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Trump's New Tweets Raise Questions About Witness Tampering; Source: CIA Chief Set To Brief Lawmakers On "Washington Post" Journalist's Murder; George H.W. Bush Lies In State, Public Paying Respects; Suspicious Absentee Ballots Could Lead to New NC Election. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 3, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, is President Trump dangling another pardon. Trump praising Roger Stone, saying he's got guts for staying silent.

Plus, the stunning turn around. The CIA Director Gina Haspel now preparing to brief a few lawmakers on the murder of Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Why did it take so long? Senator Rand Paul is OUTFRONT.

Plus, a final farewell. President George H.W. Bush's former staff and the public paying their respect at this hour as President Trump and the First Lady are getting ready to go to the Capitol Hill to say goodbye also this hour. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT this evening, dangling another pardon. Is President Trump doing it again? Trump lavishing praise on his former Campaign Adviser Roger Stone, the man whose ties to WikiLeaks are a focus of Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

During a morning tirade on Twitter, the President congratulating Stone for his guts and defending him tweeting, "I will never testify against Trump." This statement was recently made by Roger Stone essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about President Trump. Somehow that's in quotes, "nice to know some people still have guts." The President tweet comes after Stone publicly insisted that he had nothing on Trump.


ROGER STONE, FORMER ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: There's no circumstance under which I would testify against the President because I'd have to bear false witness against him. I'd have to make things up and I'm not going to do that.


BURNETT: Stone already named in at least one Mueller indictment charging others in the Russia investigation. Stone himself has not been charged but he is important to Mueller and that is developing and he has known Trump of course a long time. The President clearly thinks that he has a lot to gain from Stone standing by him. And dangling pardons, of course, has become par for the course for this President.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And one of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much, is he went through that trial. You know, they make up stories. People make up stories.

I must tell you that Paul Manafort is a good man. I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. He happens to be a very good person and I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort.


BURNETT: Trump going so far as to explicitly say a pardon for Manafort is on the table. And today George Conway, a conservative attorney, of course Kellyanne Conway's husband, responding to the President's tweets about Stone with a U.S. code number. A U.S. code number, if you look it up, is a reference to the statute for obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner who is the top Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee which is investigating Russia and Trump in a bipartisan and highly respected manner also tweeting, "This is serious, the President of the United States should not be using his platform to influence potential witnesses in a federal investigation involving his campaign." So, why is the President so vocal, so public about calling out witnesses in the Mueller investigation if this is true?


TRUMP: Now, here's the good news, I did nothing wrong. Look, I did nothing wrong. Is this one here, I did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.


BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live. She's outside the White House tonight. Kaitlan, why is the President so focused on this today, that Twitter tirade of course as I was sharing the tweet about Mr. Stone?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, he seems to have bottled up his anger while he was in Argentina over the weekend for the G20 summit. And then he unleashed all of it on Twitter this morning saying not only those things that Bob Mueller is trying to people to lie instead of telling the truth which would seems to go against with the Special Counsel has done since they prosecuted so many people for lying to them, but also really directing his anger at Michael Cohen as well. Saying that he believed he should get the maximum sentence for his crimes that President Trump says weren't related to him even though of course two of these was high profile guilty pleas have been for one.

He's admitted he violated campaign finance laws, which he said he did at the direction of President Trump. And two, lying to Congress, which he said he did out of loyalty to President Trump.

Now, it wasn't that long ago, Erin, that President Trump said he didn't believe Michael Cohen as someone who would cooperate with the prosecutors, but now we know that he has spoken with them for at least 70 hours. And clearly, that is something that is unnerving the President and that is why we were continuing to see him go on this tirade lashed out not only of Robert Mueller but also at his long-time former attorney. Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. I want to go now to Harry Sandick former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District here in New York, Laura Coates, former Federal Prosecutor and Patrick Healy, Political Editor with the New York Times. Harry, could Roger Stone see this as a pardon offer for your silence, for your guts, the reward is coming.

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I think he might implicitly take it that way and I think he might implicitly understand that by continuing to remain silent, he is demonstrating loyalty to the President.

I think the President either intentionally or otherwise was careful in the way that he framed the tweet. It's not an express offer of a pardon. He didn't even say it's on the table.

[19:05:05] I'm not even sure that it actually rises to the level of witness tampering because he framed it as, he's telling the truth and it's not a crime to encourage someone to tell the truth.

BURNETT: To tell the truth.

SANDICK: So he endangers the rule of law by talking about this at all. But I think also implicitly sends a message that maybe a pardon is at the end of the rainbow.

BURNETT: So, Laura, you know, one of the most interesting parts of the Stone tweet is that this one, "He", referring about Roger Stone, "will not be forced out by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about President Trump". Again my obsession with this tweet why is President Trump is put in quotes.

But let me ask you, Laura, rogue and out of control. Trump has gone after Mueller before but he is up and ante, right, of characters assassination against the Special Counsel. Does this matter to Mueller? Does this influence Mueller?

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I don't think Mueller has thin skin. And it's part of a larger pattern what the President is saying, this is a witch hunt, and he is not justified or justified in being able to pursue this matter. I mean, that's not true, Erin. He's got a mandate to look into at matters like this, and this mandate includes the type of action that Roger Stone has been on being investigated as a part of in terms of what Trump has said, in terms of what Michael Cohen has done in the past and plead guilty to Manafort.

Michael Flynn list goes on and on about the ways in which Mueller is filling his mandate and taking it too. But the President I think is trying to throw almost spaghetti at the wall at this point. To stick with the party line that he has, this is a rogue investigator who is completely going above rank that he has no business doing what he's doing. That's not actually true. And the more the President seems to sweat about this matter, the more we wonder why he seems so concerned now after he turned in written answers.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course you know, it's a point we keep making on this program. You've got 23 Russians indicted, charged by Mueller. So, to say that, the whole thing is that, you know, a hoax and rogue is frankly on the face of it, patently observe.

And Patrick, you also have the President, you know, encouraging people not to lie, to your point. OK. That would be OK. But it's ironic, because Papadopoulos has lied, Manafort has lied --


BURNETT: -- Cohen is now very publicly admitting to believe in lies all to protect this President.

HEALY: Yes. No, the culture of lying has very much become clear around Trump, but it's something that Trump himself has encouraged. But, I mean, that the tweet also begins with in the phrase, I, you know, I will not test -- I will never testify against President Trump. A pardon may not be on the table, but President Trump is literally telling the world, but especially these people around them, this is exactly what I want you to say. Loyalty matters so much to this President.

You know, he said it when he talked about Eric Holder as protecting President Obama and how that was something that was a great thing, a good thing, this is what an attorney general should do, should protect the President. Even at, though, that is a completely irresponsible position for an attorney general to hold. Just still the sense of what loyalty means, even if you have this cascade of people who, you know, who have been caught lying basically in order to protect him.

BURNETT: And Harry, when it comes to Michael Cohen, right, Michael Cohen has admitted to lying about things, relevant to the President of the United States, right, whether Russia-related, Stormy Daniels- related, OK? However, Michael Cohen the tweet that from the President today, doesn't mention those particular lies, it mentions this, "Michael Cohen asked judge for no prison time. You mean he can do all the terrible unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, taxis, and not serve a long prison term?

He makes up stories to get a great and already reduced deal for himself. And get his wife and father-in-law, (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence." Again leaving off the lies relevant to him, mentioning those other lies, Scott Free, though, is that even possible for Cohen?

SANDICK: No. I mean, first of all he has a criminal conviction, second of all the judge is going to pick a sentence that he believes is fair given to circumstances. Just like every other defendant in every case, from the lowliest person who steals a piece of mail to someone who steals billions of dollars in a security's broad case (ph). He'll get the sentence that's correct and proportional for him or at least he's supposed to.

BURNETT: Depending -- but, obviously, even given you're saying that it will most certainly, or I suppose extremely likely be reduced for the cooperation as Mueller is suggesting that he wants to do, right, against the President?

SANDICK: It could be reduced, but the government actually isn't going to tell the court to reduce it based on cooperation, based on substantial assistance. They're simply going to put all the facts before the court and say, this is the crime he's committed.

This is what he's done, but they're not going to file what they call a 5k letter stating to the court that there's substantial assistance provided by Cohen. They're just going to let him know what he's done and the judge will, in his wisdom, pick the right sentence. So, it's not a matter someone serving a complete sentence or fair -- a complete sentence, he'll serve the complete sentence when it's imposed.

BURNETT: What do you make, Patrick, I guess to that the President's obsession about this today?

HEALY: It's -- I mean --

BURNETT: I mean, that's everyday but today as Kaitlan, you know, said it boiled over.

[19:10:00] HEALY: Yes. I mean, I think a part of it there was Roger Stone and I comment on Sunday. Very few people know President Trump's mind and the way that it works, and how they sort of get inside his mind like Roger Stone.

Roger Stone basically going on television saying, you know, I'm not going to testify, because it would mean lying about the President that I like so much. I mean, it plays so deeply into how President Trump feels like the people around him should act that this is -- that Roger Stone who has been caught, you know, in so many, you know, mischief making, let's say situations.


HEALY: And lies, you know, still sort of the example for how one should behave if they want to stay in President Trump's good graces.


COATES: Well, you know, what's odd about this, so the President is presuming that he should get a good lenient sentence should he cooperate. Remember, Michael Cohen was not cooperating at the time he made his first guilty plea just a couple months ago. That was one of the most shocking things about it, there was no cooperation agreement. And he had at least what, five to six penalties at that point in time. For him to have accountability plea did not have a cooperation at all would be odd.

Second of all, the idea that the President is touting as Roger Stone as I recall (ph) to talk about him being an exemplary person, remember, perhaps the reason he has not testified against Trump is because he hasn't been invited to. Mueller is the Special Counsel in a prosecution team often does not and in fact never would try to interview the person who they see as an ultimate target or defendant.

So while the President may be trying to tout this as an example, perhaps he should be more wary and realize that perhaps the reason no one talking to him is because he may himself become a defendant.

BURNETT: Which is interesting, we're saying about Stone. I remember back to a lunch I had with Michael Cohen. He said, yes, they haven't called me. Do you think it's strange they haven't called me? And I remember my (INAUDIBLE) was I think it's fair of mine if I can. And of course it may also happen. All right, thank you all.

And next, the stunning turn around. The CIA Director now set to brief Members of Congress on the murder of Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Senator Rand Paul is my guest next.

Plus the congressional rates in limbo, major allegations of voter fraud. And tonight, Drew Griffin investigating and we've got some of the absentee ballots in question. It's pretty stunning when you look at how fraud can happen. Could it change the outcome of this important race?

And remembering the former President George H.W. Bush. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are going to be heading from the White House to the Capitol soon. We're going to show you that as they head over to pay their respects. Much more on the touching tributes tonight.


[19:16:30] BURNETT: New tonight, the CIA Director Gina Haspel will be briefing a small group of lawmakers tomorrow on the murder of the Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is after she was criticized for failing to appear at an earlier briefing. And all of this is in this crucial context. The Wall Street Journal now reporting, the CIA has evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to the man who oversaw the brutal murder of Khashoggi. And those messages were sent in the hours just before and after that brutal killing and dismemberment.

OUTFRONT now, the Republican Senator of Kentucky, Rand Paul, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been briefed by both the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but or course, not by the CIA Director. And Senator, do you know anything about this briefing tomorrow, and who's going to be there?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: No, I haven't been invited to this briefing, but I can tell you that I was one of the loud voices in our hearing last week saying, how in the world can you expect us to make decisions without briefing us from the CIA. I was also a loud voice saying, that if I can read in a newspaper what the CIA's conclusions are, why aren't you letting me know what the CIA's conclusions were. So the CIA concluded according to the newspaper with high probability that the Crown Prince was involved.

They also -- there also were media reports saying that the Crown Prince's brother talked to Khashoggi in advance and said, hey you're safe to go to the consulate in Istanbul. But these were not told to me in a briefing, this was told to me by the newspaper. I don't think that's what we ought to run our government. I think really that we shouldn't sort of secretly intelligence and only let a few people hear about it and a Democratic -- it sound like I was elected to somehow represent Kentucky, I ought to be able to hear this intelligence information and try to make a decision on whether we should still be sending arms to this regime.

BURNETT: Well, after all, you are on the Foreign Relations Committee, so it would appear certainly from the title that this would be well within your purview. You know, what we do now from these reports, right, Mohammed bin Salman reportedly sending these 11 messages in the hours before and after that brutal murder. Bruce Riedel, the Former CIA official is an extremely respected Saudi Arabia watcher, many top CIA respect him over the years, says to "The New York Times," quote, this is the smoking gun. Now, obviously you don't need a smoking gun per say, right, in order to know that somebody did something, you don't need it in a court of law in this country. But what is your view when you hear that?

PAUL: Well, you know, the CIA usually gives us reports and they'll say what kind of probability. They'll say low probability, middle or high. From the press reports, it's been said that CIA has reported with high probability that made this conclusion. And most of the time, you don't get a confession.

You don't have a video if someone's being killed. But yes, there's a lot of evidence to indicate that he did. The text messages back and forth to the team that was there doing the killing, his brother talking to Khashoggi and encouraging him to go to that consulate.

So, yes, there's a lot of evidence leading up, not to mention that this is an authoritarian regime where nothing happens without the approval of the Crown Prince. He runs the country. And so, I have no doubt at all that the Crown Prince either directed this or absolutely knew about it going into it.

And I think we could actually change the outcome of what goes on in the war in Yemen if we would simply withhold weapons from the Saudi Arabians. I think within three or four months, I think you would actually see a change in their behavior and possibly a change in their leadership.

[19:20:01] BURNETT: So let me ask you about where the administration is. Obviously, that's not where the President is. Far from wanting a change in the leadership, he had said something very different, right? I'm -- we are going to stay with Saudi Arabia, right? And Mike Pompeo who did testify in the full Senate last week, came out and told that party line, here he is.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: 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.


BURNETT: Why is he saying that?

PAUL: Well, it's interesting. Someone should ask him the next question. So there's no direct evidence. He says this over and over again. No direct evidence. Well, what about your conclusions? Do you agree with the CIA conclusions?

The CIA doesn't have the direct evidence either. They have all these indirect evidence that's overwhelmingly adding up to say the Crown Prince did this. So I think Secretary Pompeo should be, so I guess you disagree with the conclusions? You disagree with this compilation of evidence that the Crown Prince was involved.

And I think it's -- what we're seeing here is parsing words. No smoking gun, no direct evidence. And yet, dozens of pieces of evidence that all point of the Crown Prince knowing. And nobody with any common sense or any amounts of intellect to look at Middle East and relations believes that he didn't do it.

And so, yes, we need to now decide whether we're going to turn a blind eye, look the other way. The reason it makes a difference to me is, the war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of civilians. The Saudis will keep doing it if we don't do something to oppose their behavior.

Also, there are hundreds and hundreds of dissidents being held in prison in Saudi Arabia. There are at least 770 being held without trial for more than a year. There's about 3,000 in prison that have been held for less than a year. These people will likely die if we turn a blind eye and say, oh, well, we're just not going to do anything to Saudi Arabia.

So I've been advocating and pushing for over a year now, we need to quit selling them weapons. They are not listening to what we're doing. They will only listen if we quit selling them weapons.

BURNETT: Well, and of course, you know, the explicit backing that they have received from President Trump adds to that. The Senate is going to vote, obviously, on this five parties and resolution to end American support for the Saudi-Yemen campaign, right? You have -- as you say, you have been voting that way for a long time. Last week, this advanced, right, to move ahead on the 63-37.

Eight months ago, you were still on the same side but a lot of your Republican colleagues weren't. It was only 44 senators at that time. But because of the way the President has handled this Jamal Khashoggi situation saying he is with Saudi Arabia, 14 Republicans came over to where you are, Senator Paul. Are they going to stay where you are or are they looking for an excuse to switch?

PAUL: Well, we'll see. I think this is an historic vote that happened last week. Sixty three people voted to say that we should stop our involvement with the Saudis and this war in Yemen. This is really probably the first time since World War II. This is Senate as an entire body, has stood up and said, foreign policy really is in the realm of the Congress. Our founding fathers in the Constitution said, declaration of war should come from us specifically, not from the President.

And so this is a grabbing back of the traditional checks and balances. We had a lot of discussion of that. And people say, why are we doing this? This is a perfect example of how we can, in a constitutional way, try to grab back power that has somehow been, you know, devolving to the presidency, not just this President, but over time.

I mean, the support for the Yemen war started under President Obama. So it's not just this President. And to me, it's not about the party of the President. It's about the checks and balances that we were intended to have with the Constitution.

BURNETT: Do you think the CIA director's testimony tomorrow is going to be aimed at a small group of senators that the administration hopes to flip on this vote?

PAUL: My theory is they have selected people who wanted to hear from her, but also people who they think they might be able to get to change their vote if they have heard from the CIA on this. And so, yes, I think we all should hear from her. We all should be allowed to read the report.

For example, why is it classified what the CIA's conclusion is? I could understand not naming names, not saying who we heard on the phone. Those are problems. Those leaks really are problem. But a conclusion should be at least told to us. And if it's going to be done classified, see, I wasn't even given a classified briefing until I'd read about it in the newspaper.

So I'm only able to ask questions even in a classified hearing because of things I'm actually hearing that are revealed in the newspaper. And really in a representative democracy, intelligence should be shared with the representatives so we can make, I guess, a level headed decision about whether we should be at war.

BURNETT: Right. Thank you very much, Senator Paul. As always, appreciate your time tonight.

PAUL: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, the final farewell. Former President Bush holding back tears as his father returns to the Capitol for the last time. [19:25:01] Plus, Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, is OUTFRONT. Her message about the stark differences between the former President Bush and the current President Trump, this as the President and First Lady will soon make their way to the Capitol. We anticipate that happening momentarily. Stay with us.


BURNETT: Breaking news, President George H.W. Bush's staff and the public about to enter the Capitol to pay their respects to the former President. President Bush will be lying in state at the Capitol until Wednesday morning.

Manu Raju is there tonight. And Manu, the 41st President now lying in state for, what will be, 41 hours?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And we expect this to be remained open all night long for the public to begin seeing the casket, starting in this hour. Just momentarily they will allow the public to come in and the President of the United States, Donald Trump, expected to come in in the next hour to pay his own respects.

Trump himself expected to meet with the Bush family on Tuesday attend the big event, the actual services at the National Cathedral on Wednesday. But the President not expected to speak at that event. George W. Bush expected to eulogize his father. Now, a moment of pause here in the Capitol, Erin, as the two sides were barreling towards a potential government shutdown by the end of this week.

But they put a pause on all this. They're going to delay action to make a big decision on what to do by perhaps December 21st, at the moment, everyone taking a pause, paying their respects to the former president, remembering him for his work that he's done.

And you're hearing a rare moment of detente in the Capitol. We'll see how long it lasts -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you.

As you're looking live, and as we see people come in, we're going to be sharing this with you here. These live moments. So somber, and yet such a special reminder of great -- how great this country can be, that we can come together to honor a president like this and in such a special and hallowed place.

President Bush did make his final trip to Washington today, a journey that began in Houston this morning, ended as you see right there, with the casket in the capitol rotunda.

Here are some of the sights and sounds we saw.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This day, we honor our 41st President George H.W. Bush. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here lies a great man. To the Bush family, we are

profoundly sorry for your loss. And we are honored to celebrate this wonderful life with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord, we're grateful for the privilege you gave us to learn and grow from his integrity, civility and spirituality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A principled leader who knew America guards for our future, but safeguards for democracy, for the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thank you for sharing this special man with the nation and the world. In all of this 94 years, President Bush never lost his love of adventure, and he never failed to answer the call to serve his country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, this hero has returned to the Capitol a final time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dear Lord, thank you for inspiring such greatness in President George H.W. Bush. And continue to bless the United States of America.


BURNETT: And, of course, now lying in state as it just started moments ago. We do anticipate the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, and his wife will be among the first to pay their respects among the public this evening.

OUTFRONT now, the former chief of staff for President Bush and former transportation secretary, Sam Skinner, Jamie Gangel, CNN special correspondent, close to the Bush family, and Bill Kristol, who served as Vice President Quayle's chief of staff.

All of you know so much about what's happening now? The feelings and the emotions.

Jamie, as we see the casket there, for the viewing for the public, the former staff knowing coming to pay their respects as well. The personal staff of Bush 41. The rotunda is going to be open all night for people to come in, 41 hours straight. And President George W. Bush was there today, watching his father's casket, a very emotional for the son. No matter how old you may be or your father, today he was a son.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Correct. And no matter what your politics are just watching this family. Look, former President Bush was 94 years old, he had been in poor health, they knew this day was coming, but as any family will tell you, they're never really prepared.

I think that today was emotional for two reasons, they were very happy to see their father, their grandfather recognized for his service to the country. And these tributes on the other hand it was very emotional for them. If you watched former President George W. Bush's face at Andrews Air Force for the arrival ceremony and at the rotunda today, you could see he was steeling himself.

He was holding back tears, and I think when we see him give the eulogy on Wednesday at the National Cathedral, it will -- there's not going to be a dry eye in the house, Erin.

[19:35:09] BURNETT: It is going to be emotional.

I mean, Sam, you knew the president, you were with him every day as chief of staff, and as you see your colleagues and the Bush family, including Laura Bush, obviously, Jeb Bush together today, honoring the president and mourning, what goes through your mind?

SAM SKINNER, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Well, I am just glad we're celebrating this great plan in the way we're doing it. The media has been terrific. The public has been terrific.

We do grieve but we also celebrate the life of a great, great American and a great role model to all of us. And I'm so happy that the younger people in America who didn't know him, weren't even born, can take a moment hopefully out of their day to understand what this person was all about. And how wonderful he was, how accomplished he was, and how caring and giving he was.

So I'm emotional, but I'm also very excited for America to see this person I love so much.

BURNETT: The wonderful example for -- in so many different ways. I mean, Bill, you knew him well, and, of course, obviously, you spent a lot of time with the vice president. You know, today, Mike Pence as he was speaking about the 41st president told the story of his son, he was talking about his son landing on the USS George Herbert Walker Bush, and what a moment that was for him.

Here's Mike Pence.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I asked him to sign a picture of the flight deck that I could give to my son. Now, we were told by the staff that the president had long since ended the practice of signing autographs. And we understood that. But little to my surprise, just in time for my son's winging, there came not only a signed photograph, but, of course, a letter, hand signed as well.


BURNETT: It was a moment, Bill. I mean, clearly, you know, Bush 41 did not let his, you know, antipathy to the current president get in the way of what was a very special gesture to the current vice president and his son.

BILL KRISTOL, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE: They tried (ph). He was willing to put political and other differences aside and, of course, it seems that he asked the current president be invited to the funeral, which I think was an appropriate gesture to show the kind of continuity of the presidency and respect for all presidents, past and present.

I guess I do find today, of course, it's sad and especially sad for the family and those who knew him much better than I did. But for all of us, very uplifting, I agree with Sam and Jamie said a version of this, too. I mean, to see that life, I mean, what an American life. And when John McCain died, he was still a sitting senator, he still had a lot to contribute I think.

This was a life that he lived that George H.W. Bush lived in full. But it was time, it seems, how sad I suppose, never really is time for the family and for the friends. But still, think of what he accomplished -- I mean, from his youth and from volunteering, being the youngest fighter pilot in the navy shot down and rescued, heroism in war, going off to Texas, and starting his own business, his family, his politics, all kinds of positions carried through with dignity, a post-presidency that exemplified dignity and also his personal character.

There really is a lot to learn from this. I mean, it's such a cliche. It sounds almost hokey to say it, but I really do hope young people read his biography, study what he did between November '89 when the Berlin Wall fell, and December '91 in particular when the Soviet Union collapsed. Two years I think presidential leadership and foreign policy that is as good as any two years perhaps in American history. Certainly is up there, in the top three, four, five, you know, examples.


KRISTOL: There's a lot to learn from him in terms of his character, in terms of his performance in public life.


SKINNER: Very top, at the very top.

The gesture that Vice President Pence talked about is what I saw every day when I was especially at the White House. He would reach out to people and do things for people and think about people, it was never me, it was never I, it was always we and they, how are they doing?

So, I hope that -- and we are, we're really getting a feel for that, when you saw it every day, you said to yourself, this is a special person and he's also giving you a message, this is what you should do when you are serving in government or afterwards, serve others, pass it forward. And that's what he was doing.

So -- and, of course, his accomplishments in four years, I agree with President George W. Bush. He's the greatest four-year president, but I think he's one of the greatest presidents ever, whether it's four years or eight years.

BURNETT: Jamie, you know, when you talk about the message sent to those in office now, obviously, President Trump and Melania Trump are expected to leave the White House shortly, we're awaiting that, to pay their respects.

[19:40:02] President Bush wanted -- he choreographed how all of this would go down. Obviously, there's a certain pomp and circumstance that goes with this, but he had a lot of say over what will happen. He wanted president Trump there.

How important was that to him, that decision?

GANGEL: Anyone who knows George H.W. Bush would know that respect for the office was one of the most important things to him. And there was no way that the sitting president wouldn't be invited and he wouldn't want them there. You know, there's an expression, lead by example, and I think that's part of what we're going to see all this week.

The way President Bush 41 put together this funeral, he did not want to make these funeral plans, but they told him, you have to do it, sir, it's a sense of duty. And so, he told me, that he really got in there and micro managed it. But when we see all these presidents together at the cathedral on Wednesday, I can't help but think that Bush 41 as I called him will hope that maybe a message gets through to today's White House, to president Trump, that this is how it can be done. This is how it can feel -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all so very much.

And next, former President Ronald Reagan's daughter Patti Davis speaking out on the difference between President George H.W. Bush and President Trump.

Plus, First Lady Michelle Obama's take Sheryl Sandberg's famous "lean in" philosophy, has the Internet going wild.


[19:45:26] BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump heading to the capitol tonight to pay their respects to the former president, George H.W. Bush. They should be leaving the White House there in moments. I will show you that as it happens.

This comes as the daughter of the former President Ronald Reagan mourned the death of her father's vice president, calling Trump out in the process, in an op-ed today. Patti Davis writing, in part, quote: America will lay to rest a man who served his country. We will pause, mourn and reflect. We might also want to mourn the loss of dignity that we have long associated with the office of presidency and that is no longer there.

Patti Davis is now OUTFRONT.

Patti, I really appreciate your time. We're looking at pictures of the rotunda, where the former president is now people -- members of the public can come see him, as well as members of his staff.

I want to get to the op-ed in a moment, but, you know, as we see people morning, we saw President Bush's children mourning today. All cameras on them, obviously, not easy. Much like you had to go through in 2004 when your father died. What went through your mind today?

PATTI DAVIS, DAUGHTER OF RONALD AND NANCY REAGAN: It looked so familiar every time I would see the pictures online or turn on television and watch what was going on. You know, I was sort of back there again. And it's -- it's a strange thing, you know, grieving in public, but there's something very fulfilling about it, because you do have this feeling that the country is grieving with you.

You sort of feel like you're in this huge bubble and a lot of people are there with you, when it's over, you know that your time of private grieving has to begin. And that's harder, it's actually a little bit, in a strange way, it's easier to grieve in public because it's like, everybody's holding you above the waterline, if that makes any sense.

BURNETT: It does, actually. When you say that, it actually does. You know, President Bush delivered a eulogy at your father's funeral. You talk about this public versus private. The eulogy obviously was very public. Bush himself fought back tears during a part of it.

I want to play a part that you highlighted.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life. I learned kindness, we all did. I also learned courage. The nation did.


BURNETT: You know, you talk about how when you move to the private grieving and your family flew home, you talked so much about that moment. You never had a chance to tell him how moved you were by those words.

What do you wish you had had a chance to share with him?

DAVIS: I wish we had told him that his eulogy -- and by the way, everybody's eulogy that day was wonderful, Margaret Thatcher sent a taped eulogy because she wasn't able to travel. Everybody's was lovely.

His did stand out, it was so raw and heartfelt. That moment you played almost brought me to tears again. Thanks, Erin.

It just was -- it was just so real and so raw and we did mention it a lot on that long plane flight back to California. And I wish we had told him that. I wish we had -- one of us had written a letter or something. I wish we had let him know that.

BURNETT: You know, in the op-ed today, you lament the loss of dignity associated with the presidency, under President Trump. You know, you talk about the pillars of democracy. And your words are, they're being chipped away, crudely and casually. Obviously, you feel it's important to point out the difference between Trump and the president we just lost.

DAVIS: Well, I think that it would be tragic if we forget what the presidency is supposed to look like. The president is supposed to revere democracy and all of the institutions that hold it up. The president is supposed to work with our allies with diplomacy and respect, and at the same time, stand up to autocrats who murder people.

[19:50:00] The president is supposed to understand and adhere to the Constitution. The president is supposed to be a grownup. You know, 9-year-olds should be able to look up to the president of the United States, not feel that he's one of them.

BURNETT: You know --

DAVIS: And if we forget that, I think we're doomed.

BURNETT: The president, president Trump of course is going to pay his respects. He's going to be at the funeral which is important. President Bush wanted him there. There was a time with the 1,000 Points of Light that President Trump said 1,000 points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out?

He mocked it. But yet, President George H.W. Bush wants President Trump here and President Trump is going to attend and going to pay his respects. How important is that?

DAVIS: You know, I think what he's demonstrating with his passing and with the wishes that he laid forth before his passing is the importance of forgiveness and we can all learn that lesson. And I think it's probably going to be hard for his family. I have a feeling maybe they're not quite of the same -- I don't know, but it's possible they're not quite of the same forgiving mindset that President Bush was.

But what a gift to see that as an example when somebody knows that their time is short, they know they're going to be leaving this world, and to leave it by saying I'm going to extend myself with forgiveness to somebody else who treated me very badly and mocked me publicly, that's a real -- that's huge.

BURNETT: It is. And, of course, we shall see what these moments are like with all the living presidents who will be at this funeral.

Thank you so much, Patti. I appreciate your time tonight.

DAVIS: Sure, thank you.

BURNETT: And another developing story this hour and this is pretty stunning. This has been happening under the radar. Wait until you hear this.

Major allegations of voter fraud is rocking a congressional race in North Carolina. The allegations in fact are so serious that the state election board is not certifying the results. There are questions about whether there will be a whole new election called all together.

And with all of this fear about hacking and voter fraud, this is what it could look like. We're talking about the ninth district in North Carolina just outside of Charlotte. Republican Mark Harris currently leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. That's according to the formal count.

Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT in North Carolina tonight.

Drew, you've been investigating this and obviously this could be ground zero for what so many Americans have feared. What are the allegations?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This all has everything to do with absentee ballots in this county and a small group of individuals all connected to each other, all of whom had petty criminal records who had this get out of vote campaign involved in these absentee ballots led by a man named McCrae Dowless.

The problem is there's a lot of problems with how those absentee ballots either came in or didn't come in. We're getting some affidavits from voters now wondering about their ballots.

One lady named Leticia Montgomery (ph) writing that she actually handed over her ballot unsealed. She said: I gave her, one of these operatives, the ballot, and she said she would finish it herself. I signed it ballot and left. It was not sealed up at the time.

There are several of those kind of affidavits emerging in this county. I talked to one man who had a absentee ballot damn near filled out for himself. He was given a pack of cigarette and a sandwich.

Today, the Democratic Party of this state says there needs to be an investigation. And as you said, the state board has now agreed.

BURNETT: So, you've gotten your hands on some of the ballot, right, the suspicious ballots, Drew. I mean, this is the crucial question. Can you tell us about them?

GRIFFIN: I'll tell you what's odd, OK? There are now 161 of these ballots and they were submitted in batches. These are absentee ballots. You're supposed to have somebody witness them for you.

Some of these are witnessed -- the same person has witnessed 40 of them at a time. This happened over and over again. There are about 8 to 10 people involved with this who are submitting batches and batches -- excuse me, while a big truck goes by -- of these ballots that now are being investigated by the state.

There's also a big issue with the number -- a huge number of absentee ballots that have not come back yet. Very much over the usual amount in this county and the neighboring county, so the investigation continues here, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Drew Griffin. We're going to continue covering this crucial story. And next, Jeanne Moos on Michelle Obama's use of a four-letter word

that has everybody leaning in to hear.


[19:57:52] BURNETT: Tonight, it's not always possible to, quote, lean in. That's the sentiment among many, including the first lady, who used a four-letter word to challenge the lean in mantra.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember when Michelle Obama made this motto famous.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: When they go low, we go high. Always going high when they go low.

MOOS: But what about going a bit low when it comes to language, using a word many of us use privately, oh, say a dozen or so times a day.

Before a sold-out crowd at an arena in Brooklyn, Mrs. Obama was talking about equality within a marriage and having a career.

I tell women that whole you can have it all, nope, not at the same time. That's a lie. It's not always enough to lean in because that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) doesn't work all the time.

The lean in reference was to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's book entitled "Lean In".

SHERYL SANDBERG, FACEBOK COO: Do not lean back. Lean in.

MOOS: Meaning women should be more aggressive on their own behalf in the workplace. It was the lean in idea that Mrs. Obama dissed with the "S" word.

The good news is we don't have to bleep the former first lady. The bad news is it's because we couldn't find video of the moment her swearing brought down the house.

She said (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and we all went crazy, tweeted one audience member. Tattoo it on my body, read another tweet. The lie that you can have it all deserves an expletive. Amen.

But critics called it classless. Mrs. Obama immediately caught herself, saying I forgot where I was for a moment. I was getting real comfortable.

M. OBAMA: But I'm back now. But sometimes that stuff doesn't work.

MOOS: She swapped stuff for a cuss word a tad stronger than what her husband once called Kanye West.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: He's a jackass. MOOS: The mugs in front of Michelle read, find your voice. Some

found her voice to be coarse. But when the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hit the fan, her fans didn't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: And thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.