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George H.W. Bush Casket to Be Taken to Burial Site. Aired 5- 6p ET

Aired December 6, 2018 - 17:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

[17:00:14] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Jake. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're here today at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, where the 41st president of the United States, very soon, will be laid to rest. We're watching this unfold.

The casket is now in this presidential hearse. It will drive over to the site. The family has gathered. The children, the grandchildren, the mode family. Close friends are here, as well, to say good-bye to this president of the United States.

So we're watching all of this with John King, with Dana Bash, Mary Kate Cary, who used to write speeches for President Bush.

John, this is an emotional moment, especially for the family.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Especially for the family, and now you have the finality, and you start using the word last. The last train ride, the last time we just heard "Hail to the Chief." Pretty soon a famous family in American political life but also just a family -- a large family, a happy family, a vibrant family, a beautiful family -- we've watched the children and the grandchildren play out -- s going say good-bye to somebody who was so central to their lives. And as Jamie Gangel noted a few moments ago, just months after they said good-bye to Barbara Bush, the mother or the grandmother.

A tough time for the family at an important moment for the country to say farewell to a president. It's been 12 years since we've said farewell to a president, and George Herbert Walker Bush in that hearse, will be laid to rest here.

I said this a few moments ago, that one of the most moving things, I thought, in his son's eulogy was the goal of life is to die young as late as possible. And if you look at this remarkable life, that's a mission accomplished. And I think the fact that he decided to be -- have his final resting place here on a campus, surrounded by young people, is a great -- great choice for a man who was vibrant, a lot younger than a lot of us who are a lot younger than him for a long time.

BLITZER: He was jumping out of planes at, what, the age of 90, all of us remember, and we give him an enormous amount of credit for that. You know, Dana, as we watch this presidential motorcade move from --

from here towards the burial site, he will be laid to rest right next to his wife Barbara, who passed away back in April, and their little daughter, Robin, who passed away from leukemia at the age of only 3.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And we went back into the library which is behind us, and obviously, what you're seeing on the screen there. They are here now. We went back and saw from the inside the -- the really gorgeous setting where he is going to be laid to rest, where Barbara Bush already is laid to rest.

From the library side, there's a bridge which you walk over, and then, Mary Kate, you can describe it better than I, since you're on the board here, but just even -- you can see the calm, and you can feel the peaceful, frankly idyllic surroundings. And it's obvious that this is the way that they wanted it, that this is a place that they actually spent a lot of time in life. And they had an apartment -- have an apartment still right in this building, where they spent a lot of time, and now they're going to be there for eternity. As you said, not just them, but with their daughter, who tragically died at age 3.

And I think just also what John was saying about the fact that he's surrounded by young people and will be forever on this college campus. He's also surrounded by people who can see him and get his example as a sense of inspiration, which was his whole goal in life, is to serve but also show other people in this country what service should be. Not just in politics but in -- works for decades after he left politics and, even before, of course, serving in World War II in the Navy.

BLITZER: The motorcade, Mary Kate, is driving over here where we are to the presidential library at Texas A&M University, and there will be some more ceremonies, some more tributes to the president of the United States before the burial, which will actually be very private.

MARY KATE CARY, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Yes. It's really out of sight. I don't know if you've ever been to other presidential libraries, but the Reagan one, for example, President and Mrs. Reagan's tombs are very much front and center.

BASH: Right there.

CARY: And this will not be that way. What's much more front and center is the Bush School, which is much more of a living legacy. The burial ground is sort of behind the library and the school, behind a pond, very peaceful. If it's almost kind of woodsy. And it's open to the public, I think. Obviously, it's not right now. But it's -- it's just very quiet, like a little forest almost. And as I was saying, Don Rhodes' ashes are there and Mrs. Bush and Robin's.

And I mean, I was thinking today, Wolf, about where the final resting place and where he'll live on. I was also thinking of the USS George H.W. Bush and when they attached the watch tower to the keel of the boat, when it was being built -- the ship, I should say -- before they attached it, President Bush put his Navy wings and a little plaque that said "CAVU," ceiling and visibility unlimited on the keel. And then the watch tower was loaded on top of it forever.

And -- and to me it shows that his spirit is there and will travel all over the world doing good. When -- when the ship got commissioned, they called it the largest instrument of diplomacy in the world. And -- and the sailors regularly get off in ports and get off the ship in groups of hundreds and do all kinds of service projects. And as a result, the captain has shared with me and others letters of thanks for the ship coming into port, and that's really the spirit of George Bush. That's -- that's what I think he'd want to talk about rather than, you know, his tombstone.

BLITZER: There's the train, Bush 4141, that brought the -- the presidential delegation, including the casket, here to College Station, Texas.

Jamie Gangel is watching all of this. Jamie, the late president, I understand he was very much involved in planning so much of this.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. You know, as -- as I think we have been talking about, the word "duty" was very important to George H.W. Bush, and when they asked him -- when they came -- the military comes to every president and says, "You have to make your funeral plans" -- he really didn't want to have anything to do with it. And then they told him it was his duty to do it, and so he really got involved, did it.

He planned every step, including what the family would eat on that train ride. He picked the menu. He wanted it to be special things. And he also wanted to make sure that certain groups that were important to him were recognized.

As we've seen with the honorary pallbearers, it started with the Secret Service agents who, literally -- they weren't just honorary, they carried his casket out. Then the captains and commanding officers of the USS George H.W. Bush that Mary Kate was just talking about. And in Houston his grandsons.

And his Secret Service, they're still with him. The follow-up car is -- was behind the hearse, and his Secret Service detail will remain with him until he is in interred.

And I'm not sure if we'll see pictures of this plaque above the library, but Mary Kate Cary, who's on the board there, can tell that you that it says "Any definition of a successful life must include serving others," and I think that really sums up all of the tributes that we've seen this past week.

BLITZER: Yes.

The presidential hearse, Jamie, is now approaching where we are here at the presidential library in College Station, Texas, at Texas A&M University, the delegation getting closer and closer, the motorcade making its way. And so many of these cadets now, they're at attention. They're paying their respect -- they're paying their respect to the 41st president of the United States. There will be a lot of honor and tribute in these final minutes before

that casket is taken to -- for its final resting place here at the university. I interrupted you, James, but go ahead and give us some more thoughts.

GANGEL: I just wanted to talk a little bit about what we're not going to see when the family goes over the footbridge for the final good- bye. I think we have to -- you can't say often enough, yes, this country is burying a president. But this family, these five children, 17 grandchildren, eight grandchildren [SIC], they're burying their father, their grandfather, their great-grandfather. And the family has lost both parents within seven months. I think this is going to be a very difficult time.

You remember those pictures not too long ago of the family for Barbara Bush's burial with former President George W. Bush pushing his father's wheelchair, and now both parents are gone.

And when they -- that flag that we've been seeing on the casket all week, that will be folded up, and that will be handed to his daughter, Doro Bush Cook. And I'm told that the marker is a very simple one, similar to what you would see at Arlington National Cemetery.

But, you know, the family held it together all week. Sometimes they cried. This afternoon I think it -- I mean, this morning in Houston they -- they cried. They also laughed at some of it, which is very Bush, but this is -- this is going to be the hard part, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly will, and once the presidential hearse stops, the body bearers will remove the casket from the hearse. And we're told, then, the commander of the troops who are here will bring the ceremonial elements to present arms. Musical honors will be rendered including "Hail to the Chief." The national anthem will be played, four "Ruffles and Flourishes," and then -- and this will be a dramatic moment that we will all watch. During the musical honors, the U.S. Navy -- and as we know, George H.W. Bush served in the U.S. Navy, was an aviator during World War II. The U.S. Navy will conduct what's called a 21-strike fighter aircraft flyover. And the No. 3 aircraft in this final flight will execute the missing man maneuver, with the aircraft flying over the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum from south to north. John, that's going to be a powerful moment, especially, once again, for the family.

KING: And to remember the life of a young man who volunteered at a time of great peril for the country, and as president, at a time of great peril in the world, commander in chief at a time of great peril for the world.

And so the military was his life and was his job, and so to have the tribute throughout -- throughout the last several days. I think that the role of the military in the ceremonies that have just been so graceful and so precision in their -- in the way they have played out. And also just here in these quiet moments, just this quiet grace and dignity that was the man. He would say, and he often did say he think it hurt him as a politician from time to time that he was not more braggadocios, if you will, but this is a gracious, quiet, dignified man now arriving at his final resting place.

BLITZER: And if -- if we look behind us, you will see the motorcade with the presidential hearse right behind us right now. The police leading the way, but, Dana we can see that presidential hearse right now. It's -- it's right behind us.

KING: Moving straight by.

BASH: It's remarkable to see.

What's it like for to you see this?

CARY: It's -- it's striking to me that tomorrow is Pearl Harbor Day, and the -- the young men and women who are standing, it looks like thousands of them in line.

BLITZER: Yes, young cadets.

CARY: Are the age that he was on that day tomorrow when he said, "Sign me up." And it's really quite remarkable the outpouring from the young people. I think it's -- I'm hoping CAVU becomes a new call word in America.

BLITZER: Yes.

CARY: Wouldn't that be great?

BASH: Yes.

It's just pulling up right in front of the library that has his names, you know, in marble.

CARY: Etched in the granite of history as James Baker said this morning.

BASH: Yes, yes.

BLITZER: It's a beautiful presidential library, and the family can be quite proud, quite proud of this man who did so much in so many different roles for our country. It's -- he wasn't just president of the United States, John. He had a lot of different role, and he served in public life for so so many years.

KING: Ambassador to China, pictures of that in there, the China challenge front and center in the world today. George H.W. Bush one of the first American diplomats to start to build that relationship.

There's a spy satellite, old first-generation spy satellite hanging in that library, the CIA director. He was the Republican National Committee chairman, ambassador to the United Nations, vice president of the United States, congressman before that, president of the United States.

And then I think, I believe, at least when you talk to his sons, Jeb and George W., as I have, citizen of the United States; father, I think are the titles he would prefer to be first when we list his achievements.

BLITZER: Yes.

KING: And I think that you get that when you walk through this library. It's really a great tribute. But all the presidential libraries are great. Americans should visit them in optimistic times, not just sad times, as well.

BASH: And you can sense, obviously, the honor. You were mentioning the military and all these honor guards throughout the last couple of days. Can you imagine having that honor to be part of this for a former commander in chief? And someone who, as James Baker said this morning, had the courage of a warrior but even more courage to make peace.

[17:15:09] BLITZER: The body bearers will remove the casket for the hearse, and then the -- the tributes will begin, not necessarily with words, but as I said, with this 21-strike fighter aircraft flyover.

Following the flyover, by the way, the band, the military band will play "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty," "I Need Thee Every Hour," as well as "How Firm a Foundation" and finally "God of Our Fathers." And the body bearers will move the casket to the internment site. As we watch the family gather and these really powerful moments.

Jamie, I understand you're getting some new information on what we're about to see.

GANGEL: So I -- just to add, even though it's going to be a very simple marker, gravesite marker which we're not going to see today, because it's over this footpath in the back, as Mary Kate Cary described, in a private place -- I am told that President Bush wanted two things to be on that marker: his number from the Navy, which makes complete sense; and the other thing will make complete sense, too, the words, quote, "He loved Barbara very much."

And the other thing I just wanted to say is this week, you know, there are always tributes at state funerals; but I think we heard them differently this week, just because it felt as if we're in very different times from when George H.W. Bush was president, and they had a different impact, a different resonance.

I was speaking to a Democrat, actually, a few minutes ago who said, "I want to be a better person now. I can't be George Bush, but maybe I'll write more thank-you notes." And I've talked to a lot of people who just feel as if this week had a big impact on them. Young people and older people.

BLITZER: There you see President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. They're walking now towards what will be not the final stop but the intermediate stop on the way to the burial, the final resting place for the 41st president of the United States.

The full military honors will continue, as they have over these past several day. And now we see the military body bearers. They will remove the casket from the hearse and this procedure, this well- planned and beautiful procedure, will continue with the full military honors for man who served so wonderfully for our country for so many years. And as this process begins, let's watch and listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Present!

(MUSIC: "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER")

(MILITARY JETS DOING A FLYOVER)

(MUSIC)

[17:30:59] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And now the nation can say goodbye to the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush. You're looking live at pictures from the presidential library in the Texas A&M University. What a beautiful, beautiful way, John, to say goodbye to this amazing man.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Graceful, a remarkable ceremony. The country has now said it's official goodbye to the 41st century and now the family has a personal goodbye to their dad, their grandfather, a man and a family that had been in public life for more than six decades and will remain in public life because of the younger members of the bush family is now having an intensely private moment as they deserve.

BLITZER: And they certainly deserve a private burial which is what the family wanted.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And Wolf Blitzer, you always say that we're so blessed because we get a front row seat to history. Boy, was this a front row seat to history and to hear and to feel everything around us shaking with that 21 air strike planes coming over us very, very low which is the protocol, maybe a little lower than protocol.

KING: Cloud cover.

BLITZER: I think our chairs were shaking.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Shaking as they were flying right over us.

BASH: It was remarkable and something that we will never forget and that is the whole point of this kind of service of a state funeral, not just for us but for the country, for the world to remember and to see and to have these moments etched into their mind, into their memories about this event but much more importantly about a man who served this country with incredible dignity.

BLITZER: He did.

MARY KATE CARY, WORKED ON BUSH'S 1988 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Not far from year, 100 yards from here, is a bust of president bush, and he inscribed below it that public service is a noble calling. These days it's not in facts and circumstances and I think it's going to start coming back in fashion when you see a life like this, that he called a life of meaning and adventure and invited young people to join him in service to others. And what a noble sendoff, that was spectacular.

BLITZER: Totally beautiful as we look at live pictures of the presidential library here at Texas A&M University. Jamie Gangel, give us your thoughts.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Just on a personal level, I'm thinking about the words of former President George W. Bush when he gave his eulogy at the national cathedral and at the end he said, said no son or daughter could have a better father and I think every parent will tell you there's no tribute better than that. And I'm thinking about President Clinton who said that President Bush represented total class.

And President Obama who talked about his civility and the fact that he was a gentleman and his extraordinary service, two Democrats giving tribute to a Republican. So I -- just looking back at this week, as someone said it makes you feel as if you want to be a better person. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, indeed. And as we go to break, let me just say that may he rest in peace, the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush and may his memory be a blessing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:38:59] BLITZER: There's breaking news we're following, an emerging contender to replace Jeff Sessions as the attorney general of the United States. I quickly want to go to our senior white house correspondent Jeff Zeleney who is working the story for us. Jeff, you're learning more information. Update our viewers.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are indeed as we've been talking about President George H. Bush all day long and all week long. In fact, one of his former attorney generals who served in his administration is now, we're told, being considered to be the next attorney general in the Trump administration. His name is William Barr. He's a 68-year-old lawyer from Washington.

We are told that he is among the leading contenders the President is indeed looking at to fill the vacancy, of course, created a month ago with the firing of Jeff Sessions. So William Barr is someone who is indeed at the funeral yesterday here in Washington. He's a long- standing, respected lawyer on both sides of the aisle here, by Republicans and Democrats alike. We're told by officials that the President likes him.

He's emerging as a consensus candidate inside but we're also told of course, this is the President's final decision and he often changes his mind on these things, but at least one of the leading candidates is William Barr, an attorney general from 1991 to 1993, some 25 years ago, Wolf.

[17:40:08] BLITZER: And we saw William Barr standing there on the capitol steps as the memorials and the tributes took President George H.W. Bush were just beginning in Washington earlier in the week. He's obviously someone clear high up. The possible staff shake-ups, as you know, Jeff, they come as the -- as President Trump sits with the knowledge that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has been a very, very valuable witness to Robert Mueller and his investigators. Update on that as well.

ZELENY: Indeed, Wolf. We've not yet heard the President comment specifically on that Michael Flynn bombshell report earlier in the week. We knew he spent 19 hours or so with the special counsel's office, but the President after being quiet for a couple of days he tweeted something this morning showing that the Russia investigation is very much fresh on his mind. Let's take a look at it, Wolf.

He said this. He said, without the phony Russia witch-hunt and with all that we have accomplished in the last almost two years, tax and regulation cuts, judges, military, vets, et cetera, my approval rating would be 75 percent rather than 50 percent just reported by Rasmussen. It's called presidential harassment. So again, Wolf, the President slowly coming out of his respect and remembrance for President Bush.

We should point out the average of the President's approval is about half that, Wolf. It's about at 40 percent, 43 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.

BLITZER: Yes. Good point. All right. Jeff Zeleney at the White House. Thank you very much. Let's get some more all of this. Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Hakim Jeffries, he's a member of the judiciary committee, just elected to the leadership post in the new Democratic majority house of representatives. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Let me get your reaction.

What do you think of this apparent front-runner to become the next attorney general, William Barr?

REP. HAKIM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think it's important that the President fill the vacancy with someone who is respected on both sides of the aisle. William Barr has a decent reputation as far as I can tell, has the appropriate degree of experience. He'll, of course, have to be vetted by Senators who are Republicans and Democrats as part of the confirmation process.

But we do need to move beyond the current acting attorney general who appears to be nothing but a lackey for Donald Trump and someone who does not do justice to the Department of Justice.

BLITZER: Barr and Robert Mueller, they worked closely together during the Bush -- the first Bush administration but Barr has criticized Mueller for appointing some of the prosecutors on his Russia probe team with a history of making political donations to Democrats. Does it give you any concern about his potential treatment of the Mueller investigation if in fact he's confirmed as attorney general?

JEFFRIES: Well, it's definitely a reason to be concerned and perhaps his criticism of some of Bob Mueller's appointments is what has endeared him to Donald Trump as a possible appointee, but those should be scrutinized appropriately by the Senate which has the confirmation authority pursuant to the constitution. We all have to make sure moving forward and House Democrats plan to make sure that we sever as a check and balance on a potentially out-of-control executive branch in the context of any possible interference relative to the Mueller investigation.

BLITZER: We're looking ahead, Congressman, to two very important court filings tomorrow in the cases of Michael Cohen, the President's former lawyer and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. Earlier this week, as you know, Robert Mueller released a heavily redacted sentencing memo for Michael Flynn, the President's national security adviser. What will you be looking for in tomorrow's filings even if they are potentially heavily redacted?

JEFFRIES: Well, I think we want to see further evidence to the extent that Bob Mueller deems it necessary to lay out the case as to what actually happened in 2016 and whether there was collusion and/or a real conspiracy that took place between Russian operatives at the direction of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump's campaign team with respect to selling out our democracy.

And we just have to make sure that Bob Mueller can be Bob Mueller and continuing to do his job, lay out the facts, gather the evidence and then present that to the American people and simultaneously, Wolf, House Democrats are going to pursue our for the people agenda, focused on kitchen table, pocketbook issues like lowering healthcare costs for everyday Americans.

BLITZER: As you know, congressman, Mueller recommended that Michael Flynn serve no jail time citing his extensive early cooperation with the investigators. Do you think that's a message to other witnesses, a message to go ahead and cooperate?

JEFFRIES: Well, certainly a tactic that we've seen used by prosecutors all throughout the country in regular cases that are brought before our court system. And in this particular instance if a witness has provided substantial assistance, as Bob Mueller appears to be indicating Michael Flynn has done, then the recommendation is often for a lenient sentence.

[17:45:10] It is quite extraordinary that you would have the Trump national security adviser, who as a result of that position and the breach of trust that took place by at least pleading guilty to lying to a Federal agent the recommendation would be no jail time which seems to suggest that a significant amount of information has been presented and that could be damaging for the Trump administration.

BLITZER: You sit on the House Judiciary Committee which is scheduled to interview the former FBI director James Comey tomorrow. This hearing as a lot of political baggage, as you know. What do you think Republicans on your committee want from Comey? Why do they want to hold this hearing behind closed doors?

JEFFRIES: Well, that's a great question. First of all, the hearings should be in public view so that the American people can hear what James Comey has to say. If the Republicans are going to go through the process of dragging him before our committee. What we really should be focusing on dealing with issues that improve the lives of everyday Americans, and what's sad to me, Wolf, is that in the lame duck final hours of Republican rule in the House of Representatives, this is what they choose to focus on.

They have an obsession with James Comey that they just can't escape even after the American people have rejected them because of their to do things to improve the lives of everyday Americans.

BLITZER: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. Thanks so much for joining us. And congratulations on your election to a leadership position in the new House of Representatives. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

JEFFRIES: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Let's get some insight now from our political and legal experts. Laura Jarrett who covers the Justice Department for us. You've been doing some serious reporting on this story. How did William Barr all of a sudden emerge as a leading contender to become the next attorney general?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, really, Wolf, this is a dream pick for conservatives, for Republicans who look at him as an adult in the room, who look at him as a known quantity. He was at the Justice Department under Bush 41 as we've been reporting. He was the attorney general and he was actually Bob Mueller's boss. When Mueller was there as the -- leading the Justice Department's criminal division, so they have quite a storied past.

Now, he has come out already, he hasn't shied away talking about the Mueller probe. He has expressed confidence in Bob Mueller saying that this wouldn't be a so-called witch hunt, but, yet, on the other hand, he's also said things like he thought that the fact that Mueller had picked Democrats who had made political donations to Democrats was something off balance, and he wished he had seen a little bit more balance in Mueller's team.

So we have to wait to see how the President reacts to this person. This is not somebody he had a previous relationship with and it's not -- it's done deal yet, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's very interesting. Chris Cillizza, I want to show our viewers some videos. This goes back about 27, 28 years, early 1991. You see a very young Robert Mueller and on the left William Barr standing over there. They worked very closely together during the first Bush administration. Are you surprised that the President is leaning towards picking someone so closely aligned with what's described as the Republican establishment?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: Yes, in a word, and that's why I think we need to consider Laura's point which is leading contender now, you know, 5:48 p.m. on the East Coast but one thing we know about Donald Trump is he changes his mind a lot on things big and small. This being on the bigger end. He -- remember earlier in his term, Wolf, he did try to bring in some establishment figures from sort of the old guard for lack of a better word in the Republican Party.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee was not a Trump person who he brought in. That didn't work. Those people run out relatively quickly and replaced by and large with Trump people. This would be a break from that, and candidly I was a little surprised when I heard the name. I checked to make sure it was the same guy who had been the attorney general under George Herbert Walker Bush, and it is.

So, it would be different than how Trump has approached his staffing beyond a very early part of his term in which he is largely chosen, people who are very loyal to him demonstrably, Mike Pompeo for instance over a Rex Tillerson. This would be different than that. It doesn't mean -- I mean, this President is nothing if not unpredictable. Doesn't mean he won't do it but I would just keep that grain of the skepticism given what we know about Donald Trump's decision-making process.

BLITZER: Well, that's a good point. Rebecca Buck, do you think this will ease concern about the President potentially trying to use the next attorney general as someone who would end the Mueller probe giving the very close relationship, these two men have had over the years?

[17:50:06] REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely it will, Wolf. And in fact Democratic Senator Leahy today told our team on Capitol Hill, CNN that he was happy about this pick, that if the pick goes through, he believes Barr would receive support not only from Republicans but also from some Democrats. So he doesn't have this baggage that very clearly Whitaker, for example, does have that has made Republicans and Democrats like so nervous about him being in place as the acting attorney general.

On the other hand, though, as Laura mentioned, they are going to be combing through these lawmakers his past statements, especially relating to the Mueller probe, especially relating to the President firing James Comey, some of these other hot button issues, and there could be some statements that pop up that do concern lawmakers. For example, he said, Barr said that it was quite understandable that the president fired James Comey.

That is the sort of statement that Democrats and some Republicans might be a little nervous about but overall this is someone who is an adult in the room who will be viewed as a generally responsible pick at a moment when there was a great deal of nervousness about who the President could potentially put in this position, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a good point, Jackie Kucinich, as you know, Barr also has had some critical words for Mueller choosing so many prosecutors on his team donated money to Democrats. He told the Washington Post last year this. So let me read the exact quote. In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party. I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group.

What's your analysis of that? Do you expect Barr to limit the Mueller probe, for example, in any way if in fact he becomes the attorney general, if he is confirmed by the U.S Senate?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A statement like that is going to appeal to Trump. Rebecca mentioned he also said it was OK to fire James Comey. He also said it was OK to fire Sally Yates. He also said it was OK to look into Hillary Clinton. So he really does check a lot of the boxes in terms of whether he is going to limit the Mueller probe. If he is nominated you have to imagine not only Democrats or Republican Senators are going to push him on that because they've been pushed to have this Mueller protection legislation.

So far Mitch McConnell and several other Republicans have said it's not necessary because they don't believe that the President is going to fire Mueller. You have to imagine the next A.G. is going to be held to that and be held to his answers that he gives the committee should he be nominated.

BLITZER: As you know, Laura, we could see some significant developments in the Russia probe as early as tomorrow. What will you be looking for in tomorrow's court filings in the cases of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort?

JARRETT: Yes. Tomorrow will be a busy day, Wolf. We're all anxiously awaiting to see what exactly the special counsel says in terms of revealing more information about the alleged lies that Manafort told and what he did to sort of undo his plea deal. We'll see how much they reveal and don't reveal. And even if some of their filings are redacted, once again, as they did with the former national security adviser earlier this week with Michael Flynn, anything that is blacked out eventually we will see.

And so when it comes to Michael Cohen on that issue, anything that they do in terms of detailing some of his cooperation, that will be interesting because again, all of that will eventually become unsealed once these investigations wrap up.

BLITZER: Chris, you think we could see some damaging information involving the President?

CILLIZZA: Always possible. You know, I think Laura makes the point that if the Flynn sentencing document is indicative at all, we're likely not to see this sort of -- the whole story tomorrow. We're likely to kind of be reading in between the lines. One thing I do think will be interesting is the evidence put forward on why the special counsel's office believed Manafort was -- believed him to be lying and why the plea deal was rescinded because the reporting suggests that he was back channeling information about the special counsel and what they're asking to the white house lawyers.

Do we get any of that? You know, that's not necessarily the heart, heart, heart of the matter, but it's also intriguing at least again. So much of what we see with the Mueller investigation is we see a little window here and then we go down to the other corner and see a little bit there. That's what's difficult. You're trying to put all the pieces together. I don't think we'll get the full picture tomorrow but every times in your life like this happens we get another window that gives us a little more a sense of where it's headed. BLITZER: Every day we learn a little bit more. That's good. All

right. That's important. Everybody stick around. There is more breaking news. We're following President Trump as he eyes former Attorney General William Barr to replace Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General. Would Barr end the Russia investigation? Stick around. We'll be right back.

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[17:59:43] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Raising the bar as President Trump looks for a new attorney general, we're told he eyeing someone who held the job in the first Bush administration. Would William Barr protect or try to disrupt the Russia investigation? Stone-cold speech.

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