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Senator John McCain Buried On Sunday Next To His Best Friend At The US Naval Academy In Annapolis, Maryland; Midterm Elections Are Less Than 70 Days Away; A Myanmar Court Has Sentenced Two Reuters Journalists To Seven Years In Jail After Finding Them Guilty Of Breaking The Country's Official Secrets Act; Police In Amsterdam Now Say A Knife Attack That Seriously Injured Two Americans On Friday Had A Quote "Terrorist Motive." Aired: 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 3, 2018 - 06:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, HOST, NEW DAY: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world in today's special holiday edition of "New Day." It is Labor Day, of course, Monday, September 3rd, 6:00 here in New York and John Berman is off with his family enjoying the holiday and John Avlon joins me. Great to have you here.

JOHN AVLON, ANCHOR, CNN: Good morning. Happy Labor Day.

CAMEROTA: Happy Labor Day to you and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the weekend since I know that you were at McCain's funeral.

AVLON: It was a real extraordinary - just civic reunion. It was amazing.

CAMEROTA: It looked like it. All right, meanwhile, there were five days of national mourning coming to a close with Senator John McCain buried on Sunday next to his best friend at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The family releasing this heart wrenching image of Cindy McCain weeping over her husband's casket.

The war hero's final farewell marks the end of a week of tributes and memorials across the country. Over the weekend, former presidents, family, friends, and political leaders continued honoring McCain's lifetime of service at Washington's National Cathedral.

AVLON: McCain's daughter, Meghan remembering her father as a hero in a touching eulogy while rebuking President Trump's quote, "cheap rhetoric" insisting that quote, "America was always great." After McCain's death, there has been a lot of talk about bipartisanship, and the lack of civility in politics today.

What, if anything, will change in Washington after a week of mourning for a true American patriot? The political bickering will be put to the test certainly when confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh begin tomorrow; and as the country turns its attention to the upcoming elections in November, now less than 70 days away. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House. Abby? ABBY PHILLIP, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, good morning,

John. After five days of memorials and tributes in Arizona and here in Washington, John McCain has finally been laid to rest. He chose to be buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, a place that he said forged his character. He said he wanted to be laid to rest next to his friend in the place where it all began.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

PHILLIP: The family of Senator John McCain bidding an emotional farewell to the American hero. Before he was laid to rest at the Naval Academy Cemetery next to his long-time friend, Admiral Charles Larsen.

The military honoring McCain with a missing man flyover. McCain's burial coming after a private funeral. This poignant image showing the late Senator's 106-year-old mother seated next to her son's cassette. About 500 mid shipman lined the route from the chapel as a horse-drawn caisson then brought McCain to his final resting place.

Earlier in the day, groups of people gathered to pay tribute as McCain's body was brought to Annapolis from DC where the public memorial was held Saturday at Washington's National Cathedral. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama calling for a return to civility among the nation's leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At various points throughout his long career, John confronted policies and practices that he believed were unworthy of this country.

To the face of those in authority, John McCain would insist we are better than this. America is better than this.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small, and mean, and petty. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Meghan McCain, honoring her father with a powerful eulogy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: My father was a great man. He was a great lawyer. He was a great American. I admired him for all of these things, but I loved him because he was a great father.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And delivering a pointed rebuke of President Trump without mentioning his name. Trump was not invited, instead he went golfing during the memorial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. MCCAIN: We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men that 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.

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

(END VIDEO TAPE)

PHILLIP: And the flags at the US capital and here at the White House here have been raised back to full staff, but the country is now turning to John McCain's legacy as we approach another midterm election cycle. Will this legacy of civility and bipartisanship last beyond this moment? But meanwhile, there are some practicalities to be determined. The Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has a big decision to make. He has to figure out who is going to replace John McCain, and we expect that decision to come any moment now. John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Abby, thank you very much. Please keep us posted on that. Let's bring in a Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan, and her former Republican colleague from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent. He is now a CNN political commentator.

[06:05:15]

CAMEROTA: Happy Labor Day, guys. Thanks so much for being with us on this special program. So, Congresswoman, I want to start with you, what are your thoughts at the end of all of these very public and emotional memorials for John McCain.

DEBBIE DINGELL, US CONGRESSWOMAN, MICHIGAN, DEMOCRAT: Well, first of all, good morning, Alisyn and good morning, Charlie - who was a good friend and remains a good friend. You know, it's a really hard weekend. I had to decide to go to Washington or stay and watch it with one of John McCain's dear friends, John Dingell.

And I stayed at home and I heard stories all weekend of how they used to work together. They would fight, but they really respected each other. And at the same time, I was reading his book that he's spent his life working, first time I've read it and much of what you heard over the weekend will be in his book when it comes out. We need to respect each other. Compromise is not a dirty word. I really miss John McCain. I miss the trouble that John and John could do together.

AVLON: Charlie, you might have been described as a McCain Republican during your time in Congress. Someone who could work across the aisle, conservative on some things, where is that tradition now after all of the honors with the passing and burial of John McCain?

CHARLIE DENT, FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I'll tell you what, John. I certainly hope that now that John McCain has been laid to rest, we have not buried with him the capacity for governance, pragmatism and compromise. That would be my greatest regret. I do fear that the political climate still does not reward members of

Congress who want to see consensus or compromise. The political reward is for those who tack hard to the bases and in some cases, to the fringe elements of their bases. I hope that now that John McCain is passed that maybe this fever will break, but at the moment, I am not that optimistic.

And of course, John McCain, he had this great personal and public virtues of honor, integrity, character, selflessness, sacrifice, service, and he carried that out in his public and private lives, and it's just a remarkable thing to have this type of a national mourning for so long which is so appropriate given the moment and the man.

CAMEROTA: It's interesting that you use that terminology that the fever maybe will break. That's exactly what Senator Jeff Flake said, but it just feels to me that that's just not the time that we're in. We're not living in a time when the fever can break. This is - we are deep in the middle of this partisanship and just the passing of John McCain as remarkable as all of these remembrances were, I don't think that like Washington changes the business - the way that they are doing business today.

I mean, Congresswoman, we have just seen this too often, we have seen national unity moments of it bubble up, and then it reversed to the mean. I mean, literally, and no pun intended.

And you know, I mean, I think that it is just so telling that President Trump was not at the funeral, John McCain's family didn't want him there. John McCain didn't want him there and you heard people, I think including Meghan McCain, really speaking their minds about that at the service on Saturday.

DINGELL: So one, I really respect - I love Meghan McCain, and I love seeing everybody come together, but I'm going to be really clear that now is the time for the American people to think about what they see, how they feel, we're going into an election season. I hate the discussion of blue wave, I won't use it. But the American voter has the opportunity to hold the people that they're electing on both sides. Both sides have very far right and far left who are contributing very significantly to this loss of civility, who make compromise seem like a dirty word.

And the voters, you can't sit on the sidelines and cast dispersion at some of the people that are causing these problems. If we don't like what we are seeing, and a lot of people don't, then now is the time to come out and say to your elected representatives, we need to have people who aren't afraid to stand up, who aren't afraid to work together.

I told people two years ago that I thought the election of Donald Trump was about people who were tired of the partisan bickering and they wanted to see people get things done. I think that's what we need to make this fall, this election about. And the American people can't sit on the sidelines, this is their fight, too.

AVLON: Well, certainly, there is a time for choosing in November, but for me, now, Susan Glasser described the memorial service as the largest meeting of resistance, but what I think ...

[06:10:03]

AVLON: .. was more about a deeper continuity, you saw Bush and Obama and Clinton and Cheney and Gore all sitting in a line, literally singing from the same hymnal, and I think it really is a reminder that even though we've squandered moments in national unity, like 9/11, the shooting at the baseball field - that Steve Scalise survived thankfully.

That there is this deeper tradition, Charlie, and I think the question becomes how can we rekindle that in a way that lasts?

DENT: Well, yes, clearly, the past few days of John McCain's remembrances tried to call to the better natures of our angels, that we could somehow come together that we could unite at least a moment and to step away just for a brief moment from the tribal nature of our politics. And I think Debbie made a point that it is up to the American people to make a decision here. Do we like where we are?

My party, the Republican Party, has become about loyalty to the man, loyalty to the President. That is a litmus test. The Democratic Party, in many ways seems to be moving hard left. I'll say to Sanders and Warren element of the party, and there is - that is what I see happening in our country, and until the American people say that we want to have a Congress that better reflects, I think to where most Americans where do want this to get things done, to solve problems, and by the way, that is probably the greatest gift we could give to John McCain and the best way to honor his legacy is by actually doing something, solving some problems, whether it be on the DACA children or the Dreamers or dealing with some major fiscal reform, I think that is what John McCain would want us to do to honor him, more than maybe name in a building - but to do things.

And I think - but this is up to the American people. If this tribal nature of our politics is where we're going, they need to make a decision that they are going to reward lawmakers for doing things for their benefit.

CAMEROTA: All right Congresswoman Dingell, Charlie Dent, standby if you would. We have many more questions for you because the midterm elections are about two months away. Tomorrow, I'd say we're off to the races since this the last day of vacation. So buckle up, enjoy this brief respite because we're going to start showing you how there has been a shift on the map, so which party has the momentum? What does it look like right now? And how could it shift the balance of power? All of that is next.

[06:15:00]

CAMEROTA: All right, as of tomorrow, the midterm races really begin in earnest. So the elections are less than 70 days away. Set your clock. CNN has a new map as of today that shows Democrats making gains towards taking control of the House of Representatives. Eleven seats currently held by Republicans are now in the leaning Democratic or better columns. The Democrats need 23 seats to take back control of the House. Eleven

of course puts them nearly halfway. Three seats are moving towards the Republican. Let's bring back Democratic Congressman Debbie Dingell of Michigan and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. So Congresswoman Dingell, you said in the last block that you don't use the term blue wave. Is that because you feel burned or you feel gun shy after all of the pundits and pollsters and people that got 2016 wrong.

DINGELL: Okay, you need to remember two years ago, I kept telling you all, "Right now, Donald Trump could win."

CAMEROTA: I do remember.

DINGELL: ... in Michigan and you all thought I was crazy. You know, I'm out there. I feel more - it's not like it was two years ago, but I think the blue wave puts the cart before the horse. It suppresses votes. I would rather be a Democrat going into this election than a Republican, but it is a long time between now and November.

CAMEROTA: But to your point, when you say you're out there, is it that you're hearing as much enthusiasm on the Republican side as you are on the Democratic side when you're mixing with voters?

DINGELL: Well, let me tell you about something that I've heard about in the last week more than once. I was with my boys, my tea party guys who I love, who keep me in touch, make sure I never lose touch with reality. But somebody at another table at Einstein's on Saturday said, "I'm not voting." I never met him before. I've never seen him before. I said, "Wait a minute." I couldn't even tell if he was for or against me.

I think he was not a Democrat and I said, "Wait a minute, I don't care if you vote for me or vote for anybody, but democracy is better. Why are you not voting?" I'm just disgusted with everybody.

And you know, I had a long talk and I think by the end, he was voting. I'm not quite sure who he is voting for. But earlier in the week, I did a town hall meeting with Jim Clyburn on voting rights, and these were - I mean, quite frankly, they've used the world liberal, many of the people participating, and somebody else got up and talked about how they were organizing a boycott across the country to not vote. Now, that's the worst thing that you can do in democracy.

And I sincerely hope that this doesn't gain any steam, but there is a lot of weird dynamics out there. People didn't pay attention to them two years ago, I am. Women are energized. You can feel that. People who stayed home last time are not going to this time, but who is going to vote and who isn't going to vote, I'm not sure.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we do keep hearing about the female contingent and how all important those voters will be.

AVLON: Yes, and Charlie, as you look, I mean, you have left your Pennsylvania seat, there's been redistricting in the state. CNN projects now two Congressional seats in Pennsylvania moving into the swing or leaning Democrat column, one of them PA 1, how do you see this midterm election running up for Republicans in places like Pennsylvania, swing districts where they have held on today?

DENT: Well, for House Republicans, John, the best case scenario is that they hold on to that House Majority by their fingernails. That's the absolute best case scenario. They are going to lose seats. There's no question. The other issue then - the worst case scenario is House Republicans could lose over 35 seats. That's where we are.

[06:20:00]

DENT: CNN analyzed those 11 races, downgraded eight Republican races and upgraded three. Interestingly enough, my two cent analysis is this. Those races that were downgraded are of members who are again in tough districts. They may be a bit more conservative or a bit more ideological. And then there are districts where they haven't properly separated themselves from the President and the three districts that you upgraded or two of which were for Mike Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania 1, Brian Fitzpatrick rather ...

CAMEROTA: We have a graphic to illustrate this. Let's just quickly put this graphic up that you're talking about. Some of these folks are the people that you're saying for whatever reason you don't think have captured the spirit of their districts.

DENT: Well, I am saying that could be an issue or they haven't properly separated themselves, but you also must look, too, say if Fitzpatrick and her. They represent the most marginal of those districts that I believe you analyzed. The ones that should be at the greatest risk, but you've upgraded them. That's because they reflect their districts very well.

They have also separated themselves from the President on issues like healthcare, Russia, immigration. They have been very vocal about that, and they can credibly go to voters and say they can be a check against the administration. So I think that was really interesting.

The third race that you upgraded I believe was the Balderson seat and that's because of money, they're not going to spend the type of money in the general election that they spent in that special election, so he was upgraded. So really that's it. These members like Carlos Caraballo and John Kat go and Fitzpatrick and Herd and others who have done a very effective job of developing their own brands and have separated themselves are in a much better political position even though they represent much more challenging districts than some of these members in safe seats who haven't been able to separate themselves.

AVLON: So you're basically advising Republicans in the House to run away from the President and certainly, a new "Washington Post" ABC poll gives reason for that. His almost historic disapproval number, 60% to 36% approve and if you look at the cross tabs, the moderates which you're both talking about, that approval number is at 24% which is pretty stark. Debbie, how do you see that ...

DINGELL: I am going to say Trump's voters are going to vote, so we know that. But I would actually say that a member, Democrat or Republicans responsibility is not to be a yes person for the White House.

We are an independent body. And the members who are all friends that Charlie just mentioned aren't afraid to stand up and speak for what is right and I think that's what the American people are looking for. Our forefathers created a system of checks and balances. We need to be doing a check on the White House, that is our job. And too many members are afraid to stand up and talk about what they think is right. they know what's right and they are afraid to say it.

I think John McCain was trying to say us, I think that a lot of the American people are saying to us, we need to stand up for what is right. We need to remember that we are all Americans. We've got to stop talking about how this country isn't great. It is great. We need to bring out the best in what it means to be an American, not the worst in every member, Republican or Democrats have got the responsibility to do that.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, that ABC news poll that we were just citing, the 60% disapproval rating of President Trump, what do you think that that's hinged on?

DENT: Well, this election - this midterm direction is simply going to be a referendum on the party in power and the President of the United States in particular and his conduct in office. Let's face it. This has been an unconventional and unorthodox presidency and there has been a lot of drama and chaos in this function and I think that disapproval number is a reflection of this reality. I am convinced that the President's conduct in office is what's on the ballot. He's not on the ballot himself, so they're going to - so a lot of people are going to express their displeasure with him by going after some of my colleagues in the House.

AVLON: Debbie, Charlie, thank you very much. We will see you next hour. But first, breaking news, we have got two reporters from Myanmar learning their fate. Will an investigative report cost them their freedom? That and more, next.

[06:25:00]

CAMEROTA: We're following some breaking news rights now. A Myanmar court has sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in jail after finding them guilty of breaking the country's quote, "Official Secrets Act." The men were detained in December after working on an investigation into the mass killing of Rohingya villagers. The UN has described the violence as quote, "ethnic cleansing." Reuters President is calling this verdict a major step backwards from Myanmar and a sad day for the free press everywhere.

AVLON: Police in Amsterdam now say a knife attack that seriously injured two Americans on Friday had a quote "terrorist motive." The suspect who was wounded by police is expected to face a judge today. CNN's Erin McLaughlin live in London with more. Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, John. I was just on the phone with the prosecutors' office Amsterdam and the spokesperson told me that hearing will happen later today behind closed doors at the hospital where the suspect is currently being treated. This chilling attack unfolded at the main train station there in Amsterdam on Friday.

A suspect identified by authorities as Jawad S., a 19-year-old Afghan national living in Germany stabbed two American tourists in the middle of the train station before being shot by police officers. Still images from the incident, the immediate aftermath of the incident shows the suspect lying on the ground of that train station. Authorities say they believe terror is the motive in this case, though still subject to an ongoing investigation. They do not believe the Americans were deliberately targeted. They are working very closely they say with their German counterparts having searched his home over the weekend in Germany seizing a number of electronic items.

Now, as for the Americans, they are in serious though not critical condition. The US Embassy ...

[06:30:16]