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LA Sheriff's Department Responds To Reports Of Shots Fired At High School; Source: Trump Berated Homeland Security In Cabinet Meeting; Kelly: Undocumented Immigrants "Don't Have The Skills"; Kelly: Trump "Embarrassed" By Russia Investigation; Meghan McCain: How Can You Say That And Still Have A Job?. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 11, 2018 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:45]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're following breaking news out of Southern California right now, police are responding to reports of shots fired at a high school in Palm Dale, California in Los Angeles County.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has been monitoring all of these developments and joins me live right now. Alex, a little more information coming out, but it's still early on. What are you hearing?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A fair bit more information, Kate, coming out including witness statements who say that shots were indeed fired at Highland High School in Palm Dale, California.

We have been told by the L.A. Sheriffs Department as well as the L.A. County Fire Department that they are responding to reports of a man with a gun, and the fire department is saying they are responding to shots fired.

Now what we know from people on the ground, this is coming from an eyewitness, a 17-year-old student of Highland High School, Recab Holman (ph), on his way to class, we understand that classes start at this school at 7:30 in the morning.

The first calls coming in at around 7:05 in the morning. Holman saying that he was walking to school and he heard gunshots, so he turned around and went home. He thinks, according to Holman, that this is still an active shooter situation, because he has friends still hiding in the library.

Now we should note that we spoke to another witness who says that there is notably bad cell phone reception in this school, so it is hard to really get a sense of what is going on there. But CNN also spoke with Ricky Munoz, 23 years old, older brother of two students who go to Highland High School and a nearby middle school.

And what he told CNN is that he was dropping off his brothers, between 7:05 and 7:09 and a minute later I got a call he said from them saying that there were gunshots. He said he heard at least one gunshot, then he was told by his brother that they saw a person come out of the bathroom, fire two shots, and that is when all of the kids started running.

Again, L.A. Sheriff County Department as well as the fire department responding to reports of a man with a gun, shots fired, eyewitnesses from the school saying indeed shots were fired, one believes that it is still an active shooter situation.

We do know from schools in the area at least three schools, Cotton Wood Elementary School, which is just across a baseball field from the high school, they're on lockdown as well as a school across the state, the David Jean Millen Intermediate School on lockdown as well as Octo Tio Elementary School, that's 1.9 miles away. They're also on lockdown.

Kate, just to situate this for our viewers. You see on the map, this is just north of Los Angeles, it is an L.A. county, Palm Dale is about 50 miles, about an hour and a half drive from downtown Los Angeles.

Once again, Kate, L.A. County Sheriff Department saying that they're responding to a man with a gun, fire department saying that shots have been fired and that's being corroborated by eyewitnesses there.

BOLDUAN: And, Alex, I'm just being told by the control room, another additional bit coming in of according to L.A. County Fire is that one male, one male is in custody now in connection to all of this. So that is one element of it.

Still this is ongoing there on the ground. We're trying to get as much information as we can to bring it to our viewers and everyone there. We'll stay on this. Alex Marquardt will pop back up when we get our crews mobilized on the ground as well. We'll bring you updates on the situation from that school in Palm Dale, California as soon as we can get them. We can guarantee that.

In the meantime, though, let's go back to Washington and to the White House, a source telling CNN that a furious President Trump berated his secretary of homeland security in a cabinet meeting saying she's not doing enough to secure the borders. Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to sources, though, stood her ground.

Also standing his ground, Chief of Staff John Kelly defending the president's position on immigration in a new interview with NPR. Asked about the administration's zero tolerance policy that could separate families, Kelly said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF (via telephone): Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are in the bad people. They're not criminals, they're not MS-13. But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States. They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from, fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They come here for a reason. I sympathize with the reason, but the laws are the laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the White House with more on this. So, Ryan, what do we know, first off, about the blowup between President Trump and the homeland security secretary?

[11:05:05] RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that it was a serious confrontation between the homeland security secretary and the president of the United States, Kate, and that right now the White House is not denying that Kirstjen Nielsen offered up her resignation as a result of that blowup.

But there ended up being cooler heads prevailing and that she's going to stay in that post for now. Essentially what this came down is that the president is angry that they cannot enforce the laws more strictly along the border.

And Nielsen essentially pushed back saying that she was doing all that she could be within the bounds of the law, but essentially that laws need to change. She put out a statement afterwards kind of explaining her side of this entire blowup between her and the president.

She said, quote, "The president is rightfully frustrated that existing loopholes and a lack of Congressional action have prevented this administration from fully securing the border and protecting the American people. I share his frustration."

And there is really two things that we can take out of this, Kate. First off, that the president is very serious when it comes to the issue of immigration. This is something that he has talked about from even before he became a candidate.

It was a theme throughout his campaign and it continues to be one of his highest priorities as president. He also -- the other thing that we can take from this is that there continues to be these dustups with the president and the highest levels of his administration.

And Kirstjen Nielsen joins a long list of White House officials, who have either threatened to resign or have outright just left the White House because of the volatility that they're dealing with.

At this point, she's prepared to stay on, of course, keep in mind, she is a very close ally of Chief of Staff John Kelly. She was his deputy at the Department of Homeland Security when he was the secretary there.

He's now chief of staff, of course, there is always some talk about how long he could stay in that position. As it stands right now, both Nielsen and Kelly remain in place. But a lot of this uncertainty that exists around the president and his closest staff remains -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And how much is coming out about it to the public. Ryan, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Joining me right now, Eric Beach is here, co-chair of the pro-Trump super PAC, Great America Alliance, Amanda Carpenter, a CNN political commentator, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz. She is also the author of the new book "Gas Lighting America, Why We Love It When Trump Lies To Us," and just with us now, Joe Lockhart as well, CNN political commentator and former press secretary to the Clinton White House. Great to see you all. Thanks so much for coming in.

Joe, first to you, in by the skin of your teeth, my friend. Every president has heated discussions with their cabinet. It would be almost wrong if they didn't. They should be -- there should be heated debates on policy all the time. But the fact that the public hears about this with this White House so often what does that tell you?

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Tells you a lot about the president. Every president has heated discussions, has frustrations because it is nearly impossible job. I worked for President Clinton. He had a temper. He would blow up at people.

But the measure of his character was if he blew up at someone in front of a bunch of people, the next day he would apologize, and he would apologize in front of people. So, that everybody knew. I think Donald Trump has a singular lack of respect for anyone but Donald Trump.

And it makes it very difficult for these very smart people, I may not agree with them politically, but they're smart people, to work for a guy who is so self-absorbed that there is just no way to use logic and facts and information to make your case. And it becomes very personal and very difficult.

BOLDUAN: Amanda, I want to get your take on this. I mean, DHS denies that Nielsen offered to resign over it. But the "New York Times" says she draft her resignation letter, which would surely suggest that, though, she did not submit it.

She would join -- if she did draft this and threatened this, she would join a long list of folks who have threatened to resign that are within the White House, within the inner circle. This may happen again, but this is something that people in the administration clearly feel the need to share.

They want to share with the public. They want it out there, how does this fit into -- to use your term, the gas lighting of America?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this gets all into the idea that Donald Trump wants everyone around him to have blind loyalty to him and to follow through on what he says regardless of whatever rules, facts may actually be at play in this scenario.

And I think the secretary is looking for some sympathy for the public. I actually think floating rumors about resignation is the wrong thing to do in this scenario. She signed up for this job, knowing what kind of man that Donald Trump would be.

It's no secret that he expresses anger in this manner. Now, she has the job, if she is -- she's there to serve the people, not Donald Trump, per se, make him fire you. I think that's the approach that Rod Rosenstein has taken.

That's why people say that he has a strange calmness about him because he knows he's there to serve the people. So, all these stories will come out, and if you have disagreements with Trump, tell him in the oval office, and if he doesn't like your performance, let him fire you.

[11:10:11] Don't resign because we need good people who will stand up for the laws of this nation to the president and for everyone else.

BOLDUAN: Eric, let me ask you, let me ask you about this, the other bit of sound that we played at the very top of John Kelly speaking to NPR about the president's immigration policy. The fact he's speaking out about the administration immigration policy, that in and of itself should not be unusual.

This is from the chief of staff making a value judgment in what he said, a value judgment on immigrants that because they don't speak English, or they have a certain education level they can't contribute to the United States, why -- he can talk policy for sure, but why is he even going there, Eric, do you think?

ERIC BEACH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, here's the deal, I think all three parties in this situation are correct. Everyone is frustrated with Congress on their failure to act on immigration reform. And don't forget, Donald Trump does have respect for the American voter who voted for him.

And the American people who said their number one issue in this election was to build a wall and to enforce our border. So, I think it is very heartening to see the administration coming out and saying, you know, we want to have immigrants come here and immigrate the right way and make sure they can assimilate into our culture and into our society.

There is nothing wrong with that. That's what the voters demanded in 2016. That's what's being executed out of this administration.

CARPENTER: I would say the gap here, though, this all seems to go back to whether Donald Trump supports a guest worker program or not, both scenarios, listen, illegal immigration always goes up in the summer months because our economy demands it and there is job opportunities here.

John Kelly was talking about how he doesn't like that so many low skilled workers come here, so Donald Trump could fix this, rather than just berate people. Where does he stand on guest worker? Where does he stand on incorporating that into the border security plan?

They haven't done the work. He's just lashing out at people who want to help them. That's why so many Republicans get frustrated with this president.

BOLDUAN: Joe, I mean, if this is -- go ahead, Eric, sorry.

BEACH: But the results still end up being the same. The palace intrigue of the White House and who is mad at who really is irrelevant.

CARPENTER: But they are fighting about a policy.

BEACH: Absolutely they are. They had a proposal that said if you -- we would allow DACA immigrants to come in two times the number that are actually here to apply for DACA recipients to become citizens, to build the wall. And that's the number one campaign issue that he ran on. So, who is to blame for not going through with a very reasonable proposal that was already put out by this administration.

BOLDUAN: But if we're talking about following through on promises and what you've said, that leads me to wonder if this is everything you need to know, what John Kelly says if he's speaking for the president on this, Joe, is this is everything you need to know on where the president is going to be on any sort of a deal on DACA, which he promised to pull off.

LOCKHART: I mean, it was an interesting interview first because John Kelly contradicted the president. He said most of these immigrants are not bad, not MS-13. The president said they were rapists. The president said they were criminals.

But he's got no sense of history, which is the deal is that -- and what America was built on was this idea that low educated and low skilled workers came and did the back-breaking work to build the railroads, work in agriculture, and in return, their children got educated.

And this is the way our system works, and it has worked beautifully for 250 years. So, this idea that somehow, we don't need low skilled workers, talk to people in Texas, New Mexico, California, where agriculture is the biggest business there.

They are -- consumers are ultimately going to pay the price here because if you can't bring the crops in, prices will go up. We'll see what the president's answer is then.

BOLDUAN: Let me just do one more thing, guys, because I want to get this in. The president might not disagree with anything John Kelly said in terms of immigration, and what he said in the interview, but what about this? What Kelly said about -- in the same interview about the Russia investigation. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: There may not be a cloud, but certainly the president is somewhat embarrassed frankly when world leaders come in, you know, Bibi Netanyahu was here who is under investigation himself, and it is like you walk in and the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Eric, do you think the president agrees with John Kelly here, an embarrassment? If not, how can they not be on the same page on this one specific issue?

BEACH: Well, I think the narrative for 18 months for his presidency, I think he's probably frustrated that he's had some real accomplishments as president and this administration and even this Congress have had some real accomplishments --

BOLDUAN: What about -- what about the fact that John Kelly says he's embarrassed?

[11:15:04] BEACH: Well, I think when world leaders, you know, want to talk about that, rather than the accomplishments and try to get things done, which he was elected to do, I think it shapes the narrative. So, I don't want to use the word embarrassment, but I think he's probably frustrated.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Joe. I want to get your take. You're a former press secretary from the White House, of course, if -- I mean, how do you think any president, forget it is Donald Trump, how do you think any president would feel if one of their chief of staff was saying something about an embarrassing moment for the president?

LOCKHART: You know, I think it is frustrating, I describe the president as enraged, not embarrassed. I'm not sure that he's capable of embarrassment, which is part of the problem, but he's not going to feel good about this.

John Kelly, I've only seen the clips, I won't go and watch the whole thing, he's done two things that get you in trouble in the Trump administration. He's told the truth. He told the truth about immigration and the fact that they're not criminals and that this is an embarrassment, this whole Russia thing. One more strike and he's probably out.

BOLDUAN: Stand by to stand by. Eric, thanks so much. Joe, it's great to see you. Amanda, thank you as well. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, backlash over a bad joke. John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain speaking out just now about the quote/unquote, "joke" a White House aide told about McCain's dad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:20:26]

BOLDUAN: We hear a lot about civility in Washington. Candidates run on saying they're going to bring bipartisanship back, they promise that they'll work across the aisle, that they can disagree without being disagreeable. All things that have become cliche, especially when the reality is the reality in Washington.

But today, maybe a new low, even for Washington. A White House official telling CNN a White House aide, Kelly Sadler, told colleagues in a closed-door meeting yesterday that they can dismiss Senator John McCain's opposition to CIA nominee, Gina Haspel, because, quote, "he's dying anyway."

The White House official said Sadler was attempting a joke, but it fell flat. Please tell me with that falling flat we have officially finally for once and for all hit rock bottom when it comes to what is fair game anymore. Senator John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, responded on her show just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MCCAIN, SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: OK. So, first, I want to say is don't feel bad for me or my family. We're really strong. There is so much more love and prayer and amazing energy being generated towards us than anything negative at all. And I feel so blessed.

My dad is actually doing really well now, and I believe in the power of prayer and I think it is helping. So, I want to thank all the positivity of people with that. The other thing I want to say is that Kelly, a little news flash, this may be a bit intense for 11:00 in the morning on a Friday, but we're all dying.

I'm dying. You're dying, we're all dying. And I want to say that, my dad has been diagnosed the past, almost a year, July 19th, I really feel like I understand the meaning of life. And it is not how you die, it is how you live. And -- thank you.

And I always have had something to believe in. My dad is all about character and bipartisanship and something greater than yourself and believing in this country and believing in the fact that we as Americans can still come together.

And that's something that I grew up in and feeds me every day. And I'm not scared -- I'm not scared of death anymore. I'm just not. And whatever you want to say, in this kind of environment, the thing that surprises me most is, I was talking about this with you, Joy, I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job. And that's all I have to say about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to add one thing --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And you don't need to say much more, Meghan McCain. Here with me now, CNN senior media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cilizza. Brian, what is your reaction to what we heard from Meghan?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: She just raised a very important question at the very end of her comments. How is it possible, what kind of work environment is it at the White House where a person can make that kind of comment in a meeting and still have a job and not even really apologize in the way you would expect.

I also love what she said, a little later on in the program, she said her father's legacy we'll remember for hundreds of years. The people criticizing her, criticizing him, not so much. My heart goes out to Meghan and Cindy and the family.

They're going through this in a public way, as they know John may not be with us much longer. Hopefully, he will be, but if they're measuring their time left in days or weeks or months, they're having to talk about this, address this publicly, I think Meghan McCain is doing it in a very effective way by taking on these disgusting comments and actually addressing them head on.

BOLDUAN: Well, she's raising the conversation honestly. Chris, Meghan said it herself, John McCain doesn't give a hoot about what a White House aide says about him, never did and certainly does not now. Does this all matter?

CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think it matters and Brian latched on to I think what is the important part. So, Meghan McCain says I don't understand an environment in which this comment can be made and I don't understand how that person could have a job.

So, yes, I agree on the job part and I actually think the environment in which this kind of comment can be made that you could feel comfortable making this joke is the most important thing, which is Donald Trump didn't create partisanship, polarization, treating people who disagree with you as evil as mal intended.

But he was the match that dropped into the gasoline that had been poured on the ground. He made -- he weaponized bullying in politics. He basically used political incorrectness and shaking up the status quo as cover for xenophobia, as cover for racist ideas, and allowed those things to flower.

[11:25:09] He doesn't -- remember, many sides in Charlottesville attacking the looks of female candidates, suggesting that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Four thousand plus lies and mistruths in the first year of his presidency.

These things have impact, right? It is not just this comment. It is that this staffer felt comfortable enough in the environment, in the culture that we have set up, and yes, we are part of it, I don't think we're the leading part, but everyone here is part of it, everyone is a part of it, we have set up that that person felt OK to do that is what matters.

This comment, no, John McCain is not going to be bothered by it, nor should he be, but that this comment gets made like this, it is not an isolated incident, it is the third time at least this week that we have heard something said about John McCain.

One from a fellow senator, Orrin Hatch, one from a retired general on another cable network and this one from the White House staffer, that to Brian's point is something they have to deal with while they're also dealing with a very difficult debilitating and awful disease.

BOLDUAN: And also --

CILIZZA: It is our collective fault, Donald Trump is the catalyst for it.

BOLDUAN: And even if you say, if you say, Brian, that you can't control what some -- what an aide says in the White House. You can control how the White House responds to it after the fact.

STELTER: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: And the White House put out a statement, no one's name on it, put out a statement saying we'll respect John McCain's service, but did not address the remark. That I think matters.

STELTER: That's what's missing. That's where you see a lack of moral leadership that comes from the White House. That's an issue from the top. I think -- I want to be clear, I don't think John McCain is immune from criticism, not above criticism. There are times the American likes --

BOLDUAN: I honestly think it is fair when Donald Trump criticizes John McCain for his vote on health care. That's a policy issue.

STELTER: Right. There are times in American life where a politician is either ill or has passed away and it is -- people never want to speak ill of that person, never want to criticize. I'm not a believer in that.

Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, we should talk handedly about a person's record, controversies in their past, we can criticize their political choices, but let's do it based on facts.

And that Fox guest who was talking about a debunked conspiracy theory, I was not based on facts. He was based on a lie, a baseless lie. So, I think whether it is McCain or other politicians, let's talk about them based on the facts. Let's criticize their records, but not based on made up stories.

BOLDUAN: When it comes to the discourse, folks will say, Kate, you knew what you were getting. It's not like the president hid the way he talks about people during the campaign trail.

STELTER: But can he be better? Can he be best?

BOLDUAN: Can you be best? Chris, Brian --

CILIZZA: He is the president of the United States where there is a moral vacuum and he is unwilling to fill it, Kate, this is what happens.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, large protests on the streets of Iran's capital today. U.S. officials warn Iran could ratchet up attacks and restart its nuclear enrichment program. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations joins me live next.

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