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THE SITUATION ROOM
President & Mrs. Trump to Pay Respects to Bush at Capitol Tonight; Trump Lashes Out at Mueller Probe, Michael Cohen. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 3, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is real. And I think we saw it with Lynda Johnson Robb getting so emotional. This is very real for them, and this bipartisan friendship is something you don't see very often.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can I just also point out, as we are looking at this, the man to the left of the screen, to the right of the flag, Bill Archer, is a former congressman. He had George H.W. Bush's House seat in Houston for three decades, right?
ANDERSEN BROWER: That's right.
BASH: Until he retired. Before George H.W. Bush, that House seat -- I think there was redistricting, but it was a Democratic state and a Democratic area, and he turned it Republican.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And, Wolf Blitzer, it is a small thing in a way, the daughter of a Democratic president crying at the funeral of a Republican president, but it does say something about what this country is capable of and what we are so sorely lacking too often, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it certainly does, Jake.
It was a really, really moving moment. All of these moments, you know, have been so powerful and such a distinctive opportunity for this country to get together, at least right now, and to remember the 41st president of the United States, who now lies in state here at the U.S. Capitol.
And we're watching the first official ceremony in Washington honoring George Herbert Walker Bush and his life of his service to his country. I'm Wolf Blitzer with a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM, as we continue our coverage of the state funeral for President Bush.
Family members, including former President George W. Bush, joined dignitaries inside the Capitol Rotunda to hear really moving tributes to President Bush by Vice President Mike Pence and congressional leaders.
Officials continue to pay their respects right now. And later this evening, the Capitol will be opened to the public. People can get in line and pay their respects as well.
We are also standing by to see President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump. They're expected to come to the Capitol later tonight as well to pay their respects.
CNN's Jamie Gangel and John King are here, along with Thomas Friedman of "The New York Times."
And let's talk a little bit about this moment as we see what's going on in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I just want to say, big picture, I have covered this town for a long -- a long time.
I am struck by how this feels to me a throwback to another time. And we have been through a couple of years with a very new kind of president, a very different presidency, and this feels to me -- we have heard gentleman, total class, and those were words said by Democrats and Democratic presidents about a Republican.
And so this to me represents that other Washington. And, frankly, I'm happy to see it.
BLITZER: These are the diplomats, the ambassadors paying their respects from countries around the world.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To Jamie's point, it is a throwback, because President H.W. Bush was a throwback. He lived in a Washington that doesn't exist anymore. He was president in a Washington that doesn't exist anymore.
The Bush family, the Bush name is considered to be an outcast or pariahs by much of today's Republican Party. He broke his no-new- taxes pledge. George W. Bush had Medicare Part D and wanted to allow those in the country illegally to become citizens.
Those are positions today's Republican Party has run from. And yet you hear about the grace, the dignity and the civility of the president. And while it is a bygone era, when the Supreme Court justices were there, a lot of the Bush presidencies and the fights of the Bush presidency and how it changed the Republican Party, you could have an argument whether it's for the better or the worse, how the party has changed since then, Clarence Thomas standing there, that is how, if you are Donald Trump, that's how you are supposed to pick a Supreme Court justice.
David Souter will come to town this weekend for the ceremonies. Republicans would now say don't get Soutered. George H.W. Bush put David Souter on the court. People forget Ronald Reagan put Anthony Kennedy on the court, and the right didn't like Anthony Kennedy because he became the swing justice.
But it is still heresy to criticize Ronald Reagan in the Republican Party, not so much the Bush family. So to see many of the fights, many of the issues that were front and center, especially on the domestic front, in the Bush presidency are still front and center -- and you could argue Tom knows this ground way better than I do -- that in terms of George H.W. Bush was a NATO man, was an institution man, was a multilateral man.
Donald Trump is anything but.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": One of the things that strikes me is, he did volunteer for service.
And everyone has noted that. He was shot down over the Pacific, but that was actually a whole generation that did that. It wasn't just him. My mom volunteered for the Navy after Pearl Harbor, and that was a remarkable generation that simply didn't even make much of a second thought. We were attacked, you went, you volunteered.
It was a different time in that sense. But, you know, to pick up on what you said, John, we just got into it before, is that this is a guy who took on his party's base, he took on the Europeans around unification of Germany.
He stood against those who wanted to gloat over the fall of the Soviet Union. He raised taxes when the country needed it, but his party didn't want it. There was a lot of steel in this guy, and it is precisely that willingness to do big, hard things, against public opinion, against the base of your own party, that also is really of a bygone era.
BLITZER: You know, Jamie, so much of this memorial service, the state funeral, is formal, but a lot of it is getting very personal as well.
GANGEL: No question.
One of the things we will see very soon here is that in addition to all of the dignitaries and then the public, who can come, one of the first groups that President Bush asked to have in line to pay respects were people who worked at the White House, the White House residential staff, and the Secret Service was picked to be honorary pallbearers in Texas.
And you see him surrounded by his huge family. I just think it says so much about the man, that whether it was the people who worked in the White House residence or the Secret Service, these were people who truly he connected with and were parts of his life.
There is a White House operator, I think she may still be there, who still would call his office in Houston and check in on him. They really developed personal relationships with him. So, yes, we are seeing the politics, the presidency, but it is a very personal memorial as well.
FRIEDMAN: You know, if you look at his foreign policy team, too, which I covered at the time as I was traveling with Secretary Baker for those four years, they were a real team.
I have never actually seen as coherent a team, national security team, as Dick Cheney, Jim Baker, Brent Scowcroft, President Bush, and Bob Gates actually as deputy NSC. We haven't seen that kind of teamwork on the national security level really since then.
GANGEL: And they will tell you that it was the best group they have worked with, and they didn't always get along.
GANGEL: But he allowed them to each express their opinions, forcefully at times, and he would listen to them. And then he would make his call and they would all stand up and salute and go with his decision.
But the fact that they worked together, yet could express differences, is something they all talk about as unique government experience.
FRIEDMAN: One thing I learned from covering Secretary Baker during those four years that stayed with me ever since is that a secretary of state is only as effective as he's backed by his president.
FRIEDMAN: And I -- since then, I don't think I have seen a secretary of state have the relationship with the president that Jim Baker had with George Bush, and that gave Baker enormous power, because people, when they were talking to him, other world leaders, thought they were talking to the president of the United States.
BLITZER: And even though they -- a lot of members of the Cabinet may have disagreed and fought amongst themselves, even in front of the president, they kept it to themselves. They really didn't do a whole lot of leaking behind the scenes.
If you listen -- you talk to Colin Powell or Dick Cheney about this, Dick Cheney would say when he was secretary of defense, Colin Powell was chairman of Joint Chiefs, he disagreed sometimes in the meetings. He would say, speak up. You disagree with me, speak up, because they trusted each other and they trusted the boss, the president.
And it wasn't about dishing dirt on each other or leaking. It was about, this is the president, let's give him the best advice and let's give him everything and let him make the call, and then we will go do our job.
I remember before the Gulf War, right before the first Gulf War, I traveled with Secretary Cheney and General Powell when they were traveling or world essentially telling all the members of the coalition it's time, that we have had the buildup and after -- right around the holidays, the air is about to begin and here's the plan.
And it was remarkable. You would have these moments on these long trips, as you all know, where you're refueling in (INAUDIBLE) as you did in those days, or you're having a Guinness, the reference with which they spoke of doing their jobs.
But, to your point, it was well known in those days. If Dick Cheney said this, or Jim Baker said this, they were speaking for the president. There was never any doubt. You didn't have to pick up the phone and call the ambassador and say, is this what they're saying in Washington, because they were that kind of a team.
BLITZER: I remember it very vividly, together with all of you, because I was the Pentagon correspondent in the buildup to that first Gulf War. I remember getting all those -- the impressions that all of us are getting right now.
Let's go back to Jake.
Jake, we're going to continue our special coverage, obviously.
TAPPER: All right, Wolf, thanks so much.
We are sitting here talking to our panelists about many things having to do with current foreign affairs and foreign affairs back during the George H.W. Bush years.
And one of the things that's so remarkable is the difference in world view between President Trump when it comes to institutions, when it comes to organizations like NATO, organizations like the U.N., and George H.W. Bush's view.
George H.W. Bush not just a former ambassador to the United States, a firm believe in the United Nations.
MARY KATE CARY, FORMER GEORGE H.W. BUSH SPEECHWRITER: I think a lot started with his service in World War II, when he saw the Allies come together to defeat Hitler, and that had a big impression on him.
As he went forward to the U.N., to the CIA, to some of the other institutions he was at, serving in China, he saw the power of America first in a lot of ways. He certainly was pro-American, but that you could enhance American power by entering into alliances with people who had similar interests as you. And he -- it was very successful.
JEFFREY ENGEL, SMU PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY DIRECTOR: But I think you even could take a longer view, in that sense that what George H.W. Bush did was embody the entire sentiment of American foreign policy as a powerful source for good in the post-1945 world.
And it's a central lesson of the 20th century for George Bush and those around was that the world goes badly when we're not involved. And the world goes badly when we don't lead large institutions, like the United Nations. And in a sense, George Bush's entire new world order... TAPPER: This is Bush's Cabinet. Sorry to interrupt. Go back to you in a second
This is George Bush's Cabinet walking out. There's James Baker, who was his secretary of state and White House chief of staff, Nick Brady, who was his treasury secretary. And Colin Powell, you see there and others.
I'm sorry. Please continue.
ENGEL: Well, George Bush was famously pilloried in many ways during his presidency for talking about a new world order and having no vision.
But the reason it didn't sound new to people is because it was Franklin Roosevelt's vision that every single American president up until Donald Trump has supported.
Donald Trump is a fundamental break with traditions of American foreign policy of the 20th century.
TAPPER: And what George H.W. Bush did, Tim, when the Soviet Union dissolved and the Berlin Wall fell and in preserving the world order, making sure that Russia got foreign aid, making sure that Germany was able to unify, was remarkable.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It is totally remarkable.
First of all, he had a sense of empathy. He understand Mikhail Gorbachev's.
He knew if the United States danced on the grave of the Eastern Bloc, that Gorbachev would be overthrown immediately. He knew he needed a partner in Gorbachev. What he did was he got a sense that Gorbachev needed trade credits from the United States. He needed to give Gorbachev something in return for Gorbachev's moving away from the Cold War.
That, Bush did on his own. Nobody had to tell George Bush that he had to do it. It was intrinsic. The second thing he did, he understood that Germany wanted to reunify. He was the only leader of a major power in the West who was willing to see Germany reunify.
And one other thing, when Kohl, who was chancellor of Germany, wanted Germany to be in NATO, he was there with him.
TAPPER: All right, thank you so much.
I'm going to throw it back to Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jake, thanks very much.
Coming up, we're going to speak to President Bush's 41st -- President Bush 41st, George H.W. Bush, his defense secretary, Dick Cheney, who went on to serve as vice president under President Bush.
Dick Cheney remembers George Herbert Walker Bush well. He will join us, as our special coverage of the state funeral continues.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with our special coverage of the state funeral of former President George Herbert Walker Bush.
He is now lying in state at the U.S. Capitol in the Rotunda, after a moving ceremony attended by members of the Bush family, as well as Vice President Pence, members of the Trump Cabinet, congressional leaders and others.
A White House official says President and Mrs. Trump will come to the Rotunda some time this evening to pay their respects.
Let's continue our conversation.
And, Gloria, you were saying that the real difference between -- I mean, there are so many, but the real difference between President Trump and President Bush is that President Bush is not what President Trump is, I think indisputably, a disrupter.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right.
I mean, Donald Trump came to Washington to disrupt Washington, to take apart what he calls the deep state, to replace it with something else. And George H.W. Bush was somebody who was schooled here, loved government, and wanted to fix things and make it better.
So, whatever job he had -- and I think -- and our historians can argue with me, but I think he had one of the most robust resumes of anyone...
BASH: The most.
BORGER: The most robust resume of anyone occupying the office of the presidency.
So when he saw a problem, he wanted to fix it and make it better, whether it was dealing with Gorbachev, understanding how he could unify Germany, how he could help that, or whether it was on domestic policy, working with Democrats.
There was no sort of, they're treating us badly and therefore we have to punch. There was, we have to figure out a way to solve these issues, and that's how he behaved in life and that's how he behaved as president.
BASH: And that was also in keeping with the time. I mean, the people -- people in his party especially now are anti-
institution and they are electing like-minded and certainly have in the White House like-minded people. It just speaks to the complete difference.
Can you imagine George H.W. Bush getting any nomination in the GOP now?
And, in fact, as he was speaking of the deep state, George H.W. Bush was the director of the, CIA brought into the agency at a time, Tim, when it was troubled, when it was reeling from a number of issues.
NAFTALI: This was after the Church Committee hearings, where people learned about efforts to kill Fidel Castro.
Public support of the CIA plummeted, and he went to the CIA and in his first speech at the CIA, he said, you are great patriots, and I will defend you. And he restored the morale of the CIA.
He lasted less than a year. He wanted to stay on, but Jimmy Carter, who was elected in 1976, said, no, I want somebody else. But he loved that year. And, in fact, Barbara Bush would tell people that that was his favorite job. He was most happy at the CIA.
Now, part of the reason he was so close to people at the CIA was there was a cultural affinity. There were a lot of Ivy Leaguers there. There was an old Yale, old-school tie. But it was something else. It was his sense that these patriots that were not understood. These were people who went to put their lives on the line and they did it in the shadows, but we needed them.
BASH: They named the building after him.
NAFTALI: Yes, they did.
TAPPER: Even though he was only there for a year. Something else so interesting about George H.W. Bush is a clip making the rounds.
I think it is him on "Face the Nation," but I'm not sure. But it is him running for president in 1980. And reporters are, as we do, trying to get him to say something negative about his primary rivals, trying to get him to say, literally saying, is John Connally too slippery, former governor of Texas?
Is Bob Dole too mean? Is Ronald Reagan too old? These are the questions pretty much verbatim. And George H.W. Bush, who absolutely could throw a punch -- and, again, we don't want to whitewash his reputation, he ran some tough campaigns, et cetera -- but during that period would refrain from attacking these individuals.
Not only did he not take the bait. He said ,no, Ronald Reagan is not too old, Bob Dole is not too mean, et cetera. Very, very different from the kind of politics we see today. CARY: Yes, a big believer in the old-fashioned 11th commandment, that
thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican. And that has gone by the wayside quite a bit in recent years.
TAPPER: A little bit.
CARY: Yes. Yes.
The worst thing he would say to his kids, for example, is, I'm disappointed in you. He didn't engage in name-calling and all the sort of things that are so common today. And I think it is because he was a gentleman.
And the worst thing I heard him say about somebody else was he was not a gentleman.
BORGER: Although he did criticize Dick Cheney -- once he was out of office, older, he criticized Donald Trump.
CARY: Out of office, he did say that.
TAPPER: Sure. He called him an iron ass.
BORGER: And he called Donald Trump a blowhard. Right?
CARY: And then wrote him a note. Jamie just said this. "I did it."
TAPPER: I did it.
ENGEL: I think it is important to remember that the 11th commandment.
TAPPER: Well, Cheney thinks it is a compliment anyway.
CARY: Yes. Yes.
ENGEL: The 11th commandment that thou shalt not criticize another Republican doesn't mean and didn't mean for George Bush that you can't criticize another Republican's policies.
CARY: Policies are fine.
ENGEL: And we should not forget that the single best critique of Ronald Reagan's economic policies, the notion that it was voodoo economics, comes from George Bush.
CARY: Yes. ENGEL: And, of course, it also tells us something about George Bush
that the moment he got the nomination as the vice president, turned around and said, that's a great economic policy. I'm in favor of it.
TAPPER: And we were talking about this, Kate, that it's so -- his career is full of so many contradictions.
He started off, when he was in Houston, he helped found the Planned Parenthood here. He was so interested in population control and so supportive of that a Wilbur Mills, who was the chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, had a nickname for him, Rubbers, because he was so in favor of birth control.
He went on to become a great leader of the pro-life movement, and in fact that movement has been putting out all sorts of remembrances of George H.W. Bush.
He was a man who changed positions. He was a man who made political compromises.
ANDERSEN BROWER: Right.
I mean, he was a politician, after all.
TAPPER: Exactly, exactly.
ANDERSEN BROWER: So he was a bit malleable, and when it was expedient for him, he changed his position.
But I think -- I talked to Dan Quayle last year, and it was so interesting. And I'm curious to hear what Vice President Cheney, former Vice President Cheney, says later, because we think of Dan Quayle as this punch line.
But he said, I'm not sure that any other vice president had the kind of experience I had. And that is because of the man that George H.W. Bush was and the partnership and the working relationship that we had.
And we think of the potato incident, right, as defining his time, but he was a very powerful vice president because George H.W. Bush allowed him to be, because he had eight years as Ronald Reagan's vice president.
And so I think that there was a sort of generosity of spirit there that we might not see now. And I would love to know what they're thinking when they -- when Cheney's watching Mike Pence, for instance, speak or Dan Quayle is watching Mike Pence speak.
TAPPER: And speaking of generosity of spirit, the way that he reached out to former President Bill Clinton, not just in that letter, but in their work together, their humanitarian work, and telling people, I think that he thinks of me as the father that he never had, a remarkable generosity of spirit.
TAPPER: We're going to take a very quick break.
When we come back, an interview with George H.W. Bush's secretary of defense, and then later the vice president for his son, Dick Cheney.
Stay with us.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. We're live here at the U.S. Capitol where former president George Herbert Walker Bush is now lying in state following a very moving ceremony. The Rotunda will soon be open for the public to pay their respects. And President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, they also, we are now told, will be coming this evening to pay their personal respects.
Joining us now, a very special guest, the former vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, who was defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush.
Mr. Vice President, thanks very much for joining us. You were there in the Rotunda. What was it like?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's not the first time I was -- I did, obviously, similar ceremonies for presidents Reagan and Ford, and I -- it is a very moving experience. It's amazing how you sort of gather together the government or a big part of it. The cabinet was there. Our cabinet, you know, two times removed, was there.
But it's -- it's a remarkable moment for the family. They're especially struck by it, and it was -- you know, it's just a part of this -- this schedule of ceremonies and so forth that we'll go through over the next few days, leading up ultimately to his burial
BLITZER: What do you remember now about the 90 -- about this president, who was 94 years old the other day when he passed?
CHENEY: Well, I -- he, of course, picked me to be secretary of defense after his first choice had been rejected by the Senate, but I never held that against him.
No, I loved it. It was probably the best tour I ever had in terms of important work, the privilege to lead the U.S. forces in Desert Storm and the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union collapsed and goes out of business.
And President Bush 41 was a phenomenal leader for all of those things that happened. I mean, you couldn't find anybody better equipped when he arrived, those set of circumstances that we all experienced during that particular four-year period. I mean, we'd had 70-some years of Cold War and so forth, but that was the time when everything came to a head. The Soviet Union went out of business. The -- Germany was reunited. Eastern Europe was liberated. A bunch of things that we'd worked at for years all of a sudden occurred on his watch, and he had to manage it and did a beautiful job of it. JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You've talked in the past
about how you all got along, even though you didn't always agree with each other, and he let that work itself through. Would you describe?
CHENEY: Sure. Well, it was unique in the sense that Brent Scowcroft had been the national security adviser for Ford. I'd been chief of staff for Ford. Jim Baker managed the campaign for Ford. And of course, George Bush was director of the CIA for Ford. All of us worked together during the Ford years.
And when we got that team put together in the beginning of '89, you know, we knew each other. We trusted each other. We didn't have leaks. There were occasional disagreements and different points of view, like -- and I can remember at one point, I'm doing an interview, and I made a forecast that Mr. Gorbachev ultimately would be replaced by a more conventional kind of Soviet leader. My friend Jim Baker called me about an hour after I got off the ground and explained to me that I was out of my lane, and that was diplomacy. I did military; he did state. He was right.
GANGEL: On a personal note, as you all came together today and as you think back on President Bush 41, would you just talk a little bit about that time? We're in a very different time now.
CHENEY: Well, there's been, you know, the last several days -- of course, it was interesting, part of it goes back the last time we were all together was for Barbara Bush's funeral last -- what, May I guess it was, last spring down in Houston.
And at that time, it was different in the sense that everybody sort of had anticipated that the president would go first, and of course, that's not the way it worked.
[18:35:00] But we all got together as this unfolded over the last few weeks and. Of course, we are aware of what was going on. And the sentiment, the emotion that's connected with that really is -- well, partly you can see some of it. You've been watching all the television broadcasts, the interviews that a lot of us are doing. It's been, you know, remarkable in sort of bringing out of everybody memories of what we'd all been through.
GANGEL: A kinder, gentler time?
CHENEY: It was kinder, gentler. I mean, this was a guy who happened to be there at those crucial moments when we really needed somebody with his -- his experience and his abilities, diplomatic capability and so forth.
I can remember when he sent me to the Gulf, the first weekend of the crisis. I had to go out and meet with the Egyptians and the Saudis and talk about getting U.S. forces into the region so we could stop Saddam Hussein.
And after I had completed that task, gotten his approval to go ahead and deploy the force and gave the deployment order and the forces started to flow, I got back on the airplane and headed back for Washington. I know about about over Italy I got a phone call from the president. He said, "Dick, you've got to go to Morocco." So we had to get charts faxed up to the plane. We didn't have any on the plane for Morocco. So we ended up flying into Morocco in the middle of the night, meeting with the King of Morocco, briefing him on what we were doing, got him to commit to send forces, and then got back on the airplane and had it out again.
He was his own best desk officer.
BLITZER: John --
CHENEY: You could look throughout the State Department -- I don't mean to knock the State Department, but George Bush had these personal relationships that he developed over all of those years, in diplomacy, the United Nations, et cetera.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you went on to serve as vice president in his son's administration.
KING: Which has to be sort of an interesting moment, in the sense that we know -- we know from --
GANGEL: Look at that smile.
KING: We know from the books of the times he wasn't always happy -- 41 wasn't always happy with 43, at times wasn't happy with you. And yet, when that was clear, it was also making sure that we can still be friends even though we have disagreements, which is not the way Washington works anymore.
CHENEY: No. What I remember, the -- Jon Meacham's book came out, a biography done on 41. I'm cold out here, but we'll tough it out.
The -- in the book there's a passage where they're talking about me as vice president and explaining that I had become something of a hard- ass in terms of changing my basic attitude and so forth from being sec def under 41 to being vice president under 43.
And after that came out and made some news, then I got a note from him that said, "Dear Dick, I did it." And admitted it. And then there were nice notes and nice things about me. But then I got an invitation at the next Alfalfa Club dinner. He loved the Alfalfa Club and came every year. But I got an invitation from him to sit next to him at the head table that night. And that sort of made sure that everybody understood there was no fatal wound here.
GANGEL: Still friends?
CHENEY: Well, the thing that was different, of course, between my time at defense and my time as vice president was 9/11, when we lost 3,000 Americans, more than we lost at Pearl Harbor. So I admitted I was more of a hard-ass, if you will, after that than I'd been earlier.
BLITZER: Do you think this outpouring of bipartisan/non-partisan, emotional support that we're seeing over the last couple of days, and we'll see over the next few days, is it going to have an impact on what is going on in Washington? You see what's going on in Washington right now, the bitter tension that is so, so evident.
KING: You have a stake in it. Your daughter is about to take a bigger job in the House Republican leadership.
CHENEY: Yes, she's about to become the No. 3 Republican leader.
BLITZER: A member of the House of Representatives.
CHENEY: Yes. And she's there after only one term. Really a remarkable achievement. And --
GANGEL: You had that job as well, conference chair.
CHENEY: I was -- at the end of my first term I got to be chairman of the policy committee, but that was one lower than chairman of the conference.
GANGEL: So she's outdone you, just to be clear.
BLITZER: Is all of this -- all of this good will that we're seeing now going to make a difference as far as Washington is concerned?
CHENEY: I don't know, Wolf. I hope so. It's -- you know, it's a different feel when you get this group of people around you and we're interacting with one another. It's -- well, it's a warmer, friendlier -- we're reminiscing and so forth. Of course, we're not in charge now; we're not in control of anything.
But it was a different era. I look at a lot of people. Coming out, to come over here and I run into Pat Leahy. Pat Leahy and I were not exactly close. There was a time when he held a press conference, attacked me when I was a candidate and said some totally inaccurate --
GANGEL: There were some words?
CHENEY: Some words. I matched the words on the floor of the Senate one day, had senators scattering for the exits after the two of us had exchanged our words. But we can laugh about it now.
[18:40:13] GANGEL: It seems quaint, you realize, in comparison to today.
CHENEY: Yes. It was mild, compared to what --
GANGEL: On a personal note, you watched President Bush 43, the son, today in the Rotunda and at the ceremony, a very emotional time for him, yes?
CHENEY: I think so. I've known him very well for many years, was privileged to serve as his vice president, but I think this has been -- has to have been an event of major import, major impact on him. Again, as I say, it obviously wasn't unexpected, been anticipated for
years, but I'm sure that it's had a huge impact. That was a very close relationship, and to have been there -- one of my favorite pictures is the one of them the first day 43's on the job in the office, in the Oval Office, and 41 is there and you've got them both talking to each other about the most important job in the world.
BLITZER: Yes. Mr. Vice president, it was kind of you to spend a few moments with us. Thank you very much.
CHENEY: Thanks for being here. Good to see you.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you. And just ahead, other important news we've been following, including President Trump lashing out today at the special counsel's Russia investigation. Much more right after this.
[18:46:18] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're covering the official memorial ceremonies for former President George H.W. Bush.
Let's also go to the White House right now. Our correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining us.
Kaitlan, President Trump will be here up on Capitol Hill later this evening I understand to pay his respects?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. In the next hour or two, President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, are going to come up to Capitol Hill to pay their respects, and then tomorrow, they are expected to visit with the Bush family at the Blair House. That's the president's guest house that is right outside the White House that the president has invited them to stay in while they're here in Washington.
And, Wolf, of course, it is no secret there's some animosity between the president and the Bush family since that 2016 campaign when it turned ugly. But since president, the former president died on Friday night, there's been nothing but praise from President Trump, who cancelled his press conference in Argentina, he said, out of respect for his predecessor, for the former president. And he also followed protocol and sent Air Force One to pick up his casket to send him here for the final flight from Texas to Washington.
Now, he is going to visit with them tomorrow and then he is expected to attend the funeral on Wednesday, but, Wolf, we are told he will not be speaking during that funeral.
BLITZER: Kaitlan, the decorum the president is expect to display later tonight is quite different from what we've seen earlier today. Tell us about that.
COLLINS: Yes. He's had quite a different tone for the special counsel Robert Mueller. It seems he has bottled up his anger while he was in Argentina over the weekend and now he has tweeted multiple times today, going after the special counsel, saying they are trying to get people to lie instead of telling the truth, and also tweeting about his former attorney, Michael Cohen, saying he wants him to get the maximum penalty for his crimes that President Trump says are unrelated to him. He wants him to go to prison for that. And also tweeting about Roger Stone this morning as well, which some people saw as dangling a pardon in front of him.
Now, as far as Michael Cohen, President Trump says he should go to jail for these crimes that he committed that he says were unrelated to him, but, of course, Wolf, we know that two of the most high-profile guilty pleas that have come from Michael Cohen have been, one, violating campaign finance laws which he says he did at the direction of President Trump and, two, lying to Congress, which he says he did out of loyalty to President Trump.
So we're continuing to see him lash out and go after his former attorney -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Kaitlan, thank you. Kaitlan Collins over at the White House.
Let's bring in CNN political correspondent Sara Murray right now.
Sara, tell us a little more about what is going on in the Russia investigation that clearly provoked the president's bitter attacks earlier today.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I think part of the president's frustration or concern is that the probe seems to be inching closer and closer to him. You know, we learned from some filings related to the Michael Cohen case, of course, the president's former personal attorney, that Michael Cohen was keeping then- candidate Trump apprised of what was going on with the Trump Tower Moscow project into June of 2016.
Now, in one of the filings we got over the weekend, Cohen also pointed out that he was in touch with the president's lawyers as well as White House staff when he was crafting his congressional testimony. That testimony that he would later admit was actually a lie. We also learned that there was a period of time when Cohen actually believed that he would get a pardon from president Trump if he sort of stuck to the party line, and eventually he came to believe it was unlikely. That's why we saw the change of tone.
So, obviously, these were all unsettling developments to President Trump. You need to look no further than his Twitter feed to see that, Wolf.
BLITZER: What could we learn from Robert Mueller later this week? There's a lot of anticipation, Sara, building right now.
MURRAY: We could potentially learn a lot, because we know that in the filings Robert Mueller puts out, he gives sort of bread crumbs, inklings of where his investigation is going and what he has learned. [18:50:07] And on Tuesday, we're expecting to get a sentencing memo in the case that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, this is one of Mueller's earliest cooperators and someone we know almost nothing about in terms of the information he's providing. We really haven't heard much about what he's providing to investigators or really what's going on with him since December of last year, when he decided to plead guilty. So we should get an update on that.
And then on Friday, there will be an interesting filing in the case of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, who had a plea deal going, he had this cooperation deal going, all of that went up into flames. Mueller's team said he's not being honest with us and they're supposed to explain a little bit more on Friday about why that was the case, that cause this plea deal to blow up. So, that will certainly be an interesting development as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll watch all of this very closely. Sara Murray, thank you very much.
We're going to continue our special coverage. Much more on the breaking news right after this.
[18:55:42] BLITZER: President Trump and the five lady are both expected to be up here at the U.S. capitol later tonight to pay their respects to former President George H.W. Bush. The capitol rotunda will reopen shortly, stay open all night, all day tomorrow.
Looking at some live pictures right now. People lining up to file by the casket.
Jamie Gangel and John King are with us right now.
It's been a very emotional past few hours.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It has. It's been emotional on a personal level, to watch the family, I would have to say especially former President George W. Bush. This is a big moment for him and you could clearly see him trying to hold it together throughout it.
I will say former Vice President Dick Cheney said to your question, you asked him, do you think this will have an effect? And he said I hope so. I think it will be interesting to see the rest of this week, especially at the National Cathedral when for the first time, all of these presidents are together with President Trump, will it have an effect on the tenor of this town?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a great point and a great question, we had this conversation just three months ago, when we said farewell to Senator McCain. Everyone thought that would be a reset moment in Washington, and, of course, it was not. Now, what makes it different?
This is a president we're saying good-bye to, not Senator McCain -- disrespect to Senator McCain. We're saying goodbye to a president here.
Number two, the timing, the moment. The Democrats are about to take back the House of Representatives.
GANGEL: And President Bush 41 made sure that President Trump would be invited.
KING: President Trump will be there. Nancy Pelosi was in the Congress in the Bush presidency, a young member in those days. Does it have some effect?
The main point today was the gratitude, the emotions. Also the gratitude on the faces of the Bush family at the father they so revered being given what think they is his due.
BLITZER: Since taking office, President Trump has not spoken to either President Obama or President Clinton. They will all be there together.
KING: They'll be there. And to his credit, President Trump has handled this just fine. He's, you know, accepting the fact that history says the current speaks at a former president's funeral. He is not going to speak. He said the right things. We're going to see him at the Capitol tonight. He goes to Blair House I think tomorrow.
GANGEL: The Bush family has said he has the White House, and John Kelly's been responsible for this, they have really just opened the doors, bent over backwards to make everything work.
KING: But come next week, do we see a more bipartisan Washington, when they get back to the border wall fight? When we're back to the new developments in the special council? I would not bet on it.
BLITZER: You're close to the Bush family, Jamie. How are they holding up?
GANGEL: You know, I think this is -- it was not unexpected, he was 94 years old, he was in poor health, they want this to be a celebration of his life it's very, very hard on them. They adored him and this is a big loss.
BLITZER: And you can see the emotion in their faces as we watch very closely, John.
KING: It is legend and fact that Bush men cry. You saw Jeb and George and Marvin and Neil as well. But we're used to seeing Jeb and George in the public specter because of governor and President Bush. Again, the great love of their dad, they prepared for this moment.
But then you're standing in the United States capitol. You're seeing all these dignitaries. You're watching the casket come off the 747 or going to the rotunda or the capitol. They lost their dad 72 hours ago. So, it's just, as human beings, never mind as former presidents and governors, and an American political family, there's been a public spotlight for decades. They lost their dad.
BLITZER: Remember, it was only in April that we were paying our respects to Barbara Bush.
GANGEL: No question, this is a very tough year for them. They have lost both parents within seven months.
BLITZER: You know, obviously, very difficult time for the entire Bush family. It is a wonderful family, a very loving family and our deepest, deepest condolences go out to them.
And to the 41st president of the United States, may he rest in peace, and as we say, may his memory be a blessing.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Our special coverage continues. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.