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tv   CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow  CNN  February 20, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PST

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(phone) maddie... you have everything you need right inside you. 9 out of 10 u.s. olympians grew up drinking milk. it's got natural protein and balanced nutrition to help your kids grow strong and milk life. hello everyone. john berman here. it's obama's fault. that's what the president is saying this morning. he says a version of that almost every morning. but this morning it concerns russia and the attempt to disrupt the 2016 election. in his series of statements, president trump blamed president obama for allowing the russian meddling to happen. he blamed obama for saying it wasn't happening, and then blamed democrats for saying that it did happen. now, you might be forgetting and getting lost in the logical
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gymnastics. while it is true that even democrats question obama's response, president trump is barely acknowledging the meddling happened at all and as far as we know, has done next to nothing to keep it from happening again. these are a few of the issues that could arise in a jam packed white house briefing. the first time for them to respond to a dizzying number of developments from the school shooting in florida, indictments against russians to trying to help get drkt elected, security clearances in the white house, new reports of payouts , i'm e sure i'm leaving something out. there's also exclusive cnn reporting the special counsel has been asking questions about the financial dealings of senior adviser, the president's son-in-law, jared kushner. much, much more on that in a minute. first, we begin with cnn's abby phillip at the white house today where it will be interesting to see how the white house responds to all of these things, abby.
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>> reporter: that's right, john. a big day for meeting with the press for sarah huckabee sanders as the public is looking for answers to a lot of questions about where the white house and the president stands on big issues. the most glaring at this moment is the parkland tragedy last week, and the national conversation about guns that has been sparked by the children victims of that tragedy. the white house and the president signaled some openness to gun control. there are some questions about whether president trump, how far he's willing to go and how much he's willing to lead on this issue. as you just mentioned, a slew of issues on the agenda, unanswered questions including about the reaction to these 13 indictments of russian nationals announced last week, the questions about whether the president's aides and friends paid off women who allegedly had affairs with him before he was president and many, many other things on the president's agenda today. we will see him at least once
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during an event he's going to have about honoring public service officials with the medal of valor, he'll also have a couple of other meetings with his cabinet, with defense secretary james mattis and also steve mnuchin, the treasury secretary. also on social media, the president has been tweeting quite a bit this morning and last night. it's the tweet last night directed admt mitt romney runni for senate in utah raising some eyebrows. the president full tloetdly endorsed romney in that message. it's romney's acceptance of his endorsement that's making some people look twice at social media. romney was one a very strong critic of president trump's. now it seems both men are willing to put that aside for this senate race. the president wanting to weigh in early and often on this race as republicans seek to hold on to the senate? the 2018 midterms. >> maybe it's 2012 nostalgia, tweeting about obama and romney
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within the same 24 hours. abby phillip, thanks so much. cnn exclusive reporting on the special counsel and jared kushner. cnn's cara skin nell. >> they're asking questions about jared kushner's business dealings during the presidential transition. we're told by final familiar with the investigation that mueller's lawyers are asking about discussions kushner had with potential chinese and qatari investors. this is the first indication that mueller wants to know about contacts the president had with foreigners outside of rush y. it happened outside the building that kushner's company owns. the financing is in debt, behind a billion dollars. we're told the special counsel hasn't asked the kushner companies for information and not asked for interviews with other executives from the curber?
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companies. a spokesman for the special counsel has declined to comment. we have a statement from kushner's attorney abby lowell said another an none nous source with questionable motives. there has not been a single question asked or documents sought on the 666 build degree or kushner company deals. we have multiple sources for this story who told us these questions were being asked. kushner himself may not have been quizzed on the company's dealings. but multiple people familiar with mueller's probe told us investigators have been exploring these questions in interview with people over the past two months. >> we'll get to the denials in a moment. what are the details of the meetings themselves? >> one meeting involves a chinese insurance company that's a big conglomerate. "the new york times" reported where kurker in and kushner
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companies met with them one week after the election and discussed financing for 666 fifth avenue. no financing was reached and no deal was struck. another deal we know mueller's team is exploring is a meeting with a prom nents qatari investor. the intercept reported on that meeting. as far as we know, that deal ever happened. those talks stalled as well. >> any sense of what the special counsel's team may be trying to figure out in asking these questions? >> it's tricky. we know they're asking witnesses about this. it's not clear why they're asking these questions. it could be they want to check the box and determine there's no impropriety with these conversations. it's also true kushner was the same person dealing with foreign contacts during the transition. also wearing a hat as a businessman leading his family's business. i think that's an area they are digging into to explore to see if there's anything there. >> kara scannell, thanks for being with us. appreciate it.
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joining me former federal prosecutor, writer for "the new yorker" jeffrey toobin. fill-in-the-blank for me if you will. the most ig is any can't aspect of this is blank? >> a possible major conflict of interest here on the part of jared kushner. we are very far from asserting any crime took place. this is the reason why senior government officials don't simultaneously have major business interests. jared kushner and the white house has been extremely involved in making china policy and making policy regarding saudi arabia. here we have a situation where at least potentially he has been negotiating with chinese companies and qatari companies -- qatar is now involved in a major dispute with saudi arabia about his own personal business interest. his business is in a great deal of trouble because the 666 fifth avenue building is in enormous
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debt and they need more financing. if he's simultaneously going to qatari companies, state owned, chinese companies very much affiliated with the chinese government and negotiating american policies in those two areas, i think the potential for conflict is obvious. >> way back last summer in an interview with "the new york times" president trump suggested investigating his finances or his family's finances would cross a line. the word he used is violation. he doesn't get to decide that, does he, jeff? >> no, he doesn't. the jurisdiction rosenstein last may is very broad. it's russian collusion and anything related. it seems as written that it's mueller who gets to decide what's related or not. keep in mind, though, that donald trump always has in his pocket the possibility of
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directing the justice department to fire mueller. but in terms of day-to-day activities, it's up to mueller what he investigates. >> rod rosenstein, when he appointed robert mueller specifically said that could investigate russia but also any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation. if this arose during the investigation, fair game, at least according to rod rosenstein. let's talk about the abby lowell denier. abbe lowell who defended a whole lot of very powerful people. o there has not been a single question asked or document sought on the 666 building or kushner company deals. this is a pretty broad denial. you would think the special counsel would be asking questions here if it were something he was seriously interested in. >> absolutely. i think it's very much worth paying attention to, what abbe
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lowell said. it is also true that these investigations don't evolve immediately and you certainly -- if you are investigating a person, he's the last person you ask, he's not the first person you ask. it's also true, if mueller's people have not sought documents related to the 666 transaction, and i'm sure there are thousands, if not millions of documents related, that does suggest this is not a focus for mueller. one thing i think we have all learned is that it is very difficult to predict where robert mueller is going. last friday's indictment was certainly a surprise to me, and i think to most people who tried to follow the investigation. so i'm afraid mueller has been very successful in keeping us all at bay knowing about what precisely he's doing. >> very quickly, jeffrey toobin. donald trump has said he's had very minimal business interest
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in russia. you have a fascinating piece in "the new yorker" that looks into just what donald trump tried to do over the years in russia and deals specifically with the miss universe pageant. what did you find? >> one of the things that's most extraordinary is his interest in russia go back to the days of the soef yaet union. he went there in 1987 trying to make a deal when the communists were in charge. if you want to talk about collusion, the single most obvious example of collusion so far, the june 2016 meeting in trump tower, with jared kushner, paul manafort, donald trump jr. was directly set up because of connections that donald trump made during the miss universe contest in 2013. that is the most direct evidence of collusion that has been produced so far. it goes to miss universe. miss universe is a bizarre story in and of itself.
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donald trump personally chose the finalists, not the judges. how about that for a scoop? >> as they often say, all roads lead to miss universe. jeffrey toobin, thanks so much. joining me now josh dawsey from the post, caitlin huey-burns from realclearpolitics. josh, you cover the white house, watch them like a hawk. when things delve into the family realm, when you start asking questions about jared kushner, when reports start to arise that the special counsel might be focused on that, typically what's the response to the white house? do things get more combustible as you get closer to the center of the family? >> jared kushner and his family mount a vociferous defense. you read abbe's statement on air, and as they have a right to. what we see is a bit of a
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conflagration. john kelly put out a memo saying folks without permanent security clearances could not work in the white house. jared kushner has not been able to get clearance. you're seeing intensifying focus from bob mueller in recent weeks with the 13 indictments. i certainly do not see the limelight going away from kushner any time soon. i think we have a few interesting weeks ahead. >> i've got say, caitlin, abbe lowell giving public statements when it comes to security clearance issue, also. i think that's bizarre. i understand where these issues intersect, per se, but when you're having a private defense attorney speak for a white house employee -- the attorney for jared kushner says it will not affect mr. kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he's been
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assigned by the president. >> right. having that statement suggests it is interfering. jared kushner has an extensive portfolio. we or not clear exactly what he has been doing. the background checks and security clearances have been one issue. this would be another. the interesting thing is when it comes to the family, we have seen donald trump respond in realtime to the entire russia investigation. we saw that, of course, over the weekend. i'll be interested to see what his response is to something like this, whether he thinks it is narrowing in. >> mary katharine ham, i think you're sort of the arbiter of the swamp. >> i don't know if that's a complement. >> there's a swampiness issue. if jared kushner is having meetings that deal with his businesses during the transition, he's got this private defense attorney. are we now in full swamp mode. >> that's one of the ironies of
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the trump administration, there was always this element. it's a slightly different kind of swamp, slightly different kind of businessman association with the government. none of their stuff has ever been separate. there is no line between the family business and the presidency. that's always been of issue. it's unfortunate for them that the building address is 666, not a great look. but this lack of separation has always been an ethical issue. we will find out if there's anything really here. we're where we always are, it may be something, but may be nothing. having that line drawn is something they've been incapable of doing. >> josh dawsey, we're getting some new-ish from president trump over the last 24 hours. president trump saying this is obama's fault when it comes to russia. by the way, you can hear plenty of people in the clinton campaign claim that president obama didn't do enough to stop russia. democrats are saying it, too. it's interesting to hear it now from president trump who again
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is barely, barely acknowledged that russia meddled in the election at all. really, as far as we know, hasn't taken a single meeting to stop it from happening again. >> that's the irony of this. the president continues to litigate the 2016 election and what obama did and what it matters to him. no vociferous condemnation of the russian meddling by this president. we've seen no task force, no punitive measures taken in recent days after these indictments. we've seen no harsh rebuke of the russians. most of his response to this has been to defend himself, to say they were not part of my win. i went on my own. i was a great candidate, hillary clinton was not. we've not seen the outrage you might expect or umbrage from a president with a united states attacked by russia as bob mueller's team alleges. the question is why not? i think a lot of trump's folks will tell you, he doesn't want
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to see say that russia did anything to help him. even his allies, h.r. mcmaster saying there's evidence that's incontrovertible. even people in administration saying you need to do something about this, this is problematic. >> the why not certainly fascinating. thomas friedman wrote a column for "the new york times," the most widely shared thomas friedman column everywhere he raises the other possibility on why the president hasn't done much. let me read you a quote. trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself or he's criminally incompetent to be commander-in-chief. it's possible yet to say which explanation and first behave wror is true, but it seems hikely likely one of these scenarios explains his refusal to respond to russia's direct attack on our system. that's why maybe the president is responding today i've been ruch tough
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much tougher on russia than obama has. >> look, i think he should respond on the russia stuff. i think he's defensive because he thinks this speaks to his legitimacy as president. he has a point when we talk about some of democrats' reaction on this. the best way to troll obama would be to be tough on russia and mention over and over again that obama was president -- the '80s called and wants foreign policy back. you can take a couple swipes at him that would be legit but also do the right thing on russia, combine those two into a beautiful trumpian combo. >> if you saw some of the other tweets this morning, the president has said again that the democrats have been using the russia investigation as a way to explain their loss which completely negates anything he's trying to make -- >> obama let it happen but it's a hoax. it's hard to mesh those two. mary katharine ham says incompetent until proven nefarious. stick around, if you will.
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first, they mourn, then they march. next hour parkland students attend the funerals of two classmates before boarding buses to the state capitol demanding stricter gun control laws. a majority of the country agrees with them. a new poll says more than 50% of americans don't think the government is doing enough to prevent mass shootings. what will lawmakers do about it? you can meet someone named donald trump if you're willing to shell out money for a condo in india. paying for access is one reason why activists are worried about donald trump jr.'s trip overseas. and the wolf huffed and puffed... like you do sometimes, grandpa? well, when you have copd, it can be hard to breathe. it can be hard to get air out, which can make it hard to get air in.
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intrtechnology withnema. incredible color, sound and streaming. just as the creators intended. ♪ up to 40% off at dell.com ♪ we do have breaking news in the russia investigation. we are just getting word of new charges from special counsel robert mueller, charges for an individual lying to the special counsel during the investigation. cnn's jessica schneider has the details. who and what are we talking about here, jessica?
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>> reporter: john, this is yet another indictment from the special counsel. as we're reading this, this is just coming to us, it does seem toob bit of a tangential indictment here. this is an indictment against an attorney for the prominent law firm scatton arps. it's two pages long and involves allegations that this attorney lied to the special counsel, in particular lied to the special counsel about his interactions with rick gates back in august and september of 2016 and also the allegations that he lied about communications and didn't turn over everything he needed to turn over the to special counsel. again, somewhat of a minor and tangential indictment here. but this further speaks to the wide ranging inquiry that this special counsel has given in the past several months. we know a previous guilty plea involved george papadopoulos
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because of false statements he made to the special counsel's team. this is yet one more indictment in this case, the latest being handed down by robert mueller's team here. this actually relates to -- scaten arps was dispatched by paul manafort back in 2012. he did the report for the ukrainian government of viktor yanukovych and worked to justify the jailing of one of yanukovych's opponents in ukraine. again, this is a wide-ranging reach by the special counsel involving paul manafort's work in ukraine. that was the initial indictment back in october. today this latest indictment against a lawyer for lying to the special counsel's office in relation to his communications with rick gates -- of course, rick gates, the deputy combine manager for the trump campaign and also indicted for lying about some of the communications he may have withheld from the
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special counsel. this all bit by bit, the special counsel handing down these environments, somehow becoming more of a rapid success. we saw the indictment on friday of the 13 russian nationals and now yet another indictment. so we are seeing a lot of activity in the special counsel's case, today just the latest in this indictment for false statements against an attorney at the prominent law firm scatten arps. >> joined by cnn chief legal analyst, jeffrey toobin. jessica points out correctly this is a figure with connection to rick gates. this is something that exists seemingly in that paul manafort world, rick gates world when you're dealing with money laundering charges, those crimes allegedly taking place before the presidential campaign itself. this individual lying about these conversations very much during the presidential
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campaign. what does that tell you? >> it tells you don't mess with robert mueller. lots of people come in and don't tell the full truth and prosecutors start working with them. they say, come on, you've got to tell us the full story. here it looks like, according the mueller's office, this associate with skadden arps lied. this relates to the ukraine part of the investigation. greg craig, the former white house counsel under president obama led an investigation in the ukraine about viktor yanukovych who was the president there, they prepared a report, that has been subject of some controversy, but it also is
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something that mueller was looking into it because it connects to manafort. it connects to gates. according to mueller, this lawyer made a false statement in the course of the investigation. if i can just say one thing that i think we need to say out of fairness, this appears to have absolutely nothing to do with donald trump, with the white house, with collusion. it appears to be a very discreet indictment. >> as far as we know right now. we keep on learning new and more things about this. one aspect of this that is interesting, jeffrey, we know from reporting from the los angeles times and cnn that rick gates could be very close to a plea deal. i mean very close. the reason jessica is at the courthouse is everyone thinks it could happen in the next few days, including today. as part of this, rick gates got to be queen for a day, we've been told, with the special counsel's team, where they got to ask him all kinds of questions where gates himself wouldn't be in any legal
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jeopardy here. one might think that's how they found out or that's how they put a button on the fact that this new individual alex van ders juan lied to them. >> that's certainly possible. whenever you see an indictment as we did several months ago with paul manafort and rick gates, where one person is very prominent and the other person is much less prominent, the possibilities of a plea deal for the less prominent person are always great. one thing about federal courts people need to understand, judges reward cooperators a great deal. if you cooperate and testify against others, you can reduce your sentence tremendously. judges give incredible deals to people who cooperate. many people may remember sammy the bull gravano who cooperated
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against john gotti who admitted to 15 murders and only got a few years in prison. rick gates certainly had a big incentive. >> don't go anywhere, cancel your plans for the day. we might need you in a little bit. i want to get to christine romans at the start of trading for the opening bell. what are you seeing? >> i'm seeing a market that looks like it will fall a little bit. last week was the best week in years for some of the stock averages, bouncing back after the worst week in years today looks like a downside, triple digits for the dow, opening bell about 15 seconds ago. we'll have more in the next half hour. let'sfist word that comes to mind when you think of low-cost futures trading.
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it's a drone! i know. find your phone easily with the xfinity voice remote. one more way comcast is working to fit into your life, not the other way around. the breaking news this morning, a new surprise from special counsel robert mueller. this is a new indictment against a man named alex van der zwaan. i'm joined by cnn's shimon prokupecz, also here jeffrey toobin, katherine ham and caitlin huey-burns. place this, shimon, into the larger investigation. >> as you said, we're kind of surprised by this. it's not exactly clear how he's placed in the larger investigation. he's certainly connected to paul manafort. "the new york times" back in september of last year did a
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story about him, and in it they basically describe how the justice department of justice and special counsel were looking at him. it has to do with some work that he was hired for to do for paul manafort, it says he arranged for this law firm, the scat den arps, this prominent law firm in new york that he worked for to draft a report that was used to essentially jail a political rival of ukrainian viktor yanukovych. as we know and have done reporting on this, manafort had done work for yanukovych and it appears he hired this firm to do some work for him in justifying the jalg of yanukovych's political rival. it's kind of interesting i guess that the special counsel had started to look into this, that they were asking questions about this, about the payments for this work. it appears, at least according
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to the charges have that haven't filed, the attorney that has been charged there, alex van der zwaan, lied to the special counsel. he also did not turn over e-mails they had asked for. and now he's expected to plead guilty this afternoon. >> jeffrey toobin back with us again. you've had a chance to look at some of the indictment here. the indictment says he lied with the special counsel, also suggested he didn't turn over e-mails or destroyed e-mails around the time frame of the fall of 2016. >> i still haven't seen the actual court papers. i'm in touch with our colleagues who are there. this appears to be an information, not an indictment. the difference there is when there's an information filed, that means the person is going to plead guilty. that means the person is waiving indictment, is admitting that -- is going to admit the conduct, not challenge it. so this is not a new case that's
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going to go to trial. this is apparently an admission by this lawyer that he misled or lied to the investigators which is exactly the same thing that happened with george papadopoulos. george papadopoulos waived indictment, agreed to not have his case go before the grand jury and agreed to plead guilty for lying to the fbi. this appears to be different in the sense that it's lying to the mueller investigations directly, but it's the same crime and it's a very serious thing, especially for a lawyer. >> it says an information as you say, so thank you for that correction. mary katharine ham, your reaction to this, this shows the scope of what the special counsel is doing. >> this is tangential. the work predates the campaign. the conversation is during the campaign. it all gets mixed up here. i think the theme you see
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running through here and something i long thought about is the people in the trump orbit are not particularly disciplined with the truth. they get sloppy. they lie and when you're in an investigation like this, and we're talking to several different people and there are legal consequences for whether you're saying consistent things, they're running into this problem over and over again. >> we don't even know if alex van der zwaan had anything to do with the trump campaign. the time frame here is the campaign. caitlyn huey-burns, to you robert mueller is producing here. irt may be that the investigation started someplace else. every day that passes there are new indictments, new investigations, new charges here. >> what's interesting to me is how close to the vest the mueller team has played all this. this is a surprising information, indictment. this person was not on anybody's
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radar. it kind of goes to show that who knows who he is talking to. the fact that gates is reportedly cooperating with mueller, there are lots of questions about, of course, what that means for manafort and whether that's in a separate silo, but also, who knows what those conversations are like? i think this information that came out today just underscores the point that we don't know what's coming next. >> shimon, you wanted to make one pour point? >> yeah, john. we've done a lot of reporting on paul manafort. this appears to be solely related at this point to paul manafort. it would seem a stronger case is being built against paul manafort perhaps, perhaps to get him to eventually cooperate. i think that's an important point to make here. we've been focusing a lot on rick gates who also perhaps may cooperate. another piece that could perhaps cause paul manafort to cooperate. it seems that this is more towards a building block to get to paul manafort.
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>> shimon, jeffrey, mary katherine, caitlin huey-burns, thank you. in the meantime, survivors turned activists. bus loads of students in florida heading to capitol hill to rally for gun control. we're there live. if yor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change.
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this morning the students of marjory stoneman douglas high school working to turn tragedy into advocacy. first they'll pay respects at funerals for three classmates. about 100 students and sham roanes will drive nearly 500 miles to the state capitol in tallahassee. tomorrow they hope to meet face-to-face with lawmakers to talk to them about gun control. joining me, cnn's rosa flores in parkland, florida. rosa, what are you seeing there tod today? >> reporter: john, good morning. turning pain into action. that's exactly what we're seeing
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as dozen of students who are still mourning the deaths of 17 fellow classmates and teachers are headed towards tallahassee. they plan to demand that lawmakers there listen to their voices. they want the type and style of weapon that was used here to kill 17 people to be banned from this state, and they don't plan to take no for an answer from lawmakers. they plan to challenge lawmakers who might think or believe they know more about gun control because they're older than these students who literally saw death face-to-face. these students don't plan to stop. they don't plan on just coming back to their hometown after this. they plan to continue, more plans to head to washington later next month as well. but, as i mentioned, the mourning here still continues. there are three more fun rales and two visitations today here.
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as you think about what this community is going through, john, you've got to think that all of that pain that these students are feeling and that emotion, they're packaging it up and sending it to tallahassee to make sure that no other community has to go through this again. >> also learning new details, rosa, about the shooter's past. this from the florida department of children and families? >> reporter: we are. this is a report that was released by dcf, as you mentioned, department of children and families. it's about a call they received in 2016 regarding the suspect, about the suspect cutting his arms on snapchat after breaking off with his girlfriend. now, they sent someone to his home and they initially thought that perhaps his caregiver, his mother was perhaps abusing him. so they started investigating. they found out he had intentions to purchase a gun.
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they also found out that he wrote down hate speech and a nazi symbol on his book bag. john, again, these are just other clues that investigators are using to piece the puzzle and also to determine motive here, figure out what happened and why. >> rosa flores in parkland, thanks very much. join cnn tomorrow night, a special live town hall with students and parents from marjory stoneman douglas high school as they demand action to end violence. jake tapper will moderate the discussion at 9:00 eastern, only on cnn. so donald trump jr. wining and dining buyers who have paid big bucks for trump branded condos in india. should this raise a red flag about possible ethical issues? stick around. -here comes the rain.
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this morning, donald trump jr. is in india to promote trump branded condos in two cities there. this is a trip raising all sorts of questions, some condos cost up to $1.6 million. trump jr. is attending two dinners for people who already prebooked spots in those buildings.
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developers promoted these dinners with full page, front page ads this weekend in two of india's biggest newspapers, one blared, trump has arrived, have you? joining us now, walter schwab, the former director of the united states office of government ethics, now senior director of ethics for the campaign legal center. walter, this is a full on marketing blitz here. we see the newspaper ads, meet and greet, public speaking. what message does this send? >> it sends the message that the presidency and the united states is for sale. this is the son of the american president, marketing properties, branded with the president's name, and the beneficiary of this is going to be the president because he owns the business that the son over there is running. so you could not have anything more intertwined with the presidency. this is trading on the name of the president. the ads didn't say don jr.'s coming to india. they said trump is here in
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india. and that's exactly the point they're trying to sell is you buy a property here, and you can get time, whether you're a foreign national or a foreign government, to bend the ear of the president's son. and, of course, they have got to keep these buyers happy because if they don't sell enough of these, people aren't going to keep licensing trump's name, and so what's to keep somebody from asking don jr. to pass a message to donald trump on a policy issue a foreign government cares about. and the answer is absolutely nothing. >> so, walter, i can see donald trump jr., eric trump for that matter, saying, hey, look, i don't work for this white house. i'm going over there for my business. why can't i be allowed to do my business? >> well, in fact, the rules, even if trump was a regular official, would not necessarily cover what any relative, even a child does. but let's remember that this is the president's business. this isn't a separate business
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that don jr. is involved in. this is the president's own business. so he's over there, asking people to spend money on properties that are branded with the president's own name. and the line gets a little blurry because he's been asked to speak at a business conference there at which the prime minister of india is speaking on a topic of foreign policy. and, of course, that's just absurd because nobody thinks of don jr. as a foreign policy expert. but what it does is it adds gra gravitas to his mission over there and connects it more closely in the minds of the american people to the president. to remind them, buy these properties because this is a guy who is connected to the white house. >> it sounds as if in your mind one of the big problems was the way the president chose to deal and not deal with divesting himself from his business when he became president. >> yeah. this all goes back to the original sin of not divesting his properties.
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because we wouldn't be in this situation and we wouldn't have nearly the same concerns here in america if his son wasn't over there hawking his properties. if he had sold them, even if he sold them to family members, the president of the united states wouldn't stand to profit from this adventure over in india. >> any of this actually legal, walter, or just in the realm of the swamp and ethical questions? >> well, it is technically legal only because there aren't laws covering the president. it is the same idea that the president was able to get away with keeping his properties because there aren't laws covering him. let's remember the reason there aren't laws covering him is because nobody thought a president would do this kind of thing. president george h.w. bush, the senior bush, sent a letter to his family asking them to avoid even the appearance of trading on the presidency. and that sort of was the model that modern american presidents have always followed, ask their
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families to try to start avoiding entanglements that would suggest they're involved. this isn't just the appearance of impropriety. this is actually over there haubihaub i hawking the president's properties. you can't get more direct than that. >> walter schwab, thank you for being with us. appreciate it. breaking news, new charges from the special counsel robert mueller in the russia investigation. stand by for new details just ahead. we use our phones and computers the same way these days.
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it's a new kind of network designed to save you money. call, visit, or go to xfnitymobile.com. this is cnn breaking news. >> good morning, everyone. i'm john berman. there is breaking news in the russia investigation. new charges from the special counsel robert mueller. this time, charges on a man named alex vanderswan charged with lying to investigators, specifically about his contacts with former trump campaign official rick gates and someone named person a. vanderswan expected to plead guilty in federal court this afternoon. this came as a big surprise this morning. jessica schneider outside the courthouse with more. what have you

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