MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Those students say they’ll march on Washington, so let’s turn now to two members of Congress, democratic Congressman Ted Deutch who represents this Florida district, and republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of South Florida.
Good morning gentlemen and I’m going to start with you Congressman Deutch, such a tragic, tragic week for your district. You just heard the passion from those kids, a march for their lives on Washington, will it do any good?
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Yes. Yes it will. Martha, the difference this time, is that these kids — you’ve spoken to them, the world has heard them, they’re just not going to sit back after what they experienced, after what they saw, the worst things imaginable, they’re not going to just sit back and take it.
They’re going to stand up for their lives, that’s what this is about, and all of the — all of the excuses that are normally given about not getting things done and the difficulty of — of fighting outside groups and the gun lobby, none of that is as powerful as these students.
And let me just say what these students have already done is to have inspired their friends and fellow high school students and college students around the country, that’s why it will be different.
RADDATZ: Congressman Curbelo, they said they are going to take on the NRA, they had some very harsh words for Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott. They said they have blood on their hands. What’s your reaction to that?
REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: Well, number one, I commend them for their activism. I mean, these young people, our entire community is in mourning, and I think our entire community, and I speak for I think (ph) people in Miami paid (ph), Monroe County were in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Broward, represented by Congressman Deutch and people want action.
And we’ve kind of inherited this world of binary choices where we either have to repeal the second amendment or have no gun safety regulations whatsoever, and younger generations of Americans don’t see the world that way.
And I want to represent those people and I want to get something done. So Ted Deutch and I, in the past, have teamed up to work on issues that are controversial, like the environment, we started a — a caucus to bring republicans and democrats together, change that conversation and hopefully get some positive results.
We all need to do the same on this gun issue, because to say there’s nothing we can do is not good enough anymore.
RADDATZ: And Congressman Deutch, I know you have a reaction to that.
DEUTCH: I — I do, I do. And — and Carlos and I have worked well together, but the — the — I — I have to represent my constituents who want Carlos and — and others in the House and Senate to — to just be clear about this.
Do you support universal background checks, yes or no? Do you support the terror watch list bill that says if you’re too dangerous to fly, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun? And do you support what had been the law until 2004 which was a ban on assault rifles that are made for no purpose other than maximum killing.
It’s not my — all I’ve heard all week is how frustrated people are with rhetoric, they want action that — there are bills that we can pass tomorrow, but the things we need to do are the ones I just outlined. And I — and — and —
RADDATZ: And Congressman — Congressman Curbelo, will you do those things?
CURBELO: Well, I’ve already — I’ve already co-sponsored the Thompson-King legislation, which expands background checks and also expands rights, by the way, for those who are law-abiding citizens and responsible gun owners. After the Pulse night club shooting, I introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent those on the no fly no buy list from having instant access to dangerous weapons.
After the Las Vegas shooting, I filed bipartisan legislation to ban bump stocks. What we need is congressional leaders, specifically in my party, to allow some of these bills to come to the floor for debate. There are a lot of Republicans who are prepared to support reasonable, common-sense gun safety laws, new laws, stronger laws that protect rights for responsible citizens, people who are responsible gun owners, but will prevent those who want to do harm to innocent people from obtaining these weapons.
And Martha, it’s very important to point out this is not the only part of the puzzle. We do have to do better on gun safety legislation. We also have to do mental health. Ted has a bill on school security. And we also have to find out what happened at the FBI. Because it’s obvious that there were many signs that there was something wrong with this young man and that he was about to do something terrible and no one paid any attention to that.
So this is a puzzle that we all have to work on solving. And yes, gun safety laws is a part of that puzzle.
RADDATZ: Let me talk a little bit — I want to go back to the NRA and what I asked you about Marco Rubio and those kids saying he had blood on his hands. Does he take some blame here?
CURBELO: Look, obviously these are young people who are very frustrated and obviously in deep pain because of what happened. There’s one person who has blood on their hands and it’s the perpetrator of this crime. Now, in terms of the inaction on gun safety legislation, I — I do share that frustration. I thought after the Las Vegas shooting, when almost every member of Congress who was asked said yes, these bump stocks should be banned, nothing happened —
RADDATZ: But nothing happened, so why — so why is this different?
CURBELO: So — so — so I share that frustration.
RADDATZ: I want to ask you both quickly. (ph) So — so how do you change it?
CURBELO: Well, what members of Congress —
RADDATZ: And (ph) you two are arguing.
CURBELO: What members of Congress have to do is what I did on Friday, which is to co-sponsor legislation — co-sponsorships is the most important currency —
RADDATZ: Go ahead.
DEUTCH: This is —
DEUTCH: This — this is — I can tell you what these kids have told me. They want to hear about co-sponsoring. They want action. Carlos is a friend. Carlos also voted for Paul Ryan for speaker. It’s not members of Congress, it’s the Speaker of the House who refuses to bring these bills up. And the few times when we have a chance to actually introduce amendments to try to bring them to the floor, Carlos has voted against those. We need the opportunity to vote. We should — he should talk to the speaker.
He should come to the speaker with those kids and he should encourage Marco Rubio to come to Parkland and face these kids directly and he should encourage the president to come to Parkland. Stop using this for politics and come to Parkland and talk to these kids and their families and everyone who has suffered. That’s what should happen. That’s how change will come.
RADDATZ: Congressman Curbelo, I’m going to give you the last word on this.
CURBELO: Martha, I agree with Ted that something has to happen. I’m one of those members of Congress who is trying to get us closer to that point where we can have bipartisan legislation that will help mitigate or prevent some of these types of situations in the future. I sympathize — not just sympathize, but I am, I think, part of that new generation that refuses to see this as a black or white issue where we either do everything or we do nothing.
We can meet in the middle on this issue, we House members had a colleague Steve Scalise, who was a victim of this type of gun violence and there are many of us who want to see a change and we’re willing to work with our colleagues with Ted Deutch, with anyone else who will help us get there.
So my commitment is to speak, not just to Marco Rubio, but to any colleague in Congress who is willing to come to the table and figure this out, the American people demand action, they are right to demand action, this South Florida community wants action, and I’m committed to helping make that happen. Let’s bring them here (ph).
RADDATZ: I thank both of you for joining us this morning, it’s (ph) still a long way apart. Up next, we’ll look closely at those sweeping indictments of Russian nationals accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and later my conversation with two siblings who survived Wednesday’s shooting but lost many friends in the attack.
Their incredible story and plans to take action coming up, we’ll be right back.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: And joining me now is Jeh Johnson. He served as President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security for the final three years of his administration. And Chris Christie, former Governor of New Jersey and an ABC News contributor. Good morning, gentlemen. I want to start with you, Governor Christie, and talk to you about this Russia investigation.
President Trump repeatedly called the Russia investigation a witch hunt over the last few years. I want to read you the tweet that he had this morning.
“If it was the goal of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S., then with all the committee hearings, investigations, and party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow, get smart America. ”
Can he really keep calling this an excuse by the democrats to justify losing the election? Can he — he’s not confronting Russia on this. What’s your reaction to those tweets Governor Christie?
FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), N.J.: Well listen, what I’d say to you first Martha is that the indictment that Director Mueller laid out yesterday was incredibly detailed and gave the American people for the first time, a real picture into the scope of at least part of the operation that was obviously meant to disparage and — and damage Hillary Clinton.
And I think, you know, what we read in the indictment yesterday is very, very clear on that point and I think everyone’s going to have to come around to the idea that that’s at least part of what the Russians were attempting to do in the election.
But I’d caution everybody to not believe that this is yet over because there’s lots of other places where Director Mueller to look regarding potential Russian involvement in all this, and I think he’s going after this in a very measured direct way and I think we’ve unfortunately got more — more to learn and more to come in the — in the days and weeks ahead.
RADDATZ: Do you believe as President Trump said, that it proves there is no collusion?
CHRISTIE: Well, it proves there’s no collusion to this point, there’s no collusion in terms of the Facebook ads, the other social media activity. You know, Director Mueller made it very clear in the indictment that any participation by any body, whether it was in the Trump campaign, or the Sanders campaign which they said was also being assisted by this effort by Russia, that all that was done unwittingly.
That no one participated in a knowing fashion, now we have to see where he goes next, but certainly at this point, there is no allegation by Director Mueller and his team of collusion.
RADDATZ: Do you believe — just going back to that first point, does the president need to directly address the Russians? Does he need to mobilize the government to be affective?
They’re going to do it again in 2018 according to intelligence officials. They’re going to do it again in 2020, what should the president be doing and saying?
CHRISTIE: The president should be staying out of law enforcement business. You know, I listened to the testimony of Director Wray, who is an outstanding FBI Director in my view, giving testimony on Capital Hill that they are very aware of what’s going on and if they’re going to bring the resources that are necessary to try to protect our electoral process in 2018.
And I’ve always thought that the best thing, as governor I felt this way, and I think the same rules apply to presidents. They should stay out of law enforcement activity, and I think that’s what the president will do, and I think he’ll leave it to Director Wray, the other folks at the justice department and out intelligence community to do what needs to be done to protect our electoral process.
We’re certainly on notice now, Martha, we’re on notice that the Russians want to do this, and have the capability to do it. I don’t know to what effect they really had in 2016, but we don’t want to leave this to chance, and I don’t think Director Wray or the other people in the intelligence community will do that.
These are really good professionals who will do their job in the right way.
RADDATZ: And — and Secretary Johnson, a major part of the Russian influence operation involves Facebook, Instagram, Twitter accounts, is it time to take a harder look at that and regulate that more?
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY, UNITED STATES: Well, first Martha, thanks for having me on. I have to say, looking at the images of — of Parkland, Florida, as a father and an American, they are truly painful and there are no words to adequately express our condolences, and I’m sure my friend Chris Christie agrees with that.
With regard to Russia, you are correct that it’s time for action. Chris is correct that it’s time for action. President Trump’s own intelligence chiefs have pointed out that we’re in the midst now, in connection with the 2018 in another campaign to try to influence our democracy. When it comes to Facebook and social media and speech that appears on social media, I think that the security agencies of our government need to be very careful in trying to delve into this whole topic.
I think that the answer has to be that those that provide access on the internet do more to self-regulate, to do more to make attribution to those who gain access to the information marketplace. Because we are a society of free speech. And we need to be careful not to get security agencies of our government involved in regulating free speech.
RADDATZ: And Secretary Johnson, I do want to turn back to these terrible, tragic shootings. And I want to ask you about the FBI’s failure to follow up on the tip about Nicolas Cruz. It’s happened before where there have been tips and — and here in Florida. Does the FBI have the manpower? Do we have the manpower to follow these tips?
JOHNSON: Well, that’s an interesting question. I think it needs to be put to Director Wray to make sure he has adequate resources to do the job. This was a grave error, without a doubt. It was a grave error. But I know, from my own experience with the FBI, that for every error such as this — this was a serious one — there are tens, hundreds of instances where the FBI successfully intervened early on in a plot, in an attempt to commit mass violence.
And the FBI is to be saluted for that. But there should be some lessons learned from this and I hope the FBI does do that.
RADDATZ: But is there the manpower to — to take these thousands of tips that come in every day? And if not, why are we saying see something, say something, if when people do that, nothing happens?
JOHNSON: Well again, I think that it’s for the FBI to tell us whether they’re adequate resources. They are the premier federal law enforcement agency of our country. They’ve got a lot on their plate. There is also a role for the public to play. Even with all the resources of the FBI, we are not a police state. The police, federal law enforcement cannot be on every street corner, in every school, at every kitchen table.
So when we see someone turning to violence — and this was apparently the case here — people should be encouraged to say something when they see suspicious behavior. This is something I talked about repeatedly when I was Secretary of Homeland Security. And we need to continue to emphasize that message.
RADDATZ: OK. Thank you very much, Secretary Johnson and thank you, Governor Christie.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Martha. (ph)
RADDATZ: Up next, my conversation with students and families urging Congress to act in the wake of this week’s terrible tragedy. We’ll be right back.