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3 Children, 3 Adults Killed In Nashville Elementary School Shooting; Prince Harry And Elton John Take Daily Mail Publisher To Court; White House Press Secretary Joins CNN This Morning. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 07:30   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone to CNN THIS MORNING.

We have more now on our top story. Three students and three employees of a private Christian elementary school in Nashville were shot and killed on Monday.

This photo really says it all -- look at it right there. The face of anguish of a little girl on her school bus after unspeakable violence reached her school -- something we have seen all too often in this country.

This is what we know at this hour. The shooter was a 28-year-old former student of the school. Police described them as a female-to- male transgender person. The shooter had detailed maps of the school, including entry points to the building. Police say the shooter had a handgun and two AR-style weapons -- one a rifle -- and an AR-style pistol. Police also have writings from the shooter they are reviewing right now.

And newly obtained surveillance video shows the attacker shooting through the doors to enter the school, then roaming around the halls. Police killed the shooter 14 minutes after the first 911 call.

I want to bring in now Nashville council member at large Sharon Hurt. Councilwoman, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SHARON HURT, NASHVILLE COUNCIL MEMBER AT LARGE (via Webex by Cisco): Good morning. Thank you.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I know it's tough. I hate to ask people how they're doing because I know it's awful. But you went right to the elementary school. You went right to speak to people and to help others here, and I'm sure others are joining in, but it's got to be tough.


HURT: It absolutely is. I am just heartbroken, sad, and outraged at the same time. Pretty much the same thing that I saw yesterday when I was there with those who were at school -- the parents, the teachers, friends, family -- just so many. This is just so unfortunate and tragic.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And you were at that reunification center where so many of these terrified families and parents and loved ones were going to make sure it wasn't their child that was the one that was killed. And unfortunately, I mean, we've been talking about these three 9-year-olds and the three others who were -- who were killed yesterday.

What did you see when you were there at the reunification center?

HURT: Oh, it was just so much emotion. On one side, it was tears and crying, and one holding each other. But then on the other side, I saw people who were outraged and vowing to go to the governor's office and say that we've got to do something about this. When is enough enough? I mean, we have legislators who are doing the opposite of providing protection and safety for our children, for our residents -- something that they vowed that they would do.

LEMON: Speak --

HURT: It's just -- it's just so heartbreaking.

LEMON: Speaking of that, yesterday, I'm sure -- we all heard the president call on Congress to pass assault weapons ban.

What do you think our country needs? Is that -- is that part of it? Is that what you want?

HURT: Oh, absolutely, just some common-sense laws. Every mass shooting that we've had has participated in with an assault rifle. I just don't understand how do we sell assault rifles to an ordinary common person. Those are for wars. And as our shooter yesterday was in camouflage as if they were going to war. Should we not monitor them?

Something has to happen. We've got to stop talking and we've got to do something about these things. And common law -- common-sense laws are absolutely necessary.

We've got to make sure that the NRA lobbyists are not directing what happens in our cities and our states, but for our legislators to lower the age when someone can buy a gun. To pass laws that you no longer have to have a permit. It's like we want that the intent is to kill and that has to stop.

When are we going to get angry enough to do something?

COLLINS: Yes. We heard those calls from President Biden. I mean, the reality on the ground in Washington is Congress is divided as ever and unlikely to pass anything.

Councilwoman Cheryl -- Sharon Hurt, thank you very much. I know that was a lot for you to see yesterday. I know we'll be having this conversation a lot going forward, so thank you for your time this morning and for joining us.

HURT: Well, let me just say I just left the National League of Cities and they were talking about this. We've got to do something.

LEMON: You're right about that. Thank you, Councilwoman. I appreciate it.

HURT: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

So, straight ahead, we're going to speak to the mayor of Nashville and get reaction from the White House when the press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre joins us live. Stay with us.



LEMON: All right, you're looking at live pictures from our affiliate WZTV. That is Nashville there. And we're following new developments in the school shooting in that city. We're going to talk to the White House press secretary in just moments, as well as the Nashville mayor, so make sure you stick around for that.

COLLINS: And while we wait for that, first we're tracking other international developments. Prince Harry is back in a London courtroom this morning. You can see images here on the ground in London. It's a two -- day two of a case against the Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers.

Prince Harry and Elton John are part of a larger group of high-profile figures who claim that the media company engaged in what they call, quote, "abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy" in its efforts to obtain dirt on celebrities.

CNN's Max Foster joins us now live from London. Max, I mean, we're seeing the case that they're making. The question I think is realistically, are they going to be successful? Is this going to change anything? I mean, we know how notorious the media is in London.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: This is very much part of the story, particularly for Prince Harry, I think - the reason he's going to court every day, As you say, he's there against a -- it's to show his support for this case. Seven high-profile individuals exposed the practices that he says he's been exposed to all of his life, and hoping to show that other people if they suffered in the same way will get some sort of justice here.

So he's accusing -- along with these seven others, including Elton John and Liz Hurley, for example -- the Associated Newspapers of invading his privacy in a major way. Paying off police to get information. Getting medical information. Planting bugs and tapping phones as well.

[07:45:00] And Harry released a statement of lawyers yesterday saying that the papers have effectively deprived him of important aspects of his teenage years. These were stories about his girlfriends, for example, getting into newspapers. He thought his friends were leaking those stories and he stopped speaking to them and pushed them out of his life. And the whole time he says it was actually bugs and phone- tapping that was the source of those stories.

Associated Newspapers -- just while I'm here -- of course, denying all of this. This is just a preliminary hearing and the judge will decide whether or not it will go to trial. So we find out on Thursday.

LEMON: We'll be following it.

COLLINS: Yes, it could have major implications.

LEMON: Major implications.

Thank you, Max Foster -- appreciate that.

So, the House speaker Kevin McCarthy saying he is moving forward on legislation to ban TikTok, but will other lawmakers get on board?

And our coverage continues of the mass shooting at a Nashville elementary school. How the White House is responding this morning. And press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is standing by. There she is on the White House lawn. That's next.

CNN's special live coverage continues in moments.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to do more to protect our schools so they aren't turned into prisons. You know, the shooter in this situation reportedly had two assault weapons and a pistol -- two AK-47s. So I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban. It's about time that we begin to make some more progress.


COLLINS: That was President Biden's initial reaction to what we are seeing happen out of Nashville. Democrats are renewing their push to ramp up gun reform following that school shooting.

We should note though, of course, the dynamics on Capitol Hill. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who was actually a key negotiator on the gun safety measure that was passed last year, says he believes Republicans are running out of runway. That there's not much room left when it comes to this.

He told CNN's Manu Raju, quote, "I would say we've gone about as far as we can go unless somebody identifies some area that we didn't address, but the president just keeps coming back to the same old tired talking points." Cornyn said President Biden is "...not offering any new solutions or ideas. If he does, I think we should consider them. But so far, I have not heard anything."

So joining us now for reaction to those comments and more, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Karine, thank you so much for being here this morning.

We'll get to Sen. Cornyn's comments in a moment. But I know President Biden has spoken to the governor of Tennessee and the mayor of Nashville. What did he tell them?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, per usual, when the president has these very difficult conversations he shares his heartfelt sadness to what they're going through, offers up assistance in any way that we can as the investigations go through, but it is always a difficult conversation. As you know, the president is known to be a consoler-in-chief and he takes that very seriously.

And I just want to add as we're talking about this at the top here our hearts go out to the families and the friends of these families who lost loved ones. Again, another devastating, heartbreaking day that we saw, and this time it happened in Nashville, Tennessee.

And again, our message here is very, very clear. Enough is enough. We need to see action in Congress.

COLLINS: Well, the president called for that action yesterday calling on them to pass the assault weapons ban that he wants to see. But Karine, you know Washington as well as I do. You know that right now that is more unlikely than ever to happen because, I mean when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress nothing was passed, so it's incredibly unlikely it's going to happen now with Republicans in charge of the House.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well look, what we saw yesterday was a family's worst nightmare, which is what the president said -- a family's worst nightmare.

And when you hear -- when you hear elected officials say it's another talking point when the president is saying that we need to do more, that's actually devastating to hear as well because that's what you're also saying to those families who lost loved ones, to those parents who lost three 9-year-olds. They lost their kids yesterday and that's what we're saying? We should not be saying there's nothing else to do. We should be trying to figure out what else there can be -- there can be to do.

And let me just say this really quickly, Kaitlan. This is a president that has taken more executive actions than any president in the first two years of his administration, making sure that we deal with this real epidemic of gun violence that we're seeing in our streets, that we're seeing in our schools, that we're seeing grocery stores that should be happening. These weapons of war that are in those very places -- churches. That's what we're seeing? And so, the president's going to continue to speak out. He just did an executive action earlier this month. And let's not forget we -- for the first time in 30 years, we saw the Safe Communities Act put into place. The president signed that. It's an act that he pushed for and a bipartisan piece of legislation that he signed this past summer, and that is what we want to continue to see.

As you know, Kaitlan, we can't do this alone. The president can't do this alone. That's how government works. Congress needs to take legislative action. That's what the president said at the State of the Union and that's what the president said yesterday.

COLLINS: John Cornyn, as you know, is a member of Senate GOP leadership. He was a key negotiator on that gun safety package that was passed last year. He's the one who is saying here that we, referring to Congress, have gone as far as we can go.

Are you saying that he's wrong when he says that?

JEAN-PIERRE: We're saying that there's more that can be done.

And look, we appreciate the bipartisanship that we saw on the Safer Communities Act. That was something that was a step forward. And again, we worked very closely with those members.

But we need to do more, Kaitlan. We saw what -- just what happened just yesterday, less than 24 hours ago. We have to do more. We have to make sure there are common-sense gun safety laws. We have to make sure that we ban assault weapons.

That is something that we saw 30 years ago when the president was a senator and he led that effort. And we saw -- we saw gun violence go down because of the actions that he took. Once that -- once that -- once that ban -- Sunset -- we saw -- we saw gun violence go up almost three times.


So we know what works. We know what can be done here. And so we cannot accept this anymore, Kaitlan. This is -- this is not acceptable. Enough is enough. We need to take action.

And again, the president has taken historic executive actions. Now it's time for Congress to act and continue to act to build on what they were able to do over the summer.

COLLINS: Given that, do you think President Biden will personally call any of these congressional Republicans with that message?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well look, the president said that message yesterday. He said it at the State of the Union. He's said it many times before at the bully pulpit.

But not only that, we have -- we have been working with congressional members on this for some time, having conversations with their staff, having conversations directly with those members. So this is not something that is just happening today, Kaitlan, or beyond today. This is something that we've been talking about for some time.

Again, we have -- it is time to show some courage here. It is time for Republicans in Congress to show some Congress -- courage and to answer to these parents and to these families.

There is a poll out there -- I believe a political poll. Sixty-three percent of Americans -- that's a majority of Americans -- want to see action on gun violence. Want to see measures that is going to keep their families and their communities safe. That's a majority of Americans.

The things that I'm laying out -- the assault bans weapons -- the assault -- banning of assault weapons -- that is something that a majority of Americans want to see. So that's who they're working for. That's who they need to speak to and answer to.

COLLINS: But since the reality on the ground in Washington is that right now that is not going to pass. It's just not. It's just what you see on Capitol Hill.

Are there any other executive orders in the pipeline? Anything that the White House is considering taking next?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, like I said, the president has taken historic actions -- historic executive actions.

He just did one recently earlier this month when we went out west and we announced -- and we went to go to Monterey Park -- another community that was riddled with violence -- gun violence. When the president went there to announce -- to announce his latest executive action. And also, again, be a consoler-in-chief to that community.

So we're always going to look for other actions that we can take. But how government works, Kaitlan, and you know this very well having covered the White House and having covered the Hill, we cannot do this alone. We need -- we need Congress to act. We need them to build on what we saw them do with this bipartisan action that the president signed -- the Safer Communities Act -- over the summer. We need to build on that. We have to -- have to ban assault rifles.

COLLINS: Karine Jean-Pierre from the White House, thank you for your time this morning.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.

COLLINS: And in just moments we're going to be joined by one of those officials in Tennessee that President Biden spoke with last night. That's the mayor of Nashville, John Cooper.

LEMON: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much.

This morning, the House speaker Kevin McCarthy says lawmakers will be moving forward with controversial TikTok legislation as calls to ban the app in the U.S. are growing. Last week, lawmakers from both parties grilled TikTok's CEO for about

five hours over national security concerns. He denied that the app shares Americans' data with the Chinese government.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins us now with more. Sunlen, good morning to you. How far could this legislation go?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, interestingly here, Don, the speaker did not specify what specific piece of legislation he's referring to, and there are many competing proposals on Capitol Hill, including potentially, forcing the sale of the company to an all-out ban that many lawmakers have been talking about.

But notably, the speaker -- in the past, he has said he would support a ban on the company.

And this tweet that he sent out really increased the urgency that he clearly wants to bring after that committee hearing last week with the CEO. McCarthy saying, "It's very concerning that the CEO of TikTok can't be honest and admit what we already know to be true -- China has access to TikTok user data. The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party."

Now there is, of course, bipartisan concern and bipartisan calls for action that something -- significant action needs to be done to change the way this company operates. The question, of course, Don, is what form does that ultimately take? And there certainly will be a lot of debate on Capitol Hill.

For example, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez sending out a TikTok video saying that she believes a ban would put the cart before the horse here, and she supports, rather, a larger issue of looking into wholescale data privacy issues.

LEMON: All right, Sunlen, we'll be watching. Thank you very much for that.

SERFATY: Thanks.

LEMON: CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE POLICE: I saw kids coming out holding hand-in-hand. I saw officers coming out bleeding.