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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Trump Tweets About Today; Arrivals at National Cathedral; Bush Departure from Capitol. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired December 5, 2018 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:32:48] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back with CNN's special coverage of the state funeral of George Herbert Walker Bush.
Welcome also to our international viewers who are now joining us.
You're looking at live pictures from inside the Washington National Cathedral where so many of the guests, Jake, have already arrived.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And as President Trump gets ready to walk into that room in the National Cathedral and to attend the funeral service, he's been trying to set a tone for this day. In a new tweet a short while ago the president wrote, quote, looking forward to being with the Bush family. This is not a funeral, this is a day of celebration for a great man who has lead a long and distinguished life. He will be missed.
Let's get more now from our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who's at the National Cathedral.
And, Jim, the president there obviously making an attempt, he or a staffer, to set a respectful tone for the day.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jake. And I've been talking to some sources close to the White House, close to the president this morning, and I talked to one source close to the White House, Jake, who said, you know, the Bush family did an incredibly gracious thing in inviting the president to these services this morning. It went a long way in establishing this truce between the Bush and Trump families. And that's obviously going to foster what we're going to see as an incredible service honoring the late president.
And the other thing that this source noted is the restraint that President Trump has shown so far this morning. He's been tweeting about China this morning, hasn't really been tweeting about the Mueller investigation, as he was doing a couple of days ago. That really worried a lot of people here in Washington, that he just wasn't going to strike the right tone in all of this.
But I talked to a source close to the president, who talks to the president regularly, just a short while ago, Jake, who said, you know, the president, it is in his heart to bury old grudges. And while that may be in his heart and not done in practice very often, perhaps we're going to see that at least for this morning, for today, and that's obviously going to lend itself to what will be a very moving service honoring the late president.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, thanks very much.
Back now with our panel.
Mary Kate, I'm wondering just, as you see sort of the gathering of people, you know, it really does remind one of a different time in Washington and many of these people we haven't seen much of. It just seems like such a stark contrast to the way things are now.
[09:35:11] MARY KATE CARY, FORMER GEORGE H.W. BUSH SPEECHWRITER: Yes, and it doesn't have to be, you know. I think that's what -- I'm hoping young people take from this is that politics today don't have to stay the way they are. And it wasn't that long ago that we saw people reaching across the aisle and, you know, getting landmark legislation through the Congress together. And I think as you see today it will unfold just how President Bush did that. And it wasn't so much political gamesmanship or maneuvering. It was treating people with decency and respect no matter who they were in life., and from the queen of England to the guy mowing the lawn, and that, to me, is a key for young people to see that that was what made him so successful.
COOPER: There we see Colin Powell, obviously.
You tell a story about a guy named Don Rhodes (ph), who I had never heard about, but it's sort of fascinating. And it's kind of a window into the kind of person that George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were.
CARY: So Don Rhodes was a 20-something campaign volunteer in the '60s on the Senate campaign in Texas. He was working the overnight shift at a convenience store and volunteering during the day for the Bush campaign. And he was a bit of a lost soul. He was an orphan. And he was half deaf. And the president -- or then Mr. and Mrs. Bush at the time, took him in and employed him for the rest of his life. And it was -- Marvin said he was like a brother to me as they grow up. He was older than the -- older than George W., but younger than the Bushs. Stayed with them and worked with them for the rest of his life as sort of their personal assistant.
And Don Rhodes, you know, there's all these funny stories about him. And he exemplifies the President and Mrs. Bush's faith and how they lived their faith. He made a plaque for President Bush that stayed on his desk for years that said, preach the Gospel at all times, use words then necessary. And that, to me, embodies the way the Bushs treated Don Rhodes. It was a long standing joke that if someone came up to you and said, oh, I'm very good friends with the Bushs, you'd say, oh, well then you must know Don Rhodes. And if they said, who's Don Rhodes, you'd say, hmm, well, you know. So Don Rhodes is --
COOPER: And his ashes are actually -- CARY: Yes. He -- after he died, about five, ten years ago, the
president and Mrs. Bush decided to spread his ashes on their grave site with them, not at Don's request, at theirs. And so tomorrow when we see President Bush buried, everybody else has been saying, well, he'll be joining Robin and Mrs. Bush, but very few people know he'll be joining Don Rhodes as well.
COOPER: Wow, that's extraordinary.
COOPER: We are getting closer to the big moment of the day. President Trump, with all the former living presidents, George W. Bush's heartfelt tribute to his father and much more. Stay with us.
[09:42:01] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we are at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. You see former Vice President Joe Biden there with his wife. Just some of the thousands that will be coming here today. We're told that there are approximately 3,000 attendees will be at the funeral, the state funeral, of President George Herbert Walker Bush.
This is such an important day for the family. Of course, it is a funeral. It's a sad occasion, but such a full life of 94 years. Such a big and proud clan. His family has been coming in, in waves. You'll be seeing them on your screen. That there's so much to remember fondly.
And in a moment for this nation, this is a reminder of a man of profound decency, and a man who led this country that way. And you're going to hear that in different layers of eulogies today, and you're going to hear that from family members in interviews, that that's what they want this day to be about, the right way to lead as exemplified by their Grampie (ph) and their father and their great grandfather as well.
So I'm with Jaime Gangel and Dana Bash.
And, of course, the moment of the memorial of this particular funeral service will be when, and you see Karl Rove there on your screen coming in. There are many big shots that are going to be coming in, and you'll see them on the screen. We'll point them out when necessary.
But a father eulogizing a son, I know it's historic.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: A son eulogizing a father.
CUOMO: A son eulogizing a father. Look, we know it's historic on many levels. You know, John Adams and John Quincy Adams were father and son, but not having the son eulogize the father, as will happen today.
But history aside, the emotion of a moment like that, the task of speaking about the man who has meant the most to you in your life as a mentor and as a man, a maker, the core of your person. And now president to president, in front of this type of crowd, I'm not talking about as a political challenge, I'm saying as a personal challenge to balance all of these things, Jamie, not easy, because this was real. There is nothing fake about the love between father and son here.
GANGEL: No question. And I'll tell you something that probably won't surprise you. He didn't want to give the eulogy.
GANGEL: He really -- he felt he would be too emotional. But the family came to him and they said, you have to do it. And one of the reasons it will be very hard is, in the days right after 9/11, there was a service here and Bush 43 spoke at it. And he said it was his favorite moment of his presidency between father and son. You'll remember when he came down afterwards, his father, leaned over, touched his hand and we can show you the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: One of the more very dramatic moments for me came on September the 14th at the National Cathedral. It was a -- it was a hard speech to give. I'm speaking from a pulpit. I'm -- I know I'm not going to look at mother and dad or Laura because I was very fearful of bursting out in tears and the country didn't need to see a weeping president trying to rally the nation.
[09:45:23] I finished the speech. And went back to the pew and sat down. Little did I know that dad had asked the Clintons to move down so that he could sit next to me and Laura, he and mom. And I felt his hand reach across Laura and grab my arm. Just a small gesture, but it meant a lot to me. It was a -- you know, it was a powerful tonic. It was a very sweet moment of fatherly love.
See, that's the kind of guy he is. You know, it was not a calculated move. It was -- it was an emotional -- that's his definition of outward emotion at that point. And -- but it meant -- it meant the world to me at that very moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: And, look, the beautiful nature of it, the poignancy of it. But also, you know, this weird line that this family has to walk between the public and the private, you know, that the president, 43, has to explain, oh, this wasn't orchestrated. We didn't think about this in advance. You know, nobody really has to live their life that way. But that's about being presidential, that's about living public and private emotions coming through.
But I do believe, more than most, and this is a unique situation. This family has been uniquely blessed with opportunities to serve. And they've taken them and made a lot of them. But it really does seem, Dana, that they stand out as a tightly knit, authentic, loving group.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And they loved their father. Everybody loves their father. But this was so -- the Bush men cry. And it was so emotional.
BASH: Famously. I was with Jeb Bush when he was running for president, right before he announced, in Europe right before his father's birthday. And I asked him -- he was doing an interview and I asked him -- I just mentioned the words, your dad, and he started to cry because of the reverence, because he -- they all felt that hand come across and touch them literally and symbolically their whole lives.
One other thing I want to say, of course, it is personal, but it is historic.
BASH: I mean the only father/son -- other father/son presidential couple, if you will, were the Adams. And in Jon Meacham's book, Jon Meacham is going to speak today, he said that 41 used to jokingly call George W. Bush Quincy, because John Quincy Adams was the only other one to succeed his father in the presidency, which they were very well aware of the historic import of the fact that they both were president.
CUOMO: Right. And now you have this reversal right now on a different level. You know, my family went through something like this, where the central figure, my father, had been a public servant and so much of his service had kind of reflected on the rest of us and our values. And for my brother to eulogize his father, having followed in his footsteps as governor, there's such a mixed sense of significance that, you know, George 43 owes 41 everything about who he is, about what he achieved in his life and why it mattered to him. And to hear -- I think I heard you talk about this, Jaime, that for President George Herbert walker Bush, he said that nothing hurts more and nothing makes you feel better than hearing about your own son.
CUOMO: That for all the political praise or any kind of criticism, that mattered most.
GANGEL: When the father was criticized, the son would blow up. When the son was criticized, it hurt the father. They were very, very close. I am told that no one will get through 43's eulogy today with a dry eye.
GANGEL: And I --
CUOMO: And that's good. I hope that's true. It is, again, a family member said to me that today -- you see former Vice President Al Gore there. You're going to see both parties represented because this man deserved that kind of respect, not just as president. But we're going to be seeing members of the Bush family soon. They leave Blair House for the Capitol and begin what is clearly going to be an emotional day for a lot of people. And, again, that is a good thing. It is good to feel in moments like
this. And there will be a lot of it. And we'll be back in a moment with our coverage.
[09:54:10] BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures from the White House. Right across the street from the White House, Blair House. That's the official residence for guests of the president.
There you see live pictures from Blair House. The Bush family has been staying there since arriving in Washington. They're getting into the vehicles now. They'll be making the relatively short drive from Pennsylvania Avenue over to the Washington National Cathedral, where the state funeral will be taking place fairly soon, Jake.
And former presidents, their families, everyone seems to be gathering right now.
TAPPER: That's right. And also we're expecting a number of world leaders. George H.W. Bush was known perhaps more for his international affairs and handling of world affairs more so than for his domestic agenda in many ways. And we will see the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Andrzej Duda (ph), the former president of Poland, a number of leaders from the Middle East. And one of the eulogizers will be -- there you see Prince Charles will be there in attendance. King Abdullah of Jordan. He was Prince Abdullah at the time of the Bush presidency.
[09:55:03] And one of the eulogizers will be Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister of Canada, who worked very, very closely with -- there you see him second listed -- as listed second there in the list of eulogizers, along with President George W. Bush, Senator Alan Simpson and Jon Meacham.
So Brian Mulroney, he will be talking about how he worked with former President George H.W. Bush on trying to figure out what was next as the Soviet Union fell and the Berlin Wall came down.
BLITZER: And we're looking at live pictures now from over at the Washington National Cathedral.
But before then, the casket will be taken from the Rotunda. And it will be brought down and there will be a ceremony, there will be a presidential honor guard, U.S. military honor guard, that will escort that casket down to the hearse to be driven over to the National Cathedral.
TAPPER: That's right. We'll see -- I believe that they're going to play "Hail to the Chief," I believe it will be a truncated version of what we saw when his casket arrived on Capitol Hill just a couple of days ago.
Obviously, this is a moment when Americans and world leaders come together. BLITZER: There's the vice president, Mike Pence, has arrived with his
wife, the second lady, Karen Pence. I think they're speaking with -- is that Rudy Giuliani they're speaking with? No. It looks a little bit like him, but it's not him. But the vice president is there. And the current president, he'll be there, Jake, fairly soon, together with the first lady.
TAPPER: That's right. And we should point out, I mean, President Trump has not spoken with Presidents Carter or Clinton or Barack Obama since taking office. He has spoken briefly with George W. Bush around the Kavanaugh hearing, Kavanaugh having worked for George W. Bush, and also around this. He has not also, I'm told, had a word with his former opponent, Hillary Clinton, since she conceded and since the inauguration in January of 2017.
So this is not just a gathering of the current president and four former presidents, it's also a time for the president to be in the same room as individuals, important individuals in this country, with whom he has not spoken in almost two years.
BLITZER: But Bush 41, he wanted everyone to be there and to feel comfortable and not get into the rancor, which, unfortunately, is so common here in Washington today.
TAPPER: And very unusual, obviously, because George H.W. Bush and President Trump were not -- there was tension between them.
Let's go to Manu Raju right now. He's at the Capitol.
Manu, tell us what you're seeing.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a crowd is starting to gather here as we await the Bush family's arrival here and for the casket to leave the Capitol. Already the casket has been removed from the Rotunda where he's been lying in state since Monday. This happened earlier today. Honor guards are now surrounding the casket and they will bring them down the Capitol steps, the east front steps of the Capitol, where the Bush family will be gathered, waiting for the casket to come down.
At that point, there will be some 21 gun salute, as well as some processional, some hymns. That will -- and then the casket will be put into this hearse and they'll make their way on to the national Cathedral.
But moments from now we expect the Bush family to arrive here and wait for the casket's departures as members of Congress too starting to head over to the National Cathedral for that -- for the services in just a matter of moments, guys.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, these are live pictures. Jake, and, remember, the casket will be carried down those stairs very carefully into the hearse and then the motorcade will continue up to the Washington National Cathedral. They've blocked off all the streets around the areas -- the respective areas here in Washington. Security clearly very intense with all of these former presidents and world leaders who have gathered.
Moments from now we'll begin to see that motorcade move from Capitol Hill. We'll watch the brief ceremony that will take place first on the Capitol steps.
In the meantime, let's go back to Anderson.
COOPER: It was so moving to see, David, just the thousands of people waiting in line to pay their respects to George H.W. Bush. I mean people of all ages. You saw a Boy Scout at one point or an Eagle Scout, I'm not sure which, a little boy saluting the casket as well. It looked like he was there with his little sister. It's not something you see every day obviously in this country, but there is a desire on the part of so many people to thank the former president, to kind of bear witness to his passing and to be part of history.
[09:59:59] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And this is the pageantry, today the sad pageantry, of our national life. And we're sitting here watching this and people who live around Washington can go