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At This Hour

Violent Weekend Leaves at least Eight Dead, 25 Hurt in Mass Shootings; Parkland Massacre's Youngest Survivors Now Graduating. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 07, 2021 - 11:30   ET


ALEX STAMOS, DIRECTOR, STANFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY: In a bank somewhere and laundering it was quite difficult.


And in the Bitcoin era, laundering money is something that any nerd can do. You don't need a big organized crime apparatus anymore.

So, for those individuals, yes, but in the bigger picture, why is this happening, and it's happening because Russia is allowing these criminal groups to operate from their territory with no possibility of prosecution. And that is what I think the White House needs to be focused on as they get ready for President Biden to meet President Putin is that Russia has effectively become in some ways a failed state from which these attacks are allowed to happen. And it's in Russia's best interest to have both the flow of hard currency into Russia as well as disruption of western businesses. So we're going find a way to make it no longer in Russia's interest to allow this to happen.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: And Granholm also said that she supports legislation that would ban companies from paying these ransoms to hackers. The White House though has acknowledged that this is a really tough position for companies to be in. I mean, look, you and your partner, Chris Krebs, you were hired by SolarWinds to assist in the aftermath of that hack. So you know both of these worlds. Do you think it is a good idea to ban companies from paying these ransoms?

STAMOS: Yes, I've come around on this. I think it's time that we have to ban companies. Because the truth is if you're the CEO of a company and, say, Colonial Pipeline, your pipeline is shut down, you've got everybody from the governor to local officials to all of your customers blowing up your cell phone, trying to get your pipeline back up, and you can spend $5 million, which for them is a relatively small amount of money, and that might speed your recovery, it is completely logically make sense for you to pay the ransom.

And that is what powers this entire crime wave, is that to individual CEOs, in the moment, it is absolutely imperative that they get up as fast as possible and paying the ransom makes sense. So the only way we're going to be able to strike back against that as an entire society is by making it illegal. I saw on the Sunday shows, you have the senators and people from the administration kind of and telling CEOs you shouldn't pay. But like some sought his approval on a Sunday morning is not something that people are going to weigh against their shareholder lawsuits and the need to resume business operations. So I do think we are going to have to outlaw payments.

And that is going to be really tough. Like the first companies to get hit once it's illegal to pay, they're going to be in a very tough spot. And we're going to see a lot of pain and suffering. But in the long run, it will make it not economical to hit American businesses anymore.

BOLDUAN: Alex Stamos, thank you.

STAMOS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, it is an emotional time for the graduating class of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Three years removed from their own tragedy, what do they think of the gun violence epidemic in this country? My interview with some of Parkland's youngest survivors, next.



BOLDUAN: America's gun violence epidemic appears to be getting worse. More mass shootings to report from over the weekend in cities across the country and some involving children. In Portland overnight, police say a shooting inside a home left four people dead. In Chicago, eight people were wounded Sunday morning when someone opened fire from a car. In New Orleans, another eight people were hit by gunfire on a service road off Interstate 10. In Utah, police say a car drove up to a group in Salt Lake City and shot and at least -- shot at least five people killing one. And in Miami-Dade County, Florida, a shooting at a graduation party left three people dead, including a corrections officer.

And as you see on the right of your screen, the gun violence archive reports that there are now 254 mass shootings in America just this year, killing at least 287 people, leaving more than 1,000 injured.

And with that in mind, this is graduation week for a very special class of high school seniors. The youngest survivors of the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, they're about to graduate. But imagine, out of four years of high school to only have one semester, you could even consider close to normal. Their high school career book ended by tragedy, horrific mass shooting at the beginning and then the trauma of coronavirus to end. These youngest survivors are now set to begin their next chapter.



BOLDUAN: The senior prom is a rite of passage for every high school student, and that's no different for Brooke Harrison.

B. HARRISON: I love you too. I'll text. Okay. Yes, so I'm on my way now.

BOLDUAN: But for this graduating senior, everything else about high school has been different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A shooting call, it's at Stoneman Douglas 72 C.R. sector, active shooter.

B. HARRISON: I was in the 1200 building which is where the shooting happened. And I was on the first floor in room 1216.

BOLDUAN: Brooke was a 14-year-old freshman at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student carried out one of the worst school shootings in American history.

B. HARRISON: And Elena, Alyssa and Alex all died in my classroom and eight people total were shot in my classroom. And so everyone that was around me, like where I decided to like try to hide was either shot or killed.

BOLDUAN: There's no way it can't change you.



BOLDUAN: How do you reflect on the last four years?

B. HARRISON: I really only have like the first semester, like my freshman year that was like normal. And then the rest just kind of was what it was. Sophomore year was probably like the worst for me like mental health-wise, because I was still recovering from just like witnessing everything I witnessed, like being in the building.

BOLDUAN: That was the year Brooke's classmate, Lauren Hogg, and her family decided they had to leave Parkland and move to D.C.

LAUREN HOGG, GRADUATING SENIOR: D.C. has become like my refuge.

BOLDUAN: Did you always like school?

HOGG: I like school most of my life. I hated school after the shooting. Being at Douglas was like being in hell. So much happened that it feels like I've been living in dog years, like --

BOLDUAN: Really?

HOGG: It feels like I've been in high school 20 years. And I tell people that all the time when they ask me how I feel about graduating.

BOLDUAN: And in those years, they've turned their pain into action.

HOGG: I'm 14. I shouldn't have to think about getting shot in my school. BOLDUAN: Starting a movement against gun violence that has gone global with March for Our Lives, teens taking on one of the most intractable political fights in America today, and a crisis that's only gotten worse.

There's been more than 150 mass shootings since the beginning of this year. And I'm sure my number is low and outdated.

HOGG: Yes, it is.

BOLDUAN: People are always saying if Sandy Hook didn't change anything, you already know what I'm going to say.

HOGG: Yes, I know what you're going to say. And for like two years after the shooting, I thought that the reason why these things kept happening is because they just needed to hear one more story. Politicians just need to hear one more voice. And so as a child, I tried to do that. And then I got older and I worked more and I realized it's not that they don't know what to do. They choose not to.

BOLDUAN: And it isn't just a horrific mass shooting that scarred their high school years. Since then, they've been hit by another trauma, coronavirus shutting down school and their lives.

So, talk to me about the past year-and-a-half, COVID.

HOGG: It's been awful. And also with everything else going on in the world, it's compounded our trauma and the fact that we're isolated makes it even worse. I didn't get to see my friends. I didn't get homecoming. And I just didn't get the regular John Hughes, you know, senior high school stuff.

BOLDUAN: How often you have been to school?

B. HARRISON: I've gone once.

BOLDUAN: You've gone on time --

B. HARRISON: I've gone one time, it was for an A.P. exam.

BOLDUAN: This is bedroom, school, office, sanctuary.

B. HARRISON: It's everything, really like a ten-in-one.

DENISE HARRISON, BROOKE'S MOTHER: She's been in my house the entire time. So actually that's been so good for me as much as like she is out on so much. She was home safe. So --

BOLDUAN: What does this moment signify for you?

D. HARRISON: A new beginning. Really, you've grown in to be such an amazing person. I wish -- I wish you didn't have to go through all of this. I wish it could have been different, that these other families -- sorry, that their kids were taken from them. They don't get to see their kids grow up. They all should have been able to graduate and go to college and have their first love and, you know, all the milestones. So it's hard.

BOLDUAN: Like so many moments already in these young girls' lives, forced to grow up too fast, forced to miss out on so much, so hard. But still, they look forward.

What does this moment signify for you?

B. HARRISON: It does feel like closing a chapter on my life and kind of moving onto like a better one.

BOLDUAN: Does college feel like a do-over?

B. HARRISON: Kind of, yes. It kind of feels like a chance to have like a semi-normal school experience.

BOLDUAN: Have you -- do you allow yourself to reflect or is it -- at this point, it's just you're ready to go, ready to move on?

HOGG: I think reflection is necessary for me moving forward because I think if I moved forward without reflecting on all the work that I've done, all the things that I've been through, it would just be putting all those experiences to waste. And I cannot stand for that to happen.


BOLDUAN: Lauren is so far undecided what she wants to study in college. She says wants to focus on her art and her writing. And Brooke has said she wants to study journalism when she heads off.

And I have to say, I don't think I've ever met two people I am more excited to see them spread their wings, to leave and to go to college for the next chapter, whatever it is, quite honestly.


Joining me right now is Congressman Ted Deutch. He represents Parkland, Florida. He's worked with these students and families for years trying to get something done on gun safety.

Congressman, just what do you think of hearing from the students after everything they've been through?

REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): It is -- listen, for those of us who live in this community who have seen this graduating class work their way through high school, as I think Brooke said, with one -- or Lauren, one normal semester and then the tragedy where nine of their classmates were killed and then dealing with that and the pandemic, I am only hopeful that as these kids graduate, as they continue to build upon what they have already been able to do to change the debate, change Congress, to change world, that they'll also be able to get that fresh start when they go off and do whatever comes next for all of them.

It is a -- this is a really significant week for the community. This graduating class is just full of kids whose lives will never be the same. And for the families of the nine young people who ought to be graduating, obviously, those holes will never be filled.

BOLDUAN: Resilience is something I kept thinking in my head over and over again, resilience they shouldn't have to have.

But, Congressman, if you could stick with me, we need to take a quick break, but we are going to focus on the epidemic of gun violence in America today.

We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Back now with more on the gun violence epidemic gripping America. As you can see on your screen, nearly 300 deaths from gun violence already this year, more than 250 mass shootings. Congressman Ted Deutch is back with me still.

And, sadly, as we talk about what we've learned and what people have not learned from the mass shooting Parkland, we had another deadly weekend of gun violence, Congressman, more families torn apart. With the makeup of this Congress, what is your gut check on this? Where do you put the chances of any forward motion on any of the concrete measures that you've been pushing for?

DEUTCH: Well, Kate, as we think about that conversation that you just had with Lauren Hogg, I think we have to reflect on what she said. I'm not going to defend -- I cannot defend the actions of this Congress. I can't defend the fact that we haven't been able to send anything to the president's desk and thinking about what she said, that ultimately it's a question of Congress choosing not to.

We have a lot of priorities. The infrastructure deal is a really important measure and the American rescue plan was necessary to help us get through this pandemic and we need to turn the economy around. There are so much to do. But the one thing that hasn't changed throughout all of this is this gun violence epidemic.

So, what's my gut check? My gut tells me that it's time for people to say we're just not going to tolerate it. And I'm sorry, look, the universal background check legislation we passed is broadly supported by the American people, overwhelmingly supported, but how many times can we say that? The Senate needs to act on it and it's hard.

And I understand that and everyone needs to lean in. Senator Murphy is really leaning in. He is doing great. The president has the bully pulpit. He needs to lean in. Everyone needs to do their part and make this a top priority to help save lives. When another graduation is disrupted in South Florida, as it was over the weekend by somebody coming up and opening fire, it's just another reminder that we have to act. So that's the piece that's already done but there is so much more we need to do.

BOLDUAN: But that's also what really has struck me is at 17, Lauren Hogg was -- look, she won't say she's resigned to it because she says she won't allow herself. She always says she is hopeful and optimistic and she will fight to be that way. But she seemed resigned to the fact that no matter how many times she went through the trauma of telling her story again and again, it didn't matter because politicians chose not to do what she says they know they could do to make some kind of improvement, some kind of change. That was just gut wrenching to hear her say that.

DEUTCH: Totally gut wrenching, Kate. I was -- I spent a lot of time with these kids, especially in the days right after the shooting that they experienced where they -- we took them around the Hill. I sat and watched them share the rawest emotions with my colleagues, with members of the Senate. And it's impossible -- it was impossible then to hear them, just like it's impossible today to talk to any family member whose lives have been torn apart by the gun violence epidemic and not feel terrible.

But it's not -- we're policymakers. It's not just about feeling terrible.


It's about doing something to address that so that no one else needs to feel like Lauren and the other eight kids that all her classmates who watched the nine people die in their class and 17 overall at Stoneman Douglas and the mass shootings that take place in regular measure around the country, including the slow motion mass shootings, where it's a couple people who die here and a couple people who die there.

She's -- it is gut wrenching when she says Congress chooses not to act. But, ultimately, everything we do is a choice, right? And our choice has to be to force the issue, to force a debate about solving things (ph).

BOLDUAN: And that's the thing, what you have chosen to do does not dictate what you can choose to do now. Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you for being here.

DEUTCH: Thanks, Kate, I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: And thank you so much for joining me. I'm Kate Bolduan. John King is picking up right after a quick break.