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Soon: Ceremony at Capitol to Honor Congressman Elijah Cummings; Congressman Elijah Cumming Lies in State in the U.S. Capitol; Ceremony for Congressman Cummings Begins with Welcoming Remarks from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 24, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks very much for joining me.
Today, we're going to be witnessing a moment in history. Going to show a live look on Capitol Hill as the casket of the late Elijah Cummings is now being removed from the hearse and will be moving up the steps of the capitol.
He's going -- the late Elijah Cummings is going to be lying in state in the U.S. capitol. The ceremony in his honor will be getting underway shortly.
He's the first African-American lawmaker to receive this honor. And look at the beauty and majesty as he will be moving up the capitol steps into the capitol building.
Let's take just a brief moment. You'll only hear clicks of cameras. Just a moment as he heads in.
UNIDENTIFIED SERVICEMEMBER: (INAUDIBLE)
BOLDUAN: As we watch this, this is an honor reserved for only a select few statesmen, presidents, military leaders, in all of American history.
Elijah Cummings, you'll remember, passed away last week at the age of 68. He was the son of sharecroppers, who rose to become one of the most powerful members of Congress. Most recently, of course, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee. Representing his home of Baltimore, Maryland, for decades.
This ceremony will be getting underway shortly. We'll be bringing you the moments.
This is bringing together really all of Congress, the left, the right, the center.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she's going to be speaking pretty much first. She's going to be offering some welcoming remarks. But other speakers will be also, including the Republican Senate
majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and also conservative Republican Congressman Mark Meadows.
And Meadows is a man whose political views, so different from that of Congressman Elijah Cummings. But they, over the years, had become dear, close personal friends.
Meadows told "Politico" this -- about the fact that he is going to be making remarks today. He said, quote, "It will probably be the hardest two or three minutes I will ever give."
Let's listen in one more time.
UNIDENTIFIED SERVICEMEMBER: (INAUDIBLE)
BOLDUAN: Followed and flanked by his family there.
Let's go to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's on Capitol Hill following all of these events this morning as they play out.
Suzanne, what are you learning about the tributes that are to come for Congressman Cummings?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, you just saw his widow there, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, at the steps with her hands over her heart. A beautiful and passionate moment.
What we expect from many of the speakers to hear the spirit of Elijah Cummings, somebody who was not afraid to cry, to use his body and his emotions to express frustration when he felt that the better angels were not at work among his colleagues and his friends.
We expect to hear people talk about what he often bellowed in those hearings when he said, "Come on, people, we're better than this." That is the calling cry of Elijah Cummings.
He was always somebody who really reached out to everyone, Republicans, Democrats, everybody in this building. I mean, he spoke to everybody.
And he was so incredibly close to the people in his own community, the seventh district, the people that he represented in Baltimore, as well as in my own community, my own city.
He was the person who was on the streets in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, imploring people to not destroy the city but to rise above it all, and to improve their communities.
He is the person who was in those schools and in those dilapidated houses in Baltimore, making sure that they were healthy and that they were safe for the people who he represented.
But he was also here in the halls of Congress as a very powerful figure, one who was overseeing this very administration in that powerful Oversight Committee.
He is somebody who we have heard both from the left and the right talk about having a moral compass, a guiding light, some sort of spirituality, and he expressed that when he was here in -- in almost every way.
Suzanne, stick with me.
CNN's Jamie Gangel is here, as well.
What you're looking at is statuary hall in the capitol. A beautiful place. Many ceremonies occur there.
But most recently, I guess a year ago now, Jamie, Senator John McCain was lying in state there, which will be the same place that Elijah Cummings will be lying in state.
But as the ceremony gets underway, it's part one of two good-byes essentially. This is where Congress and the public will be able to say good-bye and honor him. And then tomorrow will be the funeral for Elijah Cummings in his hometown of Baltimore.
And there you have former president that's have been asked to speak.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Correct. You're going to have former President Bill Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will all be honoring him.
You know, I think one of the things that we saw earlier this week from Nancy Pelosi, she really became emotional when -- when she talked about him.
BOLDUAN: Very much.
GANGEL: She doesn't always show that. She called him her North Star.
And I think you cannot underestimate just how beloved he was on both sides of the aisle. And particularly at this time when everyone is so polarized, that --
BOLDUAN: Look at that. See everyone gathering there waiting for the ceremony to begin. Waiting to honor him as his casket will be coming in shortly.
It's truly a moment to watch something like this play out. You see Speaker Pelosi standing -- this is one of the times when politics does fall by the wayside. Everyone's standing together.
You see in the front of the screen, with his head bowed, Mark Meadows. That's who I was mentioning earlier, a dear friend. That would be a surprise to many considering their politics. A dear friend of Elijah Cummings. He will be making remarks today.
We could go through the list, but there's everybody in Congress. Everyone there waiting to speak.
Suzanne, one more thing, and you were getting to it, Karen Bass, who's the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, she said something that I think sticks out. And I'm sure will be repeated in some -- in some fashion by many of the speakers today in honor of Elijah Cummings, when she said, "We lost a giant. We lost somebody at a particular moment of history when he was so needed."
MALVEAUX: And so many people talk about this particular time because he was such a powerful, fierce voice of reason, of inspiration for so many people, and especially at this time.
I mean, he publicly feuded with the president. He has called into account some of the president's activities in his oversight hearings.
And the president lashed out at him and his community of Baltimore in -- in very personal ways. And the congressman responded to him saying, come visit, come see for yourself, walk the streets of Baltimore, and see the good, the goodness of the community that I represent.
And that was something that he often did. Whether it was behind the scenes or in front of the cameras, he would implore people to -- to just take a look, to get a good inside look and try to imagine yourself in some -- walking in someone else's shoes.
And that is something that we got to see professionally here, covering him on the Hill in these contentious hearings, but also personally when we saw him on the streets of Baltimore, and in the way that he was able to reach out to people and communicate.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And I have not yet heard -- I don't know if it's entirely yet known -- oh, there's Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan, the former speaker, there with Al Sharpton and Chuck Grassley. I mean, talk about -- talk about the political spectrum there. That's in one image, you will see it all right there.
It's not known, not yet clear, at least I haven't heard yet what President Trump will be doing, if anything, in taking part in any of these ceremonies.
But this is a real image, especially, as former congressional correspondent for CNN, a recovering, I would like to say, this is a moment to see when all the politics go by the wayside, all of them come together.
We're waiting for the ceremony to get underway. We will bring you these moments when they play out. Suzanne is there for us. And we're going to come back to this in a second as we continue to see as they prepare for the ceremony. A beautiful good-bye to Elijah Cummings. And he will be lying in state. The first African-American lawmaker to receive such an honor.
We're going to come back to this in a moment. We're going to take a quick break. Be right back.
BOLDUAN: Heading back to Capitol Hill now. You can see the casket. You can see the casket of Elijah Cummings moving through the capitol. His family, his widow right behind him. His family behind him.
This marks the beginning, which will be the very beginning of the ceremony that will be beginning in his honor.
Look at everyone that is following him in.
Suzanne Malveaux, Jamie Gangel here with me.
Suzanne, it looked like family, plus some, following Congressman Cummings in. Tell us about who we know is with the congressman.
MALVEAUX: It's really a beautiful ceremony, of course. Every moment of it orchestrated in a way that really highlights the kind of support and community he had.
He was -- I covered him for many years, but he was also my congressman. And that was a wonderful thing, as well.
He played a significant role when my mother was ill. My sister picked up the phone, trying to figure out the medical bills and how to make my mother comfortable. He was the one who helped us through the red tape, to make sure that she was comfortable and doing well in her final years.
He and my father very close, Howard University alumni. He was a very, very proud Howard University alumni. He was the student body president, as a matter of fact. And graduated with top honors at that university.
He was at the commencement speech when President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address. He was somebody who was just connected in so many ways to the community.
BOLDUAN: Suzanne, let's listen in together to -- sometimes the silence says everything in these moments. Let's listen.
Family, friends, filing into Statuary Hall. Elijah Cummings will be lying there in state. And Congress begins its wonderful, beautiful, and long good-bye to this kind of lion of the House.
Jamie, one of the things I was -- his family right there.
One of the things I was so struck by, when we were hearing of his passing, the moment last week, was how he was -- how engaged he was up to the last minute with committee work and how, despite his ailing health -- and he's been -- been the past couple of years that he's been in failing health, that he really was still engaged. If not, you know, if the body -- if the body was breaking down, his minds was still engaged.
GANGEL: Absolutely. You know, I know his friends, his colleagues were aware of his health problems.
I don't think the public really was because he was there working on House Oversight, giving interviews, talking about the process. It actually -- I mean, Senator John McCain was sick for a longer period of time when he went back to Arizona. But it did remind me of Senator McCain, who stayed in Washington and kept working as long as he possibly could.
And I just - obviously, this is the official event this morning. But we understand that, this afternoon, members of the public, I think starting at about 1:00, will be able to come.
BOLDUAN: From 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. that the public will be able to -- that will be able to come and see.
There have been so many tributes written to -- for the chairman, the congressman.
One thing that really stuck out to me and I think it's worth as you -- there's so much history with where --
There's so much history in not only a ceremony like this because it's only afforded to a select few statesmen, presidents, military leaders, in American history.
But also just the history of this room. Sarah Farris and John Bresnahan, a friend, in "Politico," wrote this today that, "Cummings' casket will be lying in state about 75 feet away from the statue of another civil rights icon, Rosa Parks. And just also steps away from the bust of the former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. A reminder of Washington's troubled history on race relations, which Cummings himself battled throughout his life."
And we were talking earlier, Jamie, as the ceremony is getting underway, tomorrow is the funeral for Elijah Cummings in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.
GANGEL: Right. We have to say there's someone missing here today.
GANGEL: That is President Trump.
And last year, in 2018, we lost Senator McCain in August, then former President Bush 41. This is a different time. In past presidencies, it would not have been a question as to whether or not the president came to pay his respects.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen --
GANGEL: And the fact that he's not here today says something.
BOLDUAN: We're going to listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the fifth district of Missouri --
BOLDUAN: Emmanuel Cleaver is going to give the invocation.
REP. EMMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): Let us pray.
To the great God Almighty, who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, we approach you as frail and flawed creatures and requests of thy enabling grace.
Our hearts are made heavy by the transition of our colleague, our family member, our loved one, the Mahogany Marylander, Elijah Cummings, as he is moved into the realm of the unseen.
Holy Spirit, we are blessed to be in this spectacular and historic edifice, and we gather in memoriam of the passionate public service of one of your faithful sons whose congressional and earthly assignment has been completed.
We have now passed an appropriate review of a man who, even as the king of Bruni, he continued his work to preserve our democracy.
Lord, as the breaches and the ranks of Congress appear more often than we care to contemplate, may those of us who remain in your wondrous world recognize your voice summoning us to put on our marching boots and move our nation toward the light of justice, self-awareness, goodness, and civility.
May our march in the tradition of Elijah and the other warriors of justice who now sleep with the elders give us the insatiable desire to think only the best, to see only the best, to say only the best, to do only the best, to legislate only the best, and to model our only best.
We acknowledge that we must do it now, oh, Lord, while it is day. Because no member of Congress, regardless of public adoration, religious affiliation, fundraising demonstration, or public praise over their legislation can work when the night cometh.
Almighty and Everlasting God, as Elijah's beginning his hallelujah dance with the angels, may we look at his life and his work as dance lessons for our future entry into the silent halls of death.
Even now, oh, God, I can hear the victorious voice of yours thundering down from the hallowed halls of Heaven, reminding us, through the words of a songwriter, please save the last dance for me. Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Please be seated.
Elijah Cummings, son of sharecroppers, master of the House, it is my official and personal and sad honor to welcome Chairman Elijah Cummings and all who loved him to this celebration of his life.
Thank you, Maya, for giving us this honor to say good-bye to Elijah in this Statuary Hall of the House of Representatives.
Elijah was truly a master of the House. He respected its history and, in it, he helped shape America's future.
I have called him our North Star, our guide to a better future for our children.
Elijah has said that our children are our living messengers to a future we will never see. For the children, he wanted a future worthy of their aspirations and true to the values of America.
It was in defense of the children at the border that Elijah said, "We can do better."
It was he -- he was also a mentor of the House. When we were deciding committee assignments, he said, give me as many freshmen as you can, I love their potential, and I want to help them realize it.
As a mentor he was always generous with credit, giving members the opportunity to take the lead. He was not only -- it was -- he knew it was not only important to them, but the fresh eyes, their fresh eyes were important that any decisions we made about America's future.
His chairmanship of the Oversight and Reform Committee, he lived up to the responsibility to exercise the congressional power of oversight of Congress.
Thank you, Elijah, on behalf of the future of our children, on behalf of the future of America, to be true to our beliefs.
We say this to you as we are gathered here today in the old House chamber where Lincoln served, beneath the same clock Lincoln heard ticking under the gazes of Cleo, the muse of history.
Cleo reminds the men and women in the Congress in these hallowed halls that we are part of history, that our words and actions will be recorded, and the face of the judgment and -- and face the judgment of history, and that we are a part of a long and honorable heritage of our democracy. Chairman Cummings understood that.
God truly blessed America with the life and legacy of Elijah Cummings. That's why I'm very grateful to Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Leader McCarthy for agreeing to have Elijah lie in repose on the same catapult that Abraham Lincoln lay in repose at his death.
May Elijah rest in peace.
BOLDUAN: Speaker Pelosi offering welcoming remarks for what is clearly going to be an emotional and beautiful ceremony for Congressman Elijah Cummings, the first African-American lawmaker to be bestowed the honor of lying in state. Elijah Cummings passed away at the age of 68.
We'll continue to follow the events as they happen today.
We'll be right back after this.