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Trump Talks School Safety With Governors; Calls for Broward Sheriff to Resign Over Shooting Response; Ivanka Says It's Inappropriate to Ask Her About Father's Accusers; Humanitarian Crisis in Syria. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 26, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And she gave her thanks to the first responders who helped save her life, she gave her thanks to the doctors and nurses inside that medical facility that helped save her life and helped her recover. And she gave her thanks to all of those around Florida and I think really around the country who have been sending her love over the last week and a half. And she particularly gave a call out to her fellow students and was so proud that they're all standing all together following this massacre.

Madeleine Wilford, remarkable.

We'll be right back.


BERMAN: We just heard from Madeleine Wilford, 17-year-old survivor of the Parkland shooting massacre, shot multiple times but she is recovering from her injuries. And she just said, I am so grateful to be here, inspiring.

[10:35:09] Any moment now, President Trump will address a room full of the nation's governors. They are meeting at the White House this morning. School safety, how to respond, how to prevent these school shootings at the very top of the agenda.

Joining me now is Eliana Johnson, a CNN political analyst, CNN political commentators Brian Fallon and Doug Heye.

Doug, I want to put this to you as the resident Republican here. There is new polling out from CNN over the last 24 hours that shows the sentiment of this country for stricter gun laws. It's at 70 percent now. It was 52 percent in October following the Las Vegas shooting. And that 70 percent is the highest it's been since 1993. And yet I spoke to a Republican 2congressman moments ago who told me he is not optimistic that there will be any new significant legislation passed. Do you agree with that?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think on the federal level, without presidential leadership coming directly from President Trump, coming loudly and coming often, that probably is most likely. And where we're be more like to see any kind of result on -- you know, whether it's background checks being increased or increasing the age restrictions, it's probably going to come from the states as you were talking to the speaker of the Florida House earlier.

That's probably where we're going to see more activity like this unless we see direct presidential involvement. But, you know, having worked for Eric Cantor in the past, I remember really clearly anytime the Virginia Tech shooting was brought up, there was not just a reverence for the more than 20 victims, but also a recognition of the response of Virginia Tech was how we got it right. And we got it right because it was bipartisan and multilevel. It was led by Tim Kaine, the then Democratic governor of Virginia, and Republicans working together, public-private partnerships working together.

That's what we need to see electorally. We also need to hear a whole lot more moving in the right direction from the sheriff's office in Broward County.

BERMAN: Well, let's talk about the sheriff right now because the sheriff has had a few controversial statements over the last 24 hours, many of them came right here on CNN with an interview with Jake Tapper. And again the issue here is how his department responded to the many, many warning signs that something could go wrong with this shooter and then how specifically one of his deputies responded while the shooting was happening.

Listen to what the sheriff told Jake over the weekend.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think that if the Broward Sheriff's Office had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened?


TAPPER: Listen, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, you know, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.

TAPPER: I don't know what that means.

ISRAEL: I don't know what --

TAPPER: There's 17 dead people and there's a whole long list of things your department could have done differently.


BERMAN: I don't know if we need a partisan reaction to that, Brian Fallon. A human reaction to that statement. It's unclear to me how those comments from the sheriff are helping the families in Parkland, Florida, right now.

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree. He sounded glib there. He sounded tone deaf. When 17 people die, every fifth question is fair game and the sheriff's office has questions to answer just as the FBI does, just as the NRA does.

Across the board, we need to hold everybody accountable. And quite frankly I don't know why this sheriff is continuing to grant interviews. If I were him, I'd be devoting myself to conducting these internal investigations to figure out what went wrong down there and letting the public conversation be carried by these kids, the survivors from the school who are so impressive and so articulate and doing a bang-up job of raising awareness about these critical issues and honoring the legacy of their fallen classmates.

I don't know why the sheriff is out there. He's letting himself become the issue. The NRA would love to divert this conversation away from the cause that the kids are trying to lift up, which is the issue of assault weapons. He's letting himself and his office be the main topic of conversation. I think that's playing into the NRA's hands.

BERMAN: And look, there are legitimate questions about how his department handled this for the last two years. And you can certainly investigate and ask those questions at the same time as you're having this discussion you're talking about right now, that the kids are talking about, about guns.

If we have -- we have a little bit of telling sound right now from the president's daughter and the president. The president has been pushing hard this issue of arming teachers and arming school personnel.

I want you to listen to the difference in tone in certitude with how he says it would be effective to what his senior adviser whose last name also happens to be Trump says about the issue. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC: You're a mom of three young children. Do you believe that arming teachers would make children safer?

IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER AND SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: To be honest, I don't know. Obviously there would have to be an incredibly high standard for who would be able to bear arms in our school. But I think that there is no one solution to creating safety.


BERMAN: You know, Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to the president, Eliana, says that she does think it is a subject worthy of discussion.

[10:40:03] But that's a lot different than saying that a teacher would have shot the hell out of the shooter.

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, I think it was nice to hear Ivanka Trump come out and give an honest answer to a question that was put to her, which was I don't know. Particularly on an issue that is so fraught with partisanship. She's not somebody who comes to a lot of subjects with a tremendously sophisticated policy background and I thought that was a perfectly appropriate answer on her part. The president also doesn't come to a lot of policy issues with a

sophisticated policy background. But as you noted, spoken with a lot more certainty on the issue of arming teachers, continuing to hammer away on it. But I think if there is one policy -- one policy fix that is going to get no sort of hearing in Congress or on a federal level, it's that of arming teachers.

BERMAN: All right. While we're on the subject of senior adviser to the president, whose last name also happens to be Trump, she was asked directly about these accusations that have come out against President Trump from several women over the last years of sexual misconduct. Listen to this exchange.


ALEXANDER: Do you believe your father's accusers?

TRUMP: I think it's a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he's affirmatively stated that there's no truth to it. I don't think that's a question you would ask many other daughters.

I believe my father. I know my father. So I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.


BERMAN: All right. Lightning round. I want you 15 seconds each on this starting with Eliana. Your response.

JOHNSON: Look, this is why as a child you don't go and serve in your parent's administrations because a lot of uncomfortable questions are going to be put to you and I think this is why you heard objections across the board to Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner going to serve in the White House over a year ago.

BERMAN: Brian Fallon.

FALLON: I don't know where she gets off taking umbrage at a question like that. I think it would come as news to Chelsea Clinton that questions about your father are off limits and Chelsea Clinton never served as an official aide in her father's White House.

BERMAN: And Doug Heye, your response, and I will only note that by the way at the end of it, Ivanka Trump did say she believed her father and not the women accusing him.

HEYE: Yes. Appropriate question, appropriate answer. What do you expect her to say about her father? This seems pretty simple to me.

BERMAN: All right. Eliana Johnson, Brian Fallon, Doug Heye, thank you all very much, for being with us.

HEYE: Thank you.

BERMAN: And playing by the lightning round rules. I appreciate it. All right. The U.N. chief says it is time to stop hell on earth in

Syria. New reports of air strikes and children being exposed to chemicals despite a U.N. vote calling for a ceasefire.


[10:41:50] BERMAN: All right. This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for a humanitarian pause in the fighting in a Syrian city that has been pounded by relentless air strikes and artillery fire. This follows reports of a Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against civilians in Eastern Ghouta. Hospitals and clinics report at least 520 killed, 2500 injured since this bombing began eight days ago.

Our Sam Kiley watching the situation from Istanbul. This is a new crisis emerging in an already dire humanitarian crisis.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. And it's fitting a pattern that the Russians and the Syrian allies or the Syrians and their Russian backers, if you want to put it more diplomatically, have established with the destruction of eastern Aleppo and then the capture of that city. Similar thing seems to be unfolding in East Ghouta. And one of the techniques that they've used in addition to overwhelming firepower from the air is the use of chemical weapons.

Now the most recent report of this has come just this morning from the Syrian American Medical Society that released a statement today saying on Twitter that, "We confirm that 16 patients including six women," sorry, "Six children and four women suffering from symptoms indicative to exposure to chemical compounds were treated at a supported hospital in East Ghouta. This attack marks the 197th use of chemical weapons in Syria since 2011 and the seventh in 2018."

Of course Ghouta -- East Ghouta was the subject of that devastating sarin gas attack a few years ago that caused the death of 1400 people. So what we're seeing in Eastern Ghouta is the use of -- excuse me -- a chemical that is not fatal usually, but is heavier than air and can get down into those underground bunkers and perhaps flush people out of the places where they're hiding from the conventional weapons. Excuse me.

BERMAN: Seventh use of this chemical in 2018 alone. Remarkable that it is going on.

Sam Kiley, for us, I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

We'll be right back.


[10:52:07] BERMAN: All right. So you want to smile? The Stoneman Douglas High School hockey team will head to the national championship after winning the state title on Sunday.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey, John. You know, the Stoneman Douglas hockey team, they didn't even know if they were going to even go participate in the state hockey tournament after what happened. But they said they're sure glad they did after winning it all.

The team upsetting the top seed in the tournament early Sunday before beating Tampa Jesuits 7-4 to win the state title. The players dedicating the championship to the 17 people who lost their lives in the shooting.


MATTHEW HOROWITZ, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HOCKEY PLAYER: I love the way our team came together this weekend. It's been a rough week for all of us. And hockey for us is more of a stress reliever. So we come out on the ice, to be able to just release everything. We're pretty much fighting for the 17 that passed away out here.

JOEY ZENOBI, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HOCKEY PLAYER: It has been a tough week. We came leer here to win. We came here to go nationals. We all just came together and got the win.


SCHOLES: Stoneman Douglas will now compete in the high school hockey national championships next month in Minnesota.

All right. For the NBA, the Spurs using the big fourth quarter yesterday to blow out LeBron and the Cavs 110-94. A week ago, a FOX News host said LeBron should just shut up and dribble and not discuss politics. But before yesterday's games, Spurs head coach Greg Popovich praising LeBron for speaking out on social issues saying that LeBron possibly has more impact off the court than on it.


GREG POPOVICH, SPURS HEAD COACH: You look at this guy, how many millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars -- tens of millions of kids that see him, that are inspired by him. You know, it's kind of like the "Black Panther" movie, you know, it's -- how cool is that for kids to see that and have that superhero, you know? LeBron has been there for a long time.


SCHOLES: The Winter Olympics wrapping up yesterday with the closing ceremony. First Daughter Ivanka Trump on hand for the festivities. Jesse Diggins the flag bearer for Team USA. Diggins and her partner Kikkan Randall won the first ever cross-country skiing medal for the U.S. taking gold in their event.

And here is your final medal count. Team USA finishing in fourth place with 23 medals. Norway taking the top spot, followed by Germany and Canada. And, John, the 23 medals, the worst showing for Team USA in the Winter

Games since 1998 when we won just 13. But there were still some great moments to celebrate, like I just said, Diggins and Randall, and there was the curling, the women's hockey team.

Just want to see some more gold and medals, 2022 in Beijing.

BERMAN: Now, look, I -- look, I think the American team a little bit disappointed. And I am filled with the predictable post-Olympic regret that I did not get to watch more because if you don't watch luge or bobsled during the Olympics, when are you going to get to watch it, Andy?

SCHOLES: That's a great point, John. I didn't think of it that way. I have to really appreciate it in 2022.

BERMAN: All right. Andy Scholes, thank you so much. 2022, no better time zone, by the way, for live TV viewers, Beijing, the host of the Winter Olympic Games there.

[10:55:05] So if you wanted to watch live events on TV, tough luck. It won't happen.

All right. Thanks, Andy. I appreciate it.

Happening now, the president is meeting with governors on the issue of school safety. He promised he would bring up the Parkland shooting, maybe we'll get more specificity on exactly where he stands. He speaks in moments. Stay with us.