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Trump Heads Back To White House, Melania Stays in Mar-a-Lago; Trump Is Still Silent About Former Relationships; Joseph diGenova and Wife Will Not Join Trump's Legal Team; Young Activists Vow To Take Gun Control Movement To Polls; Trump Weighing Idea of Expelling Russian Diplomats; Inside The Base That Would Oversee A U.S. Nuclear Strike; American Dynasties: The Kennedys; Shooting Survivors Vow To Support New Generation of Activists. Aired 3-4pm ET

Aired March 25, 2018 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

At this hour, the President is taking off on Air Force 1 without first lady Melania. Trump is set to touch down in Washington just minutes before CNN's Anderson Cooper's interview with Stormy Daniels airs on "60 MINUTES." The adult film star accuses the President of an affair and paying for her silence ahead of the 2016 election. Meanwhile, Melania Trump will be spending the week in Mar-a-Lago with their son, Barron.

And more turmoil for Trump's legal team, the announcement today that Joseph diGenova will not join the President's team for the Russia investigation. Sources telling CNN there is concern about conflicts with Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing who is also an attorney both reported by the White House last week. All right.

A lot to dig into here, let's bring in CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez and CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

So, Boris, you first. The President lashing out at that Russia investigation and money for his border wall in a series of tweets this morning, but no mention of the upcoming Stormy Daniels interview to air tonight. So what is the President's frame of mind?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, No signal from President Trump how he feels about this Stormy Daniels saga. CNN had previously reported that he had been talking to close friends and advisers asking them for counsel on how he should respond to allegations that he had an affair with the adult film actress. And further, that he allegedly paid her, through his attorney Michael Cohen, $130,000 to keep quiet in 2016 just weeks before the presidential election.

The President clearly opting Tuesday silent, he has faced a number of questions from reporters not only about Stormy Daniels but also about Karen McDougal, the former playboy playmate that Anderson Cooper interviewed earlier this week who also alleges that she had an affair with President Trump.

We asked him a number of times even before departing this weekend to Mar-a-Lago about these allegations from both of these women. No response, totally ignored, uncharacteristic by President Trump to, in the face of attacks and questions about his credibility, to not answer them. We should note that Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, sort of acknowledged on Twitter today that all the evidence that she has about her allegations against President Trump would not be presented during this "60 MINUTES" interview, sort of setting the stage and creating speculation about what exactly Stormy Daniels will say tonight and further fueling speculation about how the President may respond, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then, Shimon, former U.S. Attorney, you know, in D.C. Joseph diGenova will not be on the legal team for the president, you know, fighting the Russia probe in this about legal team fighting the Russian probe. Is this about chemistry, or conflicts, or both?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that's a good question, Fred, because, you know, they aware, the President's legal team was aware of the conflicts certainly going into this, certainly going into the idea that he may join the legal team. They'd announced that he would join.

But then something happened on Thursday night. We're told there was a meeting. The President met with diGenova and his wife, and there was some talk of them joining the legal team. And then something happened, and suddenly we were told, at least on Friday, that he was no longer, or at least the President was considering perhaps not hiring him, something had happened. Whether it was a chemistry issue or whether some of the aides to the president and some of the attorneys on the team got to the President and said, "Listen, this is just not a good idea."

We know that John Dowd, who was the President's personal attorney, was dealing with Bob Mueller and that team in a lot of the negotiations for the sit-down that could potentially happen between investigators and the President. He was not happy that the President was bringing in diGenova.

So it could be that some folks got to the President and he finally realized that this may not be a good idea. But something did happen Thursday. You know, we were told also that the President thought it may just not be a good fit, and so that's what perhaps, you know, what made him announce his decision today.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, Boris, Shimon, thank you both. We appreciate it. We're going to talk more about all of this, the sequence of events.

Joining me right now, CNN Political Commentator and former Chief of Staff for Nancy Pelosi Nadeam Elshami and CNN Political Commentator and former Communications Director for Senator Ted Cruz Alice Stewart. Good to see you.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Fred. WHITFIELD: All right. So, Nadeam, you first. You know, does this turn over in the President's legal you know, suggest a bigger problem or strategy change perhaps for the President? How do you see it?

[15:05:03] NADEAM ELSHAMI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the way I see it is that any excuse would do, not to serve on this legal team. I think the president is having problems finding that lawyer when he likes. And what we're witnessing the past few days is his inability to be under control.

You know, if you're going to be a lawyer for the president of the United States facing some big legal questions and big legal issues, you want to be with, to go in there and have an honest conversation with your client. And apparently, the President doesn't like to hear the truth and doesn't like to have honest conversation.

WHITFIELD: And, Alice, this has been an incredible week and who knows what's coming around the corner. Quite a few changes for the White House, and I just want to kind of tick through a few of them.

Monday, Joseph diGenova was announced as joining the President's personal legal team. Then Tuesday, the fallout from Trump's congratulations to Putin for winning the election, and then at the same time there was also the Stormy Daniels polygraph report that was released.

And then on Wednesday, Trump reportedly was furious over the leak that he was warned by his own White House team not to congratulate Putin in the call. And then Trump's top lawyer, John Dowd's, resignation comes. And then the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster was also out, replaced by John Bolton. Attorneys Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing who has her own, you know, law practice in D.C., actually met with the President on the same day that Karen McDougal, the playboy you know, playmate, tells CNN that Trump tried to pay her after sex jury their affair. This is all on one week people.

And then Friday, Trump threatens to veto the omnibus spending bill because of DACA and his border wall, but then ended up signing it anyway. And then, now, this report today, that the diGenova is out, will not be part of the legal them. So, Alice, you know, is this the President or the White House trying to stay on message, the challenge that it can, you know, be on message, that things are in disarray? How do you assess all of this?

STEWART: It is very challenging, Fred, to stay on message when there are so many different items and issues coming to the forefront and the President continuing to tweet about things that are off message.

Ideally, this week the president would have rolled up his sleeves and gotten more involved in the omnibus spending package and embraced what Congress passed. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. My thing -- my thought moving forward with regard to the attorneys coming on board and not coming on board, a lot of that has to do with people with experience and legal professionals understand if they're signing on with the Trump team, they don't necessarily have a whole lot to say in that. And they don't want to take on a client that's going to overrule them at every pass. And that's why there's the difficulty in getting his legal team passed.

And with regard to the Stormy Daniels, and the playboy playmate, and the porn star, look, a lot of the base Republicans that voted for Donald Trump, they hear all of this. They listened to all of this. But what they really absorbed is the president denying this. They see that their pocketbook is doing better because of the tax cuts, and they feel like a lot of this is a distraction.

So what I'm hearing from the base, I go around speaking to GOP groups, they're looking at a lot of this as a side show distraction, and they're more focused on how the economy is doing and they are still supportive of the president.

WHITFIELD: All right. So these are your assessments. This is what a friend of the president had to say this morning.


CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: The President told me he's perplexed by all of these reports. There's chaos at the White House or mass staff changes. He told me that he thinks the White House is operating like a smooth machine, his words. He did say that he's expecting to make one or two major changes to his government very soon, and that's going to be it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Nadeam, was that a warning shot? I mean, what could those changes be? Is this, you know, something about the chief of staff, potentially, John Kelly or something else? A secretary?

ELSHAMI: It doesn't really matter, yes, it doesn't really matter who the chief of staff is. It doesn't really matter who the communications director is. It doesn't really matter who the V.A. secretary is. You know, there's a whole --

WHITFIELD: Why do you say that?

ELSHAMI: Well, I think there is only one person in charge and this is how he views everything. Everybody works for him, not for the country, and he is in charge. He's going to make all the decisions. If he doesn't like what the V,A, secretary is doing, if he doesn't like what the communications director is doing, then they're out.

And, look, and I think in terms of what's happening with Stormy Daniels and others as well, if I were Republicans in Congress today, coming from a district that is won by Hillary Clinton, I would be very worried. We have seen one day after the President was inaugurated, the women's march. We have seen energized, activated and focused women voters and candidates. We have seen it in Virginia and we've seen it in Pennsylvania.

There is something brewing here, and I think the Republicans should watch out.

[15:10:07] WHITFIELD: And so, Alice, is this the President going in alone by potentially picking people where there is a uniformity of thought? As opposed to, once upon a time the president said having diversity of opinions is beneficial, but surrounding himself potentially, you know, by people who think like him on all issues doesn't say diversity.

STEWART: Well, Fred, every campaign I've been on or administration I've been in, the person at the top can, and should, and always has surrounded themselves and built the senior staff on people that share their world view and share their policies, and will be loyal and devoted to them. That's exactly how they should build up their cabinet.

And I think the president is right. He wants to have people that will support him and be loyal but hear different views. We're hearing a lot that he doesn't like to hear opposing views, but it's good to get like-minded people of the same policies, but if someone disagrees with you, let him speak up.

And while it's taken more than a year to do this, he should be doing exactly this, find people that are loyal. One quote I heard from John Bolton I think was important when he was first announced, was that, he used a comment from the Secretary of State for Truman.

As outspoken as he was, he and Truman both knew at the end of the day, now matter many differences they had, there was only one president at the time, and the president's view and his position was the top priority. And that's what all these people that the President is bringing on, they're going to share that same view.

WHITFIELD: And, Nadeam, you know, we're only a few hours away from this, you know, "60 Minutes" interview with Stormy Daniels, the President leaving Florida, the first lady staying in Florida for the week. Don't you expect the President will be watching it? And can he, you know, resist tweeting about it, commenting about it?

ELSHAMI: You know, I'm pretty certain that he would be watching it. But I'm not sure he's going to be tweeting about it. He's been very silent. And his silence on this issue has been deafening. The president has commented on everything that he wants to. 6:00 A.M. in the morning, 11:00 at night and who knows what else?

WHITFIELD: Because his silence says he's -- this one makes him nervous.

ELSHAMI: Yes, I would think so. I would certainly think so. Because look, I think what they were trying to -- the denial, non-denials and then the actions by his former lawyer, current lawyer, what they did and what he didn't do is very confusing. And what's happening now and how it's playing out in the media has taken up so much time, and this is something the president has so far ignored, which is very, very surprising.

WHITFIELD: Alice, quickly, why is he so quiet on this one?

STEWART: Well, because he -- this one is much different because we're hearing more details. I think the problem is here we have a man, the president of the United States, that cheated on his third wife and his playboy playmate mistress with a porn star, and that's not even the big issue. The issue here is the lengths to which he went to cover it up and pay them for their silence, and hide the stories to the media.

ELSHAMI: Exactly, exactly.

STEWART: And that's the problem. That's what's going to frustrate people. People knew he was a player when they voted for him. They knew that a lot of this was out there. But now, we're knowing it close to the election but he and his attorney did to cover this up and silence these women, that is what's going to cause them problems moving forward.

WHITFIELD: Alice Stewart --

ELSHAMI: The cover-up is worse than the crime.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nadeam Elshami and Alice Stewart, thanks, stick around. We're going to talk with you so more, because we have so much on the plate.

Still ahead, a massive crowd took to the streets demanding changes to America's gun law. So will Congress act or have these protests fall on deaf ears?


[15:18:06] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back from coast to coast. We felt the power of America's youth, the younger generation stepping into the spotlight and demanding action on gun violence. Nadeam Elshami and Alice Stewart are back with me now to discuss the action of this movement. First, you all, let's hear this message from shooting survivor David Hogg.


DAVID HOGG, FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: First time voters show up 18 percent of the time in midterm elections, not anymore. And to those politicians supported by the NRA, that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say get your resumes ready.


WHITFIELD: All right. So, Alice, should politicians be nervous?

STEWART: I think those kids were amazing. I was out there amongst them and they clearly have a lot of enthusiasm behind what they're saying. And to answer your question, they should be concerned at what they're going to do moving forward.

As I walked around the crowd yesterday, there were a lot of signs about -- against the NRA. This is not a moment, this is a movement. But most importantly, what I saw were signs for voter registration. Now, if they're able to take all this energy and the enthusiasm out there on the streets and turn that into votes come midterm elections and certainly in 2020, then there is a real concern, because certainly those people were not out there cheering what the GOP has done in light of Parkland.

So it's something to keep an eye on. I think we need to continue to engage these students. They do have a message. But it's most important that we understand that school violence is not just about looking at guns, it's all factors related to that. And that's part of a large discussion that I think has only just begun and certainly needs to continue.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And one of the signs I saw while out there yesterday with one young person holding it said, you know, "High schoolers are not afraid of the NRA. Congress, why are you?"

[15:20:00] So, Nadeam, you know, big picture. Among the 20 young people who spoke yesterday on that stage in the nation's capital were under the age of 18. There was a nine-year-old, an 11-year-old. These young voices are driving this gun reform movement. You know, what does this mean for the future of politics in this country in your view, starting with midterm elections that these young people are able to help push and influence the vote?

ELSHAMI: Well, I think, excuse me, I think what the young voters showed yesterday is that they are going to show up in November. I really believe that. Their passion, their compassion and their language yesterday was stunning to me. And what I think they could build on over the next few months is, they've got to go and is talk to these members of Congress in their districts. They've got to go out and register voters.

Look, if you're 15 --

WHITFIELD: And apparently many are already committed to doing them. I talked to a lot of young people there in D.C. who were part of voter registration drives right now.

ELSHAMI: Absolutely. And let me send this one message to them. It's very important. Don't ever lose hope. What you did yesterday and what you organized yesterday, that's not just in Washington, D.C. but across the country, and across the world, was amazing. What other movement could have done that, and when young people put their minds to it, you better be ready because they're going to be making some major, major changes.

WHITFIELD: I wonder if some, however, might lose hope when they listen to, you know, some of the words that were uttered today by a former Republican senator, former Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, who said this morning, this should be the kids' focus. Listen.


RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or try to deal with situations that -- where there is a violence, you can actually respond to that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But how are they looking in other people, I would ask you, they took action.

SANTORUM: Yes, they took action to ask someone to pass a law. They didn't take action to say how do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something to stop bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter? What am I going to do?

Those are the kinds of things where you can take it internally and say, "Here's how I'm going to deal with this, here's how I'm going to handle the situation instead of going and protesting", and saying, "Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me."


WHITFIELD: So the other panelists, their jaws were nearly on the floor with that one. Alice, how did you interpret that?

STEWART: I think what Rick was saying was clearly that it's easy to look at one aspects of this horrible problem of school violence and gun violence as a whole and just look at just the guns. But it's much, much more than that. There are many factors. There is the mental health issue, there is the background checks.


WHITFIELD: I mean, I think people thought he was saying, there was person responsibility. He was saying to these kids that you need to take it upon yourselves to know how to save your fellow student who, you know, with CPR after gun violence.

STEWART: It's important to look at the full context of all that he was trying to say. And he was clearly trying to make the point that while these kids are pointing the finger at Washington, and members of Congress, and senators to change gun laws, there are a lot of things that can also be done on the local level. And I think it's really important that we do that.

I commend the kids for speaking out and letting their voice be heard, but it's not just about the NRA, it's not just about the guns. It's about many other factors. If we're talking about the issue of keeping our school safe, there are many factors that go into that, and it's not just about banning guns.

WHITFIELD: Nadeam, what was your interpretation?

ELSHAMI: I was dumbfounded to be honest with you. Look, Congressman Mast from Florida, he's a Republican, a war hero, wrote and Op-Ed in the New York Times after the Parkland shooing. And he highlighted, as a Republican, some of the bipartisan proposals he would support and also some of the proposals that Democrats should support.

I encourage everyone to take a look at that. That is a way forward on these issues. And I think these kids, you know, some of them are 12, 15, 18. They are taking action, and the action they're going to take, I truly believe, is going to be voting in November.

WHITFIELD: Nadeam Elshami, Alice Stewart, thank you to both of you.

STEWART: Thanks, Fred.

ELSHAMI: Thank you. Thank you so much.

[15:24:23] WHITFIELD: All right. Sill ahead, could President Trump kick more Russian diplomats out of the U.S.? Why the case of the U.K. could have real impacts on Russians living right here in the U.S.? Next.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Live pictures of Air Force 1 there at West Palm Beach momentarily. Maybe 15 or so minutes from now, the President of United States is expected to arrive there in Air Force 1 departing to return back to Washington. First lady Melania Trump will be staying in Mar-a-Lago there for spring break.

In the meantime, President Trump is considering expelling a group of Russian diplomats from the U.S. over the poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter in the U.K. earlier this month. Multiple countries, including the U.S., have said they believe Russia is likely behind the attacks.

The U.K. has already ordered 23 Russian diplomats out of the country, and Russia reacted by ordering expulsions of its own. CNN's Michelle Kosinski has been working this story. So, Michelle, why is the President weighing this more right now, and why didn't he sooner?

[15:30:01] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is actually is pretty soon since it happened. And when you think about it, other European countries at the very same time are considering doing the same thing. So what we expect to see tomorrow is an announcement of a decision coming from the White House. And we are hearing through a source familiar with these discussions that Europeans have reason to be optimistic that the president will actually decide to do this, to expel a significant number of Russian diplomats. And we could see up to 20 European countries tomorrow announce the same thing. So this would be this unified response to Russia poisoning people again on foreign soil.

But when you think about it, that these discussions have been going on for a little while, so that's probably why this leaked out, because somebody wants to make sure that everybody knows that the president has been recommended to do this by his own national security team. So I think it would be even more significant now, knowing that this is out there and that this is a possibility, if the president decides not to act in this way. Of course, the huge question would be why.

And it would just draw more questions, especially for members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have constantly urged this administration to do more to counter the things that Russia does, and to do it faster, .Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And if National Security Council recommendation before or after National Security Adviser, you know, H.R. McMaster's departure?

KOSINSKI: Well, it's unclear the exact timing. We know the discussions were held at the White House with the president's national security team while McMaster was still there. And then, we think that the recommendation was made and sent to the President on Friday night after McMaster was gone.

So how that all worked out, the details are unclear. But we know that the president's own national security inner circle is telling him to do this. They said, you should expel Russian diplomats, which, by the way, we would expect to be met with a similar Russian response, another tit for tat expulsion of diplomats, and a further degradation of relations between the two countries.

But, you know, the world, a chunk of the world is now viewing this as significant enough. That, you know, it's not just the U.S. considering doing this in conjunction with the U.K., it's all of these other European countries that might send this same message at the same time. So we'll see tomorrow if the timing is there and whether the U.S. decides to join in and actually take this action.

WHITFIELD: All right. Michelle Kosinski, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead, with nuclear tensions high around the world, CNN get exclusive the access to U.S. Strategic Command. We get a look at how the military is prepared to respond to any missile attack launch around the world.


[15:38:37] WHITFIELD: Conflicts in the Middle East, North Korea and Russia are among the many threats being assessed by the U.S. military. The U.S. Strategic Command is ready for any eventuality and on alert for nuclear missiles around the world, around the clock in fact.

CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr recently got exclusive access to U.S. Strategic Command.


BARBARA STARR, CNN, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: If a nuclear-tipped missile is launched anywhere around the world, the U.S. military instantly responds. Four-Star General John Hyten is alerted as soon as any missile threat is detected. He comes out of his office, heads down these stairs to his bunker deep underground in Omaha, Nebraska.


STARR: General Hyten in-charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal watches along with his highly disciplined staff 24/7 for all incoming ballistic missiles.

HYTEN: I have six (inaudible) in office, they all go off. There's a verbal alarm that goes off. Those people are telling me, exec is telling me, there's about ten different ways to make sure that the commander know it's time to move.

STARR: Ready to advise President Trump on how to deter enemies, and if needed, launch a U.S. attack.

CNN was given exclusive access to the general. We were there when an actual missile alert sounded.

[15:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. We have to ask you to leave for a moment.

STARR: The ops center had just picked up signals of likely Russian missiles fired in Syria. Every time the alarm sounds, highly classified data detailing the threat is sent instantly to General Hyten. In this case, the launch was quickly assessed as not a threat to the U.S.

HYTEN: Our strategic forces are already ready to respond and everybody should know, that they're ready this minute, under the ground, under the sea, in the air, we are ready to respond any threat. And the advisories, the world including Kim Jong-un have to know that.

STARR: Hyten watches diplomatic action carefully but worries about missiles and bombs North Korea's Kim Jong-un still may have hidden away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your gut tells you he's kept building?

HYTEN: Well, I'm confident that he didn't stop building things when he stopped launching things. Now, I can't go into intelligence but I've worked with rockets a long time. I know how long they take to build.

STARR: Strategic command is also keeping a close eye on Vladimir Putin's claim of new high-speed Russian intercontinental attack weapons.

HYTEN: We have very good intelligence capabilities and we watch very closely. So nothing he said surprised me.

STARR: In a new world emergency, there is an urgent scramble.



STARR: Secretary of Defense System.

BIRD: Secretary of State.

STARR: Yes, ma'am.

BIRD: CIA Director.

STARR: CIA Director.

BIRD: There's nobody you can get -- STARR: No, ma'am, there's nobody we can get on.

General Hyten can rapidly reach the president.

HYTEN: Picture that we'll see on the screen will tell me exactly where the missile is, how high it is, how fast it is going, where the pretty good impact point is. All those kind of issues happen in a matter, a small number of minutes.

STARR: And if a missile is headed for the U.S., that's when this safe, which sits underneath a desk, gets opened. Inside an exact copy of President Trump's nuclear launch checklists.

BIRD: In this room, there are only two people have an access to that safe. That's me as the Beta Watch Commander and my strike adviser. Nobody else can touch it. One of us has to be in this room at all times.

STARR: General Hyten would be one of the first to know if President Trump orders a nuclear launch.

HYTEN: He asked me very hard questions. He wants to know exactly how it would work.

STARR: But for the general and his team, success is never taking the nuclear code out of the safe because that means deterrence has worked.

HYTEN: Somebody launches nuclear that comes to us, we launch one back. They launch another. We launch another. They launch two. We launch. You know, in this escalation letter that ends up nowhere. The key is to stop that behavior before it gets bad.


WHITFIELD: Barbara Starr, thank you so much for that.

Still ahead, it was an election met with hope and optimism, but the first year of John F. Kennedy's presidency had some unexpected challenges. A sneak peek at an all-new episode of CNN's "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS", next.


[15:47:32] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Live pictures right now, Air Force 1 and perhaps the presidential motorcade there, arriving in West Palm Beach. Momentarily, the President will be boarding Air Force 1, leaving West Palm Beach making his way back to Washington, D.C. But remaining behind there at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, the first lady along with their son, Barron, for a -- with the White House to are saying is a pre-planned spring break vacation.

In the meantime tonight on CNN, a new episode of our six-part original series "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS" gives us an inside look at John F. Kennedy's first year in the White House. Here is a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price to ensure the survival and success of liberty. And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was just a sense that we could see a different world. The torch was passed to a new generation who was focused on what the future would bring.


WHITFIELD: All right. Resonating words about the most beloved American president, joining me right now, CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali. So, Tim, good to see you. JFK'S historic election was March 5, the sense of hope and optimism. But is for sure in White House, actually it turned out quite differently, what were some of the challenges?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, this is definitely the story. | This particular episode tonight is the story of 1961 which begins with such promise and hope. And really is a weir of pain and disappointment which ends with the death of the patriarch, Joseph E. Kennedy.

1061 brings the John F.K., the regime of the Bay of Pigs. It covered action design to overthrow the Castro regime that ends in failure. 1961 brings the difficult summit meeting with Nikita Khrushchev of Soviet Union. The president had used his brother, Bobby, to send ideas to the Soviet Union. To give the Soviets a sense of what Kennedy might want to agree to or at least discuss at Vienna. And the Soviets weren't interested. They weren't buying.

They wanted to push Kennedy. They wanted to see if he would break, because they wanted to change the nature of the relationship in West Berlin.

[15:50:07] So when Kennedy goes to Khrushchev and meets with him, it's an ambush and turns out very difficult for the president and is somewhat politically humiliating. So 1961 is a tough year for John F. Kennedy.

WHITFIELD: How did he rise above it? You know, this was very humiliating, but here, 60 years later, a continued adversary in Russia with this United States government.

NAFTALI: Well, that will be episode four. 1962 and '63 will be a moment when the president really learns the ropes and President Kennedy shows the greatness that we remember him for. But '61 was a learning period for him. One of the things that' is really interesting in studying presidents is that some of them learn on the job. John F. Kennedy was very, very good at learning on the job.

WHITFIELD: Doesn't every president have to do that? I mean, it's a first time for most.

NAFTALI: Yes, it's really a requirement --

WHITFIELD: -- until a second term.

NAFTALI: But, Fred, they don't all do it as well.

WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, Tim Naftali, all fascinating. Thank you so much. As are your words, be sure to tune in for an new episode of "AMERICAN DYNASTIES: THE KENNEDYS" tonight at 9:00 only on CNN.

All right. And now, to the powerful messages, we heard this weekend as Parkland, Florida shooting survivors pushed for stricter gun control laws, but they were not alone. Stepping up to support those young voices were the survivors of other mass shootings.

Here's CNN Correspondent Ed LAVANDERA.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN Correspondent: Moments known by a single headline brought them together. Aurora, Tucson, Orlando, Las Vegas, Clackamas, Virginia Tech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to cry no more.

LAVANDERA: This group of about 15 people marched in Washington, survivors and victims' relatives of the most horrific mass shootings in U.S. history. They came to embrace the students of Parkland.

PAT MAISCH, TUCSON SHOOTING: I hope that the signs that we're carrying, saying we support them, that we're survivors, that they know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

LAVANDERA: Pat may survived the shooting that almost killed Congressman Gabby Giffords seven years ago. Six died that day, 13 wounded. Maisch wrestled away a magazine of bullets as the gunman tried to reload. The moment inspired her to become a gun control advocate.

As she listens to the parkland students on stage --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I will fight for all of us.

LAVANDERA: -- she's emboldened to pass the torch to the next generation.

MAISCH: The kids have done more than we have in years and years, so let's let them take the lead. Let's stand back and catch them when they fall, ask them what they need and give them what they need.

LAVANDERA: Each year, this group grows. The tragedies haven't stopped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to be with you guys.

LAVANDERA: Heather Gooze is new. She survived the Las Vegas ambush. Here she's in a crowd bonded by tragedy. HEATHER GOOZE, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: it's kind of sad, because

you don't even like you introduce yourself by name. You just say like, "Oh, you're Columbine. I'm Vegas. Oh, you're Orlando? You're Sandy Hook?" It's nice to meet you. Like -- nobody understands what we understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish I had never met any of these people. Now I'm so glad that they're a part of my lives and a part of my family.

LAVANDERA: Jeremy Smith and Sam Felber are the current body president and vice president at Virginia Tech. They noticed this group and met Uma Loganathan.


LAVANDERA: Her father was an engineering professor killed in the Virginia Tech massacre. They had no idea this moment would touch their lives so closely.

LAVANDERA: Did you guys expect to meet someone like her today?

SAM FELBER, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Since our shooting, it's been 11 years now. And we walk by the memorial on our way to class every day of 32 Oakies had died. And it's just insane that nothing's been done.

LAVANDERA: Tragedy turned this group into activists. They couldn't sit at home. They mourn by pushing for gun control legislation. But they've experienced disappointment after disappointment.

PAUL KEMP, SHOOTING VICTIM RELATIVE: When I got the call from my sister, and we had to tell their son, you cannot do anything.

LAVANDERA: Paul Kemp's brother-in-law was killed in the Clackamas mall shooting, just days before Sandy Hook. He's a gun owner who advocates for responsible state gun laws. He spent years lobbying lawmakers and he's inspired by the Parkland students who haven't shied away from the public stage.

KEMP: They have the benefit of youth and being invincible, and not listening to people that tell them that you can't do that. And they've been doing it. And I love it.

LAVANDERA: It's the children, they say, who are supposed to learn and find inspiration from their elders.

GOOZE: The students have gotten the world to kind of stand up and take notice.

LAVANDERA: But here, it's the wise and the experienced, leaning on the young.

GOOZE: When is this going to stop? This, I'm hoping, is the beginning. This is going to be the beginning of the end.

[15:55:02] LAVANDERA: Ed LAVANDERA, CNN, Washington. WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Ed.

We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.


WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again and welcome back. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Another setback for Trump's legal team, Attorney Joe diGenova is not joining the team after all, days after the White House announced that said he would. The President's attorney Jay Sekulow siding conflicts preventing to diGenova from assisting in defense of the Russia probe.

Meanwhile, live pictures right now of Air Force 1, the President returning to the White House after leaving Florida there. First lady Melania Trump will stay at Mar-a-Lago, ahead of an interview with the President's alleged former mistress Stormy Daniels tonight.