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Texas Federal Judge Strikes Down Obamacare; Interior Secretary Resigns Amid Growing Ethics Investigations; Trump Picks Mick Mulvaney as Acting Chief of Staff; Special Counsel Dismisses Claims Flynn Was Set Up; AMI Flips, Says Trump Attended Meeting on Hush Money Payments; White House in Turmoil with Staff Shake-Ups & Investigations; Mulvaney Video: Trump "Terrible Human Being"; Parkland School Safety Commission Recommends Arming Teachers; Protests Expected in El Paso after 7-Year- Old Girl Dies in Border Patrol Custody; Texas Federal Judge Strikes Down Obamacare. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 15, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And this comes at the same time as Trump names Budget Director Mick Mulvaney also as his acting chief of staff. He's a man who once called Trump a, quote, "terrible human being."
Now, despite all of this turnover, the president is praising a federal judge in Texas for striking down Obamacare, a dramatic move that leaves the future of health care for millions of Americans up in the air and sets a major legal battle ahead that will likely make its way all the way to the Supreme Court.
Let's start with that significant ruling. We're joined now by CNN's Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue.
Ariane, break this down for us. This comes on the day when the deadline to sign up for health care next year is closing, that timing, and what led up to this?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: This is a broad ruling. This judge, not only did he say that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, he struck down the whole law. This is just one district court judge, and he'll be appealed. And he did make a point of saying that it can remain in effect pending these appeals. Boy, it sends a strong statement to millions of people who have come to rely upon Obamacare, and it's certainly going to be appealed.
Let me tell you a little bit about the background, right? How we got here. Remember, back in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate.
DE VOGUE: That was Chief Justice John Roberts. He cast that controversial vote. Conservatives were livid. And he said it's OK under the taxing power. And then just in 2017, Congress got rid of that tax penalty. So this judge last night, he said, look, you got rid of the underpinning, the legal underpinning of this law, so it's no longer constitutional, and the whole thing has to fall. That's why this was such a big deal. And keep in mind, the judge went further than even what the Trump administration wanted here.
MARQUARDT: Right. And one of the reasons so many people are so worried is because this also would do away with coverage for people with pre-existing conditions?
DE VOGUE: Right, pre-existing conditions. Remember that part of the law that said young people could stay on their parents' program until 2026, expanding Medicaid? That's why it's just absolutely so broad what this judge did last night.
And keep in mind, the Trump administration had refused to defend the individual mandate, so California and several other states stepped in, and they said, last night, we're going to a federal appeals court. They're going to take it to the appeals court.
Look, if the appeals court upholds what this judge did last night, then it will certainly go right to the Supreme Court. If it tailors it a little bit, says maybe the individual mandate must fall, but other provisions can stand, maybe it won't go to the court. But when there's a big legislative piece of legislature in front of the courts, the Supreme Court likes to have the last word.
MARQUARDT: And it's very unclear how the Supreme Court would actually rule on this because of the new makeup of the court?
DE VOGUE: Right, there's the new makeup of the court. You have to -- you know, the court has upheld this law two times, not only -- not once but twice. But the thing is, is this time, they might be concerned with something we called severability. That is, if you strike down one provision of the law, can you really -- can one judge strike down the whole thing? And they'll also look at the intent of Congress. Congress could have decided not to allow the whole thing to go into effect, and it didn't. And so the justices, if it gets to them, they'll take those two things into consideration.
MARQUARDT: Ariana, thanks so much.
DE VOGUE: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: I spoke earlier with one of the architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, and I asked him about his reaction to this Texas judge's ruling. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN GRUBER, OBAMACARE ARCHITECT: I think it's really disappointing. It's essentially a perversion of representative democracy. Republicans controlled the Congress. They had a chance to strike down Obamacare. They said, no, we're going to leave Obamacare and strike down the tax penalty. So they have literally said it is severable. Republicans have spoken. They've said it's severable. Yet, this judge is saying, no, I don't believe what the representative democracy delivered. I'm going to declare it inseverable. That's why legal experts, even legal experts who were opposed to the Affordable Care Act in previous cases, are saying it's just ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So joining me now for more on this is former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, Renato Mariotti.
Renato, how do you respond to the legal criticism of this judge's ruling?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's fair to say that most legal analysts, lawyers, scholars disagree with the reasoning in the judge's ruling. And I think Ariane keyed on one reason why, which is that you have to consider the intent of the new Congress. In other words, more recently, Congress considered the question of whether or not to repeal the Affordable Care Act and decided not to do that. And instead, they decided to repeal just one small part of it. And so clearly Congress believed that the rest of this, you know, could be -- you know, the rest of it could be severed and could exist onward. And that was the intent of the new Congress.
[13:05:15] Purely from a legal perspective, I think, if you talk to, you know, a wide spectrum of lawyers on this, the majority of them, the vast majority probably would disagree with the judge's ruling. For that reason, I just think viewers at home should be -- shouldn't be as alarmed as they might otherwise be, because this is certainly a concerning thing, as Ariane mentioned, for people who are relying on this.
As she pointed out, this will take a long time to go through the court system. The affordable care account will remain in effect as the case works its way through the system. And then there's at least some good reason to believe that the law would still be upheld in the Supreme Court.
MARQUARDT: Why do you think that? Given the makeup of the Supreme Court now with the additions of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, why are you so confident?
MARIOTTI: Well, a couple of reasons. First of all, Gorsuch effectively replaced Scalia. Kavanaugh replaced Kennedy. You still have Chief Justice Roberts and four, you know, Democratic-appointed justices who voted in the past to uphold the ACA. So unless there's any other shake-up between now and then, it's hard for me to believe that if Chief Justice Roberts and the other four justices had the opportunity to invalidate the Affordable Care Act in the past, when I'd say that there were more -- the challenges were more weighty from a legal perspective here, the reasoning is a bit tortured. So I think -- certainly you can't predict for sure what the Supreme Court's going to do -- and I don't mean to tell people here that I know for sure what the Supreme Court's going to do because I don't. All I would say is if I was a betting person, I would bet on the Supreme Court, you know, not upholding this ruling for the reasons I've already stated. And in any event, that's not something that's going to be decided anytime soon. And in the meantime, the Affordable Care Act will remain in effect.
MARQUARDT: What other legal challenges could you see? It could come from Capitol Hill. Nancy Pelosi has slammed this ruling. Where else would this ruling be challenged?
MARIOTTI: Sure. So first of all, one thing that's important to note is, as Ariane alluded to, the Trump administration, usually the presidential administration defends the constitutionality of laws. Here they did not, although they took a middle position here that didn't go as far as the judge's ruling. And I think if the Trump administration's view ultimately became what the Supreme Court went with, the Affordable Care Act would essentially remain intact with one small exception that I don't think would matter to our viewers.
But I do think more groups are going to get involved in legal challenges both to attack and defend the Affordable Care Act. Then, as you point out, you know, the Affordable Care Act, certain provisions of it like the protection for pre-existing provisions is very popular, even though the Trump administration and the attorney general opposed it. I would think that there will be -- although I'm not a political expert -- I would think there would be efforts on the political front to pass new laws that would ensure, regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, that those protections would remain intact.
MARQUARDT: Renato Mariotti, thanks so much.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: We're also following the latest shake-up at the White House that came down today. The president announcing that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has resigned and will leave his post in the administration by the end of the year. Zinke is leaving amid growing scrutiny over a whole range of ethics investigation into his time heading up the Interior Department.
The president, in another announcement, has said that Mick Mulvaney, who's head of the Office of Management and Budget, will also become the acting chief of staff. That will come at the end of the year. He will be replacing the chief of staff, John Kelly. Now, Mulvaney's appointment puts an end to several days of confusion after the president's top pick for that chief of staff job and other people also took their names out of the running.
So for more, we are going to Sarah Westwood at the White House.
Sarah, what do we know about Zinke's really quite sudden resignation today?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Alex, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has long been viewed as someone with an uncertain future in the Trump administration, given the fact that he has been facing so much scrutiny of his conduct and he's generated so many negative headlines and has the potential to create future ones as the target of likely Congressional probes in the House.
Zinke had recently become the subject of several lines of inquiry from the Interior Department's inspector general amid allegations that he abused agency resources, that he used his post for personal gain. And the inspector general looked into many areas of Zinke's work, including his involvement in a tribal casino deal in Connecticut and a land development deal in Montana. And CNN reported in October that the Justice Department had begun investigating Zinke based on a referral from the inspector general, although Zinke said he had not been contacted by Justice Department investigators. And he described all the investigations into his office as a politically motivated.
[13:10:37] Zinke's departure could help the White House avoid some headaches that would have come from Zinke being called to testify before Congressional committees as House Democrats signaled their intention to investigate Zinke's conduct. But, Alex, this sets the White House up for another Senate confirmation battle. Trump has to get his attorney general nominee and U.N. ambassador nominee confirmed by the Senate next year.
MARQUARDT: A lot of work ahead for the Trump administration.
Sarah West, down on the North Lawn at the White House, thanks so much.
Coming up, sources are telling CNN that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team continues to be interested in sitting down with President Trump one on one, but can the president and his lawyers be convinced?
[13:15:27] MARQUARDT: Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, still wants to interview President Trump. But the president's lawyers say a sit-down interview is not going to happen.
The development follows a new turn by Robert Mueller involving Michael Flynn, the disgraced former national security adviser. The special counsel is dismissing suggestions by Flynn's lawyers that he lied to the FBI because he was set up.
The memo caps a really head-spinning week of revelations that show that the legal walls may be closing in on Trump and the people around him. Now, these are the current active investigations in and around Trump's orbit. The Trump campaign, the Trump transition team, the Trump Inaugural Committee, the Trump Foundation, the Trump Organization and of course the Trump administration itself.
So for more CNN's Erica Orden joins us. She is following all of this.
Erica, let's talk specifically about Flynn and how this latest memo from the Mueller team could impact his sentencing, which is due to take place on Tuesday.
ERICA ORDEN, CNN REPORTER: That's right. So it's not clear from what's transpired in the court filings that the sort of dispute over how the questioning of Flynn unfolded will impact the actual sentence that Michael Flynn receives. Michael Flynn, both Flynn's attorneys and the special counsel prosecutors have asked for sentences of little to no prison time. But what may happen is that the judge overseeing Michael Flynn's sentencing may have additional questions about the accusations that Flynn has made and the arguments that the special counsel has provided in response to those accusations. And he -- the judge may also want to hear from Flynn, Flynn's attorneys, about why some of these claims are being made now as opposed to when Flynn pleaded, which was about a year ago.
And so the impact on the actual sentence that Flynn receives is not necessarily significant, but it may -- the proceeding that is going to take place may elicit some further developments or some further insight into how this actually played out.
MARQUARDT: Erica, do we have any idea why the Flynn team would have come out sort of swinging like this alleging that the FBI agents didn't tell Flynn it was illegal to lie? It seemed like everything was going swimmingly and he was on his way to no jail time at all. And this seems like an unnecessary way to anger the Mueller folks.
ORDEN: That is one of the surprising things, is that the special counsel sentencing memo and the filings that they've made indicated that Flynn was extremely -- you know, provided significant cooperation, met with them many, many times, met with the special counsel prosecutors many times, and provided information and, you know, various elements on all sorts of investigations. So it did come as a surprise that they were pushing back. There's been some speculation that perhaps Flynn's team is signaling or hoping for a presidential pardon, but there's no real -- there are no clear answers as to that question.
MARQUARDT: All right, Erica Orden, thanks so much.
ORDEN: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: Now, adding to the president's potential legal problems, the parent company of the "National Enquirer," AMI, has flipped on the president and is offering what the government calls, quote, "substantial and important assistance" to prosecutors regarding those hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal. A source tells CNN that Donald Trump was in a 2015 meeting with his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, as well as the chairman of AMI, American Media, Incorporated, David Pecker. They were said to have discussed ways to shield President Trump from any damaging stories that would come out during the campaign.
Joining us now is CNN's chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter.
Brian, what else do we think that AMI and Pecker have on the president?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": This is one of the enduring mysteries of this story. Now that the "National Enquirer" has confessed to this catch-and-kill practice of buying up someone's bad story about Trump and then burying the story -- by the way, something they also did for various celebrities over the years. They would buy a bad story and bury it. The question is whether there were other stories involving Trump the "Enquirer" also purchased over the years. That may not be a crime, but it would certainly be an area of interest among "National Enquirer" employees and prosecutors. [13:20:01] What we know according to former "National Enquirer"
employees is that there's a safe or a vault that David Pecker used to have where he would keep some of the stories that he bought. We don't know where that safe is, and we don't though what happened to it now. We do know that Pecker and his deputies are cooperating with prosecutors.
I think an important detail from the revelations this week is that AMI is going to continue to cooperate in the future, suggesting there could be more for the prosecutors to learn in the future.
MARQUARDT: But do we have any indication, Brian, just to be clear, what might be in those safes.
STELTER: Nothing specific. What we know, in the past, is the "Enquirer" would buy up tapes, documents, not just about Trump but about lots of people. That was the practice the "Enquirer" was engaging in.
MARQUARDT: OK. But also another question we have is, who else within the Trump orbit, on the Trump team might have worked with AMI? It possible that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, might have taken over the role that Michael Cohen had as the primary ambassador to Pecker and AMI?
STELTER: The Kushner link is very intriguing. There's a new "Daily Beast" story about that. There is some evidence that Kushner, along with Michel Cohen, was in touch with American Media, with the "National Enquirer" about various stories, not just before Election Day, pre-2016, but also after President Trump took office in 2017. Because the remarkable thing about the "National Enquirer" is it was portraying Trump as a hero and attacking all of his enemies up until actually right until the moment the "National Enquirer's" company was subpoenaed. That's what happened in April of this year. At the same time Cohen's office was raided and files taken by prosecutors. Ever since then, the "Enquirer" has dropped Trump. All of a sudden, they stopped promoting Trump. They stopped attacking his enemies. But for a good 15 months of the Trump presidency, the "Enquirer" was a valuable media megaphone for Trump, and now he doesn't have that anymore.
MARQUARDT: But now we've seen this sort of rather dramatic breaking up --
MARQUARDT: -- between AMI and Pecker and President Trump. You know a little bit more about that and how that all fell apart?
STELTER: I went back through all the covers, all the story since April, since that subpoena, and the Trump coverage stopped right away. There's been no pro-Trump covers of the "National Enquirer" since April. You might say, why does that matter, it's a supermarket tabloid. Because millions of people see the "Enquirer" when they're at the market or other places. The "Enquirer" was a really valuable part of Trump's media support, and now that's gone. So looking ahead, he's lost one of his top boosters in the media.
MARQUARDT: Brian Stelter, thank you very much.
MARQUARDT: Appreciate your insight.
Coming up, still ahead, we have news on White House staff shake-ups, members of the cabinet resigning, and six investigations surrounding the president. We will look next at that turmoil inside and outside the White House.
[13:27:18] MARQUARDT: This week is shaping up to be yet another unprecedented week for the Trump White House. Take a look at this list. These are all the current investigations in and around the Trump world at this moment. Six in all. The one common denominator in each of those, the president himself, who has been lashing out and laying blame as his personal and professional lives are increasingly under siege.
Adding to the White House turmoil, staff changes. Take a look at this list of people who have left the Trump administration since he took office less than two years ago. Another name was then added to that list this morning with the announcement that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also resigning.
To delve into all of this, joining ne now is Sahil Kapur, a political reporter for "Bloomberg," also Karoun Demirjian, who is a CNN political analyst and a congressional reporter for the "Washington Post."
Karoun, let's start with you.
This crazy week, and we don't have enough time to list them all, but we had all the developments in the Russia probe. We had the Senate vote on Saudi Arabia, which was a real rebuke to the president. We have now this week being capped off with the Ryan Zinke and Mick Mulvaney news. We talk about unprecedented weeks in the Trump administration.
MARQUARDT: How do you think this stacks up? And going into an incredibly busy 2019, what do you think the consequences are?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a piling on, on every front. We've seen instability in the Trump orbit. We've seen that crunched into one week. It's not the first time. It's definitely been a power-packed week.
Look, all of this just serves to heighten skepticism and heighten scrutiny of the Trump administration going forward. We already knew he was heading into 2019, both having to put a good face on for his base and the country for his election, but also everybody in the House now that the Democrats are going to be taking over are going to be looking into every aspect of him, his finances, his family, his cabinet. The list of the investigation is not limited at this point at all. This just kind of provides fodder for doing that on more fronts when we see these developments take place. We always knew these developments were coming. We always knew there was going to be a changing of the guard in various parts of the administration. It's just kind of jarring when it all happens at once. And I think that putting all of those -- all those machinations of what's happening in the executive branch together with the frustration with his foreign policy that you're seeing in Congress this week is just losing him the complete loyalty of a lot of the allies he had. There are people that are just getting tired of it and are willing to challenge him.
MARQUARDT: That's an excellent point.
Again, to the consequences, when you see Republicans on Capitol Hill basically shrugging off the fact that the president knew about these hush money payments, do you think that that solidarity will last?
[13:30:07] SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: I've gotten a number of responses from Republicans who have asked to react to the fact that the president's former lawyer and fixer has been prosecuted and implicated the president in a crime. Most of them are in the wait-and-see mode. They want to see how the final thing turns out. We haven't seen the report yet. Many of them don't want to comment on this and want to avoid confronting the president to the extent possible. Chuck Grassley, the current chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Cohen a liar and he doesn't believe what Cohen said. Cohen said he was lying on behalf of the president to cover up crimes he was directed to do on his behalf. There's a lot here. And I think there's a lot that Democrats are going to want to investigate. Starting with the fact that they want to know if there's anything that could potentially compromise the president. This is what Adam Schiff of the Intel Committee said: "Does Russia have any information on this president that could compromise national security decisions?" It's a towering allegation, but that's where Democrats minds are.
MARQUARDT: Adam Schiff chomping at the bit to get in.
Overnight, we came across a new piece of video of the incoming acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, talking about the president before the election in 2016. Let's take a quick listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, OMB DIRECTOR & INCOMING ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, I'm supporting Donald Trump. I'm doing so as enthusiastically as I can, given the fact I think he's a terrible human being, but the choice on the other side is just as bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: Terrible human being. So.
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The president's going to love to hear that one.
MARQUARDT: Presumably, he hasn't heard it yet, but he certainly will now if he's watching CNN.
What does that mean for Mulvaney's place as the new acting chief of staff and for the direction of the White House into 2019?
DEMIRJIAN: Look, Mulvaney has been the president's go-to choice for a number of things. He was CFPB, and then Office of Management and Budget, and thousand he's the recent choice for chief of staff after a whole bunch of other high-profile names were saying, no, thank you, or being put out of the running.
DEMIRJIAN: He's been one of the most loyal, reliable people for the president, and now it turns out he's also spoken rather ill of him in a non-coached way.
Either the president is going to feel like he's got no other choice, he'll feel a little magnanimous, saying, this is the guy talking to him way before I got to know him now and it's a different relationship, but that hasn't happened with President Trump. He tends to hold grudges, especially when he doesn't feel like people respect/praise him. And so this could -- you know, it's not a great start, let's just say, for whatever the term of the Mulvaney chief of staff tenure was going to be. The president tweeted acting chief of staff who knows exactly what that means, if he's got somebody else in the back of his mind. But starting off pretty rocky.
MARQUARDT: That was an about face. We know that Nick Ayers, the vice president's chief of staff, the talks with him fell apart because he wanted acting and President Trump wouldn't give it to him. Now the president appears to want to just get someone in there and have someone take the job and, OK, you can be an acting chief of staff, and just like we'll deal with that later?
KAPUR: Right, there are a couple of things that are curious about this Mulvaney appointment. Number one, he's calling him acting chief of staff. This is not a Senate-confirmable position where the president can't simply appoint someone permanently for that role. The second thing is Mulvaney is currently the head of the OMB, the budget office, which is a Senate-confirmable position. And he is not resigning from that office, according to the White House, because that's not an office where you can shuffle people in and out. That suggests that, on some level, the president may be hedging or he may not -- or he may be auditioning Mick Mulvaney.
MARQUARDT: There was a fascinating passage in some reporting in "The Post" about a dinner that the president was at with Mulvaney and Mulvaney offered himself up as chief of staff, and knew that the way to get in good with the president was to pledge his loyalty to the family. That's clearly hugely important to him? DEMIRJIAN: Yes, I mean, you've seen how the president keeps his
family close in positions where he's been accused of nepotism and there's been questions raised about whether it's wise because the liabilities of his children, you know, are reflecting back on him because they're working in official positions in the White House. It reads like a script from like kind of a bad '80s movie in a way to have that line be said that way. But it shows that Mulvaney has kind of figured out how to read the president, how to work the president, and it's been successful for him thus far, having something like that video come out that shows that maybe it was all intention and not as genuine as it appeared might undercut the work he's being doing to self-promote.
KAPUR: It's not easy to survive in this White House for two years. Mick Mulvaney has figured out a way. His challenge is he was the hardline conservative in the House of Representatives. He voted against the very kinds of compromises that this White House is going to have to strike on things like government funding. He was an instigator of the 2013 government shutdown, which Kevin McCarthy, the incoming minority leader on the Republican side, and that team tried to avoid. He's voted against debt limit increases. He does not have great bipartisan relationships, bipartisan relationships on Capitol Hill.
[13:35:00] MARQUARDT: Third chief of staff in less than two years.
Sahil Kapur, Karoun Demirjian, thank you so much for joining me.
KAPUR: Thank you.
DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: Still ahead, remember the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida? The panel investigating the attacks now wants a law allowing teachers to carry guns. I'll be speaking with the father of one of the students who was killed in the tragedy about that recommendation. That's next.
MARQUARDT: This week, there's been a new controversial push to put guns in classrooms to avoid tragedies like the one at Parkland, Florida. It's been 10 months since 17 people, 14 of whom were children, were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Now, the school's Safety Committee that was formed after the shooting has voted to recommend a state law be passed allowing teachers to be armed. Those teachers would have to volunteer and undergo a background check.
Joining me with more on this is CNN's correspondent, Polo Sandoval.
Polo, this is obviously a hugely controversial subject, arming teachers, now one of the recommendations of this commission. What else did they say? [13:40:26] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hugely controversial,
and a huge report literally, too, Alex, about 400 pages that were prepared by members of this 15-person commission that was put together just months after that February 14th shooting. With two main purposes, identify basically what went wrong from law enforcement and the school district and identify different ways of preventing something from like this from happening again. The most controversial one allows all teachers in the state of Florida to be armed inside the campus.
Now, when it comes to some of the other issues here, some of the other recommendations that were laid out by this commission, I want to read you some of the recommended changes that this commission believes should be done at school districts across the state of Florida, things like electronically controlled door systems, the installation of ballistic glass and also metal detectors. You keep going down the list. Also the installation of more fencing around perimeters, GPS locators on school buses. And then there's that proposal we just talked about, this idea of arming teachers.
We should mention that Florida has already taken legislative steps in the past, mainly in March, when they allowed certain staff on campus that are trained to be able to carry weapons inside the classroom. However, if approved, some of these latest proposals would seek to allow all teachers to arm themselves as long as they are trained and pass additional screening here.
That, Alex, in a very quick nutshell, is a breakdown of what these 400 pages lay out. These are 400 pages that will go to the governor of Florida and to legislators.
MARQUARDT: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
SANDOVAL: Thank you.
MARQUARDT: For more, let's bring in Max Schachter. His son, Alex, was one of the 17 people killed in last February's tragic shooting.
Max, first of all, tremendously sorry for your loss. And in the wake of your son's killing, you joined this Public Safety Commission that has now recommended arming teachers. Do you believe that armed teachers could have prevented this tragedy?
MAX SCHACHTER, FATHER OF STUDENT KILLED AT MARJORIE STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I feel I'm in favor of the Guardian Program, and the Guardian Program in its current form would have all personnel potentially to be a part of the Guardian Program to be armed except for teachers. But I want to explain why the commission voted 13-1 to vote in favor of arming teachers, and that is the -- the reason is we did an extensive 20-year active-assault analysis of every mass school shooting in the United States, and what we found is that a lot of things, number one, all these mass murders are over in a matter of four minutes. Number two, you've got all school personnel that are on campus and a majority of these school shootings, school personnel on campus have stopped these murders from taking place. Number three, this mass murderer had an empty gun five times. Five times he reloaded. And if there were personnel on campus that had a weapon, they could have stopped him and neutralized this threat and killed this murder.
I did not support this measure. I recently traveled to Israel to look how Israel makes their schools safe. There's a tremendous threat there in Israel. And what they found is that they tried this before. They armed 14,000 teachers in the past, and what they found was the teachers were leaving their guns in the classrooms. They were leaving them in bathrooms, in their drawers at home, and they were extremely nervous about bad things happening with teachers being armed. I am concerned about this. Israel removed all 14,000 guns away from their teachers, and I did not support this measure. Teachers should teach, and that is the only thing they should do. But I am in favor of other personnel, principals, assistant principals, security monitors. The fact of the matter is we need a good guy with a gun on campus. Two is better than one, three is better than two.
MARQUARDT: Right. Israel also has incredibly strict gun control laws, we should note.
But in this report, there are also several elements highlighted that may have contributed to the incredible horror that followed. We saw gates, doors that locked only on the outside of classrooms. There was an inadequate P.A. system. So what do you think other schools around the country can learn from this tragedy to make themselves safer?
[13:45:12] SCHACHTER: I mean, there are so many lessons learned, so many best practices that are going to come out of this report. It will be issued January 1st, and I recommend every school district around the country to analyze our report.
One very simple thing that Broward County still does not have is a code red policy. There needs to be training for teachers and children exactly what to do when there's an active assailant on campus. And also, there needs to be a hard corner policy or a safe zone. Every classroom needs to have a protected space that teachers and children know where to go if there's a murderer on your campus. This murderer did not enter any of the classrooms. He shot right through the glass window of Alex's classroom door. And it haunts me every day that if we would have had ballistic glass in that classroom window door, Alex, my little boy, would still be alive here today.
MARQUARDT: Max, you recently had a chance to sit down with the president and the vice president here in Washington. What did you tell them, and how did they respond?
SCHACHTER: They responded very, very well. I told them that, ever since this happened, schools are lost. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, whether it's Santa Fe High School, they do not know how to make themselves safe. Schools around this country are at a loss. They're investing millions and millions of dollars on security cameras to look at forensics of dead bodies when they don't even have locks on their doors. And so I recommended to the administration that, for the first time ever, they create a clearinghouse to develop national school safety best practices. This is vitally needed to give guidance to schools across the country. And the administration heard my pleas, and I am extremely hopeful that that is going to be in this report, this impending Federal Commission on School Safety report that's going to come out very, very soon. The administration is extremely concerned. They do not want this to be just another commission, to have a commission until the next school shooting. I think that the measures that they recommend and that are in the MSD Commission report are going to be the most widely accepted changes and the most drastic changes and the most significant changes to make schools safe in 20 years since Columbine.
MARQUARDT: All right, Max Schachter, thanks. Again, our deepest condolences to you and your family.
SCHACHTER: Thank you very much.
MARQUARDT: And we'll be right back.
[13:52:17] MARQUARDT: In just a few minutes from now, protests are expected to get under way in El Paso, Texas, after a 7-year-old migrant girl from Guatemala died in U.S. custody. She was detained with her father in a remote part of New Mexico on December 6. Officials say she was medically cleared to be taken to a detention facility with the rest of her group, which included 50 unaccompanied children. The next day, she got seriously ill and was air lifted to a hospital where she went into cardiac arrest and later died of septic shock. An autopsy is being performed. She was suffering from dehydration, liver failure, and as we mentioned, that was the initial assessment that she died of septic shock.
So with more on this CNN, Ed Lavandera is in El Paso.
Ed, what are we hearing from the girl's family?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the girl's father is still here in El Paso being cared for by one of the shelters here in El Paso that caters to recently-arrived immigrants here into the country and people going through the asylum process.
But we have also been able to reach the small village where this girl and her father came from several weeks ago and were able to speak with her mother and grandfather and other family members there, who describe themselves as completely devastated, by this whole ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINGO CAHL (ph), GRANDFATHER OF GIRL WHO DIED IN U.S. CUSTODAY (through translation): I'm not going to speak that much because I can barely take it. It is difficult for us. This happened because we are very much in need. The girl will jump in happiness that she would get to go to the United States. Very happy and content. But she didn't know. For us, it is very difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Alex, those family members tell us that it was the desperation of their situation there in Guatemala that convinced her father to take his young daughter, to take this chance to come work in the United States, that's what motivated them.
Of course, Trump administration officials have been very critical of the father's decision to take part in this migration into this remote part of New Mexico, and the Mexican border, and trying to cross there, in this remote treacherous area. They said it was -- you know, it puts your family at risk.
All of that is being pushed back -- pardon the siren here, very loud driving past. All of that being pushed back very intentionally by immigrants' right activists here along the border, especially here in El Paso, who say it is wrong to criticize the father for the desperate decision that he made. They have said more focus should be put on the Trump administration's immigration policies that have tightened the ability for immigrants to legally request asylum here at official border point entries. And they say that is driving many of these migrants into these far more remote areas, making it a far more treacherous and dangerous journey here to the United States -- Alex?
[13:55:13] MARQUARDT: A tragic story.
Ed, in El Paso, thanks so much.
Still ahead, a federal judge strikes down the Affordable Care Act, marking a win for the president, but potentially putting the health care of millions of Americans in jeopardy.
[13:59:57] MARQUARDT: Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us. I'm Alex Marquardt, in for Frederica Whitfield on this Saturday.
Right now, the future for health care for millions of Americans is up in the air. A federal judge in Texas has struck down Obamacare in a controversial ruling that is setting the scene for a major legal battle ahead.