Return to Transcripts main page


Two Killed, Nine Others Wounded at a Video Tournament in Jacksonville; Police Identify Video Tournament Shooter as a 24-Year- Old Man from Baltimore; NYSE Holds Moment of Silence for McCain; McCain's Senate Colleagues Send Emotional Tributes; ; Trump Rejected White House Statement Praising McCain's Heroism; Friends and Rivals Pay Tribute to Senator McCain. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired August 27, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:06] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Poppy Harlow.

As the nation begins a week of farewells for one of its most indomitable public figures, one voice has remained uncharacteristically silent. President Trump has not issued an official statement on or off cameras since the passing on Saturday of Senator John McCain. Sending his sympathies to the late senator's wife and family on Twitter and Instagram. His Instagram post featuring a photo of the president himself.

"This is a country John McCain loved so dearly. Plans to remember him at multiple locations over the next six days."

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Phoenix with more on the planned fare to honor the longtime lawmaker.

Stephanie, good morning.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. What we've learned is that over the last year as the senator knew he was battling brain cancer he was instrumental in planning out how he would be memorialized over in the week after his passing. And so we can tell you that we have more idea -- more of an idea now of what's going to happen starting here in Phoenix, here in his home state, and that will begin on Wednesday on what would have been his 82nd birthday.

He's going to lie in state here at the capitol here in the city. And then on Thursday, there will be a memorial service at the North Baptist -- North Phoenix Baptist Church. And what we're learning from the "Washington Post" is that former vice president Joe Biden is expected to speak there. And then the senator's body will leave the state for the last time and head to Washington, D.C. where he will lie in state at the U.S. capitol.

Followed up by on Saturday a funeral at the National Cathedral and where we understand he'll be eulogized by two of his former rivals, George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama. Both of those former presidents are expected to speak there and remember him. And then there will be a private ceremony, a private funeral service there in Annapolis before the senator is laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy.

So it will be a very prolonged but well-deserved series of events that are going to be happening here throughout this week to remember him. And, you know, when you take a look at someone like John McCain, who always spoke so humbly about all that he managed to do. If you look at any one chapter of his life, that in and of itself would be something to remember. But when he spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper about how he wanted to be remembered, this is what he had to say.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: How do you want the American people to remember you?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He served his country. And not always right. Made a lot of mistakes. Made a lot of errors, but served his country and I hope we could add honorably.


ELAM: And, Erica, one thing that the senator was known for was believing that at the end of the day all politicians, all Americans are Americans, and that should be the focus. He believed in reaching across the aisle and you can see that playing out in how he wanted his memorials to be thought of, how he wanted to be remembered, with people from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and independents as well.

You can see that was what was still important to him, even as he was planning how he'd be remembered after he was gone.

HILL: Yes, and that is what many of them are celebrating as well as they talk about John McCain.

Stephanie Elam, thank you.

John McCain as we know was one of this president's fiercest critics and the president also made his feelings clear while still a candidate famously summing up his feelings towards John McCain in 2015 in Iowa.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a war hero.

TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a war hero.

TRUMP: He is a war hero --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five and a half years in --

TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Joining me now is CNN political analyst, "Washington Post" White House reporter Josh Dawsey, who -- Josh, you broke the story about the president spiking a White House statement that had been written out that was ready to go. The president decided he didn't want to put that out, why?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was a statement from the White House that cast John McCain, called me a hero and talked about his service as a prisoner of war, in the Senate over the past four decades -- six decades. The president saw the statement on Saturday and instead said he would tweet and then tweeted condolences to John McCain's family but no comment towards the senator's life itself.

It was a frustrating moment for a number of aides in the White House who would have preferred a more full some statement that gave John McCain the credit that they thought he deserved.

HILL: We are hearing of course some pushback about this decision. In fact Marc Short, former director of Legislative Affairs, as we know, on our air here at CNN earlier today said look, it's a no win situation here for the president. If he had put out effusive praise it would have been dissected. How is that being received in Washington this morning?

DAWSEY: Well, Marc to some degree is right. The president made clear that he did not like John McCain, was pretty derisive and critical of him for basically his entire time as president. And the statement may have been seen as disingenuous by some.

[09:05:04] You know, that said, a lot of critics of the president are saying, you know, this sort of statement -- official White House statement is not about your personal feelings toward someone. You represent the country, you're representing the presidency and the government, and you have to put personal feelings aside. A lot of the president's critics are saying that in the past 24 hours. The president, though, was not willing to do that, did not want to issue the statement and then made pretty clear how he felt about John McCain repeatedly.

HILL: We know John McCain from all that we have learned did not want the president to attend his funeral. Any response from the White House on that?

DAWSEY: Not particularly. The White House has not decided the president's schedule this week. Obviously John McCain will be in state at the capitol here. The funeral will be in Washington. And it would be a bit awkward for the president when you have, you know, Barack Obama, George Bush, Joe Biden, Republican senators and Democratic senators, people in his Cabinet, and all sorts of people going to this funeral and the president not invited.

So it's unclear whether the president will say anything. I think it will be, you know, a difficult week for the president because there's going to be an outpouring of many deserved tributes to John McCain. Talking about his life and service to his country and military service. And the president is not going to participate.

HILL: Josh Dawsey, always appreciate it. Thank you.

DAWSEY: Thank you.

HILL: My next guest, a Vietnam veteran who personally knew John McCain. John Rowan is the national president of Vietnam Veterans of America. He served in the Air Force as a linguist, flying off the coast of North Vietnam in the fall of 1967.

It's good to have you with us.


HILL: You know, first of all, when you think of your friend, Senator John McCain, what is it that you think of?

ROWAN: I think of a war hero. I think of somebody who went through incredible hardships. I mean, I had gone through POW training as part of my training to be a crew on a plane. And just that little taste of it was enough for me to say, how could anybody go through this and come out as he did and then go on to lead such an exemplary life, and, you know, to keep himself so busy and do so much good out there.

HILL: And to encourage others.


HILL: That were there with him.

ROWAN: Absolutely.

HILL: Which we've heard a lot about from his --


HILL: His fellow POWs in those moments.


HILL: How integral he was for them. Vietnam's Foreign minister released a statement which reads in part, "John McCain has always been a symbol of the generation of lawmakers. Veterans of the Vietnam War who've been leading in making great contributions to healing the wounds of war, normalizing and promoting comprehensive partnership between Vietnam and the U.S."

When you hear that about healing the wounds of war, this was so important to Senator McCain. We saw the many trips that he made back not only to Vietnam but of course the Hanoi Hilton.

ROWAN: Right. Yes.

HILL: What's the message that that sends?

ROWAN: I think it sends a very good message. I mean, it's because of his work in conjunction with Senator Kerry at the time to open up Vietnam to us, was very helpful in a lot of different ways, particularly with the POW MIA issue. It's enabled my folks in my organization to go back and forth to Vietnam for the -- over 20 years now working with various aspects of the Vietnamese government, both private and governmental, to get finalization on the lost that we've had over there.

And when we first started, there were over 2700 listed on the KIA MIA list. Now it's under 1600 thanks to a lot of different efforts amongst the Vietnamese government and the Vietnamese people. We work a lot with the Vietnamese Veterans Association. People can't understand that but it's fact. And he opened that up.

HILL: His decades of service really offered him unique insight and perspective as a lawmaker, too.


HILL: And by service I mean not just as a lawmaker but obviously his military service. Is there someone in your eyes who -- you can't really fill that void but is there someone who you see now who can continue that part of his legacy in this way?

ROWAN: Well, I think it's going to be interesting to see this new generation. We had seen a lot of Iraq-Afghanistan veterans now being elected, both Republicans and Democrats, and we're heartened by that. And it will be interesting to see who rises up from the group. So we'll see how that goes.

HILL: We know the president and Senator McCain had a contentious relationship to put it mildly. The fact that the White House as we learned that the president decided not to put the statement out.

ROWAN: Well, I guess it's under the old rule, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

HILL: Does it bother you at all?

ROWAN: No, I can't let that -- that's, you know, the typical political nonsense that we don't get involved in. We have one care and that's about what happens to the veterans and their families.

[09:10:03] And so along those lines, I would love to see the Blue Water Navy Bill which would extend the Agent Orange benefits to all those who served with McCain in the Navy, in the waters off of Vietnam, to pass the Senate. It passed the House, we're waiting for the Senate. They should put his name on that bill and maybe we can get the president to sign that one.

HILL: We'll watch for that. Really quickly before we let you go. We talked so much about his service, about what a strong, courageous, brave man he was, he was also a man of humor, a man of humility. How important are those things in the legacy of John McCain?

ROWAN: I think that's very important to his persona. I mean, he -- you know, he was kind of a gruff guy. He wasn't the simplest guy to deal with in a lot of ways. I mean, we used to buck heads on occasions on issues from time to time. We didn't always see eye to eye but it was OK. I mean, he was one of us so it was good. We could deal with it.

HILL: Appreciate you taking the time.

ROWAN: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

HILL: Thank you very much.

Senator McCain leaves behind a legacy of service and an empty seat. It is now up to the governor of Arizona to fill that seat and a lot of at stake here. Plus a shooter opens fire at a video game tournament killing two, injuring several others. This morning investigators trying to figure out why.

And a former Vatican official is now calling on the Pope to resign over his handling of sex abuse allegations. He says the Pope knew about allegations of sexual abuse against an American cardinal years ago and did nothing about it. The Pope's response? Stay with us.


[09:15:00] HILL: Why would a 24-year-old man open fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, killing two people, wounding nine more. That is what police are trying to answer this morning. This all happened while the tournament was live streaming around the world yesterday.

On that live streaming, you could hear the gunshots, people screaming as the gunman opened fire. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be hard to get --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Them on stream, it's a lot --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a tough out today --


Excuse me, not an easy out. What was that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody is shooting --


HILL: Calls flooded into 911, police were on the scene within two minutes. Now, the gunman also a gamer took his own life. Of course, the big question again, why did he do any of this? Cnn's Rosa Flores is in Jacksonville this morning with the latest.

Rosa, we'll get to the why in just a moment. First, could you update us on the victims at this hour?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there are 13 victims here, two of them, their lives cut short. Their names, 27-year-old Taylor Robertson from West Virginia and 22-year-old Eli Clayton from California. Eleven others were either shot or they were wounded as they were fleeing the scene, and at latest check, five of them are still in the hospital.

And Erica, we're also learning more about the gunman here. His name, David Katz, 24 years old from Baltimore and he was a known gamer. He was the champion in 2017 for the Madden tournament then.

And he was here in Jacksonville, Florida, for this tournament and at this hour, investigators trying to figure out exactly why they're trying to figure out a motive. His home scrubbed in Maryland as investigators, both from the FBI and ATF collecting evidence there, trying to connect the dots.

Then here, authorities also searching a vehicle trying to figure out if there were any evidence there. But we're also learning more from the victims in those intense moments when the shots rang out. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I turned around and actually, you know, saw the flashes from the gun and at that point just -- it just went, you know, survival mode and I just wanted to make sure I was out of there. It really -- it breaks my heart to see guys that I care about as much as I do, you know, hurting and to see their families grieving.

And it's just -- it's really something, but I don't want anybody to ever have to deal with.


FLORES: I mean, Erica, we're also learning from the first responders who were there at the scene, Erica, you've been at these scenes before. We're learn from the Jacksonville Firefighter Association, that there were firefighters actually doing a training in this building that's right in front of me, behind this camera.

They ran to the scene, not knowing exactly what was going on, but they ran to try to treat people and save lives.

HILL: Wow, we also know, Rosa, that part of what's happening in this investigation is the gunman's family home was searched in Baltimore. Any word on what they may have found?

FLORES: We're still waiting for word from authorities, but again, a lot of the times they keep those details very close to the vest. We know from covering other shootings that normally authorities look for computers, cell phones. They also usually look for internet accounts, social media, any indication that will lead them to a motive.

But as you know, Erica, at this point, investigators still trying to figure out that main question, and that is why? Why did he fire at these individuals at a video tournament here in Jacksonville?

HILL: Rosa Flores with the latest for us, Rosa, thank you. Also with us, Cnn law enforcement analyst Art Roderick. Art, as we look at all this as Rosa points out --


HILL: Under -- good morning, understandably, we know authorities need to keep certain details close to the vest. If you're an investigator there though, what are you looking for this morning, specifically when it comes to what could be on the phone, what could be on the computer?

[09:20:00] RODERICK: Yes, I think there's a couple of things. Rosa is exactly right. The digit -- the overall digital footprint is important here, but once the situation -- once you neutralize the threat which is, you know, obviously occurred fairly quickly yesterday, then you take these crime scenes down.

So you have several crime scenes going on. I think the main thing you want to look at -- this guy was a gamer, he went by the name of Bread or Sliced Bread on his gaming devices. So the first thing I'm sure they grabbed would be any of the gaming devices, whether it's Xbox or PlayStation and start to look at the individuals.

Which when you get on these devices, you can play in teams against one another. And I think they're going to start looking at who he was communicating with on these types of gaming devices. That means they've got a lot of people to interview here.

But did he -- you know, that might come up with a motive, did he talk about doing this? What was his psychological make-up at this particular time? Did he simply do this shooting because he lost in the tournament or was there some other reason why he targeted this particular tournament to go ahead and do this?

So I think they probably got a lot of questions answered already, they're just keeping it very close to the vest, and we will hear -- hopefully they can come up with a motive and we're not still asking why like --

HILL: Right --

RODERICK: We did after the Las Vegas shooting where we still don't have a motive.

HILL: What stands out to you based on what we know right now?

RODERICK: I think what stands out to me is what is the psychological make-up of this particular individual? Did he have issues in the past? You know, when we look at all these active shooters and we look at all these incidences that involve someone pulling a firearm out at a public place, I think there's a big mental health issue here. We talk about it unfortunately every single time. We almost go over

the same information. But to me, the thing that sticks out is this whole gaming issue, and what did this gaming issue play in this particular crime?

HILL: You know, to your point about how often this is happening, Governor Scott basically saying --


HILL: The same thing, you know, talking about why does this keep happening in the state of Florida. You bring up the mental --

RODERICK: Right --

HILL: Health issue and how we continue to talk about the same things. Are you seeing any real progress?

RODERICK: I think that, you know, we're hearing a lot of talk about them changing some of the gun laws. The problem is the gun laws here in the United States are very complicated. You have state guidelines, you have federal guidelines and they're different in different states.

So it's very difficult to bring these together. But I think there has to be something done with some of the loopholes in the law, and I think they're working on that. The problem is, you know, it's very difficult to get everybody to agree politically on what should be done, and it makes it very difficult on law enforcement to respond in these types of situations.

But hey, in this particular case, you had firemen all at the scene and within two minutes, you had -- you had the Jacksonville sheriff's office there responding. But a lot of times, two minutes is a long time in these types --

HILL: Yes --

RODERICK: Of scenarios, especially when you're dealing with a soft target as we are dealing with here.

HILL: All right, we're thankful that they were able to get there quickly and in that two minutes --


HILL: Firefighters able to get across the street as you point out. Art Roderick, always appreciate --

RODERICK: Thank you --

HILL: Your insight, thank you.

RODERICK: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Moments ago, the New York Stock Exchange holding a moment of silence for Senator McCain in honor of his years of service. We'll talk about some of his key policies and the void he leaves behind.


HILL: Senator John McCain long known as a political maverick, championing conservative causes, but unafraid to reach across the aisle or even buck his own party. Here are his colleagues remembering him.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: His voice was important or has been for years, but never more important than the past year. It's tough to have a voice like that silenced.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: He didn't try to score partisan points as he worked on issues. He would work with anyone who wanted to accomplish the goal that he shared.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER, SENATE: He was an amazing man. he'll be missed. I want generations in the Senate and in the world to remember him.


HILL: Let's bring in Cnn's chief political correspondent Dana Bash, Reed Galen; former deputy campaign manager for Senator McCain's 2008 presidential run. It's great to have both of you here with us. And Dana, I've listened so much to what you had to say over the weekend.

You spent years of course covering Senator McCain. Not being respected --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He would say we're older than dirt --


Not adding with a McCain quote.

HILL: There you go, I like it, we're getting right to the point here. Not unexpected to see all of this outpouring of support for the senator, much of which had started when we first heard about his cancer diagnosis.

BASH: Yes --

HILL: It's great though to hear all the, you know, the little moments that people are bringing up, and I loved earlier this morning, you were talking about when you were first called a little jerk by Senator McCain.

BASH: Many times, and that was a term of endearment. I mean, you know, so many of his friends and colleagues reminded me over the past year that if you weren't ripped by John McCain, if you weren't chided by John McCain, it means that you didn't have interaction with him or it just -- you know, it didn't matter. That's just the way he was. The more he made fun, the more he loved because that was his humor. He was cracking jokes all the time. And it was -- it was a way I think he either realized consciously or sub- consciously to kind of temper the other moments that his passion got the best of him.

But even when --