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Americans Prepare to Say Goodbye to 41st President; Trump's New Tweets on Michael Cohen, Roger Stone; George H.W. Bush Makes Final Trip to Washington Soon. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 3, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


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[11:00:13] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, joining you from Washington today where the nation's capital and the nation prepare to honor the life and legacy of the 41st president, President George H.W. Bush.

Just minutes from now, the former president will begin his final journey here to Washington with his family at his side. The former president's casket will take off from his adopted hometown of Houston, Texas, later this hour. This presidential plane just brought President Trump back from Argentina. It was also first brought into service as Air Force One during President George H.W. Bush's presidency. Today, it will bring him back to Washington and it will be called Special Air Mission 41.

The Bush family will be gathering at Ellington Field very shortly. You can see the motorcade there. His casket will be brought into view really for the first time as it will be loaded onto the plane. And then this World War II flyboy will make one of his final flights. He will lie in state in the U.S. capitol rotunda for the public to pay respects starting this evening, going into Wednesday morning. And then a state funeral begins.

Also, traveling with his casket from Texas to Washington will be his beloved service dog, Sully. We saw him leaving the funeral home a short while ago. This is Bush's longtime spokesman, Jim McGrath, who shared this photo of Sully laying next to the flag-draped casket. The caption reading simply, "Mission complete."

Let's start in Houston this morning. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is at Ellington Air Field with a layout of what we're expected to see.

This is the first of really a week's worth of ceremonies, Kaylee. What will we see in a few minutes?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. Very soon here, George H.W. Bush's remains will arrive here at Ellington Field, escorted by many members of the Bush family, including George W. and Laura Bush. They will board the presidential plane, the 747 behind me, known as Air Force One only when the current president is onboard. But President Trump has tasked this aircraft with Special Air Mission 41 to bring George H.W. Bush's remains to Washington and then return them back here to Houston. Pretty soon here, we will see a very carefully choreographed ceremony.

Full military honors will be rendered on President Bush's remains, as his casket is boarded into the 747. We will hear "Four Ruffles and Flourishes, "Hail to the Chief," and there will be a 21-gun salute. And then that casket will be carried through a military cordon and placed in the aircraft. The ceremony will last approximately 30 minutes.

As you mentioned, also onboard will be George H.W. Bush's beloved yellow retriever, Sully. As you have seen that photo of him lying in front of that flag-draped casket.

Also onboard, George H.W. Bush's Secret Service detail. They will be in the second car following his hearse throughout the duration of any motorcade you see in the coming days as well. We will have a joint military honor guard serving as pallbearers today. That Secret Service detail serving as honorary pallbearers today also.

Kate, the details for a state funeral have been a partnership, working the Bush family and the Department of Defense, but there are some details that only a family can see to. We have learned that President Bush will be carried to his final resting place wearing socks that pay tribute to his lifetime of service that really began when, at 18 years old, he made the commitment to be a naval aviator. You can see those airplanes on those socks he will wear to his final resting place, which will be in College Station, Texas, home of the Bush Presidential Library, on Thursday -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All really just beginning as we watch the slow motorcade, the slow procession to where you are in Ellington Air Field. We'll follow this all together throughout the hour.

Thank you so much, Kaylee. We'll get back to you.

CNN is learning many new details about the funeral and memorial services planned for President Bush.

CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, is there with many of the details.

Great to see you, Jamie. Thank you for being here with me.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: What are you learning? What's the latest you're learning? First and foremost, who is in the motorcade?

GANGEL: In the motorcade are many members of the Texas family, the ones who aren't on the east coast. The east coast members of the family will be at Andrews to greet him. So it is Neil Bush and his wife, Maria. It's former president, George W. Bush, will be on the plane but meeting them at the air field. And a lot of the grandchildren we saw in the picture, Pierce Bush, Ashley, Neil's children. So many of them are going to be in that motorcade.

[11:05:00] I just want to go back to the Secret Service for a moment, because they're the honorary pallbearers. But we saw something that was unexpected. They actually carried his casket out of the funeral home and put it into the hearse. And that was something special that Bush 41, as I call him, wanted. It was in honor of his relationship with them. They were very, very close.

Some other details that we're learning. We now know who will give the eulogies. So at the National Cathedral, as we have been reporting, it will be his son, former President George W. Bush. It will also be his dear friend, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. They were very close. Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator from Wyoming, who is not only a dear friend, but I think the two of them laughed constantly together. And then finally, Jon Meacham, his biographer, will we one of the eulogists.

We now can report also that all of the former presidents will be in attendance at the National Cathedral, so President Obama, Clinton, Carter, and all of the first ladies, except Rosalynn Carter, who is not able to travel at this time.

BOLDUAN: As you were mentioning who is eulogizing the president, the current resident is not on the list.

GANGEL: No.

BOLDUAN: What is his role? What will his role be?

GANGEL: So we -- he will be in attendance. The Bushes wanted him to be there. Bush 41 cared about the office. So despite the fact that there were these very harsh feelings, despite the fact we know he actually voted for Hillary Clinton, he would only have it that the president would be there, out of respect for the office. He is not speaking. So a lot of people may think that is a slight to President Trump because presidents have spoken at recent funerals. But actually, those plans were in place before President Trump ever became president. And I think in this case, there's another factor. His son is a former president.

BOLDUAN: Good point.

GANGEL: And he will be speaking.

But there's no question we're all going to be watching that moment very carefully, because he wasn't at John McCain's funeral.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

GANGEL: And that was very noticeable. How they interact with him when they're all together --

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BOLDUAN: -- the former presidents --

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BOLDUAN: Because they don't speak. There's been no relationship. GANGEL: That's right. They do not speak. You know, every time we

think about President Bush 41, his relationship with Barack Obama, Clinton, his son, it's as if it's another time. So it's going to be fascinating to watch the interaction.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely will.

Jamie will be with me throughout the hour.

Thank you so much, Jamie.

We'll have much more on this. We'll bring you all of the live moments as they begin. We'll bring you back to Houston live shortly where the Bush family is, as Jamie is laying. They're gathering to bring the 41st president to the nation's capital.

But first, we get to what's going on right now from the Oval Office. Right now, from the Oval Office Twitter feed, President Trump tweeting up really a storm right now about the Russia investigation this morning. We'll tell you what he's saying about Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney, and Roger Stone.

We'll be right back.

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[11:12:41] BOLDUAN: President Trump back in Washington and back on Twitter, ripping into his former attorney, longtime attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty last week to misleading Congress in its Russia investigation but also, in doing so, announcing that he's done some 70-hours-worth of interviews with the special counsel. Cohen is asking a judge that he serve no jail time, no prison time for his cooperation in the investigation.

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House with the latest.

Abby, it is not unusual for the president to go on a tear on Twitter about the Russia investigation, but he's definitely on a tear this morning.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. After a brief hiatus over this weekend, the president is back on the subject of his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. He's saying that Cohen lied, essentially, to get leniency from the court, and he lied specifically about things relating to Trump. The president is claiming that what Cohen is accused of has to do with fraud, big loans, taxis. He said he made up stories to get great and reduced sentences for himself and his wife and father-in-law. The president said, "He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, get a full and complete sentence."

Just a fact-check. What Michael Cohen pled guilty to is lying about something that he claims he talked to President Trump about, a business deal they were pursuing in Moscow during the campaign.

The president goes on to talk about someone else who he has been close to, Roger Stone, an adviser and friend of the president's, who has said over the weekend that he would not testify against President Trump because he would have to lie in order to do that. President Trump says, "Nice to know some people still have guts."

He goes on in another tweet to criticize Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigator, saying that, "They don't want the truth. They only want lies. Truth is a very bad mission. Very bad for their mission."

So President Trump is clearly very fixated on this. But we should be clear that what Michael Cohen is accused of doing here is lying about things that are, in fact, directly related to the president. And of course, Robert Mueller probably would not take Michael Cohen's word for it, if there's corroboration, that is probably what underpins this guilty plea -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right, Abby. And also worth noting that it maybe doesn't matter exactly what the president says on Twitter. What does matter most is what he said in his sworn answers to the special counsel, which is now in the special counsel's hands.

Great to see you, Abby. Thank you so much.

[11:15:11] Moments from now, we're expecting the departure ceremony to begin in Houston for former President George H.W. Bush. You're looking at the procession right now. You see the hearse leading the way. We'll bring you all of these live moments, these important live moments as soon as they begin.

We'll be right back.

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[11:20:13] JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & FRIEND OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: When I showed up at 7:00 in the morning, one of the aides who assisted him physically said, "Mr. President, Secretary Baker is here." He opened both eyes, he looked at me, and said, "Hey, Bake, where are we going today?" I said, "Well, we're going to Heaven." He said "Good, that's where I want to go." Little did I know, or did he know, of course, that by 10:00 that night, he would be in Heaven.

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BOLDUAN: It is impossible to listen to that and not feel the love of that friendship between George H.W. Bush and former secretary of state, his longtime friend, James Baker.

We're looking right now live back in Houston right now. The Bush family preparing to accompany the former president on his final flight to Washington, D.C. The departure ceremony set to begin really any moment at Ellington Air Field in Houston. You can see military on hand. His family will be on hand. Onlookers will be there. All to celebrate the former president. Joining me right now as we watch these really beautiful pictures, Tom

Collamore, he was a senior staff member to President Bush when he was vice president. Tom also went on to serve in the Bush administration. Mary Kate Carey, she's a former Bush White House speech writer. CNN's Jamie Gangel is back with me. I'm not going to let her leave. Kristin Clark Taylor, who was director of media relations for President Bush. And Jeffrey Engel, a presidential historian. He's also is the author of "When the World Seemed New, George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War."

Thank you all for being with me in this moment.

We're looking at Special Air Mission 41, what we see right there.

Kristin, really, you wrote so eloquently over the weekend about your relationship and your view of President H.W. Bush. You at one point wrote, "A sense of caring and compassion and human kindness that ran through them" -- meaning H.W. and Barbara Bush -- "through them like a river and washed over everything and everyone that they touched."

I thought that was really a beautiful way to put it. Your personal relationship with the president, you worked for him, but also you were on the receiving end of the personal touch that he has with his personal notes. When you see this playing out, what do you think today?

KRISTIN CLARK TAYLOR, FORMER DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS FOR GEORGE H.W. BUSH: My heart is happy but my spirit is a little low. I will miss my friend. And I know that this is a joyous time, when we come together. But the reason we're coming together makes my heart sad. He was an extraordinary man. The finest I have ever met. And my heart is sad. So I will take and treasure the memories I have with him and my colleagues. And I'll take those with me always.

BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, how do you describe Bush 41 to people who don't know him, never met him?

JEFFREY ENGEL, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: The first thing I say is he's the consummate gentleman. He was a person who was always respectful to his political adversaries and his political friends in the same way. Really remarkable among presidents to see a person who seemed almost incapable of not being polite to people along the way. In one point, in one of the diaries we edited from him, he used a terrible insult about someone, he called them not a gentleman.

(LAUGHTER)

That's about as far as he was willing to go.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: That was as far as he was willing to go.

Jamie, Kristin reminded me of something as she was speaking, that in the days since the president has passed, I have noticed his family members were speaking about him. Yes, of course, they're grieving. But there's real celebration and joy in how they have been speaking. It almost seems like they really want to set a tone.

GANGEL: No question. The formal title of these services is going to include the word "celebration." And while there's no question they are heartbroken, he was 94, they knew this day was coming. They adored him. And they wanted to be about the best of him. And for people to remember, I think even more poignant in the times we are in now, to remember what this man was like.

Just to Jeffrey's point about his saying someone wasn't a gentleman. If you ask his children about discipline in that household, they will tell you, remember Barbara Bush was the enforcer. But the worst thing that their father would say to them was, I'm disappointed in you. And you wouldn't want -- they would say that, look, where he would put on his glasses and look over those glasses. So both in the family and in public life, that was who the man was.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk about that. I want to talk about the family. We're going to see them gathering at Ellington shortly as the procession continues. And we're going to talk more about the family after a break.

[11:25:04] We're expecting the Bush family motorcade. They should be arriving to the air field very shortly ahead of George H.W. Bush's final journey to Washington, D.C. The flyboy making one of his final flights today.

More of our special coverage after a quick break.

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[11:30:00] BOLDUAN: Looking at live pictures from Ellington Air Field in Houston. Special Air Mission 41 right there. You're joining CNN's special coverage of President George H.W. Bush's final journey to Washington, D.C.