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Ex-Trump Campaign Aide Pleads Guilty; Thousands of Civilians Trapped in Eastern Ghouta; Failures, Missed Signals and Politics in the Florida School Shooting; Kelly to Decide on Kushner Security Clearance; Second Russian Athlete Found Guilty of Doping; Panther Power: Film Speaks to Young Viewers. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired February 24, 2018 - 04:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A busy day for the U.S. special counsel. New charges against one former Trump campaign staffer and a plea deal from another.

In the meantime, missed warning signals in the Florida school shooting add to the heartbreak and the questions about prevention.

Also a second Russian athlete is found guilty of doping. CNN live in PyeongChang with the details.

We are live at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. We welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts now.


HOWELL: 4:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast.

And the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation is continuing to pile on the pressure. On Friday, Robert Mueller filed new charges against the former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

A new indictment accused him of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby in the United States on behalf of Ukraine. That indictment came hours after Manafort's former long-time aide, Rick Gates, pleaded guilty to two charges and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's Russia investigation. CNN's Sara Murray picks it up from here.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another guilty plea for special counsel Robert Mueller: former campaign adviser Rick Gates pleading guilty to Russian interference. Gates pleaded guilty in D.C. court to conspiracy to defraud the U.S., telling friends and family in a letter, "The last several months have been excruciating."

Gates is cooperating with the special counsel, the third Trump associate to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. The decision to flip on his long-time business partner, Paul Manafort, ramps up the pressure for Manafort to cooperate with Mueller, particularly about the campaign.

I think these lawyers are putting so much pressure on these guys with so many high stakes that the ultimate decision is going to be I have protect myself and my country.

Charges unrelated to the campaign. In the charges Gates' pleaded two, he outlined how they hid millions of dollars from the federal government and lied to investigators in 2016 about the scheme.

Investigators caught Gates in a lie during an interview in plea negotiations earlier this month. He lied in saying Ukraine was not discussed in a 2013 meeting with Manafort. It shows California congressman, a Russia friendly member of Congress attended. In a letter to associates, Gates describes the decision to plead guilty as a change of heart.

The reality of how long it will take, the cost and the circus-like atmosphere is too much, Gates writes. Mueller unveiled new charges, 18 counts against Manafort and others against Gates. The new charges carry the risk of a far longer prison sentence, up to 30 years if found guilty of bank fraud.

The move highlights how Mueller's team is turning up the heat to press them to cooperate. Their cooperation, building blocks to use against other Trump associates or even the president. The pressure took the toll on Gates. Millions of dollars in offshore accounts for mortgage, tuition and interior decorating.

In explaining, Gates writes, "The consequence is the public humiliation, which seems like a small price to pay for what our children would have to endure otherwise."

As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to turn over documents, testify in cases including Paul Manafort's. Manafort is still saying he is innocent.

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have the strength to continue this battle to prove our innocence. For reasons yet to surface, he chose to do otherwise. This does not alter my commitment to defend myself against the untrue piled-up charges contained in the indictment against me."

Pretty clear, at least for now, Manafort is indicating he wants to go to trial -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: All right, Sara, thank you very much.

Now to the aftermath of that deadly school shooting that took place in the U.S. state of Florida. We are learning new details about failures and missed signals that could have stopped the massacre --


HOWELL: -- and could have even saved lives. Randi Kaye reports for us.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While the gunman was inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing people at random, a trained Broward County sheriff's deputy did nothing.

SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words.

KAYE (voice-over): The Broward County sheriff revealing the stunning news that one deputy, Scot Peterson, who was armed and in uniform, clearly knew there was an active shooter but stayed in his position outside Building 12.

The sheriff says video shows the deputy doing nothing for more than four minutes while the bullets flew inside. The shooting lasted about six minutes.

Deputy Peterson has since resigned.

When reporters asked what he should have done...

ISRAEL: Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.

KAYE (voice-over): -- and new information tonight that Peterson wasn't the only sheriff's deputy who failed to act. Now, Coral Springs police sources tell CNN that three other Broward County sheriff's deputies also remained outside, pistols drawn, but hiding behind their vehicles.

It's unclear if the shooter was still there when they arrived, but not one of them had gone into the school. It was the Coral Springs officers who were the first to go in.

Meanwhile, during the shooting, another key misstep. Turns out the surveillance video security teams were watching, in hopes of locating the 19-year-old gunman in the school, had been rewound.

The 20-minute video delay led authorities to believe the gunman was still in the building when, in reality, he was long gone.

CHIEF TONY PUSTIZZI, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA POLICE: The delay never put us in a situation where any kids' lives were in danger.

KAYE (voice-over): Long before the shooting, there were warning signs that went nowhere. Even the FBI missed a major red flag.

CNN has reviewed a transcript from a January 5th call this year. A tipster close to the Parkland shooter warning the FBI that the teen was, quote, "going to explode."

The female tipster spoke of his social media posts about guns and his violence in school, saying she feared him getting into a school and just shooting the place up.

The FBI has admitted that proper protocols weren't followed on a key tip about the suspect just weeks before the attack.

DAVID BOWDICH, FBI ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR: There was a mistake made. We know that. But it is our job to make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure that does not happen again.

KAYE (voice-over): Also, the Broward County sheriff now revealing their office had received 18 calls related to the suspect over the past decade. In a 2016 call, officers got a tip that he planned to shoot up an unknown school. Police records show the responding deputy passed the information on to a school resource officer.

In another call last November, police records show a caller warned the teen was collecting guns, suggesting he could be a school shooter in the making. Officers simply referred it to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Department for review.

Also last year, a family in Palm Beach County alerted police that the suspect had put a gun up to someone's head. The suspect himself called 9-1-1 about the incident.

NIKOLAS CRUZ, SUSPECT: I kind of got mad and I started punching walls and stuff, then a kid (INAUDIBLE) came at me and threw me on the ground.

KAYE (voice-over): Police responded and were told at the scene it had all been worked out -- Randi Kaye, CNN, Parkland, Florida.


HOWELL: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, weighed in on that armed resource officer who did not go into the school building. He said the officer did not act properly under pressure and did not have the courage to do what need to be done. Mr. Trump also said the officer's actions justify arming more teachers. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A security guard doesn't know the children, doesn't love the children. This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn't love the children, probably doesn't know the children. The teachers love their children. They love their pupils, they love their students.


HOWELL: To talk about this, let's bring in Peter Matthews, a political analyst and professor of political science at Cypress College from Los Angeles.

Peter, a pleasure to have you with us.


HOWELL: The Gates' plea deal. What kind of pressure does this put on Paul Manafort?

Specifically, what does Manafort know and what could Mueller be trying to pull out of him?

MATTHEWS: Gates and Manafort have been with President Trump for quite a while, especially Gates. But what happened with Manafort went ahead and was charged by Mueller of using money, secretly, to pay former European politicians to lobby for Ukraine and hiding it.

Then Gates was charged and he actually pleaded guilty to several other charges and then Manafort was charged with these charges. So looks like Mueller is onto something here. And he has a man who's been there right from the beginning and stayed on --


MATTHEWS: -- after Manafort left, that's Mr. Gates, who has actually pleaded guilty as well. So that's going to be a very interesting case if he works with Mr. Mueller to give more information about this whole situation.

HOWELL: For those in the White House, those around the president, there's always been the word that this investigation will wrap up in a matter of months.

But given what we are seeing right now, what does this say about the extent of Mueller's investigation, how much longer this might continue?

MATTHEWS: It's going to continue on and on for at least many months and possibly even a year or two because there's more and more information coming up and looks like Mr. Mueller is getting closer possibly to what the president may or may not have known.

And he's not going to let up until that happens. I think that when other people like maybe Kelly said the investigation will be over soon, it was just to get Mr. Trump not to interfere.

That's the danger of it; Mr. Trump is seen to be interfering and possibly obstructing justice. That's the greatest danger. So that's maybe why others said it might be over soon. But I don't think that was the case where they believed actually, it shouldn't be over soon at all in the way it's going right now, especially with Manafort and Gates at this point doing what they are doing.

HOWELL: This investigation certainly is front and center.

And also the president chiming in on that deadly shooting that took place at a high school in the U.S. state of Florida. The president made some comments about that officer that stood outside the school, saying the officer didn't love the students, making the comparison that teachers would love them more and essentially pushing his policy message forward about arming teachers.

Obviously the teachers' union has pushed against this.

Do you see this going anywhere?

MATTHEWS: Well, I think this conflict is going to be resolved, it's got to be, soon, especially when teachers are being dragged into this thing. Most teachers don't want to have to be armed. They were never trained for that.

When they took the job, they were never given that option or possibility. And so all of a sudden to put guns in teachers' hands is at the very least disingenuous. Imagine a shooter coming in with an -- some automatic rifle or assault weapon.

All of a sudden, the teacher has got to reach for their gun in the desk or whatever and then load it or pull a bolt to make it be ready to fire and then turn around and hit this guy with a crossfire, which anyone could be caught up in, could be even worse or just as bad and then shoot a lot of kids.

So I think Mr. Trump is not being really very straightforward on this. He's trying to have it both ways. He wants to make it look like he is doing something about this horrible tragedy and yet he's still being held back by the NRA and its voters to not ban assault weapons.

Because that's what you really need, is to ban assault weapons so people like this guy, Nikolas Cruz, could not have gotten a hold of them. That was the problem, easy access to assault weapons that can do devastating damage, as we've seen already.

HOWELL: The president is surely walking a fine line here, speaking to the families here, these grieving families, who lost loved ones; at the same time, speaking to his base, speaking to many people who do support the NRA.

On the stage at CPAC, the president seemed to be very pro-NRA, later saying that these are good people that want to do the right thing.

How does that square with the backlash that the NRA is getting?

And does this president have the ability to direct the NRA in any direction?

MATTHEWS: I don't think he's going to end up benefitting from this at all if he takes the NRA's side or is so soft on them because look at what's happening now. Many businesses are boycotting. They're going to disinvest in the NRA or get away from cooperating with them.

And so the brand risk is going on right now. The NRA has a terrible brand name at this point and businesses are starting to fall away, like Enterprise car rental broke away from them as did some other businesses.

This is not a good thing for the president to try to hang on, either politically or ethically because, in the end, 67 percent of Americans say we should ban assault weapons. That would be a good beginning.

And you saw the young people begging the Florida legislature to do so and they wouldn't even consider it. And begging the president to get behind them. These young people are leading the charge to make America safer.

So I don't think Mr. Trump is doing quite the right direction right now with the way he's going, try to placate the NRA at the same time trying to really help America's children. If he wants to help them, he should take real action and not just come up with platitudes, so to speak.

HOWELL: All right.

Well, what about this?

The president had advocated raising the age limit; the Florida governor has also done the same. This is in opposition to the NRA.

So the question, do you see this as a major policy shift?

MATTHEWS: I see it as a very small step, it's a good step in the right direction but it's not even close to what needs to be done, George, because just raising the age doesn't mean you can stop most of these shooters. Many of them were above 21 or above. And they will continue this thing as long as these assault weapons are so easily available.

Look what happened in Australia. When they had a huge shooting in Port Arthur, what happened was the conservative government banned assault weapons and, immediately, from then on, for the next couple of decades, there's been not even one single mass shooting in Australia.

So we have examples of other societies, we know in our own country --


MATTHEWS: -- where the states that have a smaller amount of gun ownership have lower gun related deaths and vice versa.

So we know the social science behind it. And President Trump should go with the facts and so should the NRA. No one is saying we should take away everyone's gun here at all. We're just saying that ban the kinds of guns that are real assault weapons, war-related weapons, not for hunting, not individual self-defense and make young people and everyone else safer.

HOWELL: Peter Matthews, we appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: And for President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, more security clearance problems loom on the horizon.

The White House was alerted two weeks ago that significant information, requiring more investigation, would delay his security clearance process even further. That's according to "The Washington Post's" reporting.

President Trump said the decision on whether Kushner keeps his temporary clearance, that will be made by chief of staff John Kelly. Questions have been raised about Kushner having access to classified materials with only temporary clearance.

Still ahead this hour here on CNN NEWSROOM, Syrians hope for a cease- fire as a truce vote stalls at the U.N. We have a live report ahead from the region.






HOWELL: Welcome back. This story just in to CNN. Taliban insurgents attacked a small military base in Afghanistan, that attack killing 18 Afghan soldiers. A large number of insurgents were also killed during the fight. But Afghan officials aren't saying how many. The attack happened in the western province of Fara (ph) on Saturday.

Turning now to Syria, where things often look like they couldn't be worse and then they turn out to be worse. This scene here by civilians in Eastern Ghouta. They have been hammered for weeks now by daily and deadly bombardments and now they say they are being hit with a new kind of rocket, a rocket that spreads fire.

All of this playing out as people there hope for a 30-day cease-fire. But the U.N. failed to vote on the resolution Friday. Backers say they hope to try again for a vote in the coming hours.

Let's bring in CNN's senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, following this story from neighboring Lebanon, live in Beirut this hour.

It's great to have you with us, Ben. This obviously goes without question to say there's a lot at stake with this possible vote in the coming hours. Set the stage for us as to why the first vote didn't come together.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, George, they have been meeting since Thursday, trying to agree on some sort of resolution that would, within 72 hours, bring into effect a 30-day humanitarian cease-fire.

The sticking point, we understand, is that the Russians want American guarantees that the rebel groups operating in Eastern Ghouta, the main ones are Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, will abide by the cease- fire.

Of course the problem here is the Americans essentially shut down their operation room in Jordan that was providing money and weapons to the rebels in Syria. Therefore, they don't really have much control over those groups anymore. Saudi Arabia and Qatar were also providing support for them but their

support has also dwindled as they wearied with the conflict in Syria. So it's not clear if anybody can satisfy the Russian demands.

Earlier, the Russians had also said that they would respect a truce but excepted from the truce would be any fighters with ISIS or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which is the Nusra Front renamed, rebranded, so to speak.

So there's no guarantee, at this point -- after today, it will be three days of discussions in the U.N. Security Council that they are going to come to any agreement.

And what we are hearing from within Eastern Ghouta, from civilians and from doctors is that the situation is getting even worse. People are afraid to even go outside to bury the dead.

Food, water and medical supplies are dangerously low; therefore, they don't have a lot of time to waste, waiting for the diplomats in New York to come to some sort of agreement on this humanitarian cease-fire -- George.

HOWELL: All right, Ben, those are the facts first. Ben, thank you for the reporting.

Let's get some context now, bringing in Fawaz Gerges. Fawaz is the professor at London School of Economics and has written extensively about conflicts in the Middle East, live with us this hour from London.

It's good to have you with us, sir. Let's talk more about this delayed vote, mainly coming down to Russia, which stands as a shield as well to the Syrian government. Let's talk about those sticking points that our Ben Wedeman just laid out, that stand in the way of a cease-fire.

What is holding this up?

FAWAZ GERGES, DIR. MIDDLE EAST CENTER, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: George, Russia is not coming out and saying what it really wants. What Russia wants is for the rebels, a number about 5,000 strong in Eastern Ghouta, to be evacuated sooner rather than later. This is the strategic goal of Russia, Iran and Syria.

The reality is the Russians are very upset, very angry because the rebels have -- of course, they did not attend the Sochi conference. There have been talks between the rebels and the Russians and the Egyptians about evacuation from Eastern Ghouta.

And the conditions -- basically the rebels would not accept the conditions. What you are seeing now in Eastern Ghouta is negotiation by blood and fire. What the Russians and the Syrians and their allies are trying to do is to basically to terrorize the civilians and the rebels and force --

[04:25:00] GERGES: -- a settlement whereby, at the end of the day, the soft belly of Damascus, for your own viewers, Eastern Ghouta is five miles away from the heart of Damascus. It's the soft belly of Damascus. It's the last strong area held by the rebels.

And what Assad and the Russians and everyone is trying to do is to really win the war militarily because the (INAUDIBLE), the evacuation of Eastern Ghouta by the rebels would mean the last major stronghold held by the rebels.

That's why the Russians are really pushing very hard. They don't want just a cease-fire. They want a conditional cease-fire based on the fact that the rebels, at the end of the day, if not today, in a month or so, would be evacuated from Eastern Ghouta.

HOWELL: Look, this vote and the significance for the Security Council, very important. It's not only for the implications on the ground for people in Syria but regarding the credibility of this body itself.

GERGES: George, we have been there before.

How many times have we talked about the credibility of the Security Council, about the international community has led the Syrian people down for the last seven years. Think of how many times you and I have spoken about Aleppo.

What you are seeing in Eastern Ghouta is a repeat of the Aleppo battle. In fact, these are not my words, those are the words of the Russian foreign minister. Lavrov just a few days ago, he said, quote- unquote -- and I'm paraphrasing -- we think we could repeat the Aleppo model in Eastern Ghouta.

The United States is marginalized, is nowhere to be seen. Donald Trump is not interested except in ISIS. And the international community has no teeth. The Russians have the upper hand in Syria.

And what the Russians are trying to do is send a message, not only to the rebels but even to the United States and the European powers, that is the king, Putin, President Putin is the kingmaker.

And what you are really seeing is that this is the brutality of international relations. Basically blood and fire determines, basically, it's the balance of power. And the Russians are saying, look, we have the means to terrorize the civilians and the rebels. And by the end of the day, you have to accept our way or basically help.

HOWELL: Let's talk about that. We are talking geopolitics here. But at the same time, right now, there are families are living underground, families hiding from bombs, from double taps, unsure whether they will find food or water. People that are just simply trying to survive right now.

Help our viewers understand the living hell that is their daily lives and why this possible vote is so critical. GERGES: You are absolutely correct. The humanitarian situation is basically hellish. You have a bloodbath. You have 400,000 civilians who live in a very small area called Eastern Ghouta.

Remember, George, they have been under siege for more than five years. So the situation is hellish. Now it's a bloodbath. It's hellish bloodbath because you have hundreds of civilians, including children who have been injured and killed.

The reality is, the question, at the end of the day, Russia's interests basically top everything else. And sadly and tragically, the United States and the international community have not been able to engage the Russians seriously about a way out.

So what you really have in Syria now, and we talked about it two weeks ago, is a fierce geostrategic struggle between regional powers and global powers. You have Turkey, Israel and Iran. They're vital in Syria and you have the United States and you have Russia.

And the Russians are trying to say, look, we are basically, we have the dominant position and we are going to establish the rules of the game. So far, the Russians have a military dominant position but they have not been able to translate their military position into political capital. They are angry because the conference in Russia, in Sochi, really failed.

And the Russians are saying to the rebels, we are going show you our own way. That's really what you are seeing going on in Eastern Ghouta but, also, in terms of the civil war inside Syria, Eastern Ghouta is really existential for asset.

It's just five miles away from the heart of Damascus. The rebels have been shelling Damascus almost on daily basis. Of course, the rebels don't really have the same brutal weapons that the Assad regime has. But this is really a very, very existential --


GERGES: -- for Assad in terms of winning the war militarily and securing Damascus.

HOWELL: Fawaz Gerges, live for us in London, thank you for the context. We'll stay in touch with you.

CNN NEWSROOM will be right back after the break.




HOWELL: Live coast to coast in the United States and to our viewers around the world this hour. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you. (HEADLINES)

HOWELL: Of course there is a great deal of anger and a lot of frustration over these missed signs --


HOWELL: -- and these failures to act.

One of those frustrated is Samantha Fuentes, a senior at the school. She was shot in both legs and hospitalized. She spoke earlier to my colleague, Erin Burnett, on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT." Listen.


SAMANTHA FUENTES, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Everyone has reported this kid. And we thought that we did everything in our power to get him off of school grounds, get him away from us because he was a violent and malicious person. And that was obvious.

And kids would even joke about how he was going to be the next school shooter. And as students, we can only do so much. We thought that if we put it into the hands of the law and the hands of our government, that it would be handled.


HOWELL: President Trump called Samantha while she was in the hospital. She said the experience was a little bizarre.


FUENTES: One of the first things he said to me was that he heard that I was a big fan of his and that he was a big fan of mine and he was just trying to console me and let me know that everything was going to be OK.

He then commenced to call the shooter "a sick puppy" and probably used the word, "oh, boy," probably a solid eight times.


HOWELL: Again, Samantha there, shot in both legs and hospitalized. She spoke earlier to Erin Burnett.

A Florida Republican congressman and Army combat veteran now says that he supports the ban of future purchases of the AR-15 weapons. His powerful op-ed in "The New York Times" is headlined, "I'm a Republican and I Appreciate Weapons and I Support a Ban." Brian Mast says changing laws will save lives.


REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: The platform that I carried an M-4 carbine, similar to an AR-15. I was carrying that weapon on the battlefield in the most dangerous country on Earth for one reason, because of its lethality. It was the best weapon that the Army could give me to go out there and make sure that I could eliminate our enemies.

I can honestly say my community and my kids and our schools, I don't think that they are made safer by the general population of civilians having unfettered access to the best weapon the Army could put in my hand to go out there and kill our enemies.


HOWELL: Aside from those officers that apparently didn't respond, first responders are often seen as stoic heroes. People who can work through tragic circumstances. But for some who responded to the Parkland massacre, recounting those moments triggers very strong emotions. CNN's Rosa Flores sat down with three of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Active shooter situation in Parkland.

GEORGE SCHMIDT, PATROL OFFICER, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: You are going to anticipate it and you're going to take on fire. Like you're looking for it.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These first responders were among the first to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a gunman fired indiscriminately at students and teachers.

NICHOLAS MAZZEI, SERGEANT, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: The first thing we saw, there was a victim right outside the west doors. We checked on that victim and that victim was deceased.

IVO CECILIANO, CAPTAIN, CORAL SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT SWAT MEDIC, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: At that moment, I actually felt sick, but I know I have a job to do.

FLORES: The building, they say, riddled with bullet holes. Inside, a chilling silence.

MAZZEI: You'd think there'd be smoke alarms and screaming. It was eerily silent.

SCHMIDT: Very poor visibility just from the amount of gunfire that had taken place. Spent shell casings all over the ground. You could see multiple victims in the hallway immediately that were beyond assistance.

FLORES: Inside classrooms, students and teachers taking cover and calling this 911 center. Dispatchers say victims were afraid to speak so they listened for breathing as a sign of life.

KATHY LIRIANO, CORAL SPRINGS POLICE AND FIRE COMMUNICATIONS, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: You just have to be quiet and that's OK as long as I can hear you breathing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White male, burgundy shirt. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wearing a black cap on --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are monitoring the subject right now.

FLORES: Sergeant Mazzei was on the second floor when this came over the radio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went from the third floor to the second floor.

MAZZEI: We were very prepared for. We anticipated engaging him.

FLORES: Turns out the video was not live, it was on a delay. So they advance to the third floor.

SCHMIDT: I look down and I'm standing on top of the rifle. His rifle's there, his vest is there.

FLORES: -- and then a faint call for help.

SCHMIDT: I open up the door again -- I'm sorry.

FLORES (on camera): Take your time.

SCHMIDT: -- and the kid deserves a lot of credit.

CECILIANO: I had a firefighter texting me the whole time. I'm looking for my friend's daughter that's on the third floor. I don't know --

FLORES (voice-over): As for these heroes who respond to the unthinkable, they felt blessed to hug their own children.

CECILIANO: And he goes, daddy, I love you. That was tough for me.

FLORES: And even though they hope it never happens again --

MAZZEI: But if it does I want to make sure that I'm there.

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, Parkland, Florida.


HOWELL: All credit to the men and women who went in there and did what they did.


HOWELL: Still ahead, she is called the U.S. charmer in chief and she is in South Korea. How Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, is practicing diplomacy at the Winter Olympic Games.

Plus, another Russian athlete has been found guilty of doping. This could affect the Olympic athletes from Russia and their closing ceremony procession. CNN has a live report from PyeongChang, ahead.



HOWELL: Aiming for the gold. The U.S. president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, is cheering on Team USA at the 2018 Winter Games. She is in PyeongChang, South Korea, ahead of Sunday night's closing ceremonies. CNN's Paula Hancocks is following the story live from PyeongChang.

Paula, let's talk about the political tension that exists beyond the Olympic Games.

Has Ivanka Trump's presence there been mainly symbolic or is there more to it?

Is she active on other fronts?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, certainly, the fact is that the U.S. president Donald Trump's daughter is here cheering on Team USA athletes. She's here for something more important. She is part of this delegation. She is leading the delegation.

She came with a message for President Moon Jae-in South Korea at the banquet meeting on Friday night. She was detailing the sanctions that the U.S. Treasury Department have just added.

They say they are the most significant sanctions, the heaviest sanctions against North Korea, against shipping companies, against vessels, there's 27 entities, 28 vessels which have been sanctioned to make sure that North Korea is not able to import or export things that it is not supposed to be against United Nations sanctions, also saying that they would punish people who were trying to help them --


HANCOCKS: -- avoid those sanctions.

So this is part of the message that Ivanka Trump has been bringing to the South Koreans. We heard, also, President Moon told her at this banquet meeting, even though the North and South Koreans were going to be talking, it was very important that it was in conjunction with talking about denuclearization, that the two were not mutually exclusive -- George.

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks live for us in PyeongChang, thank you very much.

Now let's get more on the exciting competition in PyeongChang. Let's cross over to CNN "WORLD SPORT"s, Amanda Davies.

Amanda, good to have you with us.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George. Yes, day 15 and we have had a Winter Olympics first. Saturday, the 24th of February, 2018, the day that Ester Ledecka will not forget is the day she made history, claiming her second gold medal in her second sport at this games, having shocked the world and herself to win gold in the alpine skiing SuperG last week.

Today she started with a victory in the snowboard parallel giant slalom. The 22-year old was the favorite for today. She romped through for the victory so you suspect she won't have made the same mistake she did last week in not putting on any makeup, which meant she felt she had to do her press conference in her ski goggles.

That was the Czech Republic's seventh medal of the games though and there's been a record for Norway as well. Their bronze in the alpine skiing mixed team event was their 38th medal, which sees them surpass the total of most medals ever by a country at a single Winter Olympics which is quite incredible, given the size of their team.

They have just 109 athletes in contrast to the USA's 242 ,for example. It certainly left a lot of the other teams scratching their heads, trying to work out how they have done it.

And talking of head scratching, you think a fair amount of that will be going on at the IOC executive board meeting here in PyeongChang. It is the meeting where they are discussing whether or not to allow the banned Russian team to transform from their neutral uniforms, that Olympic flag, back to using their own Russian flag and Russian kit for Sunday evening's closing ceremony.

You may remember it was put on the table as an option when the deal was struck to allow some Russian athletes to compete despite their national ban for state sponsored doping. And it's a decision that Russian whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov has described as the most important moment in its history for the IOC.

But one that has most definitely been complicated by the failed drug test of bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva. She became the second member of the team of the Olympic athletes from Russia to fail a test during these games. That happened just yesterday, Friday.

So two of four positive tests at this games have come from the team meant to represent the new, clean face of Russian sports. So it will be very interesting to see how the board feels, that that plays into that ideal that we have heard a lot in the last week of the OAR team competing by the letter of the law and the spirit of the games.

We are actually expecting to find out the ruling on Sunday lunchtime, just a few hours ahead of the closing ceremony -- George.

HOWELL: All right, Amanda, we'll be looking ahead to it. Thank you. We'll stay in touch.

I want to tell you about March 14th as well. The second annual, My Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. We have been asking people what freedom means to them. Here is what it means to American Olympic figure skater, Nathan Chen.


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 yourself.


HOWELL: What does freedom mean to you?

Well, you can share your story. Use #MyFreedomDay. We will be sure to see that and pick it up there.

Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, moviegoers around the room are filling theaters to see the movie, "Black Panther." Why so many say this is about more than just a superhero.







HOWELL: The new "Black Panther" film has been shattering box office records. In Nairobi, Kenya, theaters have had to make room for additional screenings to accommodate the demand. Our Farai Sevenzo shows us.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a Hollywood superhero movie, set it in an imaginary African nation and fill it with some of the best black talent.


And an instant fan base is formed. The movie, "Black Panther," is being embraced by audiences here in Nairobi like no other movie before it. It's an amalgamation of imaginations, inspired by cultures across the continent, putting into sharp focus an umbilical cord which ties black folk to the African continent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We definitely completely underestimated how big of a deal this movie would be. It reached a point where we have to cancel a lot of other movies and other screenings just to make more room for "Black Panther" because the demand is nearly through the roof.

SEVENZO (voice-over): And making room for even the smallest fans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is their first experience in a cinema. So it was very important for me for them to see "Black Panther," that I felt was being celebrated all over the world by black folk.

SEVENZO (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) started a crowdfunding campaign to get this group of 200 teenagers to see the film in 3-D at this Nairobi movie house. She raised $2,000 in just 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted them to feel, to celebrate, to have, to be part of the party, to be part of the pride of "Black Panther" and Africa (INAUDIBLE).

SEVENZO (voice-over): And when it's all over, these first-time moviegoers give their verdict.

SEVENZO: Did you like the movie?


SEVENZO: The only part I heard you cheering was when Lupita was kissing T'Challa.



SEVENZO: And so when people are crowdsourcing for funds to let these kids like this watch cinema for the first time and to make sure that their first cinematic experience is the "Black Panther," there's something in that. And that something is very, very simple.

It's about identity. It's about who they are. It's about why they are so proud to see other black people on the screen -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


HOWELL: I can't wait to see that movie this week. More news right after the break.