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EARLY START

McCain, Trump Contrasted At Senator's Funeral; Reuters Journalists Sentenced In Myanmar; Tropical Storm Watch For Gulf Coast; Microwave Weapons Suspected In Sonic Attacks. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 3, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:31:04] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness -- the real thing and not cheap rhetoric.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Raw emotion for John McCain's family and a pointed rebuke of the president as the senator is laid to rest.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, two Reuters reporters get jail time in Myanmar for investigating the mass killing of Rohingya villagers.

BRIGGS: And a post-holiday headache brewing off the Florida coast. A tropical cyclone gaining strength as it heads for the Gulf.

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to a Labor Day edition of EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

And competing visions for the future of the Republican Party on full display at the funeral for John McCain. Speakers at the Saturday service casting the Arizona senator's life and legacy in sharp contrast to President Trump, none more direct than the senator's own daughter, Meghan McCain.

She did not mention President Trump by name but she did make several unmistakable and pointed references in her emotional remarks -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.

We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness -- the real thing. Not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Meghan McCain's remarks drew anger from some who said she and others politicized the funeral during which the president was golfing and tweeting. After the service, the president tweeted this.

TEXT: MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

BRIGGS: We'll let you decide if it's a response or merely a coincidence, but social media made up its mind.

Lindsey Graham, McCain's closest friend in the Senate but who is now increasingly aligned with President Trump, telling CNN this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: She is her father's daughter. If you say something bad about her dad you will know it, whether you're the janitor or the President of the United States. She is grieving for the father she adored and I think most Americans understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Sunday, McCain was laid to rest at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. About 1,000 midshipmen attended, filling the seats of the chapel and lining the route to the cemetery where McCain would be buried next to friend and wingman, Admiral John Larson (sic).

Defense Sec. James Mattis presented flags to Sen. McCain's 106-year- old mother, Roberta and his wife, Cindy. Her final farewell to her husband captured in this moving and powerful image you see there.

CNN's Brian Todd has more from Annapolis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, this was to be a closed ceremony and a closed burial here on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy and yet, the day provided two of the most powerful public images among all the send-offs that we've seen of Sen. John McCain this week.

One of them was the image of the crowds gathered on the streets of Annapolis, Maryland leading up to the gates of the Naval Academy. Even those these people couldn't come in and witness there ceremony themselves, many of them were just gathering around the gates to pay their own respects to Sen. John McCain.

Another very powerful image that the whole world could see if they were watching this was the flyover -- the F/A-18 jets flying in formation. They flew right over our location on Sunday afternoon and one of them of course, symbolically, peeled off to symbolize a fallen comrade. Some questions are asked as to why Sen. McCain wanted to be buried here at the Naval Academy when his father and grandfather, who were both storied admirals in the U.S. Navy, are both buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Well, John McCain -- for him, this was the place where it all began. This place really forged him -- forged his character.

[05:35:05] He had a complicated relationship with the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class here. He didn't do so well academically.

But it also -- I think, you know, every story that you hear is that this place is what really forged his character and forged his toughness that would serve him so well in Vietnam and as a prisoner of war for more than 5 1/2 years -- Dave, Alison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Brian Todd, thank you.

With Sen. McCain now laid to rest, the big question is who Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will pick to fill his seat. Some are hoping he picks someone in the mold of McCain, himself, who will challenge President Trump. Others hoping for someone who will closely align with the president.

Whomever Ducey picks, he or she will fill McCain's Senate seat until a special election in 2020.

KOSIK: You know, if you want some proof that bipartisanship, Dave, is still possible I want you to see one of -- a kind of sweet moment from Saturday's service.

BRIGGS: Yes.

KOSIK: Former President George W. Bush sneaking a piece of candy from Laura Bush to give to Michelle Obama. You know what, it's those little things that go a long way in these politically polarized times.

BRIGGS: Yes, you're right.

KOSIK: It shows humanity still exists even when they're sitting on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

BRIGGS: And you couldn't help wonder, sitting there watching that moment, if we'll ever see that progression -- the continuity continue with President Trump next to those presidents. I don't know. I think it's doubtful at this point --

KOSIK: Yes.

BRIGGS: -- but you hope that continuity remains. But it would be shocking to see them all in a row someday.

KOSIK: Yes. BRIGGS: Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begin tomorrow but Democrats are complaining about the Trump administration's decision to withhold more than 100,000 pages of documents relating to Kavanaugh's service under George W. Bush. The White House and Justice Department have determined the pages are protected by executive privilege.

KOSIK: Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer calling the holdback a "Friday Night Document Massacre."

A CNN review of documents that have been released -- they found many are simply schedules or talking points, announcements, and news clippings.

BRIGGS: Frustration growing over the embattled archbishop of Washington's response to claims he mishandled clergy sexual misconduct.

Listen now to what happened Sunday as Cardinal Donald Wuerl talked about the Pope and the sexual abuse scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL DONALD WUERL, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: Increasingly, it is clear that he is the object of considerable animosity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: At least one protester there shouting "shame on you" at Cardinal Wuerl. Another turned her back on the cardinal as he spoke and CNN spoke with her afterward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY CHALLINOR, TURNER HER BACK ON CARDINAL WUERL IN PROTEST: I think he should resign. I think he should understand that just because you didn't mean to do something doesn't mean that there weren't terrible consequences for lots of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Cardinal Wuerl asked the 200 or so people in attendance to forgive what he called his errors in judgment and inadequacies.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington says, "Cardinal Wuerl has spoken extensively over the past two months and conveys his profound sadness, apologies, and contrition, and addressed every issue as it has arisen in a straightforward and transparent manner."

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, two Reuters journalists sentenced to seven years in jail.

Thirty-two-year-old Wa Lone and 28-year-old Kyaw Soe Oo were first detained late last year. They'd been investigating the mass killing of Rohingya villagers in Myanmar. The Yangon court says the pair broke Myanmar's Official Secrets Act.

The two maintain their innocence but say they are not surprised by the verdict.

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler says the conviction is a sad day for Myanmar, the two journalists, and the press everywhere.

KOSIK: Breaking in the last hour, 10 people shot at an apartment complex in San Bernardino, California. Local police say three people are in extremely critical condition. All the victims are believed to be adults.

We'll give you more information as it becomes available.

BRIGGS: Search and rescue divers trying to find four people missing after two boats collided head-on on the Colorado River. Saturday night's crash sending 16 people into the water as both boats sank. Nine people were hurt; two had to be airlifted in critical condition.

The search area is about two square miles. It's not yet clear whether alcohol or speeding played a role in the crash.

KOSIK: A tropical storm watch issued for parts of the Gulf Coast with a potential cyclone brewing in the Florida Keys.

Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Good morning.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Alison and Dave.

Yes, certainly a big story here over the next couple of days as a system begins to develop across the western Caribbean. Southern Florida next in line here for very heavy rainfall we think by this afternoon.

This will push through the Florida Keys. Miami gets some flooding concern out of this. And, of course, the Florida Keys do as well.

But notice a pretty clear path into the Gulf of Mexico and gradual strengthening where, at this point by tomorrow, we're talking about tropical storm Gordon. And the one element of good news is that the gradual strengthening remains in place.

[05:40:00] But really, not a tremendous strengthening system where it could potentially remain just a strong tropical storm, maybe a low- grade hurricane as it approaches land. But we'll follow this over the next couple of days.

Again, sometime late Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning -- southern Louisiana, western Mississippi -- a lot of rainfall in store. That is what we know for sure across that region. And the storm eventually rains itself out across portions of the Deep South.

But notice what's happening in the Midwest. A flooding threat already in place there. A frontal boundary pushing right through the Great Lakes, bringing in some strong thunderstorms.

And, of course, the heat far from over across the northeast where 35 million are underneath heat advisories. How about this? We shoot up to 95 -- at least what it will feel like in New York City. Almost 100 out of Philly by this afternoon.

KOSIK: A few more days of summer.

BRIGGS: Yes, another day at the beach -- OK.

What you are seeing here is 200 years of history in Brazil going up in smoke. More, next.

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[05:45:03] KOSIK: Welcome back.

There are new details this morning about the series of bizarre so- called sonic attacks that caused U.S. personnel in China and Cuba to suffer head injuries. Scientists now say the injuries were likely caused by microwave weapons.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann live for us in Havana, Cuba.

You know, Patrick, these attacks began happening two years ago -- a real mystery. How did scientists come to this conclusion?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CUBA CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is still a mystery because this is just a theory. It's the first time we've heard from researchers involved in the investigation coming out and saying they don't think it's sonic weapons anymore because sonic weapons don't really work in the way the diplomats described.

But there such a thing as microwave weapons. We're not talking about appliances here, satellite communications. We're talking about a weapon that puts out a very precise beam of injury and researchers say can cause these concussion-like symptoms that diplomats, both here in Cuba and China, reported feeling.

And this has led to a real breakdown in U.S.-Cuba relations. They've almost drawn down the entire embassy here out of fears that there is some government out there that has been targeting diplomats.

So this is what they've worked out -- this theory that microwave weapons could have been used because they're much more portable. They can beam in this kind of energy. But the FBI has come to Cuba on several occasions and torn apart these diplomats' homes and they've found no evidence.

So, Alison, while it is a theory, still no evidence really to back it up.

KOSIK: And so, of course, the questions of who's responsible and what's the motive here.

Patrick Oppmann, thanks so much for this update. BRIGGS: Police in Amsterdam now say a knife attack that seriously injured two Americans Friday had a terrorist motive. The 19-year-old Afghan suspect wounded by police is expected to go before a judge today. Investigators say they do not believe the victims were deliberately chosen.

While no connection has been confirmed, the attack came a day after a Taliban spokesperson called on Afghan security forces to quote "turn their guns" on Dutch troops serving in Afghanistan in retaliation for a cartoon contest depicting the prophet Muhammad.

The Dutch far-right politician who came up with the competition canceled it after sparking protests and allegedly receiving death threats.

KOSIK: Brazil's 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro going up in flames Sunday -- these amazing pictures.

The museum is said to contain at least 20 million ancient artifacts, including a meteorite that was discovered in 1784. Government officials say the spectacular fire destroyed entire collections.

Brazil's president says the loss is insurmountable, calling it a sad day for all Brazilians.

Luckily, there were no reports of injuries from the fire. No word yet, though, of a cause.

BRIGGS: All right.

If you're driving home from a vacation later today, you'll pay the highest holiday gas prices in four years. How high are they and why, next.

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[05:52:27] BRIGGS: George Papadopoulos, the convicted former Trump campaign adviser, publicly contradicting Attorney General Jeff Sessions' sworn testimony to Congress.

In a court filing late Friday night, Papadopoulos says both the A.G. and the president -- then-candidate -- apparently supported his proposal for a meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign.

Now contrast that with Sessions' description of that conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I pushed back at that. You made statements that he did, in fact -- at the meeting, I pushed back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: A Justice Department spokeswoman declining to comment. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last October to one count of lying to

investigators. In Friday's filing, he asked to be sentenced only to probation, which he has already served.

BRIGGS: A racist robocall targets the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, Andrew Gillum.

The message narrated by a man speaking in a caricature of a black dialect with cartoonish jungle noises in the background that ends with a disclaimer that is was paid for by the Road to Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic video podcast.

Here's what Gillum said about the robocall on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW GILLUM (D), CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I do find it deeply regrettable.

I've called on my opponent to really work to rise above come of these things. People are taking their cues from him, from his campaign, and from Donald Trump and we saw in Charlottesville that that could lead to real -- frankly, dangerous outcomes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Ron DeSantis had nothing to with that robocall. The robocall just days after, though, Ron DeSantis told voters in Florida they shouldn't quote "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. A spokesman for DeSantis says the candidate condemns the call as appalling and disgusting.

KOSIK: The grieving father of Mollie Tibbetts speaking out and urging all sides of the immigration debate to leave his daughter's death out of the discussion. For weeks, several political figures, including the president, used the Iowa student's killing to advance their argument against illegal immigration.

Her alleged killer is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

BRIGGS: In an op-ed in the "Des Moines Register," Rob Tibbetts says quote, "Do not appropriate Mollie's soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racists. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie's memory, I'm imploring you to stop."

Mollie Tibbetts disappeared during an evening jog in Brooklyn, Iowa back in July. The suspect, Cristhian Rivera, being held on $5 million bail.

[05:55:03] KOSIK: An end-of-the-summer family vacation taking a tragic turn in northern Wisconsin after a kayak the group was traveling in capsized on Lake Superior, killing the father and three young children. The accident left the mother, Cari Mews, as the lone survivor. BRIGGS: A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard telling CNN strong winds and waves tipped the craft over, knocking all five, all wearing life jackets, into the open water.

Mews was able to send her sister a text message calling for help but it did not arrive for five hours due to lack of cell service in the area.

KOSIK: Police in California shoot a man after an argument over Ice Cube concert tickets. Authorities say the man was trying to buy a ticket to the event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego when he was told they were sold out.

Well, then an argument broke out and nearby deputies confronted him. And that's when the man pulled a semiautomatic handgun and fired several shots into a crowded area. Officers then returned fire, hitting the man.

The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital. Police say his condition is unknown.

The concert went on as planned.

BRIGGS: An 18-wheeler loaded with Axe body spray exploding on Texas' Interstate 35, reducing the road to gravel. The truck was about 60 miles north of Austin when the driver noticed a fire in his rearview mirror. He then pulled over and detached the trailer from the truck.

The trailer blew up when the fire reached it and the highly-flammable aerosol deodorant inside. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Three lanes and both shoulders in that section of I-35 will have to be removed and replaced because of the intense fire.

But, eighth-grade girls around the country flocking to the scene, unmistakably.

KOSIK: You know, a never let them see you sweat moment -- well, I think I'd be sweating in there.

BRIGGS: Yes.

KOSIK: Not a -- not an ounce of deodorant to be found.

BRIGGS: Yes and no one's staying cool.

KOSIK: OK, luckily no one was hurt. The pictures are amazing and the jokes continue here.

BRIGGS: Just check Twitter. They're fantastic.

KOSIK: All right, let's get a check on CNN --

BRIGGS: They're better than mine.

KOSIK: Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning. The stock market is closed for Labor Day but investors are sitting on some impressive gains this morning. All three major averages spiking last month. The Dow and the S&P 500 had their best August performance since 2014. The Nasdaq posting its best monthly gain since January.

Strong earnings, optimism about trade, and a booming economy helping to lift stocks to record highs.

A tech rally also helping to boost the market. Check out the biggest gainers on the Dow this year.

Apple and Microsoft are the two best performers. And possible the biggest surprise of the year, shares of Nike up more than 30 percent in 2018.

Now, once traders come back from vacation they're going to face some hurdles here. Top executives from Facebook and Twitter -- they're going to be facing a grilling from lawmakers this week on election interference and how the companies are fighting this information.

Trade negotiations -- that continues and there's a monthly jobs report on Friday.

Millions of Americans hitting the road this weekend, wrapping up a summer of the highest gas prices we've seen in years. The average price at the pump was $2.73 per gallon over the past three months. That's the highest since 2014.

Don't expect much relief today though. Drivers are going to be paying about $2.84 a gallon, 20 cents higher than last year.

In total, Americans spent about $1 billion per day on gas this summer.

I know everybody's wondering why are you paying more. You can blame those rising oil prices. Crude oil prices have the biggest impact on what you pay at the pump and U.S. crude is about 20 percent higher this year.

For years, major oil-producing companies have cut their outputs to nudge these prices higher. And looming U.S. sanctions on Iran will limit the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, helping to raise prices as well.

So this is a story we will continue to follow --

BRIGGS: Yes.

KOSIK: -- as those sanctions go into effect in Iran.

BRIGGS: Indeed -- all right.

Tonight -- we want to mention "RBG" tonight on CNN. You know, tomorrow, of course, the confirmation hearings begin for Brett Kavanaugh.

You can't help but wonder in this climate -- RBG was confirmed 96 to three. What would she get confirmed today? Do you think she'd get maybe a handful of votes?

KOSIK: Good question.

BRIGGS: Same for Kavanaugh. He's probably hoping for three to five Democrat votes as well.

But it's a great film. I've seen it.

KOSIK: All right. Thanks for watching. Hope you have a great day. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The American of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We never doubted the other man's sincerity. We were on the same team.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: John McCain was an extraordinary individual. He is irreplaceable in the United States Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's really no good news for the president in this poll.

JOHNSON: Over the next two months, Republicans have to point out the success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People want to see Mueller and his investigation play out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The conservative movement is not dead but it is on life support.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is a special holiday edition of NEW DAY. It is Labor Day, of course -- Monday, September third, 6:00 --