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Three Killed in France Terror Attack; March For Our Lives; Spending Bill Does Not Address DACA Dilemma; U.K. Authorities Search Cambridge Analytica Offices; Ban Revised on Transgender Military Service; Elon Musk Deletes Tesla and SpaceX Facebook Pages. Aired 2- 2:30a ET

Aired March 24, 2018 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

A French policeman hailed as a hero for his role in ending a deadly hostage standoff has died. The interior minister tweeted this just a short time ago.

Lt. Col. Arnaud Bertrame had persuaded a gunman to let him take the place of one of the hostages inside a supermarket in Trebes where the incident was underway. He was wounded while entering the store. The gunman was killed by police when they stormed the building. This came after a four-hour standoff. Three others were also killed on Friday by the gunman during the attack.

Our Melissa Bell joins us now on the line from Trebes in France.

Melissa, run us through the story again of how the lieutenant colonel had emerged as a hero.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an extraordinary story of heroism, Cyril. It began with the events of yesterday morning when the assailant who has now been identified as Radouane Lakdim carjacked -- went to a carjacking on the (INAUDIBLE) just after 10:00 am, taking the car, using it then to attack a group of four police officers who'd been on a jog, injuring one of them by firing on him, shooting him in the shoulder before then heading off to (INAUDIBLE) Trebes on the outskirts of Calcasonne, where the standoff with the police began. The assailant was holed up inside a local supermarket with hostages, although many people had managed to escape but the early sound of gunfire.

And during that standoff which lasted some time, it was the extraordinary heroism of this man, Arnaud Bertrame that not only allowed lives to be saved but also the standoff to be brought to an end. When he went in to the exchange with the female hostages that were

being held once he (INAUDIBLE) to do it he had left his phone on so that the officers outside the special forces who'd gathered in the standoff prepared to move in to take out this assailant, were able hear what was going on.

At the first sound of gunfire, they went in, sadly, too late for Arnaud Bertrame, who died during the night.

VANIER: And French investigators still trying to piece together exactly how these attacks came about; more specifically, who was behind them.

So what do we know at this stage about the assailant?

BELL: Radouane Lakdim was a man who was known to police services, first of all as a petty criminal. He'd done time in jail, Cyril, for low-level drug dealing, considered something of a delinquent. But he had also been what the French call officiel (ph), which means he'd been identified, alerted to security services as someone who was possibility susceptible to radicalization.

That had been removed for a short while. But it was then brought back quite suddenly. But as we kept being reminded yesterday by the French president, by the interior minister, by Francois Millon (ph), chief prosecutor, who always speaks in these times of terror attacks in France, there had been nothing to suggest that Radouane Lakdim had been about to act.

And what the police are now trying to get to the bottom of (INAUDIBLE) much of the night outside of the apartment building where Radouane Lakdim lived here in the center of Calcasonne, very large police presence and quite a tense situation with many of the local (INAUDIBLE) threatening to take on journalists and tried to take a camera (INAUDIBLE) to the building, what those police officers there are trying to work out, even as they carried out raids in the building, is precisely what sort of network he might have been involved in, whether there was anyone else he had any links with or whether this was just a man inspired by what ISIS had done, in particular the acts of (INAUDIBLE) last surviving member of the (INAUDIBLE) November attacks and his trial is currently ongoing and at the center of a great deal of attention here in France -- Cyril.

VANIER: Melissa Bell, speaking from the site of the attack, Trebes in Southern France, thank you very much, very sad news about the passing today of Arnaud Beltrame just hours after such a heroic act, where he substituted himself for a hostage and ended up losing his life to save others.

Thank you, Melissa.

Josh Campbell is with me. He's a CNN law enforcement analyst, a former FBI supervisory special agent and also a former counterterrorism investigator.

Josh, we want your point of view on this. This attack happened in rural France. It was not a high-profile target; in fact, much the opposite. There was no symbolic value to it.

What does that tell us?

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JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think we have many questions that need to be answered and that will be part of this long-term investigation where investigators really dig into the subject and determine what was his history, what were his associations.

And the ultimate goals determine what was the motive, why did he do what he did? I think right now it's still too early to make that determination. We won't know until investigators go through his social media, his contacts, interview people who knew him to really get a sense of what the attack was about.

And then we also need to answer the question as far as any external influence.

So was he radicalized by external actors?

Was he radicalized by this ideology from afar?

Or was it something that was more closer to home?

All that will be taken to get a totality to find out why he picked the target that he ultimately decided upon.

VANIER: And ISIS had claimed responsibility for this. It didn't come as much of a surprise. In fact, the French interior ministry had announced that they would probably end up doing this and they did.

ISIS has lost most of its territory in Iraq and Syria.

Does that mean that they've also lost most of their power to inspire attacks like these and that this is ultimately an outlier?

Or do you think the terrorism especially in France is now taking on a life of its own and will continue regardless?

CAMPBELL: That's a very good question I think as counterterrorism experts look at the so-called Islamic State and where they are now, they are being crushed. But as they're crushed, they still have those influential actors that continue to inspire others.

So we're not out of the woods yet, as we've seen in different parts of the world, thankfully we've had somewhat of a gap in these types of attacks. But they are still out there and these deadly actors still pose a potential threat.

I think what investigators have to really do now is look and try to determine who are the people that they're looking at. For example there were reports early on that this individual was known to the government in some respect. I can tell you as a former counterterrorism investigator that is the

gut-wrenching feeling that you have is, after an event, you go back and look through your holdings and find out that this person was someone that you knew.

So what's going to happen is investigators will be looking to him to determine what was the level of their interest and they're also going to work with foreign governments, anyone else who may have information, so they can sure that these types of attacks don't happen again.

VANIER: Josh, thank you very much for coming on the show. Appreciate it.

CAMPBELL: Thanks Cyril.

VANIER: The students are calling it a March for our Lives. They insist that lives really are at stake. A half-million demonstrators are expected in Washington on Saturday to fight gun violence and school shootings. They will be joined around the world by students, teachers, parents at similar rallies.

For the students of the Florida school attacked by a gunman last month, this is very personal. CNN's Dianne Gallagher is with them.

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LAUREN HOGG, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Everybody was saying I love you.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The students' movement is crashing the Capitol.

HOGG: I'm 14. I shouldn't have to think about getting shot in my school.

GALLAGHER: But before they marched on Washington...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What place do you want?

GALLAGHER: -- they had to get there. Hundreds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students along with their parents and teachers started their journeys on Thursday.

TARYN HIBSHMAN, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We're going to make a statement that teenagers can change the world and these things can't happen without somebody doing something.

GALLAGHER: CNN traveled to D.C. with a group from Parkland. Their seats were on a plane sponsored by the gun control advocacy organization Giffords.

DARREN LEVINE, TEACHER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We should never have been here, this shouldn't happen. We shouldn't have to come on a plane together at the start of our spring break to march in Washington, to walk for our lives all together. GALLAGHER: Clad in school colors and hashtags, excited, nervous and

determined to be heard.

DEMITRI HOTH, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: You're not going to be able to ignore us because we're at your doorstep now. So, we're going to stay here and we're going to fight.

GALLAGHER: On just a couple hours of sleep, senior Demitri Hoth stood alongside former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a fellow shooting survivor, demanding change at the highest level.

HOTH: Never again, never again, never again. America, we are your future. Why wouldn't you protect us?

GALLAGHER: Teachers wrangling hundreds of teenagers as they march through the halls of congress, searching for lawmakers to talk about their agenda. Even spending about half an hour with former Vice President Joe Biden, who behind closed doors talked about their unfortunate common bond to finding power in pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look up to him a lot. It was very inspirational.

GALLAGHER: The pain is heard in 14-yeAR-old Lauren Hogg.

HOGG: Having to say goodbye to your parents that you love them is the worst thing imaginable.

GALLAGHER: The freshman lost four friends in the massacre at her school on Valentine's Day.

HOGG: I think about my friends every moment of every day. That's what pushes me to do this.

GALLAGHER: And though in the shadows of historic buildings, these teenagers are focused on changing their future.

RYAN SERVAITES, STUDENT, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I think Washington is ready for us. I think we're ready to give them hell.

GALLAGHER: Sort of sticking with what we've seen for the past five weeks, this marriage of hope an pad pain, the national cathedral hosted an interfaith vigil Friday night where they prayed to end gun violence and people spoke.

And some of those speakers were the parents of Carmen --

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GALLAGHER: -- a senior from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who was killed in that massacre. They talked about receiving her National Merit Scholarship award the day after she died and trying to use their faith to get through this.

But it was difficult and it was hard. Across town at the same time, a concert with Jeezy and Fall Out Boy and the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School there celebrating before their march and hoping that they will be able to take this youth movement and change things so there will not be parents having to deal with things like this in the future -- Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Spencer Blum is a 16-year-old student at Stoneman Douglas High School. He's a survivor of the school shooting there. He is in Washington now for the March for our Lives. He joins us now.

Spencer, how do you feel?

I feel excited to be here for the march and also a bit saddened that we're here under the circumstances but I feel ready, ready to have our voices be heard and ready to make a change.

VANIER: The administration is just now proposing a complete ban on bump stocks.

Is that enough for you?

BLUM: I don't know that it can really ever be enough for us. However, I know and I've learned that what we want, especially with something like a complete ban, it won't happen overnight.

And the small steps that we are taking are a sign that what we're doing is working and what we're doing is -- our movement is being heard, our voices are being heard and every small step, however small, is a success in my mind.

VANIER: When you say complete ban, what exactly are you demanding?

BLUM: In my eyes, in a perfect world, military grade assault weapons would be completely banned. There is no reason anyone, sane or insane, civilian, no one should have these killing machines.

VANIER: Donald Trump has repeatedly proposed arming teachers since the school shooting.

What do you think about that?

BLUM: I'm 100 percent completely against it, at least in our case scenario and what we did when we practiced in our drills, a teacher's number one priority is to lock the door if it is not locked and to get our students to safety. That's it, not to spend time opening a lockbox and then going out and going up against a weapon such as an AR-15.

VANIER: The United States has been at this crossroads before, many times before, in fact, for longer than you've been alive. You are 16 years old. And pretty consistently this country has chosen not to restrict guns or not in any major way.

I'm sorry for asking this but do you -- are you concerned that this might be a lost cause? BLUM: You know, part of me says yes. But the part of me that says yes overpowers it. I know that when Columbine happened, even though I wasn't alive, it was the first of its kind. No one had seen a school shooting like that before.

And when Sandy Hook happened, everyone was in complete shock that this could have happened and it was just shock. And they were so young. It was such a tragedy. But then now that it happened to our school, we're in high school. So a mass tragedy like this, a mass shooting, it is different for us.

We understand a lot -- we understand the way the government works, we understand these laws and this legislation. We understand a lot more because we're older. And we understand our voice, our rights.

And being that this is what we know and being older, I think that we're using that. And I think that, with that, our voices, there is no way this could be a lost cause. If we're doing it, we have this march, we're on Twitter, we're on Facebook. We're using social media, which other generations didn't have.

We're using it to our advantage. And we are not going to stop until we finally get some serious change in this nation.

VANIER: Spencer, just quickly, is this the first time that you're going out marching?

BLUM: Yes.

VANIER: All right. Thank you for joining us on the show.

BLUM: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: And President Trump has failed once trying to ban transgender people from the military. Now he's trying again. Coming up, the White House's new plan to keep transgender persons out of the service. We'll tell you about that.

Plus the number of Russian diplomats in the U.S. could be downsized if President Trump acts on the recommendation of his national security advisers. Stay with us.

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VANIER: The Trump administration is trying once again to block transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. Last year's all-out ban against transgender persons was blocked in court. The new policy is directed at those who require surgery or medication specific to being transgender.

Here is the White House statement.

"Transgender persons with a history of diagnosis of gender dysphoria, individuals who the policies state may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery, are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances."

This is almost certain to spark another legal battle. The American Civil Liberties Union immediately denounced it as "reckless and unconstitutional."

Meanwhile the U.S. government has avoided a shutdown, at least until October, after President Trump signed into law a massive spending bill to keep federal agencies running -- emphasis here on massive. The bill is itself a 2,200-page monster the details $1.3 trillion worth of government spending.

Earlier on Friday, Mr. Trump had threatened to veto it. So just before signing he made this promise.

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TRUMP: I say to Congress I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it, it's only hours old, some people don't even know what is a $1.3 trillion.

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VANIER: What sealed the deal for President Trump was a huge increase in U.S. military spending. It also included $1.6 billion for border security but nowhere in the bill does it resolve the dilemma of the so-called DREAMers. Their protection from deportation was taken away by Mr. Trump last year, effectively leaving them in limbo.

Yet the president blames Democrats for not resolving this problem.

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TRUMP: DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats. We wanted to include DACA. We wanted to have them in this bill, 800,000 people and actually it could even be more. And we wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it. They would not do it.

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VANIER: CNN has learned that President Trump's national security team could recommend expelling some Russian diplomats from the U.S. The move would be in solidarity with Britain after the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil. CNN's Michelle Kosinski has the details on this.

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MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, so there was this high-level meeting of the president's national security team at the White House on Wednesday with the goal of trying to figure out what exactly the U.S.' response should be to this poisoning of the spy and his daughter and other people in the U.K., which the U.S. does believe was the work of Russia.

Now a source with knowledge of these discussions says that --

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KOSINSKI: -- ultimately the result of that meeting was a recommendation for the U.S. to expel Russian diplomats and that the president was expected to get this recommendation on Friday.

Already seeing the U.K. expel Russian diplomats, which was met with a furious response by Moscow. And now senior foreign diplomats tell us that at least 10 other European countries including France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands, are likely to expel Russian diplomats on Monday.

So we're waiting for a response from the White House to see if the president goes along this route, and if so, we would expect a very similar response from Russia.

Similar to the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats that we saw about eight months ago over a different matter. And of course, if the president doesn't listen to the recommendation of his own national security team, the question would be, why?

Especially since his administration has expressed being in lockstep with the U.K., not only in the belief that Russia did this, members of his administration have called this attempted murder but also it is very vocal support of the way the U.K. has responded so far -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: The U.K. is ramping up an investigation into the potential misuse of Facebook data. Officials searched the London headquarters of Cambridge Analytica on Friday. That data firm is at the center of a scandal after reports that it harvested Facebook data from tens of millions of users without their knowledge. It reportedly used that data for political campaigns, including that of U.S. president Donald Trump.

The firm, however, has denied wrongdoing. In a statement it said this, "As anyone who is familiar with our staff and work can testify, we in no way resemble the politically motivated and unethical company that some have sought to portray."

Now if you are tempted to quit Facebook -- and some are in the wake of this scandal, you're not alone. At least one famous billionaire entrepreneur is also cutting the proverbial cord, all because of a Twitter conversation. That's coming up.

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VANIER: One more thing before we end the show. Angry Facebook users around the world deleting their accounts after the company's handling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica affair, you may have heard of the #DeleteFacebook.

So Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, has taken #DeleteFacebook to a new level. The story starts with a tweet from WhatsApp's cofounder, Brian Acton, telling everyone it's time to delete Facebook.

So Musk replies, "What's Facebook?"

And this is where it gets interesting. A Twitter user taunts Musk to delete the SpaceX page on Facebook. The space technology company has more -- had more than 2.5 million followers.

Well, SpaceX founder writes, "Will do."

The page disappears.

Then another Twitter user challenges the entrepreneur, this time to delete Tesla's popular Facebook page, Tesla's page.

So the electric car company's boss responds, "Definitely. Looks lame anyway."

And the page is no more.

This is not the first time Elon Musk and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg have put their strained relationship on display.

All right. Thought you might enjoy that. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. CNN "WORLD RUGBY" is next. First, as always, I am back with the headlines. Back in two minutes.