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President George H.W. Bush dies at Age 94; George W. Bush: My Dad Taught Me Not to Fear Failure; Trump to Meet Schumer and Pelosi Tuesday; Sources: Cohen Thought Trump Would Offer Pardon For Loyalty. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired December 1, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] Unidentified Male: This is CNN Breaking News.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: This morning the nation is honoring the memory of Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States. Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: And I'm Christi Paul. So grateful to have you with us here. The former President died overnight, he's 94 years old, he died in Houston after months of declining health.
Now his death, let's think about this it comes just about 7 months after his wife Barbara Bush passed away in April, she was 92 years old. They have been married for 73 years.
BLACKWELL: 73 years.
BLACKWELL: George H. W. Bush dedicated his life to serving the United States first, as a navy pilot, then as a Congressman, a diplomat, head of the CIA, served two terms as Vice President under Ronald Reagan before being elected to the presidency himself.
CNN's Anderson Cooper takes a look at his extraordinary life of service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George Herbert Walker Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts on June 12th 1924. The son of a future U. S. Senator, he married Barbara Pierce, they had six children, two would follow his footsteps into public life.
H.W. BUSH: I, George Walker Bush do solemnly swear.
COOPER: In 2001, his eldest son Texas Governor George Walker Bush became the 43rd President. The first since John Quincy Adams to follow his father into the White House.
W. BUSH: I'm now about to enter so help me God.So help me God.
COOPER: His second son, Jeb Bush served two terms as Florida governor and in 2016 unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination. After earning a degree at Yale, the elder Bush moved his family to Texas where he made a fortune in the oil business.
There, his budding interest in Republican politics blossomed. That one fact help Bush become elected to two terms as a congressman but he was defeated in two subsequent visits for the U. S. Senate, his disappointment didn't last long.
H.W. BUSH: We view this item as a so seriously that we considered a possible turning point in the history of the United Nations.
COOPER: His political profile was high enough thatPresident Nixon appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.Later he became Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
President Ford sent him to China to head up the U. S. liaison office as part of a new initiative in U.S. - Chinese relations and in 1975, Bush came home to become director of the CIA, a job, associates said, he truly loved. He left that job when Democrat Jimmy Carter became President and soon became a player in national Republican politics.
Bush ran against Ronald Reagan in the 1980 GOP primaries, winning some but eventually withdrawing when it became clear, he wouldn't be the nominee. But Reagan believedthat the Texas oilman could help him win over the party's moderates and named him as his running mate.
As Vice President Bush spent a lot of time on the road. He was Reagan's heir apparent in 1988.
H.W. BUSH: I want a kinder and gentler nation. Like I a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.
COOPER: He also made a campaign promise that would come back to haunt him.
H.W. BUSH: Read my lips. No new taxes.
COOPER: His selection of a running mate surprised many.
H.W. BUSH: My choice for the vice presidency is Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana.
COOPER: But voters supported the ticket.
H.W. BUSH: So help me God.
COOPER: As the nation's 41stPresident, Bush's focus would turn to international affairs. He presided over the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. He ordered U. S. troops into Latin America to capture Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
H.W. BUSH: The responsibility for sending someone's son and today, daughter into harm's way rests on the shoulders of the press so it is the most difficult decision.
COOPER: He would order U. S. troops into combat again allied with dozens of other countries to free Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's aggression. The first Gulf War didn't last long. In less than six weeks, the Iraqis were booted from Kuwait but Saddam Hussein remained in power and held a grudge.
Years later a car bombing plot hatched in Iraq targeted Mr. Bush during a visit to Kuwait
H.W. BUSH: If you got to have security and I have to have it with the secret service, I've got the best there is and we will continue to be careful.
COOPER: The United States retaliated with a missile attack against Iraq's intelligence headquarters. The man behind the plot would not be captured for another decade, when the second President Bush ordered the U. S. invasion of Iraq.
[08:05:00] PAUL BREMER, AMERICAN DIPLOMAT: Ladies and gentleman. We got him.
COOPER: At home, President Bush was hammered by credits for compromising with Congress on tax increases and breaking his no new taxes promises.
H.W. BUSH: Well, it was a mistake to go along with the Democratic tax increase and I admit it.
COOPER: In a three way battle with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, he lost. He lived long enough to see his son accomplish what he did not, win a second term in the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
W. BUSH: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations.
COOPER: At his son's request, he also briefly re-entered the public spotlight.
H.W. BUSH: The aftermath of the devastating tsunami.
COOPER: He joined with former President Bill Clinton to help raise money for victims of the 2004 earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia.The two reunited in late 2005 to help the victims of hurricane Katrina.
As a young navy pilot Bush's plane was shot down and he had to bail out over the Pacific.As a far older man, he would jump from planes again, to celebrate his 80th- 85th and 90th birthdays.
H.W. BUSH: It feels good, it's an exhilaration.It sends a message around - but these guys all around the globe that just because you're an old guy, you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner.Get out and do something.Get out and enjoy life.
COOPER: It was a life that brought George Herbert Walker Bush back to the White House in 2011 to receive the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Those of you who know him, this is a gentleman, inspiring citizens to become points of lifein service to others. His life is a testament that public service is a noble calling.
COOPER: At his beloved wife Barbara's funeral, President Bush pose for a photo with other surviving former presidents, the years had taken a toll on his body but his dignity and resolve shined through, part of a graceful final act in a life of public service.
H.W. BUSH: I do not fear what is ahead for our problems are large but our heart is larger. Our challenges are great but our will is greater.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Dana Bash is live in Houston to continue our coverage. Dana, good morning to you and I know your email as we've seen on social media flooded with messages of condolences and memories from people who knew the President, up close and from a far.
DANA BUSH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPODNENT: That's right.He touched so many lives both in terms of his political career, a very long political career, help start a lot of careers that are now flourishing in Washington because he was a role model to so many.
And of course touch so many with his gentlemanly maybe even courtly demeanor and the way that he conducted his life. George H. W. Bush is survived by five children and 17 grandchildren and several great grandchildren. In his statement George W. Bush, his son wrote, "George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."
His granddaughter also posted this message on Instagram that reads, "Waking up missing this giant of a man who gave me everything, he taught me and my family about service, family, decency, the power of gentle words and a beautiful heart. I will miss him desperately but so happy he and my grandmother are back together."
Now in the coming weeks, the former President's body will lie in state in the capitol in Washington.Memorial services will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington and at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, right here in Houston. His final resting place will be at his presidential library where his wife Barbara and daughter, Robin are buried.
I'm going to get straight to Jamie Gangel, who joins me now. Jamie, first, I know you have a little bit of news about the funeral and about the current first family and whether they will be attending.
JAMIE GANGEL CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: That's correct I don't think this will come as a surprise to anyone who knew President Bush 41, he held the presidency in high esteem and I've learned from a source with knowledge of the situation that the Bush family has reached out to President Trump and the First Lady and that they have been invited to the National Cathedral service.
[08:10:00] I also want to say, the plan is for each of the services are not public yet but there will there will be a number of eulogists in at both services and I'm told that his son,Former President George W. Bush will be speaking at the National Cathedral, Dana.
BASH: Jamie, I want to ask you, I know you also have some reporting about the end of the last day of the Former President's life. I want to sit on that because there's a difference between what you just reported that the Trumps are invited and clearly you know welcome at the National Cathedral, difference between that and what we've seen over the past year with others who have not been the biggest fans of the current President.
With Barbara Bush, the late President's widow, it was a little bit, I think the area was a little bit more gray but it certainly wasn't gray for John McCain. He was absolutely not invited and this is a difference tack. Why is that? You knew this President so well and this family so well.Why do you think they're doing it this way?
GANGEL: So as you pointed out with John McCain, that was a decision, it was also political decision and I don't think we were surprised by that. Let me talk about Barbara Bush's funeral for a minute because Barbara Bush saw her funeral not as a state funeral but as a personal funeral.
And so she made very specific arrangements and her wishes were known is that this was not something that was a state funeral where President would necessarily be invited to. I don't think there's any question that there was no love lost but remember, First Lady Melania Trump was invited and did come to that that service.
I think in this case you know, as I said, President Bush 41 sees his place in history and sees that would feel that it would only be appropriate for the sitting President to be invited.It did not matter that as we all now know, he did not vote for Donald Trump.Probably the first time in his life, he didn't vote for a Republican, certainly not a Republican President but he was the kind of person as you said, what are the words we use about him.
Civility, a gentleman, total class, decency, that she would want to do what he felt was right for the office of the Presidency.
BASH: And Jamie, you also have some new insight into the final day, the final hours of the late President's life. I mean, you have been reporting, we've all been watching this President fight so many times go into the hospital with pneumonia, with bronchitis, have other ailments, Parkinson's and he had that fight to live.What was different yesterday?
GANGEL: So as you said, he's been having health challenges for quite some time, since 2012 he's been in and out of the hospital.The Parkinson's was really having very, very challenging affect with his breathing.My understanding is that he had congestive heart failure for quite some time but even so he just had this great will to live.
I know people around him would ask him every day you know, how are you feeling today Sir, especially after Barbara Bush died, they were worried about his state of mind but he remained right to the end just full of spirit, he didn't want to miss a moment.
We know that he went to a performance of Hamilton, this summer.He was at his granddaughter Barbara Bush's wedding just a few weeks ago.He went to vote James Baker, there's a great picture on Instagram of him going to vote, I think it was early voting on November 1.
But he did hit rough patches and what we know is this that after he was in the hospital earlier this summer, he said to his family, I don't want to go back to the hospital.If things get rough again I you know, I want to be at home, I want to be comfortable but I don't want to keep going back into the hospital.
And I'm told that this past week he hit another rough patch.
[08:15:00] And he was in a lot of pain and he just decided that it was time that he wanted to bewith it Barbara and that he was ready to go and that on the final night, last night, he was surrounded by many members of his family from the Houston area.
His son Neil Bush and Neil's wife Maria, Pierce Bush who all live quite nearby were there and also one of his best friends was there, James Baker and his wife Susan Baker. So he was surrounded by People he loved and other family members had been calling in all day and talking to him.
BASH:Jamie taking us there at like only you can with the inside experience and the relationship that you have and I know this is a hard day for you as well so thank you so much Jamie Gangel, appreciate it and I'm going to toss it back to Christi and Victor for the rest of our coverage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Dana, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: You know one of the last visitors he had was Former President Obama who was with him earlier in the week and it really is an indicator of his legacy of working across the aisle, working with Democrats as well.
PAUL: He's got this reputation for wanting to bring peace and of being a man who shows great humility. So President Bush himself remembers skydiving, this adventure that he took with the army, Golden Knights for his 80th birthday.Let's listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.W. BUSH: One, it feels good, it's exhilarating, it's like why do I go 68 miles an hour in my boat, which I do when I go to go fishing, I do and it is - there's a certain thrill in it when you're falling at 125 miles an hour and you're the one in control, it's not a tandem, it's just me and with a guy there in case I mess up.
But there's a thrill in it and the second thing Larry is, you asked how you know, about 80, I think it sends a message around the country and I think it will around the world in this instance, that just because you're 80, that doesn't mean you can't do fun stuff or interesting things. You can and I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So here's a guy who runs for Senator of Texas twice and loses and runs for President of United States in a primary in front of Reagan in the state of Texas and loses. Ends up being President and all the time was still a great father.
No, defeat didn't define George Bush, something greater in life than you know chalking up political victories or political losses, it taught me and I'm confident it taught Jeb, that you know, you don't need to fear failure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: President George W. Bush there onlessons that he learnt from his father.
BLACKWELL: His political career spanned four decades, he preferred to keep his message civil but campaigns often, it turned ugly and how did George Bush change politics? Well, CNN Chief National Correspondent, John King takes a look at George H. W. Bush, the politician.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the defining promise of his presidential campaign.
H.W. BUSH: Read my lips, no new taxes.
KING: That was his 1988 Republican convention speech. Just two years later during the build-up to the Gulf War he broke it, knowing it would infuriate conservatives and perhaps cost him his job.
H.W. BUSH: As we speak, our nation is standing together against Saddam Hussein's aggression but here at home, there's another threat, a cancer, knawing away at our nation's health.
That cancer is the budget deficit.
KING: All his political people said don't raise taxes but President Bush was convinced he had to put the country ahead of his own political standing, agreeing in the end to a compromise that included about $3 in cuts for every dollar in new taxes.
H.W. BUSH: There comes a time when you have to simply make tough decisions, give a little to get what is best for the country.
KING: If you do the math you don't get the Clinton era balanced budgets without the Bush era tax compromise. Conservatives resulted and the Bush team believes that broken promise was a big reason he lost.
George Bush had many stops on his path to the presidency, he was the last World War II veteran to win the White House. He served a couple of terms in Congress, lost a couple of U.S. Senate races and was Republican Party Chairman during the wilderness years of Watergate.
He decided to challenge Jimmy Carter in 1980 but an incumbent President wasn't his biggest problem.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.
KING: Despite winning the Iowa Caucuses Bush couldn't sustain what he called the big mo as in momentum.
REAGAN: I, Ronald Reagan do solemnly swear.
KING: He lost the nomination to Ronald Reagan. When Reagan couldn't convince former President Gerald Ford to join the ticket, he turned to Bush who accepted. Despite eight loyal years as Vice President, a third place finish behind Bob Dole and Pat Robertson in Iowa nearly derailed Bush's 1988 campaign.
H.W. BUSH: I have many friends to thank tonight.
KING: By the time he locked up the nomination,Bush was 17 points behind the Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis.
H.W. BUSH: Three months ago, I remember some of the great publications in this country had written me off.
KING: Bush and his allies made up the ground by attacking Dukakis's too liberal, soft on defence, they said and soft on crime.
[08:25:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His revolving door prison policy gave weekend furloughs (ph) to first degree murderers not eligible for parole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One was Willie Horton who murdered a boy in a robbery, stabbing him 19 times.
KING: The strategy worked, in the end Dukakis lost 40 states and Bush was President. President Bush was immensely popular after the 1991 Gulf War but the glow faded fast. By 1992 voters were frustrated with thesour economy and impatient with the President who at times seemed out of touch with their concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How has the national debt personally affected each of your lives?
H.W. BUSH: If the question, if you're so - maybe I got it wrong, but you're suggesting that if somebody has means that the national that doesn't affect them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm saying is--
H.W. BUSH: Well, I'm - I'm not sure I get it, help me with a question and I'll try to answer.
KING: Businessman Ross Perot was rich enough to mount a third party challenge and a young Democrat with the best political skills of his generation--
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:Wherever the seeds of freedom are sprouting--
KING: - could look members of the debate audience in the eye and feel their pain. But as time moves on George Herbert Walker Bush will be remembered more kindly than the voters treated him in 1992. John King CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Of course, our coverage of President George H. W. Bush is continuing this morning, we do have a couple of his stories that we want to bring you.
First of all, we're getting this just in to CNN, President Trump is meeting with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.
Now no real clarity yet as to what the three will discuss but according to a source familiar with the meeting, the year end budget will likely be on the agenda for one.
BLACKWELL: We have new details in the Russia investigation too.According to discussions with federal prosecutors the President's former attorney Michael Cohen thought President Trump would protect him if he faced any charges related to paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels.Cohen believedTrump 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.
PAUL: We have a programming note we want to give you.Tune in tonight for a CNN special report: Remembering 41, that's at 8:00 PM Eastern right here on CNN and we're always so grateful to have your company.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.
PAUL: I'm Christi Paul, our special coverage of President George H. W. Bush continues. Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash will be here in just a moment.
[08:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)