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State of the Union

John McCain's Legacy; Interview With Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum; Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; Interview With Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman; Remembering John McCain; CNN's Original Film "RBG". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired September 02, 2018 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): McCain's message. Washington remembers the late senator in a politically loaded ceremony.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.

BASH: As former rivals and lifelong friends reflect on his legacy, we will speak with McCain's closest friends, former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Senator Lindsey Graham, next.

Plus: marquee matchup. As the midterm elections kick off in earnest...

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In this election, we can't let up.

BASH: ... all eyes turn to the Florida governors' race.

ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are both scraping from the bottom of the barrel.

BASH: It is a race of polar opposites and a reflection of stark national divisions. Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum will join us in minutes.

And popularity contest. A new poll shows President Trump with record high disapproval and strong support for Robert Mueller.

TRUMP: They have fake polls. Do you know what a fake poll is?

BASH: But will it matter in November's midterm elections?


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is saying goodbye.

It was a final salute to the country he served and an unmistakable rebuke to President Trump. Two former presidents, once bitter rivals, offering their memories of Senator John McCain and lamenting the current state of politics.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but, in fact, is born of fear.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John's voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder. We are better than this. America is better than this.


BASH: Veiled swipes at the man not in the room, the man not invited, President Donald Trump.

As dignitaries gathered to mourn Senator McCain, the president spent his morning attacking his rivals on Twitter and golfing at his nearby resort.

The show of unity barely masking the deep divisions, setting the stage for the Labor Day kickoff of what is already a brutal midterm election season.

A clash of political extremes is on full display in the battle for governor in Florida, a Trump-backed Republican, Ron DeSantis, vs. a Bernie Sanders-backed Democrat, Andrew Gillum, fighting for control of the ultimate swing state.

And joining me now is the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

Let's start with the president himself putting you in the spotlight and your race, of course, describing you this way in a tweet: "A failed socialist mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime and many other problems to flourish in his city, this is not what Florida wants or needs."

You're now in a general election in a state that Trump won. You ran pretty far to the left in the primary race. In order to be governor, you need to win voters in the middle. How are you going to do that?

GILLUM: Yes, Dana, let me first say how extremely proud I was yesterday watching Senator McCain's funeral.

The comments from his daughter Meghan, from the president, all the former presidents, really was a display of really who we are as a country.

Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump are at the far other extremes of what we want, not only as a country, but as a state. And I will tell you, I don't believe that any of the issues that I stood on in the primary are in any way disqualifying in this general election. We're going to win this race because the people of my state are

interested in having an education system that their kids can get a good, quality education. And right now, we rank 40th of 50th in quality.

The people in my state want access to good and affordable and accessible health care.

BASH: And I want to...

GILLUM: They want to see teachers paid what they're worth.

BASH: And I want to get to a lot of those issues and dig deeper on them in just a moment.

Before, though, I want -- I have to get this out of the way. I don't want to give undue attention to this. But, this week, a white supremacist robo-call came out in your state of Florida against your campaign.

You, of course, are the first black nominee for governor in the state of Florida. How are you going to fend off against attacks of what really are not just racially tinged, racist things like we're seeing there now?

GILLUM: Yes. Yes.

Well, first of all, I have to tell you, I do find it deeply regrettable. I mean, on the day right after I secured the Democratic nomination, we had to deal with some of the dog whistles directly from my opponent.

And I -- and I honestly want to sincerely say this, Dana. We can have a challenge between ideas and around what we think the people of the state of Florida deserve.

What I don't want this race to turn into is a race of name-calling. I want to make sure that we don't racialize and, frankly, weaponize race as a part of this process, which is why I have called on my opponent to really work to rise above some of these things.


People are taking their cues from him, from his campaign, and from Donald Trump.

BASH: And we should...

GILLUM: And we saw in Charlottesville that that can lead to real, frankly, dangerous outcomes.

BASH: And I also want to make clear that your opponent, Ron DeSantis, has -- has condemned this robo-call, which, again, we're not playing. It is beyond offensive.

I want to look... GILLUM: Of course.

BASH: ... talk about what the president mentioned also in that tweet, which is the crime rate in your city.

Mr. Mayor, it's true that your county has the highest crime rate in the entire state of Florida. The number of murders there hit a new high just last year. How do you explain to Florida voters why they should trust you with their state, when those crime rates are so high?

GILLUM: Well, I'm the mayor of the city of Tallahassee, not the county of Leon.

And in the city of Tallahassee, we actually are experiencing a five- year low in our crime rate. In fact, we're on par to see historic lows in our crime rate this year if we keep on the pattern that we're currently on.

And, Dana, we didn't do that by arresting more people and throwing away the key, but by leaning into smart justice, restorative justice, second chances, because the best way to control a crime rate, frankly, is to reduce the number of people who re-offend.

We're very, very proud of, I think, the very progressive way in which we have addressed crime in my city. And it's evident by the numbers. I'm extremely proud of where we are. And, frankly, I would like to see those kinds of strategies scaled up all around the state of Florida.

BASH: Let's on to health care.

You mentioned that you support Medicare for all. A study earlier this summer from George Mason University estimates that Medicare for all, that plan, would cost the government $33 trillion -- with the T -- dollars over the next decade, which obviously would require a significant tax increase.

Florida has -- has a reputation, as you know, for being a tax-averse state. Are you ready to tell the people of Florida that they need pay a lot more in taxes to fund your health care plan?

GILLUM: Well, let me first say there was also a report, Dana, that showed that, should we move to cover more people to a Medicare-for-all system, we could actually save the system trillions over an extended period of time.

But I will tell you this, because I...

BASH: You could. But in the short term, in order to do that, you need to raise taxes. Fair?

GILLUM: So, what I would say is, first of all -- and I want to be clear about this -- the state of Florida could not take this road by itself.

We would need to do it as part of a federation of other states coming together. Think of Florida, New York, California, and a few of the other larger states.

BASH: But, sir, are you -- in order to do that, taxes would have to be raised. Is that -- is that fair? Do you agree with that?

GILLUM: I don't buy that.

So, let me just say, for instance...

BASH: How do you do that? How do you find that kind of money for the government without raising taxes?

GILLUM: So, first, I would say, one, Florida could not do it by itself.

But, secondly, we have the opportunity to expand Medicaid for over 700,000 of the most medically needy people here in the state of Florida.

My governor and legislature refuse to do that. Do you know it cost us about $6 billion in money that should have come from the federal government to the state of Florida that we never received?

And so I'm simply saying -- and this is -- I want to be clear, Dana. This is very personal to me. I remember growing up as a kid having to wait for the mobile dental clinic to come to the neighborhood in order to have my teeth cleaned. The biggest concern for people...

BASH: Yes, I know you have experiences.


BASH: And you're coming from a real place, a personal place in supporting this. But as a government official, you have to make it work, and you have to make the numbers work.

GILLUM: Absolutely.

BASH: And so I don't -- I still don't understand how you would do it without raising taxes.

GILLUM: So, the first step we would take is expand Medicaid and pull down about $6 billion a year from the federal government. That's important.

Secondly, as governor of the state of Florida, I would work to bring a number of the largest states into a conversation around how it is, together, we might be able to negotiate prices and access to health care to cover more people and ensure that even those who -- of us who are in insured, who are right now paying premium increases year over year over year, all because Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump have worked overtime to make access to health care more affordable.


BASH: Will you say that you will not support raising taxes to make your health care plan work? GILLUM: I will absolutely not raise taxes on everyday working Floridians to give access to additional people.

BASH: What about wealthier people?

GILLUM: So, what I said -- and I ran on this, by the way -- is that we will increase taxes for the -- for corporations in our state who right now, just so you are aware, only 3 percent of companies in the state of Florida pay the corporate tax rate, 3 percent.

And that 3 percent under the Donald Trump tax scam got a windfall of $6.3 billion overnight, due to the tax reform that took place in Washington, D.C.

We're not asking for all of it. We simply said, we believe that we ought to bring a billion of that money back into the state's government, because being a cheap date state has not worked for the state of Florida. And, unfortunately, we have got to do that if we're going to be leading state.

BASH: One more -- one more issue. We have spent a lot of time, understandably, on health care.


On immigration, you have joined growing calls for replacing ICE, the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency. The state of California actually passed a plan last year to become a so-called sanctuary state, which limits state cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Would you support that plan for the state of Florida?


What I would support is the policies of this current administration have been wholly misguided and, in my opinion, are quite un-American. Not one of us wants to undermine the work of ICE to do the important work of making sure that we end sex trafficking and human trafficking, making sure that we are precluding drugs and other sort of insidious entrances into our state.

Unfortunately, this border crisis that the president created is all of his own making. We have not had the level the border crossing into this country since 2010. This is a straw man argument meant to speak to his base. It doesn't keep any of us safer.

And he's turned this -- the work of this important agency into a deportation and family separation force. And I simply believe that it's un-American, and it also makes all of us less safe.

BASH: Before I let you go, I have to ask about something that's going on back home in your city.

There's an ongoing corruption probe into development deals in your city of Tallahassee since you have been there. I understand that you're cooperating in that investigation, you want to see justice done.

But this investigation has already breached your inner circle. A subpoena went out to your longtime friend, former aide. You're the mayor. Does the buck stop with you on this?

GILLUM: Yes, so, first of all, not a former aide of mine.

But I will say this much. I -- no one in my government is under FBI investigation.

BASH: He was a campaign aide, correct?


GILLUM: A volunteer.


GILLUM: Volunteer, not an aide.

But the point being though, Dana, is nobody wants more for any activity that is illegal or corrupt that has occurred, we want to make sure that any individual that participated in that is held fully accountable.

The good news is, is that it doesn't involve my government or myself. We have all been fully cooperating.

And the difference between how we have addressed this and how Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump have addressed the FBI is that we have welcomed them and have tried to aid in their work.

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis have tried to undermine and undercut the FBI at every single turn, the president even going so far as to suggest a deep state as a way to undermining that work.

That is an absence of leadership. And I think that what we have done here has, frankly, been a model of how you deal with these kinds of things as a way to root out any bad players, any bad activity. And nobody wants to bring that to a conclusion quicker than I do.

BASH: Final question.

Bernie Sanders was one of your big supporters, particularly towards the end of your primary race there. You endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. Would you support Bernie Sanders for president in 2020?

GILLUM: Oh, Dana, I'm trying to get elected governor.


GILLUM: We're trying to save this state.

But I will tell you, I'm deeply appreciative of the support of Senator Sanders. And you're right. I did support Secretary Clinton. I spoke to her earlier last week, she and the president, President Clinton. I value their friendships. And I think what is important is that what we showed is that we have got the ability to bring together all the wings of the Democratic Party.

BASH: Thank you.

GILLUM: And, quite frankly, in order for us to win, we have got to bring the entirety of our party together.

BASH: We will get back to you the day after the election on that question, then.

GILLUM: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

GILLUM: Indeed.

Thanks so much, Dana. Take care.

BASH: I appreciate it.

And tough poll numbers for President Trump, but that's not stopping some Republican candidates for asking for his support.

And a final farewell.


OBAMA: What better way to get the last laugh than to make George and I say nice things about him to a national audience?



BASH: We will talk to two of John McCain's closest friends and allies, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman.




MCCAIN: We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.

The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.


BASH: That was Senator John McCain's daughter Meghan going after President Trump, as she also celebrated in a very intense and emotional way the life of her father.

Let's discuss.

S.E., you are very good friends with Meghan McCain.

Have you spoken to her? What -- what is your sense of how she felt that came across?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think she was relieved to get through it and to get all of that out.

This is not something that's just important to Meghan in her dad's passing, but as a conservative and the way she was brought up as a conservative. She is deeply troubled by the division in this country and the division within our own party.

And so that was, I think, very cathartic for her to get that off her chest and also do it while paying tribute to her dad, a man, of course, that she was so incredibly close with. But she's exhausted. She is exhausted.


BASH: I can't even imagine. I can't even imagine.

Governor Jan Brewer, you have served with John McCain for many, many years in your home state of Arizona. What were your thoughts on the memorial service and the week?

JAN BREWER (R), FORMER ARIZONA GOVERNOR: The whole complete week has just been amazing, and the tributes that have been given to him, and well-deserved, just bring back such a flood of memories.

He truly was a great man. John and I started our careers together. He ran for the United States Congress and I ran for the legislature. He moved to the Senate. I moved to the Senate. And from then on, I mean, our careers just paralleled.

BASH: You're also -- you're also a supporter of President Trump.


BASH: How is he going to react to that?

BREWER: Say that again?

BASH: How is he going to react to that, to the -- to the -- to the comments that we heard from Meghan McCain?

BREWER: I have no idea. I understood that he tweeted out again this morning.

You know, I wish that we could see some calmness coming out of this. I was just broken-hearted yesterday listening to Meghan. And, again, her remarks were very, very, very touching. And she was so emotionally distraught that, at a time like this, I think we all should be sensitive.


But she was very relieved, very -- after she gave that, it was like she got it off of her chest.

The first day that we had a memorial...

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that yesterday birthed a new star.

And I know that we don't go to funerals or have these moments in our country and expect to see a new star come out of this. But Meghan McCain, yesterday, I can't even imagine having the courage or strength to do what she did.

And then the nostalgia that we all had of a Republican Party that once was -- I think that, when we -- when you saw George W. Bush and you heard his words, or Barack Obama, and they're there remembering a man like John McCain, you understand that this Republican Party isn't what it once was.

And so my question to people like Lindsey Graham, who comes on later this morning, is, how do you admire and hold in reverence a man like John McCain, but then kowtow to someone like Donald Trump?

I think John McCain deserves better than that.

BASH: You're a sitting elected official, Congressman Ryan.

Do you think genuinely you are going to be able to go back after Labor Day to Congress and really heed the message that all of these McCain memorial services was very clear about, work together?

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: I'm cautiously optimistic.

But the momentum is going so much in the other direction, that I think it could be tough. But I think what Bakari just said is interesting, when you actually have Democrats rooting on certain Republicans, like, come on, help us, help us fix this problem that we have.

And, really, the most touching part was when she talked about him as a dad.

BASH: Yes.

RYAN: I mean, that was what -- if you weren't tearing up or crying at that point, I don't -- I don't know if you're human.

I mean, that -- to me, that cut through all of the politics.

BASH: Well, yes, I agree with that. But the message was about kind of the current state of politics as well.

And I want to look at a poll that just came out from "The Washington Post." President Trump's disapproval is at 60 percent, his approval at 36 percent?

Governor Brewer, why do you think this has gone -- the president has -- is in worse shape, even with fellow Republicans now? And should Republicans be worried?

BREWER: There's such a state of people not getting along.

And there's just so much negativity. I think it just feeds on itself. It's just unfortunate for our country. We need to -- we knew -- and those of us that have worked in deliberative bodies, we know that that's how you get things done. You have to work with one another.

And his -- his -- the president, I think, believes in his heart that he's doing the right thing. And they hear his message on so many things, but it's the way that it's being conducted that is so heartbreaking.

BASH: And I want to, S.E., and all of you, put up a map because, as much as President Trump is hurting in the polls with independents and doing worse with Republicans, the states that you see in blue there, those are all states that President Trump is going to go to, I'm told, this month to campaign for Republicans.

They want him there, S.E.

CUPP: Yes, there's no question that, when it comes to the House, the Senate, the gubernatorial races and then the 2020 national race, there's there's four different races going on.

And President Trump is going and the Republican Party is going to have to decide when and where President Trump is useful.

But let's make no mistake. The tribalism in this country and the tribalism in the two parties and even within my own party, pitting Republicans against Republicans, that is rewarded more than comity, more than coming together and reaching compromises.

Compromises became -- became a dirty word. And that makes John McCain, frankly, roll over in his grave. The conservative movement right now, while conservative values are strong, the conservative movement is in a coma. It is not dead, but it's on life support.

And I think conservatives really need to take a good, hard look at where we want these traditions, these principles to go and who are the best people to carry them there. And it's not the man in the White House.

SELLERS: The most interesting thing about that map is that not do they want Donald Trump there, but they actually need Donald Trump in places like Mississippi and Tennessee.

I mean, there are places that are going to be in play. Mike Espy, for example, is running a hell of a race in Mississippi. And then you go to Florida. You just had Andrew Gillum, who is not -- not the future of the Democratic Party. He's the now of the Democratic Party. And what most people understand is that this race in Florida, that is

-- that is Donald Trump's litmus test, because if we're able to take back the White House -- excuse me -- the governor's mansion in Florida, there's a good chance that you can take back the White House in 2020.

So, Andrew Gillum is that person. And you look at Tennessee.

So I'm saying that Democrats have an opportunity -- and Tim probably will laugh when I say this -- but we are proverbial bed-wetters.



SELLERS: And so we have to make sure that we take advantage of this opportunity that we have in front of us, because Donald Trump is giving us victories, electoral victories on a platter.

RYAN: Yes. I think there's some political post-traumatic stress within the Democratic Party after the last election.

But I think it -- Trump is going to the states because midterm elections are base elections for the most part. And he still maintains a good deal of popularity within his base.

But where -- where the rubber is going to meet the road is, Democrats are very energized. Can we keep our energy there, get our voters out? And then the 57 percent of the independent voters who disapprove of Donald Trump, can we pull them to our side in these midterm elections?

I think those independent voters are more motivated today than they would normally be in a midterm election.


CUPP: But people like maybe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez probably cannot.

And that's the existential crisis your party is facing.

SELLERS: But it's not a crisis, because I think that the -- see, this is what I -- this is where I want my voice to be louder than others, is because we are the party of Tim Ryan. We are the party of Joe Manchin.

We are also the party of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Like, our tent is extremely big. The message of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, it may not resonate -- in fact, it won't resonate loudly in South Carolina. We need a different type of Democrat.

We have to -- we have to take a quick break, but because you brought up...

SELLERS: I was rolling right there, Sunday morning.

BASH: I need to ask you. RYAN: Yes.

BASH: Time for new leadership? If Democrats take back the House, will you run for speaker?


BASH: He loves this question.

SELLERS: He loves this question. I want to -- I want to listen to the answer.

RYAN: I think we do need new leadership.


BASH: Are you the guy to do it?

RYAN: I'm not sure. I'm not closing the door on it, but I think -- I think it's time for us to move in another direction.

I thought that 18 months ago. I think that today. If we're going to reach out to those voters, to those independent voters, I think we do need some new people going out to make the case.

And, look...

BASH: What do you want to be, speaker or candidate for president in 2020?

RYAN: I want to -- I want to work for Bakari. That's my -- you're really good at this.

SELLERS: I'm aiming high. I'm aiming high.


BASH: All right, everybody, thank you so much.

And the bipartisan trio known as the three amigos are now missing their central figure.

Senator Lindsey Graham and former Senator Joe Lieberman will be right here next.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It is going to be a lonely journey for me for a while. I'm going to need your help.



[09:32:09] BASH: Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, the famous three amigos of the U.S. Senate, friends to the end of McCain's celebrated life, they are right there together at McCain's beloved home near Sedona, Arizona.

And I am honored to have both of them with me today to talk about the life of John McCain, former Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and current Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Thank you both for joining me.

GRAHAM: Thank you.


BASH: Senator Lieberman, I want to start with you, because we heard from you yesterday so eloquently at the funeral.

That was the first time that we heard you speak about Senator McCain since he passed. You have chosen to stay private until yesterday.

What has this week been like for you?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it actually reminded me of the death of people close to me, my parents.

So, in both those cases, my mom and dad and John, you could see their death coming. But when it comes, it's a -- it hurts. And so you plunge yourself into sort of remembrances and the rest, which is -- which is actually therapeutic.

And, looking back -- and I tell you what comforted me most, John's own words. I mean, last summer, after the surgery, I saw him out in Arizona at his place in the country. And he said to me -- and he said this publicly, but I want to repeat it -- "Of course I would like to live as long as I can, but nobody can live forever. If this is my time, I look back and I say I have had a great life."


LIEBERMAN: And he said something to me that actually is an adjective I -- one doesn't use much toward John McCain -- I think, was adorable.


LIEBERMAN: He says to me...

BASH: No, they don't.

GRAHAM: Yes, I have never heard that one.


LIEBERMAN: He says to me: "Joey, you and Lindsey and I traveled to places that billionaires can't go to."


LIEBERMAN: So, of course, by the nature of our relationship, I say, "You're right. And some of them, nobody, including billionaires, would want to go."


LIEBERMAN: It was just -- so that -- his own attitude, the way he faced death, with characteristic fearlessness and perspective, really comforted me.

But we're going to miss him. He is irreplaceable.

BASH: And, Senator Graham, I'm going to ask you about a private moment that you had on the Senate floor on Friday.

They cleared the chamber. You went to Senator McCain's desk with Cindy McCain, his widow.


BASH: What was that moment like?

GRAHAM: It was very touching. This is the public -- this is where he spent the best years of his life in the service to his country.


We all know about Vietnam. But John loved the Senate. He was a man of the Senate. He loved the institution. When you write the history of the Senate, he's going to be in the first chapter.

It meant a lot to Cindy to sit in his desk. We had...

BASH: She sat? She sat down?

GRAHAM: Yes. I said, "You will sit here."

You don't get these seats by yourself. So to all the team McCain people, his staff, his friends, his family, John couldn't have been this successful without them. And she deserved to sit in that desk.

And you had Mark Salter and Rick Davis were there. And I said, listen, and the reason he came back so many times, doing all the things that John did, is because he had a hell of a political team around him.

And his number one cheerleader, politically, was Cindy McCain. People don't appreciate how much support Cindy gave him and helped politically. But, in sickness, for the last year, she was totally devoted to this man.

BASH: And Meghan McCain posted a photo this weekend of you. I'm sure you have both seen it.

And if we can put it up, she called you -- quote -- "my uncles forever," because, certainly, that is how she feels about you.

I want you, again, with our viewers, to listen to how Meghan McCain remembered her father yesterday at the National Cathedral.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.

The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.


BASH: I was in the cathedral yesterday. There was a bit of shock that she went there like she did so directly.

He wasn't invited, Donald Trump. Instead, he went golfing.

What's your reaction, each of you, to that clip and to the -- what was it at the time to those words?

GRAHAM: Well, number one, she's a beautiful, talented young lady. She is her father's daughter.

If you say something bad about her dad, you will know it, whether you are the janitor or the president of the United States. She is grieving for the father she adored. And I think most Americans understand that.

And I am just so proud of the young lady she has become. So, I'm totally OK with everything.

LIEBERMAN: Hear, hear.

Well, I appreciate that, as she said, a picture of her uncles, because I feel like her uncle. And my wife, Hadassah, feels like her aunt. She's in New York. We get to see her some. We love her, really.


LIEBERMAN: Yesterday, I was a very proud uncle, because, to say the obvious, Meghan is a daughter who had a very special, close relationship with her father, John McCain.

So he's gone. He's died. She's grieving. And yet, by the nature of his life, she's called on to make a very public, global statement, appearance. Very hard.

But she did it, and she did it magnificently.


LIEBERMAN: And she did it the way her dad would want her to do it.

I would -- and you know what? She didn't -- she was direct, the way John was. And, sometimes, those around you are even more direct than you would be in a given situation.

BASH: That's a very good point.

LIEBERMAN: So, God bless her.

BASH: I was at the funeral, as I mentioned, yesterday.

When I saw Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, I was kind of surprised. I didn't know that they were on the invite list. It turns out, Senator Graham, you were behind that?


BASH: You were not behind that?

GRAHAM: Nobody who was at that funeral did not get invited by the family.


GRAHAM: Earlier in the week, I met with Ivanka about a trip we're planning in Africa.

Ivanka said some very nice things about Senator McCain after his passing. It was not unnoticed by the family.

If you wanted to invite everybody that loved John McCain, you could have filled up Yankee Stadium. I'm hoping that Cindy, who has done terrific work for human trafficking of women and all things related to that issue, can work with Ivanka and others, because that's her life's work.

And maybe these two can -- can work together to help women who are in desperate straits. I think both of them would like to do that. And I would like to help to the extent I could.

BASH: You happy that they were -- that they were there?


They happened to be sitting right behind...


BASH: I saw you speaking with them.

LIEBERMAN: When we talked to them, they were very positive about John McCain.

And I thanked them, as John's friend, that they had come. I thought it meant a lot. So -- and they -- at the end, I spoke to them, too, and there were no complaints. They felt that the whole service was a great tribute to him and elevating.

And, hopefully, everybody is elevated by what happened there in the cathedral yesterday, by the whole week, and will take some of this forward with us, make the country better.

BASH: Senators, stay with me. I -- we got to take a quick break.

We have a lot more to discuss.



BASH: And we're back with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and former Senator Joe Lieberman.

Thank you both again for doing this. This is very special.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

BASH: Senator Lieberman, I want to ask you about something that you said yesterday at the memorial at the National Cathedral.

You talked about the fact that John McCain had wanted you to be his running mate in 2008. The person he did choose, Sarah Palin, was not invited. What do you make of that?

LIEBERMAN: You know, I'm just respectful of every decision that was made.

I don't -- I don't think anything about it. I told that story because it says a lot about John.

BASH: Sure.

LIEBERMAN: That he was actually at a point, I mean, to prove his bona fides, as nobody who was -- really believed that bipartisanship, and the particular need for bipartisanship now in our government, that he even thought about me seriously, which, as I said yesterday, I didn't think it was possible.


But I did have an advocate inside the McCain operation also.


BASH: You had a mole.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I had a mole. Yes.


LIEBERMAN: Anyway, so we go forward.

BASH: I want to ask you a couple of newsy questions. Senator Graham, in an interview this week with Bloomberg, President Trump said that he views the Mueller investigation as a -- quote -- "illegal investigation."

Do you think it's illegal?


BASH: And does that make you worry that he's going to do something that...

GRAHAM: No, listen, I lived through the Clinton era, where Ken Starr was...

BASH: But Bill Clinton never called it illegal.

GRAHAM: Well, my God, everybody around him said they were wrong. And they called him everything you could call him. This is the way the system works.

No, Mueller will be allowed to do this job.

So, here's what I would tell the public. I'm on the Judiciary Committee. I might even be chairman next year. I'm going to look long and hard about the FBI abuse of the FISA warrant, about how the Department of Justice and the FBI, I think, just really were in the tank for Clinton and were out to get Trump early on.

I don't say that about Mueller. Mueller's the only guy in the country that I think can exonerate the president. I keep telling him that. But we're going to allow Mueller to do his job.

And, hopefully, sooner, rather than later, we will know what he finds it.

BASH: Senator Lieberman, on a different subject, President Trump unleashed attacks on Canada and other allies over the last few weeks.

He said this in a quote -- in a tweet rather -- quote -- "We shouldn't have to buy our friends with bad trade deals and free military protection."

He's praised adversaries like North Korea, like Russia.


BASH: You were the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.


BASH: Would you say that the president of the United States is still the leader of the free world?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, he is the leader of the free world, but there are -- because of the strength of America.

I mean, people depend on us. That's what I tried to say yesterday about John.

BASH: Because of America, not necessarily because of this president?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I think the president, because some of the things he has said, has made some people anxious.

Now, I must say, on the other hand, if you go to the Middle East today, the Arab world and Israel feel that they have a president they can trust. And they got worried that the previous administration was too focused on making a deal with Iran.

In Asia, countries like Japan and South Korea probably feel pretty good about the president.

But I do worry about comments like the ones you described toward Canada and Mexico, for instance. It's not that our relationships are perfect, but our strength really in the world is, we don't want to do it all alone. And we need good allies. And Canada and Mexico are not only good allies. They are good sources of economic investment and trade with our country that creates millions of jobs here.

So I just always hope that the president stops before his words...

BASH: If only you knew somebody who spoke to the president frequently who could tell him that.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I keep trying to think of a name.

Well, LOG, yes.


GRAHAM: Well, we will -- I think we will get a NAFTA deal. I think Canada will be in it. He's pushing hard. And he should.

When it comes to lumber, we have always had a problem with Canada. But they're our allies. They're not our enemies.

BASH: I want just to ask you, before we run out of time, about very big hearings before your committee in Judiciary this coming week, Brett Kavanaugh, his nomination to be Supreme Court justice.


BASH: Kavanaugh could be a decisive vote on Roe vs. Wade.

You are staunchly anti-abortion. You have supported many pieces of legislation to support that view. But you also respect precedent, legal precedent.

GRAHAM: Right.

BASH: So where do you stand? Do you hope Kavanaugh does overturn Roe v. Wade?

GRAHAM: Well, here's what I hope he will do. If there's a case before him that challenges Roe v. Wade, that he

would listen to both sides of the story, apply a test to overturn precedent.

Precedent is important, but it's not inviolate. I'm dying to see if he believes that Citizens vs. United can be overturned.

The bottom line here is, there's a process to overturn a precedent. And I think he understands that process. He will apply it. And if it were up to me, states would make these decisions, not the Supreme Court.

But it is a long-held precedent of the court. It will be challenged over time. And I hope he will give it a fair hearing, and I know he will.

BASH: I'm glad we got that in, because if Senator McCain heard you just talking about him the whole time, he would say, come on, guys.


BASH: Let's talk about the news of the day.


GRAHAM: That's what I like. I can finally do something I want to do.


BASH: Something that I know you don't want to do, you're both leaving here to go to Annapolis to bury your friend John McCain.

Just talk about the moment that you will have, a private moment. It won't -- will not be open for cameras.

LIEBERMAN: Well, it's going to be hard, because it's the -- it's the last farewell.


And I must say, religiously, I always feel that, when you bury somebody, their body is there, but their soul has gone to the next world.

And I feel that way about John. But I'm also left with the incredible memories, the trips the three of us had, the things we learned together, the great times we had, the way in which I believe we represented America, the times we spent with the men and women of the American armed services.

This was a treasure. And to have the friendship of John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as I was blessed to have had, and continue, it's just so -- I say goodbye, and my heart will be heavy. I will shed a tear, and yet I will thank God that I knew a man like John McCain so well.

GRAHAM: Well, I'm going to try to focus on the fact that I'm going to admit to what I have lost.

I cannot think of anything I have done in politics of consequence, any calls I have engaged in that John was not there, that I was not his wingman.

As to Joe, you described your friend, my friend so eloquently. It was the greatest tribute, because you described the man I know that you and I both love.

But I also want America to understand there's a lesson from this week. It's not about who came and who said what at the funeral. Military service is appreciated. Everybody loved the fact that John was willing to die for his country.

If you're thinking about public service, here's the formula. Work hard, know what you're talking about, and people will listen to you. Pick a cause worthy of a good fight. Fight hard and be willing to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

And, above all else, when you make a mistake, admit it, repeat, repeat until you die, and the next thing you know,, the nation will hold you up.

BASH: Very well said, both of you, the two amigos, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham.

Senators, thank you so much.

LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Appreciate it.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

BASH: And I'm sorry for your loss.

And up next, the meteoric rise of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.



BASH: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's inspiring life is profiled in a new CNN film called "RBG" here is a preview.


BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to nominate this path-breaking attorney, advocate, and judge to be the 107th Justice to the United States Supreme Court.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: They may be in trying times, but think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the way the world is for American women.

GINSBURG: What has become me could happen only in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has become such a rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really the closest thing to a superhero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known to the world over as the notorious RBG.

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.