Secret Service doesn't just look at the White House.
Right? They are looking outward in order to scan for any threat that maybe on the horizon.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And if that is the case from the Secret Service tweets, talking about control room guys, we should pop that tweet
up there if that is the case of female driver has been apprehend.
But help people, Josh, how maybe took a picture on a family vacation years ago, don't know the White House. Here you go. Actually, let me rad this
for you now. Thank you. Secret Service tweet. Update. The female driver, Josh, here you go. The female driver of the vehicle was immediately
apprehended by Secret Service uniform division officers. So there you have it.
[15:35:14] Josh, for people who aren't as much familiar with the White House, your point is absolutely correct. Right? It's a massive compound,
layers upon layers of security. When we're talking about 17th and E Street. How close would that be?
CAMPBELL: Well, the question is, how close is it to the president, to the executive mansion? It's still quite a bit of away. I mean, there is
another building the Eisenhower old executive office building that's between where this location is and the actual White House. So I would
imagine looking that and there's a graphic on the scene that this is in someone that would be able to actually get to the executive mansion. There
is a lot of distance there to cover.
But even if you look at the old executive office building, I mean even that is four to five layer and layer of security. So it's not easy to get to.
You recall there were a lot of instances recently of fence jumpers and the Secret Service constantly widening the layer of the perimeter of security.
I think it's very difficult for anyone to get on those grounds right now. But that doesn't mean that again, the minimum of the Secret Service don't
take every threat seriously and scan that horizon looking for any potential threat.
BALDWIN: Josh Campbell, do me a favor and stand by. We are getting some new information. Ryan Nobles, I want to pop back over you at the White
House. What have you learned?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I just want to talk to you a little bit about the security precautions that we're taking place here at
the White House. Normally, even any sort of minor security issue leads to a lockdown here on the White House property. And at this point, they are
allowing at least journalists to come and go from the White House freely. The White House, at no point, was ever completely locked down.
And as we said before, they were holding those Australian journalists in place. We're waiting for a briefing with some of the people that were
involved in that press conference to take place. That looks like it's still going to happen now. There are different levels of White House
security that can take place in the wake of threats like this.
And I wouldn't rank this on the higher scale. Actually quite a bit of free movement as a result of it. So I think put a little bit of context into
this as to the threat level as to exactly what took place here. They obviously take everything seriously but I've been here before when things
you don't really know exactly what the scenario is and they don't let you go anywhere. So that's the situation that we're dealing with at this
BALDWIN: Context is everything. Ryan, thank you. And Jonathan Wackrow was on the phone with me. He's a former Secret Service agent. Jonathan, I
mean, I can remember the last couple years sitting here in the seat and then something like this had happened where someone tried driving right
through over the curb, jumping a curve around these barricades. That was actually -- I was told that was 2013. And doing this for years.
So, Jonathan, asses the threat level for me to Ryan's point and what Secret Service are up to right now.
JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: These situations are dynamic and they're unpredictable. The Secret Service have a very strict
protocols to elevate the security at the White House, until they can ascertain what exactly the threat is. You said earlier, the White House is
one of the most fortified locations in the United States. Secret Service runs off of concentric rings of protection. Where this incident happened
was at one of those outer rings.
That's why we push out our perimeter from the White House, a distance that does not allow for threats like this to basically penetrate the grounds.
Even if it did get through for some reason in through this gate, there are multiple other layers of defense before you would ever get to the west
wing, the executive mansion, et cetera.
So in this instance, all the protocols seem to be have been followed by the Secret Service. The suspect was apprehended quickly by the uniform
division officers at the scene. And they quickly assessing. Again, they want to make sure that this was not a diversionary tactic. So 360 degrees
of coverage at the White House is maintained 24 hours a dat.
They want to make sure that there is no secondary attack coming in from the opposite side. If this was a multipronged attack, are they properly
defended? Again, the tactical teams deploy. There's a protocol in place, but it seems like this incident was address very quickly by the secret
service uniform division officers.
BALDWIN: Jonathan, stay with me. If you were just joining us, I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world.
I'm broke Baldwin. We're following this breaking news. These are live pictures just outside the White House here on this Friday afternoon. This
female driver, according to Secret Service is now in custody after the car she was driving, she basically rammed it into a barricade at a security
checkpoint near the White House.
If you know Washington, this is -- they were saying 17th and E Street just outside. Part of the layers of security. We're told the driver was
immediately apprehended and the car did not actually breach that particular security checkpoint. Police and fire units are they're there. They are
checking that car. We've got a couple of voices here walking us through this Jonathan Wackrow is with me, former Secret Service.
[15:40:16] And so we know that just within the last hour, we were listening to this joint news conference between the president of the United States
and the prime minster of Australia, Malcom Turnbull. And so when we know, Jonathan, the president is in the White House, how does that change
protocol when something like this happened for the Secret Service?
WACKROW: Again, this is something that the Secret Service agents and officers trained for constantly. Attacks on the White House ground
happened, unfortunately far too common place. But what we want to do is make sure that -- so we're dealing this as a, you know, car rammed the
gate. Suspect apprehended. Were there any explosives in that car? Is there any other -- what was the intent? Was this an accident where someone
just happened to drive into the gate or was this intentional? So intent is going to be key here.
Again, when you look at the defenses of the White House, all the high speed avenues of approach into the building, into the complex are mitigated. So
this is something that we have looked at time and time again. We look at this threat. It's been known to be out there. That's why they have very
specific barricades and protocol in place to stop this. Now, was the president in any danger? Answer is no. Why? Because there are
multilayered defenses at the White House.
Again, think about the concentric circles of protection close to circle being in and around the president. The condition at the White House, the
security condition would have elevated to a certain level and there are certain protocols that agents would have followed, but at no point in time
would the president have been relocated to a safe area or evacuated from the White House or anything like that for this type of situation.
BALDWIN: OK. Jonathan, stay with me. Again, we're looking at different pictures. This is all around the periphery of the White House. You see
all this law enforcement keeping those streets clear as they assess the situation, go through this car. Josh Campbell, you're still with me,
former FBI. Just describe the immediate area for me around the White House.
CAMPBELL: I think we're looking at pictures right now of 17th Street. I think one thing to keep in mind is you're seeing that those protocols in
place where you have armed officers that have responded. They train for these every single day of the year. So you're seeing those protocols in
place. It worth noting that as you look down the pictures there down 17th to Constitution, traffic is moving. At least at this point, it doesn't
appear that there's a threat in or beyond the location that you see right there on your screen.
And then also keeping in mind that we don't know what the motivation here was. But you also have traffic accident, right? That officers have to
work here. So just because you see the streets close there, it doesn't necessarily mean that there's a threat and you see them turn around
traffic. They're on your screen. But it is something that they're going to work to determine what happened.
And then also keep in mind that not only is the White House and that compound, one of the most fortified locations in the country, it's also one
of the most filmed locations in the country. So with these incidents, you look back determine what happened, how can you get better and I think this
will be one of those instances.
BALDWIN: So listening to Jonathan a second ago, he made the point that we may not even really know yet. They are certainly trying to figure out if
this was a driver who accidentally -- you can see how close traffic is to some of these areas by the White House if somebody would have accidentally
hit a curb and appeared to be trying to break through a barricade or if this was intentional. Go ahead.
CAMPBELL: I would just say that if you look at the layout there, the geography of that White House compound, you do have the major arteries that
surround it. But off to the side streets, you'll have one way going out the direction. And so if there was any opportunity for someone to get
moving at a high enough velocity that they could -- even it's not physically possible, if they wanted to try to strike a barrier, it would be
off one of those perpendicular streets.
So that's one thing to keep in mind. I mean, we keep hearing E Street there which takes you directly one way to the White House. I haven't seen
pictures of the vehicle yet. That would be very telling -- obviously law enforcement is keeping everyone at a distance. But I think once we see
those pictures, we might have a better idea what we're working with. Is it someone who was not paying attention and have to swerve at the last moment
GORANI: Our coverage there of an incident close to the White House. A vehicle striking a security barrier on the very outside perimeter though of
the White House, not close to any of the sensitive areas.
[15:45:48] The president is, of course, as we've been mentioning, hosting the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. We understand that the
driver of the vehicle has been apprehended. That as you could see, even on some of that video and some of those images coming to us live from
Washington. Traffic appeared uninterrupted. This is around, if you know Washington D.C., 17th street and E Street. That part of the area around
the White House.
But as some of the security experts there were reminding all of us, there are many, many barriers that you would need to breach before you get to
some of those sensitive areas. And it appears as though the vehicle itself did not breach that very first layer and the driver is apprehended. So it
appears that the situation is under control.
The American President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association are pushing the idea that arming teachers and staff is actually a way to stop
school shootings. While that idea alarms many parents and educators, it is actually already a reality in parts of Texas. CNN's Ed Lavandera has our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CLUGSTON, CALLISBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: We'll do whatever necessary to protect our kids and staff.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the stark message that greets you when you walk into one of the two school buildings in Callisburg, Texas.
Superintendent Steve Clugston oversees what the school district calls The Guardian Program. It's a small force of volunteer school staff allowed to
carry a concealed firearm. And Clugston says they're equipped to confront an active shooter.
CLUGSTON: We don't want to be at the mercy of, you know, somebody that's intent on doing harm. We refuse to be -- to be that person.
LAVANDERA: In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the idea of arming teachers has sparked outrage.
ASHLEY KURTH, TEACHER, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Am I supposed to have a Kevlar vest? Am I supposed to strap it to my leg or put it in my desk?
SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: I don't believe teachers should be armed. I believe teachers should teach.
LAVANDERA: But in some mostly rural communities across the country, the idea of arming teachers is welcomed, even by some students, like this
freshman and junior at Callisburg High School, who asked that we not identify them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel protected. I don't feel like they're going to threaten me in any way. I feel like if someone came in, that I know that
they're going to handle it. So I feel very protected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel really safe knowing that I can like come to school, and if there's like an incident that does happen, that they'll be
able to like protect us.
LAVANDERA: Out of the roughly 1,000 school districts across the state of Texas, there are about 170 that have a policy of allowing teachers or
administrators to carry a firearm on campus. Here in the small town of Callisburg, their Guardian program was implemented about four years ago, in
large part because the city doesn't have a local police department. They rely on county sheriffs. And in a county this large, it can take many
minutes for those deputies to respond to something like a shooting scene inside a school.
Clugston says the school's Guardian force undergoes active shooter scenario training once a year and routine target practice at gun ranges. But
critics say that isn't enough. The school officer at Stoneman Douglas, who was trained far more extensively, waited outside the building as the gunman
unleashed a deadly massacre. Steve Clugston is convinced that if his Guardians face the same ordeal, they won't flinch.
CLUGSTON: We're trying to put our teachers in a position to be better equipped to protect their kids. And I have -- I have complete faith in our
team that they're willing to stand up and protect our people.
LAVANDERA: The armed teachers here haven't faced the worst-case scenario. So the question remains, how will they react if they're forced to face a
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Callisburg, Texas.
GORANI: Well, is it bad business now to be involved with the NRA? Three car rental companies and a bank and a cyber-security firm have cut ties
with the National Rifle Associating. There was the #BoycottNRA online. That might have prompted some of these companies to make these decisions
unclear. But there is kind of a shifting public mood in America. There you see some of the big brands. The makers of Norton AntiVirus software
Enterprise, Alamo, National Car Rentals and the First National Bank of Omaha, are among those severing relationships with the gun lobby group.
Well, none of the companies provided many details. As I mentioned that #BoycottNRA could have had something to do with it. By the way, it has to
do with usually discounts extended to NRA members, so National Alamo may have given discounts to people who have NRA membership card that will stop
reportedly at the end of the month of March. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
GORANI: Once Washington's darling for standing up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former president of Georgia, you may recognize him is
now stateless. And that's not preventing him from speaking out against Mr. Putin and calling for a stronger response from the American president,
CNN's Matthew Chance spoke to him in Amsterdam.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This Mikheil Saakashvili latest fall from grace. A former Georgian president and sworn
enemy of the Kremlin now expelled from Ukraine where he briefly emerged as an opposition force.
MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: I covered the --
CHANCE: We met him in states and exile in Amsterdam, the man who backed by the west once fought Vladimir Putin, but lost.
SAAKASHVILI: I've been one of the first victims of Putin's election meddling in 2012, they listed fake news, this staged provocations, internet
attacks all around the place, you know, trolls, trolls factories that descended upon us.
CHANCE: So you've expected what Russians can do.
SAAKASHVILI: I've seen it firsthand.
CHANCE: So you must be frustrated that Trump isn't also seeing and acknowledging it and taking action against it.
SAAKASHVILI: Well, I think on number of occasions Trump has acted. Would I like to see more of force, supplying Ukrainian Georgia with defensive
weapons, with anti-theft weapons? It's a very important thing. And further one, they killed Americans have tried killed Russian mercenaries in
Syria. When it happened last time when Russians get killed by direct strike of U.S. military? It's happening. It's happening on the ground.
CHANCE: It was in 2008 that Saakashvili led tiny pro-Western Georgia in a brief but disastrous war with Russia. Alarmed at the potential for
escalation his western allies stepped back from direct intervention. A failure which Saakashvili now believes helped undermine faith in western
support across the region in which he says President Trump should work hard to restore.
SAAKASHVILI: People say western model is not good for us personally because we are the rulers of our country. The next day we end up in
Amsterdam or even worsen a prison or dead. So, better to look at Putin. He's eternal. He stays in power forever. He controls media. He -- there
is no opposition in this country, nobody can touch him. He can even influence U.S. elections. So Putin is undefeatable. And everybody that
likes to listen to heed western advice is defeatable, and not only they are undefeatable, after a while, the west will not say a word. You know, I've
been keen --
CHANCE: So what should Trump do now to change that perception and change the situation?
SAAKASHVILI: Uphold U.S. values, because if somebody like me has been harassed unjustly and no western diplomat says a word because they don't
want to like rock very fragile geopolitical balance, then you should brace for more trouble. This means they're going to multiply because what you
are telling the local autocrats, want to be Putins, if you behave like Putin, we are just going to watch it silent.
CHANCE: Matthew Chance, CNN, in Amsterdam.
[15:55:03] GORANI: Do stay with us. There's a lot more ahead on CNN.
GORANI: Well, we want to leave you on a bit of a positive note. CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student-led day of
action against modern day slavery. It's the second annual My Freedom Da. It will happen on March 14th. And people are telling us what freedom means
to them and everyone can weigh in, even Olympic stars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHANNES HOSFLOT KLAEBO, NORWEGIAN SKIER: Freedom means to a lot, I think everyone should have this freedom to do what to motivate and then to do
what you like and that's the most important thing in my life. I like to follow my dreams and do my things and, yes, to just try to do things I
like. And I think that's the most important thing in life and follow your dreams and don't look back.
NATHAN CHEN, U.S. FIGURE SKATER: Freedom means being able to be who you are whenever, wherever, say whatever you would like and just truly be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Well, that's one or two takes, I should say. What's yours? Post a photo or a video to social media using the hashtag, My
I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching and have a great weekend, if it is your weekend. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.