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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  December 15, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST

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the best parts online or shop in-store. do the work yourself. or get it done by a pro. all roads lead to 4-w-p. do your rig right. shop online or find your store at ♪ good morning. i am in for fredricka whitfield. we are following a number of breaking stories this morning.
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first, the trump administration losing yet another cabinet member. interior secretary, ryan zinke, has resigned and will leave the administration at the end of the year. he has growing scrutiny because of a number of investigations. right now we move on to our other breaking story, the future of health care for millions of americans is up in the air. a federal judge in texas striking down obamacare, a controversial ruling that is setting the scene for a major legal battle ahead. this could leave the fate of obama's health care landmark law in the hands of the courts. the mandate that requires all americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty, and congress eliminated that penal tea as part of the 2016 tax cut
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bill and now the judge is saying that part of the mandate is unconstitutional. many states are calling the ruling an assault, while president trump who campaigned against obamacare is taking a victory lap on twitter touting that new ruling. we are joined by our supreme court reporter. break it down for us. obamacare, signing up for that ends at midnight and millions have signed up for 2019, and this will not immediately affect them? >> it won't. but this is a really broad ruling. the judge said not only is the individual mandate unconstitutional, and he said the whole law must go. it sends into doubt the future of a lot of peoples' thinking about health care. he said it can remain in effect
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pending appeal. let me walk you through the history of it, and we understand how we got through today. remember back in 2012, the supreme court upheld the constitutionality of the mandate. flash forward here to 2017, congress acts to get rid of the penalty. the judge last night says, look, you got rid of the tax penalty and that's the legal under pinning of the supreme court opinion. not only is the individual mandate unconstitutional, but everything else must fall and that's a huge win for critics of obamacare. >> as you and i were discussing before the show this goes well beyond what the trump administration wanted. it will go through an appeals process but could make its way to the supreme court and the supreme court shifted dramatically since the last ruling. how does it all play out? >> remember, the trump administration declined to
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defend this law, so california and a group of other states, they stepped in and last night they said we are going to the fifth circuit, and that's a very conservative federal appeals court in texas. the fifth circuit will look at it, and if it upholds exactly what o'connor did then this thing will shoot to the supreme court because it's so broad. the fifth circuit could scale back a little bit so maybe it wouldn't go to the court, but the court likes to hear things when they are big and national laws like this, and we have the new conservative majority but we might have a concern about what is called severability. they will have to look at it if it gets to them. >> a lot of moving parts. but the important part to remember is nothing changes immediately but it's in jeopardy. >> yes. >> a lot of drama ahead.
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the affordable care act, that is that a major staple of the law, the pre-existing conditions on both sides among democrats and republicans. joining me now is one of the architects of obamacare, jonathan gruber. thank you so much for joining us this morning. what is your reaction to the ruling out of texas? >> i think it's disappointing. it's a per version of representative democracy. republicans control the congress and had a chance to strike down obamacare and they said no, we are going to leave obamacare and strike down the tax penalty. they have said it's severable. republicans have spoken and said it's severable. and the judge says, no, i will declare it unseverable. even legal experts are saying it's ridiculous, even if they
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were opposed to the affordable care act. >> and they say because the mandate was unconstitutional, the whole law is as well. that mandate was known as central and inseverable, as you were just discussing, from the remainder of obamacare. do you agree? >> when the law passed we thought the mandate was a very important part of the law. we have proven it's important but not as important as we thought, because we have experience of the law without it, and they removed the mandate. we are seeing it raises premiums, and the law remains quite strong, although not as strong as it might have been. we have seen the law is severable and the law still works without it, and congress and its wisdom declared it's severable, and it said, look, we will keep the law but remove the mandate penalty. there's no basis for a judge in texas to just say despite what the body that represents the people have said, i am going to
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decide this is not severable. there's no reason to do it. >> are you confident in the appeals process this will not go any further? >> no, i am not confident. previous cases on the affordable care act has all been clearly by an objective standard easy wins, and yet they passed by the skin of their teeth. constitutional experts in 2012 by an 80 to 90% margin said the mandate was unconstitutional, and the supreme court found it was not. the supreme court does care about the opinion of the american people. the american people have spoken. they believe that protecting people with pre-existing conditions against insurance market discrimination is a key contribution of the law, and indeed it is. i think hopefully the supreme court will see that that's something that matters to people, and that because of some obscure severability clause or
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lack of severability they will not go against the will of the congress. >> you say you are nervous and at the same time you say the supreme court listens to the will of the american people, but now we have a supreme court that has two new conservative justices with gorsuch and kavanaugh on it. if it makes its way on the supreme court, do you have any sense of how you think they might rule or the whole court would rule? >> i honestly don't. i hope they look and realize even without the individual mandate, we are talking about a law that provided insurance to 17 million people, and for the 133 million americans with pre-existing conditions, it's saying don't worry, if you lose health insurance you can buy it on the exchange. if the law goes away we return to a day where people who are sick can't get health insurance, which defeats the whole purpose of the product. >> thank you so much for joining us this morning. >> you bet. joining me now is a congressional reporter and assistant editor at the
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washington post, and cnn political commentator. david, let's start with you. protecting those with pre-existing conditions was a vocal point of the mid-term campaigns and did help democrats take back the house. what do you think are the political consequences of the ruling? >> good morning, alex. i think the political consequences are that republicans have now basically done the equivalent of playing jenga, pulled the bottom block out of something hoping it will collapse. as your previous guest said it will probably go up to the supreme court to resolve this, and if the affordable care act does fall apart, you have a divided congress that will not agree on how to procee with health care and that will leave millions of americans who defeneded on the affordable care act in a lurch. republicans have been unable to plan their plans, which are a
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version of, you know, market-based health care where states can choose what kind of plans they have. the two sides are far apart. i don't think democrats in the immediate future are going to be able to deliver on this because they don't have the senate. i think republicans are going to have to answer in the coming months why they want to take this apart if they don't have a plan in place that can replace it, a that's clearly better. >> kelsey, picking up on that, the soon-to-be house speaker, pelosi, slammed this. is there anything else she can did? >> she's capable for bringing up bills for the house to vote on, and she can bring back the penalty for the individual mandate zeroed out by republicans last year. i think it's important that this is a big political issue for pelosi. she firmly believes and has strong evidence that republicans lost many, many congressional races in states like new jersey, in florida, and in california
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based on messaging the affordable care act because voters liked this law, and they really do like the protections that are in the law. >> right. >> david, a point i have been trying to get at with some of our guests, if we play it out and it gets to the supreme court and you have the supreme court that is conservative with neil gorsuch and kavanaugh, and you have a solid 5-6 conservative majority. how will that affect things? >> it's a little bit of a wait and see. this texas federal judge has a reasonable if not ultimately winning point that if the supreme court in 2012 premised its upholding of the affordable care act on the idea that this was part of congress's taxing power but now the law does not
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include the pen penalty or tax, then that premise is gone. and you were talking about the severability issue on your program earlier, and i can't get into the minds of the justices, including justice roberts who is the chief justice, but who in 2012 clearly saw what would happen if the supreme court intervened to essentially undo the will of congress. i have to go with wait and see right now, alex. >> wait and see it is. we have more to discuss. david and kelsey stay with us. we will take a quick break. still ahead, turmoil inside the white house just after president trump names nick mulvaney as his acting chief of staff. ryan zinke steps down among several ethical investigations. we will be live from the white house, next.
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another cabinet member after naming an acting chief of staff. in a tweet this morning the president announcing the resignation of ryan zinke. trump tweeted ryan zinke is stepping down at the end of the year. he was under growing pressure under a number of ethics enquiries, and mulvaney will be the acting chief of staff at the end of the year, and mulvaney will somehow continue in his job in the omb. let's bring in sarah at the white house. sarah, zinke was in trouble because of all the investigations but his departure didn't seem imminent, did it? why did all this happen today? >> well, alex, ryan zinke's fate with the administration was unclear for months now after headlines he generated, and the
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timing of his departure comes amid a massive staff shake-up across the west wing and cabinet. ryan zinke was facing a number of probes from the department of interiors, inspector general over allegations that he used his post to enrich himself and perhaps had a relationship with the chairman of haliburton, and abuse poe t abuse potentially of the conduct after referring work to the justice department. zinke's departure does create some headaches for the white house. >> switching over to mulvaney for a second, he has been named
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acting chief of staff, emphasis on the acting, and somehow he is going to do that difficult and time-consuming job while holding on to his job as the head of the omb? >> that's what the administration says, although the day-to-day work will be taken over by a deputy, and he took over as head of the cfb earlier that was a little controversial at the time. the president is accepting mulvaney in the position, and the president ultimately was not able to come to an agreement weeks ago with his first choice, nick ayers, because ayers wanted to hold it on a temporary basis as well, and the president is suddenly okay with acting an acting chief of staff. >> thank you for breaking that all down. back with me to discuss this is
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david and kelsey. the fact that the first choice for chief of staff, nick ayers, the reason those talks broke down is because he wanted the acting title and trump didn't. why do you think he accepted it with mulvaney? is it just to squash any perception that nobody wants the job? >> it may just be that. there are other candidates who said no or have been turned down since ayers said he didn't want the job, and it may also to be to put a little ease with people in congress because mulvaney has an odd relationship with folks up there, particularly with democrats. >> he was there for six years. >> he was. and there are democrats out there saying trump is picking mulvaney because he wants to have a bigger shutdown fight and mulvaney has been a credit of government spending and he was one of the republicans that always fought to keep spending limited, so it's entirely possible he is trying to calm
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the waters. >> he's a true partisan and supporter of the president so it's unlikely he will be that middle ground diplomat -- >> that's not the expectation people have for the type of chief of staff we would see from mulvaney. >> and david, to you, the president's new acting chief of staff has not had kind words for the president in the past, specifically before the 2016 election, and overnight there's new video we found of mulvaney before election day and in it mulvaney explains why he is reluctantly supporting trump. let's take a quick listen to that and talk on the other side. >> yes, i am supporting donald trump, so as enthusiastic as i can be given the fact he's a terrible human being. >> i wonder if the president has seen that piece of video. assuming he does at some point, do you think mulvaney will become the permanent chief of staff? >> no idea. i have not seen that video yet,
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alex, but i have two reactions to it. one is even though it's a little more blunt than most would put it, in some ways i think that's an articulation of a bargain that a lot of republican voters made with trump in 2016, they didn't think he was great on issues of personal character but preferred him to secretary clinton, they liked his agenda and wanted a republican in the white house with a republican congress so they made that deal and went with them and now here they are, and now here congressman mulvaney or rather director mulvaney is now. he's a loyal trump soldier now, and served as omb director, and he's got the right resume but i agree with what kelsey said to you a minute ago, the fact that you have to take him on an interim basis shows how much people don't want this job. >> kelsey, when you hear -- to david's point -- that people
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don't want this job and the president saying many people want the job, which is true? are people lining up to be the chief of staff in the white house at this time? >> not as far as we have seen. there are people that enjoyed having their names out there or were not discouraging the conversation about their candidacy, but we have not seen a lot of people coming forward. it would be a difficult job. we have seen that through a number of people who have gone through it already. >> very difficult because we have the democrats taking over the house, and also the possible end of the mueller investigation, so this is a white house under fire. >> yeah, this is a time when things are going to get a little stickier. >> david, how could mulvaney help trump navigate the mueller investigation, and we have seen a number of events this week with regards to flynn, cohen and manafort, and so mueller could wrap things up in the early
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months of next year, and how do you think mulvaney will help with that? >> he knows congress as a former member of congress so he can help the president with the ins and outs of the committee process, if he is not on the best of terms with all the democrats in congress, that's the book on mulvaney. he has a fresh start with bad blood brewing between the president and general kelly, and the president didn't have c confidence in reince priebus, and so he can say where do we go from here, a fresh start? and the mueller investigation coming to a conclusion perhaps sometime in the next few months and the president is looking at a situation where he already has done a tax cut into a full employment environment, so if there's a recession, let's say, what stimulative things can he approach congress with at this point? it's going to be a tough sled for any chief of white house in this congress, i think.
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>> and mulvaney coming in as an acting secretary, and you have john kelly leaving and ryan zinke leaving and that follows scott pruitt and tom price. how battered does the white house become with these two high-profile departures after the long string of other departures? >> this is not necessarily something that will calm critics down, and it's not going to be easy in the senate, because they are going to have to confirm the replacement for zinke and the attorney general. we have seen the vice president break more ties than several of his predecessors combined. this is a serious backlog and serious issue in the white house in the very beginning of next year. >> we could spend hours on it, but we have to go. coming up, interview showdown.
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♪ there's no place likargh!e ♪ i'm trying... ♪ yippiekiyay. ♪
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mom. ♪ the special counsel overseeing the russia investigation still wants a face-to-fa face-to-fa face-to-face meeting with president trump, but the lawyer's lawyer is saying a sit-down will not happen. the special counsel is dismissing suggestions by flynn's lawyers that he lied to
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the fbi because he was set up. the memo caps a head-spinning week of revelations that shows the legal walls are closing in on trump and the people around him. these are the current active investigations in and around trump's orbit. the trump campaign, the trump transition team and the trump inaugural committee and the trump organization and foundation and the trump administration itself. cnn's erica ordin is following this. the flynn legal team and the mueller legal team says flynn deserves no jail time because of the extensive cooperation, and now they are saying flynn's version of the facts is untrue and he should have known that lying to investigators is against the law. >> one of the important things to keep in mind is both sides asked for little to no prison time for michael flynn, however
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the prosecutors had been pushing back against some of the flynn's claims and one affect that all of this may have in terms of the sentencing is the judge has seen somewhat responsive to some of what flynn brought up in some of the court filings, and you saw the judge request more material in response to some of the claims. what you may see during sentencing is the judge seeking to elicit more information on some of the issues from both sides, from flynn's attorneys and the special counsel team. you may see the judge enquire with flynn and his attorneys about why flynn is bringing up some of these -- some of these claims right now just before -- just prior to his sentencing. >> how do you think it plays into the sentencing on tuesday?
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i understand his legal team is asking for probation, and given that flynn clearly irked the mueller folks, could he face pris prison? >> both sides asked little to no prison time, and the mueller team has gone into detail about flynn's level of cooperation and assisting the investigation, and it doesn't seem likely these kinds of claims will change the ultimate sentence for him. >> the major question, what did flynn tell the prosecutors in more than 62 hours of conversations about trump. thank you so much for breaking that down for us. >> thank you. for more, let's bring in a former federal prosecutor and state prosecutor.
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mueller says this will not change his recommendation and flynn will receive no jail time. what does this tell us about mueller's process and what were flynn's lawyers doing calling out the fbi in the first place in the sentencing memo? >> i do not think this will change mueller's recommendation of no jail time but i do think flynn's lawyers overstepped here and went down a road they didn't need to. their guy was perfectly seufp waited to get no jail. the fbi has no obligation to tell somebody they ought to get a lawyer, and that's different from a miranda setting. the fbi did not have to warn flynn, if you lie to us, that's a crime. by the way of all people who
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should know that it should be the incoming national security adviser. i don't see any benefit to this for flynn. the judge has shown interest, and that could mean the judge is thinking about throwing the case out. i don't think that's likely. it could mean the judge on the opposite side is ticked off and think flynn truly has not accepted responsibility now and that could result in a higher sentence. >> flynn was questioned by the fbi agents and the fbi agents did not tell him lying to the fbi was illegal, and the mueller's team response was that somebody like flynn should know that. and flynn was cooperating extensively, and he was part of the campaign and transition and part of the administration. does it looks like this is a test case for other potential
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cooperators? >> it could be. look, i always approach cooperators from the point of view that other potential coop kwrae -- cooperators are watching. the cooperators who have messed around and played games and stretched the truth he has thrown out. papadopoulos, right, mueller put in a very negative sentencing memo on papadopoulos, and paul manafort, who mueller threw out altogether, and manafort is looking at an extremely high sentence. there is important messages to be sent, if you cooperate and do it right and truthfully you will get a benefit but if you come and play games it will back fire. >> the special counsel still wants to interview president trump on the russia investigation, and his lawyers have pushed back and say they are opposed and don't want to do that. here is what president trump's former lawyer, michael cohen, said about the president's
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truthfulness. take a listen. >> special counsel did say you were doing your best to tell the truth about everything related to their investigation, everything related to russia. do you think president trump is telling the truth about that? >> no. >> so very simply, is it in president trump's interest to sit down with mueller? >> no, if i was representing the president i would fight that at all costs. there are two ways this can go. they can agree to terms of an interview between mueller and trump's team, and i don't think that will happen because i don't believe trump is willing to walk him into a room with mueller and answer questions. if not the ball moves over to mueller's court, is he going to issue a subpoena. >> if he issues a subpoena that has to be approved by million's bosses, rod rosenstein, and matt whitaker until there's a new attorney general, so it's unclear whether that subpoena
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would come into effect. and the last question, the trump entities as we highlighted at the top there are under investigation across the board and it feels to some extent the walls are closing in on the president. what does it mean for trump legally, penally, himself? should he be scared at this moment more so than in the past? >> he should. he's got exposure on various levels. let's start with i think it's unlikely the department of justice indicts the sitting president. there's existing doj guidance saying doj will not do that. that said there are plenty of people close to the president, including potentially relatives of his that could be in criminal legal jeopardy, and the will have to deal with civil lawsuits as well. i wouldn't be resting easy by any means. >> all right. always appreciate your expertise. thank you for joining us. up next, what u.s. officials
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a protest is planned this afternoon in el paso, texas, after a 7-year-old girl from guatemala died while in custody. officials say she was medically cleared to be taken to a detention facility with the rest of her group that included another 50 unaccompanied children. the next day she was seriously ill and was airlifted to a hospital where she went into
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cardiac arrest and died a short time later. an autopsy is being performed, but an initial hospital report says the girl died of septic shock. for more let's bring in cnn's ed lavandera who is in el paso. ed, what are we hearing from the girl's family? >> reporter: they are devastated. we were able to reach the extended family in guatemala, the mother and grandfather who spoke about how devastated and horrified they are by the news of what happened to this young girl. the grandfather of jacqueline spoke to us through our cnn colleagues who were down in guatemala speaking with them, and this is what they had to share. >> translator: i am not going to speak that much because i can barely take it. it's difficult for us. this happened because we are very much in need. the girl would jump in happiness that she would get to go to the
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united states, very happy and content, but she didn't know. for us it's very difficult. >> reporter: the family talked about how it was desperation that drove them to make that long journey. of course there has been a great deal of debate about the very trek they made. the trump administration officials have been critical of the father in particular for, quote, choosing to cross illegally into the united states. that has been pushed back on very intensely from immigrant rights activist, and they say it's the trump administration's policies and immigration stance that is driving many of these people to cross into the country illegally. this father and daughter were part of a large group of migrants who crossed into a border checkpoint in the far remote areas of western new mexico. this was hundreds of miles from many things where they would be
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able to provide quick medical care in this situation. a great deal of debate and finger-pointing as to how all of this could have happened, alex. >> one of the disturbing things in this story is it happened more than a week ago so why did it take so long for this to come to light? >> reporter: that's a big question, you know, and there has been a number of critics who fault the transparency or the lack of transparency on the part of the trump administration. el paso congressman, beto o'rourke, basically faulted homeland security security for not being transparent enough, and there was testimony on tuesday several days after the girl passed away and made no mention of this particular case, so there's criticism of the administration of having to count on a news story to break the story and bring it to light.
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>> thank you so much. remember the deadly shooting at a high school in parkland florida back in february? the panel investigating the attacks now wants a new law allowing teachers to carry guns. details and reactions coming up next. body of proof. [man 2] proof of less joint pain... [woman 3] ...and clearer skin. [man 3] proof that i can fight psoriatic arthritis... [woman 4] ...with humira. [woman 5] humira targets and blocks a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further irreversible joint damage, and clear skin in many adults. humira is the number one prescribed biologic for psoriatic arthritis. [avo] humira can lower your ability to fight infections. serious and sometimes fatal infections, including tuberculosis, and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened, as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common and if you've had tb, hepatitis b,
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this week we saw a new controversial push to put guns in class rooms to try to avoid tragedies like the parkland massacre. it's been ten months since 17 people, 14 of them children, were gunned down at marjory stoneman douglas high school in parkland, florida.
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now the school safety committee formed after that shooting has voted to recommend a state law be passed that allows teachers to be armed with guns. those teachers would have to volunteer and undergo a background check. now, this comes as a new report from the cdc shows that nearly 40,000 people were killed by guns last year. that's the highest number since at least 1979 when firearm deaths were first recorded. 40,000. joining me now is cnn correspondent polo sandoval. what can you tell us about this recommendation to arm teachers? >> you know, first off, alex, that commission is certainly still remembering those 17 people whose lives were cut short, their families continue to grieve today and they likely will the rest of their lives. for the last eight months, members of the commission that was appointed to try to come up with a solution has been meeting trying to figure out a way of preventing something like this from happening again, and what's interesting here that is a majority of them, about 14 of the 15 members of that panel all came to an agreement in the last few days, and all of them
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believe that perhaps the solution is to allow more teachers to carry weapons in the classroom. >> such as participating on the threat assessment teams. >> the marjory stoneman douglas high school public safety commission is recommending teachers be allowed to carry guns on school campuses. the controversial proposal part of a 407 page preliminary report. it addresses failures by broward county law enforcement during the massacre as well as recommendations on how to counter future school violence. chairing the commission, neltz conditio -- bob gultari. >> we've got to give them an opportunity to protect themselves in my view. we don't have enough to put cops in every school or multiple cops in every school, and we're not maximizing the use of the guardian program, and one person, one good guy with a gun on every campus is not adequate. >> the proposal has yet to go before the governor or state lawmakers. if approved, teachers who want
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to carry would be required to go through training and background checks before arming themselves. >> here's the issue, districts and schools need to act now. >> right. >> they need to act now. they need to act now. >> currently only some teachers and school staff are allowed to carry firearms. since the parkland shooting, at least 14 other states have introduced similar measures. the changes have been met with some support in states where rural communities lack funding and resources to respond to a school shooters. max shackter is the only person opposing the arming of teachers. >> i don't think teachers should be carrying guns. i think they have enough on their plate. i think their priority is teaching. it just creates a lot of host of problems. >> with the recommendation still tentative, more debate is likely about how to face a school's worst nightmare. >> what we got right now ain't working, so we need to do something differently. >> and though this measure has large support within that public
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safety commission, there is a plenty of opposition outside of it, particularly pro gun reform groups, including every town for gun safety. a volunteer with that group strongly condemning it. alex, i want to read a small portion of the statement he published following the release of this draft report. there is no evidence that arming teachers makes kids safer. he went on to write our children deserve real solutions to keep them safe from gun violence. even though this is still a draft report, still has to go to the governor, still also has to go to legislators, this obviously is still making for quite a bit of debate there in florida to try to keep something like this from happening again. >> of course this is the kind of proposal the president has trumpeted numerous times. still ahead, a federal judge has struck down the affordable care act, obamacare marking a
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win for president trump but potentially putting the health care of millions of americans in jeopardy.
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♪ good afternoon, thanks for joining me. in washington we begin this hour with the latest shake-up at the white house. the president announcing this morning that interior secretary ryan zinke has resigned and will leave the administration at the end of the year. zinke departs amid growing scrutiny of a number of ethics investigations during his time heading up the interior department. mick mulvaney will be the acting chief of staff. he will replace outgoing chief of staff john kelly. mulvaney's appointment puts an end to several days of really confusion after the president's top pick turned dow


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