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NEW DAY SUNDAY

Cease-fire in China Trade War as Trump Freezes Tariff Increase; White House Confirms Trump Had "Informal Conversation" with Putin; Final Words From Father to Son; Remembering President George H.W. Bush's Life In Public Service; U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Denies MBS Connection in "The Washington Post" Journalist Murder; Top U.S. Naval Commander In Middle East Found Dead; Inside the Bush- Clinton Friendship; Nearly 2 Dozen Tornadoes Batter Illinois; Kansas City Chiefs Release Kareem Hunt. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired December 2, 2018 - 05:00   ET

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


(MUSIC PLAYING)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, has died.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, George Herbert Walker Bush, do solemnly swear.

We are Americans. Peace and security, freedom and the rule of law.

I love being president. Love working at trying to help people do themselves proud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you discuss with him?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on.

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had no discussion. We had no discussion.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: We had no discussion.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Tried again to muck around in our elections this last month and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines.

TRUMP: And battles sometimes make great friendships so it's really terrific.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul. VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning to you. President Trump is back in the United States as America mourns the loss of a former president. We've got live pictures here of Air Force One. This at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Good morning to you. Thanks for being with us.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christi Paul. We are so glad to have your company here.

President Trump, as you can see there, getting ready to deplane with word of a possible cease-fire in his trade war with China coming in this morning. This is according to the White House, $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods are on hold now after President Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway right now to honor the life and legacy of former president George H.W. Bush. A memorial service tomorrow begins a week of ceremonies that will recognize America's 41st president.

BLACKWELL: Let's start this morning with the announcement from the White House. President Trump has agreed to delay imposing billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese made goods.

PAUL: The decision is one of several breakthroughs following the president's meeting with China's president. CNN's Sarah Westwood joining us now.

Sarah, what else have you learned?

Good morning.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi. After the 2.5-hour dinner meeting in Buenos Aires, the American and Chinese president emerging, claiming they've had a breakthrough in what have been contentious trade talks over the past several months.

Effectively they've agreed to a delay in the escalation of the trade war. But the president will keep those 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. He won't increase them to 25 percent, as he was scheduled to do on the 1st of January. That essentially gives his administration about a month or a little bit more to negotiate more concessions from China.

And in exchange China at the moment is agreeing to increase significantly its purchase of American agricultural and industrial products. The president saying that if this deal with China were to go through, it would be one of the largest deals ever struck in the history of this country. That's something he told reporters aboard Air Force One.

But it's yet to be seen if he can achieve the kind of concrete progress that would lead to the elimination of tariffs altogether as both sides have said they wanted. This administration has been pushing to get other kinds of concessions from China beyond just tariffs, such as stopping its intellectual property theft when it comes to American companies doing business in China.

Meanwhile, the president also touted a potential breakthrough in that relationship with North Korea, saying potentially in January or February the president could sit down again with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said that, at some point, he could expect the North Korean leader to come to the United States.

And he told reporters aboard Air Force One that his administration is considering three different sites for the second summit with the North Korean leader. No word yet as to where that will be. But January or February, that's coming up soon. So the president potentially setting himself up for yet another sitdown with the North Korean leader.

BLACKWELL: Sarah Westwood, thank you so much.

Live pictures here of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews. The president making a lot of news on his flight back from Argentina, as Sarah discussed, talking about this pause, at least, in tariffs with China. Also the summit that could come up in the next, we're talking weeks now, we're into December.

The president says it could happen in January or February. And also potentially, as has been suggested by congressional leadership, a pause by at least a week, stopgap, funding measure to get beyond the state funeral for George H.W. Bush before they get to a funding -- a partial shutdown of the federal government.

PAUL: One of the other things making news in the last 24 hours has to do with Russia and --

[05:05:00]

PAUL: -- President Vladimir Putin, who is sticking to his position on the ongoing conflict with Ukraine after a brief meeting with President Trump on the sidelines there of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

President Putin told reporters, quote, "He has his position on that and I have mine."

This coming just days after Russia captured three Ukrainian ships and 2 dozen sailors near Crimea. CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance following the latest from Moscow.

Matthew, what is being made of President Putin's comments there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi. I think there was some disappointment expressed by the Kremlin that this meeting that they had been planning so hard for at the sidelines of the G20 never took place.

They were expecting a two-hour head-to-head meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump and they only learned about the fact that it had been canceled in the same way that we all did, when President Trump tweeted unexpectedly from Air Force One as he was en route to Buenos Aires, saying that he had canceled that meeting because of the fact that Russia still held 24 Ukrainian sailors custody and three Ukrainian naval vessels after it had intercepted them on the Kerch Strait, this narrow strip of water between the Russian mainland and the Crimean Peninsula.

In that incident that took place on the high seas a week ago today, in fact. So this was the reason why President Trump said he canceled that long-planned meeting. President Putin in a press conference before he left Buenos Aires, saying that he had answered President Trump's questions on that issue but really failed to change his mind on that.

So it seems that they agreed to disagree on that issue. But the Kremlin still holding out the possibility there will be a meeting face to face, a proper sitdown meeting, in the not too distant future.

Basically saying, look, there are so many important issues that Russia and the United States have to talk about. We have to sit down and arrange a talk. If we don't, there will be tensions, more in the world. Back to you.

PAUL: Matthew Chance, appreciate the heads up so much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Staying on the U.S. and Russia. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Russia tried to meddle in the U.S. midterm elections. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTIS: 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)

BLACKWELL: Mattis says Russia's efforts to interfere in the U.S. elections has no doubt worsened the relationship between the two countries. Earlier this week, President Trump canceled a meeting with Putin that was set to take place at the G20 summit.

On Saturday, secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Iran tested a medium- range ballistic missile. Pompeo said that test violates a United Nations resolution, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Now a Defense official the launch did not pose a direct threat to the U.S. But Pompeo's statement says the missile Iran tested has the capability of carrying multiple warheads. Moments ago, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman released a statement. He said their missile tests do not violate any Security Council resolutions.

Want to talk about something Victor had mentioned earlier as well. The government shutdown deadline is this Friday. But according to a source, lawmakers are hoping to postpone it until after former president George H.W. Bush's funeral.

They're planning on a one-week long stopgap spending measure that would tie government agencies over until that time. They're waiting on the White House to weigh in on the idea as well. Former president George H.W. Bush, he couldn't say much before his passing but he did have the strength to say one last thing to his son. We have more on those moments coming up.

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[05:10:00]

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PAUL: Eleven minutes past the hour. Funeral services for former president George H.W. Bush will begin tomorrow. He'll be flown to Washington, where there will be an arrival ceremony at the U.S. Capitol and the president will lie in state until Wednesday.

BLACKWELL: That's where the public will be allowed to pay tribute. On Wednesday, family and close friends, they will hold a memorial service at the National Cathedral. President Trump has declared that a national day of mourning. President Bush will then be flown back to Houston for a second memorial service on Thursday at St. Martin's Episcopal Church.

PAUL: The motorcade will then take President Bush to his final resting place, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. It's in College Station, Texas. Both Bushes, wife, Barbara, the former first lady who died in April, and their daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia as a child, are both laid to rest there.

Bush's non-profit, Points of Light is asking people to celebrate him by giving a day of service in his memory.

BLACKWELL: Near the end, former President Bush was increasingly frail. He had a form of Parkinson's disease and congestive heart failure.

PAUL: His last words, though, were to his son, former president George W. Bush. CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel has more for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've learned a lot about the final days and the final moments of former President Bush's life. We've been told that, in his final hours, he was surrounded by his family: his son, Neil Bush; his grandson, Pierce Bush and his best friend, James Baker.

But we've been told that his final words were actually over the phone. There was a speaker phone in the room and he was speaking to his son, former president George W. Bush, who we call 43.

And his son said to him, "Dad, you've been a wonderful father."

And President Bush Sr. responded, "I love you, too." And those were his final words before he passed.

The story is also very poignant because there is endless fascination about the relationship between these two men. Each one of them used to say to me, Jamie, don't ask about our relationship. We're not into psychobabble.

But the fact of the matter is they were very close. And we recently spoke to former president George W. Bush about their relationship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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, he was a great listener, thoughtful and a person who cared deeply about others who hurt.

One of the more very dramatic words for me came on September 14th at the National Cathedral. I was very fearful of bursting out in tears and the country didn't need to see a weeping president. Finished the speech and went back to the pew and sat down. And I felt his hand reach across Laura and grab my arm. It was just a small gesture but it meant a lot to me. It was a very sweet moment of fatherly love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GANGEL: We know that --

[05:15:00]

GANGEL: -- President George W. Bush, the son, in fact, will be one of the eulogists this Wednesday at that same place in the National Cathedral. The Bush men are known to be emotional, that they cry easily.

And no question, when he is memorializing and celebrating his father's life on Wednesday, it's going to be a very emotional speech -- Jamie Gangel, CNN, Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: All right, Jamie, thank you so much.

It's been 12 years since the last presidential funeral in the United States. Let's bring in our presidential historian, Tim Naftali, who is also the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library.

Tim, welcome back. It's been 12 years since the country said goodbye to former President Ford. But just a couple of months ago, we saw similar services for Senator John McCain.

What will you expect over the next several days, the style, the tone of the tribute? TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, first of all, the ceremonies for a president involve a state funeral for the most part. That was not the case for Richard Nixon but that had a lot to do with his unique history.

But that means that it's a funeral for a former commander in chief, a former President of the United States. There are rituals associated with the passing and the final ceremony for a commander in chief. That's why we will have a day of mourning.

The flags will be at half mast for 30 days. So part of the protocol is a protocol that is established for all commanders in chief. And, by the way, Ms. Bush, whom I had the honor to meet with President Bush three years ago, she told me that planning for President Bush's funeral started when they were in the White House.

BLACKWELL: Wow.

NAFTALI: That the tradition set by Jackie Kennedy, actually, the tradition is that the first family begins funeral preparations when they're in the White House, lest, you know, some unfortunate incident should occur. So the Bushes have been thinking about this final goodbye for over 20 years.

PAUL: So Tim --

NAFTALI: Yes.

PAUL: -- I wanted to ask you about that, because we saw with Senator John McCain, and, again, we know that it's different, but he had quite a hand in crafting his memorial.

Do we know or do you expect that President Bush has some requests for this?

NAFTALI: Well, I don't have -- well, I -- well, I know from Ms. Bush, obviously they selected the eulogists. In fact, she said to me -- I didn't know her well, but I had a remarkable -- thanks to Jon Meacham, who will be one of the eulogists -- I had a remarkable day in Kennebunkport with both of them and Jon.

She told me, one of our problems, Tim -- and she had a wry sense of humor -- is that our eulogists keep dying because they've selected a group of people to speak on behalf and for the president. They made those choices 20 years ago and, sadly, a number of them have passed from the scene.

So the family's very, very involved. And the fact George Herbert Walker Bush would have been very involved in selecting those who would speak about him and for him next week.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this current president. He was not in attendance at Barbara Bush's funeral, was not at Senator McCain's funeral. But the White House has said that he will attend former president George H.W. Bush's funeral. This will be the first time that President Trump will be with President Obama; the former first lady, Michelle Obama; with Secretary Clinton, former President Clinton and from our knowledge, the first time they've even conversed since the inauguration.

What do you expect?

Anything more than just boilerplate pleasantries that we'd expect from a president and former presidents, even considering the context of the vitriol over the last year and a half?

NAFTALI: Well, I hope that the focus of these events will be the life and service of George Herbert Walker Bush. And if the focus remains where it should be, then the incumbent president, President Trump, should be civil and should shake hands and should do what the leader of the United States should do at the national service for a former commander in chief.

As I said, there are a lot of rituals associated with what's going to happen. This will be a state funeral. It would have been an absolute insult to the flag --

[05:20:00]

NAFTALI: -- if George -- if Donald Trump had not been there. It's a requirement. It was not a requirement for the President of the United States to be at the funeral of a former first lady. It was not a requirement of the incumbent President of the United States to be at the funeral of a senator.

But it is a requirement for the President of the United States to be at a state funeral for a former commander in chief. So Donald Trump absolutely has to be there. But one would hope that Donald Trump would remember that the focus is on a past president, not on himself.

BLACKWELL: All right, Tim Naftali, always good to have you.

NAFTALI: Thank you both.

PAUL: Tim, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Former president George H.W. Bush's joint chief of staff chairman, General Colin Powell, and his secretary of state, James Baker, as we just said, also his best friend, will be here on --

(CROSSTALK)

BLACKWELL: -- "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. Catch that at 9:00 am only on CNN.

PAUL: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo sitting down for an exclusive interview with CNN defending Saudi Arabia, saying he sees, quote, "no direct evidence" linking the Saudi prince to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. What else he said -- coming up.

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(MUSIC PLAYING)

PAUL: Welcome back. So glad to have you here with us here. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Wolf Blitzer spoke with secretary of state Mike Pompeo at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. They talked about some of the major issues facing President Trump.

PAUL: But he started by asking him about his recollections of President George Herbert Walker Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. 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 --

[05:25:00]

POMPEO: -- 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.

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 --

[05:30:00]

POMPEO: -- 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 --

(CROSSTALK)

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 --

(CROSSTALK)

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? 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)

PAUL: The top admiral overseeing U.S. Naval Forces in the Middle East was found dead yesterday. According to the Navy vice admiral, Scott Stearney was found dead at his residence --

[05:35:00]

PAUL: -- in Bahrain but investigators say there is no evidence of foul play at the moment.

Stearney was in charge of the 5th Fleet, which overseas operations in parts of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, where huge amounts of oil and gas pass through. Admiral John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations, tells CNN Admiral Stearney was a decorated professional, a devoted father, a devoted husband and a good friend.

BLACKWELL: They were political rivals but ended up becoming long-time friends. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton shared something special. More on their unlikely friendship -- next. (MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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PAUL: It's 38 minutes past the hour right now.

One of the most complex and remarkable relationships in president George H.W. Bush's life was with president Bill Clinton. I mean, they had obviously political differences but they developed this strong bond once they left the -- they had both left the White House.

BLACKWELL: President Clinton wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" on Saturday, calling his relationship with the man he succeeded one of the greatest gifts of his life. Suzanne Malveaux has more from Houston.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: President George W. Bush often jokes, calling President Bill Clinton his brother from another mother because of their close relationship but also with his father as well.

It was a bitter fight back in 1992 and essentially it was Bush Sr. who called president Clinton at that time during that race a bozo. It was also his son later who would publicly criticize Clinton, saying that he would usher in a new era into the White House, one with integrity --

[05:40:00]

MALVEAUX: -- that being a reference to Bill Clinton's scandal and impeachment that actually had haunted him.

And so they were very critical of him. But then something happened, something changed. And that was George W. Bush's victory in 2000, that controversial victory. Just days afterwards, he reached out to President Bill Clinton. The two of them had a lunch, 90 minutes or so, in Washington.

They both ate a bit of humble pie, we are told, and buried the hatchet. And then it just grew from there. One of the key things that happened was he asked and tasked both President Clinton and his father to try to come up with, in February 2005, a relief effort for the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, killing tens of thousands of people, a massive effort, and whether or not they would be able to raise money as well.

They were able to raise millions and millions of dollars in that effort. This was just after -- shortly after his first term. And then months later is when Katrina hit. That was in late August. And, again, he tasked his father and President Clinton to try to raise private donations to try to help out in that relief effort.

At the time he was undergoing a great deal of criticism for his administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina. Those two presidents sat down with me at the White House at the time and defended his administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: 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, you, whether it's fair or not, had gone through, your administration, some criticism about your handling of Hurricane Andrew.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I sure did.

MALVEAUX: Do you believe that this is legitimate?

BUSH 41: Yes, I do. What happened, we were all sighed with -- not legitimate. But 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 did -- or have acted in a timely fashion.

And I understand that people being critical. It happens all the time. And I understand some people wanted to make, you know, a 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're facing problems that nobody could foresee. Breaking of the levees, the whole dome thing over in New Orleans coming apart. People couldn't foresee that.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that's important to point out because when you -- when you say, well, they should have done this, that or the other thing first, you can look at that problem in isolation and you can say that.

But look at all the other things they had to deal with. I'm telling you, nobody thought this was going to happen like this. What's happened here is they escaped -- New Orleans escaped Katrina but it ran all the water up the Mississippi River and all into Ponchartrain.

Then when it started running out and that levee broke, they had problems they never could have foreseen. So I just think that we need to recognize right now there's a competent effort underway. 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, normal life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: President Clinton said it was one of the greatest gifts of his life to work with President George H.W. Bush. They would continue with projects throughout the years. They would often play golf to raise money for various charities as well.

Most recently, what we saw is a tweet from President Bush, a visit from Clinton. This was in June of this year, when he had his own book tour. The two of them smiling, laughing and joking, of course wearing his colorful socks as he's been known to do.

This one, President Clinton on his socks also introducing him to his service dog, Sully. The two of them close to the very end, a very rare, rare example of bipartisanship and simply meeting and developing a friendship that really turned into love -- Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Houston, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: It is something, isn't it?

So it's December. We're not usually talking about tornadoes in December but this weekend we are because nearly 2 dozen of them, look at this, hit Illinois. And there is a fear this morning that there are people who could be trapped inside partially collapsed homes. We have details for you next.

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BLACKWELL: So this was a really terrifying and, let's say, rare sight for December. This is in the skies above Illinois and an all-familiar sound.

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BLACKWELL (voice-over): December we're talking about now; one of nearly 2 dozen tornadoes that hit Central and Western Illinois yesterday.

PAUL (voice-over): The small town of Taylorville is said to be one of the hardest hit. More than 100 homes are damaged. Look at this, what these people are dealing with as we head into the Christmas holiday, too.

Emergency crews say a number of people were trapped inside partially collapsed buildings. We know that first responders have been going door to door, looking for anyone who can be stuck or injured.

So we hope that, if you have people there, you've heard from them already and that you know they're OK. If not, be sure that the emergency services there are working to find people.

BLACKWELL: For sure.

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PAUL: There's new fallout over this tough-to-watch video that shows star NFL running back Kareem Hunt appearing to shove and kick a young woman. The Kansas City Chiefs now have cut him from the team and Hunt's talking about it.

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PAUL: Star NFL running back Kareem Hunt no longer with the Kansas City Chiefs this morning. The team released him after --

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PAUL: -- a video surfaced, it's pretty tough to watch.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The video appears to show Hunt shoving and kicking a woman. Now the NFL and law enforcement are investigating. We have more now from CNN's Polo Sandoval.

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POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest NFL controversy centering on what really happened in February when Kareem Hunt, in just his second year with the league, allegedly assaulted a 19-year-old woman at a hotel in Cleveland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was assaulted and I need help. I think his first name is Kareem.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): First obtained by TMZ, this video shows what looks like a short conversation in a hotel hallway and quickly escalates into a shoving match between Hunt and the woman. Several people, men and women, attempt to break up the argument but the woman is seen falling to the ground more than once.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are two women that have bruises and cuts all over them.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Hunt is also seen allegedly kicking her while she's on the ground. Hunt, also seen on this Cleveland police bodycam footage, now without a shirt on, being questioned by police. No charges were filed following the incident, according to nfl.com.

During the off season, Hunt was asked about what lessons he learned from that February night.

KAREEM HUNT, FORMER RUNNING BACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: No, I've learned from it and, yes, I'm focused on football.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): When pressed by reporters, Hunt wouldn't elaborate on it except to say what his coach told him.

K. HUNT: Son, keep thinking about football and go out there, you know, and do my job.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): On the same day, Kansas City Chief CEO, Clark Hunt, who had previously said he wanted a roster full of guys with, quote, "high character," was asked if he had any concerns about the second year player.

CLARK HUNT, CEO, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Kareem is a young man, second year in the league. Obviously had a very big year on the field last year. I'm sure he learned some lessons this off season and hopefully won't be in those kinds of situations in the future.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): After the video surfaced, the NFL announcing Kareem Hunt was placed on the commissioner exempt list, meaning he can't practice, play or attend games. The Chiefs releasing him and releasing this statement which, in part, referenced conversations between the player and his team earlier this year.

"Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately."

The team also acknowledging in its new statement that the NFL, along with law enforcement, began separate investigations about the February incident shortly after it happened.

Kareem Hunt telling ESPN, "I want to apologize for my actions. I deeply regret what I did. I hope to move on from this."

A potential black eye on the league, which previously fumbled its handling of the 2014 incident involving then NFL star, Ray Rice. He was seen on surveillance footage assaulting his then fiancee in an Atlantic City casino. It took the NFL five months to suspend Rice, even after TMZ released video of the incident and Rice was indicted.

Charges against Rice were dropped after he completed a pre-trial intervention program but he hasn't returned to the NFL.

The Rice incident forcing the NFL to make major changes in how it handled domestic assault. The NFL claiming at the time it hadn't seen a critical piece of evidence, which showed Rice dragging his then fiancee out of the elevator.

The league hiring former FBI director Robert Mueller to lead an independent investigation, whose report ultimately supported the NFL on this measure. Now more questions for the NFL, which has known about this latest incident for nearly a year.

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PAUL: Thank you to CNN's Polo Sandoval for the report.

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BLACKWELL: One of the things that George H.W. Bush is remembered for is his demeanor, cool and calm. But the former U.S. president also had a lighter side and he was not afraid to laugh at himself.

PAUL: So last night on "Saturday Night Live," they paid tribute to the former president and tribute to his sense of humor.

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COLIN JOST, COMEDIAN: President Bush was famously a very warm and gracious man, who always understood the power in being able to laugh at yourself.

DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN, "GEORGE H.W. BUSH": Thousand points of light still operating, coming in from all those areas.

Not going to do it. Not ga da.

BUSH 41: George Bush here. I'm watching you do your impression of me and I've got to say, it's nothing like me. There's no resemblance. It's bad. It's bad.

CARVEY: Well, I'm sorry, Mr. President. I think it's a fair impression.

BUSH 41: Don't see it.

CARVEY: You don't?

BUSH 41: It's totally exaggerated. It's not me, those crazy hand gestures, pointing thing. I don't do them. And also not ga da, never said it.

In all of my years of government service, I never once said not ga da.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Comedian Dana Carvey, who you saw there lampooning Mr. Bush, as he did regularly on "Saturday Night Live," he released a statement about the former president saying this, quote. "It was an honor and a privilege to know and spend time with George H.W. Bush for over 25 years. When I think of those times, what I remember most is how hard we would laugh. I will miss my friend."