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Trump to Announce Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum; Putin Unveils New "Invincible" Missile System; Marco Rubio Outlines His Plan to Prevent School Shootings; Wasserman Schultz Talks Republican Plan to Arm Teachers. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 1, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:15] JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of this still in flux. It is unclear why the president did want to make this sudden announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs or to at least speed up that process. But, of course, we know that in the last couple of days there have been a string of negative headlines that have impacted this White House. And clearly the president was looking to change that message and to pivot back to his agenda. Trade issues, of course, at the center of all of that -- Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Jeremy Diamond, with the latest for us there. Thank you.

Still to come, a new threat from Russia. Vladimir Putin today unveiling a nuclear missile he says is invincible. Saying it's a direct response to U.S. policy. Now the United States is responding. That's next.


[11:34:58] HILL: Breaking news, a U.S. official telling CNN there is considerable doubt over Vladimir Putin's claim that Russia has an invincible new missile. Earlier this morning, the Russian president unveiling a new missile system in Moscow's version of the State of the Union address. He showed off the new missile technology that included this demo on how he says it could dodge NATO defenses.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, is live in Moscow.

So what else do we know about this, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Vladimir Putin was really talking up these new strategic missile defenses and weapons that they have say they have developed, including a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which can strike at extremely long range. He showed videos of that as well taking place. And hypersonic weapon, which can fly at 20 times the speed of sound and would be able to defeat the U.S. missile defense shield as well as other missiles that were very maneuverable and could also circumvent the U.S. missile defense shield. He also spoke about a new underwater drone that Russia was developing that could carry a nuclear payload. That is something from a military strategist and experts in the United States to fret about. But I think what we have to remember, Erica, is that all this was said

in the context of a presidential election here in Russia, in 17 days. Putin will go to the polls and hope to be re-elected. He almost certainly will be. But he wants to put across this message that he's a strong political leader who has strong backing for the military, much as U.S. President Donald Trump does. And so, yes, while this was speaking to his adversaries in the West and the United States, he was also speaking to his domestic audience -- Erica?

HILL: Matthew Chance, with the latest for us from Moscow. Thank you.

I want to bring in CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, who was senior advisor to the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

I know you said earlier today that this was really a speech for an audience of one, the man who lives in the White House right now, President Trump. What is the message? Is this a threat from Vladimir Putin?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I do think Vladimir Putin was speaking to one audience, and it wasn't anyone in Russia. It was Donald Trump. His "my missile is bigger than yours" rhetoric was a purposeful attempt to get the president riled up. Vladimir Putin doesn't need to win any votes. He has what we're calling an election in 17 days. He's completely rigged the system. To me, this wasn't about a domestic audience. He was trying to get the president distracted from anything that Trump may be doing to hold Russia accountable for their ongoing attack on the United States.

HILL: And in terms of that attack, we know the U.S. is under attack, the election system, obviously, as we heard from intelligence officials. We also heard from Mike Rogers earlier this week that the president has not given him the authority to retaliate in that instance. And this president has been reluctant to take action against Russia, even with a direct prompt. Is there reason to believe this is any different?

VINOGRAD: We have to consider them as linked. The president's inaction on Russia's ongoing attack on the United States makes Vladimir Putin think, why wouldn't I say all this? Why wouldn't I show that I can violate treaties and laws and talk about strategic attacks all around the world? Vladimir Putin has no reason to feel constrained in any way. And I think that we're going to see more inflammatory rhetoric coming after this election and after Putin has an even broader mandate to continue his agenda.

HILL: All right. Sam, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Still ahead, while the gun control debate roiled over Washington, Republican lawmakers in Florida are quickly making moves to train teachers to carry guns. We'll get reaction from Democratic Florida Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:43:02] HILL: Breaking news, Senator Marco Rubio speaking on the Senate floor about his plans to prevent another Parkland. Let's listen in.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: -- and will continue. But I also know that there is widespread support and agreement that we must act now, as soon as possible, to do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like Parkland from happening anywhere else ever again. That is a consensus position. No matter where you fall on this debate, no matter how far or how restricted restrictions on gun sales in America should be, no matter what your views are on that, I don't know of anyone who is in favor of school shootings, and I don't know of anyone who is in favor of seeing another one happen. There is common ground in that regard.

And what I tried to do over the last couple of weeks is to undertake efforts to determine what changes in federal law not only could have prevented this attack but could prevent future ones. In that vein, I've met with state and federal law enforcement investigators, involved not just in this case, but in gun laws in general. I met with students and with teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including two teachers that were injured in the attack.

And I met with school board administrators, with the community at large, including an appearance last week at a nationally televised town hall. And I've been in constant contact with several of the parents of victims who lost their lives. And I've also spoken to experts in firearm sales, spoken to a number of federally licensed firearm dealers that talk to you about some of the frustrations they have with our existing law and their inability to address people that ultimately turn out to be individuals who should not own any gun of any kind.

[11:44:50] And so based on these meetings, based on all of this input, based on all of the other research that is out there leading to this, the first thing I want to say, I actually believe this attack could have and should have been prevented if current law had been fully enforced. This killer was a well-known danger to the school district, he was a well-known danger to the Broward sheriff's office, he was a well-known danger to his neighborhood.

He was also the subject of two separate and specific warnings to law enforcement agencies, a call to the Broward sheriff's office last November, a call to an FBI hot line in January. In essence, we are always telling people if you "see something, say something." People saw something. And people said something. And other people saw it as well over a course of time. And yet, somehow, this deranged and violent individual was able to pass a background check, and purchase not one, but 10 separate firearms. And this deranged and violent individual was able to walk right into a school, a few minutes before dismissal, and take the lives of 17 innocent Floridians.

This is tragedy is the result of a massive, multi-systemic failure. A failure involving federal agencies, state agencies, local authorities, who all failed to both identify the threat that he posed and coordinate a response to stop him before he took action. And it is this failure which I hope we will focus on by addressing the shortcomings and vulnerabilities in our current laws and in our current policies. We may still have a debate on the broader issues of regulating gun sales. But irrespective of that debate, we still must and should do this.

So today I wanted to come here for a few minutes and announce a comprehensive plan, not a simple bill you vote on and move on, but a series of measures that I believe could prevent attacks before they happen. And that also helps schools protect their students and their teachers. I believe these ideas should all enjoy bipartisan support and prevent the next possible mass shooting. I outline these, not just because they work, but I believe we can get the votes to pass them. Sixty votes in the Senate, majority in the House and the signature of a president, that's what it takes to turn an idea into a law. And these ideas that I'm about to outline both work and I believe could enjoy that widespread support.

One of the things we've learned is that our schools are woefully unprepared to prevent attacks before it occurs. Furthermore, during my visit to the site of the attack and my follow-up meeting with teachers at the school, I learned of various changes to school facilities and practices which could have stopped this attack or improved the response. Therefore, I will be joining later today with Senator Orrin Hatch and others in introducing the Stop School Violence Act. If passed, this law would provide federal grants to do some important things that would have really been helpful in this case.

Strengthen school security, infrastructure of the school, provide school training for everyone, administrators, teachers, students, to be to be able to identify threats and report them. Something that really would be helpful is the creation of a school threat assessment and crisis intervention team. There's a successful program in Los Angeles that does this. And that is a team that is a coordination between law enforcement, other state agencies, school districts and the like, where they're all talking to each other about students and former students that may pose a threat of violence and intervene before they act.

A second issue we identified is that even if law enforcement, school administrators or family members believe that an individual poses a risk of committing an act of violence, they have very few options to prevent them from purchasing any gun or taking the guns away that they already have. Therefore, I intend to present a new law, perhaps in coordination with others working on it now, that will lead to the creation of gun violence restraining orders. Something that will give law enforcement and close family members the option of obtaining a court order to prevent gun sales or remove guns from individuals who pose a threat. And to be clear, the due process in such a situation would be on the front end, not on the back end.

The third issue we uncovered is federal law appears to discourage school systems from reporting dangerous students to law enforcement. I don't support criminalizing all, but a student who has threatened violence, who has exhibited violent behavior needs to be reported to law enforcement. A student who has committed a crime by issuing a threat of death using social media, that is a crime under Florida law. That needs to be reported. But under Broward County school policies pursuant to something called the Promise Program, reporting a student, a dangerous one, to law enforcement is the sixth step, step six in their plan. Therefore, I intend to propose changes to the federal Youth Promise Program so that a school district plan under this program does not delay and does not discourage law enforcement from being alerted to dangerous, violent or hazardous behavior.

[11:50:11] Fourth, we need to strengthen background checks. And that's why I've joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, pushing for the immediate passage of Fix NICS, something that will require all federal agencies and incentivize every state to do a full and thorough background check. This deranged killer was able to buy guns on 10 separate occasions because he would have passed every and any background check because none of the stuff that was known about him was reported to that system.

Fifth, we must begin to prosecute the purchase of guns by people prohibited from doing so. Next week, I hope to be joining a bipartisan group led by Senators Toomey and Coons in filing the Lie and Try Bill, which will require the FBI to notify states when someone who is not allowed to buy a gun tries to buy a gun and fails the background check so they can be investigated and prosecuted. In addition, we'll be presenting a new law to provide more prosecutors to go after straw purchases, which is someone who goes and buys a gun on behalf of somebody else because that somebody else could not pass the background check.

Now, there are some additional reforms I'm open to. The possibility of looking at out lawing semiautomatic rifles, and looking at what can be done about high-capacity magazines. We'll continue to explore and look at those. These reforms do not enjoy the sort of wide support in Congress that the other reforms I've announced do. And in order to be successfully passed, these ideas will have to be crafted in a way that contribute to greater public safety but also do not unnecessarily or unfairly infringe on the Second Amendment right of all law-abiding adults to protect themselves and their families, to hunt, or to participate in recreational shooting.

But, ultimately, there are things we can do that have widespread bipartisan support that we can act on, that we can get passed that will actually make a difference. These are impactful things. I just urge the Senate and the House, all of my colleagues here, do not hold hostage a piece of legislation that would work and that we all support because it doesn't have everything you want.

HILL: Hearing there from Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

I want to turn now to Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is joining us.

We weren't planning to hear --


HILL: -- from the Senator.

But good to have you with us.


HILL: One of the things we did not hear from him is this proposal from the president about arming teachers, and that is something being discussed and moving forward in your state of Florida. This shooting is very close to home to you. It is miles from home, from your district. Your daughter attends the rival high school, Sonoma Douglas. What is your reaction to the Republican push to arm schools in Florida?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: My reaction to the idea of arming teachers is that that is an utterly ridiculous response. It is overwhelmingly opposed not only by teachers here in our community but by students across the country, particularly in our community. The idea that we solve the problem of mass shootings in schools or anywhere is by introducing more guns into an environment defies credulity. It's dangerous. This whole shooting happened in six minutes.

The question that I keep hearing is, should we have teachers be focused on protecting those children, which these valuable valiant teachers did at Stoneman Douglas and saved many lives in the process, or should they be fumbling for a gun and be figuring out who they should be shooting, causing more chaos and potentially more injury.

I think that is a pretty simple answer. Introducing more guns doesn't make sense. Nor does focusing on much of the distractions that Senator Rubio just went through. There are key things that students and people who have lived through these mass tragedies have outlined that should be done, and that is banning assault weapons, reducing high-capacity -- eliminating the ability to buy high-capacity magazines, and closing all the background check loopholes, all of them.

HILL: Those are the three things you would like to see addressed.

In terms of what can be done, you said last week, and I'm quoting here, "These kids may be ready to lead where politicians have failed to take action." Former President Obama tweeting to those students, "We've been waiting for you."

And yet, we can't ignore the fact that Democrats had control of the White House and Congress in 2009 and 2010, and this wasn't a priority. So why is the action coming now and why is the push coming now?

[11:55:08] WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, it was a priority. We moved legislation in the House at that point. We did not -- we were not able to get the 60 votes for those proposals in the Senate. But that's not an excuse. I mean, these issues, making sure that we can do something about eliminating military style weapons from society and only making sure that people who are in the military can utilize them rather than civilians, and making sure that we don't have high- capacity rapid-fire magazines that allow mass killings and whose primary purpose is only to achieve that, that's going to solve this problem. This Fix NICS bill --


HILL: I only have time for a yes or no for you, but your colleague, Brian Mast, wrote in "The Times" he's ready to be a political casualty. He wants to ban A.R.-15-style weapons. Are you willing to go as far --


HILL: -- to be a political casualty, if you had to?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You know what, we have to make sure we care more about doing the right thing than holding on to power. I agree with Brian Mast. I actually congratulated him when I spoke on the House floor the other day with him sitting in front of me.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- but we absolutely have to work together.


HILL: Appreciate your response. Apologies for the time constraints. The satellite may cut us off so I'm going to do it first just in case. Appreciate it. Thank you.

We'll be right back.