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Neil Simon, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Dies at 91; John McCain, Senator and Former Presidential Candidate Dies at 81; McCain's Senate Colleagues Send Emotional Tributes; Arizona Governor Says He Won't Name a Successor Until After McCain's Burial; Two People Killed, 11 Injured at a Video Game Tournament in Jacksonville; Missouri AG Announces Clergy Sex Abuse Investigation; Former Vatican Official Calls for Pope Francis' Resignation; Pope Apologizes for Clerical Sex Abuse in Ireland; Sports World Pays Tribute to John McCain; Hawaii Wins Little League World Series Title; Bills Fans Give Andy Dalton a Standing Ovation. Aired 5-5:30 a ET

Aired August 27, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CO-HOST, EARLY START: Leaves behind a list of iconic -- Simon has passed away. The playwright leaves behind a list of iconic shows that shaped comedy in the 20th century. Happy Monday everybody, good morning, welcome to EARLY START, I'm Dave Briggs --

LAURA JARRETT, CO-HOST, EARLY START: And I'm Laura Jarrett in for Christine Romans, it's Monday, August 27th, 5:00 a.m. in the East. Tributes are pouring in from around the world for John McCain; a titan of American politics and a true American hero.

The Arizona senator died this weekend at his ranch in Sedona, Arizona. He was 81 years old. His death coming a day after his family announced he had stopped all treatment for brain cancer which he had been battling for over a year.

BRIGGS: McCain served as a NATO bomber pilot, spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, famously refusing an early release. He made his name in politics as a conservative maverick, a giant of the Senate, two-time presidential candidate. McCain is survived by his wife Cindy, seven children, his mother Roberta who is 106.

There are plans for a full week of memorials, we get the latest on that from Kyung Lah in Phoenix.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Laura, Senator John McCain, such a prominent national figure but Arizona's favorite son. His services will begin here in his home state. The flags at the Capitol have been lowered in remembrance of the senator.

And it is here where the services will begin. After a private service at the Rotunda, he will lie in state for six hours. Members of the public will begin to come in and say farewell.

On Thursday morning, there will be a public memorial service at a local Baptist Church in Phoenix, and then the senator departs for Washington. On Friday, the senator will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, on Saturday, a national memorial service at the National Cathedral.

And then on Sunday, Senator McCain will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis where he began his public service, beginning his military life there. That is where it will be his final resting place. Dave, Laura.

JARRETT, Kyung, thank you for that. Emotional tributes coming from John McCain's Senate colleagues. His closest friend in the Senate Lindsey Graham tweeting, "America and freedom have lost one of her greatest champions. And I lost one of my dearest friends and mentor."

Arizona's junior, Senator Jeff Flake got choked up speaking on Cnn's "State of the Union" Sunday.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It's tough, I'm going to miss him. I have admired him like I said my entire life, and it's tough to imagine a Senate without him. It's tough to imagine politics without John McCain.


BRIGGS: Indeed. Across the aisle, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says he is introducing a resolution to rename the Senate's Russell office building after McCain.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: You don't meet many great men as you go through life, John McCain was one of them. And I'd like decades from now, little children to ask their parents who was John McCain? And they'll explain his sacrifice, his patriotism and most of all his fidelity to do the right thing as he saw it and when he did the wrong thing, to change.


BRIGGS: Former Vice President Joe Biden also honoring McCain with these words. "John McCain's life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character, courage, integrity, honor. A life lived embodying those truths cast a long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow.

His impact on America hasn't ended, not even close. It will go on for many years to come."

JARRETT: We're told the White House drafted a statement for President Trump praising McCain, but it was never sent out. Several staff members believed the statement which went through an internal approval process would be released at the time of the senator's death.

But the "Washington Post" reports Trump went against the advice of senior aides including Chief of Staff John Kelly and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Instead posting a brief tweet, there was no mention of McCain's military service or any praise for him at all. And the president's Instagram post had a photo of him instead of the

senator. McCain was one of the administration's most vocal Republican critics.

BRIGGS: Others in the White House though were more gracious. Both Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling McCain a patriot. Amid the flood of tributes, President Trump's Twitter feed was largely silent except for retweets of his own post, criticizing the Russia investigation and boasting about the growing economy.

Former President Obama who defeated McCain in 2008 issuing a statement with wife Michelle, saying, "few of us have been tested the way John once was or required to show the kind of courage that he did.

[05:05:00] But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John's best, he showed us what that means and for that, we are all in his debt." Presidents Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies at Saturday's memorial at the National Cathedral.

JARRETT: As for who will replace John McCain in the Senate, well, that's up to Arizona's Republican Governor Doug Ducey. He says he won't name a successor until after McCain is laid to rest. Whoever the governor picks will hold the seat until a special election in 2020.

The winner of that special election will hold the seat until 2022 when McCain's term runs out. Ducey has refused to talk about who he might pick to succeed McCain, except to say he would not appoint himself.

BRIGGS: Senator John McCain left us with no shortage of memorable moments. His final lasting image, his thumbs down on the Republican's effort to repeal Obamacare. Last July, he delivered a dramatic vote around 1:30 a.m. bucking his own party, that will happen 11 days after he'd undergone brain surgery just days before that vote with a scar above his left eye from surgery.

Senator McCain delivered a speech on the Senate floor, imploring his colleagues to do the people's work.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, DECEASED: Stop listening to the bombastic loud mouths on the radio and television and the internet, to hell with them.


Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order. We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. We are getting nothing done, my friends, we're getting nothing done!


JARRETT: And this unforgettable moment back in 2008 during McCain's presidential bid. McCain showed his character and previewed the divisive political climate of the last decade.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama.

MCCAIN: I got you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have read about him and he's not -- he's not -- he's a -- he's an Arab. He's not?

MCCAIN: No, ma'am, no, ma'am.


MCCAIN: No ma'am, no ma'am, no ma'am. He's a -- he's a -- he's a decent family man, citizen that I just happened to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that's what this campaign is all about. He's not. Thank you.


JARRETT: No, ma'am, we'll give McCain the last word. Here he is in his own words about his own mortality.


MCCAIN: I hope those who mourn my passing and even those who don't will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life, lived an imperfect service to a country made of ideals whose continued successes, the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company and lives as lucky as mine.


BRIGGS: So for those of you that have time, take a -- take a few moments to watch "For Whom the Bell Tolls" named after his favorite book, it's the "Hbo" documentary, and wait until you see John McCain embraces his mistakes. He doesn't hide from them, he apologizes for them and particularly the Keating Five Savings and Loan scandal.

But he also embraces what he calls -- or embraced his adversarial relationship with the media.


BRIGGS: He said to Chuck Todd once of "Nbc", "I hate you, Chuck, but I love the free press, it's necessary for our democracy and he always defended the free press to the very end --

JARRETT: And you see so much outpouring from the press itself this weekend --

BRIGGS: Yes --

JARRETT: So many different anchors, reporters, Wolf Blitzer saying, look, I've known the man for 30 years, he didn't like some of my questions, but he --

BRIGGS: Right --

JARRETT: Always respected him.

BRIGGS: Yes, he tangled with a lot of anchors and reporters, but all those people had great things to say about him --


BRIGGS: In the very end. We will miss John McCain. Two people are dead and 11 others are injured in the latest mass shooting to rock the nation. This time it happened at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.

Police say the suspect brought a gun to the venue where the Madden 19 tournament was taking place and opened fire. They say the shooter then killed himself. The victims have now been identified as Eli Clayton and Taylor Robertson.

This is just the latest mass shooting in Florida over the last few years, following the Pulse Nightclub and Parkland School massacres. More now from Polo Sandoval.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave and Laura, police in Jacksonville, Florida confirming the suspect behind the nation's latest mass shooting is a 24-year-old man from Baltimore, Maryland.

Yesterday, he was identified as David Katz; he is among the three people who are dead at the scene. He opened fire at the video game competition Sunday afternoon inside that Jacksonville restaurant.

Police also believe that Katz was a participant in that tournament, though, they have not confirmed the motive, only saying that he used a handgun in the shooting. The ATF now processing the weapon.

Investigators say Katz shot and killed two people at that restaurant, nine others were also reportedly shot. This morning they're recovering from their injuries, police now asking the community for any video that may have been shot at the scene.

[05:10:00] They already have those seconds of footage that have already circulated around the internet showing those moments before the shots rang out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be hard --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To get a more (INAUDIBLE), a lot --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a -- it's not a tough out to --

(GUNSHOTS) Excuse me, not an easy out. What was that --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he shoot me with?


SANDOVAL: Investigators now conducting the search of the suspect's home, his vehicle and also believe they -- he may have stayed at a hotel Saturday night. They believe that any evidence they could find there could provide crucial clues as they try to piece together a motive. Dave and Laura.

BRIGGS: Powerful, Polo Sandoval there reporting, thank you.

JARRETT: A former Vatican official says the Pope should resign over his handling of abuse allegations against an American cardinal. We're live in Rome.


[05:15:00] BRIGGS: The Missouri Attorney General says this week his office will investigate allegations of sexual abuse by a clergy in the St. Louis area. Missouri is the first state to publicly do so since a Pennsylvania grand jury report documented decades of abuses and cover- ups.

JARRETT: Now, a former Vatican official is calling for Pope Francis to resign. Claiming he told him in 2013 about sexual abuse allegations against an American cardinal and he failed to act.

That cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned last month over a decade's old abuse allegation. Cnn's Delia Gallagher is live for us in Rome with more.

DELIA GALLAGHER, SENIOR EDITOR FOR INSIDE THE VATICAN MAGAZINE: Hi, Laura, you know, those allegations were published on Sunday in an 11- page document by the pope's former envoy to the United States.

And returning from Ireland last night on the Papal plane, Pope Francis addressed the allegations, he told journalists this. "I will not say a single word on this. I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely, read the statement carefully and make your own judgment."

The Pope also added that he won't speak about it now, but he may sometime in the future. This came as the Pope wrapped up what was really a somber visit to Ireland where he apologized again for the church's role in sex abuse.

He asked for forgiveness, he met with survivors of clerical sex abuse as well, survivors of Ireland's notorious mother and baby homes. But what we heard time and time again in Ireland is that people want action, not words. They want full transparency from the Vatican and so it is likely that the Pope and the Vatican will have to be more forthcoming on this issue in the future. Laura?

JARRETT: More to come on that certainly, Delia, thank you.

BRIGGS: Legendary playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon has died, Simon died Sunday of complications from pneumonia. Neil Simon was a master of comedy as lots though that's included "The Odd Couple", "Barefoot in the Park", "The Sunshine Boys" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs".

Simon wrote more than 30 plays over six decades.

JARRETT: He received 16 Tony Nominations, winning 'Best Play" three times. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his play "Lost in Yonkers" and won the Mark Twain Prize for American humor. Neil Simon was 91.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, the boys from Honolulu, world beaters, Coy Wire with the joy of the Little League World Series in the "BLEACHER REPORT" next.


BRIGGS: All right, tributes pouring in for late Senator John McCain, even pouring in from the sports world today.

JARRETT: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT".

BRIGGS: Hey, buddy --

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Good morning, Dave, good morning Laura. John McCain was a huge sports fan. I remember running into him in Phoenix one time and all he wanted to do was talk ball. He loved teams from his home state of Arizona. And before the start of last night's Cardinal game in Dallas, both teams honored his memory.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, please stand and join in the moment of silence reflection in memory of Senator McCain and his tireless service to our country.


WIRE: Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was friends with McCain. He even penned a heartfelt tribute letter to him that was published in "Sports Illustrated" this past Christmas morning, he called him his mentor, he talked about his admiration for the American hero.

Senator McCain was also a regular at Diamondbacks Baseball games. Often wearing one of their caps. And that the team mourned the loss of their famous fan by hanging a jersey in the dugout with McCain's last name and the number 18. He had a standing ovation there as well.

All right, let's move on. Say aloha to the new Little League World Series Champs. The kid from Honolulu, Mana Lau Kong hit the first pitch out of the park and Hawaii never looked back. That kid is 12 years old and he's tall as Dave Briggs, 6 foot, 1.

Hawaii beat South Korea 3 to zip, delivering the first shot-out in a title game in 16 years. Hawaii allowing just three runs the entire tournament. The island hit by the remnants of Hurricane Lane over the weekend still went great news for a state that could use some.

University of South Carolina started replacing its football field this weekend after a beehive destroyed it. Queen bee, that is, as in Beyonce rocking their concert with hubby Jay z at William Price Stadium last week. The field was torn up, concert promoters reportedly paying between 150 to 200 grand to replace the turf.

Hopefully, it will be pitch perfect, but the game cost almost -- that are against Coastal Carolina on Saturday. Having played six years in Buffalo, I know that Bills fans are some of the nicest fans on the planet. Yesterday, they even gave the opposing team's quarterback a standing ovation before the game. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an unbelievable scene as Andy Dalton; the visiting quarterback is getting a lot of ovation, that --



WIRE: A warm western New York, welcome for Bengals star quarterback Andy Dalton before facing the Bills yesterday. Dalton threw a last minute touch-down against the Ravens last year. And that sent Buffalo to the playoffs for the first time since '99.

To date, Buffalo fans have donated more than $450 grand to Dalton and his wife's foundation as a thank you, yes, that's how he rolled in Buffalo.

And that's a response though, Dalton and his wife, Jordan, they yesterday, made a donation back to Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo. I mean, usually, it's this team versus that team, but it's all love here, guys.

[05:25:00] BRIGGS: That is great. Hey, Coy, do you like the Little League World Series changes? They've changed the bats, cut down dramatically on homeruns, I mean, dramatically, it was a completely different game. Did you like it before when all the balls were flying out of the park?

WIRE: Yes, I like --


I like the ding, I like the homeruns.

BRIGGS: Me, too, me too.

WIRE: Yes, but there's still plenty of drama -- BRIGGS: But they just allowed Hawaii, you know, allowing three runs

the entire tournament. So it helped them --


BRIGGS: Coy Wire, thank you my friend.

JARRETT: Thanks Coy.

BRIGGS: Ahead, Senator McCain, hero, maverick, and who can forget guest star in the "Wedding Crashers". John McCain leaves behind a gaping hole. Here's how McCain said he wanted to be remembered.


MCCAIN: 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.