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Biden Signs Debt Limit, Averts U.S. Default; GOP 2024 Presidential Hopefuls Gather In Iowa; Zelenskyy: Ukraine Ready For Counteroffensive; Next Week: Pence, Christie Could Launch WH Bids; School Resource Officers Face New Challenges. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 03, 2023 - 18:00   ET


ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The odds of us getting into an El Nino are very high, 80 percent chance just by June, July and August, and then up to 90 percent by the time we get into the winter months.

So what does this mean for hurricane season specifically? Well, in an El Nino year, traditionally that jetstream pushes farther south, that increases wind shear across much of the Atlantic, especially the Caribbean, and what that does is it usually inhibits tropical storm activity.

There is one factor however, that could offset El Nino and that is sea surface temperatures which are incredibly warm, especially for this time of year, and if they stay warm, that may be enough fuel for these storms to be able to continue to strengthen and overcompensate for the fact that we are expected to be in an El Nino year this fall.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

Good evening.

Here in the nation's capital, if you listened closely enough, you may have heard a collective sigh of relief. This afternoon, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan bill that raises the nation's debt limit that prevents the federal government from running out of money to pay its bills.

Many experts predict a default, the first in American history would have been catastrophic for the US economy and beyond.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us live from the White House.

Priscilla, the president really emphasized how precarious this standoff was, yet, another fiscal crisis was averted with just some days to spare, but it also underlined how he was able to get things done in a bipartisan fashion with the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's exactly right, Jim, and we've heard quite a bit of that notion of bipartisanship during his remarks Friday evening, but above all that, this was a threat that was looming over the White House, and President Biden stressed that during his address on Friday evening, saying that the stakes were high, and that this was critical. And of course, this only came days before a potential default on June 5th, which is on Monday.

Now President Biden also stressed during his remarks, the bipartisanship that was shown by both parties, of course, this was the outcome of weeks of pain-staking negotiations between White House negotiators and Republican negotiators, and there were calls a handful of them between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, only a week ago where we were talking about a breakthrough as they reached a tentative agreement.

And now a week later, and only hours ago, President Biden signing that into law, and so that was a message that he shared on Friday evening from none other than the Oval Office, just really signaling and underscoring how important a moment this was. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know bipartisanship is hard and unity is hard, but we can never stop trying, because in moments like this one, the ones we just faced, where the American economy and the world economy is at risk of collapsing, there is no other way.

No matter how tough our politics gets, we each other not as adversaries, but as fellow Americans, treat each other with dignity and respect.


ALVAREZ: Now President Biden also commended House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during that addressing that he was a part of these good faith negotiations. That's how President Biden described it.

But look, the other part of this address and maybe the bottom line here is that this was President Biden taking a victory lap. They were only days away from a potential default. That was something that was of grave concern for this White House as they could have had catastrophic economic consequences for the country.

The president had been fairly silent up until this point about these negotiations. That was a position that the White House was deliberately taking throughout the course of this.

And so on Friday, taking that victory lap and today signing it into law -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Priscilla Alvarez, thank you very much for that.

In Iowa, the campaign season is already heating up and Republicans eyeing the White House were out in force today.

[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS] This is the Annual Roast and Ride gathering hosted by Republican senator Joni Ernst of Iowa. The state holds the first in the nation nominating contest for Republicans, and nearly all the party's presidential candidates and likely candidates campaigned at the event.

One face you did not see there was Donald Trump. He skipped this get- together all together.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Des Moines.

Jeff, I guess what was the alternative to Donald Trump that you heard from these other candidates today? They were essentially touting a different message or essentially a Trumpy message, but just a different face on it.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well Jim, it was definitely different faces. Many of these candidates were introducing themselves to these voters, not for the first time necessarily. A lot of these candidates have been working these small Republican gatherings, but they certainly were mainly focusing most of their time on the Biden administration, focusing their time on why they believe it is important for Republicans to win back the White House, talking about the debt deal, talking about other challenges facing the country.


But let's take a listen to a couple candidates here. Senator Tim Scott, of course, of South Carolina and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, giving their separate pitches to voters.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am running because I believe America can do for anyone what she has done for me. We've got to restore hope.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am the first millennial ever to run for US president as a Republican, okay. Thank you. I appreciate that.

And I'll tell you something speaking as a member of my generation, we are hungry for a cause. We are hungry for purpose, and meaning and identity.


ZELENY: So certainly, that was just a flavor of some of the messages that were given to Republican voters.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is jumping into the race next week officially, he talked about his view for a conservative fiscal policy, just beginning to differentiate himself from the Trump policies.

Obviously, Republicans heard from several other candidates as well, but it was former President Donald Trump, Jim, that really hung over the crowd. He, of course, is the person to beat in this race at this point. All of these candidates are vying to be the alternative.

But Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, made a bit of a last minute change this week to fly back here to Iowa to appear before these Republicans and as he was leaving, he was asked what do you think it means that Donald Trump was not here? And he was like, it's important to show up.

So look, this race is now fully engaged. The next real big point of this campaign where everyone is focusing toward is that first debate in August in Milwaukee.

ACOSTA: Yes, and Jeff, you and I both know that Republican candidates who invest a lot of time in Iowa can see a big payoff in the end.

I remember Rick Santorum having that kind of luck and success in Iowa. Lots of candidates who spend lots of time there, right? I mean, that's a big part of this.

ZELENY: It definitely is, and you remember that campaign very well, Jim from 2011-2012, Rick Santorum actually defeated Mitt Romney, but we also see Iowa, not necessarily -- it sometimes humbles frontrunners.

I was thinking back in 2015, Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor was the frontrunner at this very event. He fizzled in the months to come. So the question is, it's unlikely Donald Trump will fizzle of course this year, but will any of these leading alternatives to him? But that is what the focus is on, but former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, she was here as well. Of course, we will see her tomorrow evening in a CNN townhall. She too is making her case to voters for an economic message and other things, but a lot of these candidates have some uphill challenges for the next few months -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, no question about it. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.

Investigations into former President Donald Trump making headlines this week on at least two fronts. One is on the classified Pentagon document on Iran that Trump is heard on tape saying he has in his possession, the one that his attorneys now say they can't find after federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for its return.

The other development we are watching is in Georgia and the investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election there. CNN's Jeremy Herb has more on that.

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Jim, we've learned key developments in two of the investigations into former President Donald Trump. First, in Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe into Trump's handling of classified documents, sources tell CNN that Trump's lawyers were unable to locate a classified Pentagon document about plans for a possible strike on Iran. A document where Trump was recorded on tape claiming he had in his possession in 2021.

The special counsel's subpoenaed Trump for that document, not long after one of his aides that was in that 2021 meeting, Margo Martin appeared before the grand jury.

While Trump's lawyers provided some documents in response to that subpoena issued in March, they could not locate the classified Pentagon document that Trump was referencing on tape.

It is unclear whether the document might have been already returned to the government, if it is still missing, or whether it was even in Trump's possession in 2021. Importantly, though, Trump on the tape appears to acknowledge that the document was still classified.

Now in Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney is seeking information from two firms hired by the Trump campaign that were tasked with investigating claims of voter fraud after the 2020 election. Both of those firms found allegations of voter fraud to be false or offered information to the campaign that refuted Trump's claims of election fraud.

Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis is investigating attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. Her efforts to obtain information from the research firms comes as she is eyeing potential racketeering charges in her investigation.


The firms could help establish a pattern of failed attempts by the Trump campaign to find voter fraud after the 2020 election. Willis is expected to announce in August whether anyone will face charges as part of our investigation -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Jeremy, thanks.

The FAA has put in a short-term restriction to keep the airspace clear over the deadly apartment collapse in Iowa, the city of Davenport said, it was necessary to prohibit drones as recovery efforts get underway. CNN obtained this new surveillance video of the building just moments before the structure began to fall. The camera goes out before the collapse is over.

More red flags have been revealed suggesting the building was at the brink of collapse. According to a 911 call obtained by the "Quad-City Times," Davenport authorities received a warning call about the six- story building the day before it collapsed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's something that might need checked out. I work for the Downtown Davenport Partnership. One of my guys is working. He was cleaning up in the back parking lot and said that the wall is bulging out. It's been under repair and someone is there working on it and told him to get out of the way because it's not looking good.


ACOSTA: A tenant told CNN that she had seen bricks falling off a wall for months. Three people remain missing. They are believed to be in the rubble,. And fears of a collapse have forced the evacuation of a condominium tower in Rochester, Minnesota. Some 180 residents at the 15-story building had until 7:30 last night to get out. They were given just three hours' notice.

Rochester's fire chief said a structural engineer who was hired by the Rochester Towers Condominium directed the evacuation out of concerns for "structural integrity." Residents were told they should expect to be out of their homes at least through Monday.

Still ahead, the debt deal is signed, now comes the political spin. Who comes out after this compromise heading into 2024 stronger? We'll discuss that.

But first, Ukraine's president says his country is ready for its much anticipated counteroffensive against Russia. What might that look like? We'll map it out.

Plus, the US Defense secretary's warning about tensions with China.


LLOYD AUSTIN, US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Make no mistake, conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be devastating.




ACOSTA: Ukraine's leader says his country is ready for its long awaited counteroffensive against Russia. President Zelenskyy made the comments in an interview with "The Wall Street Journal."

This afternoon, CNN spoke with Emma Tucker, the newspaper's editor who conducted that interview. Here is what she had to say.


EMMA TUCKER, EDITOR, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think the impression I got was that he is looking for more conviction from the West. He was sort of saying, what are you waiting for? You know, this is about values. This isn't Ukraine versus Russia. This is about values.

So if you are a country that supports the idea of democracy, if you're a member of NATO, if you're in the EU, whatever -- you choose your side.


ACOSTA: CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us with more from Kyiv.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jim. Well, for a while now of course, we've been hearing that a possible large-scale counteroffensive by the Ukrainians could be imminent, and it certainly seems as though they are moving closer to that point.

In fact, in an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he now said he believes this country is ready for that counteroffensive. He said they still actually need more things for it, but he also says they can't wait for months and he believes that a counteroffensive would be successful though he says he is not sure how long it would take.

One of the other things we also picked up on is that he said that the Ukrainians need more air defense systems, specifically more Patriots.'

Now, we know that the Ukrainians currently have two of those systems, one provided by the US, one provided by Germany, but he was speaking of 50 in total, in order to keep Ukrainian cities safe.

Of course, it appears to be the case that the Patriot is the only surface-to-air missile system so far that has been capable of shooting down those Kinzhal hypersonic missiles that the Russians had claimed were invincible.

At the same time, on the battlefield, it seems as though the Ukrainians are putting the Russians under evermore pressure. One of the things that we've seen in some of those occupied areas like for instance, Berdyansk, that important port town that is an important staging area for the Russians, it has been hit by some missiles, some believe that it could be storm shadow missiles provided by the UK that the Ukrainians then fired.

And then of course, you've had that cross border action going on as well, where the Russians are saying that their border region around the area of Belgorod has been under fire. In fact, the governor there said that several people were killed once again overnight as strikes were taking place -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much for that report.

CNN's Fareed Zakaria spoke with national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, about this imminent counteroffensive. Here's part of that conversation.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Jake, when you think about the Ukrainian counteroffensive, what are you looking for just to see that, in fact, the massive investments the United States has made in helping Ukraine are paying off?

JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, first, this is not an exam. We're not grading Ukraine's counteroffensive and saying, you know, you did well based on what we gave you, or you did poorly.

What we want to do is support Ukraine to make as much progress as possible on the battlefield so that it is in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table, and we do believe that this counteroffensive will allow Ukraine to take strategically significant territory back from Russia, areas occupied by Russia that are rightfully sovereign Ukrainian territory.



ACOSTA: And CNN military analyst, retired Air Force colonel, Cedric Leighton joins us now. Let's start with the obvious question. Is Ukraine ready for a counteroffensive? That is, I guess, necessary to push back the Russians?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, it certainly is necessary, Jim, and I think the real question is how much stuff do the Ukrainians have? How much weapons, how much ammunition -- all of these kinds of things.

And when you look at the map right here, the areas that they're going to have to go after are here in the northeast, but mainly in the south? So my bet is that if the Ukrainians do this, they're going to do this in the south to try to move things out. Everything else that we see is preparatory to this effort.

ACOSTA: And this war has also been brought inside Russian territory. I mean, that is one of the more striking things that has developed in the last couple of days.

According to the Belgorod region's governor, at least seven people have been killed since Friday. Are the Russians going to be forced to change their tactics because of this, do you think?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think it's part of -- yes. That's part of the Ukrainian plan, actually. So here's --

ACOSTA: Yes, throw them off. Yes.

LEIGHTON: Exactly. Throw them off. That's exactly what they want to do.

Here is Belgorod on the map right here, just across the Ukrainian border. Kharkiv, the second city of Ukraine is right here. So we're talking, you know, maybe in peacetime, a 30-minute drive at most, from one to the other. These areas right in here, have all been struck by the Ukrainians and this is really the major thing that we're looking at is them, in essence, softening up everything that's out there.

And when you go back to the main map, you see that the Ukrainians have not only done things in the Belgorod area, but in other areas throughout Russia and that is significant.

ACOSTA: And we can't forget that the fighting still rages in Ukraine. The Ukrainian military says Russia is suffering some pretty heavy losses in Bakhmut. What does that look like right now?

LEIGHTON: So when you look at Bakhmut, there is, of course we've been talking about Bakhmut for months now, and the Ukrainians are in these areas right here, in this yellow part right here. The Russians right in this area, the Russians claim through the Wagner Group that they have basically taken over all of Bakhmut right in through here.

However, the Wagner Group is withdrawing, and they're supposed to be replaced by regular Russian army forces. Well, the regular Russian army forces may not show up, and if they do show up, they may not stay. So the Ukrainians might be able to recapture Bakhmut, and use this as a jumping off point to move further east as well.

ACOSTA: Fascinating. And before we go, I want to get you to weigh in on Taiwan. I'm sure you saw this. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made some pretty interesting comments, spoke today about how devastating a conflict between Taiwan and China would be.

This comes as we're learning CIA director, Bill Burns, secretly visited China last month to try and ease tensions. Let's play a little bit of Secretary Austin, what he had to say and we'll talk about it on the other side.


AUSTIN: Conflict is neither an imminent or inevitable. Deterrence is strong today, and it's our job to keep it that way.

The whole world has a stake in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, the whole world. The security of commercial shipping lanes and global supply chains depends on it, and so does freedom of navigation worldwide.

But make no mistake, conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be devastating.


ACOSTA: And the question, of course, is, how devastating would a conflict in this region be? What would it look like?

LEIGHTON: Yes, that's --

ACOSTA: It would look bad.

LEIGHTON: It would look terrible, because of course, Taiwan is a very small country compared to China, but the key thing to think about is this. So this is the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan has islands here and even so close to the Chinese Mainland as here.

But what really is important is that about 60 percent of all container ships in the world go through this strait.

ACOSTA: Oh, wow.

LEIGHTON: Sixty percent. During the first seven months of 2022, that was the number that was transiting and that number is surely about the same this year, and perhaps even more than that.

But when you go out to the rest of the world, in the South China Sea, you've got all of these transit points, not only the Taiwan Strait, right here, this disputed territory, right and through here with the with the South China Sea, but also this is Singapore, the Straits of Malacca right in through here, a large percentage of all the oil, all the goods, and services, that all goes through -- everything that China needs, everything that South Korea needs, everything that Japan needs. And of course, with a lot of countries, east of there, the United States, for example, also need all of that comes through this area.

ACOSTA: All right, sir, potentially some very big economic consequences if this were to really flare up into a full-blown conflict.

Colonel Leighton, thanks very much. Great to see you, as always. We appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You betcha.

ACOSTA: In the meantime, the 2024 GOP field is about to get larger. Mike Pence and Chris Christie among the big names expected to jump into the race for the White House next week.

We'll discuss that, coming up in a few moments, so stick with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: The 2024 Republican primary is certainly heating up. Mike Pence, Chris Christie; North Dakota governor, Doug Burgum are expected to enter the fray next week. They could join seven others who have officially announced they are running, making for an increasingly crowded field.

Joining us to discuss, former Trump White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham; and CNN senior political analyst and "USA Today" columnist, Kirsten Powers.

Kirsten, Chris Christie has talked about how he is going to take Trump head on. I mean, he has foreshadowed this for some time now. Do you think Chris Christie could shake up this race or is there really just no viable candidate at this point who is stepping up and taking Trump head on?


KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hard to see a path for him. But I think that he is obviously a very pugilistic person and somebody who likes to fight and kind of - try to rough people up. So he certainly can go after Donald Trump. But I think that for the current the electorate in the Republican Party.

He's just too much of what I think they would consider a rhino or not conservative enough. And separate from the fact that obviously, Donald Trump has a real stranglehold on the party. So he may be doing some of the dirty work for Ron DeSantis, possibly who could potentially have more of an opportunity there, though, I still think it's Trump's to lose.

ACOSTA: And Stephanie, most of the 2024 Republican candidates are in Iowa this weekend mingling with voters at this event put on by Republican senator, Joni Ernst, the head of the caucus next year. Former Vice President Mike Pence was out riding a motorcycle. I don't know if we have some video that, we could show it. Mike Pence kind of doing his own version of EZ Rider out there.

What do you think, Stephanie, can he find the passing lane and get around his former boss, the former president? What do you think?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think he's got a path to victory there. I really like Mike Pence. I like him, personally. I like his policies. I like him - his morals and principles. But he won't take Donald Trump head on. He won't acknowledge a lot of the things that everybody knows and sees about Donald Trump. And I think that that kind of shows a weakness in him.

Now, I could be wrong. Maybe he's going to change and he's going to speak out a little bit more. But right now, I just don't think he's got a path. I agree with Kirsten that, obviously, Trump has a stranglehold on the Republican Party right now or a very extreme part of it.

I do think just to go back to your first question, if you don't mind with Chris Christie, I think that he is going to do a lot of the dirty work for DeSantis. And I think at the end of the day, he's going to help - if Trump were to go on to the general, he's going to help Biden.

ACOSTA: All right. And we're showing some video of Mike Pence on the on the Harley right there in Des Moines, Iowa. He's certainly tried to shake up his image a little bit.

But Kirsten, let me ask you about Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor spoke at this rally in Iowa earlier today. And he spoke out against what he calls the woke and what he plans to do with the woke. This has been a recurring theme for him. Let's play the sound bite talk about on his side


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president I recognize that the woke mind virus represents a war on the truth. So we will wage a war on the woke. We will fight the woke in education. We will fight the woke in the corporations. We will fight the woke in the halls of Congress.


ACOSTA: Kirsten, he seems to be channeling Winston Churchill there a little bit with the - with this theme of going after the woke and fighting the woke.

POWERS: Yes, right.

ACOSTA: It may not sound quite as - I don't know --

POWERS: Statesman-like.

ACOSTA: -- Churchillian as maybe he thinks, but I mean I mean what's your sense of it?

POWERS: Yes. I mean, I - the whole - I think it sounds silly, honestly. But it is something that does resonate with the Republican base who have decided that this is the biggest problem in the world is what they refer to as the white woke, however they define that.

He's clearly trying to get to the right of Donald Trump, but I think Donald Trump probably has the same opinion that he has, he just hasn't made it his central arguments and he doesn't have a lot of places to go, right? I mean, he's been sort of attacking the Trump record, which I think is a very risky path for him and I think he's probably going to realize that and pull back on that. And so this is kind of all he has and this is what he's known for in Florida.

ACOSTA: And Stephanie, I want to ask you about a tweet of yours this week where you said Trump will turn on anyone after he blasted your successor, Kayleigh McEnany, calling her and we should note the misspelling here, milktoast. And then you said he will turn on you, there is only loyalty to him, not the country, not the constitution, his constituents or anything, anyone else.

Did this surprise you that he went after his former press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany? I was at the White House covering that administration. I remember McEnany coming to the podium in the briefing room on a daily basis and repeating many of his lies. I can't think of a more loyal deputy to Donald Trump than Kayleigh McEnany and yet he went after her.

GRISHAM: I agree. She fought hard for him, especially in the days after January 6.


She went out there and was one of the only voices to try to defend him. No, it did not surprise me. This is what he does. He uses you until there is no use for you anymore or until you dare to say something that could possibly be construed against him.

It's my understanding that she actually just talked about a poll on a news program, which isn't even that bad. But it didn't surprise me and I am still - I'm not close to a lot of people in Trump world anymore, but I used to count a lot of those people as close friends and I just keep thinking you know this is going to happen to you eventually. When he has no use for you anymore, you're going to be gone.

But, perhaps, people are scared to step away at this point. It's not easy to step away. People aren't exactly forgiving of you when you do, no matter what side of the aisle you're on. But it didn't surprise me. I'm sure it didn't surprise Kayleigh because I can say for one, when it happens at first, you think he will never do it to you. And then once you step back, and you kind of get back into what the real world is, you realize, yes, he'll do it to anybody who's not his child or wife - current wife.

ACOSTA: Right. And Kirsten, I mean, it's kind of amazing that anybody works for Donald Trump anymore given - I mean, this track record.

POWERS: Yes, (inaudible) --

ACOSTA: Even the slightest criticism or a slightest - I mean, just - if you just talk about poll numbers he doesn't like.

POWERS: Yes. I mean, he does. And so I - and that anybody would be surprised when it happens or like believe that it's not going to happen to them. I don't know what kind of denial, you have to be in to believe that that's the case that he's not at some point going to dispose of you.

Now, I guess maybe people think like, well, I won't turn on him or I won't do anything to upset him and then he won't dispose of me or attack me or try to destroy me. But this is what you get if you align with Donald Trump.

ACOSTA: I guess definitely this --

GRISHAM: So just to add maybe --

ACOSTA: -- go ahead.

GRISHAM: -- oh, go ahead.

ACOSTA: No, no --

GRISHAM: Oh, I'm just going to say this could be a whole show (inaudible) but - I mean, you do get into that mindset. You get sucked into this world and this mindset that you just think you will never leave his side and that it's you guys against the world. I cannot explain it until you've lived it, but that is the mindset and I guarantee that's the mindset of people still working for him.

ACOSTA: And Kirsten, the RNC on Friday released a list of qualifications for the Republican presidential primary debates, one notable rule, each candidate has to agree to back the eventual nominee and skip any outside debates. I mean, again, getting to this question of loyalty. I mean, one has to assume if Trump does not get the nomination, at this point, he's just not going to get behind the Republican nominee and this is just going to be very damaging for the Republican nominee if it's not Donald Trump.

POWERS: Yes. I mean, the thing that we all know about him from covering him is that Donald Trump does what's good for Donald Trump. That is one thing you can always count on. So Donald Trump would only support the nominee or endorse the nominee, if for some reason it was good for him.

And it's hard to imagine how he would see that as being good for him, right, if he didn't get the nomination. So I would operate under the assumption that he would not support them and honestly even if he agrees to support them. I would still operate under the assumption that he will do what's best for Donald Trump, regardless of what he says, regardless of what pledge he signs or doesn't sign. He's going to do what's best for him.

And I - and look, he's shown last time around, he's happy to skip debates. So he knows he's the main draw. So it's really in their interest to have him there. That's who everybody wants to see. That's who everybody wants to debate. So he knows he has the strongest hand.

ACOSTA: And Stephanie, just finally and very quickly, I mean, I know I've asked you this a number of times, but it's been a little while since we've last chatted. Do you think Trump becomes the nominee or does this - do these legal issues stand in the way of that? It doesn't sound like there's another candidate at this point who could knock him out of that position as the Republican front runner?

GRISHAM: Yes, with the field so full, that's where my concern is. I have always said on your show, I don't think he will be the nominee, but with the field so full. I'm wondering if now - I'm trying to change - or I'm thinking I'm changing my mind. I don't want to, but I think right now he's got the nomination.

ACOSTA: All right. Stephanie Grisham, Kirsten Powers, we'll be watching. Thanks so much, ladies. Really appreciate the time.

GRISHAM: Thank you.

ACOSTA: And remember tomorrow night live from Iowa, Jake Tapper moderates a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, who would like to knock Trump off of that path of the nomination. That's tomorrow night at 8.

And on Wednesday, Dana Bash moderates, a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. Don't miss that on Wednesday night live at 9 Eastern right here on CNN.


Coming up, the former school resource officer who remained outside of Parkland, Florida high school as a gunman killed 17 People in 2018 is on trial. What should he have done to save lives? We'll ask another school resource officer, that's next. You're live at the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Jury selection started this week in Broward County, Florida in an unprecedented criminal trial of former School Resource Officer Scot Peterson faces 11 charges including felony child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury.

Peterson is accused of failing to follow his training. He stayed outside as a shooter roamed the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Seventeen students and staff members were killed, 17 others were injured and the whole nation, of course, was traumatized. And joining us now to talk about this issue is Officer Richard Craig, a school resource officer in Avon, Indiana.

He was chosen Region 5 SRO of the Year in 2022 by the National Association of School Resource Officers.


Officer Craig, thanks for being there with us. We appreciate it. We're not going to get into all the legal aspects of the Peterson case here. But I wanted to get your perspective on the role of school resource officers play. Do they work in terms of protecting students from mass shootings?

Obviously, it's good to have a friendly face like yours in a school, it might offer some assurance to students to know there's a police officer there who's been designated as security for the student body. But does it work in a situation where you have a mass shooter there with an AR-15 or an assault-style rifle to have one officer there or a couple of officers there who may just be outgunned anyway, what are your thoughts?

OFFICER RICHARD CRAIG, LEAD OFFICER AT AVON SCHOOLS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Absolutely. Obviously, I'm an advocate for school resource officers in as many schools as possible. I - it - depending on how that officer is trained, how that officer is selected, like you said, in the event of an active shooter, if an SRO is running towards the threat as the National Association of School Resource Officers trains most officers to do, oftentimes you are outgunned.

But that is part of the role and I know that going into work each and every day, that's what I tried to prepare myself for. But the key to that is going in the event that the unthinkable does happen, that I'm there to run towards that threat to engage that threat. Because if I'm engaging that, God forbid, that person with an AR-15, they're focusing on me and not a student, and not a teacher, and not someone else that's - that cannot defend themselves.

ACOSTA: And you say you have to prepare for the what if because many times you are the first responders, when you put on your gun in the morning, head off to the high school that you're there to protect, what do you say to yourself?

CRAIG: Absolutely. You do have to prepare for the what if. You have to prepare for the unthinkable and as an SRO, if the job is done properly, you are a one man band for lack of a better term.

NASRO teaches a triad model, which is a teacher, an informal counselor, law enforcement really should be the smallest part of my job and it is. I focus on relationship building, because if I have good and positive relationships with my students, and my students in that building know that they can trust me, know that they can come to me with whatever if they hear anything, and they come to me with a rumor or something they see on social media, that they come to me and confide in me with that information.

And because oftentimes, I don't know if you're a parent, Jim, or some of our viewers out there are parents. ACOSTA: Yes.

CRAIG: Kids are very concerned about snitching on each other like that is - there's an unwritten rule amongst adolescents all the way up through high school about being a snitch. And if you hear something --


CRAIG: -- there's this unwritten code that you don't snitch on someone and it's --

ACOSTA: Right.

CRAIG: -- that is sad.


CRAIG: It really is sad, especially if it's something that involves maybe someone wanting to harm - either themselves or someone else.

ACOSTA: Let me as you --

CRAIG: -- but coming into work every day and - yes.

ACOSTA: Yes. No, let me ask you about the Parkland case, because it has taken on new relevance after what took place in Uvalde, the massacre there. And you know that the officers there came under heavy criticism, because they did not charge in right away to help those children.

And I'm just wondering, your thoughts on that? What does your training tell you to do in a situation like that?

CRAIG: And again, I won't speak on each one of those cases directly --

ACOSTA: Of course.

CRAIG: -- but I'm speaking from my own personal perspective and point of view and the training that I've received by the National Association of School Resource Officers. And that is - if there's an active shooter or some sort of armed assailant that is in the building, that I am trained to quickly move towards that threat, neutralize that threat to hopefully prevent any further injury or loss of life.

And that - I know that, my family knows that, that is what I leave when I leave the house each morning, going into to work in a school, I know that, this is part of the job. And as a dad, myself, I look at each one of my students as one of my own children, right?

And you have to, you have to take some sort of ownership, if you're willing to lay your life on the line --

ACOSTA: And there are so many kids now who are living in - and there's so many kids now who are living in this locked down mode, they're - they've been traumatized to some extent. CRAIG: Yes.


ACOSTA: Even the kids who aren't even impacted by school shooting or a mass shooting. You interact with these kids, what's that like for them?

CRAIG: Absolutely. And I have an eighth grader myself and she's affected by that. And it's sad that this is the world that our children are living in that it's just part of their daily lives of going to school that this is the possibility of something like this happening is part of just what they think about, as far as what shoes they're wearing or what clothes they're wearing or who they have a crush on, well, we might have to lock down inside of our classroom in the event that a shooter comes to the school.

And that is where having these relationships, building relationships with students is key. Because I have talked ad nauseam with students one on one about just this and I've talked through some of their fears and some of the trauma that has caused some students, especially in the event - in the wake of your Uvaldes or your Nashvilles or anytime, right, it seems like every time we turn around, there's another one, unfortunately. But --


CRAIG: -- our kids are - don't think that they don't know that they're not listening, that they're not watching because they see it. We as adults know and we - oftentimes, we don't give our kids enough credit that they're not up to speed with as much as they are.

ACOSTA: Well, we - you have a very difficult job, Richard. Thanks very much for your time. I'd love to have you back and talk about this issue more. It's just so vitally important. We covered a lot here on the weekends, because there have been so many of these types of shootings and massacres that take place, unfortunately, on the weekends when we're here covering the news live. But - school resource officer, Richard Craig, thanks so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

CRAIG: Thank you so much for having me.

ACOSTA: We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: Vegas and Florida for the Stanley Cup.

CNN's Carolyn Manno has a preview.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this is a Stanley Cup final that's built for true hockey fans and it is going to be a defining moment for either of these franchises as both of them are looking for their first Stanley Cup when. The Golden Knights were founded just six years ago. They currently have six members on the roster from the one that reached the final in their first season, which has allowed them to sustain their success while also continuing to bolster this roster with new and really talented faces.

Vegas was the best in the West this season. They have continued to amaze offensively in the postseason, but the Panthers looked like a team of destiny in these playoffs. They came back from being down, three one to beat the Boston Bruins in the first round after the Bruins had just completed the best season in the NHL history.


JOSH MAHURA, FLORIDA PANTHERS DEFENSEMAN: You dream of playing in the Stanley Cup final and to know what's right around the corner is so exciting for not only us but our families and everyone too so everyone's enjoying it, but obviously there's a job at hand and we're just excited to get going here.

BRUCE CASSIDY, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS COACH: Looking forward to it. They've earned their way, we've earned our way, so like I said we're looking forward to get going. We'll use these three days or two days whatever it is here and rest up and then like I said, focus on the new opponent.


MANNO: The Golden Knights have home ice to start when the puck drops tonight at eight Eastern on our sister channel, TNT. And after one of the most surprising playoff runs in NHL history, Jim, the Panthers looking to beat those odds one last time against Vegas.

ACOSTA: All right. We'll be watching.

Carolyn Manno, thanks so much.

GOP hopefuls are meeting with voters in Iowa as the 2024 race heats up. I'll speak to one of those Republican presidential candidates in just a few minutes. Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.