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Shooting at Maryland High School; FBI: Package Explodes Inside Texas FedEx Facility; Sources: Mueller Team Gives Trump Lawyers Topics They want to Discuss; Facebook to Hold Staff Meeting Today. Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired March 20, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans.
We are following two big breaking stories this hour. First in Maryland, a school shooting, multiple police on the scene right now, we are told the situation there is contained, but that school is still on lockdown.
BRIGGS: And in Texas, police are on the scene right now of a reported suspicious package at a FedEx facility in Austin, Texas. This after a separate explosion at a FedEx location in San Antonio just hours earlier.
First, let's get to Jean Casarez standing by with breaking details on the Maryland shooting. Jean, good morning, what are we learning?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Dave, we're learning some more information right now. We are hearing that students are currently being evacuated from the high school and they're being bused to the reunification center at Leonardtown High School campus. Now, we are hearing also, and this is an interesting statement, the building is orderly, they're saying. And the sheriff's office is conducting an investigation. We will continue to update as more information becomes available.
And this is from the St. Mary's County Public School system. Now what we had heard earlier was that the FBI was on the scene, the ATF out of the Baltimore offices were en route to that scene. As you see from the video right there, very, very heavy law enforcement almost immediately to the school. But I understand it's in a rural area, with also some suburban locations also nearby. It is a school that has about 1500 students, so a relatively small school.
But almost immediately after this happened this morning, the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, said that they are carefully monitoring the situation and the prayers are with the students, school personnel and first responders. But at this point, Dave and Christine, they just are not saying how many are shot, what the situation is inside, the only thing they are saying that it is contained, which is a very good thing.
BRIGGS: Yes, very little information coming in at this hour, 10:00 Eastern Time. Jean Casarez thanks so much.
Would like to bring in now Tom Fuentes, he's a senior law enforcement analyst here at CNN and former FBI assistant director. Tom, to Jean's point, not a lot of information at this hour, we do understand from a student on "New Day" this morning that they typically have police officers. Does it look like that may have been the reason there was such a quick containment of the situation?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It does look like that, Dave. And I think that even though there is not a lot of information, it is very significant, because very early in this incident they said, OK, we have a school shooting at this location. And then immediately almost said and the event is contained. Now that is normally going to be language that indicates the shooter is either dead, wounded, or arrested. And, you know, more to follow. It could be a suicide. It could be a police security officer intervened, that is still to be confirmed. But I would rule out wounded because we haven't seen an ambulance take the shooter out and on the way to the hospital. So to me, that indicates that we either have an officer involved shooting to take out this suspect or a suicide. And that we'll find out later. But the fact that it is -- we normally you hear the terms run, hide, fight. In this case it is walking, not running. So it is a clear indication that they don't believe there is any danger at this point to the students.
ROMANS: Sadly so many millions of American schoolchildren know the protocol, they drill for this. Their school resource officers on hand in all kinds of different campuses, we know there have been 16 shootings in school this year before today. What do you think investigators will do next here? You think they have the suspect in hand?
FUENTES: I think so. I think that you know when they say the event is contained, that means there's no further danger. They're acting as if there is no further danger. And now the protocol will be to -- if there are wounded students or wounded faculty to get them attention and or contain the school as a crime scene.
[10:05:00] Get the students and employees out of the building, to another location, to be reunited with their parents. And then bring in the forensic investigators to do the crime scene, to do all of the analysis that's going to be necessary at the school and then identify the shooter and do the normal investigation there. Social media, any other indications, friends, relatives, classmates of that individual if he was from the school or she was from the school or wherever that person came from.
But normally it is someone familiar with the school, either a current student or a recent student that comes back for some reason. And the shooting could have also been a personal matter between that individual and someone, either teaching at or a student at that school. As opposed to just a psychotic to whom it may concern type shooting. So that will be revealed. But I think the fact that the way the police are handling this now in terms of any danger to anyone else, they don't believe it exists.
ROMANS: Tom Fuentes, thank you so much for that. We'll continue to monitor that breaking news there in Maryland.
BRIGGS: Students being evacuated from the school, certainly good news.
Let's get to the other breaking news. That's out of Austin, Texas, police on the scene of a suspicious package, reported at a FedEx facility in Austin, Texas. This is in addition to an overnight explosion at a separate FedEx ground facility. That was in Schertz, Texas, 60 miles south of Austin.
Our correspondent Nick Watt is in Schertz. Nick, good morning to you, what can you tell us about this latest and what would be a sixth suspicious package in that area.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I can tell you from Schertz, Texas is that about 25 after midnight there was an explosion here at the FedEx sorting facility. Now, there are reports that the package that blew up here was sent by somebody in Austin to somebody in Austin. The ATF has not confirmed that to us yet. But of course, they're working with the FBI and the Austin PD and the local PD here to try and confirm that this is indeed connected to that spate of bombings that we have seen over the past 18 days off in Austin, which as you mentioned is about 60 miles northeast of here.
Now, just after 6:00 a.m. this morning, a call came in from another FedEx sorting facility up near the airport in Austin. That was of a suspicious package. No detonation, suspicious package. That's being looked into right now, guys.
ROMANS: And Nick, what are the police telling people in terms of - I mean I know yesterday that some schools, if you didn't -- marked down, you wouldn't have to mark absent from school, you know if you have trouble you know getting to the school or whatever, what are they telling people in terms of a suspicious package and the like.
WATT: Well, this is part of the problem. Those first three packages that detonated up in Austin were all hand delivered, left on people's porches. So at that time, the police were telling people, be aware of the suspicious package left on your porch that has not been sent through the mail. That Sunday night, there was a trip wire which detonated a device injuring two people.
Now we have this explosion here at FedEx, another suspicious package at FedEx. So you know people in Austin are now saying, listen, we now have to look out for everything. We were told to look out for hand delivered packages. Now we have to be scared of everything.
This city, Austin, is certainly on edge, people are scared, and the police are desperately trying to find this bomber before he strikes again. They even reached out to him on Sunday and said, you know, please contact us. You know part of the issue is they don't know his motive. They don't know why he's doing this. They appealed to him to call them, he didn't, complete silence and just a few hours later, he struck again. ROMANS: Method changing. It's shifting.
BRIGGS: Right, exactly, evolving from people's home to the trip wire now to FedEx, the evolution terrorizing nearly a million people there in Austin. We'll stay on all the details. -
ROMANS: Nick Watt -
BRIGGS: All right, Nick thanks.
Also this morning, we're getting in more information on meetings between the Mueller team and White House lawyers and what was said. The president changing up his legal team, what does that mean?
ROMANS: Yes. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is outside the White House for us. And Kaitlan, let's start with the Mueller meeting, what are you learning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. An amazing reporting here from my colleagues that the president's legal team and the investigators from this Special Counsel's Office, not the Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself, sat down last week and discussed exactly the kind of topics that they want to know more about. They were giving them more detail.
This is a very rare meeting, the first face to face meeting that we have been made aware of. They told them several topics they would like to know more about. One of those is the Attorney General Jeff Sessions' role in the firing of the former national security adviser Michael Flynn. I should note that that firing happened before Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. But also the firing of the FBI director, James Comey, Mike Flynn's phone calls with the Russian ambassador when he still was the national security adviser, as well as outreach to intelligence leaders about the Russia probe.
[10:10:00] But what this shows us is that this investigation is not coming to an end anytime soon as the president's legal team has at times promised him. It's only seems to be ramping up. But this could be the reason for that fresh new hostility we saw from the president over the weekend, regarding this special counsel, when, of course, he called out Robert Mueller for the first time by name.
BRIGGS: It appears the president found someone to match that hostility, adding a new lawyer to the mix. What can you tell us about Joe DiGenova?
COLLINS: Yes, that's right. Just days ago the president said he was completely happy with his legal team. He wasn't going to make any changes. But of course, that did not happen. Yesterday, the president felt the need to add another face to his legal team, Joe DiGenova. This is a guy who's a former federal prosecutor that has also said publicly he believes the president is the target of this FBI conspiracy.
But what I can say is that he has been described as tough, and as a pit bull and it could signal the president taking a more aggressive approach to this special counsel's investigation. Obviously, we saw him attack the special counsel over the weekend, but this could be the president's hostility showing because for so long his legal team has promised him that this investigation is coming to an end, but with that meeting last week with the president's legal team and the investigators, that just doesn't seem to be the case here.
ROMANS: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.
From the White House, joining us now, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat from Wisconsin to talk about all of the news of the day. Nice to see you, thank you so much for joining us this morning. -
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WISCONSIN: Thank you for having me.
ROMANS: Let's start with the changes of the president's legal team. This is a flame thrower. He really pushes the theory that the FBI, the DOJ are out to get this president, that they're framing Trump, this sort of this deep state conspiracy. What do you make of this change?
BALDWIN: You know, it shows that the president really has no sense of what this is really about. The Russians meddled in our election. They frankly -- it was a cyberattack on the U.S. democracy and we need to get to the bottom of that. If the president maintains his innocence in terms of any collusion or the things he keeps repeating, then he should not have one fear about this investigation going on, all the facts being unearthed and our taking action to try to prevent Russia and other foreign powers from interfering with our elections.
But I feel that the level of interference that happened in the 2016 elections, what we have heard unfolding just in the past 24, 48 hours about massive use of Facebook data to target voters and target them with misinformation, this should be distressing to every American, including our president.
BRIGGS: You are right about that. When you look at the numbers, one third of people are on Facebook, ballpark 75 percent of our audience watching right now is on Facebook. Everyone should be concerned about this. -
BRIGGS: It appears Facebook might be bringing together the two parties, which is hard to do. Your colleague Amy Klobuchar together with John Kennedy wants to hear from Facebook. What is the likelihood of getting congressional action here?
BALDWIN: Well, we have to get to the bottom of this. And it is partly the Mueller investigation. But it is partly what we do in our committees. And this really could extend to the Judiciary Committee, the Commerce Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, all should be taking action and they haven't to date in the way that we need to, to help secure our Democracy coming into the midterm elections and beyond the 2020 presidential elections.
ROMANS: I mean, fundamentally do you think that social media should be more regulated when you look at how the Russians have been able to spend this information, when you look at how campaigns, probably legally by the way, have been able to mine information and sort of stir dissent to try to manipulate voters, you know, e-brainwash voters. Does there need to be legislation here?
BALDWIN: Well, I think there well may be the need. In fact, I'm leaning in that direction. But we don't have all the facts yet. We're talking about a story that just broke in the last 24, 48 hours and we need to bring these witnesses before us, understand truly what happened, some of the latest revelations about using this data to bribe or influence public officials is shocking. And we got -- we need the facts. We also need to see what sort of self-policing these social media entities can do. And we certainly need to do better education of the public that not everything they see on Twitter or Facebook is solid news.
BRIGGS: if it is not self-policing, it is regulation and we know that aren't going to happen under the Trump administration. This is all about deregulation. Let's jump back quickly if we can, to the special counsel. Many of your colleagues there, at least your Democrat colleagues, would like to see legislation protecting the special counsel.
[10:15:06] Well Republicans have said there is no way this president can or should fire him. And Lindsey Graham perhaps going the furthest, do you fear that the president might move to fire Bob Mueller and is there protections that are needed?
BALDWIN: You know, I agree with Lindsey Graham's remarks over the weekend. And feel -- I personally support legislation to make sure that this administration, this president doesn't interfere with an investigation that I earlier mentioned was much larger than just focusing on Donald Trump. It is about a foreign adversary's interference with our Democracy.
But I'm encouraged that more of my Republican colleagues have taken firmer stances on this. You mentioned Senator Kennedy of Louisiana. We certainly heard from Senator Flake and Senator McCain. But more need to stand up, and it looks like they are. We cannot let this investigation that is really at the core of our Democracy protecting it come to an end and so we have to step up.
ROMANS: Senator, let me ask you a question, finally, on the opioid crisis. We heard the president roll out his plan, his strategy for trying to combat the opioid crisis. Part of that is, of course, the death penalty, he says, for some, some drug dealers, also treatment and prevention. What do you make of that strategy?
BALDWIN: Well, first of all, the president has said repeatedly that he views this as his number one policy focus for this year. Last year he declared public health emergency. But it has been words so far that haven't been followed with adequate action. I'm heartened that he was in one of the states, most hard hit by this epidemic. Certainly Wisconsin is struggling and I hear so many of my constituents. The omnibus that is about to come before the Congress this week, should have significant new funding to focus on prevention, treatment, recovery, all the elements that need to come together.
But when you talk about accountability and the president's reference to the death penalty for drug dealers, let's look at accountability throughout the spectrum. Let's talk about the pharmaceutical companies that produce these addictive opioids that need to be held accountable. Let's talk about the changes that still need to happen within the community that prescribes these drugs to better understand how addictive they can be, and alternatives for pain treatment for those who come into addiction through that route.
BRIGGS: Many of those were addressed by the president yesterday in New Hampshire, but, of course, when you float the death penalty that tends to be the shiny object. And take the attention away from all the positive movement there. Senator Tammy Baldwin, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
ROMANS: There has to be the money and there has to be the beds. There has to be the money and the treatment beds too.
ROMANS: All right. Thank you.
Still to come, President Trump's personal lawyer who paid off an adult actress, shall we say, is telling his side of the story in a new interview and says he may take an extended vacation on her dime.
BRIGGS: On her dime.
Plus, Facebook holds a staff wide meeting to talk about the data scandal. What does it mean for your private information? Is there any protection?
[10:22:40] ROMANS: All right, watching this event in Maryland, this school shooting. We have not a lot of details, but we know that there are parents who are frantic because the school has been on lockdown. We're told it is contained. But, again, let's listen to a little bit of sound from a parent who has gone to Great Mills High School to try to reunite with her child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean you have no metal detectors, not searching these kids' backpacks. They don't know what these kids have when they get to these school buildings. And then get calls that your kids are not with you anymore. Something needs to be done.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tell me what he said about the incident? And what -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He didn't say much, that he heard the gunshots and he took off running and told the teacher that someone must have been shot. And I'm so thankful to the Lord that he spared my son.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Tell me what you're doing now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because bullets have no names. I'm sitting here. They're telling me to go to some school in Leonardtown, but I'm sitting here because I don't want to go there. I want my son out of that school. I'm waiting for them to release my son. They're telling us to go to some school. I just can't go there.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The plan is to bus the children over to Leonardtown High School and they're going to have reunions in the auditorium there where you won't be in the rain and will be safe --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't care about being in the rain. I want my son out of there. I want him out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did he tell you any specifics about the shooting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He heard some shots?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And he took off running, before the bell rung. How did this gentleman get in the school with this gun?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Those are all the questions we're going to try to have answered.
ROMANS: So imagine how many parents are that worried just want to get their kid out of there.
BRIGGS: Well, about 1500, that's how big the school is there, Great Mills High School, these are the pictures we have from the scene. You see the emergency vehicles, police. We do not see any ambulances in the shot, no word yet of any injuries. No word yet of any fatalities as that mother mentioned students are being transported to an evacuation site. Police described the scene as orderly. We'll keep you up to date as anything evolves there.
[10:25:00] But let's turn to politics now, House Speaker Paul Ryan just moments ago spoke out about the Mueller investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Special counsel should be free to follow through the investigation to its completion without interference, absolutely. I am confident that he'll be able to do that. I received assurances that his firing is not under consideration. We have a system based upon the rule of law in this country. We have a justice system and no one is above that justice system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: All right. Joining us now, CNN political commentators Bryan Lanza and Symone Sanders along with Amber Phillips, political reporter for the "Washington Post" political blog "The Fix." Brian Lanza, the special counsel should be free to follow his investigation with interference. And Paul Ryan says he's been assured that Bob Mueller would not be fired. So, does it end there? A lot of folks have been saying why hasn't leadership said more?
BRYAN LANZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I think what the House leadership is looking to do is try to sort of fortify Mueller with this investigation. I think, you know, anything the president says, he's always talked about this investigation, you know, coming -- revealing the facts as quickly as possible. I think we're now dragging on, I think, close to two years from when the United States government started looking into Russia collusion. I think the frustration part from the administration. People are supportive of this administration. We're not talking about Russia collusion anymore. We're talking about second issues related to this, but if there is Russia collusion, Mueller has a responsibility to talk about it. If there isn't, he should say so, there is no Russia collusion, but I'll look into other things. I think transparency is the best thing right now.
BRIGGS: Amber, should we worry about the special counsel being fired? Republicans have lined up most who are not up for re-election, and said there is no way we'll allow this to happen. Is this a media driven narrative?
AMBER PHILLIPS, POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST", "THE FIX": No, absolutely not. Not a media -- it is not a media driven narrative. And you only have to look back to Saturday to see why. It's not a coincidence that of the same day the president directly challenged Mueller by name. For the first time since this investigation started, his personal lawyer goes out there and says I think the Mueller probe should end.
I think this is a president that loves to throw out controversial ideas and see what the reaction is before he makes the decision. We already know that last year he was close to firing Mueller. And one of his top aides had to threaten to quit in order to prevent that from happening. I don't think based on Trump's recent actions that he's ruled out firing Mueller again and he certainly seems to be along the path of severely discrediting the special counsel.
ROMANS: Symone Sanders, let's talk about the new attorney added to the president's team, someone who has said that there is a deep state conspiracy at DOJ to frame him, to support Hillary Clinton, and to frame him. What do you think adding this attorney -- this personal attorney to his team says about the president's strategy here.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that the president thinks this is great casting, and it will make for better ratings on the show that he thinks he's running out of the White House. Look, this new lawyer that Trump added, he's a TV lawyer that we know. He's a conspiracy theorist. And I definitely think it's going to set up a dynamic that's going to create a war, if you will -- a battle on Donald Trump's legal team.
But the fact of the matter is this, this investigation whether the Trump administration, whether the - Donald Trump's allies, like it or not, is definitely rolling on, and Robert Mueller has a responsibility to no one to tell anybody anything until his investigation is complete. So I think in the interest of transparency, if you will, I think it is slightly laughable for folks to suggest that the special counsel needs to come out and say something, an investigation is happening. And investigation will continue to roll on and it might not be over for another year. So I think folks just need to remember that is a really long process and the facts will eventually come out.
BRIGGS: And to her point there, Bryan, looked like there was a strategy of cooperation by very capable legal team bringing in this flame thrower attorney. Let's talk about the comments from Trey Gowdy over the weekend. If you have an innocent client, act like it. So why not just act like it, Bryan?
LANZA: Listen, Trey Gowdy speaks less like a prosecutor. They think everybody is guilty in any action needs to sort of marry up that narrative. So I'm not going to follow the prosecutor's point of view.
That said, this is, you know, this is an investigation that is going on for a very long time. Mueller has brought charges against Manafort. He's brought charges against Rick Gates and charges against Flynn. These are all people who had established ties with Russians in the previous existence. But they have not been able to demonstrate any of these ties were used for this campaign. Mueller hasn't spoken out clearly that Russian collusion hasn't taken place. But if you look at some of the actions and the moves he's made, he's sort of demonstrated that no Russia collusion has taken place. If you're going to extrapolate a little but further.
SANDERS: I don't even think that's true. But Bryan, you cannot even assert that. You cannot assert that. -
LANZA: I just did.
SANDERS: OK, but I'm saying that that's not true. And so I think we should all take caution to make declarative statements such as no collusion has taken place. We don't know that.-
LANZA: Well, I mean -
SANDERS: We have not seen the evidence. -- What we know is - we only know and we know that a lot of us - We haven't seen -