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State of the Union
Interview With Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper; Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Students Advocate for Gun Control; GOP Donor Ultimatum On Assault Weapons Ban. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 18, 2018 - 09:40 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Call for action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are dying every day.
BASH: Teenage anguish and a demand for change after Florida's deadly high school shooting. Will this tragedy be a wakeup call? We will speak with survivors next.
Plus: Russians charged, accused of waging information warfare in the 2016 election.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts and false identification documents.
BASH: What's next for the Russia probe? We will speak exclusively with the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
And protecting the vote. With new evidence that Russia interfered in an American election, what needs to be done now?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: The Russians are going to keep coming at us.
BASH: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will be here.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is in mourning and looking for leadership in Washington.
President Trump is at Mar-a-Lago facing two national crises, the murder of 17 people in yet another school shooting, and the now clear Russian attack on American democracy leading up to and since the 2016 election.
In an overnight Twitter rant, the president made both serious issues about him, saying: "Very sad that the FBI all -- missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud."
This after a day in which teenage survivors of the Parkland massacre captured the country's attention at a rally, railing against Washington for not doing more to protect them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMA GONZALEZ, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Here with me are a few of those very strong survivors, who want to share a new message about their path forward.
Emma Gonzalez, we just heard from you at that rally yesterday. You are now part of a group called Never Again. Do you think that you and your friends are going to finally do what it takes to make a difference on this issue?
GONZALEZ: Of course.
We are quite at that point where we have worked long, hard hours to make sure that this goes forward the way that we want it to, and stays strong the way that we're staying strong and the way that the people around us need us to be.
That's how we're going to be facing this. We're going to be facing this with trepidation and determination. And we have an incredible support system around us. And we are going to be the difference.
BASH: And, Cameron Kasky, what is your message to the nation's leaders after what you have been through?
CAMERON KASKY, JUNIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: You know, the reason we are starting March for Our Lives and doing this on March 24 is, we have been hearing a lot that this is not the time to talk about gun control.
And we can respect that. We have lost people. It's important to mourn.
Here's a time to talk about gun control, March 24. My message for the people in office is, you're either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around. And we have received endless support from your generation. And we thank everybody for that immensely, because we really appreciate it.
We don't need you. On March 24, you are going to be seeing students in every single major city marching. And we have our lives on the line here. And at the end of the day, that is going to be what's bringing us to victory and to making some sort of right out of this tragedy, is...
KASKY: ... this is about us begging for our lives. This isn't about the GOP. This isn't about the Democrats. This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral.
BASH: And, David Hogg, lastly, you just heard your -- your friend there talk about this march in March, next month. What exactly are you hoping will come out of that?
DAVID HOGG, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I hope that the American public takes action.
We have sat around for too long being inactive in our political climate. And, as a result, children have died. It's time for us to stand up and take action and hold our elected officials responsible.
If our elected officials are not willing to stand up and say, I'm not going to take money from the NRA because children are dying, they shouldn't be in office, and they won't be in office, because this is a midterm year, and this is the change that we need.
BASH: Thank you, all of you, for your bravery and your just amazing ability to have presence of mind and to be able to speak truth to power in a way that a lot of grownups can't do.
So, I appreciate it.
HOGG: Thank you so much for having us.
BASH: And survivors of the Parkland shooting will be joining us again Wednesday night for a special CNN town hall.
I want to turn now to Republican Governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate John Kasich.
Governor, thank you so much for joining me.
You just heard those teenage survivors. How do you explain to these young people that your party is not doing anything about guns?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, listen, first of all, these kids are -- young people are amazing, and my hope is with them.
They're absolutely right when they say that politicians have not been responding to any of this. You take a look at the Congress, and I think the Congress is totally dysfunctional. Dana, I have never seen anything like it. I mean, they can't fix immigration. They have been unable to pass a
tax bill with pay-fors, so, as a result of that, we have seen the debt go up.
They -- they just can't seem to get anything done, except the fact that they all came together and agreed to take money out of our kids' piggy banks, because now they just go ahead and blow a hole in the deficit. So, it's dysfunctional.
And do I think they can do anything on guns? I hope they prove me wrong, and they can, because I have no confidence in them. Where we have to effect this, I believe, is at the local level and the statehouse, because you can have greater access to politicians who serve in the state legislature, in -- a county commissioner, in a city council.
That's where you need to put the pressure and call these people out.
KASICH: I have formed a committee out here, a group of people. And we're looking at everything, full background checks, including casual sales, whether we can up -- we're going to ask them to up the look at in terms of people having emotional problems ought to be able to go out and buy guns.
We should look at bump stocks that make weapons fully automatic. I was talking to a friend of mine this morning. He's a big collector. I said, if all of a sudden, you couldn't buy an AR-15, what would you lose? Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn't buy a God-darn AR-15?
These are the things that have to be looked at. And action has to happen before -- and, look, you're never going to fix all of this, but commonsense gun laws make sense. And I'm hopeful that this group that I have assembled on both sides of the issue are going to come together with recommendations.
The speaker of our House, Cliff Rosenberger, said he is anxious to see what can produced. We will see.
And if they don't produce anything, I will put my own stuff out.
So, you're saying that this should be a battle waged on the state and local level.
But when it comes to Congress, you were a member of Congress. Do you think that it's just dysfunction and ineptitude, or do you think it's because they're actually scared of the political consequences from important groups like the NRA?
KASICH: Look, some people just feel strongly about this. And if you're a -- and I'm a -- I support the Second Amendment. I don't know anybody that really doesn't. But are there -- are there limits to it? And the fact is, what somebody who is a strong Second Amendment...
BASH: And you're saying the answer is yes?
KASICH: Well, here's what I'm trying to say.
Yes. Dana, here's the -- the answer is, if you're a strong Second Amendment person, you need to -- you need to slow down and take a look at reasonable things that can be done to answer these young people.
And, frankly, my hope is in the next generation. It's -- I mean, think about how bad it is in Congress. They can't decide anything. They can't decide that a kid that was brought here at 5 years of age who's been here for 30 years ought to be able to stay. They can't agree to anything down there.
Wake up. Wake up.
KASICH: Our country's being hurt because of this.
BASH: You're talking a lot about Congress.
There obviously is a man sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the president. And, sort of historically, presidents do take on leadership roles on issues like this.
President Trump tweeted overnight that it's very sad that the FBI missed signals about the Florida shooter because they were spending too much time trying to prove collusion with Russia.
What's your reaction to that?
KASICH: I mean, I don't agree with that. I think it's an absurd statement, OK? Absurd.
The fact of the matter is, the FBI apparently made a terrible mistake. And people should be held accountable.
But we need leadership out of the executive. This is a great opportunity for commonsense steps that can be taken just in the area of background checks. There should be no ability to do a casual sale without somebody having to find out who they're selling the gun to and what is involved. The president should be for that.
When it comes to the issue of mental illness, we not -- we need to take a look across the country that, if somebody's mentally ill, it needs to be reported. And if somebody becomes emotionally distraught, it must be immediately examined by local law enforcement or the FBI.
Of course the president can lead on this, and should lead on this.
And, Mr. President, I ask you to do this.
You don't have to -- you don't have to boil the ocean, but take some steps now. This is an opportunity. And I believe those who are Second Amendment advocates realize that commonsense, real reforms can happen in this country to answer the cries and the anguish of people all across this country who have lost loved ones.
BASH: Governor, I want you to listen to what former Republican Congressman from Florida David Jolly said to CNN this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: If this is the issue that defines your ideology as a voter, there are two things I would suggest tonight.
First, flip the House. Flip the House. Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting we saw today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Governor, is that just a lesson, that the dysfunctional congressmen that you talk about need to learn? Do they just need to lose their majority?
KASICH: You know, Dana, in life, when you have a set of values, which are loving our children or somebody else's children, sometimes, you have to put yourself at risk.
You put yourself at risk that you may not get reelected. But if you can move things forward in the name of peace in our country, and you lose an election, we will give you a badge and a crown. And you know what? There's nothing -- it's not the end of the world because you lose an election.
So, everybody's got to look inside of themselves and think about their children and their grandchildren.
And, look, I'm not calling for some outright ban. I'm talking about small steps that can be taken that can be effective. And the Congress ought to do it.
I just don't -- I -- I don't have any confidence in them. I don't think most Americans do. Nobody's supporting them any more on both sides. They're both broken.
And we need to come together as a country, because it is eroding us as a country. I was in the Congress. I never saw anything like what's happening down there.
KASICH: I was talking to our attorney general the other day, who was a United States senator. I said they're dysfunctional. He just shook his head.
He said, "I have never seen anything like it."
KASICH: Do something.
BASH: ... thank you so much for your voice this morning. I appreciate it. Thank you.
KASICH: Thank you.
BASH: And they infiltrated your news feeds. They literally infiltrated America. The special counsel charging 13 Russians with trying to influence the 2016 election.
What does this mean for President Trump and for the country? I will ask the top Democrat leading the House Russia probe next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
President Trump is on a Twitter tear, repeatedly declaring no collusion after special counsel Robert Mueller moved to indict 13 Russians for waging -- quote -- information warfare" against Americans during the 2016 election.
The president is also attacking the top Democrat on the House Russia probe, Adam Schiff, calling him a "leakin' monster of no control" and saying Schiff is blaming the Obama administration for the Russian meddling.
Well, that's not exactly right.
We spoke to Congressman Schiff just before he got on a plane to travel back from a Munich security conference.
BASH: Congressman, I want to start with the breaking news of the indictments.
Thirteen Russians, three Russian companies were indicted for meddling in the 2016 election. How do you read the indictment?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, it's really stunning in its detail.
And the intelligence community must have made the judgment that putting this information out there, the deterrent impact it would have, is worst -- is worth the risk to sources and methods, because this really sets out in quite the excruciating detail just how elaborate this Russian effort was, who the characters were that were involved in it, what lengths they went to, to influence our election, how much they wanted to cynically sow discord in the United States. And it ought to put to rest for anyone, including the president, who continues to call this a witch-hunt, that the evidence is now overwhelming and unequivocal, and we need to move to protect ourselves from Russian interference in elections that are coming up.
BASH: And I'm sure you saw that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, made clear on Friday that the indictment does not allege "any American" was knowing, a knowing participant in this illegal activity.
President Trump Tweeted that his campaign -- quote -- "did nothing wrong, no collusion."
Congressman, you've seen the intelligence. Do you think this indictment that suggests that it's a case closed, no collusion?
SCHIFF: No, of course, not. But this is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes.
What this indictment sets out is information about only one element of the Russia active measures campaign, that involving their use of social media to influence attitudes, to motivate people to protest, to essentially infiltrate our political system through the cyber-sphere.
It doesn't contain any of the allegations that are really most known to the public, and that is the Russian hacking into the Democratic institutions, the Russian publishing of stolen information.
Now, on that, the Trump campaign, and indeed candidate Trump himself, was very witting of what was going on. Indeed, the whole country was, when on October 7, the intelligence community told the country, the Russians are behind this. They're behind the hacking and the dumping.
SCHIFF: But, nonetheless, the campaign continued to use those products of that element of the Russian campaign.
BASH: Congressman, I have to ask about this indictment, because it says that Russian interference has been going on since 2014. That was halfway through the president's second term -- excuse me -- President Obama's second term.
Do you believe that President Obama and his administration bear some responsibility for not stopping this well before the 2016 presidential election?
SCHIFF: Well, I said all along that I thought the Obama administration should have done more.
And, indeed, when we discovered and we could attribute the conduct to Russia, Senator Feinstein and I took the first steps to make public attribution, because, at that time, we couldn't get the Obama administration to acknowledge the Russian interference.
[09:20:05] They were very wary of appearing to be putting their hand on the scale in the election.
Now, they did make an acknowledgement the following month, but I don't think that was sufficient. And I think they should have engaged in conversations about sanctions at that time.
But none of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands. It is inexplicable that the president of the United States continues to sit on sanctions that Congress passed, that Congress wants enforced against Russia over this interference.
So, they can't point the finger back, when they're sitting on sanctions that the Congress, on a very bipartisan basis, has said need to be imposed.
BASH: Congressman, I want to turn to the tragic shooting in Florida this week.
We know now that the FBI failed to act on a tip warning about the shooter just last month. Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, is calling on the FBI director to resign. Do you think so, too?
SCHIFF: I don't think the director should resign, no.
But there clearly is a serious problem here, when you have threat information of that detail, and it didn't get triggered in terms of an investigation and action.
There are only so many cases where you do have good input, where people see something and say something. And to not follow up is inexcusable. So there needs to be a full internal investigation by the Justice Department. And that is now ongoing. There should be an investigation into this in Congress as well.
But we can't stop simply by blaming the FBI. We also have to do something about this rather immense threat facing the country from so many weapons of such high power that are accessible to people with serious mental health problems.
BASH: Congressman, as you well know, Democrats held control of the presidency, of Congress, a supermajority in the Senate from 2009 to 2010.
Why didn't Democrats make gun control a priority when you had the votes to do so?
SCHIFF: Well, many of us tried to make it a priority and many of us tried to get it done, but we weren't successful.
This has been a bipartisan challenge. It's been a much bigger challenge in the GOP. But it's been a challenge in the Democratic Party as well.
But I'm firmly of the view, if you're not out there and part of the solution, you're part of the problem, and voters need to turn you out. How much more of this are we going to take? How many more shootings?
I can't tell my son anymore that he doesn't need to be concerned about this at his school. People all over the country at every school, sadly, need to be concerned about this. And it's time that Congress got off its backside and did what the country has been demanding, stare down the NRA and do the right thing.
And anyone who doesn't of any party ought to fear the wrath of the voters.
BASH: Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for your time this morning. I appreciate it.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
BASH: And President Trump is slamming the FBI for spending too much time on Russia and missing warning signs about the Parkland shooter.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is here to respond.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.
President Trump is hitting his own national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, for saying that Russian election meddling is now incontrovertible.
Overnight, the president tweeted: "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion was between Russia and crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the dirty dossier, uranium speeches, e-mails and the Podesta Company?"
Here we me is a man who led the intelligence community while this Russian operation allegedly began, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
And let's just start there, the president hitting his own national security adviser for not agreeing with him and actually agreeing with the grand jury indictment that was put on and pressed forward with the president's own senior officials at the Justice Department.
CLAPPER: Well, first of all, the...
CLAPPER: The art form here, in ignoring what else H.R. McMaster said.
And above all this rhetoric here, again, we're losing sight of, what is it we're going to do about the threat posed by the Russians? And he never -- he never talks about that. It's all about himself, collusion or not.
And the indictment very -- as was the deputy attorney general's statement, was very precisely and carefully worded, that the indictment itself reflected no collusion, in the same way that it acknowledged that the members of the Trump campaign were unwitting participants in this.
This is not to say there weren't. And I do think there are other shoes to drop here besides this indictment, which, by the way, I think, does -- did serve to validate with a higher evidentiary bar the intelligence community assessment that was rendered in January of 2017.
BASH: Other shoes to drop on what, for example?
CLAPPER: Well, for example, not addressed here is potential involvement of the Russian government, which we certainly saw through intelligence channels that the Russians were -- government was -- was masterminding this.
I think another thing that we haven't seen much of is financial entanglements between the Trump Organization before the election and then during it.
BASH: Are you confident there are financial entanglements that are problematic?
CLAPPER: Well, I don't know.
I'm just saying that we haven't seen much on that. And I have to think that the special counsel and his team are looking at that, simply by looking at the composition of who's on that team.
BASH: I want to ask about something else the president did on Twitter this weekend.
He went after the FBI for missing a call on their tip line last month to -- from a person close to the Parkland shooter expressing concern over -- quote -- "the potential of him conducting a school shooting."
The information was not reported to the appropriate FBI officials.
BASH: No further investigation was conducted.
The president blamed that on the FBI being too focused on the Russia investigation. He said: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud."
CLAPPER: Well, no. And that's, at best, I think, disingenuous, because it's two separate things here completely.
I do think what this points out, Dana, is a bigger issue, at least in my mind, which is the tremendous stress and pressure that's put on sort of the rest of the safety net.
And, for me, this is kind of personal. My son and daughter and their spouses are educators from kindergarten through high school. My daughter is an elementary school principal and has been for 14 years.
She took Sandy Hook extremely hard. It could have been her building.
So, we have put a lot of stress -- and I have seen this with her, the stress and pressure on people like that, while we ignore the elephant in the living room, which is guns.
I notice there are at least three committees in the Congress now who want to investigate the FBI and this -- and this mistake. And I'm sure everyone in the FBI, every -- every employee, from Director Wray on down, is sick about this.
But it does illustrate, I think, the tremendous pressure that's put on other things, while we ignore the big problem of guns, particularly assault rifles.
BASH: Well, it sounds like you're not alone in saying that this morning.
I want to turn back to Russia.
The indictment goes into really incredible detail about the 2016 election, Russian interference, saying that the Russia operatives had begun traveling here to begin that in 2014, posing as political activists.
You were the director of the national intelligence at that time. What did you know about those operations? And why wasn't more done to stop it before it became a problem?
CLAPPER: Well, the first point I would make here is, this is not the first time they have done things like this.
We have records of their attempts to interfere in our election and election -- and electoral processes going back to the '60s. So, there's always been this sort of ambient level of Soviet or now Russian activity, involvement and attempts to influence our election.
When these things start -- and this is typical tradecraft -- they start innocently, innocent-looking and passive. And so, when a cell like this starts, it's fairly innocent-looking.
So, I personally, no, I wasn't aware of this activity going back to 2014. We certainly became aware of what was going on in '15 and '16, no question about it.
And I think what was a big revelation to me was the -- never before have we seen an effort like this mounted by the Russians with the multidimensional nature of it and its aggressiveness and directness.
This was unprecedented.
BASH: Before I let you go, I have to ask about a tweet sent out over the weekend by Rob Goldman, the vice president of Facebook, ads retweeted by the president, saying that he has seen all of the Russian ads and that he can say very definitively that swaying the election was not the main goal.
True or false?
CLAPPER: Well, it's false, as far as I'm concerned, because there's no question what the Russians were trying to do.
And whether he acknowledges it or not, certainly, from the intelligence that we -- available to us in the last administration, as now validated by the depth and detail of this indictment, I don't think there's any question about the Russians -- clearly, the Russians were trying to affect the election.
They had actually three goals. First was simply to sow discord and discontent in this country. And, unfortunately, we're a good target for that right now.
And, secondly, to hurt Hillary Clinton, which starts with this strong personal animus that Putin has for the Clintons, both, and then, of course, as things evolved, to support Trump.
And they did that to a fare-thee-well. And they're going to continue to do it.
BASH: Mr. Clapper, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Dana.
BASH: Appreciate it. Thank you.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Dana.
BASH: Thank you.
And we have heard emotional pleas for help from parents and from children demanding that the president and Congress take action on guns.
What can we be done and will they listen? My political panel weighs in next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMA GONZALEZ, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And we're back with our panel.
Andre Bauer, I want to start with you as supporter of President Trump. In the wake of this tragedy, hearing from teenagers like that, do you think that the president and frankly Republicans in Congress are going to take notice?
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think everybody in America is taking notice.
All of us --
BASH: Take notice and take action.
BAUER: I don't know that -- we have a culture thing here that we're not discussing.
I mean, when I grew up it was Andy Griffith and you never had school shootings and we still had prayer in school. And we drove to school with guns in the car. I say we.
I would see students that did that. Today we are in a different time when -- not the media but the movie industry and the rap industry -- radio (ph) in general talks about these things that are common now and we have almost desensitized it. Now we have to worry about kids eating Tide pods instead of discipline.
We go after parents who discipline their children. When I was in school, the principal had a paddle. It was called the board of education.
He used it in all the students. We have changed the mind set today and so it's scary now that students would even contemplate this type of behavior. We have a cultural shift.
BASH: And I just want to say -- Jennifer Granholm, I know you want to get in but you were the governor of --
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: of a pro-gun state.
BASH: -- pro-gun state in Michigan.
GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean, this is what kills me, is that -- you know, we -- there is a culture of hunting. There is a culture that we have to respect, a gun culture in addition to what you're talking about, right? But that doesn't mean that you can't have reasonable restrictions.
GRANHOLM: Nobody is talking about confiscating guns.
So then back to Dana's question, do you think there is a moment now for the Republicans out of either fear or morality or compassion to say enough is enough, we are going to do some reasonable restrictions?
BAUER: I think it sounds good. Look, I believe in background checks and all the other. But I think there is a bigger problem here.
If you look in Virginia where one of the biggest school shootings ever was done with a handgun not an AR-15. So --
GRANHOLM: OK. But that's just not one solution. No, no. There is an awful lot of gun control measures that do have impact and there has been a lot of studies about this.
There's no question, for example, in Connecticut, when they adopted tough gun control, they saw 40 percent decline in homicides by guns contrary to that in Missouri where they have very laxed standards and they released them, you saw an increase in gun homicides. These are just -- those are just two anecdotes of a million about what the impact is.
There's no --
BAUER: Governor, I would tell you this --
GRANHOLM: Let me just say -- let me just finish.
There's no question that reasonable restrictions work. There's no question that gun owners themselves are in favor of background checks, mental health checks, et cetera.
GRANHOLM: The only question is why does Congress not act and it is because of the NRA and that's why these kids -- god bless them --
BASH: Let me bring in the other side of the table.
And, Amanda, as you answer, I want you and our viewers to look at the cover of "The New York Post" this past week. "Mr. President, please act."
"The New York post" is a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, somebody who has been a supporter and somebody -- of the president -- somebody the president has respected in terms of what he says, will that have an impact?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Perhaps. But here is the thing. We keep getting trapped in these ideological debates and blame games and those arguments are not going to be persuasive to the kids in Florida or their families or their educators.
And, you know, there's a lot of talk about the NRA and conservatives. And I think they should take a moment to reflect on the fact that the right to life was enshrined in our country's founding long before a second amendment.
And there is a resistance to even having this debate. That this false equivalent between total gun control and doing nothing is making America less state and pretty stupid. People are looking for solutions for people to do something.
I see no reason why Republicans in Congress can't go to law enforcement who are screaming for more tools and more solutions and saying, what do you need? Why can we not have a task force that puts together recommendations the state and local governments? Why don't we explore the idea of having temporary restraining orders against people who pose dangers to themselves and others as they do in other states?
These are things we can talk about that doesn't ban guns or take away guns from anybody.
BASH: Amanda talked about the very partisan hyperdebate going on here. Bakari Sellers, Congressman Ruben Gallego responded to the president in a tweet and here's what the congressman said about the president.
"You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born."
The very hyper debate going on here and here's what the congressman said. You are such a psychopath to make the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were born.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that tempers are flaring on each side. And I --
BASH: Is that over-the-top?
SELLERS: Well, that's over-the-top but, I mean, that's what happens on social media. All the president's tweets this morning were over- the-top. That response was over-the-top.
And to Amanda's point this conversation for the most part has been over-the-top. The only people that we really need to be listening to who are getting to the heart of the message are those kids that you had on earlier today. The people who really feel the pain.
There are a couple of points though. The first is that, no we're not going to do anything. The GOP is not going to take any action.
We knew this was the case after Newtown. If nothing happens after Newtown, nothing's going to happen now.
Maybe that's me being jaded. But I find that to be the political reality.
But to make these excuses like my friend Andre Bauer was making about prayer and school -- by the way you can still pray in school if you so choose or rap music or the lack of discipline or this or that -- there are some very bipartisan initiatives that you can do. We can study gun violence like the public health crisis at the CDC, we can have universal background checks, we can close the Charleston loophole, and we can also close the loophole whereby you have person to person sales, and then we can ban bump stocks.
I mean, these are four initiatives that I think that all four of us can agree on right here at the table.
GRANHOLM: And 90 percent of Americans including gun owners agree with.
SELLER: So that's a framework. That's a framework right there to move forward and that's just me --
BAUER: -- Bakari. But does it really stop the problem?
SELLERS: No question.
BAUER: I don't think it does. The thing that stops somebody from shooting somebody is another person with a gun.
SELLERS: Let me tell you this. Let me tell you how it stops the problem. Let me tell you how it stops the problem.
Universal background checks to make sure that people who are mentally ill to kind of take away this talking point do not get weapons.
And the Charleston loophole --
BAUER: But they're still going to get them.
SELLERS: And Charleston loophole killed one of our friends. We know that.
BAUER: No question.
SELLERS: The fact that Dylann Roof got a gun in Charleston is because of the simple fact that the FBI only had three days to conduct a background check, wasn't able to do it so Dylann Roof got a gun and went and killed people. So, yes, it will actually stop violence.
GRANHOLM: And the assault rifle ban worked. It did. The minute it lit up you saw 83 percent increase in massacres --
BAUER: Governor, with all due respect look at the cities in America that have the highest gun crime rate and there are cities that have total bans on guns.
GRANHOLM: No, no, no. Andre, no.
BAUER: So, it's not working.
GRANHOLM: At "The New York Times" today --
BAUER: Take me to Chicago, take me to D.C. right here where we are. Take --
GRANHOLM: You are wrong. Right now Nick Kristof wrote a whole column about this in "The New York Times" where he looked very specifically at the states that have the highest gun controls and they in fact have the lowest numbers of deaths by gun.
BASH: We are going to have to take a quick break on that note. We are going to continue this fascinating discussion in a couple minutes. Stand by.
BASH: And we're back with our pane talking about the newly revived debate about guns and whether there should be gun control, a debate that we have had (INAUDIBLE) the question is whether or not these teenagers in particular who are so articulate speaking out about Republicans and Democrats in Washington needing (ph) to do something are going to make a difference. Perhaps, Amanda Carpenter, it could make a difference that some Republican donors are speaking out as well.
A man by the name of Al Hoffman Jr. issued an ultimatum to Republicans. He is a GOP donor. And he said, "If we go from Orlando to Las Vegas and now Parkland, you just have to know that there are others around the country just dreaming about staging another mass murder.
I will not write another check unless they all support a ban on assault weapons. Enough is enough." CARPENTER: Yes. That could be persuasive, but I do think people that do want to impact Republican members need to be very specific about the things that they are asking for.
A ban on assault weapons is very difficult to do when you have a legal weapon and purchase things on the internet that make it a more dangerous item. And so seeing a ban on assault weapons gets very difficult. This is why I think we need to look for smaller, more specific solutions to advance the statehouses and then perhaps be a model for Congress.
But there is this false debate that we keep getting trapped in, and that we can't do any one thing because it won't solve all the problems. I keep hearing, this won't stop this shooter or is that shooter. That should not prevent Congress or state houses from taking individual steps like, you know, banning the bump stocks or increasing ways to make sure that the background checks --
CARPENTER: -- are actually executed. Republicans should be enforcing the law, and to do anything that helps enforce existing law should be on the agenda.
GRANHOLM: So here's what I think. I think that these members of Congress who are not acting should be very afraid. This young people -- this is generation Z, and them plus the millennials, plus women, and believe me, there is a 16-point gap between this issue for women. More women are much in favor of these kinds of measures to curve it. That should scare the heck out of people in Congress who are not taking action.
SELLERS: Let me also point out, one of the things that we get caught up in is the election of Donald Trump in 2020, and we also get caught up in this -- the blue wave that oftentimes focuses on the United States Congress and Senate. But what we are learning is that the real important issues that we're talking about like gun control specifically are really dealt with in statehouses and state legislatures.
BAUER: Absolutely, Bakari.
SELLERS: And so --
BASH: But that's because Congress isn't doing anything.
SELLERS: Well, that's because Congress is -- of course.
GRANHOLM: We should have a national debate --
SELLERS: We should have a national debate, however, we're not -- we're not doing that.
So my point is we need to make sure that we're also focusing on statehouses.
GRANHOLM: I agree.
SELLERS: One of the things -- to point out -- to point out (INAUDIBLE) Andre's analogy when speaking about Chicago the majority of weapons that are used in Chicago violence are from Indiana.
GRANHOLM: Right. Right.
SELLERS: So where you have very, very tough gun laws in Illinois, you have a state that actually gets an "F" for their gun laws.
GRANHOLM: Exactly why we should do it on a national level.
BASH: Andre, do you want to respond?
BAUER: I do. Again, I think it reinforces exactly what I'm talking about. People that are going to want to do bad things, are going to find a way to do it.
Whether it's they come up with a bomb that learn on the internet --
GRANHOLM: So we should give up?
BAUER: No. I'm not saying that, but I'm saying we also have a cultural problem and we also need to be something.
Look, pawnshops don't get robbed. Biker bars don't get robbed. You know why? Because they know those are places where they are (INAUDIBLE) people that provide a lot of resistance.
GRANHOLM: So we're going to do that in schools?
BAUER: And so what we need to do in schools is have people that have firearms. The way you stop somebody with a gun --
GRANHOLM: Oh, my God.
BASH: Amanda, go ahead.
CARPENTER: Every time I go by a school for years now, I think about Sandy Hook. Every educator had their flags at half mast this week. And I'm a woman. I picture if I were in a classroom and the solution is to have every teacher armed --
BAUER: I didn't say every teacher.
CARPENTER: Well, I'm not a petite person, and I can very easily see a situation where a strong 14, 15, 18-year-old can overpower a man. So just arming everything up is not quite the answer. Republicans have to find a way to talk to mothers.
You are looking at a generation of children that grew up with columbine or are now parents themselves. BAUER: Just like you have air patrol --
CARPENTER: They need to be talked to in a compassionate way that's not --
SELLERS: Quickly --
CARPENTER: -- hiding behind ideological debates. I beg you.
BASH: Bakari --
SELLERS: Quickly like the reason why this is a bad idea is because a simple fact that I have a CWP, I don't know who else has concealed weapons permit here.
BAUER: I do.
SELLERS: But we are not trained for active school shooting scenarios. People who carry guns on a regular basis are not trained and should not be in schools to do that. That's first.
It never makes more sense for you to have to tell your child, Andre, when they're walking out the door do you have lunch money, and do you know your active shooter drill? That's not the country that we live in. We need to -- there are other things we can do other than militarize our schools. That makes no sense to me.
GRANHOLM: Right. And even you agreed -- you agreed to the -- in the commercial break that you think, first of all, there should be background checks.
GRANHOLM: We could do that, right?
The person to person sales. We should be checking those as well, right?
GRANHOLM: You agreed that there should be, for example, the people on the terror watch list should not be able to have access.
BAUER: Yes, but the whole conversation we missed is this could have been prevented. It was presented to law enforcement, it was missed, and we -- that conversation has all been blown over.
GRANHOLM: Yes. But that's not the only thing.
BASH: Governor Granholm, I want to ask you about something that the president tweeted. He said, "Just like they" -- talking about Democrats -- "just like they don't want to solve the DACA problem, why didn't the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House and Senate during the Obama in the administration? Because they didn't want to, and now they just talk."
BAUER: Well, that's a reasonable question.
BASH: He has a point that at least at the beginning of the Obama administration, you all had a supermajority.
BASH: You could have done this.
GRANHOLM: Except there were -- some Democrats worried about it.
BAUER: They take money from the NRA as well.
GRANHOLM: I totally agree.
BASH: Real quick.
GRANHOLM: This is an issue about gun safety. It is not Democrat/Republican. I will say though at the beginning of the Obama administration you recall that the -- they were dealing with the entire collapse of --
SELLERS: In 2010 though -- in 2010 we did put up gun control. It failed 54-50 because Republican filibustered. So that's only a partial talking point because Democrats did try to do it.
GRANHOLM: But now -- let's do it now.
GRANHOLM: Let's do it now. And everybody should show up at the march for these kids.
SELLERS: I'm walking out of school too. My little girls walking out of school too --
BASH: We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you for that very informative discussion. It really was.
And he helped launch the information age and has pledged to give away half more than half of his vast fortune, so what does billionaire Bill Gates think of President Trump? Fareed Zakaria has that next.