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McCain's Legacy with Veterans and Troops; White House Lowers Flag; North Korea Situation; Calls on Pope to Resign. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:19] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A touching moment as a veteran presented Senator John McCain's widow, Cindy McCain, with his Vietnam War medallion. I want you to watch this.


DAVID CARRASCO: This was given to me at one of the ceremonies for the Vietnam veterans. It would be my honor to present this to you on our behalf.


BERMAN: Senator McCain was a decorated Navy veteran who spent over five years in Vietnam as a prisoner of war.

Another tribute aboard the USS John S. McCain overseas in Japan, sailors saluted the flag at half-mast on the ship named for the senator, his father and his grandfather. Both his father and grandfather Navy admirals.

Joining us now for more on Senator McCain's military and foreign policy legacy is former CIA director, retired General David Petraeus.

General Petraeus will be paying tribute to Senator McCain at a ceremony on Sunday at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

I feel like it must be a true tribute to your friendship and maybe one last joke from Senator McCain that he's inviting an Army guy to deliver a tribute on the grounds of the Naval Academy, but it must be so meaningful to you to have that invitation.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, it is, and especially as a West Point graduate. It will be a great honor to recall the extraordinary feeling that our men and women in uniform had for him.

They knew that no one had their backs more than he did. They knew that no one was doing more for them to ensure that they had the means to prevail in the combat of the post-9/11 wars. He was out there with us all the time. Every recess. Even when running -- even when campaigning. He was out with us every Fourth of July. I noted yesterday to someone that I was in Iraq or Afghanistan for seven of the ten Fourth of July after 9/11. I think he was -- he was there for all of those and I think for the others as well.

Our troops loved him and they knew that he loved them.

BERMAN: You say he had their backs. He had your back very much so back in 2007 during the surge.

PETRAEUS: Well, no question about it. And you'll recall, as you were covering him, I think, that he said I would rather lose an election than lose a war. And this is because of his strong support for the surge.

And it meant everything. He and the other two members of the three amigos, Senator Lieberman and Graham, were truly the most supportive of all. In the Senate, at various points, the tally has showed that the support for the effort overall was hanging by one vote. The first six months were particularly difficult. He stayed with us and the results, I think, in the end, validated his confidence in our strategy and in our men and women in uniform.

And, you know, at the end of the day, the irony is that his support for that enabled it to succeed. We drove violence down by over 85 percent in the 18 or 19 months of the surge, and it enormously benefitted the actual victor, the individual who defeated him, Senator Obama, when he became president because it enabled him to do what it was that he was seeking to do, which was to draw down without the entire place falling apart.

BERMAN: And what's interesting, you talk about the military. Yes, he had your back and he had your back personally, but that does not mean he wasn't willing to deliver withering criticisms at times to generals. I -- you know, we've heard from generals who say there is no one tougher on me at times than Senator McCain when he was chairman of the Armed Services Committee or just a member.

PETRAEUS: Oh, no. And I had some of these moments. I remember right after the confirmation vote, and so I'd been confirmed to go to Iraq and command the surge, and my aide handed me the phone and said, Senator McCain wants to talk to you. And so I thought this is going to be a warm, congratulatory call. And I said, senator, thanks so much for all you did to support me during this process. And he said, when do you leave? And I said, senator? He said, when do you go to Baghdad? And I said, well, I go back to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and wrap things up and he hung up. I mean he was impatient. He was relentless. He was determined. And all these are admirable qualities in my book because, frankly, I probably exhibited quite a few of them as well.

BERMAN: So you try and have tried for a long time to stay separate from politics. I think it is one -- is one you respect from people like Senator McCain and President Obama and others on both sides of the aisle.

PETRAEUS: Pretty much so. You know, you have to rise above differences at certain times. And, by the way, I think that among the times when you should rise above differences is death.

BERMAN: OK. So let's talk about that. So how do you make sense of what happened these last few days? And, yes, ultimately, two days later, President Trump did release a statement saying he respected the service of John McCain and ultimately the flag at the White House was lowered to half-staff and ultimately the president said words out loud last night. But it took a while to get there. So what are we to make of that?

[08:35:05] PETRAEUS: Well, obviously, it took too long. Again, this is one of those times when one rises above differences, when one elevates the conversation and so forth and puts aside whatever concerns one has. I'm glad that it finally happened. That was reassuring. But certainly it took -- took some time in coming.

BERMAN: General Michael Hayden, who had the same job you had running the CIA for a while, he put out a picture yesterday of the flag when it was raised to its height over the White House and he says, remember this image the next time this president talks about disrespecting veterans.

Now, I doubt you would make a statement that goes as far as General Hayden does. You two have very different styles there. But, as a veteran yourself, is there something to what he says as someone who served the country as Senator McCain did. Was there something disappointing about seeing what happened?

PETRAEUS: Certainly there was. And, by the way, I think the world of Mike Hayden. We've had some differences, but very, very few over the years.

One of those, by the way, at the time at least, was one on which Senator McCain spoke with enormous moral force, and that was, of course, the issue of enhanced interrogation techniques, which he opposed and, in fact, the field manual that we produced when I was a three star in the states between the three and four star tours in Iraq, same year as the counterinsurgency field manual, that manual, on treatment of detainees, did not include that provision. And Senator McCain gave that the force of law for the military and then subsequently for the entire U.S. government together with a Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein. And I supported both of those moves very much.

BERMAN: We don't often get you here in the morning, largely because I don't think you like to be in the morning fray, as it were, over politics (ph). Let me ask you --

PETRAEUS: Well, it cuts into my workout time. You've got to understand, I should be honest and up front with you.

BERMAN: Also, one's got to hit the gym. I know, you know, 8:36 is when you --

PETRAEUS: So thanks for delaying it until this hour.

BERMAN: You're normally on your pecs at about 8:36. So we do appreciate that.

I want to ask you about a few hot spots. North Korea. PETRAEUS: Sure.

BERMAN: The president canceled Secretary Pompeo's latest trip to North Korea right now. Where is this headed? Do you think perhaps the United States had its hopes set too high?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think we're back in a very tense moment. I think, frankly, that the declaration that was achieved back when the president and Chairman Kim met was probably vaguer than one would have hoped. Denuclearization doesn't mean the same thing to us that it means to them and so forth and so on. And now we've seen them testing our resolve, trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and us, between us and China on this issue and so forth. And you'll have seen that the secretary of state yesterday called his counterparts in Japan and South Korea trying to reestablish, rebuild what was quite a strong bulwark of opposition to North Korea's actions. And then we have to get China back into this. But, of course, that's difficult now, more difficult that when it was done before because, of course, we have the trade actions against China at this moment as well.

So this is where you're going to have to look around the world and ask what are the real priorities? Some of these others are going to have to take second stage. You're going to have to get some coherence into this. And I think that's what we're going to watch now to see if Secretary Pompeo, with the support of the president, can do just that.

BERMAN: Do you think President Trump is too solicitous of Vladimir Putin?

PETRAEUS: Well, I recall again another great line from Senator McCain talking about another president looking into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and McCain said he saw KGB. I've seen the same over the years. Secretary Gates said he saw a stone cold killer. So, yes, I think that occasionally we've been a bit too charitable, to put it mildly.

BERMAN: David Petraeus, do you want to give us any sense of what you're going to say on Sunday?

PETRAEUS: Well, I'm going to recall some of the moments with the troops. I'm going to recall the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, no one had our backs more than he did. I'm going to recall the many, many visits, again, that he was not just with us rhetorically or figuratively, he was there literally every single congressional recess again with the other two members of the three amigos.

BERMAN: He thought that was so important.

General David Petraeus, we do appreciate you coming in, skipping your workout to be with us to speak about your friend John McCain.

PETRAEUS: Thanks very much, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Aretha Franklin's hometown is saying good-bye. So we are live in Detroit where they are honoring the queen of soul, next.


[08:43:33] BERMAN: A federal judge in Seattle blocking a Texas man from releasing downloadable blueprints for 3D guns by extending an initial temporary restraining order until the case is resolved. The move comes after Cody Wilson, who posted designs online for 3D printed handguns in 2013 filed a lawsuit against the federal government when he was accused of exporting weapons without a license. In this ruling, the judge cited a potential danger to the public, but Wilson, who plans to appeal the ruling, says it goes against his First Amendment rights.

CAMEROTA: Well, you heard it here first. Actor John Goodman suggesting ABC will kill off Roseanne Barr's character in the upcoming Roseanne spinoff. I don't know if you remember me suggesting this, John.

BERMAN: You suggest everything.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: It all starts with you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Goodman tells the U.K.'s "Sunday Times" that his character will be, quote, mopey and sad because his wife's dead. ABC made the decision to abruptly cancel the Roseanne reboot after Barr wrote a series of derogatory tweets about Valerie Jarrett, Chelsea Clinton and George Soros. The spinoff, called "The Connors," focuses on the rest of the family and premiers this fall. Barr will have no input in the new series.

OK, so I remember when all the hullabaloo was out there.

BERMAN: Is this going to go back to you again?

CAMEROTA: Yes, because I said, like, why don't they just fire Rosanne and just do the show without her. And everybody's like, oh, come on, you can't do a show about Roseanne without Roseanne. I think you can. I think that's what we're about to see.

BERMAN: So, if you have all this power, is there -- you know, can you get "Night Rider" back on TV? Can you talk to Hasselhoff and get that back? What other programing powers do you have?

[08:45:00] CAMEROTA: I talk to Hasselhoff all the time, first of all. No, I'm just kidding.

BERMAN: And Michael Knight? We can expect Michael Knight? I bet you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?

CAMEROTA: I know that -- I know about David Hasselhoff but I never watched that show. Was I missing something?

BERMAN: Just a car -- it's a car that talks.

CAMEROTA: Oh, it's a car that talks. BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: OK. I will be watching that on YouTube.

BERMAN: All right, 45 minutes past the hour.

Pope Francis is accused of ignoring abuse allegations against a cardinal. Should he resign? A church watchdog weighs in, next.


CAMEROTA: A former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. is calling on Pope Francis to resign. He claims he told the pope about sexual abuse allegations against a prominent American cardinal five years ago and that the pope did nothing about it.

Joining us now is Terence McKiernan. He is the president of

Terry, thanks so much for being here.

Let's just explain to people more about what's happening with the calls for resignation, or at least this one call for resignation of the pope.

[08:50:02] So this is the Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and he says that he told Pope Francis about this. Here is his statement, The pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013, and continues to cover for him, he means Cardinal McCarrick. Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who've covered up McCarrick's abuses and resign along with all of them.

OK, so then this Sunday, as you know, the pope sort of responded to this. He said, I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself and you have the sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It is an act of trust.

That's about whether or not he knew about those allegations.

So where are we, Terry, today with all of this?

TERENCE MCKIERNAN, PRESIDENT, BISHOPACCOUNTABILITY.ORG: We're at a very, very interesting point in all of this certainly. This is -- some people are calling it an attempted coup d'etat on Pope Francis. I think that this attack has certainly wounded him, but a lot more is going to have to be known about this I think before anybody can draw a conclusion about whether he needs to go.

CAMEROTA: Because, let's be honest, Cardinal Vigano, there is some bad blood and some history between he and the pope. And maybe this is self-interested what his claims are. Maybe he does have some sort of ulterior motive. We just don't know at the moment. So in terms of calls for Pope Francis to resign, your thoughts?

MCKIERNAN: My thoughts are that what the Vigano testimony, as he calls it, does is to focus attention on something that really does need attention. The Cardinal McCarrick situation really does need to be investigated.

Interestingly, Vigano, as you probably are aware, had released, just a few hours ago, a couple of documents from a case about another archbishop. This is Archbishop Nienstedt up in the twin cities. And I think that although Vigano might not like this aspect of the building crisis, we probably need an investigation that covers both McCarrick and Nienstedt and really gets to the bottom of those two cases. The Nienstedt case is very, very similar to the McCarrick case and also gets to the bottom of Vigano's involvement in the Nienstedt case.

So things are getting more and more complicated and I would hope that this visitation from the Vatican, that the American bishops have requested, can investigate both of those cases, but the Vatican doesn't have a good track record of investigating problems and then actually being transparent about the results.

CAMEROTA: Well, OK. So let's talk about that because we've interviewed on our program here many survivors of clergy abuse and they say, while heartened by the pope's words -- I mean they certainly appreciate the pope speaking about all of this after it was, you know, swept under the rug for so long, they want action. They want a more aggressive take from the pope. So what would that look like?

MCKIERNAN: Well, that would look, I think, in the United States, like the pope instructing the bishops in Pennsylvania to do a 180 and support reform of so-called statutes of limitations that right now prevent survivors from filing a lawsuit in abuse that is somewhat quote/unquote old. That would be a major decision for the Vatican and would have repercussions all over the United States.

CAMEROTA: Here's what -- I'm sorry to interrupt you. I just want you to hear this because moments ago the Pennsylvania attorney general was on a different morning show and said something chilling, I mean, just about who knew what. I mean, look, as you know, just to remind our audience, there were 1,000 identifiable victims in this grand jury report, 300 plus predator priests. So here's what the Pennsylvania attorney general just said.


JOSH SHAPIRO, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Church leaders would lie to parishioners on Sunday. They would lie to the public. They would shield these predators from law enforcement, but then they would document all of it and place it in the secret archives.

We have evidence that the Vatican had knowledge of the cover-up. I can't specifically speak to Pope Francis.


CAMEROTA: So he doesn't know about the pope, but the Vatican knew about this, and that they were keeping records of it while denying it. And so, you know, merely changing the statute of limitation, while it would be a huge, huge step, is that enough?

MCKIERNAN: Oh, it's certainly not enough. And, in fact, the Vatican could transform the situation by doing the following. All of these cases that we're discussing go to the Vatican so that the Vatican can decide whether a priest is going to be laicized, whether he's going to be defrocked. And the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, so- called the congregation at the Vatican that handles this cases, has lists of all the priests who have been removed and has files on all of them. It's absolutely high time for the Vatican to be transparent about its lists of accused priests and the files that it had, very, very explicit files. We have some of them in our archives at that show exactly what the accusations were in these cases. You know, pressure is building and the Vatican's, I think, is going to have to respond.

[08:55:52] CAMEROTA: All right, well, obviously, we have been following this story, well, for weeks, for years, let's be honest. So we'll see what the next move is.


CAMEROTA: Terry McKiernan, from, thank you very much.

MCKIERNAN: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And CNN "NEWSROOM" with Erica Hill will pick up after this very quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Erica Hill, in today for Poppy Harlow.

[08:59:57] The White House flags today flying at half-staff, where they will remain for the next five days of national mourning for John McCain, whose lifetime of service to the country President Trump has said now that he does appreciate.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our hearts and prayers are going to the family