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Former President George H. W. Bush Passes Away; Historians Analyze Presidency of George H. W. Bush; Interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; President Trump Calls Off Planned Meeting with President Putin at G20 Summit; President Trump Delays Press Conference on G20 Summit Due to Passing of George H. W. Bush. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 1, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:05] GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Read my lips, no new taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

BUSH: That I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated. Our military objectives are met.

Just because you run against someone does not mean you have to be enemies. Politics doesn't have to be mean and ugly.

I love you, precious, with all my heart, and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday.

Just because you're an old guy, you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner.

No regrets about one single thing in my life that I can think of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is CNN special coverage of the passing of George H. W. Bush. I am Wolf Blitzer reporting from Buenos Aires. Prayers and words of comfort being offered to the former president's family right now. President Bush worked tirelessly for the American people, as a U.S. Navy pilot, then as a congressman, a diplomat, and as head of the CIA. But he is also remembered as a great family man, survived by five children, more than a dozen grandchildren, and many great grandchildren. He was 94-years-old. His death comes months after his wife Barbara Bush passed. She passed away this past April at the age of 92. They were married for 73 years. Dana, this is a story that all of us are going to remember for a long

time, these days as we reflect on this great American leader.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: No question, Wolf. It is really remarkable to be here in Houston in the late president's hometown, a place that he loved. He was certainly a member of the community here. But you got to know him, Wolf, covering him as a master on the world stage. Here in Houston right now joining me is someone who edited the president's book on that period "The China Diary, George H. W. Bush, The Making of a Global President." Jeffrey Engel is also the author of "When the World Seemed New, George H. W. Bush and the End of the Cold War," and he's a founding director of SMU's Center for Presidential History. Thank you for joining me this morning.

I want to start with something that struck me in the book I talked about that you wrote about how President Bush handled the end of the cold war. And it is hard, I think, for people to wrap their minds around what he had in front of him, just in one term, even the beginning of his one term. You talk about the Berlin Wall falling, democracy taking root behind the iron curtain, Germany uniting, which had been divided since World War II, the Soviet Union surrendering. And it goes on and on and on. And you note that what he had to deal with, the complexities of it, was only paralleled by what FDR had to deal with during his four terms.

JEFFREY ENGEL, HISTORIAN, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY: I was going to say, during a lot longer period in office. It really was an astounding period. We've never seen such tectonic change in the international system over a short period. In fact most of the things you just mentioned really happened in the first half of his first term. So we think about Donald Trump's first term, he is about halfway through. That was the period when we saw the Berlin Wall come down, communism begin to falter, and also Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait. It really was remarkable how many things happened and how much he had to juggle at one time.

BASH: And now, looking back, watching what happened as he became president, he was vice president as the cold war was really ending, but when the transformation happened, it was on his watch as president. And it was not a sure thing that it was going to end up that way. It was because he was president that it happened that way.

ENGEL: This is really key. We have to remember it has been a long time now. But we have to remember this is really one of the most dangerous periods in the 20th century because we have a global super power, the Soviet Union, which effectively is collapsing. And throughout history, we've never seen a super power collapse without an ensuing great power war. But we've never actually run that experiment globally with nuclear weapons in the mix, 20,000 nuclear weapons on the Soviet side.

So what Bush was confronting was something that really could have at any moment, probably should have, if you ran experiments enough times, probably should have exploded into the kinds of ethnic violence or the kinds of civil war that we saw, say, in Yugoslavia. That could have happened throughout the Soviet Union. And Bush's really skill in handling of that was to keep calm in order to keep global leaders while this tectonic change was going on, keep them all focused on not making it worse. Let's keep talking. Let's keep the crisis down, let's keep the emotions down. And that all happened behind the scenes.

[10:05:14] BASH: Yes, and that is really remarkable because he really was the right man at the right time, because it was his DNA to keep calm, to not be, as we've heard so many times this morning, braggadocious. And that really helped as a guiding light and a guide post for how he handled that remarkable time in history.

ENGEL: I like to say that basically he practiced Hippocratic diplomacy, that is to say the first thing you do is make sure you're not making things worse, which is really something that other presidents might want to take note of. One great example of the way he was able to personalize foreign policy and really get to know foreign leaders really occurred at the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was a moment in 1989 that frankly shouldn't have happened. It was a mistake. No one expected it. Bush and General Scowcroft, his national security adviser, didn't expect it basically in their entire lives. Suddenly it happened.

And while Bush had to go in front of cameras, in front of the American people to give a statement to explain what was going on, he simultaneously knew people around the world, including in the Soviet Union were watching. So he had to make sure that nothing he said would perhaps provoke violence, even though he knew, he would keep on getting notes passed to him that said Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of Britain, called. Germany's Helmut Kohl called. Mikhail Gorbachev called. And everyone had the same question of the president of the United States, which is do you know what's going on. And he was able to keep things calm and keep things from spinning out of control during that incredibly chaotic moment.

BASH: You mentioned all those iconic figures calling him real time as this potential crisis was happening that turned out to be not really a crisis. You learned so much about how he used those relationships to help kind of take this through this period of time in history, particularly with Gorbachev. I am really struck by the bond that the two of them struck.

ENGEL: It is really remarkable. And I think the way that Bush managed to strike those relationships with Gorbachev in particular but with other global leaders was because he understood that American power was undisputed but America's relations had to be a two-way street, which is to say he used to call foreign leaders around the world and basically just say what's going on in your country, what do you think of the world, and then listen. In fact, we have transcripts of all of his phone calls now from the Oval Office to foreign leaders. And some of the transcripts are actually quite funny. It would be basically George Bush saying hello, someone else talking for three pages, and Bush saying great, it was great to talk to you. What that says to me as a historian, as a foreign policy analyst, is that Bush was able to listen. And when he needed a favor, when he needed people to listen to him, they were more likely to really hear him out because they knew he had taken time to listen to them. BASH: It is so basic. It is the basic humanity he understood

implicitly with everything in his life from the small to the big to the important stuff. Stay with us on that whole notion of humanity. I want to talk about memorial services being planned for President Bush both here in Houston and in Washington. And I want to bring in CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel to talk about that. What can you tell us, Jamie, about the ceremonies planned in the coming days?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So the services have not been publicly announced yet. But we can tell you two things. We have confirmed that the Bush family reached out to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, and they are invited to the National Cathedral service. And now the White House confirmed that the Trumps will be attending that service.

And this should not come as a surprise to anyone who knew former president Bush, because even though we now publicly know that he voted for Hillary Clinton and he had some choice words for Donald Trump, this is about former President Bush respecting the office of the presidency. It would never occur to him not to invite the sitting president of the United States.

The other thing we can tell you is that among the eulogists at the National Cathedral will be, no surprise, his son, former president George W. Bush. I think that I can predict pretty accurately that that will be an emotional speech. The Bush men are known for crying. And I am going to guess he's going to struggle to get through it without crying, Dana.

BASH: I would tend to agree with you there. You learned about the final moments that the late president spent on this earth and who was around him, obviously his family, but one person that was really striking to me, again not surprising, is his secretary of state but also longtime friend James Baker. So touching and moving that he was there.

[10:10:15] GANGEL: So there are a lot of people who consider themselves George Bush's best friend, and they were, but James Baker was his best friend. You may remember not too long ago there was a picture of them, I think November 1st, early voting, the two men. If you go on Instagram, you'll see it. They went on voted together. They were so close. And the Bakers spent a tremendous amount of time with former President Bush the last couple of weeks and months especially. And they were there along with many of the family members who live in the Houston area, his son Neil Bush, Neil's wife Maria, some of the children, grandson, Pierce Bush were all around.

And then the family members who couldn't be in town, who had already I think said their goodbyes over the last couple of weeks, were calling in all day to talk to him.

BASH: Jamie, thank you for that reporting. And you have some incredible exclusive interviews with really everybody, everybody in his family, and people who knew him so well. We're going to be getting to that throughout the day. And Wolf, as I toss it back to you, it is so fitting I think that you

are there in Buenos Aires, that the G20 is meeting at this time, a global alliance, the kind that George H. W. Bush called absolutely critical, critical for the kind of world that he saw throughout decades and decades in his public service as important to keep the peace.

BLITZER: Absolutely, right. He would have welcomed the opportunity to sit down with all of these world leaders who have gathered here in Buenos Aires for this G20 summit. Dana, I had a chance earlier today to sit down with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. We spoke obviously about the passing of President Bush. We also spoke about other sensitive issues on the national security front, including what happened to the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, what's going on with President Putin in Russia. That interview is coming up. We'll have it for our viewers. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I did my job as president. I just didn't expose my inner feelings. And I think people liked me, I think people were disappointed, I think people wanted change. I think when I said the economy has recovered, look at this guy, he is out of touch. I've got a whole rationale of reasons why I did not get reelected, but maybe if I had been a little more emotional, or more revealing of the person, why, maybe it would have helped. But it never occurred to me then. I mean, I --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No regrets then?

BUSH: No regrets about anything. No regrets about one single thing in my life that I can think of. Maybe I made mistakes, but they don't measure up to regrets now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:17:31] BLITZER: Welcome back. I am Wolf blitzer reporting this morning from the G20 summit here in Buenos Aires where in just a few hours we expect to hear directly from President Trump about the meetings he has had here with world leaders. Just a little while ago I had a chance to sit down and speak with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, about some of the major issues facing Mr. Trump and others here in Argentina. And I started by asking the secretary of state about his recollections of President George Herbert Walker Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining me.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Wolf, it's great to be with you.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the late president George H. W. Bush. How do you see his legacy? POMPEO: It's a remarkable American legacy. They don't make them like

that very often. I had a chance to get to know him when I was a member of Congress first, and then I held a job that he held at one point, and I remember talking to him just after I was nominated to be CIA director. He said you'll be great, you'll be awesome. In fact, it was the second best job I ever had. And he loved that group of people, that talented espionage agency so much. America is worse off today. I want to extend mine and Susan's heartfelt sympathy to the entire Bush family.

BLITZER: What lessons can politicians today learn from the life he led?

POMPEO: It was a true life of service. He was also committed to his faith. And he was known to work really hard. Maybe those would be the three things, if you work at it, if you keep your faith, and you have this a commitment to serve, good things can happen, not only to him. He had a remarkable life, but you'll do good work for your fellow man as well. President Bush certainly did that.

BLITZER: He was an amazing man. I was blessed myself to have interviewed him on several occasions. I know if he were here, he would want us to get to substantive issues. So in his memory, let's talk about some of the major national security issues facing the United States now.

Saudi Arabia, do you believe the Saudi explanation that the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, did not know about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

POMPEO: Wolf, I have spoken about this a lot. I continue to work on this issue. President Trump and this administration sanctioned 17 people that we came to learn were connected to the murder, the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. All across the United States government, we continue to investigate to try to learn to make determinations about what happened, and we'll continue to hold those responsible accountable.

[10:20:00] We have been very, very clear about that since literally the very beginning. We also, Wolf, and this is important, are doing everything we can to make sure that we get it right for America, that we keep the strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and protected the American people. Those two things can both be done, and we have done it very effectively.

BLITZER: Because you have said, and you're a former CIA director, you understand how U.S. intelligence analysis works, you said there's no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to what ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Can you confidently tell his four children that he was not involved in that order?

POMPEO: Obviously sitting in an unclassified setting, here is what I can say. I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government. And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there's no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is an accurate statement, it's an important statement, and it is the statement that we are making publicly today.

BLITZER: Did the CIA conclude with high confidence that he was involved?

POMPEO: I can't comment on intelligence matters, CIA conclusions. I didn't do it when I was director, I'm not going to do it now.

WHITFIELD: Because you have seen all the reports in the media about that?

POMPEO: I've seen lots of reports in the media, Wolf. They often are untrue.

BLITZER: So the bottom line is that the U.S. is going to continue to maintain the same relationship, strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia right now, irrespective of what may have happened?

POMPEO: Today we're working with the Saudis in Afghanistan, we're working with the Saudis to push back against Ayatollah Khamenei who killed hundreds of Americans, Wolf. And they're an enormous support to us. They are a relationship that has mattered for 70 years across Republican and Democrat administrations alike, and it remains an important relationship, and we're aiming to keep that relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

BLITZER: Because you're losing support in Congress, even including among Republicans right now to continue U.S. support for the Saudi operation in Yemen. Even Lindsey Graham voted against your position. There were 14 Republican senators who voted against you the other day in the Senate.

POMPEO: Secretary Mattis and I and the president made very clear we are working to end hostilities in Yemen. The humanitarian crisis there is of epic proportions. Millions of people at or near starvation. This administration has put almost $1 billion into stopping that humanitarian crisis. The Saudis have put even more money in. The Iranians, Wolf, have put zero dollars in to stopping the humanitarian crisis. And we are determined to fix the problem with the humanity crisis while ensuring we don't end up with a Hezbollah organization on the southern edge of Saudi Arabia.

BLITZER: So U.S. military support for the Saudis in Yemen will continue?

POMPEO: The program that we're involved in today we intend to continue.

BLITZER: Let's talk about Russia, another critical issue. Why did the president decide to cancel what was supposed to be a two-hour face-to-face meeting with the Russian leader?

POMPEO: I can actually answer that. I was there. He cancelled it because the Russians behaved in a way that is deeply inconsistent with international law and is outrageous. To have held the Ukrainians that they took in the strait needs to be changed. The president wanted to send a clear, unambiguous message that we find that type of behavior unacceptable, and so he cancelled the meeting.

BLITZER: The Russians have done other awful things and the president went ahead in Helsinki and had that long --

POMPEO: This happened hours, days before the series of events.

BLITZER: But wouldn't it be a good time for him to have a face to face --

POMPEO: Hours and days, Wolf, hours and day before. And the president made the decision that the right thing to do was tell the Russians return the sailors, return the Ukrainian equipment. It is theirs, the people need to be returned to their families, and he wanted to send an unambiguous message that the Russians needed to change that act.

BLITZER: It had nothing to do with the announcement that came just an hour earlier before he boarded Air Force One to fly here to Argentina that Michael Cohen was cooperating with Mueller and all these new information, details about a supposed Trump Tower project in Moscow?

POMPEO: Ludicrous. Washington parlor game.

BLITZER: Explain, because --

POMPEO: I was involved in the decision, Wolf. I can explain it easily.

BLITZER: You were aboard Air Force One.

POMPEO: I was aboard Air Force One.

BLITZER: And nobody discussed Michael Cohen.

POMPEO: Wolf, this is the thing the American people need to understand about Washington, D.C. It makes stuff up. That is wholly unfounded. I was involved in the decision-making process, we evaluated it. We considered the opportunity to speak with him. We considered the message we would send. President Trump made the decision this was the right approach, based on the activity that had taken place in the leadup to the G20 summit.

BLITZER: So is there going to be an opportunity down the road for the president to meet with Putin?

POMPEO: The president has made clear the conditions for the meeting.

BLITZER: What are the conditions?

POMPEO: We want the sailors returned, we want the ships returned.

BLITZER: And once the Russians do that, there will be a summit?

[10:25:00] POMPEO: The president has said he wants to meet, he wants to have a conversation with President Putin. There are lots of things that we need to find paths forward on together, lots of places Americans are at risk. He is trying to find a way to move forward with Russia, and now this jumped in the middle of a time they could have begun to have a discussion where we may have made progress. We regret that, but the Russians caused this meeting to be cancelled by their behavior in the Kerch Strait.

BLITZER: When is the president going to meet again with the North Korean leader?

POMPEO: I don't know. I hope it will happen pretty soon. We're working hard at it. I think it will happen shortly after the first of the year, but I don't have any additional information to share with you this morning, Wolf.

BLITZER: What's the problem right now with the North Koreans?

POMPEO: The progress we've made has been good.

BLITZER: What's the problem?

POMPEO: The progress we've made has been good. We're not having missiles launched, there haven't been any nuclear tests. We continue to have conversations about the right next step, that is, the right substantive next step, not the process next step of meetings. We are working with partners all across the world, the South Koreans, the Japanese.

Remember, Wolf, these are global sanctions put in place by the United Nations Security Council which denied North Korea the capacity to improve their economy. That's not going to change, unlike previous administrations that when they got to a point became difficult wrote checks for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars and let the North Koreans off the hook in that sense. We are determined to fulfill the commitments that were made in Singapore, and we're working hard at it.

BLITZER: Final question on Mexico right now. It looks like U.S.- Mexican relations are improving. Right now you're off for the inauguration of the new president, and President Trump signed together with leaders of Mexico and Canada, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada new trade agreement. But there's still a lot of tension along the border, and there's a lot of uproar about whether or not the U.S. should go ahead and build a new wall, spend all that money. Whatever happened to the president's commitment for so long during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall?

POMPEO: That wall is going to get built. I have already developed a good relationship with my counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard, the incoming foreign secretary of Mexico. We met a number of times already. I'm unfortunately not going to make the inauguration taking place today in Mexico, but he will travel to Washington on what I guess will be his second day of office, and we're going to continue to develop this relationship.

It is not just focused on the migration issues that draw all the headlines. There are many economic issues between our two countries and other commercial. We have transnational criminal organizations that we work on together. It is a broad set of relationships. We're going to work to help build the Mexican economy in the southern part of their nation, work with the northern triangle countries, too. Those are important elements of what we are trying to accomplish. And soon to be foreign secretary, I guess, within hours, Ebrard and I are working hard at it.

BLITZER: And Mexico paying for the wall?

POMPEO: We're going to get the wall built, Wolf.

BLITZER: Will Mexico pay for it?

POMPEO: Wolf, we're going to get the wall built.

BLITZER: I'll leave it on that note.

POMPEO: Thank you, sir.

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, you've got a busy schedule ahead of you. Thanks so much for spending some time.

POMPEO: Thank you, Wolf. Have a great day.

BLITZER: Thank you

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're just getting word now in from the president of the United States that he is cancelling his news conference that had been scheduled here in Buenos Aires for later this afternoon. The president just tweeted, I will read it to our viewers, "I was very much looking forward to having a press conference just prior to leaving Argentina because we have had such great success and are dealing with various countries and their leaders at the G20. However, out of respect for the Bush family and former president George H. W. Bush, we will wait until after the funeral to have a press conference." That from the president, so no news conference later today.

Nic Robertson is with us right now. So Nic, Secretary Pompeo was specific, U.S.-Saudi relations are going to continue as is despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I was struck, however, Wolf, by a couple of things in that, that he created this as of now impression. He said we're going to continue to work on this issue, as if there's still other things to be done. When you pressed him on this point of responsibility of the crown prince, and he said this is the statement we are making today. And I am sure you heard it in the interview there, that emphasis on today.

And I did feel that this still has a way to play out. This is obviously currently the president's position and it seems to be the position that's being adopted by many other world leaders here, that the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whatever he's done, in the words of the president, that he may or may not have directly had a hand in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the leaders of the world are going to get on with him for right now, of course. Some leaders will put more pressure on than others. President Macron yesterday saying that he must allow international investigators to join the investigation. But I do sense that this is something that could move, and there is still more to know about this.

BLITZER: And he was very tough on the Russians, Secretary Pompeo, saying that was the strictly the only reason why President Trump cancelled his formal meeting, sit down here in Argentina, with president Putin.

[10:30:04] ROBERTSON: And you really tried to push him on that point, what about Helsinki, because of course at Helsinki, everyone knew that President Putin was responsible for the Russians meddling, attacking the U.S. elections, the one that voted him into office. And everyone knew at that moment that President Putin was the mostly likely one to have initiated that dangerous, dangerous poison attack against a former Russian spy in the U.K. that could have killed thousands of British citizens.

So all that was known, yet he went into that meeting. But Secretary Pompeo's point there was it was hours before, it was days before that the Russians had taken the Ukrainian ships and taken the sailors. But he has raised a very high bar now. I don't think we have been in this position with the United States president so far in the relationship with Russia which is there is no meeting until Russia steps back on this and hands back the sailors and hands back the ships. And as we know, the Russians have taken these sailors from Ukraine many, many, many hundreds of miles to Moscow. They're much more out of reach in a sort of a more impenetrable Russian network perhaps for several months. So he set a very high bar. Putin hasn't been set a bar like that so far.

BLITZER: And now we'll see if Putin capitulates to those demands. I think that's the first time we heard those specific demands from the U.S. on what Russia needs to do in order to allow this dialogue to continue. We're going to continue our assessment of all of that. Nic Robertson, thank you very much.

Still ahead, we're going to also continue our special coverage of the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Almost 50 years have passed, and some have wondered all these years why we stayed in Berlin. Let me tell you, we stayed because we knew, we just knew, all Americans, that this day would come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:36:36] BASH: President Trump is sharing his thoughts on the passing of President George H. W. Bush, tweeting his respects and the news that he will postpone today's planned press conference, "Out of respect for the Bush family and former president George H. W. Bush we will wait until after the funeral to have a press conference."

Also, Bill Clinton, who defeated Bush in 1992 and then went on to have a very close relationship with him, wrote the following tribute. "I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life's greatest gifts."

Another one of his successors, President Obama, also somebody very close with him who was just here in Houston a few days ago visiting him, paid homage to his commitment to duty, writing this, "What a testament to the qualities that make this country great, service to others, commitment to leaving behind something better."

And I want to go now to CNN political analyst and history professor at Princeton, Julian Zelizer. And Julian, you wrote a really nice piece for CNN this morning. And in it you said something that really struck me. You said few would challenge the argument that he, late President Bush, devoted his entire life to the public arena. He was part of a generation in American politics when working for the government was a virtue, not a vice. It is so well said because it's almost hard to wrap your mind around what a different time it was, not that long ago, not even a generation ago versus now vis-a-vis the way people look at government and how it can do good and not necessarily evil within the Republican Party.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's right. And he comes from a well to do background and family, so he didn't necessarily need to commit his life to public service, but he did in various capacities from being a member of Congress straight through being president of the United States. And despite what one thinks of his record, I think that's a notable part of his era. People who saw government, who saw public service as a full-time vocation, as something that was essential, even if you were a conservative Republican. And that stands as a stark contrast to where we are today in politics.

BASH: And the other thing that is important to remember, we've been talking to much, understandably, about the late president on the world stage and the impact, the remarkable impact that he had globally, particularly presiding over the end of the cold war and doing so in a peaceful way. But domestically, politically he took pride in his bipartisan relationships. It was not a dirty word, bipartisanship. He did so, and he did so sometimes to great political risk.

ZELIZER: Absolutely. We'll remember, he was a tough partisan. In 1988, he ran a really fierce campaign against Michael Dukakis. But then as president he often entered into compromises that came at huge costs. The most famous was the deficit reduction bill in 1990 in which he agreed to raise taxes, and literally led to people like Newt Gingrich, who was a member of Congress, the minority whip in the House, basically bolting from a meeting, bolting from supporting the president, and knew the consequences of doing this.

[10:40:06] He also signed huge expansions of the domestic program of the federal government, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is arguably the most dramatic piece of legislation we've had since the 1960s on the domestic front. So he was someone willing to take these political risks in order to legislate, which comes back to this commitment to government and public service as a priority as much as partisanship.

BASH: A cause greater than itself, even if it does mean hurting yourself politically, which you mention that deficit reduction package, that did in a big way probably cost him his second term in the Oval Office. Thank you so much. We're going to get back to you later today.

Still to come in other news, President Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, believed his boss would pardon him if he faced any charges, but then things changed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:45:39] BLITZER: Shifting gears, we have some new details unfolding right now in the Russia investigation. According to discussions with federal prosecutors, President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, thought Mr. Trump would protect him if he faced any charges related to paying the adult film actress, Stormy Daniels. Cohen believed Mr. Trump would pardon him in exchange for staying on message in support of the president. But after the FBI raided Cohen's office and home, he noticed things changed and he acted to protect himself and his family. The court document now says Cohen has had seven voluntary interviews with the special counsel, and he expects to cooperate further. Some 70 hours of Q and A.

Some other news we are following this hour, President Trump is here at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Just moments ago, he tweeted he is postponing his scheduled news conference later this afternoon, he says out of respect for the late president George H. W. Bush. He will be meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a couple of hours, and later President Xi Jinping of China will have dinner with President Trump. All eyes are certainly on those meetings, especially given the recent trade tensions with China.

And a programming note, as we continue, following the breaking news of former president George H. W. Bush's death. A CNN Special Report will air later tonight, "Remembering 41." President George H. W. Bush, that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

And still to come, what was in that letter that President Bush wrote to his successor Bill Clinton when he handed over the reins of the White House. Here's how Mr. Bush described Clinton and their friendship.

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GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He looks good. He is like the energizer bunny, he's all over the field, not just on Katrina or tsunami, but on a lot of other projects. And I've enjoyed working with him. We've got huge differences on a lot of things. And maybe, Larry, as the campaign of '06 and certainly '08 come into focus, they'll be more differences. Maybe they'll be some strains in there. But heretofore it has been great. And we know we've got political differences, but we also think that there's something in this instance that transcends partisan politics, and that's trying to help somebody else.

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[10:52:38] BASH: It is tradition for outgoing presidents to leave a letter for their successor as they come to the Oval Office, and Mr. Bush was no different. He left this letter for President Bill Clinton back in 1993, which reads in part "I wish you great happiness here. You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. I am rooting hard for you."

Joining me now is Rich Galen, former press secretary to Vice President Dan Quayle, and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and after his son was elected president, you once shared the stage, Rich, with Bush 41 at a fundraiser for a congresswoman. Tell us about that moment.

RICH GALEN, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE: It was a great moment. It was Nancy Johnson, as I remember, in western Connecticut, which was a home game for President Bush, because that's where he grew up. And I had done the luncheon speech and he was going to do the main event, the dinner speech. And we were just hanging out in the afternoon. And I just mentioned in passing my son Reed worked for his son George, Reed was in the advanced office. And I said one of the great things about this is that I can just dial the White House switchboard, ask to speak to my son, and wherever he is in the world, they'll patch me through. And President Bush looked out over the Long Island Sound with a little smile on his lips and said, that's exactly what I do.

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BASH: With all of the humility is known for.

GALEN: Exactly.

BASH: I want to quickly go back to what I was reading, that note. I was a college student and was invited by a long-time veteran reporter Ann Compton to the White House the day that president-elect Clinton arrived for the first time and was greeted warmly by President Bush after the two had such a brutal, brutal battle in 1992. The fact that President Bush even at the time greeted the man who defeated him so warmly in that letter, I'm guessing it doesn't surprise you given the man that he was.

GALEN: There's two things about that, Dana. One is that in one of the clips I saw on CNN earlier today of President Bush talking about his post presidency friendship with Clinton, he said we're not enemies, we're just political opponents. And I try to get that across to people in speeches all the time.

[10:55:05] The other thing that really struck me along those same lines, in the letter, it says you are our president. It was right after the Berlin Wall came down, and President Bush said America has won the cold war. He didn't say I won the cold war, not even my administration won the cold war. Americans won the cold war. And that's the way I think President Bush 41 saw his place in the world, saw his place and Americans' place in his world.

BASH: Rich Galen, thank you so much for coming on, for those remembrances.

Stay with us. We have much more on the life and legacy of the 41st president of the United States.

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