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George H.W. Bush to Make Final Trip to Washington; Rudy Giuliani Accuses Mueller of Unethical Tactic. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired December 3, 2018 - 10:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: NYPD to the rescue again. By Sunday, the pair, John and Daniella, were located in their home country of England. Arrangements now being made to reunite them with that ring. John was apparently so convinced the first one was gone, he'd already bought a new one. Imagine that. Great story.

A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto. And intensifying Russia investigation. A possible government shutdown threat, and a temporary trade truce, at least, with China. The president returning home from the G-20 summit, the headlines, though, they're not stopping. We are on top of all of them this hour.

But first, this one. The nation preparing to bid farewell to President George Herbert Walker Bush. In just minutes, members of the Bush family will be arriving at the funeral home in Houston, Texas. He will later make his final flight to Washington aboard Air Force One, renamed for this week as Special Air Mission 41.

President Bush will lie in state in the U.S. capitol rotunda for the public to pay their respects until Wednesday morning. It's a very rare honor. The Bush Foundation sending out this picture of him and Barbara surrounded by their grandchildren. They were family people to the core. Captions with his answer to what was his greatest accomplishment in life, he said without pause, quote, "That my children still come home."

CNN is learning new details about the funerals planned for President Bush. Our special correspondent Jamie Gangel has been following this closely, joining me now this morning. It's going to be quite a week, lying in state at the capitol, a funeral at the National Cathedral. Tell us what we're learning about all these events.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So we now can tell you who the eulogists are going to be at both services, Jim. At the National Cathedral, there will be four eulogists, as we've reported before. His son, former president George W. Bush, will be one of the eulogists. In addition to that will be former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney who was a dear friend of his. Another dear friend, former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, and finally, presidential historian Jon Meacham, who wrote the recent biography on him.

Those will all be in Washington at the National Cathedral. Then, as we have been reporting, there's going to be a second service in Houston. There will be two eulogists in Houston at St. Martin's. His best friend and former secretary of state, James Baker, who has been with him from the beginning of his political career. And one of his grandchildren, his grandson George P. Bush, Jeb's son, who is right now Texas Land commissioner, will be the other eulogist -- Jim.


SCIUTTO: Sorry, I was just going to say multi generations in politics in that family, continuing into the next generation.

GANGEL: Absolutely. So one thing people will immediately may ask is President Trump is not one of the speakers. And I think we should give that some context. These plans were put in place before President Trump was president. It was never going to be whoever the president was. So this is not any slight on him. It was just never in the plans. And I think one of the reasons for that is that his son is a former president, and he is going to be speaking. So the circumstances are a little bit different.

We also do have some news about President Trump and the first lady. We've been told that they will pay their condolences to the family tomorrow. That they will make a special visit to Blair House to meet with the Bush family -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That will be quite a moment, certainly. And there's one that captured the attention I think of a lot of Americans because of the special bond between the late president and his dog. His service dog, this image we're going to share again now, "Mission Complete." Tell us about that.

GANGEL: I think that that photo has brought a tear to a lot of people's eyes. It is just such a poignant, emotional photo. You know, dogs have always been a part of the Bush family. And when Mrs. Bush, when Barbara Bush, passed away this spring, the family and his staff and particularly I'm going to mention a man named Evan Sisley, who has been in charge of President Bush's medical care, all of the medical aides who have taken care of him.

And Evan says, I think it might be good to get President Bush a service dog after Barbara had passed.

[10:05:06] And so Sully H.W. Bush came into his life. He became a star on Instagram. He has his own Instagram account. And they -- he was on duty last night in front of the casket. He will be on the plane back to Washington today.

SCIUTTO: You wonder if he knew that his master was gone.

Jamie, thanks so much. And we know we're going to continue to speak to you throughout the week as we watch these events. Much appreciated.

We are getting more details about President Bush's final moments from the family members, the loved ones who surrounded him as he passed away.


NEIL BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: It was pretty amazing to see, as we did witness with my mom, that when the body goes limp and there's an empty shell, you know that that spirit and that soul of a great man, you know, flew straight up to heaven. And so we're grateful for the offering of condolences, and I'm not grieving. I'm the biggest crybaby in the Bush family, but -- and I'll probably cry in this interview, but I'm not going to cry in talking about, this is a moment of celebration of a life so well lived.

PIERCE BUSH, GRANDSON OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: My grandfather Gampy lived an incredible life. He lived really a life that it's almost like a Forrest Gump character of the past American century. And he died with no regrets. He lived a life that benefitted others. And he was very at peace with that.


SCIUTTO: A life of service, no question.

Joining me now are two people who worked very closely with President Bush throughout those times of service. Two former speechwriters, Mary Kate Cary, Craig Smith.

Thanks so much to both of you for joining us this morning. Maybe if I could begin with you, Mary Kate. Tell us what it was like to work with him personally. Here was someone who was an exalted figure in American politics. He was a war hero without exaggeration. He served in so many positions, head of the RNC, CIA director, U.N. ambassador, vice president, president. But he seemed for people who dealt with him to maintain a very personal quality.

MARY KATE CARY, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Yes, I had the joy of working with him on a lot of the speeches that would be the Girl Scout of the Year award, the Spelling Bee winners, the turkey pardonings. And he called those life its own self after his own admiration for a sports writer named Dan Jenkins who I think coined that term. But he loved the speeches that were life its own self, and we had a great time together working on those sort of things.

He's best remembered for some of his big deal speeches, you know, the RNC convention address or his inaugural address, but I think he took particular joy in some of the ones where he got to see the real people and see children in the East Room or, you know, like we were saying, pardon the turkey.

He was a very good writer. And anyone who has seen the book "All the Best" and seen some of the letters he wrote to hundreds and thousands of people all over the world, tremendous letter writer. Very good writer. And I think by his own admission would say that he didn't really enjoy giving speeches. He rose to the occasion when the chips were down, but he would much rather be in a small group setting, a press conference.

You know, probably the most famous two lines that he said in press conferences is, "This will not stand" and "I hate broccoli" and both of those were directly from him and not from the speechwriters. So he was the best boss I'll have ever. So much fun to write for, and just a joy.

SCIUTTO: I always recommend the story in what it takes in the political biography talking about the Christmas cards that he would send out and the great care he took with the personal messages.

I want to ask you, Craig, because one of the great ironies with President George H.W. Bush, he was supremely tough. A guy who volunteered on his 18th birthday to serve, crashed twice into the ocean during his services as a pilot in World War II. But there was this constant push for him to appear or sound more tough in his public comments. But others wanted to highlight his gentle side. Tell us how you manage that.

CRAIG SMITH, SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH AND GERALD FORD: Well, I think you hit on a tension that existed between some of us that were on the staff early on. I started working for Mr. Bush in 1978 when he decided to make the run for the 1980 nomination, and we had a conversation. I wrote a speech for him that he delivered at Deloitte College. And the morning before the speech, we went for a walk in the snow alone.

And it was very moving for me that he would take the time to do that. And we talked about his family, and he said at one point, I just don't understand how children can be so different coming from the same parents. And I said, well, everybody has a different soul. And he said, well, that could be, but George W. is tough as nails, like Barbara, and Jeb is a little kinder and gentler.

[10:10:06] And I remembered that phrase and tried to work it into speeches as we went through the primary campaign. And eventually, it made it into his acceptance speech in 1988 and became one of his most famous quotations. That was the George Bush I knew, the kinder, gentler man. But there were other people like Lee Atwater that wanted him to appear tougher to overcome the image of being a preppy from Yale. And so we had to battle those things out as we worked on his campaign speeches.

SCIUTTO: I'm sure some would be pining for a kinder, gentler nation today.

Mary Kate, one point, when you speak about his service in World War II, is that in this current age of public boasting, here was a president who had much to boast about in his service, his heroism, his action, his bravery in the face of threats to his life. But he didn't want to boast about it. Remarkable. And sort of out of this time, I imagine, right? We don't see that often anymore.

CARY: No. And part of it came from this mother who, you know, pounded into his head he should not be always speaking of -- as she put it -- the great I am, just how the bible has it, but specific to World War II, he said many times to me that he did not want to speak about what happened to him when he was shot down and lost two crew members in his speeches. And I was assigned one of the speeches the day of the 50th anniversary

of Pearl Harbor. And -- so I got this very unique opportunity to go into the Oval Office and sit with him and say, tell me what happened to you in World War II, and he started telling me about his service. I said what happened when the plane got shot down? Did you know other people whose lives were lost? Did you have to write letters to the parents? You know, how did this all go? And as he would tell me the stories, I would say, wow, that is a gold mine there. Can I put that in the Pearl Harbor speech.

And he'd say oh, absolutely not. That cannot go in the speech. I will not talk about that in public. And I think part of it was he was worried he'd get emotional understandably, and part of it was he considered himself one of the lucky ones who came home. And that the war heroes were the ones who didn't come home.


CARY: And to sit around and in his mind brag about it when he was the one who was lucky to him was something that was not in his character in any way.

SCIUTTO: Yes. That's true.

CARY: So the Pearl Harbor speeches have some in it, but mostly it's about America's role in the world. He was much more comfortable talking about that.

SCIUTTO: A true honor. Right? I mean --

CARY: Yes. Greatest generation.

SCIUTTO: That rescue, two other crew members, they died in that famous rescue, and John McCain often made the same point, the true heroes were the ones who stayed there.

Mary Kate Cary, Craig Smith, thanks so much for sharing your personal reminiscences of the late president.

CARY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: New revelations in the Russia investigation of this president. New attacks from the president's inner circle. Rudy Giuliani now claiming that special counsel has a God complex and is overstepping his authority.

Plus, a CNN exclusive today. We're getting a look at text messages that Jamal Khashoggi sent in the months leading up to his murder. The messages shedding new light on the mystery surrounding his death and who he was afraid of in those final weeks and months.


[10:17:50] SCIUTTO: The wheels of government will come to a halt while the nation honors the late 41st president. The special counsel investigation, however, does not take holidays. It moves on. So much to talk about, particularly after developments last week,

senior political analyst for CNN Ron Brownstein, CNN legal analyst Shan Wu.

Shan, if I could begin with you. This is as much a public messaging campaign as it is a legal one because with each development, you have the president and his allies attacking the substance of it.

Shan, they are calling what Cohen pled guilty to simply a process crime, lying to the House. You spent a lot of time, you're a prosecutor, you defended one of the defendants, Rick Gates, in this investigation. How can the FBI or the Hill do their jobs if people lie to them?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They can't. And that term process crime, that's just nonsense. I mean, it's a crime. It's a crime to make false statements to investigators. It's a crime to make false statements to Congress. It's basically perjury. So that's a substantive crime, it's not just a mere process crime.

And as you were saying, Jim, I mean, it's a PR campaign here. So the Trump people want to spin that as oh, there's no real substantive crimes going on here. It's all these process crimes. But you know, when you look at this investigation, the amount of false statement convictions is just unbelievable. I mean, it permeates the entire situation here. And that says a lot about what's going on and also raises the question of what is it they're all so desperately trying to hide at this point.

SCIUTTO: Ron Brownstein, the lying was part of the issue revealed by Michael Cohen's guilty plea last week, but it also raises a question of influence. Does it not?


SCIUTTO: Because you had a U.S. presidential candidate a month away from being named the nominee at the convention, right up into June of the 2016 campaign speaking with a foreign power, in this case an adversary who would we find out was interfering in the campaign, about business interests, which raises questions, at least questions a bit about trading of influence, U.S. and Russia.

Is that the bigger political problem beyond the series of lies about this, including from the president?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, there's another twist in the screw here, which is what Adam Schiff, whose name I think the president will learn how to spell shortly, and Jerry Nadler, who will be the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, have both focused on in the last week, which is that the president was making misleading statements that were being corroborated at the time by Russia when they knew they were misleading.

[10:20:25] And the question of whether that provided a foreign adversary undue influence and ability to leverage the president because in effect they were functioning as his alibi, as -- as you know, as a Kremlin spokesman acknowledged, you know, just the other day that the Cohen statements were accurate. And so I think, you know, the larger dynamic here, Jim, is that you now -- with the Democrats about to take control of the House, you now have another player in the arena.

And the ability of the administration to kind of make these allegations unchallenged because certainly Mueller is not conducting his investigation in public, will end. And you will see, I think, a different -- you'll see all of these events from a very different vantage point. And that will, I think, influence the way the public debate unfolds.

SCIUTTO: No, it is a good point, one of the details of many last week, which was that Kremlin lies were aligned with campaign lies during the campaign. They backed up the story, which was interesting.

Shan Wu, you've got a lot of experience inside a courtroom. Rudy Giuliani, his latest charge against Robert Mueller in a series of charges is that it's unethical to flip witnesses, get them to cooperate in effect. Have a listen to his comment, and I want to get your reaction.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMPS' LAWYER: I think the special prosecutor stepped over the line now with the way he's intimidating people in order to tell what he believes is his version of the truth. This is what's wrong with the special prosecutor and independent counsels, they think they're god. I mean, they think they know the only trust that exists, even if there's a lot of doubt about it.


SCIUTTO: Now beyond this being rich for Rudy Giuliani, the former D.A., who I'm sure pressured a witness or two to cooperate with the prosecutor, beyond the richness of that, is there anything legally unethical for a special prosecutor to offer leniency in effect, although this agreement, we don't know what the leniency is, but to offer something in exchange for cooperation?

WU: No, absolutely not. I mean, that's exactly the way that we have cooperation structured. And Rudy Giuliani certainly is, as you said, very familiar with that. I think, you know, there's a danger he's creating for himself here, I mean, making these sorts of assertions is one thing when we all know they're completely baseless, but he actually potentially has a base, which is he had this very risky, unusual joint defense agreement with the Manafort attorneys.

And if he's actually relying on information from them and saying that that's the truth and the special prosecutor is saying X but Manafort goes Y, and Y is the truth, and usually turning himself and his team potentially into a witness. So it's one thing if they're just baseless hot air, but if there's some substance to it, then he's actually putting himself at risk.

SCIUTTO: Another -- sorry, Ron, you wanted to add. BROWNSTEIN: Yes, can I add something to that? Which is that, you

know, the kind of language from Giuliani there is, you know, kind of indicative of the way they have approached this from the beginning from the White House, which is to essentially try to delegitimize Mueller with arguments that are really not aimed to persuade. They're really aimed at mobilizing their base. That, you know -- that's what that kind of extreme language is.

We have just had kind of --

SCIUTTO: Except, Ron, that --



SCIUTTO: Except that those arguments are repeated not just by the base. You hear them repeated from -- I heard Senator Ron Johnson on our air the other day.


SCIUTTO: C calling the process a crime.



BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I was going to say, where that has had success is in kind of intimidating almost any voice in the Republican Party from acknowledging the legitimate questions and issues that the Mueller investigation have raised. But in another sense, we just had a real world test of a messaging strategy, and for that matter, a governing strategy that has been aimed almost entirely at the base. And that was the midterm election where Republicans lost the popular vote by a larger margin than any party has ever lost the popular vote in a midterm election. And where they lost by a larger margin as a share of the vote than in the 2010, 1994, and 2006 landslides.


BROWNSTEIN: So, you know, while this is having an effect within kind of the four corners of the Republican Party, the relentless focus on kind of stoking the base, both in messaging and governing, ultimately does have a cost in that everybody else notices what's happening.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes. Well, and listen, folks who are not relentlessly parroting the administration line, Republicans, will say this is going to have a political effect as the investigation continues.

[10:25:03] Ron Brownstein, Shan Wu, thanks very much.

We're learning new details today that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was texting another Saudi dissident in the months before his murder. Now that friend says that those messages were hacked, stolen, but you get a real sense of what worried Khashoggi in the final weeks. The CNN exclusive is next.


SCIUTTO: This was just moments ago in Houston, Texas.