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Five-Hour Daily Cease-fire Set in Eastern Ghouta; More Than 100 Nigerian Schoolgirls Kidnapped; Donald Trump's Tough Talk; Mines Advisory Group Marred by Sex Abuse Allegations; Ex-Deputy Defends Not Entering School During Shooting; Trump Urges "Very Strong" Background Checks. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired February 27, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: a chance to escape. The latest attempt to get civilians out of Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta.
Plus Nigerian leaders are back on the defensive after another group of more than 100 schoolgirls is kidnapped.
And Donald Trump mocks the deputies responding to the Florida school shooting, claiming he would have shown more courage.
Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
SESAY: We are now less than one hour away from a brief break in the fighting in Eastern Ghouta if everything goes as planned. The Syrian government has agreed to a daily five-hour cease-fire in the region, giving humanitarian workers a chance to rescue women, children and the wounded.
It is not much time but at least it brings a small measure of relief to those civilians trapped in the war zone. More now from CNN's Sam Kiley.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is no humanitarian cease-fire over Syria and certainly not in Eastern Ghouta. Notwithstanding, the United Nations Security Council resolutions that called for it, they have been ignored.
They've been ignored by, in particular, the Syrian government and eyewitnesses are also alleging that the Russian aircraft may also have been involved in bombardment of Eastern Ghouta from the air.
There's also been reports of continued artillery attacks and indeed even reports of the use of chlorine gas in a number of injuries reported from that. This is a heavy gas that can get down into the underground bunkers that civilians are using to shelter from the onslaught that is coming both from artillery and from the air.
There have been at least 2 dozen dead reported by activists on the ground but the Russians have come up with an offer of humanitarian pause in operations between 9 o'clock in the morning and 1400 hours. That's 2 o'clock local time.
Now that is a five-hour period in which they are saying the most severely injured could be evacuated into government-held territory. That is an opportunity that some of the most severe cases might well choose to take up because the opportunity or the options to remain behind means almost certain death in an environment in which there are almost no medical supplies now.
But for the vast majority of people living in Eastern Ghouta, it's unlikely that they would choose to evacuate into government-held territory, where there are fears that they could be arrested, detained and much worse.
Nonetheless, this is a gesture that has come largely from President Putin and he has said that he will pressurize the Syrians, almost order the Syrians into compliance. But so far there has been no reports of any cessation in the violence.
And just as that humanitarian corridor opportunity was being offered, there were indeed reports on the ground to CNN of considerable continued bombing using helicopters and barrel bombs -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Istanbul.
SESAY: We're joined now by Ahmad Tarakji. He is the president of the Syrian American Medical Society, which is among the groups reporting symptoms of chemical exposure in Eastern Ghouta.
Ahmad, thank you so much for joining us. I'm going to get to the issue of the suspected chlorine attack in just a moment. But let me ask you what you are hearing about conditions on the ground in Eastern Ghouta since that resolution was passed at the weekend.
AHMAD TARAKJI, SYRIAN AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY: Unfortunately, there has been ongoing attacks on civilians since the cease-fire resolution has passed. There are (INAUDIBLE) reported about 29 deaths over the last 24 hours, after the resolution has passed.
And (INAUDIBLE) the attacks had decreased in frequency and severity and it is ongoing and civilians are so scared for their lives and still hospitals are down to about 40 percent of their pre-existing capacities, medical capacities.
SESAY: CNN and many others getting these reports of a chlorine attack, which we have not been able to independently confirm. But I'm wondering what you are hearing from your people on the ground, your contacts on the ground, what makes them so sure that this was a chlorine attack.
TARAKJI: So the -- we released the report of the 16 patients who presented our hospital with symptoms compatible with exposure to high concentration chlorine. They came in with breathing difficulties, irritation and the symptoms are very compatible to chlorine.
This is the place where many attacks with chlorine attacks took place in the past and --
TARAKJI: -- those are the doctors who've been treating their patients who got those symptoms (INAUDIBLE) back when the Syrian (INAUDIBLE) 2013. Another group of doctors reviewed the symptoms and (INAUDIBLE) confirm that and then a third group also that's out of Syria reviewed those symptoms as well and reviewed the presentations.
And based on the clinical presentations, we confirm that the 16 patients got exposed to chlorine.
SESAY: So much suffering, so much suffering, endless suffering, it seems. And now Russia unfortunately -- and now Russia is offering up a five-hour humanitarian pause, a daily five-hour pause.
In your view, what is that worth?
How much can be achieved in that window of time?
TARAKJI: Unfortunately we experienced proposals in Aleppo more than a year ago and Russia and many of the international agencies realized that this is not realistic. Just to bring you back to the medical evacuation process that we had a few months back, it took many hours to get the patients from Ghouta to Damascus, which is less than 10 miles' distance.
So five hours is actually not sufficient. It's not going to do anything, leave alone that the principles or the mandate of humanitarian operation did not exist. The fact that you just have a corridor does not mean that people are protected and safe. And people do fear for their lives.
It's the same side, same warring side that's burning out Ghouta right now. It's the same side who's saying that (INAUDIBLE) can just pass by here. Even when we get the patients to hospital in Damascus after the medical evacuation, three of them died. The rest were treated miserably.
People don't trust just this initiative. It's not sufficient. It's not compatible with humanitarian principles. I don't think many people will take that opportunity.
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) just for our viewers, if you could just give us your sense of how would a humanitarian corridor even work?
There have been some question as to where it should even be located. TARAKJI: Well, I think the -- first of all the humanitarian corridors have to have (INAUDIBLE) United Nations, which means that they have to follow the principles of patients and people being dependent, free, not exposed to any detention or anything of that sort. There's no fear. That's not the case right now or even in previous proposals.
Second, the fact that people have -- people need to be offered something stay in their hometown, which not be displacing people out of Eastern Ghouta or any other place, for that purpose. (INAUDIBLE) medicine and medical services should be provided for them inside their hometown if not be punished because of the war that's going on right now.
Keep in mind that if you -- Ghouta has about 350,000 people and if we assume that all them who walk away will walk away from Eastern Ghouta, where are they going to be placing those people?
Where are they going to sleep?
How are they going to give them food?
It's not a realistic proposal, leave alone that the regulations, the monitoring, the safety of the people is not guaranteed. I think unfortunately this is not very wise step.
SESAY: Well, Ahmad Tarakji, we appreciate you spelling it out for us, just how difficult any kind of humanitarian pause is to achieve, how difficult it is to achieve gains in any kind of humanitarian pause there on the ground, the Eastern Ghouta.
And we very much appreciate it. I hope you and your team stay safe, thank you.
TARAKJI: Thank you.
SESAY: Nigeria's president is calling the kidnapping of more than 100 girls a national disaster. The government believes Boko Haram militants took the girls when they raided a school in Dapchi last week.
It happened about 275 kilometers from Chibok, where the terror group, you may remember, abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014. Now Nigeria's president is facing angry accusations that he can't keep people in the Northeast safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: I have since directed all security agencies to immediately ensure that every effort is directed to ensure that safety of our schools and students as well as bringing back the abducted girls to their families.
(INAUDIBLE) remains unrelenting toward the rescuing also of the abducted.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SESAY: Samuel Ogundipe joins me now from Abuja, Nigeria. He's a reporter for "Premium Times" Nigeria.
Samuel, thank you for being with us. We just played a short clip of President Buhari giving assurances to the Nigerian public as to his commitment to --
SESAY: -- finding these missing girls and keeping other school children safe.
Are those words believed?
Have those words been received by ordinary Nigerians with a sense that he's telling the truth?
Talk to me about the reaction to President Buhari's statements.
SAMUEL OGUNDIPE, "PREMIUM TIMES": Well, thank you very much for having me, Isha, and the CNN team. Well, the president now seems to have got himself in a situation that he initially deplored, you know, when he was running for president, that was when the Chibok girls were kidnapped in 2014.
He was running for election at that time. So now for him to find himself in such a similar situation, when he is trying to showing any signs of running for reelection and then you have (INAUDIBLE) election in 2019 (ph).
The president is (INAUDIBLE) himself in this issue of analog set (ph) of girls being kidnapped. So where people are civilian minutes on from different (INAUDIBLE), somewhat this president supporters believe that this is an attempt to sabotage his election, some are some people who are criticizing him, saying the president should come where (INAUDIBLE) to the situation that he should show more sincerity by not just deploying his ministers.
What he should actually take charge of the (INAUDIBLE) situation in the -- in Dapchi -- I mean in (INAUDIBLE) the entire (INAUDIBLE) as a whole where you still have (INAUDIBLE) Boko Haram activity because it was just a few days after the president said if Boko Haram had been (INAUDIBLE).
You have this major kidnap of girls again.
SESAY: So to that point, is the government saying one thing and the reality bearing out a different outcome, what is your take in terms of the government's level of transparency and openness around what happened in Dapchi?
Because as you and I know, in 2014, the issue of getting information from the government, information that the families desperately wanted about what was happening to find their kids, that was in very short supply.
Is it different this time around?
Do you feel they're being more open?
OGUNDIPE: Well, I haven't really seen more transparency between now and -- I mean, between 2014, when you had the kidnap of Chibok girls issue under president (INAUDIBLE) and now.
As we've been repeating in "Premium Times" over the years, anytime the president claims that the Chibok girls are (INAUDIBLE) Boko Haram has been (INAUDIBLE), all sorts of (INAUDIBLE).
But unfortunately, we still have these attacks continuing (INAUDIBLE) terrorists, you know, carrying out even more vicious attacks against the last time that a president spoke.
So it showed that a president should be -- needs to maybe (INAUDIBLE). Anytime the president says that Boko Haram has been defeated, you know, the terrorist group would try to show that it had not been defeated.
And as such, you know, (INAUDIBLE). So the president could be more, much more transparent in (INAUDIBLE) and also much more tactical in his use of language.
SESAY: A key issue in all of this is what happened in Dapchi, was the fact that we heard and we learnt that the military were withdrawn from the area quite recently. They were pulled out.
It seems unclear to me and I'm hoping you can clarify it for our viewers, if we knew or if the threat of Boko Haram was still real, why did they pull these troops away from Dapchi, which kind of created the space for Boko Haram to go in and take these girls.
OGUNDIPE: Oh, yes, thank you very much for that question. It's actually very (INAUDIBLE) this controversy. What happened was in so far the past one week, since Monday, that was the February 19th, when the girls were kidnapped at their school in Dapchi, the military had been (INAUDIBLE) but yesterday -- I mean, they bought a few days ago, that was on Saturday, the governor of Yobe (ph) state accused the military of being responsible for the attack.
How (INAUDIBLE) the military put out that region in which before the attack. So the military was put on the defense. So (INAUDIBLE) trying to deflect the military's not coming out to deflect the blame.
In trying to deflect the blame, the military admitted yesterday that it put out the troops and (INAUDIBLE) that the troops were pulled out on --
OGUNDIPE: -- January 10, you know, January 10, which was about exactly 40 days away before the attack on February 19.
So the military admitted that they pulled out the troops (INAUDIBLE) was actually stationed in Dapchi, the community that the attackers carry out. So the mood then toward the (INAUDIBLE).
So that community, yes, troops about the way on that -- on the repeated attacks. So the military decided to (INAUDIBLE) it's more tactical for them, much more (INAUDIBLE) for them to move the troops, the whole battalion, including to forward operating bases to (INAUDIBLE) toward the (INAUDIBLE) to combat the threat there.
At that time, they said that there was no imminent threat in Dapchi. So the (INAUDIBLE) because over the years, (INAUDIBLE) Boko Haram started in Niger and started online, Dapchi as a community had never been attacked, even though it is in (INAUDIBLE) state, which is almost the major -- the places where the states where Boko Haram is more pronounced.
So but unfortunately Dapchi was never attacked before. Now fortunately for the military (INAUDIBLE) that would not (INAUDIBLE). Unfortunately for the military that pulled out without knowing that Boko Haram would now attack that (INAUDIBLE) for the first time ever.
So the reason why they pulled out was because no threat, no imminent threat. But now they found out that they might (INAUDIBLE) but now there's --
SESAY: Well, quite clearly, yes, it's quite clearly, Boko Haram is still very much a threat and alive and well. Samuel Ogundipe from "Premium Times," we appreciate it. Thank you. Very grateful for the insight. Thank you for that.
And once again, let me take the opportunity to invite all representatives of the Nigerian government -- thank you, Samuel -- to invite all the -- anyone from the Nigerian government to join us on the show and the nights ahead to give us their perspective on how this all played out and their efforts to find the missing Dapchi girls.
We're going to take a very quick break now and still to come, fresh off the Oxfam scandal, more charities under fire for sexual abuse allegations. And the U.K. is saying enough is enough.
And Donald Trump describes what he would do in a school shooting. Ahead, his ideas for stopping the violence.
SESAY: There's tough talk from the U.S. president on how he would have handled the school shooting in Florida. That's against the backdrop of mounting pressure for gun control reform. Donald Trump will meet with lawmakers to discuss it all on Wednesday. Jim Acosta has more on the proposals on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump insists he would've saved the day if he had been on the scene of the Parkland school shooting. The president says he would've stormed the building.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I really believe I'd have run in there, even if I didn't have a weapon --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: -- and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.
ACOSTA: Unlike the deputies, the president says, who choked.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They weren't exactly Medal of Honor winners.
The way they performed was frankly disgusting.
ACOSTA (on camera): When the president said earlier today that he would have run into the school, was he suggesting that he could have saved the day?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he was just stating that, as a leader, he would have stepped in and, hopefully, been able to help.
ACOSTA: Is he trained in using a handgun or a firearm of some sort?
SANDERS: I don't think that was the point he was making.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In a candid exchange with the nation's governors at the White House, the president claimed he met with leaders from the National Rifle Association over the weekend. It was no surprise when the president defended the gun lobby's intentions.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Don't worry about the NRA. They're on our side. You guys, half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There's nothing to be afraid of. And you know what? If they're not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That's OK.
ACOSTA: The president also continued to push his goal of ending the days of gun-free zones at schools in order to put more firearms in the hands, he says, of skilled shooters.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't want teachers to have guns. I want highly trained people that have a natural talent. Like hitting a baseball or hitting a golf ball or putting. How come some people always make the four- footer and some people under pressure can't even take their club back?
ACOSTA: One of the Democratic governors in the room, Jay Inslee, from Washington state took issue with that plan, then offered the president some advice. GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: I've listened to the first-grade teachers who don't want to be pistol packing first-grade teachers. So I'd just suggest we need a little less tweeting here, a little more listening and let's just take that off the table and move forward.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump did vow to ban so-called bump stocks, the attachments that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire like machine guns. That was the weapon of choice in the Las Vegas massacre last October, though not the Parkland school shooting.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Bump stocks, we're writing that out. I'm writing that out myself. I don't care if Congress does it or not. I'm writing it out myself. OK?
ACOSTA: The president need only look at the polls to see the growing support for new gun control laws, now at 70 percent. A huge jump from the days after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
ACOSTA: And the students who have been demanding action on gun control now have the first lady's seal of approval.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: I have been heartened to see children across this country using their voices to speak out and try to create change. They're our future. And they deserve a voice.
ACOSTA: Still, the White House appears to be staying on message. Even daughter Ivanka Trump sounded supportive of the idea of arming teachers in an interview with NBC.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: I think that having a teacher who is armed, who cares deeply about her students, or his students and who is capable and qualified to bear arms, is not a bad idea. But it's an idea that needs to be discussed.
ACOSTA: The White House was asked whether the president is backing away from his support for raising the age for people buying assault rifles to 21 nationwide. The president tweeted his support for that last week but today press secretary Sarah Sanders would only say he supports that concept -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
SESAY: Joining us here in L.A. is Jessica Levinson. She's a professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School.
Jessica, thank you for staying with us. I want to pick up on President Trump's kind of -- I don't know the best way to put it -- I guess commitment to banning bump stocks, which he seems to have the most passion for over everything that's kind of been floated.
And you were making the point that it's not up to him to legislate. He doesn't have the power to legislate, right, in terms of making this a reality.
But there are workarounds, aren't there?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: That's right. It's interesting to me that he says, well, you know I don't need Congress; I can do myself. That actually troubles me because that sounds like what dictators or leaders of authoritarian regimes say.
And I know -- I think we kind of know what Donald Trump was saying. But he said a lot of those things which sound like I don't need a coequal branch of our government. I will just do it myself.
And to your question, what do-it-yourself means is really an executive order in this case. It would be frankly the height of irony for him to issue an executive order on this because he, along with so many of his Republican colleagues, have been so deeply critical of President Obama when he issued executive orders; for instance, on DACA to create a category of immigrants called DREAMers.
President Obama then -- excuse me -- President Trump then tried to roll that back. So this does go to show that this use of the executive order is something frankly everybody loves when they're in power and everybody hates when they're not.
But I also think frankly it shows kind of a misunderstanding of how the American government functions.
SESAY: That would not be the first time that charge has been leveled at President Trump.
SESAY: But if he were to go down the road of banning bump stocks with an executive order, how much blowback would he face, bearing in mind 70 percent of Americans, according to a new CNN poll, want to see stricter gun control?
LEVINSON: This is where we all have to be honest, that we're not intellectually honest. So what we should say if President Trump issues an executive order is let's legally look at this and determine whether or not this is a permissible executive order.
You are not supposed to work around the legislative branch unless there are exigent circumstances or there's other categories that are specifically laid out as to when it's proper to use an executive order.
But I have a feeling we won't look at that and what we'll do is we'll say, we really need to ban bump stocks and whoever's going to do it -- and I totally understand this impulse -- if it's President Trump by executive order because Congress won't do it, then great, let's let him do it.
And so how much blowback will there be?
I think that there will be an intraparty fight. I think there will be challengers within the Republican Party who might say, you just can't do that and if only because they want to make sure -- (CROSSTALK)
SESAY: -- what is their motivation for the pushback?
Is it NRA dollars or is it about the legislative process?
LEVINSON: It's dollars to get votes. I think if we -- if we look at where the American public is and we compare that to where our lawmakers are, where our representatives are, I think it has become clear on this issue and so many other issues that many of our lawmakers are deeply motivated by the idea of keeping their jobs.
And you get to keep your jobs in American politics if you can make sure that you are well funded or that your opponent is not particularly well funded. And the NRA in American politics plays a huge role in that calculus.
And so I think if there are Republicans who say, President Trump, you weren't allowed to do that by executive order, they will be making calculations that they'll get a lot of donations from the NRA as a result.
SESAY: So that being said, the president said on Monday in that meeting with governors, we should take on the NRA every once in a while. You shouldn't be afraid to fight them, which is ironic bearing in mind how much money the NRA gave to President Trump's campaign war chest.
But are we clear on where the president is willing to engage the NRA in a fight?
LEVINSON: Well, first, no because I'm not clear on where the president is willing to engage fill in the blank on a fight, I mean whether it be immigration, whether it be climate change, whether it be gun control.
And I think it frankly changes by the hour. But the other thing is I didn't actually, when I was listening to President Trump's words, hear him say it's really time for us to fight the NRA, it was more this kind of wishy-washy, you know, let's not be scared of them and it's OK to take them on every once in a while.
But it could be OK to take them on, frankly, because, from a PR perspective, it looks good.
The other thing is he's saying this to governors, not federal lawmakers and I think that the best solution to the issue of gun control lies with the federal branch, with our members of Congress or with the judiciary.
But you know we can, on the state-by-state level, implement different regulations. But we all know that really the larger, broader --
SESAY: Jessica Levinson, some really important context there, especially with the executive order. Very much appreciate it. Thank you.
LEVINSON: Thank you.
SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., the U.K. puts charities on notice, calling the Oxfam sexual abuse scandal a wakeup call.
Plus here's something you don't see very often, a snowball fight at the Vatican. A cold weather snap is blasting Rome and other parts of Europe. Details are next.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles I'm Isha Sesay, the headlines this hour.
We're waiting to see from Russia back daily ceasefire would take hold in Syria's Eastern Ghouta. The suburb of Damascus have been under siege for more than a week. The U.N. back ceasefire apparently did not stop the fighting. Doctors in there reporting patients with symptons of chemical exposure.
Nigeria's president says more than 100 missing girls were kidnapped, they were taken during a suspected Boko Haram raid at a school in Dapchi last week. This incident comes four years after the terror group abducted 276 school girls in their school in Chibok in the Bono State region.
Well sources say U.S. President Trump appears to be backing away from the schools to raise age limit on buying rifles. The NRA opposes the move. Mr. Trump told Governors not to be afraid of the powerful gun and all this pressure. The president also says he would have run into the Florida school to try to stop the shooting.
Well, British (INAUDIBLE) has said the sex review scandals that have rocked Oxfam and other groups are a wakeup call for all aid agencies. (INAUDIBLE) spoke at the development conference in London Monday after yet another charity get caught up in the scandal. Erin McLaughlin has all the details.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the charity task was finding landmines before children do. Saving lives in war torn countries around the world supported by Princess Diana and Prince Harry.
HENRY CHARLES ALBERT DAVID, PRINCE OF WALES: My mother had been shocked and appalled by the impact that landmines were having on incredibly vulnerable people.
MCLAUGHLIN: The Mines Advisory Group or MAG now marred by sexual exploitation allegations. On Sunday, a former employee revealed of abuse in the democratic republican of Congo writing anonymously for the "Sunday Times." Some staff used prostitutes, some had parties with them, others formed relationships with local women. The whistleblower went on to write, "I and others raise the alarm through proper channels. Some individuals were moved to other country programs, other state. But I was always surprised that more was not done to stop this behavior. Here is why, nobody wants to write about this and be responsible for funding being cut."
MAG responded to the allegations saying they've investigated what they described as 11 safeguarding issues over the past 10 years. Not detailing what that means but noting that several employees were fired or resigned. Two cases were unsubstantiated, the incidents reported to British authorities.
MAG went on to say in its statement, "We massively regret that things have happened within our organization adding that it's taken measures to guard against future incidents." The account echoes the Oxfam scandal now accused of covering up sex parties in Haiti in 2011. The charity apologize but denied allegations of a cover-up. Oxfam's Haiti operation suspended because of the scandal. A scandal which triggered a wave of allegations of sexual abuse with other organizations including Children's Charity Plan International last week confirmed six cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by staff or associates and apologized.
And the International Committee of the Red Cross which admitted since 2015, 21 staff have been dismissed or resigned for paying for sexual services. Across the sector, there's this growing acknowledgement that this problem is systemic, important lifesaving work is at risk and donations are down. Now at conferences such as this one, we're trying to figure out what to do about it.
TAMSYN BARTON, CEO, BOND: This is about the root causes and about pairing balances that do go very deep which is why we do have to take absolute terms of cultural issues. So they're very practical and immediate steps that we can say --
MCLAUGHLIN: Steps may include a global registry for aid workers so that badly needed aid continues to reach the world's most vulnerable while making sure they are no longer exploited by those sent to help. Erin McLaughlin CNN London.
SESAY: A lot of work to be done. Well parts of Europe are getting a taste of what some are calling "The Beast from The East" from London to Rome, cold winds sweeping out of Siberia are bringing frigid temperatures and even snow.
And Vatican, take a look at this, the rare snowfall had people taken part in what else, with a snowball fight. Schools were closed in Rome and public transportation was largely at a standstill. It seem -- they make it seem so -- they make it seem so jolly. Pedram Javaheri joins us -- joins us with much more. Pedram, the beast from the east, what's going on? PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, this is the story right now, right? We see scenes like that every so often, 1991, the last time we had such a significant cold spell across parts of Europe.
You take a look at this even out of Nice we're talking about snow accumulations in parts of town down on the coastal communities. But here's the perspective, we've had a pretty unusual pattern here and that the storm system, very strong one, in fact, coming in across the central portion of the Atlantic, bringing some warm air from the lower latitudes, pushing it towards Greenland and Iceland. And in fact, temperatures there into the northern portions of our planet, 25 degree Celsius above average among the warmest we've ever observed.
And what's that's doing is displacing a lot of that Arctic air back towards Eastern Europe and eventually that's all migrated towards Western Europe where we have the Arctic airlock in place. In fact, the warm spot is London at seven below but it feels like in parts of the U.K.'s so-called rail services not only halted but they have to place heaters on the areas where the rails begin to change tracks so they don't freeze together and they can operate some of the services there. But see if that snow even taking place where we have extremely cold air that's going right over the North Sea and essentially transferring all that energy into tremendous snowfall amounts across eastern coastal communities there over the U.K.
So, Yorkshire, work your way towards the East midlands, (INAUDIBLE), there's the Scottish Highlands, even in London, a decent chance for some snow showers the next couple of days and in fact, some accumulations, the pinks and the purples pretty incredible amounts there, 40 or more centimeters over the next couple of days. Notice London could get a few centimeters out of this as well.
Now, talk about Rome and getting some snowfall there, of course, we know a Mediterranean climate, oftentimes in the winter, the coldest winter days, you can have those outdoor restaurants where people are still out -- sit outside as its mild enough and, of course, this is not the case but that's not the only weather element. There's a strong system coming in from the west. The lone area that's too warm to support any significant snowfall is parts of Portugal, parts of Spain, that's very severe weather threat is in place there for heavy winds, heavy rainfall in-store the next couple of days.
The good news in Asia, notice the frigid air wants to begin to really leave this area by Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. As we go in towards early next week, of course, the first couple of days of March. Look at London, the next couple of days, some chances of snow showers by next week right around where we should be for the beginning of March, not too bad then.
SESAY: Yes. Look at that weather in London. I'll stay here. Thank you Pedram, appreciate it. Well all right. Now, police are investigating Slovakia's first ever murder of a reporter. Investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiance was shot dead at their apartment in Western Slovakia.
Kuciak had reported on businesses involved in alleged tax evasion or fraud. The head of the Slovak police says this murder was likely connected to his work. Kuciak reportedly had received threats from Slovak businessmen last year.
Well we have new details surrounding the death of Bollywood star Sridevi. Dubai police now say the actress drowned in her hotel bathtub on Saturday following a loss of consciousness. The 54-year- old star was in Dubai for a family wedding. It was initially reported that she died from a heart attack. Sridevi will be remembered as one of Bollywood's most popular stars with a career spanning five decades.
SESAY: Well students who survived the Florida school shooting will return to classes on Wednesday and the former deputy assigned to protect that school is now defending his response to the massacre. Our Martin Savidge has the latest from Parkland, Florida.
MADELINE WILFORD, WOUNDED IN SCHOOL SHOOTING: And I would just like to say that we're so grateful to be here.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than two weeks after she was shot at least three times, student Madeline Wilford sending her appreciation and love to friends and first responders.
WILFORD: That like my mom said times like these when I know that we need to stick together and I've seen a lot of like just positive posts about what's been going on at the school and I just -- of the that we're sticking together --
SAVIDGE: A contrast of controversy over what armed deputies did or did not do in the first moments after the shooting.
SCOTT PETERSON, FORMER SCHOOL RESOURCES OFFICER: I've been a school resource officer for 25 years --
SAVIDGE: Former School Resource Officer Scott Peterson paints a very different picture than this one for the county sheriff.
SHERIFF SCOTT ISRAEL, BOWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: 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 that wall, I would have been the first in along with so many of the other people.
SAVIDGE: In a statement from his attorney, Peterson says when the shooting began he received a call of firecrackers and not gunfire in the area of the 1200 building. Peterson says he run to the 1200 building and upon arriving, "Heard gunshots but believed those gunshots were originating outside from outside of any buildings on school campus."
The statement goes on, "Consistent with his training, Mr. Peterson took up a tactical position between the 700 and 800 building corridor/corner." The attorney also says his client did take action saying that he was the first to notify the sheriff's office of shots fired and initiated a code red lockdown of the entire campus.
The attorney also says the former school resource officer had the "Presence of mind to tell authorities to review the school's security cameras to locate the gunman. Let there be no mistake Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the seventeen victims that day."
Sheriff Israel told Jake on STATE OF THE UNION his investigating reports that other deputies also decline to go in. He was (INAUDIBLE) of why the sheriff didn't tell family sooner.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The families were at the CNN town hall and you could have disclosed the --
ISRAEL: That's not -- that's not -- we didn't -- I couldn't disclose it then because there was no collaboration Jake. There was no confirmation.
SAVIDGE: Peterson's attorney says any talk of his client not meeting the standards of police officers are patently untrue. Fred Guttenberg whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the attack says, "Peterson's statements and the fury over Israel's leadership as sheriff changes nothing."
FRED GUTTTENBERG, DAUGHTER WAS KILLED IN SHOOTING: I don't have sympathy for anybody right now that unfortunately didn't do what they needed to do to save my kid.
SAVIDGE: Scott Peterson says he looks forward to testifying and working with the FDLE, that's the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that the Governor of Florida has now tasks with investigating the police response of that horrible day. It's clear that Peterson believes that when everything is said and done, he will be exonerated. Martin Savidge, CNN Parkland, Florida.
SESAY: Well it seems some of President Trump's positions on gun control are subject to change. But (INAUDIBLE) he still supports that arming some teachers to deter potential school shooters.
The president met with state Governors on Monday and the Governor of Washington told him to listen to the many educators who say arming them is not the solution.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: You may have suggested arming our teachers and I just -- I just --
TRUMP: No, no. No, no. Not your teachers.
ISLEE: Not your -- TRUMP: Arming a small portion that are very gun adept that truly know how to handle because I do feel Governor it's very important that gun free zones, you have a gun free zone, it's like an invitation for these very sick people to go there.
I do think that there has to be some form of major retaliation if they're able to enter a school. And if that happens, you're not going to have any problems anymore because they're never going to the school, you're never going to have a problem. So it would just be a very small group of people that are very gun adept. Anyway, go ahead Jay.
INSLEE: If I may respond to that, let me just suggest whatever percentage it is, I heard it one time you might have suggested 20 percent. Whatever percentage it is, speaking as a grandfather, speaking as a Governor of the State of Washington, I have listened to the people who would be affected by that.
I have listened to the biology teachers and they don't want to do that at any percentage. I've listened to the first grade teachers that don't want to be pistol packing first grade teachers. I've listened to law enforcement who have said they don't want to have to train teachers as law enforcement agencies which takes about six months. Now I just think this is a circumstance where we need to listen that educators should educate and they should not be foisted upon this responsibility of packing heat in first grade classes.
Now, I understand you have suggested this and we suggest things and sometimes and we listen to people about it, maybe they don't look so good a little later. So I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here, a little more listening and let's just take that off the table and move forward.
TRUMP: All right. Thank you very much.
SESAY: Washington Governor Jay Inslee joins us now from New York. Governor Inslee, welcome.
INSLEE: Thanks for having me.
SESAY: So, you didn't hold back in your rejection of the president's idea of arming teachers. Was that a message you had always intended to deliver once you got to the White House or was that a spur of the moment thing?
INSLEE: Well, I did not know if we were going to exclusively deal with gun violence and once I knew that, it was clear to me that the teachers and the counselors and the educators and the law enforcement personnel who are tremendously and consistently against this bad idea that their voice needed to be heard in the White House.
The president did need to hear that there's almost five million educators through the organization has spoken against this because the teachers of America do not believe first grade teachers should be carrying glocks on their hips while they're trying to educated kids to read. And law enforcement personnel have said that we should not have untrained personnel and bringing a firearm into school and we should have teachers teaching rather than going to the police academy.
So there is a very, very consistent, robust, and powerful message from the people who deserve to be listened to in this discussion and that is the educators who are on the frontlines and they are very clear about this. And look, I'm close to this, my dad was a teacher, he's a biology teacher and coach, my brother and sister-in-law are all retired teachers. I just heard so many voices from the educational community that this is an unwise idea and it's just kind of an NRA talking point and a distraction from the real things that we need to do.
And so, I encourage the president to rethink this, to listen, and to reconsider this and hopefully take this bad idea off the table and let's work together in some other things, mental health included.
SESAY: Do you think you were able to get through to him? I mean, obviously you were in the room, give your read on first of all how he received what you're saying because it did appear to be some defensive body language as you spoke. But what was your read of how your point got across?
INSLEE: Well my sense was that I was talking to a person that doesn't receive criticism with great relish and I think that's unfortunate because I think this president needs to hear other voices and I think that's one of our problems, he's not hearing them.
In part, because some of my republican colleagues have not stood up to defend democracy and stand up to defend common sense. So we need those voices right now and I do think it's important for any president to be able to have an ear outside of his immediate circle and I was trying to make sure that teachers had a voice in the White House today and I wanted to make sure that the president gave thought to that, I hope he does.
SESAY: I mean, with that being said and now what appears to be the president's position on the age limit to purchase rifles changing, he had also indicated support for strengthening of background checks.
I mean, taking that on the phase of it, he hasn't changed his position publicly yet on that but taking that at phase value, how encouraged are you to hear the president express this position?
INSLEE: We always would like expressions of potential support but it has evaporated so many times. Look, I was at the White House a year ago at the Governors Association a year ago and I was assured by the current chief of staff that the dreamers had nothing to worry about from the Trump Administration.
That has not been the case. They have welshed on that commitment, they have exposed dreamers to being thrown out, these are people on my college campuses training to be computer scientists and doctors and start businesses. So if you're asking me, do we trust this president to fulfill his commitments of the evidence that would suggest that would be a very unwise bet, and we're going to keep espousing the views of educators and families and grandparents and I happen to be a grandparent.
I'll just tell you, I got three kids in a public school and the kids at County Washington, I don't want the third grade teachers having to be worried about the gun and how to secure the gun in the classroom. We want them helping these young children learn to read and that ought to be a position that we stick to.
SESAY: But Governor, according to new CNN polls, essentially has never been higher support here in the United States for stricter gun laws. We're seeing that number now sit at 70 percent. We have though in the past as you all know seen that support grow in the immediate aftermath of horrific mass shooting.
So I guess my question to you is, OK, yes, it's at 70 percent but do you think this moment is different because we've seen it spike before and nothing has gone down -- has happened. Is this moment different? Do you think there will be some changes made?
INSLEE: I think there are some differences and one of which is the incredible inspiration of young people, the people who are most at risk, who are demanding their elders and oppress the United States pitch in and really come up with common sense measures rather than this one to distract us.
And having the pistol packing first grade teachers is not the answer, young people are saying that and that is really I think inspiring and appropriately demanding the older generation to get off the (INAUDIBLE) and actually do something here in this common sense. I think that has changed the discussion, it has not changed it for me, I voted for ban -- to ban assault weapons, weapons of war back in 1994. So this has been consistent position. I wish it would have been adopted years ago so that we could have save people country. And I hope that we'll continue to move forward and I believe we will as a nation.
SESAY: Governor Jay Inslee, it's always good to speak to you. Thank you for joining us.
INSLEE: You bet. Thank you.
SESAY: Well Delta Airlines is facing a backlash after announcing it will no longer provide discounts to the members of the National Rifle Association. Other companies have also cut business ties with the NRA. Delta is one of the largest employers in the State of Georgia.
And republican leaders there are now threatening to block up a post- tax break that would have saved the airlines tens of millions of dollars. Georgia's Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagel wrote on Twitter, "I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstate its relationship with the NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."
Well, we will (INAUDIBLE) for a quick break. Next on NEWSROOM LA, U.S. President Trump has a job vacancy to fill and he's reportedly need some help from above in filling it. High flying details after the break.
SESAY: Well, the jokes are flying after it was reported, U.S. President Trump wants his personal pilot to head up the FAA. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates all aspects of air travel and that could Jeanne Moos wondering if the idea will take off.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Personal pilots can be pretty memorable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Mr. Goldfinger's personal pilot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just how personal is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a damn good pilot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But one "Axios" reported President Trump wants his personal pilot to head the FAA.
Reaction online was less goldfinger, more airplane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely you can't be serious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am serious and don't call me Shirley.
MOOS: Trump's pilot's name is John Duncan.
JOHN DUNCAN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL PILOT: Well folks, we got --
MOOS: He flew Trumpforce One during the campaign and told the Smithsonian channel that at 15 --
DUNCAN: I started flying airplane before I could drive a car.
MOOS: Now he's on the short list of pilots the Federal Aviation Administration.
TRUMP: I have a pilot who's the real expert.
MOOS: President Trump has praised Duncan publicly. If the president's pilot can be head of the FAA, why not these tongue and cheeks suggestions from Twitter. Melania's parents can run ice the immigration agency, and the adult film star linked to President Trump --
STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: Do I? MOOS: Stormy can run the national weather service. Pretty soon he will be pushing this fool for sergeant general. Tweeted one critic, "Breaking news, Spongebob, the head master of oceanic and atmospheric administration.
"Axios" quoted an aviation industry official acquitting Trump's pilot potentially leading the FAA with a Seinfeld episode, "Stay in the caddy." Kramer relies on his caddy for legal advice.
MOOS: Ever try on a bra, see if it's fits.
KRAMER: No, no, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do it Jackie. Stan's the man.
MOOS: But the pilot is no caddy and the administration source told "Axios" he's managed airline and corporate flight departments. Unfortunately, stay in the caddy bra advice backfire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't fit.
MOOS: If the bra doesn't fit, you must acquit. But is the president' pilot fit to lead the FAA? Jeanne Moos, CNN New York.
SESAY: Boy, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. Be sure to join us on Twitter at CNN NEWSROOM LA for highlights and clips from our shows and we will be back with more news right after this.
SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, ahead this hour.
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