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The 41st President Of The United States, George H.W. Bush has Died At The Age Of 94; Stunning Revelation Today From Defense Secretary Jim Mattis About Russia's Determination To Influence U.S. Elections. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 1, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:24] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here.
From all corners of the world this evening, tributes, condolences, fond personal memories and prayers for the family of the 41st President of the United States.
This wreath now gracing the entrance of the Houston home of President George H.W. Bush who passed away there last night. Plans have been set for his funeral and events to honor his life and his presidency. Bush 41 was 94 years old.
George Herbert Walker Bush's service to the nation began when he was a teenager volunteering for the Navy, becoming a fighter pilot. Afterward a congressman, ambassador, head of the CIA, vice President, and then the White House.
This is how they are paying tribute to President Bush right now in Kuwait. A country that holds President Bush in especially high regard. He led U.S. forces through operation desert storm which liberated Kuwait after Iraq's invasion.
And right now over the White House, the American flag lowered to half- staff in honor of the 41st President of the United States.
This weekend, well, plans are being finalized for President Bush's memorial services. You are going to hear from plenty of people, their experiences with him. The impact Bush 41 had on their lives and the powerful example he set as the gentleman politician. But the best portrait of this President, father and humanitarian is probably best painted by the words of the man himself.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Are you happy out of office? Do you still miss it?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't. I miss some aspects. It's been so long since we were there. But I don't miss it. I don't miss going to work every day in the White House. I miss the presidency, of course. And I love being President. I love working at trying to help people and help solve problems. But it was great. But that's gone. That's history.
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 got a whole rationale of reasons why I did not get reelected. But maybe if I had been a little bit more emotional or more revealing of the person, maybe that would help, but it never occurred to me then.
I view a legacy of let the historians figure out what I screwed up and figure out what I got right. And I'm confident that, you know, we had a good administration, good people and I think the same thing is true of our son. And you know, had tough times and all, but he is doing it right. I hope that we, both have set examples for how you ought to conduct yourself when you have been President and then go out of office.
Let the other guy do it and support him when you can and be silent, don't be out there criticizing all the time.
President Clinton beat me like a drum back in 1992. And then we became friends. And some of his friends look at him and they say, have you lost it with this crazy guy? And some of mine look at it and they say, it's just the same thing. What are you doing with Clinton? And just because you run against someone does not mean you have to be enemies. Politics does not have to be mean and ugly.
I have never liked really tough talking too much about my own service. It was like everybody else in the country that was doing what he thought was right. But on a personal basis, the fact that I was flying in combat off a carrier makes the excitement of the naming of this new ship for me even greater than it would have been. I always they did that kind of thing for dead guys and here I am. And I want to be around. The hell, I will even eat broccoli if I make it for another 45 years.
This one, it was December of 43. My darling Barbara, she should be very easily letter to write. Words should come easily. And in short, it should be simple to tell you how desperately happy I was to open the paper and see the announcement of our engagement. But somehow I can't possibly say all in a letter I should like to. 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 it will be ours someday. How lucky our children would be to have a mother like you.
KING: Do you think about dying?
H.W. BUSH: Yes, a little bit. But not a lot. It doesn't scared me. It used to. When I was a kid, think about dying. I would scare of that. Terrible. But when you get older. Larry, you know, you don't think about it a lot. I got too much to do. Too much to live for. Too much happiness.
Just because you are old, that doesn't mean you can't do fun stuff. And don't want to sit around drooling in the corner. Scary. When you look out, even though you are hooked on it. Get
ready! Get ready! Get ready to jump. You get out of the door and you look down, there's no feeling of support and that is, you know, like, what the heck am I doing? Off you go and just.
[18:05:36] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No regrets then?
H.W. BUSH: No regrets about anything. No regrets about one single thing in my life that I can think of. I mean, I have made mistakes but they don't measure up to regrets now.
CABRERA: And now, we know his final words. He was on the phone with his son, who shares his same name, and as George W. Bush said good-bye to his father, he told him he had been a wonderful dad and that he loved him, to which Bush Sr. responded, I love you too.
Those are reportedly his last words, I love you too. A powerful testament to that relationship of father and son.
George H.W. Bush, accumulated so many. Impressed titles over the year over the course of the public service. President, vice president, congressman, ambassador, just to name a few. But to those who were closest to him, he was just dad or grandpy. A devoted husband and loving father and grandfather.
CNN's special correspondent Jamie Gangel is joining us now.
And Jamie, you know this family well. You talk to so many of them. Tell us more about President Bush's final hours and the plans now for his memorials and services in the coming days.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So as you said, his final words, we can now confirm were between father and son. They were actually on a speakerphone and he said, I love you too, to his son.
But let me take you back a little bit earlier. It's not a complete surprise. We have known that president -- former President Bush had been suffering from Parkinson's. He had been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia, bronchitis. We can report that he also had congestive heart failure. And so the family knew that it was coming to an end.
But the last week, he really had a rough patch. And he was in a lot of pain. And I'm told that yesterday morning when he woke up, his family, his doctors, the people taking care of him said, do you want to go to the hospital? Do you want more care? And he said, no. That he was ready to go. And that he was ready to go see his wife, Barbara, and to be with their 3-year-old daughter Robin who died of leukemia, when she was just a small child.
And I think, Ana, an important part of what happened yesterday, the letting go is that it was really a very different moment from the man we have seen. Not only in the last couple of months for months, for a long time. He lived every moment. You saw it in those pictures where he's jumping out of airplanes. And even this summer after he lost his wife, Barbara, he was out there. He went to a performance at Hamilton. He went to see, he went to his granddaughter Barbara's wedding just a couple of weeks ago (INAUDIBLE). And if you look on Instagram, on November 1st, there is a great photo of him going to vote with his best friend James Baker.
So really, up until the very end, he was true to this just enormous spirit that he had - Ana.
CABRERA: And Jamie, as we all, those of us here in this country and around the world are remembering this man, there will be days to pay tribute to him and formal ceremonies and services. What have you learned?
GANGEL: So what we know is there are going to be two memorials and celebrations of his life. One will be this coming Wednesday at the national cathedral and the second one will be in Houston on Thursday at the Bushs' church St. Martin. It was the same place where Barbara Bush's funeral service happened.
We can report the funeral plans have not been made public yet. But we do know a couple of things. First of all, we can tell you that his son, George W. Bush who he said those final words to, I love you too, is going to be giving one of the eulogies. And tonight, we are going to have a documentary at 8:00 "Remembering 41." And I want to show you a short piece of tape because there has been an endless fascination about the relationship between father and son. So this is a little bit of our exclusive interview with the son, George W. Bush about his relationship with his father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:10:26] GANGEL: Give me some words to describe your father.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Humble, driven, competitive, willing to listen to the other person, great listener, thoughtful, and a person who cared deeply about others who hurt.
One of the more very dramatic moments for me came on September the 14th, at the national cathedral. That was very fearful of bursting out in tears and the country didn't need to see a weeping President get finish the speech and went back to the pew and sat down. And I felt his hand reach across and grab my arm. Just a small gesture but it meant a lot to me. It was a very sweet moment of fatherly love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GANGEL: President Bush, his son told me that was the most memorable moment for him between father and son. They are going to be back in the national cathedral on Wednesday when he gives the eulogy for his father.
The Bush men are known for being very emotional, Ana. They cry very easily. I think that this eulogy is going to be emotional and you are going to see a lot of tears - Ana. CABRERA: We have heard so much about the love between many members of
this family, father-son, father-daughter, of course, husband and wife, with the 73 year marriage between President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush before her passing.
Jamie Gangel, we know you will be in touch with them, you will be in touch with us as we continue to remember this incredible person. Thank you so much for your reporting.
GANGEL: Thank you.
CABRERA: Now, President George H.W. Bush was a Republican calling for a kinder gentler nation. Those hopeful three words uttered during his inauguration day speech in January of 1989. He was a Navy war hero known as poppy to his friends and family. And he was also a mentor for many young Republicans in Washington who later rose to power. And one of those he mentored is joining me now.
Congressman French Hill. He was also deputy assistant secretary of treasury under President Bush.
Thank you so much, congressman, for being with us and condolences for the loss of your personal friend.
REP. FRENCH HILL (R), ARKANSAS: Thanks, Ana. A great American.
CABRERA: So true. You met him almost 40 years ago back in 1979. How are you remembering your friend today?
HILL: I'm remembering in those clips you just showed and Jamie's reporting, I just loved his goofy sense of humor. I loved it. And I couldn't get enough of it. He had the best sense of humor. He make people at ease. He was part of his beautiful sense of personal diplomacy. Whether he was working a deal on Capitol Hill or around the world building a coalition. That humor, that warp (ph), the personal diplomacy is what I remember the best.
CABRERA: You worked with him in many capacities, shared many moments. We are seeing some of the photos of you two together. Do you have a favorite story?
HILL: Oh, God. I have so many, but you know, I loved, as I say, his sense of humor. I think one of the things he brought people together, lifted their spirits. He loved caring for others as 43 just said. And after the loss, he invited all the officers of the White House to come to the east room for an important meeting at 10:30 in the morning. And when we got in the east room and we were seated, the offstage announcer said, ladies and gentlemen, the President and Mrs. Bush and in walked Dana Carvey holding Mrs. Bush's hands doing the best 41 impression. And that was George Bush, classic 41. Lifting the spirits of the whole White House staff after his loss in 1992.
CABRERA: We see him in great photo. The big just gregarious laughter you can almost hear looking at this image. I'm wondering how you and him ended up getting to know each other. HILL: Well, it's an interesting story. Back in 1979, I was invited
by my friend Gene Tower cocks (ph) of Dallas, Texas to participate in a young person's fundraiser for this guy from Houston Texas named George Bush who was going to run for President. And we did a picnic and I got to meet him then. And then a few short years later, totally by coincidence, I went to work for Gene Tower cocks' dad, Senator John Tower of Texas on the U.S. Senate banking committee as a staffer. And from there, I got to know the vice President and Mrs. Bush and it began a really a lifelong admiration of the Bush family and President Bush's great mentorship and friendship.
[18:15:06] CABRERA: When was the last time you spoke to him? And do you remember that conversation? What was it?
HILL: I got to see him very briefly at 43, his library opening. And he was just so, having so much fun at President Bush's library opening at SMU in Dallas. He gave this very short little tribute, thanking everybody for coming, leaned over to 43 and said, how was it? And 43 said, fine. He says, 41, says, too short, too long, I mean? I mean, he kept that sense of humor every step of the game.
CABRERA: Yes. And every chapter of his life, he really was a public servant in some way from his time in the military to his service as a congressman, a vice President, up through the presidency and he was really in it for all the right reasons. He wasn't afraid to put his political neck out there. Why aren't there more people like him in politics today?
HILL: Well, he is absolutely epitome of public service and the rotary club, rotary international, we say service above self is our motto. And that perfectly describes George Bush from the time he enlisted in the Navy until just yesterday. George always put himself at the service of others for his country, for his family. It's what I admire about him. The points of life effort continues to this day. It was institutionalized by his successor, Bill Clinton in the progress of Americorps where we encourage volunteerism in this country. And so, George Bush has left a great legacy of volunteer spirit and that service above self.
CABRERA: What do you see as his greatest political accomplishment?
HILL: Oh, God. This is what's so amazing. George Bush had a very successful one term presidency. The Americans for disability act was revolutionary at the time and it has offered opportunity and accessibility for millions and millions of Americans across this country. His clean air act amendments were an amazing work on clean air and clean water when he was President. Of course, the coalition to reject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait was an amazing international accomplishment.
But really, when you think about the coalition aspect of that, it's unparalleled really in American history. So for me, I think the most important thing was his very careful stewardship of uniting Germany and keeping Germany and NATO after the Berlin wall fell. This was a very touchy time between the Soviet Union and the United States and Jim Baker and general Scope (ph), and George Bush who owed a long standing gratitude from the whole world for their very careful reassembly of Germany and keeping Germany a part of Europe and a part of NATO.
CABRERA: Congressman French Hill, thank you for taking the time. We appreciate it.
HILL: Thanks, Ana. Appreciate it.
CABRERA: CNN's special coverage continues in just a moment.
But first, hear the former President talk about his own legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.W. BUSH: My view on legacy is let the historians figure out what I screwed up and figure out what I got right. And I'm confident that, you know, we had a good administration and good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[18:22:08] CABRERA: George H.W. Bush's life and legacy transcended even start political lines. President Barack Obama saying this as he awarded President Bush the presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like the remarkable Barbara Bush, his humility and his decency reflects the very best of the American spirit. Those of you who know him, this is a gentleman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We have learned President Obama was one of Bush's final visitors. He met with the former President at his home on Tuesday just three days before his death.
I want to bring in CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod. He served as a senior advisor to President Obama.
And David, let me just start there. The former President's club is an incredibly small. Only four members left now. What can you tell us about the relationship between Obama and Bush?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It was very, very good. President Obama had a huge respect for President Bush. And they shared sensibilities about the importance of global institutions and about the importance of American leadership but the need to exercise it prudently and to understand when you get into ventures, how they are going to end. And he also respected him for the way he conducted himself in his post-presidency. He spoke very, very highly of President George H.W. Bush. CABRERA: President Obama released a beautifully written statement
about Bush's passing. And just want to read a line for you. It says even after commanding the world's mightiest military, President Bush once said I got more of a kick out of being one of the founders of the YMCA in Midland, Texas back in 1952 than almost anything I have done.
David, how do you think Bush saw his own time in office?
AXELROD: Well, look, first of all, we should say a few things. One is, he is as has been noted several times, the last of the World War II generation. His service spans 70 years. And he, like a lot of those veterans who fought side by side from different backgrounds, different political philosophies, he emerged from that with a sense of mutual regard, even for political opponents. And that was helpful to him in terms of forging bipartisan consensus in the time that he was President with the Democratic Congress.
He was an institutionalist. He believed in the institutions of government. He served in more high government positions than any other President that I can think of over the years. And he understood it and he understood how to use the mechanism of government to advance the public interest and he believed in global institutions and the importance of them and the importance of American leadership. Not just for the rest of the world, but for America's own security that when you reach out, when you strengthen other nations, you are reducing the chances of conflict that will then devolve into the kind of war that he fought.
So, you know, but his legacy in government, it is really interesting when you think about it today. He signed as was noted, he signed the clean air act. The Americans for disabilities act. He ushered in savings and loan reform after a major savings and loan scandal. And of course, the major legacy that he will be remembered for legacies are two.
One is that he led America through the first Iraq war and the world through the Gulf War and concluded it successfully. And I think with wisdom, because there are those who question, why did he go in and go after Saddam Hussein and depose him that. And he understood what would have happened in the aftermath of that. And we learned what -- how difficult that would be under his son's administration.
The other thing that he did that probably cost him his political career was he signed the budget act of 1990 that included a tax increase that he said that he wouldn't sign when he was running for office but that tax increase and other steps he took really laid the predicate for economic growth in the 1990s and balanced budgets that nobody thought possible.
[18:26:46] CABRERA: And let me just ask you one final question. I'm curious if you have any memories of George H.W. Bush that maybe stand out most to you.
AXELROD: I do. I have to tell you. I have a mind to go back a long way from when I was a young political reporter in 1980 for the "Chicago Tribune." And I was sent to cover the Wisconsin primary. He was a highly touted candidate whose campaign was flagging at that point. Ronald Reagan was on the ascendency. And he had a press conference. So there are a lot of reporters at this press conference who had been on his campaign plane but had been peeled off of it because he was not thought to be a top contender anymore. And he saw them. He said, hey guys, great to see you. Come on back. There is plenty of room on the plane. And he walked up to them after and he put his hands on a couple of their shoulders and he said, you better hurry because if we screw this one up, we are going to we'll be in a piper cub. And it that sort of self-effacing humor.
This is a person who took his responsibility seriously but didn't take himself too seriously and that's a wonderful combination in a leader.
CABRERA: Something we can all learn from.
Thank you, David Axelrod, for sharing your stories, your thoughts, good to have you with us.
They used to be political rivals and ended up longtime friends. Presidents H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton shared something special. We will have more on their unlikely friendship next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.W. BUSH: President Clinton beat me like a drum back in 1992 and then we became friends. And some of his friends look at him and they say, have you lost it with this crazy guy. And some of mine look at it and they say, it's just the same thing. What are you doing with Clinton? And just because you run against someone does not mean you have to be enemies. Politics does not have to be mean and ugly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[18:32:55] CABRERA (voice-over): January, 1993, his final days in office. President Bush was thinking of someone else, his successor.
H.W. BUSH: I'm sitting here now, the desk clear, the pictures gone. I'm dreading the next few minutes walking over and saying good-bye to the staff. I leave it out on the desk for Bill Clinton; looks a little lonely sitting there.
H.W. BUSH: President Clinton still has the letter.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dear Bill, when I walked into this office just now, I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. There will be very tough times made even more difficult by criticism you may not think it is fair. I'm not a very good one to give advice, but just don't let the critics discourage you or push you off course. I'm rooting hard for you. Good luck, George.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: That 1993 letter from President George H.W. Bush to his successor displayed a level of grace and dedication to national unity. That quite frankly seems alien in today's political landscape. But it was emblematic of the relationship between presidents 41 and 42, after facing-off his bitter rivals during the 1992 campaign. Those two would go on to develop a close friendship, even they love as President Clinton put it. A bond centered on the common cause o alleviating human suffering both the U.S. and abroad.
And for more on this friendship, I want to bring in CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
And Suzanne, it is somewhat rare that a sitting president loses an election. It is even rarer that the loser of the friends, the winner. Explain how this one time political rivals were able to put aside partisan bickering and find common ground through humanitarian causes.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Ana.
It was really a fascinating thing to watch this relationship develop as I covered George H.W. Bush. And the joke in the family really is that Clinton was a brother from another mother, is what George W. Bush used to say. That really has a lot to do with this relationship but also with his father, H.W. Bush. It was a very bitter, bitter fight. H.W. Bush calling Clinton during that time, a bozo. And then his son later publicly mocking President Clinton saying that he would usher in an era of integrity into the White House, really, a reference to the scandal and the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
But this was all something that worked behind the scenes shortly after George W. Bush was actually elected in 2000 just days after that election. The two of them met, he and President Bill Clinton in Washington. They had about a 90 minute lunch. They had a conversation. And we were told that they both ate a little bit of humble pie, if you will. Really kind of burying the hatchet. And then it simply grew from there. And what happened what is when President Bush was in his own administration. It was about the end of the first term or so around that time, February of 2005 is when the huge tsunami hit Southeast Asia. And he asked his father as well as President Clinton to work together to go to the region, to try to come up with this kind of massive humanitarian aid and they did that. They traveled for four days together, a long plane ride. And President Bill Clinton said it was one of the greatest gifts that he ever had working with President H.W. Bush.
And then it was just shortly afterwards, Ana. This was Katrina that had hit in late August 2005. And again, President George W. Bush, asked the two of them to donate and to raise money, essentially, for that relief effort. And this was a time when I was covering the President. He was under an incredible amount of scrutiny and criticism for his administration's slow handling of Katrina. They put these two former presidents out to talk about what it was that they were going to do to help George W. Bush.
And here is just a little part of that interview from back then.
[18:37:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are some people at the New Orleans convention center who say that they have been living like animals. No food, no water, no power and they are the ones who are saying, where are the buses? Where are the planes? Why did it take three days to see a real federal response here?
Mr. Bush, whether it's fair or not, have gone through some administration criticism about your handling of the hurricane Andrew.
H.W. BUSH: Sure, did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that this is legitimate?
H.W. BUSH: Yes, I do. What happened, we all side with - that legitimate. I believe that they ought not to be as upset but I can understand why they are. I believe the administration is doing the right thing. And I believe they have acted in a timely fashion. And I understand that people being critical. It happens all the time. And I understand some people wanting to make, you know, little difficulty, criticizing the President and the team. But I don't want to sit here and not defend the administration, which in my view is taking all the right steps and they are facing problems that nobody could foresee, breaking in the levies and the whole thing over in New Orleans, coming apart. People couldn't foresee that.
CLINTON: I think that's important to point out. Because when you say, well, they should have done this other thing first, you can look at it with that problem in isolation and you could say that, but look at all the other things they have to deal with. I'm telling you, nobody thought this was going to happen like this.
What happened here is they escaped, New Orleans escaped Katrina, but it ran all the water up to the Mississippi River and (INAUDIBLE). Then when it started running out and the levy broke, they had problems they never could have foreseen. And so, I just think that we need to recognize right now. There's a confident effort under way. People are doing the best they can. And I just don't think that it's the time to worry about that. We need to keep people alive and get them back to life, a normal life.
MALVAEUX: And these two leaders would go on to do many different things together including raising money for very charities and golf events and they kept in regular touch. We even saw this year, this is when President Bill Clinton had his tour, that he was doing his book tour, he was visiting with President H.W. Bush and his Kenny Bank Fort (ph) main home. And you can see there the little joke that they have got going on. This is, as you know, the socks, the infamous socks that he had. These were Clinton socks, that Bush was wearing and they have got a good laugh out of that, that he was wearing his Clinton socks with the visit as well as introducing his new service dog, sully, to President Clinton. So the two of them from the very beginning to the very end, really developing something very rare that you see in Washington and in history from opposite sides of the aisle, essentially, coming together.
CABRERA: And President Clinton once say that the family called him their black sheep son. That's how close they had become. I love that picture of them with the socks.
Suzanne Malvaeux, thank you very much. Good to have you with us.
I want to get to some other news tonight as we hear of impromptu meeting between Vladimir Putin and President Trump. The secretary of defense revealing the Russian president tried to meddle in the midterms, just last month. We will have details on that ahead, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:44:47] CABRERA: A stunning revelation today from defense secretary Jim Mattis about Russia's determination to influence U.S. elections and how it is still happening, he says. Here's what he said about Vladimir Putin during an event in California earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:45:03] JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There is no doubt, the relationship has worsens. He tried again to muck around in our elections this last month and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: These comments from Mattis come one day after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders used the words Russia witch hunt hoax when referring to the Mueller investigation into Russia's 2016 election meddling.
And we have learned President Trump and Putin spoke informally at the G-20 summit in Argentina even though Trump cancelled their formal talks citing Russia's standoff with Ukraine. Putin telling reporters a short time ago that he and Trump discussed events in Ukraine during their informal meeting.
CNN Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Buenos Aires.
Jeff, what more are you hearing?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Ana, good evening.
We do know that all the talk of election meddling was done by defense secretary James Mattis. That was not a conversation that was had here at least publicly at the G-20 summit by the President or others. The White House is, you know, very much wanted to move beyond that at every one of these world gatherings that they have. But we do know, as you said, that the President was meeting on the sidelines with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. It came at a dinner last evening when all the world leaders were there. There was no sense of if that was an extensive conversation or not. It appears to be a very brief conversation. So certainly, I would say a lost opportunity at this world summit here, the G-20 summit by not, again, having a chance for the two leaders to speak face-to-face. But we did hear from Vladimir Putin before he left town, he said this about President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Of course, we were there and we were talking to each other. I had to talk with President Trump, however brief. And I answered his questions about the instant in the Black Sea. He has his position on that and I have mine. But we didn't change those positions, but I informed him about how we view that incident. I think it's a pity that we didn't succeed in having a full-pledge meeting because I think the time is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So Vladimir Putin saying right there speaking to reporters that he has a difference of opinion or disagreement with the U.S. President. But Donald Trump was scheduled to have a press conference here this afternoon in Buenos Aires. He cancelled that press conference out of respect, he said, for President George H.W. Bush. But there is a sense that President Trump clearly also not wanting to be faced with other questions here about the Russia investigation and other matters. But President Trump right now on his way to the airport and with no meeting under his belt again with Putin -- Ana.
CABRERA: But he did have a two-and-a-half hour dines with China's president which was just ended prior to his trip to the airport. Do you know anything more than it was long?
ZELENY: He did, Ana. And you can see those pictures there from the very beginning of the meeting. That was the only time we saw the leaders that were eight or so representatives of each side meeting.
And this was the most consequential meeting of this entire G-20 summit. The escalation of the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China. Certainly, there are hopes that there might be some type of a resolution. But at this hour, we do not know if there was a resolution of any kind at that dinner. The Presidents, the leaders there, as you can see, sitting across from each other. At one point, it seemed like the dinner was going to be an hour or so but, then it lasted a bit longer. So about two-and-a-half hours altogether.
So we are still waiting to find out if there was a resolution, if there will be a freeze, if you will, in this ongoing escalation and a trade war. The President right now heading to the airport as we speak, flying back to Washington tonight - Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Jeff Zeleny again in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Thank you.
Now back to our top story, the world is reacting to the passing of President George H.W. Bush. And tonight, we want to remember his sense of humor, which we have heard so much about already. Just ahead, the comedian who did one of the best known imitations of the President pays tribute. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[18:53:46] CABRERA: A World War II veteran, the former director of the CIA among so many other accomplishments, titles. President George H.W. Bush had the confidence to lead this country through the end of the cold war and the humility to poke fun at himself with comedian Dana Carvey on "Saturday Night Live."
DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN: (INAUDIBLE), you heard me and I meant it. We are talking the House and Senate. We are not going lose, not going to do it, not going, not going to do it and I'm not -- I said not go -- what? I was doing my no going --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But President Bush -- he wants to say something.
CARVEY: Wait. He's here now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, should I put him through?
CARVEY: All right. Put him in.
H.W. BUSH: Hey, George Bush here. I'm watching you do your impression of me. And I have to say, it's nothing like me. It bears no resemblance. It's bad. It's bad.
CARVEY: Well, I'm sorry, Mr. President. I think it's a fair impression.
[18:55:02] H.W. BUSH: Don't see it.
CARVEY: You don't?
H.W. BUSH: It's totally exaggerated. It's not me. Those crazy hand gestures, the pointing thing I don't do them. Also, na-ga (ph) I never said it. In all nine years of government service, I never once said na-ga-da (ph).
CARVEY: Anything else?
H.W. BUSH: Yes. That church lady thing. What was that all about? Never got the point.
CARVEY: Wasn't that special?
H.W. BUSH: Got to go. Bye.
CABRERA: Oh, got to love it. Dana Carvey released a statement today as well saying this.
It was an honor and a privilege to know and spend time with George H.W. Bush over 25 years. When I think of those times, what I remember most is how hard he would laugh. I will miss my friend. We have much more ahead in our coverage of the passing of President
Bush. So be sure to tune in tonight for a CNN Special Report, "Remembering 41." The serious side, the sense of humor. At 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
We will be right back.