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Ex-Trump Aide Pleads Guilty, Will Cooperate With Mueller; CNN: Four Broward Sheriff Deputies Waited Outside School; Tipline Caller Warned FBI About Shooter In January. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 24, 2018 - 06:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know he's, he's going to explode, the caller who appears to know Cruz well tells the FBI tip line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To realize that more could have been done, that potentially lives could have been saved, this is just outrageous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a police officer, you've made a vow. You've made an oath to protect the people that you are policing, and they didn't do that for us.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't want a person that's never handled a gun that wouldn't know what it looks like to be armed. Out of your teaching population, you have 10 percent, 20 percent, a very gun-adept people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Trump campaign adviser, Rick Gates, pleading guilty today to two criminal charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Paul Manafort have something he can offer Bob Mueller that will allow him to not spend rest of his days behind bars?


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Another senior Trump campaign official flips in the Russia investigation making him the third known Trump associate to cooperate with Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Rick Gates took a plea deal yesterday possibly in exchange for testifying against Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, what were they waiting for? CNN learns a total of four Broward County Sheriff's deputies waited outside that Florida high school as students inside were being shot. Law enforcement facing some tough questions this morning now about what more could have been done to stop that massacre.

I want to begin with those developments, but first of all, though, in the Russia investigation, CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House for us right now. So, Abby, the spotlight firmly on the Trump campaign this morning. How are the White House and lawmakers responding?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. This case is continuing to expand this week as yet another Trump campaign associate is charged by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, for a slew of charges.

And these charges and the plea deal associated with it suggests that the special counsel is zeroing in on Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, who has also been charged with a number of -- of allegations from the Mueller team.

And the special counsel seems to be wanting to push him to cooperate with them. Rick Gates, a longtime associate of Paul Manafort, a business associate, has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, crucially providing documentation and responsibly testimony that could help them in their case.

Clearly, the Mueller team wants Paul Manafort to see that the pressure is on him, encouraging him to cooperate more fully with the investigators. Paul Manafort could provide crucial hints here as to what went on during the Trump campaign as it relates to this Mueller investigation.

Now why this is significant -- Rick Gates is the third Trump associate to plead guilty in this Mueller investigation. He joins George Papadopoulos and the former national security adviser and a T Michael Flynn, Trump aide, who pled guilty over last year. This case continues to march on.

And in a statement, Paul Manafort made it clear that he is maintaining his innocence despite the -- innocence despite these developments, and that he had hoped that his associate, Rick Gates, would continue to fight.

But clearly, Gates believed that these charges and the potential jail time that he faced as a result of allegedly lying to the FBI would be too significant. Of course, the White House here is not saying anything at all.

They continue to maintain that these charges and guilty pleas have nothing to do with them as they relate to allegations that went on long before the Trump campaign began -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Reminding viewers, too, that Manafort released a statement saying that he continues to maintain his innocence despite Rick Gates' guilty plea. Abby Phillip, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

[06:05:09] BLACKWELL: All right. Joining me now, Lauren Fox, CNN congressional reporter, and Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News. Good morning to both of you. Good to have you. So, Lauren, let's actually start with you. What does this mean if anything for the central question here about a potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, what this tells us is that there is pressure mounting on allies of President Trump from the campaign. Now as Abby said in her report, these allegations are not related to the Trump campaign.

What they are related to is financial issues that happened before they were part of the Trump campaign. But clearly Rick Gates knows a lot about his former associate and that's potentially problematic for Manafort as this marches forward.

I think there are a lot of questions still about what Rick Gates can tell FBI investigators, and that is the remaining question here is what exactly he knows, how much he's willing to share, and whether or not this ultimately results in Manafort pleading guilty, as well, as pressure mounts.

BLACKWELL: Now Errol, as Lauren said there that the expectation is at least on the part of prosecutors is that Rick Gates will help to flip Paul Manafort. But as "The New York Times" points out that even after Manafort left the campaign in August 2016, Gates stayed on as a liaison between the campaign and the RNC, even traveled on the Trump plane through election day. So, he could offer a lot of insight about the campaign itself independent of what he knows about Paul Manafort.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's right. The thing to keep in mind in this kind of a complex investigation is that people are connecting dots on the Mueller team that we don't necessarily even know exist. That Rick Gates himself might not know really exist.

In other words, timelines, dates, who was in the room, who spoke to whom, who had the e-mail correspondence on what topics and so forth. All of that is stuff to figure out what went on here you'd have to know. You have to ask everybody.

You have to ask everybody from the security guards and the secretaries to the assistants like Rick Gates or the seemingly low-level so-called coffee boys like George Papadopoulos.

That's really what this investigation I think is most interestingly compiling is a lot of people who were in a position to know a lot more than their title or rank might suggest.

BLACKWELL: Lauren, what's pretty remarkable about this is Gates pled guilty here to lying to prosecutors about a meeting with a member of Congress in 2013. I mean, obviously now 2018, five or so years later, it really speaks to the breadth and depth of Mueller's investigation.

FOX: Well, ertainly, and that's what we saw with the indictment of those Russian officials is the fact that this began long before the presidential campaign, some of these issues that Mueller is looking at. This is a broad and complex investigation. That is part of why the president has been so frustrated as this has continued on and on. You know, a lot of his allies were telling him this would be over by Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year.

Clearly, this is an expansive investigation that is not going away any time soon and likely will plague the Republicans in the 2018 midterms as they go forward.

BLACKWELL: Let me read what Christi mentioned just a few moments ago, Errol, this is Paul Manafort's statement released by his team. This was after the guilty plea from Gates but before the additional charges, "Notwithstanding the Rick Gates pled today, I continue to maintain my innocence. I'd hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence.

For reasons yet to surface, he chose to do otherwise. This is to guessed e defend myself against the untrue, piled up charges contained in the indictment against me." Now, of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in this country.

But take this into context -- the detail that we've seen in these indictments against Paul Manafort and the conviction rate from federal prosecutors. What do you make of this statement?

LOUIS: Well, the conviction rate is something like 93 percent. Now one of the reasons that the rate is so high is really alluded to in what you just read, Victor, which is that when somebody like Paul Manafort says these "piled up charges," there's something that I think even the most liberal Democrat, the biggest Trump hater should be concerned about.

Which is that prosecutors have the ability to sit you down, have a conversation with you and say, hey, you know what, you lied to us about an event that happened five years ago, that's a felony. We're going to send you to prison.

Under that kind of pressure, there are a lot of people who end up pleading guilty to something just to get out from under the threat of a ruinous trial that could bankrupt you if you tried to pay the lawyers' fees involved.

Clearly, Rick Gates more or less said that because he's got four kids, because he's got a life ahead of him, and he wants to spare his family the crushing financial burden of defending himself against the federal government, he's going to plead guilty.

[06:10:13] Paul Manafort's statement suggests the same thing, that the two of them are under a lot of pressure. That, in fact, is true.

BLACKWELL: Dozens of charges now against Paul Manafort, and that pressure is increasing. Errol Louis, Lauren Fox, thank you both.

PAUL: Missed tips by the FBI and sheriff's deputies failing to get into that school as students were being shot. We're talking next to a former Secret Service agent about what happens here and how we got here.

BLACKWELL: Plus, using the power of social media to take on the nation's most powerful gun lobby. More big-name businesses are cutting ties with the NRA as online calls for a boycott threaten their bottomline.

PAUL: And Ivanka Trump is in South Korea, of course, for the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Her father, the president, at the same time imposing the strongest sanctions to date on North Korea. We'll take you to South Korea just ahead. Stay close.



BLACKWELL: Another misstep as we learn more about the response to the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

PAUL: Apparently, sheriff's deputies stayed outside the school rather than moving into it. A woman called the FBI last month to warn them about this shooter. That case was closed within an hour with no follow through. Here's CNN Randi Kaye with more.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're learning more details about the shooting here in Parkland, Florida. We've learned that at least one Broward County Sheriff's deputy remained outside, an armed Broward County Sheriff's deputy, remained outside even though he knew there was an active shooter inside the school.

That deputy, Scott Peterson, has resigned. The sheriff said that Peterson stood outside for more than 4 minutes while the shooting was underway. The whole shooting massacre lasted about 6 minutes.

We are also learning that three other Broward County Sheriff's deputies were outside armed with their handguns drawn hiding behind their cars. It's unclear if the shooter at that time was still in the school, but those three deputies also never entered the high school.

That information coming to us from Coral Springs' Police Department. Those Coral Springs deputies were the first ones to enter the school. Also, another tip, a major red flag for the FBI that was ignored. This tip came in January 5th, weeks before the shooting.

CNN has reviewed a transcript from this tip call. The tipster was apparently close to the Parkland shooter, warning the FBI that this teen was, quote, "going to explode." The female tipster spoke of his social media posts about guns and violence, saying she feared him getting into a school and shooting the place up. That's an exact quote.

As you know, the FBI has admitted that proper protocols were not followed. They're investigating why that tip about this suspect was dropped so close to the attack. Finally, the security cameras, that was an issue, as well.

When police arrived and did get inside, they were reviewing the surveillance cameras trying to find out where this suspect was in the school. We've now learned that those cameras were on a delay. They had been rewound. So, what the police were watching was 20 minutes behind.

So, when they thought he was on the second floor and trying to locate him, they'd go to the second floor, and he was no longer there. They were way behind. He was already long gone from the school building at the time when they were reviewing the surveillance tapes. Randi Kaye, CNN, Parkland, Florida.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joining us now to talk about this, CNN law enforcement analyst, Jonathan Wackrow. Jonathan, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: A former Secret Service agent under President Obama. I want to mention something that we read from a writer named Ari Shulman. He has an idea about how to combat these shootings. Instead of trying to blame it on something that cannot easily be fixed, that we could take a cue from 9/11 and try forming a single agency dedicated to following through on tips and training, local officials from mass shooting scenarios. What do you think about that?

WACKROW: Listen, that's -- I'm open to any idea right now. What we've seen in this incident in Florida is the perfect storm of failure of people, process, and technology. We need to dissect this incident from every single angle, from the law enforcement angle, the health providers' angle, educators and the community.

There were multiple failures across the entire spectrum. There wasn't just one single failure, there were multiple that caused this preventable incident to occur. We have to dissect this. We have to get better from this. We have to take this tragedy and move forward to ensure that this does not happen again.

PAUL: Jonathan, there have been a lot of discussions about arming teachers. Some teachers say, listen, that is not what I got into this business to do. I'm here to teach our kids. But there are others, schools in Texas, where teachers want to be armed because of a situation like this. Your immediate thoughts on that scenario?

WACKROW: Listen, bringing up arming teachers is a kneejerk reaction to an incident. OK, listen, after 9/11, remember people were saying it's crazy to arm pilots in airplanes. They did it. They didn't do it just by giving pilots guns and throwing -- and putting them on airplanes.

If you're going to do something that, that's a -- that's a major policy decision that's going to affect municipalities. Listen, it comes down to training. I don't think it's a good idea. I do think that having individuals, law enforcement individuals at schools, who are armed to protect children who that's their sole responsibility, I am for that.

[06:20:05] But for teachers, again, their core competency is teaching children, not training with firearms, tactics. Again, building defense and going after hostile intruders is a very tough tactic. It's tough to train on that.

Law enforcement does it every single day. I don't think that teachers have the ability to bifurcate their teaching responsibilities with tactical responsibilities. So again, I understand that it's a kneejerk reaction. I think we need that to be pragmatic in the way that we approach this situation and look at every alternative that's out there.

PAUL: All right. And Jonathan, real quickly, your reaction to the latest reporting that these officers from the sheriff's department, these deputies, did not enter that school for 4 minutes?

WACKROW: It's gut-wrenching. As a law enforcement advocate, as a former U.S. Secret Service agent, a member of the law enforcement community, to hear that a member of my community sat back while innocent children were being slaughtered in a school, it's unacceptable, period.

Listen, data has proven that solo entry by a police officer almost 75 percent of the time stops these hostile intruder situations. We know from a law enforcement training tactics and policy standpoint that entry, immediate entry is the solution to stopping and mitigating the violent acts of a hostile intruder. For somebody to not enter, it's absolutely unacceptable and -- I'm almost without words.

PAUL: Yes, it's really perplexing. Jonathan Wackrow, we appreciate your insight and perspective. Thanks for sharing with us this morning.

WACKROW: Thank you very much. Have a great day.

PAUL: You, too.

BLACKWELL: A growing number of big-name corporations have now cut ties with the nation's largest gun lobby. It comes as the #boycottnra is gaining traction on Twitter. The First National Bank of Omaha said Thursday it would stop issuing an NRA branded Visa credit card citing customer feedback. Six rental car companies including Enterprise, Alamo as well, they are ending discount deals for NRA members.

PAUL: And new this morning, former Miami Dolphins player, Jonathan Martin being questioned by police in connection with a disturbing post on social media. Two law enforcement sources tell CNN that Martin was detained over a picture on his Instagram which showed a rifle and a message that said, "bullying victims had only two choices -- suicide or revenge."

It also named Harvard Westlake, the private high school that he attended in L.A. officials closed the school Friday over security concerns. You might remember an independent report found Martin was bullied by Dolphins' teammates back in 2013. He has since retired, by the way.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, we're talking with a student who survived the shooting in Florida. Her reaction to the news that now four armed deputies did not rush in to her school when the shooting was happening.



PAUL: It's 27 minutes past the hour right now. So glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good Saturday to you.

PAUL: Emotions still very raw in Parkland as the community is learning even more about the failures and missed red flags that were leading up to last week's massacre.

Joining me on the phone is Addison Jost, a student who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas. Addison, first of all, we're so glad you're here. I want to thank you for taking the time to be with us. How are you feeling today?

ADDISON JOST, STUDENT WHO SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE (via telephone): I'm feeling a little bit better than when this all first took place. It's still very hard to admit to the realities of the situation. I'm still a little bit in denial of everything, but I'm doing what I can.

PAUL: I know that it's hard to process. I'm wondering, you've heard the news I'm sure about the sheriff's deputies that stayed outside the school, they did not enter the building even though shots were being fired inside.

JOST: Yes.

PAUL: What is your initial reaction when you hear that?

JOST: Well, at first, I heard that it was just one officer, the campus officer, who did not go in. And although he was at fault for obviously not doing his job -- I know that officers take vows to protect other people before themselves and to jump into action.

Although he was at fault in that sense, I did have a little bit of sympathy for him being that it's a huge school and a pretty large campus, and I know he's not usually toward that area of campus. He does patrol and walk around. You can imagine it's going to take at least 15 seconds to run across campus.

So, also, I do think that he was probably nervous being that it was kind of all in his hands. And then after hearing that there were three other officers, I'm not pleased with because at that point, they have a team. At that point they can go in.

PAUL: So, if you could sit down with those deputies, is there anything you would want to say or want to ask today?

JOST: I would maybe not have something to say. I would maybe ask them what type of situations they've been in before. This was a mass school shooting. Maybe they haven't experienced something this dramatic. Maybe they did freeze. I would like to know their reason for not going in, what was going through their mind.

I'm not pleased at this point because I don't know that anyone, even someone who works to protect people, would do that. You know, unless they have direct ties to the kids inside. Unless it's hitting them emotionally hard. I'm sure it was scary for everyone.

PAUL: For everyone. No doubt. What conversations are you having with your family, friends, with your fellow students as you try to process all of this?

JOST: I mean, all my friends and I, we're still on the phone and researching all these different things that are on the media right now. And we're still trying to keep things together and figure things out. And that's just for our own comfort. You know, we would like to really understand the entire situation.

It's so crazy, and there are so many different aspects to it. But I would say in the emotional sense, we are just trying to really remember the people that we lost while still keeping the Douglas spirit alive and going out and being proactive as we've always been. So just trying to get past it with reasonable answers.

PAUL: And I know that you've got a lot of support from your family, and, you know, there's I'm sure a lot of camaraderie amongst all of you because of what -- the collective experience that you've had. What do you need most do you feel right now?

JOST: I would say my friends. I'm very dependent on my friendships, although I am a very dependent person. The people that I do become close with, I take very seriously. And to know that my closest friends are OK is very comforting.

Also I would love to just be together with the rest of the student body and just be under the name of Douglas. And you know, whether going out to the beach or going to the Panthers game, which a lot of us are doing tonight, it's just nice to feel that sort of unity.

PAUL: So with that said, I know the high school is reopening on Wednesday. Do you feel like you're ready to go back?

JOST: I do. I know that many kids will be traumatized, those who are in the freshman building who lost people, it's going to be tough. But I feel that our student body is very strong. And that we don't want to let this damage everything that we've worked so hard for. The image we've created for Douglas and all of the things that we have going for us, we want to keep Douglas alive. And I think we're all going to be back pretty strongly.

PAUL: Yet you have all shown such bravery and courage and strength and real examples to this nation. And I want to wish you good luck today. I understand that you're on your way to an equestrian competition. You qualified for the regionals. So you have a lot on your plate. And I know that your head's been in a lot of different places this week. We're wishing you the best. I hope it goes well today. And we're here for you. We're always here for you.

JOST: Thank you.

PAUL: Addison, thank you so much. Take care.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Still to come, the president touts the strongest sanctions yet on North Korea while his daughter, Ivanka Trump, is in South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. A live update from Pyeongchang next.



[06:37:26] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't want people that are mentally ill to be having any form of weaponry. We have to be very strong on that.


BLACKWELL: That was President Trump yesterday in a speech to a group of conservative activists. But some critics say that almost a year ago, in the first few weeks of his administration, the president signed a bill that actually makes it easier for the mentally disabled to get guns.

Now you've likely seen these headlines From CNN. "Trump Signs Bill Nixing Obama-era Guns Bill." From NBC, "Trump Signs the Bill Revoking Obama-era Background Checks for People With Mental Illnesses."

And here's the story. After the Sandy Hook shooting in which 2012 in which 20 first graders were murdered at school, the Obama administration tried to strengthen gun purchase background checks. One way was through a new rule, through the Social Security administration. Now the rule would have added people who receive disability benefits for any one of a long list of mental impairments but receive those benefits through a representative payee, meaning someone else handles the money.

Those people would have been added to the National Instant Background Check System known as NICS. And that means they likely would have failed the background check to buy a gun. Well, the rule was issued just before President Obama left office in December of 2016. But there was plenty of support, also plenty of opposition.

Eleven disability rights groups spoke out against the rule. In a letter to the Obama administration, they wrote, "The belief that people who have psychiatric or neurological disabilities are prone to violence only perpetuates the stigma that's associated with these disabilities and hinders people from getting proper mental health services. Both the ACLU and the NRA oppose the rule."

So Republican congressman of Texas, Sam Johnson, authored a bill to overturn the rule that was January, 2017. The following month it overwhelmingly passed in both the Republican House, Senate and House -- and the Senate, rather. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. SAM JOHNSON (R), TEXAS: On his way out the door, former President Obama finalized a rule that discriminates against individuals with disabilities and deprives law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment rights.


BLACKWELL: Now there were Democrats on board, too. Almost all from states that Trump won in the election. Look at this map. Now the bill first passed in the House with help from six Democrats. Then in the Senate, four Democrats and independent senator Angus King who caucuses with Democrats. They crossed party lines to get that bill to the president's desk.

PAUL: All right. In other news this morning, Ivanka Trump is in South Korea, of course, ahead of the closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics.

[06:40:03] She attended the men's snowboarding big air final with South Korea's first lady, Kim Jung-sook, yesterday. There she is. And also she attended the men's curling final between the U.S. and Sweden. There are still a lot of questions, though, swirling around her purpose for this trip.

CNN international correspondent Will Ripley in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with us now.

So, Will, what have you learned about the intentions for this trip and how is she being received there?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christi. Well, Ivanka Trump really has two missions on the ground here. One, are the photo ops that we saw today. The bright red snowsuit, the smiles, cheering on U.S. athletes. Taking pictures, that sort of thing. But there's been another mission, these back-channel discussions including a briefing with South Korea's president Moon Jae-in that happened at the Blue House in Seoul just after she arrived.

Ivanka Trump briefed the president of South Korea about these new sanctions, the largest sanctions ever imposed against North Korea. You know, there's no U.S. ambassador here in South Korea more than a year into the Trump presidency so you have the first daughter having these very sensitive discussions about what the United States' strategy is going to be, this maximum pressure campaign that Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke about just a short time ago. Listen.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president's been very clear, he's not going to broadcast exactly what his plans are. We're going to continue a campaign of maximum pressure. The latest sanctions are the strongest that we have had on North Korea. We're going to continue in that form. And hopefully we'll see a change on behalf of the North Koreans to start to denuclearize the peninsula. That's what our focus is.


RIPLEY: Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, laying out a very aggressive strategy on the part of the United States. Almost like declaring an economic war on North Korea because what they're doing is they're now targeting basically all of the ships that they know of that North Korea is using to conduct these elicit transfers of coal and fuel and other items that are banned under international sanctions.

What North Korea has been doing to get around the sanctions is they sail their ships out into parts of the ocean where they think no one's watching, they meet up with other ships, for example, maybe from China or Russia. They transfer these raw materials. They do all of the payments under the table. And then these ships that are not sanctioned they go and sell the materials and they say that they're not from North Korea.

So what the Treasury is doing now they basically have eyes on all of these ships. They'll have planes in the sky, satellites tracking these ships, and they're warning any companies from any country around the world if they do business with North Korea and they're caught on camera, they will be sanctioned, as well. And they'll even go after the banks and financial institutions that deal with these companies.

So all of the economic firepower of the United States being aimed right now at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's regime to try to stop him from developing his nuclear weapons. The Treasury saying that they do believe that the sanctions that are in effect are beginning to work or beginning to bite, if you will.

The North Koreans remaining defiant. They put out an article just yesterday saying that no sanctions will stop them from giving up their nuclear weapons -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much for all the information. Good to see you this morning.

BLACKWELL: OK. So the miracle on ice, you know the story. The underdog 1980 U.S. men's hockey team, this year there is a new miracle on ice, it is the curling team.

PAUL: We love to watch curling. I'm telling you. Coy Wire has more on one incredible upset.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Victor and Christi. Absolutely. Some people calling this a mira-curl on ice. What do you get when you combine a manager at Dick's Sporting Goods, an engineer, and the owner of a liquor store? Olympic champs, baby. Listen to the scene back at a restaurant near their hometown on the borders of Minnesota and Wisconsin along Lake Superior.



(END VIDEO CLIP) WIRE: Yes, John Shuster, John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton and Tyler George took Olympic curling gold for the U.S. for the first time in Olympic history. And it was an improbable win. They beat Sweden, the number-one ranked team in the world. They beat them 10-7. They were led by their skip four-time Olympian John Shuster. Congrats to the boys.

All right. To the first ever final of the men's snowboard big air competition where 20-year-old American Kyle Mack from West Bloomfield, Michigan, took silver. He started skiing when he was just 3 years old. As he fell off, his dad put him on a snowboard, and he never looked back. Earlier today he rose big to the occasion. The tallest big air ramp in the world here in Pyeongchang. And he got a quick congrats from 17-year-old slope style gold medalist Red Gerard who finished fifth in that competition.

How about Esther Ledecka of the Czech Republic? Made history in mind- blowing fashion. She took gold in the snowboarding parallel giant slalom today adding to the gold she took in skiing super G. Making her the first woman to win any medal in two different sports in a single Olympics. Outstanding.

[06:45:07] Earlier, I caught up with Team USA star Lindsey Vonn. Just today, she's 33 years old and she said that this was likely her last Olympics ever of her career. And earlier in the game, she cried when I asked her about how important this was because of her grandfather who served in the Korean war, not far from here. He passed a few months ago. And here's what she had to say about it.


LINDSEY VONN, OLYMPIC SKIER: I chose to scatter his ashes here because I think it would mean a lot to him. And it meant a lot to me. And it was a big honor. And I still wear -- more ashes, I wear them in this locket. But --

WIRE: Wow.

VONN: Yes, he's always with me.


WIRE: She still made history here in Pyeongchang becoming the oldest woman ever to medal in alpine skiing. She took bronze at 33.

PAUL: All right. Coy, we miss you, buddy. Hurry home. Thank you so much.

WIRE: Miss you too.

BLACKWELL: Mira-curl on the ice. I don't know if it's going to stick.

PAUL: You don't?

BLACKWELL: Mira-curl on the ice? (LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: I don't know.

PAUL: I don't know but my husband keeps saying, "I might be able to take that up."

BLACKWELL: Yes. Curling? Yes.

PAUL: That's about the only thing I could take up at this point.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Snowboarding not really for me.

PAUL: Not so much.

BLACKWELL: Well, they are one of most reliable groups of voters in the U.S., and they're organizing to make sure their political and economic influence is maximized. We're talking about black women. Our next guest, actress and activist Erica Alexander, will talk with us about the political power -- actually, we have a lot to talk about. So stay with us.


[06:50:57] BLACKWELL: Hundreds of black women are meeting here in Atlanta this weekend to discuss the best way to leverage their political and economic power. The idea for the Power Rising Summit came out of a retreat held by women in the Congressional Black Caucus. This was after the 2016 election in which 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. Planning started before the special election for the Alabama Senate seat where black women voters led Democrats to an upset victory.

Well, my guest is a panelist at the summit. Erika Alexander, an actress who appeared in the television show "Queen Sugar" and this year's Oscar-nominated film "Get Out." She's also an activist and advisory board member for Vote, Run, Lead, an organization that trains women to run for office. We'll talk about that in a minute this morning.


BLACKWELL: We were talking in the break about how early it is to be here.

ALEXANDER: Early, early, hello.

BLACKWELL: And so --

ALEXANDER: I don't even know if I'm alive.

BLACKWELL: OK, well, let's see. So I had a conversation with a group of black women voters a couple of weeks ago in which they said essentially that one party takes their votes for granted and essentially the other one ignores them. What's your take?

ALEXANDER: You know, I think that it's -- I like to push back on taking them for granted.


ALEXANDER: I think that it's sort of hard to feel like you're making a difference and that the policy is speaking directly to you. But I think for the Democratic agenda and what people are trying to build, black women are definitely in there. They're definitely have their policymakers, there's Maxine Waters, there's Sheila Jackson Lee, a lot of Congress people there. I just think they need to speak directly more toward black women so that black women know that they're in the table, at the table, and that they're -- they're truly grateful to be there, they belong there.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Yes. Their voices are validated.

ALEXANDER: Yes. Valid.

BLACKWELL: And that's one of the elements of Vote, Run, Lead. I went -- ended up reading about it, prepares one for office and it says, regardless of their political experience or permission to do so, it encourages women to run as you are." Expound on that, run as you are.

ALEXANDER: Run as you are. Well, you know, a lot of women don't feel like they're ready. And that's because they're not supported. They never felt encouraged to do something like that. It feels like too big of a bite. They have children, they have their educational goals. They have a lot of things on their plates. Sometimes they're robbing Peter to pay Paul, not just with money but emotionally.

But I think they're there to show that there's a community of mentors, people who will help them. And that they know more than they think, and that they're more ready than they know. So they encourage them to run as they are -- right now. Get


ALEXANDER: And get ready because you could be there, and they trained 10,000 women last year. They're going for 20,000 women this year. And over 70 percent of the people who were first timers won. Usually only 10 percent win their first run.


ALEXANDER: So that's how much this training matters.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about black women running for statewide office.


BLACKWELL: Because we have seen, as you mentioned, congressional candidates and actually not just candidates but longtime members of Congress and mayors, but we have never had in this country a black female governor. Only two black female senators. There is one woman, Stacy Abrams, running this year here in Georgia.

ALEXANDER: Yes, go, Stacy, go.

BLACKWELL: But why do you think aside from the historical context of black women not being able to vote for most of the country's history but the recent history, why we haven't seen them?



ALEXANDER: Money. You know, sometimes you really don't have the money to run. You need money and support. You obviously need mentors. You need people to endorse you, you need people to know who you are. It's hard to get your name out there. Certainly hard for people to have any, you know, viability without that. But also, you know, again if you're doing a lot already, it's hard to see yourself doing your job and running for office. You don't just quit your job normally.


ALEXANDER: And you have to have people who can support and also get out the word and work for you. So it's hard to build -- like an entrepreneur thing, getting on board with something that you may not be familiar with.

BLACKWELL: Your conversation at the Power Rising Summit was about imagery and pop culture and the movies. Talk about the importance of what is now going to surpass a half billion dollars globally --

[06:55:04] ALEXANDER: Wakanda.



BLACKWELL: "Black Panther."

ALEXANDER: Yes, you have to love that.


ALEXANDER: You know, beat that. Yes. You know, we're in a great time right now. I mean, Ryan Kugler and Chadwick Bozeman are doing a wonderful job showing a ficticional version of an ideal black version of Africa. But most people don't know anything about Africa. So you know --

BLACKWELL: And they just say Africa, they never divide it into different countries or different regions.

ALEXANDER: Not at all. Not at all. So we're in this Wakandan moment.


ALEXANDER: In a time where I think black people need to be celebrated.

BLACKWELL: It's important imagery.


BLACKWELL: And before I let you go, I didn't mention it at the top that most of -- many people know you as Maxine Shaw from "Living Single."

ALEXANDER: That's right.

BLACKWELL: Is this "Living Single" reboot for real?

ALEXANDER: I don't think so. I mean -- you know, there's "Cagney and Lacey," there's "Magnum P.I."


ALEXANDER: There's a lot of these people getting rebooted. And I know people want that. But, you know, for me, I'd like to move forward.


ALEXANDER: And I really love the people and enjoy the show. I have people come up to me every day and they're lawyers now because of her.


ALEXANDER: So it is important. Black representation matters.

BLACKWELL: Erika Alexander, so good to have you this morning.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you, Victor. Thank you, Christi. Glad to be here.

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