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Secret Service: Man Fired Shots Before Killing Himself; Trump Whirlwind: Staff Drama, Trade Wars, Russia Probe; Central Michigan University Shooting Suspect Arrested; Relentless Chaos Grips White House; Suspected Russian Troll Deleted Details of Her Past. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 3, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: -- and Secret Service agents all rushed to the scene. They found a man dead. It appears he killed himself after firing several shots. Making this even more frightening, dozens of people were nearby, gathered in this spot just a few feet from the White House.
Let's go out to CNN's Ryan Nobles near the White House now. Ryan, what more do you know about this man and what he did today?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, things are somewhat back to normal here on the White House complex after that really scary moment this morning. It happened right around 11:46 Eastern Time and that's where that man came in front of the White House. On the north side of the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is a heavily trafficked area by pedestrians and tourists.
And he fired two shots. One of those shots, a self-inflicted gunshot wound that ultimately killed him. This was an apparent suicide attempt. Secret Service and police officers rushed to the scene. They cleared that area and began an investigation.
At one point, they found the vehicle he was driving in a couple blocks away from the White House. They used a bomb squad to check out the vehicle to make sure there was no problem with that vehicle. We do know there was an Alabama plate on that vehicle before it was ultimately removed.
And Ana, to answer your question, we don't know a whole lot about this individual other than he's a man. Secret Service has identified him, but they have not released that identity until they can notify his next of kin.
Secret Service also tells us that at no time was anybody in the White House in any danger although the shooting did take place hundreds of feet away from the front door of the White House. Of course, there was a barrier between where this man is and the White House.
A large fence and then a bike rack, but still, a very scary moment. The president and the first lady not in the White House at the time. They were in Florida. They have actually just arrived back here to the White House grounds in anticipation of the president's busy evening as he speaks at the Gridiron Club. But Ana, no doubt, this a very busy part of Washington, D.C. A very scary moment at this point only one person killed after this incident -- Ana.
CABRERA: Boy, scary moments, like you said. Could have been so much worse. Thank goodness it was only one person involved in all this.
Meantime, you mentioned the Gridiron Dinner taking place tonight in Washington. Sounds like the president and first lady will be heading there together. What can we expect?
NOBLES: You know, Ana, this is in general a lighthearted event that takes place at the Gridiron Club. This is a group of the most prominent journalists in America that gather once a year for this. It's essentially a roast where the speakers poke fun at other people that are at the dinner.
And this is something that the president chose to skip last year. Of course, he was in an open war with the media at the time. He skipped the Gridiron Club dinner and the White House Correspondents Dinner, which takes place in April.
So, perhaps this is a thawing of the president's relationship with the media, but it comes on the heels of him tweeting this morning criticism of the media. And it also comes at a time where he's taking a little heat for the surprise announcement to put a pretty heavy tariff on steel imports into the United States.
I just want to share with you two tweets that the president put out this morning to show, give us some inkling into his thinking today. He said, quote, "The United States has an $800 billion yearly trade deficit because of our very stupid trade deals and policies.
Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more." And then he did have a follow-up tweet talking about the E.U. and European Union, which has roundly criticized this move by the president and essentially has warned this could be the beginning of a trade war.
Ana, what's interesting about this position by the president is it runs counter to many of his Republican allies, particularly in the Congress, who have said that they do not agree with it. We'll see if the president touches on that at all when he arrives to the White House, as is happening right now, and if it comes up tonight, this is one of the big issues he has to tackle in the week ahead.
CABRERA: We know there will not be cameras allowed inside the Gridiron Dinner, but there will be plenty of reporters. We'll be bringing any news headlines to our viewers. Thank you, Ryan.
Of course, today's shooting there outside the White House caps off what has been a chaotic week in Washington. Here's a reminder of what has happened in just the last five days. First, we have Jared Kushner's security clearance downgraded meaning the White House calligrapher now has access to more classified information than the president's son-in-law.
Meantime, President Trump attacks Attorney General Jeff Sessions again, and this time, Sessions pushed back. We learned that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster could leave his position by the end of the month.
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks first testified that she sometimes tells white lies for the president. Then she announced she's resigning the very next day. It's unclear if that resignation, however, is connected to the testimony at all.
We also found out FBI counterintelligence officials are investigating one of Ivanka Trump's business deals and her husband's business ties could make him vulnerable too. "The Washington Post" says officials from at least four countries discussed ways to exploit Kushner.
[17:05:03] HUD Secretary Ben Carson had to apologize after buying a $31,000 dining room set with taxpayer money. And finally, President Trump made some off the cuff remarks that rattled his own party and even members of his own administration.
First, he suggested officials should take people's guns and then get to due process later. And then he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum, sending the stock market into shock and shocking some members of his cabinet.
That plan upsetting his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, so much, he threatened to resign. Even by Trump White House standards, it's been a pretty tumultuous tweak. Those close to the president says this week feels different than the rest. One source said, quote, "something is very wrong."
I want to bring in my panel. With me, CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali, CNN political analyst and historian, Julian Zelizer, and CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem.
Tim, I want to get your reaction to this stunning line from our Gloria Borger, who writes, "Not since Richard Nixon started talking to the portraits on the walls of the west wing as the president seemed so alone against the world." Do you agree?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I agree that since Donald Trump came to the White House, there was the challenge of containing him. We knew from the campaign, I mean, this is not Secret. Just the nature of his tweets, the nature of the things he said in public, that he had a temper, that he could rage.
So, it always seemed that he, like Richard Nixon, needed handlers, needed people around him, to make sure the best of the president came out in public and the worst parts of the president stayed in the White House.
What's been very clear in the last few weeks is that President Trump, for a number of reasons, can't get a team around him to stay. And he is unwilling or unable to listen to advice that would make his public face that of a strong leader who knows his mind. Let's take, for example, what happened with the NRA this week.
During that public session, he says things that are anathema to those who are against gun control. Then he meets with the NRA, then he tweets something different. Then it seems clear he might be for gun control. Then he meets again with the NRA, and it's different.
The fact of the matter is the president is not stable. He's not stable in his public persona. He's not giving stable leadership. The tariff business is a disaster, not simply for economic reasons. It will hurt people in the United States, but because he went around his own economic advisers to do that.
What that's giving us is a sense that Donald Trump is not allowing the White House to be a stable place. We knew he was a ragger. We knew he was impulsive, but he's not allowing the White House to make him a better president.
CABRERA: And Julian, you have a column which you kind of argue there is a method to this madness.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think this is the president we have seen since day one. There's really been a few moments of calm. But we're always surprised at the chaotic week that just happened.
CABRERA: So, was this a chaotic week, you think?
ZELIZER: It was, but it was a normal chaotic week. What I try to outline --
CABRERA: That seems like they shouldn't go together.
ZELIZER: They shouldn't, but that's the world we live in. There are elements of his political strategy you could see this week, meaning the trade, although it won't have the effects he's promising, these tariffs, are an appeal to the workers who constitute part of the base in the election in states like Michigan, who are looking for the president to do something about jobs.
The back and forth on the guns, it's a political maneuver. On television, he shows he's trying to figure something out and he's trying to listen to the anger that exists. But he knows the Republican Congress is not going to send him any bill, if any, that the NRA is going to be upset with. And finally --
CABRERA: You're saying he's in a safe space.
ZELIZER: It's win/win, and finally, there soap opera of the personnel keeps attention on what's going on in the White House. It keeps attention on personnel rather than policy, and investigation, and it reminds everyone in the White House, no one is safe if they cross the line of trying to defy him.
CABRERA: Let me ask Juliette about what this could mean for national security method or not, west wing staff is being affected. This week, we know Chief of Staff John Kelly joked that working in Trump's White House is God's punishment. And take a look at this "Politico" headline, "Demoralized west wing stokes fears over Trump's capacity to handle a crisis." What do you think? How might this affect the president's ability to handle a crisis, Juliette?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, I have no confidence that if a real crisis came, because all the ones we're mentioning are self-inflicted, that this White House would actually not know how to put the pieces together and provide the kind of leadership and let alone response that would be sort of in line with whatever the crisis is.
And I -- that's not a political statement. How could you look at what happened this week and think this is a group of people that I have confidence in if something were to happen.
[17:10:06] But I actually -- I have known Julian a long time, but I do disagree in one sense. I think some of these stories about the sort of absolute corruption of what's going on in the White House and the potential that Jared Kushner in particular was driving policy or meetings based around the ability of countries to pay to support the Kushner enterprise is really scary for national security.
One, it's because we now -- it's possible that Kushner was looking out for himself and not America's interests, but you also have to remember, we have allies out here, not just enemies, not just people who want to manipulate Jared Kushner. Allies who are looking at a world order that's kind of scary right now.
You have Russia wreaking havoc on Democratic voting processes and China rising in ways that we didn't anticipate even ten years ago, and they look to us for stability. And let's just say we're not showing it right now.
CABRERA: You both mentioned tariffs and this announcement this week that really did rattle the world. Tim, when you look in the past, what has happened when the U.S. has imposed something like this?
NAFTALI: Well, we haven't done much of this because we have had a bipartisan consensus that expanding trade opportunities and liberalizing trade is a good thing for all Americans. So, we see it occasionally when there's an example of unfair trading practices.
Dumping, where countries try to send, undercharge for something and dump cheap goods on us. There are ways through the international trade system to actually retaliate. But those are in retaliation for unfair trade practices.
What President Trump did this week was he was retaliating for the fact that Jared Kushner couldn't get a TSSEI. He was retaliating for the fact he's not in control of his own White House. So, he decided to do something he could do, which was he had been given the right, trade laws allow the president to impose tariffs if there's a national security reason.
CABRERA: So, that's how they -- NAFTALI: Commerce and the Pentagon gave this to him. But you know
what, this Congress, this Republican Congress, would never vote for these tariffs. He knew it. He did this as a way of saying I'm powerful, I'm president, and I'm going to get something done regardless.
CABRERA: Do you see a national security risk that comes from the steel and aluminum imports, Juliette?
KAYYEM: Yes. Absolutely. Sorry, I thought you said Julian.
KAYYEM: Already, you have seen Canada react in ways that let's just put it this way, Canadians don't normally react. They're our greatest ally in many respects. A very angry about the impact it will have on them as well as today we saw responses by the E.U., the largest trading entity in the world going to battle with us.
I don't go what this benefits us. As everyone now knows the steel tariff does not impact China as much as it impacts our allies, and this was an uninformed, ignorant, impetuous move that we know is done for all sorts of reasons that we can't quite understand now, but you asked me, I want to say, you asked me about crises in this White House.
After this week, I would say, we're in it. I mean, in other words, we don't need an outside crisis now. What is happening to the world order and the economic order, we're in it. And I don't know how this one ends, to be honest.
CABRERA: Julian, let me ask you quick, because I know there have been times in history where we had a trade war of sorts, to use the president's term. He says trade wars are easy to win. What does history tell us?
ZELIZER: They're not. We got into one in the 1930s and we got into a great depression. The evidence is pretty clear that they're not good for the country. They're not good for workers. They're not good for the people they intend to help.
Symbolically, just symbolically, I do still think there is a political logic to what he's doing. This was like immigration. It was a promise he made on his campaign trail and he's trying to show he's going to deliver.
CABRERA: Like the Paris Climate Accord, right?
ZELIZER: The reality, though, is this one could really backfire on the very people it's meant to hurt, and he and the Republicans would pay at the ballot box for that.
NAFTALI: Beer cans will be more expensive. Cars will be more expensive. More Americans are going to be hurt by this than those who benefit because the steel industry will improve slightly. This is a big loser for the Republicans and -- ZELIZER: If he goes through with it. He says a lot of things and
then he doesn't. So that's the question.
NAFTALI: If he doesn't go through with it, it once again shows he's a weak president.
CABRERA: Gentlemen, Juliette, thank you all. Great to have you with us. I know there's always more to discuss. We'll have you back. Thank you.
Coming up, a Michigan college student, news here from his attempt and his success, unfortunately, according to police, in shooting and killing his parents. We have new details on their case next.
[17:15:07] Also, ahead, caught on tape, a plane trying to land in the middle of a storm with ferocious winds. Details on the bomb cyclone that hit the northeast. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. Just as students at Central Michigan University were getting ready to leave for spring break, gunfire erupted, giving their school the distinction of now being the 12th school shooting so far this year.
Here's what we know. James Eric Davis Jr., age 19, was taken into custody early this morning after a day-long manhunt. Police say he used his father's gun to kill his parents, who were inside one of the university's residence halls.
CNN's Scott McLean is in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, for us. Scott, police are saying this suspect was apparently acting erratic, even before the shooting. What have you learned?
[17:20:04] SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. Though it is not clear why he was acting strange, this all started on Thursday when police say Davis told them an incoherent story about a vague threat. Despite police intervention and a visit to the hospital, and even a visit from Davis' own parents just hours later, he had set off a manhunt.
MCLEAN (voice-over): In Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, the last school day before spring break turned out to be the start of a day-long manhunt. Early Friday morning, the sound of gunfire from the fourth floor of this dormitory sent the Central Michigan campus into a panic. Buildings were locked down, and students were told to stay indoors while police scoured the area for the gunman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thought obviously is it could be a mass shooting, which is something no students want to happen at their college. It's unimaginable.
MCLEAN: Police were searching for James Davis Jr., a 19-year-old student who encountered police the night before behaving irrationally and speaking incoherently. Police say they suspected he was on drugs and sent him to the hospital to be evaluated.
The next morning, his parents Diva and James, Sr., a police officer, picked him up for spring break. According to police, security footage shows Davis Jr. in the parking lot returning to the residence hall with his father's handgun. Inside of his dorm room, police say he shot and killed both of his parents.
GEORGE E. ROSS, PRESIDENT, CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY: We read about shooters on campuses across this country and in communities. We talk about it. We practice what would happen if it happens here and never envisioned it could happen at Central Michigan University. We are a safe community. We are a safe campus. But yesterday, we demonstrated the ability to deal with the inconceivable.
MCLEAN: The police search stretched almost 16 hours, until a train operator spotted Davis Jr. near the tracks on campus, barely half a mile from his dorm.
CHIEF BILL YEAGLEY, CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY POLICE: I don't know if he hid someplace and we missed him. I don't know if he wasn't in that area when we searched it and doubled back. I don't know is the answer.
MCLEAN: One of Davis Jr.'s friends who lives across the hall says he is a quiet kid. He didn't think was capable of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): Something in him just must have gone wrong that day, I guess.
MCLEAN: And his friend also told us that Davis seemed close with his parents, and his parents seemed supportive of him. What triggered all of this is now the subject of the police investigation -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Scott McLean, thank you. And by the way, I want to ask you really quick. I understand there was something about the gun. What more have you learned about that?
MCLEAN: Yes, so this gun, as I mentioned, belonged to Davis' father, a police officer in suburban Chicago, though, it is not clear at this point whether it was his service weapon or a personal gun. According to police here, despite the fact that he was a police officer, that gun was never even allowed to be on this campus.
One other thing I should mention, Ana, that's when police found Davis, he was hypothermic. He was shivering outside, and he was brought to the hospital, ultimately. As of this afternoon, police have yet to interview him.
CABRERA: All right. Still a mystery there. Thank you, Scott McLean in Mt. Pleasant for us.
Coming up, is the White House still a family affair for President Trump or is it time for Jared and Ivanka to go? A new report in "The New York Times" suggests the president may be pushing for some major changes. That's next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
CABRERA: How are Republicans reacting to what was a wild week at the White House? One of Trump's closest confidantes, Hope Hicks, calling it quits. The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, losing his top- secret clearance amid increasing ethical scrutiny. President Trump's surprised decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports sending Wall Street into a tail spin. The list goes on and on.
Let's talk it over with Republican strategist, Alice Stewart, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, 2016 presidential bid, and Republican, Ken Blackwell, the former domestic policy adviser for the Trump transition team and former Ohio secretary of state. Thank you both for being here.
Ken, I'll start with you. What stood out to you from Trump's wild week, tariffs, ethics, strained family relationships, or something else?
KEN BLACKWELL, FORMER DEMOCRATIC POLICY ADVISER, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: A matter of style and what Washington is accustomed to. We have a president that has led a tightly held family-controlled LLC, never had to deal with a publicly traded company that had a board of directors and shareholders, so the lines of authority were pretty direct and very, very clear.
Now, he's running what we could say is the largest publicly traded company in the world in the federal government. So, it is a clash of styles, and what has been considered to be the norm in Washington. I think he has a management by chaos style.
There's nothing new and shouldn't be surprising and so, I anticipated that the churning in this administration would be much more rapid than the previous administrations.
CABRERA: So, do you think it's working for him, then, if this is a management by chaos style?
BLACKWELL: Well, I look at his agenda. His agenda is moving. He in fact accomplished a lot with his management of the tax policy initiative that has accelerated economic growth, has increased jobs, has bumped up labor participation, and he's changed the flow of capital back into this country where there is business expansion and the workers are realizing bonuses and raises of income.
[17:30:12] So by measuring the agenda, and the timeframe, it's working. But it's kept a lot of folks off balance, both inside the White House and outside the White House.
CABRERA: Well, there have been a ton of turnover inside the White House.
Go ahead, Alice. ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was just going to say,
Ken is exactly right. We knew based on the president's history that he ran his businesses leadership by chaos. We're seeing the exact same thing in the White House. And a lot of people, especially those on the left, say the chaos at what cost? But the reality is, we're talking a lot about the palace intrigue and the high staff turnover, and that list you gave at the top of the segment of all the chaos going on this week. I traveled the country talking to GOP groups, and they're not focused on this. They're focused on, as Ken said, his agenda and what he will do next. And granted, I think the tax reform plan, the tax cut plan was great. And they're looking at what is he going to do with guns. The gun policy and addressing gun violence, that's extremely critical. So if we're talking about that, they don't get caught up in the day to day palace intrigue at the White House. They're looking more at policy.
CABRERA: How can the Republican Party focus on anything right now because the president has been all over the map this week? Even what he's saying on one particular policy seems to change the next day. We have Republican lawmakers calling the meeting on guns surreal, thinking he's all of a sudden sounding like a Democrat. You have the tariffs announcement, which our reporting has -- as we reported, he's got members of his administration that have threatened to resign over that. You have the fourth communications director for this White House resigning this week, who we know was a loyal supporter of the president. You look at this "Politico" cartoon here, and it shows a little bit about how many communications directors have left.
Alice, why? Why are these people jumping ship?
STEWART: Well, the question is, are they jumping ship or are they pushed out? You know, based on the president not being satisfied with them anymore. And you raise some good points. Those two issues you talked about, with regard to the steel tariffs, he came out and mentioned the fact that he wanted to impose tariffs on steel imports, which that goes along with a campaign promise he made to support American steel manufacturers, which is a great idea. However, the rollout of that, I think they could have done a much better job of explaining it much more. They plan to do that in the near future, but there's clearly backlash. The markets have taken a tremendous dive and there's going to be pushback. While it may help those who manufacture steel, those who use steel in manufacturing their goods, they'll be hurt. Steel manufacturers will benefit in the short term, but those who use it will hurt in the long run.
As for the gun violence, yes, it has been a concern for NRA members like myself and gun owners, what he plans to do. But having talked with people that have visited with him personally, he is dead set on making sure that we do take action to reduce gun violence in schools and elsewhere, and that goes with strengthening background checks, hardening schools, which I think is a great idea, looking at banning bump stocks and also taking a close look at how we deal with mental health issues. The key is keeping guns out of the hands of who will be harmful to themselves and others. So right now, he's in the listening phase. Hopefully, they narrow it down and get to some real solutions to address this serious problem.
CABRERA: We saw it with immigration, the roundtable that got a lot of blowback. The president changing, shifting opinions.
Ken, do you see it turning out different this time on the issue of guns?
BLACKWELL: I really do. I think, first, let me say I think the president, he is the message. And General Kelly is managing down. He's not managing up. You're not going to control this president. This president will lead. And I think in the final Analysis, we will be looking at the problem. You know, and the problem is a cultural problem in our country where we have cheapened life. Life has been cheapened, and we have to address that. We should be concerned about whether people are killed by guns, cars, or knives. The fact is that a cheapening of life and a systemic breakdown that has to be done. This kid should have been flagged, and he should have been given care in Florida. And he wasn't. And we can't act as if the gun was the problem. The problem was a system failure.
[17:35:05] CABRERA: Ken, there was --
BLACKWELL: And the president is concerned about that.
CABRERA: There was something else that came out this week that I want to get your thoughts on as an African-American supporter of the president. This poll from the A.P. and NORC that finds 57 percent of Americans believe President Trump is a racist. What's your reaction?
BLACKWELL: Well, that is troubling. And I don't believe that to be the case. Look, he is not politically correct. He, in fact, can say things in a very direct, unartful way. But the reality is, take a look at his policy agenda and what that impact has had across the board, on blacks, whites, men and women. It's an agenda that facilitates economic growth. It props up job opportunities. And it is one that has basically said all Americans are safer when you stop the hollowing out of our military and you put us on solid footing where he can lead in the two areas that presidents can lead. That is affecting the direction of our national economy and securing the safety of Americans, both at home and abroad.
CABRERA: Alice, why do so many Americans believe the president is a racist?
STEWART: Like Ken said, he's not politically correct and a lot of things he says, and look, I'll agree. I don't approve of his tone and tactic on things, but I do support his policies. And to be quite blunt, he's an equal opportunity offender. He calls it like he sees it with everyone. If you take a closer look at that poll, the numbers really reflect the number of people who are --
CABRERA: He doesn't call it like he sees it with Putin when you talk about the Russia election. The Russian election meddling in the U.S. election.
STEWART: Sadly, that's true.
BLACKWELL: Let me give you perspective. I think Homeland Security and a whole host of other players, major players, are taking a look at the vulnerabilities in our system. They're working with the secretaries of state and election officials across the country. One of the benefits of our system is that it's decentralized. One of the challenges of our system is it's decentralized, and it forces collaboration and cooperation. And I think that what's been placed in motion is a system that will facilitate that sort of collaboration. There's an understanding that our system is vulnerable. It's vulnerable to the Chinese, to the Russians. And what we need is a commitment to deal with those vulnerabilities. And I think we have that from this White House.
CABRERA: Alice, what about the family situation in the White House right now, with all of the headlines? The investigations into Jared Kushner's financial ties, his family's ties, his meetings with foreign officials that come around the time that his family business got loans. And then on top of it, Ivanka Trump's business ties to the Trump Tower and a hotel in Vancouver, Canada, is also under investigation by the FBI. At what point is he going to say, my family is hurting me more than they're helping me?
STEWART: I wonder if he'll ever get to that point. I think this is the classic reason why we have nepotism laws. And keeping immediate family members out of these types of high level positions, given the questions about their financial ties and whether or not they fully sever them, and concern I see is the four countries that have said they had intentions of trying to capitalize on the fact that Jared is vulnerable with regard to his inexperience and his business struggles that his family business is having. That being said, anyone who thinks that the president is going to put them outside the White House, especially in light of Hope Hicks leaving this week, I think is mistaken. He trusts them. He values their opinion. They have -- they're well respected and liked within the high levels of the administration. Despite all of this, concerns about the financial ties, I don't see them going anywhere. I believe if he was going to do it, he would do it himself with regard to the family members and not put it off on John Kelly. But who knows.
CABRERA: Who knows? You never know.
CABRERA: Real quick, Ken. You get the last word, and then we've got to go.
BLACKWELL: She is absolutely correct. This is a Trump model which has not been seen before. It started with the campaign, as my colleague can tell you, he ran a different sort of campaign. And he is now running a different sort of White House. And I just believe, I told you before at the beginning, his style has come from his experience. And like me, I'm 18 months younger than the president. We're set in our ways. And the style that he understands is a very streamline administration where there's a tightness that is underscored by family. So I agree that they're not going anywhere. But the chief of staff will in fact make sure that there's integrity in the process of vetting.
[17:40:17] CABRERA: Ken Blackwell and Alice Stewart, thank you both. I appreciate your thoughts.
STEWART: Thanks, Ana.
BLACKWELL: Thank you.
CABRERA: Some breaking news on the bomb cyclone now that struck the northeast. Coming up, we have new details, the devastating and deadly toll of the ferocious winds, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:44:36] CABRERA: Right now, nearly 900,000 people are without power from the mid-Atlantic to New England. As a devastating bomb cyclone pushing out to sea, at least six people have died now. That death toll climbing, includes an 11-year-old boy in New York. All of these people were killed by falling trees as the fierce storm hammered the northeast, packing really powerful winds, torrential downpours and snow. Near-record setting high tide levels in Massachusetts caused historic flooding as well. The National Guard reported to have rescued at least 50 people from their homes. And take a look at this really incredible video out of northern Virginia. The winds so strong, they were able to push this airplane almost sideways. The pilot forced to abort the landing and try again.
In two weeks, we begin a new season of "CNN Heroes," everyday people changing the world. But where do we find these amazing individuals? With your help.
Today, we want you to meet a woman who successfully nominated her personal hero to be a "CNN Hero." Thanks to her, Sister Theresa Fitzgerald was honored for offering thousands of incarcerating women and their children a chance for a fresh start.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met her at the correctional facility. It was through her love and her support that really helped me regain my life.
SISTER THERESA FITGERALD, CNN HERO: Hi. How are you?
I'm happily a "CNN Hero" thanks to Juliana's brave recommendation of my credentials.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like, oh, my goodness. For everything she's done for me, I did something for her that no one else did. You know? So it felt really good. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: If you know someone who deserves to be a "CNN Hero," please nominate them right now at CNNheroes.com.
We'll be right back.
[17:50:50] CABRERA: A suspected Russian Internet troll, who is living in the U.S., is now in hiding and appears to be deleting details of her past.
Senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has her story.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: She an English language expert, Ana, and was hired for her English skills by a subsidiary of the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency. But the possible Russian troll appears to be erasing that part of her past.
(voice-over): Just last week, Agata Burdonova was a blogger filming herself and telling her followers back in Russia about the marvels of living in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Washington.
AGATA BURDONOVA, ALLEGED RUSSIAN TROLL: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GRIFFIN: Even crossing the street was worth a post. It doesn't change the light, she tells anyone who followed her, until you press the button.
Her life was displayed online with Burdonova blogging the smallest of details.
That was until a TV news service outed as a potential Russian troll. Rain TV, an independent Russian news channel, says it confirmed through former employees of the Internet Research Agency that Burdonova worked here at the St. Petersburg Russia agency, the one in the center of U.S. investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In Burdonova's own LinkedIn account, she describes working at the company called Mix Info from 2014 through October of 2015. The company was named in the recent indictment from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office as one of several fronts that the Internet Research Agency used to obscure its conduct.
Though Burdonova is not accused of any crime nor listed in the indictment, the description of her work mirrors the type of activities outlined by U.S. prosecutors.
Burdonova's own LinkedIn account describes her work there as "translations between Russian and English, managing social media accounts and creating content on topics that included news, social sphere, history, culture and economics. According to the special prosecutor's indictment, the unit was
referred to internally as the Translator Project and focused on the U.S. population and conducted operations on social media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Burdonova has stopped posting on her Russian social media page. And her LinkedIn account has been changed. There reference to Mix Info deleted.
When contacted by CNN for comment, the prolific blogger texted, "Please do not waste your time. I'm not going to talk to any journalists."
(on camera): Ana, the couple moved to the Seattle area in December after Burdonova's husband was hired by an international gaming company there. He's here on a work visa. She came as a spouse.
The U.S. special counsel's office is aware of Burdonova's presence because of news reports but, so far, has no comment to us -- Ana?
CABRERA: Drew Griffin, so interesting. Thank you.
We'll be right back.
[17:58:30] CABRERA: A small orange pin will carry a big message on the Oscars red carpet tomorrow night, a message advocating gun control. "People" magazine reports that some A-listers will be wearing the orange American flag pins from the advocacy group Every Town for Gun Safety. This organization bills itself as the movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. The move comes two weeks after that mass shooting inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. George and Amal Clooney and Oprah Winfrey have collectively donated a million dollars to a march against gun violence organized by the young shooting survivors.
We're learning that the royal family plans to invite at least 2,600 members of the public to the next royal wedding. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are opening up the grounds of Windsor Castle for their wedding day. At least half of those invited will be school kids and charity workers. And the couple wants to include people from a broad range of backgrounds and ages, including young people who have shown strong leadership and community service.
I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thanks for spending some time with me. I'll be back in a couple of hours, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
"SMERCONISH" is next, followed by "THE AXE FILES" at 7:00. See you soon.