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State of the Union

Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Interview With Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy; CNN Poll Shows Spike In Support For Stricter Gun Laws. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 25, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Dereliction of duty? New details on the law enforcement response to the Florida school shooting.

SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF: Devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words.

TAPPER: Coral Springs police say that four Broward County deputies were on the scene waiting outside, instead of going in. We will talk to the Broward County sheriff about that and much more next.

Plus: the gun debate. President Trump pledges to take action to curb gun violence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to let this happen again.

TAPPER: And a brand-new CNN poll shows a huge shift in Americans' views on guns. Will bring that to you next, along with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who joins me in minutes.

And finally released. A redacted version of the Democratic House intelligence memo is out, responding to Republican claims of FBI surveillance abuses.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: The Democrats are not only trying to cover this up, but they're also colluding with parts of the government to help cover this up.

TAPPER: The memo's writer, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, is here to respond coming up.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is still raw in the wake of the tragedy in Florida.

President Trump and Florida's Republican governor have promised action, including some proposals to change existing gun laws. And a brand-new CNN poll now shows support for stricter gun purchasing laws at its highest level of the last 25 years, with 70 percent now saying that they back new, more restrictive gun legislation.

Nearly two-thirds think government and society can take action that will effectively prevent future mass shootings. That's much higher than CNN polls after the tragedies in Las Vegas, and Orlando, and Charleston, and Sandy Hook, suggesting perhaps, perhaps the shooting in Parkland, Florida, has shifted public opinion in a way other incidents have not.

But there are also new questions about the numerous missed red flags about the shooter and the immediate response. Coral Springs sources tell me, in addition to the school resource officer, when Coral Springs arrived on the scene, they were surprised to find three other Broward County sheriff's deputies who had not yet entered the school.

The Broward County denies those reports, saying only one deputy was there during the time of the shooting, while the shooter was there. But what about in its immediate aftermath, when it was still an active shooter situation and victims were in desperate need of help?

Joining me now to discuss all of this is Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Sheriff, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

I want you to take a listen to Stoneman Douglas senior Brandon Huff talking about your deputy, the school resource officer, Scot Peterson.


BRANDON HUFF, SENIOR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: The school resource officer was behind a stairwell wall just standing there, and he had his gun drawn. And he was just pointing it at the building.

And you could -- shots started going off inside. You could hear them going off over and over. And he was just talking on the radio, and he never did anything for four minutes. And he's the only one with a gun. He's wearing a bulletproof vest. And all -- he has all that, while school security guards, you know, coaches pretty much, were running in shielding kids.


TAPPER: Sheriff, how do you respond to this student?

ISRAEL: Oh, what the student said, our video and audio and all the witness statements we have taken corroborates that.

That's what I saw. And when I saw that, I was disgusted. I was just demoralized with the performance of former Deputy Peterson. And that's why I called him in and suspended him without pay, as we were going to move towards termination. And he resigned.

TAPPER: Did he tell you why he didn't go in?

ISRAEL: He did not. TAPPER: I'm also told by sources in Coral Springs that Coral Springs

police who arrived at the scene saw that three other Broward deputies were standing behind cars, not having gone into the building. What can you tell me about that?

ISRAEL: Well, let me perfectly clear.

Our investigation to this point shows that, during this horrific attack, while this killer was inside the school, there was only one law enforcement person, period, and that was former Deputy Scot Peterson.

Coral Springs arrived. A group of Coral Springs officers went in within, I think, about four minutes, we're projecting, after the killer left the campus.

The -- I understand that they're going to give statements to us regarding the other three, four, five deputies. At this point, we have no reason to believe that any one acted incorrectly or correctly. That's what an investigation is.


Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but nobody's entitled to their own set of facts.

We do know, Jake, that Deputy Peterson at the time uttered -- he disseminated information over the police radio. We don't know why those deputies -- what those deputies heard. Perhaps they did something by what they heard from Peterson.

And that will be, you know, outlined in interviews. We will get to the truth. But, at this point, one deputy was remiss, dereliction of duty, and he's now no longer with this agency. And that's Peterson.

TAPPER: And you're saying -- you're saying that because, during the time that the shooter was in the school, you say Peterson was the only one there.

But that's not -- that wasn't known at the time. You know that now because of security cameras. You saw when he left the school.

ISRAEL: Correct.

TAPPER: This is after the fact.

But when did your deputies, not Peterson, but the others, when did they arrive on the scene, because Coral Springs sources say, when Coral Springs arrived, there were Broward deputies there in addition to Peterson.

ISRAEL: And I don't dispute that, but that is an active investigation. We have not taken statements yet from the Coral Springs officers.

We found out, I believe, five or six days ago from their police chief that he told one of our colonels about the -- about the information. We're going to be taking statements from those Coral Springs police officers.

Then we're going to be speaking with our deputies. If any deputies are alleged to have dereliction of duty, we will look into that. We don't know what the deputies heard on the radio. Coral Springs and the Broward Sheriff's Office, we have different radio systems.

So, we don't know what one was hearing vis-a-vis what the other was hearing. All I can tell you is, we will investigate every action of our deputies, of their supervisors. And if they did things right, we will move forward. And if they did things wrong, I will take care of business in a disciplinary matter, like I did with Peterson.

TAPPER: And just so people watching at home understand, even after the shooter left the school, there was a period of time where nobody was going into the school, no law enforcement officers. People were bleeding out.

The question -- nobody knew that the shooter had left the school, so officers needed to go in. One of the things that we have heard -- and I don't know if this is true or not -- I can -- hope you can shed light on it -- is that there might have been a stand-down order, somebody on the radio telling Broward deputies not to enter this school until a SWAT team arrived.

What can you tell us about that?

ISRAEL: I can't tell you anything about that. I haven't heard that.

As I said, we feverishly are dissecting. It's a voluminous investigation. We're taking hundreds and hundreds of statements. And, right now, Jake, the focus of this agency is on the successful prosecution of the killer.

So, we're doing that. Our detectives have worked tirelessly. We will investigate all aspects of this case. We will look at all the actions or inactions of every single deputy and leader on our agency, sergeants, lieutenants, captains. And we will make some decisions.

But, right now, all I can tell you is, during the killing, there was -- while the killer was on campus with this horrific killing, there was one deputy, one armed person within proximity of that school. And that was Peterson.

Everything else is fluid. And, as I said, we will get to the truth. But, right now, people could have conjecture, people could act on rumors, and people have -- you know, everybody has the right to their own opinion, but nobody has the right to their own set of facts.

TAPPER: Have you listened to the...

ISRAEL: The facts will come out.

TAPPER: Have you listened to the radio recordings?

ISRAEL: I'm not, but the investigators are, of course.

TAPPER: OK. But you haven't. You have not heard them, though?



But what they're doing now is, they're marrying up the audio with the visual. And I was told that one of the -- one of Peterson's utterances on the radio, I think one or two times, he actually says shots fired.

So, you would have to assume at that time every person who heard that transmission is pushing as fast as they can, code three, as we call it, to the school, to the school. Identify the threat. Neutralize the target. Take the killer out.

There comes a point in time later that Peterson makes a transmission that would almost lead one to believe that he's talking about perimeters.

So, if I know my school resource deputy is talking about perimeter positions, it's absolutely safe to assume, incorrectly, if that's what actually happened, it's absolutely safe to assume that, if a person there is talking about perimeter, that perhaps he sees the killer leaving, and -- and you're going to a perimeter position to catch the killer.

But I don't know what was in the mind of the other deputies. I don't know what was in the mind of Peterson. This is why we investigate. All I can tell you is that...


TAPPER: Right.

ISRAEL: ... from the time I heard about this, I did what needed to be done with former Deputy Peterson.

TAPPER: But, Sheriff, the Thursday -- the day after the horrific incident, at a vigil, the city manager for Coral Springs confronted you in public.

And one of the things he confronted you about, sources tell me, is the idea that your deputies did not go into the school while children inside were bleeding out.

ISRAEL: That's absolutely untrue.

We had a conversation. We were out in public. The only two people who could have heard the conversation were myself and the city manager. It was a conversation. I'm not going to share that conversation. It was very short.

The city manager and I have spoken numerous times. We have met. He's a great city manager. He does a great job with Coral Springs. TAPPER: OK.

ISRAEL: We have got a great relationship. And it was just two guys having a conversation.

TAPPER: One of the questions about the response by Broward is whether this was policy to set up a perimeter, instead of going in.

Earlier this week, you seemed to suggest that your deputies are trained to arrive and not immediately go into the site of the shooting, but rather to create a staging area.

Listen to yourself a few days ago talking about what you learned from the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting 13 months ago. Take a listen.


ISRAEL: One of the key lessons we learned from the airport was the phenomenon of self-dispatching and not allowing deputies and police officers from all over the tri-county area to just arrive haphazardly.

And we had staging areas and people who came, went to a staging area. And they were inserted into the position in a commonsense way, and everybody had a job to do.


TAPPER: See, that seems to -- that sounds to a lot of people like the opposite of what police forces learned after Columbine, which is, when you arrive, you don't wait; you run in.


ISRAEL: I'm glad you asked that question.

Jake, you're completely talking apples and oranges. And I'm glad you brought that up.

When we have a horrific incident of any magnitude, and the incident is over, and people are arriving to help, and we know we have five, 10, 12 hours of work to do, we have our deputies, police officers, firefighters go to staging areas, so we can insert them in a clear and concise manner into the scenario, into the event.

An active shooter is completely different. As people were coming to the airport, we didn't have an active shooter. He was already in custody 72 seconds after the event.

This is an active shooter. We push to the entry, to the killer. We get in, and we take out the threat. Completely different set of circumstances.


Sheriff, when did you find out that Deputy Peterson had not gone into the building? How soon after the shooting did you know that? ISRAEL: Not for days. We -- our investigators looked...

TAPPER: How many days?

ISRAEL: I'm not sure.

TAPPER: Because you spent much of the Wednesday night town hall on CNN, with the entire Stoneman Douglas community, students and teachers and parents, attacking the NRA, saying that police need more powers, more money to prevent future tragedies.

You didn't disclose any of this to the crowd then, the Stoneman Douglas High School community. Did you know it then? Did you know it Wednesday night?

ISRAEL: It was spoken about during that -- earlier during that day.

I'm not on a timeline for TV or any news show. We need to get it right. We need to get it accurate. We're talking about people's lives. We're talking about a community. We need to corroborate, we need to verify.

And once we did the next day, and I looked at the tape, and I was 100 percent certain that it happened the way I was told about the investigators initially told me -- told about, I didn't even release it right that second.


TAPPER: You didn't look at the video? One week after the shooting, you hadn't looked at the video yet?

ISRAEL: I looked at the video as soon as our investigators -- it wasn't my job to look at the video. It was investigators' job to look at the video.

I'm still sheriffing this county. There were many things to do. We have investigators, homicide investigators, internal affairs investigators dissecting it. And when they felt there was a video that -- ready for my view, that I might take action on one of our deputies, I looked at the video.

And let me add this, Jake. Once I saw the video, the first order I gave was for our detectives to notify the families that the -- of the -- those lost, the families. Yesterday, today and tomorrow, the families come first. And I wanted to make sure the families knew what happened and what was about to happen before we released...


TAPPER: The families were at the CNN town hall, sir. Sir, the families were at the CNN town hall. And you could've disclosed to them...

ISRAEL: That's not the -- that's not -- I couldn't disclose it then, because there was no corroboration, Jake. There was no confirmation. We needed to dot I's and cross T's. And I certainly would not

disclose it to a family at a town hall. Not every family was there. One of the families, one -- Mr. Pollack had gone to Washington, D.C.


TAPPER: All right.

ISRAEL: That's not the way you do things, over a news camera. You do it individually. You meet privately with families. You have compassion. You don't do it at a public forum. And we weren't ready to do it anyway.

TAPPER: Right. But your tone -- your tone at the public forum, sir -- your tone at the public forum was rather belligerent towards the NRA.

And you were talking about needing more police protection -- I mean, more police funding and more police powers, and yet you knew...

ISRAEL: That's not...

TAPPER: No, it's not -- that wasn't your tone?

ISRAEL: That's not true. Jake, that's not true at all.

I wasn't belligerent towards the NRA. I took a passionate stance, as I always have, about commonsense gun reform and expanding police ability throughout our country when we come in contact with someone mentally ill to take them to a facility.


ISRAEL: To take guns away from them.

There was no belligerence at all. And I completely disagree with you.

TAPPER: A medical -- let's talk about the response.

A medical first-responder told local news station WSVN that medical personnel were asking to go into the school, but law enforcement wouldn't let them. He told WSVN -- quote -- "Everything I was trained on mass casualty events says they did the wrong thing. You don't want wait for the scene to be cleared. You go in immediately, armed, retrieve the victims. You can't leave the victims laying there."

What's your response to that, sir?

ISRAEL: I agree with that. That's very accurate.

That is how -- this is what you do. Once the killer leaves the scene of a mass casualty, it's still an active killer scene. There are people wounded, people that could -- lives could be saved.

And let me say this. Coral springs police, Broward sheriff's deputies, we did carry people out there. These deputies and these -- and the Coral Springs police officers are credited with savings quite a few lives by getting people medical attention. So, we did.

TAPPER: But did you prevent medical people from going inside?


Once the scene -- once the scene is -- medical people wouldn't go inside until you're sure that they're not going to get killed inside. We have -- what we do is we tell...


TAPPER: But this person told WSVN -- this person told WSVN he wanted to go in, this medical personnel, emergency first-responder wanted to go in and wasn't allowed to.

ISRAEL: Jake, I'm hearing that for the first time. If you know who the person is, please have him contact me or the Broward Sheriff's Office, and we will interview him, we will take statements from him.

And if that's true, that's certainly something we will look into, but I'm hearing this for the first time.

TAPPER: OK. WSVN will get back to you, I'm sure.

Let's talk about the missed red flags. We now know at least 18 calls were made to the Broward County Sheriff's Office related to the shooter prior to the shooting. Let's talk about them.

In February 2016, your office received a call that the shooter made a threat on Instagram to shoot up a school. One of your deputies responded and, according to your records released, the information was forwarded to Deputy Peterson at the school.

What, if anything, was done with that information?

ISRAEL: I'm not sure if anything was done with that information.

I do know as far as notifying the person or notifying either Palm Beach Sheriff's Office or one of the local jurisdictions, depending on where the killer was living at the time.

But Peterson did, I think, report Cruz to DCF, if I'm not mistaken. He did get -- receive medicine. He did get medical treatment. And, as I said, of those 18 calls, two of those calls are being -- 16 of them, we believe, were handled exactly the way they should. Two of them, we're not sure if our deputies did everything they could have or should have.

That's not to say they didn't. That's not to say they did.


TAPPER: Which are the two that you're looking in to?

ISRAEL: One was the call from a woman in Massachusetts. And the other one escapes me right now. But we're looking into those two calls.

We will absolutely find out what we did or what we didn't do and -- as I said in a press conference a few days ago, and we will handle that accordingly.


TAPPER: One of them, in September 2016...


ISRAEL: But let's not -- but hold on one second, Jake.


ISRAEL: Let's not forget the whole crux of this is giving law enforcement, giving deputies, giving police officers, not only in Broward County, but in Florida and around the nation, expanded power to be able to do something more than just write a report.

That's the whole reason I went on CNN for the town hall meeting.


TAPPER: Sir, isn't making a threat against a school a crime?

ISRAEL: Not if the person doesn't have the ability to carry it out.

You could say, a nonspecific threat, I'm going to go to a school. It's not a crime. We need it to be a crime, or at least we need to be able to say, if a person makes a nonspecific threat with -- what an assault is, is a threat, coupled with the apparent ability to carry it out.


If the person doesn't have the apparent ability to carry it out, it's not a crime.


TAPPER: Well, in September 2016, the shooter indicated he wanted to buy a gun.

Deputy Peterson knew about that. He initiated the report. The school launched a threat assessment. At this point, you have somebody saying that they're going to shoot up a school and somebody with a gun. That's not enough?

ISRAEL: That's not enough. And that's what we're trying to change.

We're trying to change the law, so we can either arrest that person, or, more importantly, get that person to a medical facility, because if you arrest the person, there's going to be a time where they get out of jail anyway. We want to get people medical help for mental illnesses, continual

medical help. And then when they get out of the medical facility and a doctor says they're better, that doesn't mean they're better. That means they're rehabbing.

We want to be able to take their guns away from them for a long, long period of time. And that's what the governor is going to be -- Governor Scott is going to be introducing his proposal. I have read it. And it's a giant, giant step in the right direction. And we're hoping that...

TAPPER: Well, Sheriff, how about this? How about this?

In November, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, not your office, but a neighboring office, responded to a call from a woman who had taken the shooter in and his brother after the death of their mother. She told police that the shooter had gotten into a physical fight with her son and threatened to go get his gun and come back.

She also said he had used guns to threaten people before and had put a gun to others' heads in the past. That's a crime. Were you aware of that incident?

ISRAEL: No, I wasn't aware of that incident.

But putting a -- if a person had a gun put to their head, and they were the victim of that type of incident, that's an aggravated assault. That's an absolute felony. That is a crime.

And a person should be arrested for that. I don't know if the victim wanted to cooperate. I don't -- it was in Palm Beach County. I don't know the nuances and the specifics of the case. But that absolutely is a crime.

TAPPER: On November 30, fewer than three months ago, your office received a call saying from a tipster explicitly saying that Cruz could be a -- quote -- "school shooter in the making."

According to notes released on that call, no report was even initiated. At this point, sir, do you understand how the public, seeing red flag after red flag after red flag, warning after warning after warning, they hear that your office didn't even initiate a report when they got a call saying that this guy could be a school shooter in the making?

How could there not even be a report on this one?

ISRAEL: Well, if that's accurate, Jake, there needed to be a report. And that's what we're looking into, that a report needed to be completed, it needed to be forwarded to our either homeland security or violent crimes unit, and they would've followed up on it.


TAPPER: That's from your notes. That's from notes released by your office. I'm not making this up. This is from Broward... ISRAEL: No.

And that's -- and that's what -- that's -- the officer who handled that is on restrictive duty. And we are -- that's an active internal investigation. And we are looking in to it.

I can't tell you -- I can't predict how an investigation is going, but we have -- I have exercised my due diligence. I have led this county proudly, as I always have. We have restricted that deputy as we look in to it.

Deputies make mistakes. Police officers make mistakes. We all make mistakes. But it's not the responsibility of the general or the president, if you have a deserter. You look into this. We're looking into this aggressively. And we will take care of it, and justice will be served.

TAPPER: Are you really not taking any responsibility for the multiple red flags that were brought to the attention of the Broward Sheriff's Office about this shooter before the incident, whether it was people near him, close to him calling the police...


ISRAEL: Jake, I can only -- Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence.

I have given amazing leadership to this agency.

TAPPER: Amazing leadership?

ISRAEL: I have worked -- yes, Jake.

There's a lot of things we have done throughout this -- this is -- you don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy not going into a -- these deputies received the training they needed. They received the equipment.

TAPPER: Maybe you measure somebody's leadership by whether or not they protect the community.

In this case, you have listed 23 incidents before the shooting involving the shooter, and still nothing was done to keep guns out of his hands, to make sure that the school was protected, to make sure you were keeping an eye on him.

ISRAEL: Jake...


TAPPER: Your deputy at the school failed.

I don't understand how you can sit there and claim amazing leadership.

ISRAEL: Jake, on 16 of those cases, our deputies did everything right. Our deputies have done amazing things. We have taken this -- in the five years I have been sheriff, we have

taken the Broward Sheriff's Office to a new level. I have worked with some of the bravest people I have ever met.

One person -- at this point, one person didn't do what he should have done. It's horrific. The victims here, the families, I pray for them every night. It makes me sick to my stomach that we had a deputy that didn't go in, because I know, if I was there, if I was on the wall, I would have been the first in, along with so many of the other people.


TAPPER: I think there are a lot of people, sir, who think that there are a lot of mistakes, other than that one deputy.

But let me ask you something else. A lot of people in the community have noted that the Broward County School Board entered into an agreement when you were sheriff in 2013 to pursue the -- quote -- "least punitive means of discipline" against students.

This new policy encouraged warnings, consultations with parents and programs on conflict resolution, instead of arresting students for crimes.

Were there not incidents committed by the shooter as a student had this new policy not been in place that otherwise he would have been arrested for and not able to legally buy a gun?

ISRAEL: What you're referring to is the PROMISE Program.

And it's giving the school -- the school has the ability under certain circumstances not to call the police, not to get the police involved on misdemeanor offenses and take care of it within the school. It's an excellent program.

It's helping many, many people. What this program does is not put a person at 14, 15, 16 years old into the criminal justice system.

TAPPER: What if he should be in the criminal justice system? What if he does something violent to a student? What if he takes bullets to school? What if he takes knives to schools? What if he threatens the lives of fellow students?

ISRAEL: Then he goes to jail. That's not applicable in the PROMISE Program.

TAPPER: That's not what happened. But that's not what happened with the shooter.

ISRAEL: If -- Jake, you're telling me that the shooter took knives to school or bullets to school, and police knew about it?

TAPPER: I don't know if police knew about it.

ISRAEL: No. Well, police... TAPPER: I know that the agreement that you entered into with the school allowed the school to give this kid excuse after excuse after excuse, while, obviously...

ISRAEL: Not for bullets, not for bullets, not for guns, not for knives, not for felonies, not for anything like that. These are infractions within the school, small amounts of marijuana, some misdemeanors.

You're absolutely exacerbating it. That's not...


TAPPER: There are at teachers at the school had been told, if you see Cruz come on campus with a backpack, let me know.

Does that not indicate that there is something seriously awry with the PROMISE Program if these teachers are being told, watch out for this kid, and you don't know about it?

ISRAEL: We don't know that that has anything to do with the PROMISE Program. I didn't hear about this until after the fact. I have heard about this information about a week ago. I do know about it. I don't know who the teacher was. It hasn't been corroborated, but that has nothing to do with the PROMISE Program.

I can't, nor can any other Broward sheriff's deputy, handle anything or act upon something you don't know about it. There's no malfeasance or misfeasance if you don't know about something.

TAPPER: He asked a question at the town hall of you. So, you can find him if you want.

I have one last question for you, sir. Florida State Representative Bill Hager from Boca sent a letter to the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, yesterday asking him to remove you for negligence of duty and incompetence.

Here's what he wrote -- quote -- "An investigation by Sheriff Israel into the unfathomable inaction of these deputies will do nothing to bring back the 17 victims. The sheriff was fully aware of the threat this individual presented to community and chose to ignore it."

What is your response? And will you resign?

ISRAEL: It was a shameful -- of course I won't resign. It was a shameful letter. It was politically motivated.

I never met that man. He doesn't know anything about me. And the letter was full of misinformation. I wrote a letter back to the governor. I talked about all the mistakes that Hager in his letter. It was a shameful, politically motivated letter that had no facts.

And of course I won't resign.

TAPPER: The last question, sir. Do you think that if the Broward Sheriff's Office had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened?

ISRAEL: Listen, ifs and buts and candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.


TAPPER: I don't know what that means.

There's 17 dead people, and there's a whole long list of things your department could have been done differently.

ISRAEL: How could -- listen, that's what after-action reports are. That's for -- lessons-learned reports are for.

We -- I have entered into conversation with Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. They will be coming to town to do an independent after-action lessons-learned report.

We understand everything wasn't done perfectly. And if it happened in Los Angeles or Chicago or any other city, every person wouldn't have perform perfectly. That's not what happens.

Yes, if Scot Peterson went into -- do I believe in Scot Peterson went into that building, there was a chance he could have neutralized the killer and saved lives? Yes, I believe that.


But as far as anything else done at this point, I can't say that.

TAPPER: Well, we hope you get to the bottom of it.

ISRAEL: And I might say it -- what is that?

TAPPER: We hope you get to the bottom of it, sir. There are a lot of people wondering about a lot of questions.

ISRAEL: We will. We will. We will. We will.

And there's no timeline on it, other than to work as fast as we can. But we want to get it right. We want to get it accurate. When we come to the public, we want accurate information. And we're not going to push forward to meet the timeline of a show or a newscast.

TAPPER: All right. I appreciate it.

ISRAEL: Thank you.

TAPPER: And our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Parkland and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Thank you for being here and answering my questions, sir.

ISRAEL: You bet. Thank you for having me on.

TAPPER: A new push for change in gun laws after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, but shouldn't the shooter's violent history have been enough to prevent him from owning a weapon to begin with?

We will talk to one of the leading voices in the gun control movement, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

While gun control activists are pushing for changes to gun laws after the Stoneman Douglas tragedy, gun rights activists are pointing to the failure of law enforcement to do anything after repeated warnings about the Florida killer's violent history and threats of becoming a school shooter.

Still, President Trump is signaling his willingness to work on some aspects of gun reform, even inviting a leading voice on stricter gun laws, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, to the White House.


And he joins me now.

Senator Murphy, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

So, I know you're calling for more gun regulations, but do you see the argument of people who say, look, if law enforcement had just followed up or done their job, the deputy at the school, then you don't need -- you wouldn't need gun laws?

What you need is law enforcement looking at the multiple red flags that were there, many more red flags than were there with the Sandy Hook shooter?


And I think that that's the point. There clearly are a lot of questions that need to be answered about why law enforcement didn't step in earlier in Florida. But there are just as many of these shootings that look like Sandy Hook, where there were no red flags.

And so you can't suppose every single time that you're going to have the ability to intervene before the shooter walks into a school with a military-style assault weapon.

And, second, as much as we all would have liked this school security officer to act differently, once you're in the position of hoping that a security officer or a gym teacher decides to take a pistol to somebody with a military-style assault weapon, public policy has failed.

You should be passing laws to stop that kind of horrific incident from happening in the first place. So, I don't think you can just assume that better law enforcement response is going to quell the epidemic of gun violence in this country.

TAPPER: You represent Sandy Hook.

One of the programs that the parents from Sandy Hook Promise launched encourages schools to pay attention to students who may likely become school shooters. Potential signs include aggressive or violent behavior, a fascination with firearms, self-harm, all of which was exhibited by this shooter.

Shouldn't that Sandy Hook Promise lesson be instituted nationwide? You're calling for more gun laws, but it seems to that if that Sandy Hook, that uncontroversial Sandy Hook Promise program were in every school, maybe this could have been avoided.

MURPHY: So, I think there's this false construct that is created that either you have to work on mental health and identifying shooters ahead of time or you have to focus on strengthening our gun laws.

That's not true. You need to do all of it. Right? We need to be working to identify kids like Adam Lanza earlier and getting them help. You need to beef up our mental health system. And you need to acknowledge that those kids, with that profile, exist in every single country around the world.

It's only here that those kids turn to a weapon of mass destruction in order to deal with their demons inside. So you have to do both.

TAPPER: I understand that you want to do both.

But one of them is very controversial and difficult, and the other one doesn't seem to be very controversial or very difficult. You can fight for both, but why not at the very least work very hard to get the one that probably everybody in the Senate would support instituted nationwide?

MURPHY: Right.

So, it's a good question. And why President Trump submitted a budget to Congress that guts the funding that helps schools try to identify these kids, why he took $800 billion out of Medicaid...

TAPPER: I know, but presidential budgets don't mean anything. You know that.

MURPHY: Yes, understood.

So, right. But just because it's controversial doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it. Absolutely. Let's do the easy parts, but that doesn't mean that we should give up on a quest to try to make sure that kids who are -- have these challenges don't have access to a military-style assault weapon that can kill dozens of people in five minutes, as this guy did in Newtown and in Pakistan.

TAPPER: So, you're going to the White House this week. President Trump has talked about focusing on mental health, improving background checks, strengthening background checks, he says, maybe even increasing the age requirement to 21 for the purchase of all firearms. I know you oppose President Trump. I know that you oppose arming

teachers, as he's proposed should be done in some instances. But can you find common ground here? Can you work with President Trump to at least get -- even if you think they're incremental, at least get that passed?

MURPHY: Absolutely.

And I'm looking forward to going over to the White House. I'm glad for the invitation. I introduced a piece of legislation with John Cornyn, who is an A-plus-NRA-rated senator, that would mildly strengthen our background check system.

So, I'm willing to work across the aisle. And I was encouraged that President Trump said he's in favor of comprehensive background checks. I'm not sure he knows what that means. And that generally means universal background checks, applying them to all commercial sales.

TAPPER: Right.

MURPHY: But he has not backtracked on that tweet since he made it. And he, in fact, retweeted it yesterday.

So, I'm hopeful that the president may be willing to take on the NRA. If he does, there may be a bunch of Republicans who will follow because, as your poll points out, Republicans are realizing that they are badly mispositioned on this issue. And they may pay a big price in the polls if they continue to do nothing.

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, who participated in the town hall, took some very tough and emotional questions from members of the community. He tweeted that a ban of all semiautomatic weapons is a -- quote -- "position well outside the mainstream."

Now, I know that there is this differentiation that gun control supporters believe in. There's assault weapons, and then there's all the other semiautomatic weapons.

But Rubio's point -- and it's not incorrect -- is that just a few changes -- and one is legal and one is not legal. Do you support a ban on all semiautomatic weapons?


MURPHY: So, I support a ban on assault weapons. And assault weapons are defined by state law, not as all semiautomatic weapons.

There are particular characteristics of these assault weapons, things that look like automatic weapons, but are actually semiautomatic, that make these killings much more easily.

For instance, the bullets coming out of these guns, these long rifle, semiautomatic weapons, travel at three times the speed of a handgun. And, as doctors have described post-Parkland, they do something to your insides that a bullet coming out of a revolver doesn't. So, no, I don't think we're talking about a ban on all semiautomatic

weapons. I think we're talking about very tightly defined assault weapons that make the semiautomatic weapons turn into weapons of mass destruction.

TAPPER: Senator Murphy, it's always good to have you on the show. Thanks so much for being here.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot, Jake.

TAPPER: And come back and let us know how your meeting with President Trump goes.

MURPHY: I will.

TAPPER: We would like to hear it.

Let's turn to another story now, a major story, the newly released memo from Democrats countering claims from House Intelligence Committee Republicans that the FBI abused its surveillance powers by targeting one-time Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016.

The Democratic memo released last night argues that the surveillance warrant used to monitor Page was perfectly appropriate. It also reveals the FBI first met with Page back in March 2016, before the controversial Steele dossier on Donald Trump and Russia was written.

The memo also asserts that the Justice Department specifically disclosed to the FISA court that Steele was hired by politically motivated sources, although the memo doesn't mention the Clinton campaign or the DNC by name.

This is a rebuttal to the Republicans' Nunes memo by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, which accused the FBI of not mentioning Democratic ties to the dossier.

After its release, President Trump said that the Republican memo totally vindicated him in the Russia probe. As for the Democratic memo? He says a -- quote -- "total political and legal bust." And he's calling the man who wrote it, Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California -- quote -- "a bad guy."

Joining me now to respond in an exclusive interview is Democratic Congressman from California Adam Schiff.

Congressman, good to see you, as always.

Your new memo from the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released yesterday.

Take a listen to what President Trump said in response during an interview last night.


TRUMP: Well, all you do is, you see this Adam Schiff, he has a meeting, and he leaves the meeting and he calls up reporters, and then all of a sudden they have news.

And you're not supposed to do that. It's probably illegal to do it. He will have a committee meeting, and he will leak all sorts of information. He's a bad guy.

But it's -- certainly, the memo was a nothing.


TAPPER: Your response, sir?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I'm proud to be one of the bad hombres, I guess.

What the president is referring to, I think what really aggravated him is when his son came to testify before our committee, I asked him about conversations he had with the president where the president was on that aircraft and they concocted this false statement about that meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians.

And he refused to answer the questions, claiming attorney-client privilege, which clearly doesn't apply to a situation where neither he nor his father are attorney nor client.

Our position is -- and the Republicans have adopted it as well -- if witnesses refuse to answer questions and make bogus claims of privilege, as he did, as Steve Bannon did, we call them out on it.

Well, the president doesn't like that. But that's not a leak. That's a fact. And it didn't disclose testimony he gave. It disclosed a privilege that he asserted that doesn't apply.

So, I'm not surprised the president doesn't like it. I'm not surprised, frankly, that the White House tried to bury this memo response as long as they could. But it's important for the public to see the facts, that the FBI acted appropriately in seeking a warrant on Carter Page.

They're not part of some deep state, as the president apparently would like the public to believe.

TAPPER: So, your counterpart, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, also took a jab at your memo yesterday at CPAC. Take a listen.


NUNES: What you basically will read in the Democratic memo is that they are advocating that it's OK for the FBI and DOJ to use political dirt paid for by one campaign and use it against the other campaign.


TAPPER: Your response?

SCHIFF: My response is that the information that was used in part in a FISA application came from a trusted source, Christopher Steele, someone who's a respected member of British intelligence.

And it was part of a full package that was presented to the FISA court. And it would have been negligent, frankly, given what the FBI knew about Carter Page, the history that he had, the fact that he had been a target of Russian recruitment even prior to this, the fact that they went out and interviewed him in March, even before Christopher Steele produced any part of the so-called dossier, that they were acting in good faith, and disclosed to the FISA court that those who were funding Christopher Steele's work likely had a political motivation for discrediting the campaign.

TAPPER: Right, but they didn't disclose, though, that it was from the Clinton -- funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

For our listeners who aren't familiar with the FISA court, it's a closed, private, secret process, where the Justice Department and FBI are supposed to present all information they can to get the warrant.


But there isn't a defense attorney there. Wouldn't it have been better, in retrospect, if they had disclosed everything, not just that it was political opponents of the president or of then candidate Donald Trump, but that it was Hillary Clinton's campaign and the DNC? Wouldn't that have been better?

SCHIFF: Well, two points, Jake.

First, it's ironic that the Republicans would attack the FBI for following their procedures, which require that they minimize the names of U.S. persons and U.S. entities that are not the subject of a warrant.

So, even Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are referred to as candidate one and candidate two. They're supposed to mask the identities of people.

The second point, Jake, that it's very important for people to know is, the issue is, what did Christopher Steele know? What did he know that might influence him, that might bias him? Christopher Steele did not who was paying, who the client was who was paying the freight.

And so what the FBI properly reported is what they suspected, what Christopher Steele may have suspected. And they masked it appropriately. That's what they're supposed to do.

And to suggest otherwise, to take issue with, frankly -- and I have been on the committee now for 10 years, Jake -- this is the first time the Republicans have ever taken an issue with any FISA application. I don't think it's a coincidence that it serves the president's interests to do so here. But the FBI acted appropriately.

TAPPER: Would there have been a warrant, a FISA warrant granted without the inclusion of the Steele dossier?

SCHIFF: I think -- and the only testimony we have on this is that it was a part of the complete whole of the application, and all the parts were important.

So, I don't know that I can answer that, except to say I think it was important. I will also say this, though. There's been a lot made about the fact that some of the Steele reporting at the time it was included was uncorroborated.

That's true of almost every warrant application. If search warrant applications and criminal wiretap applications and FISA court applications could only rely on things that were proven and verified, you would have very few of them.

Part of the reason to get the application is seeking proof when you have probable cause that a crime may be committed or that someone may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.

TAPPER: Let me follow up on that, because your memo also says that the FISA application references Steele dossier information about Carter Page being offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton while he was in Moscow in July 2016.

Had that information been independently corroborated by the FBI when they applied for the warrant?

SCHIFF: Jake, I can't go beyond what the FBI said that we can release to the public.

But I can tell you this. The Republicans have taken issue with the fact that we -- or that the FBI included information about George Papadopoulos in the warrant.

That information did disclose that the Russians had communicated with Papadopoulos, someone who occupied the same position, a foreign policy adviser in the Trump campaign, that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton, that they wanted a relationship.

And they previewed the dissemination of that information, which the court could see was taking place in real time at the time that the FBI appeared before the FISA court.

That was directly relevant to whether they were doing the same thing with Carter Page.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman Schiff, thank you so much. Always good to have you.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: The president seems poised to take on the NRA over at least one of his proposals to prevent gun violence but is that a battle he'll really have the stomach for? Is it one he'll win?

That and more of our brand new CNN poll on a shift in attitude towards guns. Coming up next.




TRUMP: They're basically cowards. Innately they're cowards. And if they know bad things happen to them once they get into that school by people that love the children, see, a security guard doesn't know the children, doesn't love the children.

This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn't love the children. Probably doesn't know the children.


TAPPER: Actually the guy standing outside the school that day was a deputy sheriff, a school resource officer had been there for several years, knew the students and you still hear a lot of the students defending him -- President Trump just the other day.

New polling out from CNN just now seemed to show a stunning shift in the public attitudes towards gun. Take a look at those who support stricter gun control laws now compared to after the Las Vegas shooting.

Now 70 percent favor, 27 percent oppose -- 27 percent oppose. After the Las Vegas shooting it was 52 percent favor, 44 percent oppose.

There does seem to be, Senator Santorum, a shift here, and maybe it's a femoral but there does seem to be a shift.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first off, that poll only had 23 percent Republicans in the poll. So --

TAPPER: What percentage should it be?

SANTORUM: Well, certainly more than 23 percent Republicans in this country.

I mean, the numbers should be more reflective of the 35 to 40 percent of it that is Republican in this country and it's obviously higher Democrat. You had a 10-point margin between Republicans and Democrats, an overwhelming number of independents.

TAPPER: So you don't believe the poll? OK.

SANTORUM: I just don't believe -- I just think it's an outlier poll.

But I do believe that there is certainly sentiment (ph) right now. This was a horrific event that released some very deep in the conscience of the country and people are looking for answers. And, you know, in my opinion certainly gun control is a debate that we need to have.

But another debate we need to have is something that's also common in these shootings. The fact that these kids come from broken homes without dads, and that is not something we're talking about and that is the commonality and that is something you talked with Chris Murphy about this. We want to talk about things we can work together on, how about working together to try to see what we can do to get more dads involved in the lives of their kids.


TAPPER: I take your point, it's not irrelevant, but for this shooter his dad had died, it wasn't a broken home. Yes.

SANTORUM: I understand that. But if it's -- over 75 percent --

TAPPER: Right.

SANTORUM: -- of the shooters these school shooters since Columbine did not have dads in the home.


SANTORUM: This is a serious issue and we're not talking about it.

TAPPER: And, governor, according to our new CNN poll, almost two- thirds of American say government and society can take action that will effectively prevent shootings like the one, it's a much higher number than the past, 71 percent say -- I'm sorry -- 64 percent say, government and society can take action to prevent another mass shooting.

You can see the numbers, and again Senator Santorum is skeptic of this poll --


TAPPER: -- but the numbers after previous shootings Vegas, Orlando, Newtown, Charleston, Tucson, much lower.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, the poll is consistent with the Quinnipiac poll that was earlier this week, another network did a different poll that's consistent with it. This is the trend. Why is this? It's because these kids have injected steel into the spine of America.

These kids have made Donald Trump frankly look like he's cowering behind the NRA. If he does something, it will be such an amazing thing for him and for the country.

People are afraid. This poll demonstrates that America is afraid. We need to make America safe again.

The fact that 20 -- we are 25 times more likely to be killed in this country by a gun than in all the other industrialized nation tells you, we have a problem and these kids have stiffened our spines.

TAPPER: Bryan, how much do you think President Trump is willing to actually support something that that NRA opposes? The NRA was an incredibly close supporter of his, supported him more than, I think, they supported any other previous presidential candidate. He loves loyalty. BRYAN LANZA, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: Yes.

TAPPER: That's important to him.

NRA says we don't want to raise the age limit for purchase of semiautomatic weapons to 21, we want to keep it at 18. He had previously said he wanted it to go up to 21 -- the president.

Will he fight that?

LANZA: You know, I would say if you look at the president his entire life he's always been his own man. You know, people are going to buy into what his mission is. So it's (ph) glad that the NRA has been a supporter in the past. I'm sure they're going to continue to be because their overall views align with a lot of things.

But the president has made it a priority do something on this issue. He has released -- he has released some suggestions, those suggestions have now been incorporated by Governor Scott in Florida. And I think you see some activism going on on the president on this issue.

It's a horrific issue. These kids -- you can't explain what these kids are going to suffer going forward and the effects. And I think when you look at kids, you know, sort of suffering, when you look at the kids that were gassed in Syria, the president has this reaction that sort of resets a lot of things for him.

We do have an opportunity to sort to move the age limit up to 21. He has to make the argument, he's sort of leaning in, something that a previous Republican president has never done. I think that's a good step.

TAPPER: Where do you think the debate is going to go here?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: Well, I hope that the debate deals with all of the issue.

Look, I think when you're dealing with an epidemic as kids being literally killed, hunted down in their schools, you have to do everything humanly possible to stop that. And what Donald Trump is trying to do, he's trying to deal with the shooter and it's fine, great, mental health is important to deal with, absolutely.

Raising the age limit is important, absolutely. But let's not forget in Vegas the guy was 64 years old. In Orlando that kid was 29 years old. So you just can't deal with half of the problem, you have to deal with the other half which is universal background check which is actually dealing with why do we have weapons of war in the streets of the U.S.?

That is just not -- should not be happening.

TAPPER: As the president's handling of the gun issue comes under a microscope, our new CNN poll they found that his approval rate is back down to 35 percent. February 35 percent, back in January it was 40 percent, December 35 percent.

I know you're skeptic of the poll.

LANZA: Two skeptics (ph).

TAPPER: Two skeptics of the poll.

Do you think that if he bucks the NRA and takes a more centrist position on guns that actually might help him?

SANTORUM: I mean, I understand the focus on the NRA. The NRA represents a huge swath of America that has concerns --


TAPPER: Five million supporters --

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, 5 million --

TAPPER: Five million members.

SANTORUM: Yes, but lots of other people. By the way, which I am one of and very proud of the fact.

And the reality is, none of these gun control measures have ever proven to be -- and Chris Murphy's out here talking about, you know, how rifles do more damage than pistols. We're not talking about rifles and pistols, you're talking about hunting rifles and assault weapons. They're the same.

One has a -- one has a grip sock and that makes it an assault weapon. This is ridiculous. Functionally these are the same weapons.

The idea that we're going to ban these is never going to happen and the idea that we're even focused on this when there are so many other issues that are much more relevant to the systemic problem we have in this country of the breakdown of the family and father --


TAPPER: Governor, last word.

GRANHOLM: Three people -- three people.

SANTORUM: -- and mental health issue and school security.

GRANHOLM: Three people since this show has started have died as a result of gun violence. The availability and accessibility of guns in this country say massive problem. We are less than --

SANTORUM: So what do you mean? Are you going to take them away?


SANTORUM: So what are you going to do?

GRANHOLM: Stop saying that. Let's start --

SANTORUM: Well, there's 300 --


GRANHOLM: -- let's start with banning the kinds of rifles that destroy people --

SANTORUM: Rifles are used in --

GRANHOLM: -- the velocity of which --

SANTORUM: -- one percent of all crimes in this country.



TAPPER: We're not going to -- we're not going to settle it and solve it right now.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.