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Trade Talks; Pope Francis Under Fire; John McCain's Final Statement. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired August 27, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Two days after his death, Senator John McCain's final words have now been released to -- quote -- "the association he treasured the most," his fellow Americans.
A short time ago, his former campaign manager read a letter from the war hero, presidential nominee, father of seven. He died Saturday from brain cancer at the age of 81.
They are words of pride, power and also the belief of a promise of better days ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK DAVIS, FORMER MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: These are John's words.
"My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans, thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead.
"I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.
"I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful.
"Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else's.
"I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. One man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America to be connected to America's causes -- liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people -- brings happiness more sublime than life's fleeting pleasures.
"Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed, but are enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
"Fellow Americans, that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American.
"We are citizens of the world's greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. And we have acquired great wealth and power in the process.
"We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
"We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
"Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still.
"Do not despair of our present difficulties. We believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
"Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: John McCain's own words.
Let's go to Phil Mattingly, who covered McCain up on Capitol Hill. He's our congressional correspondent.
And as I was listening to that, and I was reading. So this is from Dana from Mark Salter, because I was wondering at what point would Senator McCain have thought to write those words?
And so this what Mark Salter says: "John McCain told me early spring he wanted a Stephen issued postmortem. We discussed what he wanted to say, did a draft. He took a couple of things out and we added a few lines. And I put it in a drawer until the time came."
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, Brooke, I think what's important to note, with the senator, particularly over the course of the last year, is how keenly aware he was of the moment he was in and the legacy that he wanted to leave.
Obviously, he also wrote a book with Mark Salter, which people have been quoting relentlessly over the course of the last 24/48 hours. There was also that very, very poignant speech on the Senate floor where he basically said, my friends, we're getting nothing done. We are getting nothing done, and essentially a call to arms for the Senate to move away from the divisive nature that has kind of taken hold of the chamber over the course of the last decade or so and moved back to a time where people could come across the island and work, disagree, no question about it, but try and figure out a path forward.
It's one of those things, Brooke, that I have noticed. One is how deeply affected members of the Senate have been. Everybody knew this was coming. And yet and still there are tears. There are plenty of stories with hilarious endings, particularly those of senators that have taken foreign trips with Senator McCain, but also a recognition of as, one senator put it to me, the bigness that was John McCain in this institution, a recognition of what the U.S. Senate represents that sometimes has devolved into pettiness and pure partisan fighting.
It's bigger than that, and that's what John McCain represented. Now, in terms of what you're going to see in the days ahead, you will see a mix of the traditional and also the deeply personal. When the Senate opens up at 4:00 p.m., the senator's desk will have a black drape over it with white roses.
That's traditional. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, I'm told, will come to the floor shortly thereafter, planning to give very deeply personal remarks about Senator McCain.
And then, Brooke, as we have been reporting about the funeral arrangements, it's basically a huge who's-who of American politics over the course of the last 30 years. Senator Joe Biden, Democrat, close friend to John McCain, will speak at his Arizona service. When he lies in state in the United States Capitol, one of just 30 people to have actually had that honor, Speaker Paul Ryan, McConnell, others will speak as well, and then obviously the service here in D.C. at the National Cathedral.
President Bush, President Obama, two politicians who bested Senator McCain in the presidential campaigns, will give remarks as well. And then his final resting place at the U.S. Naval Academy, and I think probably more pointed than anything else -- and he hinted at this in his book with Mark Salter -- who he will be buried next to is his best friend, his former classmate, and in the institution that he revered and held so dearly in his heart, the U.S. Naval Academy -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: His home. His home.
Phil Mattingly, thank you. We will look for -- we will look for all of that went the Senate opens in less than an hour now. Thank you, sir, for that.
The nation will, as Phil just mentioned, spend the week paying tribute to Senator John McCain, a survivor of torture. McCain couldn't actually even raise his arms because of the wounds he suffered as a prisoner of war.
But for decades, he excelled at reaching across the aisle, even in these times, arguably the most difficult period in modern political history. And as the country celebrates and honors this veteran senator, the White House stands glaringly out of line with a nation in mourning.
Today, the flag there at the White House back at full-staff. Meantime, over at the U.S. Capitol, the flag today is at half-staff. Plus, at multiple opportunities with the press today, the president failed to mention a thing about the passing of John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, any thoughts on John McCain?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
D. TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go to the White House to Jeremy Diamond.
And, Jeremy, oh for three on opportunities, at least with cameras in the president's face, nothing.
What's with this disconnect with the White House?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: We're actually now at oh for five, Brooke.
Five -- on five separate occasions today, the president was asked about Senator John McCain, given an opportunity to offer his tribute to this long-serving senator, former prisoner of war, American hero in the eyes of many. And the president declined to answer those questions, ignoring them instead, staying silent as Senator McCain's name was mentioned time and again during multiple press opportunities just today.
The president has yet to say anything, in fact, about Senator John McCain. He put out a tweet after the senator's passing offering his sympathies to McCain's family. But that is all that we have heard from the president, all that we
have heard from this White House as it relates to the president to Senator McCain's passing.
The president's daughter, however, Ivanka Trump, she is willing to call John McCain an American hero. In fact, she did so just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Senator John McCain, an American patriot who served our country with distinction for more than six decades.
The nation is united in its grief, and the world mourns the loss of a true hero and a great statesman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: That comment, Brooke, is particularly striking when you think about the fact that President Trump has yet to ever call John McCain an American hero after he, during early in the 2016 presidential campaign, said that he did not believe McCain was a hero because of the fact that he had been captured in Vietnam.
Of course, John McCain was captured in Vietnam and served -- and was imprisoned for more than five years, tortured, suffering some of the worst torture at the hands of the Vietnamese at that time. The White House not commenting on this matter, and they also haven't responded as of yet to a letter from the two Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Mitch McConnell, who requested that Department of Defense resources be allocated to allow all the flags on federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff.
As of yet, Brooke, the White House flag remains at full-staff right now -- Brooke.
You heard the question shouted at the president on behalf of the American Legion. You know, please lower the flag to half-staff. And still we see it, Old Glory, flying high.
Jeremy diamond, thank you at the White House for us this afternoon.
Coming up next: Pope Francis refusing to respond to calls for his resignation after a former archbishop very publicly accused him of turning a blind eye to a cardinal that he knew had abused children. More on that.
Also ahead, the president making a new trade deal with Mexico to replace NAFTA, but Canada so far left out of it. So we will break down what's in the agreement and the significance of Canada at play.
And any moment now, the first lady, Melania Trump, will be hosting an event there on the South Lawn at the White House. We are expecting her to say a few words at this tree planting ceremony. What might she share? We know she tweeted about John McCain, the war hero. What might she add to that, which clearly is in stark contrast to her husband?
We will bring that to you live. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
BALDWIN: Pope Francis is refusing to address a call for his resignation as he grapples with the sex abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church.
Carlo Maria Vigano, a former archbishop and Vatican ambassador to the U.S., is demanding the pope step down. Vigano wrote a lengthy letter in which he claimed the pope knew five years ago about misconduct involving a D.C. cardinal, but did nothing about it.
And when asked about the letter, this is what Pope Francis did share with reporters. I'll read this for you. He says: "I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself, and you have this sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It's an act of trust."
The pope also says he may speak on the issue at a later date.
Father Edward Beck is our CNN religion commentator.
And, Father, nice to have you back on.
And, you know, just thinking of survivors of this abuse, they would obviously say a later date is not sufficient. Why do you think the pope is not being more forceful about these allegations?
REV. EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, certainly, with this letter, Brooke, the writer obviously has a vendetta against this pope and other prelates that he names in the letter.
You may remember that this is the archbishop who put Kim Davis, that county clerk from Kentucky who refused to sign a same-sex license, for a photo-op with the pope, making it seem as though the pope agreed with her. He was relieved then by Pope Francis of his position in Washington as the ambassador to Washington after that incident.
This particular archbishop, very right-wing, has had a vendetta against this pope for some time. And so many -- if you read this letter, this 11-page letter, his accusations are not sourced. There's no evidence given.
And so when the pope was asked to respond on the plane to it, he simply said, look, you are reporters. If you do your job, you will see why I'm not responding. In other words, it doesn't really deserve the dignity of a response.
BALDWIN: Of a response.
BECK: At least at this point.
Do you think still, though, the question remains, you know, he didn't speak about it in any lengthy way, or if at all in Ireland. Do you think -- why isn't he addressing this head on?
BECK: Well, I think, again, he certainly talked about abuse in Ireland and apologized for abuse. He spoke about it almost every venue where he was.
With this particular accusation that he knew about Cardinal McCarrick and the accusations against Cardinal McCarrick of abusing minors and seminarians and priests, that, he has not yet spoken on.
But I think we will see him probably eventually speak on it. But, remember, he did accept the resignation of him from the College of Cardinals, from McCarrick. And he has banished him from doing any ministry. John Paul II, Pope Benedict never did that. So this pope did act when faced with these allegations of Cardinal McCarrick.
The question is, when did he know, and who told him? And all of those particulars have yet to come out. So I don't think the pope is going to speak about those until there are more details that we know about it.
BALDWIN: Last question, quickly. What does this say about just divisions within the Catholic Church?
BECK: It's really fierce right now, Brooke.
There is this right-wing segment of the church that is trying to blame all of this on a gay lobby or a gay conspiracy in the church. This archbishop, Vigano, has been utterly anti-gay in all that he has written.
And you will note that this 11-page letter doesn't talk much about the victims of sexual abuse. It talks about those who enabled the gay lobby. And he names prelates who he thinks are sympathetic to this gay lobby. And so this an issue of right vs. left, those who want to bring Francis down, and those who believe that he's making great strides in many areas for the church.
And I think we're going to continue to see this play out. People are saying this actually could lead to a schism, a split in the church. That remains to be seen.
BALDWIN: Father Beck, thank you.
BECK: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Coming up next: President Trump just announced a new trade deal with Mexico to replace what he referred to as if the ripoff that was NAFTA. And the Mexican president join him on speakerphone to propose a toast to celebrate. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): To toast a good toast with tequila, of course, to celebrate this understanding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We're following this breakthrough in trade today between the United States and Mexico. In a joint news conference with the outgoing Mexican president on speakerphone, President Trump announced a preliminary agreement to change parts of the NAFTA trade deal starting with the name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. TRUMP: And we're going to call it the United States-Mexico trade agreement. We will get rid of the name NAFTA. It has a bad connotation.
I will be terminating the existing deal and going into this deal. We will start negotiating with Canada relatively soon. They want to start. They want to negotiate very badly.
But one way or the other, we have a deal with Canada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: President Trump has called the NAFTA deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada the worst trade pact in history.
Up until now, massive differences between President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have been a major hurdle to reaching a deal.
So, with me now, political commentator and "Washington Post" columnist Catherine Rampell.
And, Catherine, we were chatting. And you have this interesting theory as to why the president first went to Mexico instead of having the three countries all working together at once.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
So, technically, the president is not authorized to do the bilateral deals with Mexico or Canada. Congress has authorized Trump to renegotiate NAFTA. That's all three countries.
RAMPELL: But I think Trump himself is much more comfortable doing these kinds of one-on-one, bilateral negotiations. I think it probably dates back to his days as a businessman. It's just much easier.
BALDWIN: Dealing with one company at a time.
You're sitting across from somebody at the table, and you know what you want, and you kind of know what they want. And you can horse- trade. And having more than two parties complicates things a lot. It's harder to hold the different priorities in your head.
So I think that's why he's going after these bilateral negotiations with NAFTA, also with lots of other countries in Asia. So this is sort of come into his approach to negotiation.
BALDWIN: So the minister Chrystia Freeland, I know she's heading to the White House to have a chat with this president tomorrow, presumably the president at the White House tomorrow. So far Canada's hanging out in the cold.
But do you think in the end they will all, per Congress, have to all come together and be part of this deal?
CAMPBELL: If there is going to be something that replaces NAFTA, at least under current law, it has to involve all three countries.
Whether Canada actually holds all the cards or is in a bad position here, it sort of depends on who you talk to. So on the one hand, Trump really needs a win, right? He needs a win before the midterms. He wants to be able to say that he has renegotiated NAFTA. In that case, he needs Canada on board.
And he needs Canada on board, actually, like in the next four days.
BALDWIN: Let's remind everyone, though, June wasn't too long ago. And this is what Chrystia Freeland said on CNN.
This is back when President Trump had called Canada a threat to national security. Remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: So what you are saying to us and to all of your NATO allies is that we somehow represent a national security threat to the United States.
And I would just say to all of Canada's American friends -- and there are so many -- seriously?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Seriously? CAMPBELL: Yes. And that's part of the problem here, that we have done a great job at alienating our friends and allies, including Canada and, to some extent, Mexico, although, obviously, some of that relationship has warmed up recently.
But we have done this with Japan, with South Korea, with lots of other countries around the world.
And, again, whether Canada actually comes to the table here is a little bit questionable, because there is this very short window if, in fact, Trump wants this deal signed, as -- as the Mexican government