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Report: White House Budget Office Tried Hiding Concerns On Ukraine Aid Freeze; Parkland Father, Fred Guttenberg, Discusses Yelling During SOTU, Not Being Invited To White House With Other Parkland Families; Trump Confuses Concord, New Hampshire, With Concord, Massachusetts, At Rally. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired February 11, 2020 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: This just into CNN. Less than a week after President Trump was acquitted of impeachment charges in the Senate, there's new reporting that not only was the White House Budget Office fully aware over concerns of withholding Ukraine aid, but also an attempt by the agency to hide those concerns.

CNN National Security Correspondent, Vivian Salama, joining us with more information on this.

What can you tell us? This is your reporting.

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Just Security came out with new details that adds to some reporting I did in the last couple days essentially showing that the OMB knew the Pentagon had concerns for months about the fact that President Trump and his administration was withholding from Ukraine.

Pentagon officials repeatedly flagging these concerns to OMB officials, the Office of Management and Budget, and saying they were potentially in violation of the law. They were breaking the law by holding it so long.

Pentagon officials went so far as to say we may not be able to pay out the aid to Ukraine if it's held any longer.

OMB, according to the emails that Just Security obtained today, essentially swept it under the rug and said they weren't going to deal with it. They tried to actually withhold that information from official reports.

They also allegedly misled the Government Accountability Office, which determined that this was a problem.

KEILAR: That's crazy, misleading the GAO.

SALAMA: Yes. Ultimately, this boils down to a lot of issues that House Democrats were flagging during the impeachment inquiry, which is that OMB was not releasing documents to help them in the investigation. And they saying they wanted to see more of this information because they felt there was still so much that we don't know.

Between the emails I obtained a couple days ago, and the other by Just Security, which we have independently verified, by the way, it shows there's still so much we don't know.

Now that the president has been acquitted and, technically, the impeachment inquiry is over, House Democrats insist that this investigation has to continue.

KEILAR: Vivian, great reporting. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

The Parkland father, escorted out of the State of the Union for yelling out, will join me next. We'll talk about what made him do this. We'll talk about his thoughts on not being invited to the White House along with other Parkland families.

Plus, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the president makes a stop in a state and appears to mix up some American history.



KEILAR: At last week's State of the Union address, President Trump made a pledge to continue his support for gun rights, which sparked this moment.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In reaffirming our heritage as a free nation, we must remember that America has always been a frontier nation. Now we must embrace the next frontier.


KEILAR: That was Fred Guttenberg, a gun reform activist, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Parkland school shooting two years ago this week. He was escorted out of the president's speech for shouting.

A few days after the State of the Union, President Trump met with a group called Stand with Parkland, which is comprised of some of the families of Parkland victims, who have been working with the federal government on a new school safety Web site. Fred is not a member of that group.

He's joining me now.

Fred, thank you for coming on to discuss this important moment, this important issue on this key week.


KEILAR: So I want to walk through this moment with you, because you were responding to the president, who was saying that the Second Amendment was under attack across the country.


KEILAR: The thing you shouted was, "What about victims of gun violence like my daughter." So --


GUTTENBERG: Like my daughter. Nine words.

KEILAR: Will you just take me through what you were feeling and why you yelled out?

GUTTENBERG: Yes. Earlier in the speech, he spent time talking about violence, but talking about violence against Americans by illegals, as we would say, and how the way to address violence is to do all that nasty stuff.


All I could sit there thing about was my daughter was killed by an American teen male. I was getting angry, because he wasn't addressing the cause of all violence in this country.

Later on in the speech, when he got to the part about the Second Amendment and he said, I will defend your Second Amendment rights, which are under attack and under siege all over the country.

He's saying to his followers that people like me want to attack the Second Amendment. And that's just an absolute, brutal, disgusting, vicious lie.

Under no circumstance and no place in this country is the Second Amendment under attack. And no legal, lawful gun owner feels the sting of gun safety measures ever being proposed.

In Florida, we passed gun safety three weeks after my daughter died. Not a single legal, lawful gun owner spends a second thinking about that law because it has not impacted them.

What he said, he's going to defend the Second Amendment, with a lie, but not, I'm going to defend your children, I'm going to defend your loved ones against gun violence.

I got emotional and I lost it. I try to go forward in this process of fighting for gun safety and not letting my emotions get the best of me. They did that night.

KEILAR: I can't imagine in your situation not letting your emotions certainly rise to the surface and drive you, at some points, in this debate. It must be incredibly frustrating for you.

You lost your daughter two years ago on Friday.


KEILAR: I know she is always on your mind. But marking this second year without her, what is on your mind? What do you want people to know about her?

GUTTENBERG: You know what? You're right. I think of my daughter every second of every day. Her face lives on in my head, her laughter, her silliness, her strength.

And I want people to know that my daughter -- I tell people all the time, I'm still Jaime's dad, and she's still my daughter, but my relationship with her has changed. I continue on as Jaime's dad, doing what I do now. I want people to know Jaime is with me, pushing me, helping me fight, inspiring me.

We saw it the day after the State of the Union because people all over the country stepped up and supported the work we're trying to do. Because of what happened in the State of the Union, the next day, people were talking about gun violence in this country.

I want people to know I'll never stop fighting for Jaime and never stop fighting for their rights to be free of gun violence.

KEILAR: There was a gathering at the White House of Parkland families.


KEILAR: You were not invited. I suppose after this -- this is yesterday. I suppose after the State of the Union, perhaps you're not surprised that ultimately you were not invited, or maybe you were surprised. You tell me. How did this feel?

GUTTENBERG: You know, so over the course of the day, I learned more about that meeting. And some families of some of the other victims, families who I love very much, they have another group called Stand with Parkland and they're doing wonderful work.

They were going to the White House to discuss an initiative that they were getting ready to launch.

My concern with what happened yesterday is the White House put out a public schedule. Now, I knew nothing about the meeting with Stand with Parkland because that was their meeting.

The White House put out a public schedule they have since acknowledged that was not correctly done that said, "Meeting with the Parkland families, not open to media."

It made it look like a private meeting with Parkland families on the week where we have the two-year mark.

So I put out a tweet after getting calls from the media saying I wasn't invited to this meeting. Over the course of the day, I learned what the meeting was. The White House I guess acknowledged that the schedule should have

said, "Meeting with Stand with Parkland."

Those families did go. And I believe they had a productive visit.

Not upset with the families. I am really upset with the White House for the way they handled their public schedule.

The truth is, I don't ever expect to be invited to this White House, and I'm OK with that.

KEILAR: Can I just ask you, real quick, before we go here --


KEILAR: -- you follow all these initiatives. You've followed the one in Florida. You've looked at this clearinghouse idea that was unveiled at the White House yesterday.



KEILAR: Do you think Americans should feel that their kids are safe at school?

GUTTENBERG: Not at all. Not yet. And the reason is because, especially -- we're in a weird place in this country where people want to work around the edges but not deal with the problem.

The reality is gun violence is not going to change because of a clearinghouse. It will make schools safer for a lot of reasons. Hopefully, it will stop incidences of gun violence.

But gun violence happens in schools. It happens in Walmart -- there was just another incident yesterday -- temples, churches, movie theaters, on the highway in Odessa, Texas.

Until we deal with the reality that we have a problem in this country with guns and people who intend to kill having access to guns, we can't say you're free from gun violence.

KEILAR: Fred Guttenberg, thank you so much for talking to us today. You are in my heart this week.

GUTTENBERG: Thank you.

KEILAR: I can't even imagine how difficult this is. We're looking forward to continuing the conversation with you.

GUTTENBERG: Thank you so much for having me on.

KEILAR: We'll see you soon, Fred. Thank you.

GUTTENBERG: Have a good day. KEILAR: All eyes on New Hampshire as voters head to the polls in this

first-in-the-nation Democratic primary. President Trump also making a stop there and at a campaign rally. He seemed to mix up a key piece of American history.



KEILAR: On the eve of the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, President Donald Trump took the rare move of being in the state. He held one of his own rallies, a re-election rally. But during his speech he had a problem with American history. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Concord, I love Concord.


TRUMP: I love Concord. Oh, Concord.


TRUMP: You know how famous Concord is? Concord, that's the same Concord that we read about all the time, right? Concord. I love Concord.


KEILAR: So actually, it's not the one that we read about all the time. He was in Concord, New Hampshire. Concord, Massachusetts, is the place of history, right?

And joining me now from Austin, Texas, is presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley, to talk about this.

You know, listening to this, Doug, it's just -- it's hard to overemphasize the importance of Concord, Massachusetts, in American history. And this wasn't just a slip of the tongue by the president. What do you think of this mistake?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There are only a few dates that you have to know in American history, and one is April 19th, 1775. That's where the shot heard around the world took place. That's where the American Revolution was launched at Concord, Massachusetts.

It's also the home of the transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott, who wrote "Little Women," which got a few Oscar nods. Henry David Thoreau's "Walden." So from Revolutionary War history, literally history, it's Concord Massachusetts.

If you go to Concord, New Hampshire, the only thing of big note going on there is Franklin Pierce, our 14th president, is buried there. And I don't think that's what Donald Trump was, you know, reflecting on. KEILAR: Yes, I don't think so either.

And look, we've seen other -- we've seen other candidates, other politicians make mistakes when it comes to revolutionary history. I think about Sarah Palin, and her sort of revisionist Paul Revere history. I think of Michelle Bachmann also confusing these two Concords.

And I wonder, though, he's the president. And look, I understand when you're -- Americans are busy, right? They're not always going to remember the geography they learned or even history lessons, even though this is so key to the beginning of America.

But what do you think about a president who is lacking basic information like this? including going into a place like this and not getting it right?

BRINKLEY: He didn't do his homework in preparation of the speech. He was winging it. His mind got confused. I mean, he has a history deficit disorder. He knows very little about American geography.

One of President Trump's strengths is supposed to be his knowledge of sports in the NFL. And even there, when the Super Bowl Kansas City Chiefs won, he said they were in Kansas, not Missouri.

So he's somebody who really does -- he's one of these people that sees New York City and Mar-a-Lago as the center of the world and everything else is just the territories out there.

And I got to talk to President Trump once. And he'll openly admit he didn't read books about the American Revolution or any biographies of American presidents, hence this kind of mistake is bound to happen.

KEILAR: Real quick, Doug, before I let you go. As a presidential historian, why do you think it is so important that presidents have a grasp of history, specifically American history?

BRINKLEY: Because there's no way you can lead our country if you don't know the trials and tribulations we've gone through before.

You look at things in a disconnected fashion if you don't understand, you know, what happened in the Civil War or World War I or, you know, what truly happened in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

You're apt to just look at the world from your own lens and your gut, and you don't understand the traditions of our institutions, as were seen with this president. You don't understand the State Department traditions, CIA traditions, so you tend to just stomp on the Constitution and other foundational texts.


KEILAR: Hey, Doug, thank you so much. Douglas Brinkley, we really appreciate you joining us.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Brianna. KEILAR: We have more on our breaking news. In a stunning reversal and hours after the president's tweets, the Justice Department changes its recommendation for Roger Stone's sentencing, downgrading it.

Plus, the list is getting longer of what an emboldened president has done since his acquittal by the Senate just six days ago.