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State of the Union
Remembering President George H.W. Bush; Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; Interview With Virginia Senator Mark Warner; Interview With Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown; Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 02, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Remembering George Herbert Walker Bush, a heroic Navy pilot who survived a brush with death in World War II and went on to become the commander in chief, leading the nation through sweeping global change.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America won the Cold War.
TAPPER: And inspiring Americans to give back.
And humble family man, a scion, and patriarch of one of the most influential political families in American history, raising a president and a governor and, memorably, an example of living life to its fullest.
BUSH: Get out and enjoy life.
TAPPER: We will reflect on his legacy with his confidants, Secretary James Baker and General Colin Powell.
Plus: on edge -- President Trump on the world stage at the G20 summit, as Robert Mueller plays another card in his investigation.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Close Trump allies plead guilty.
TAPPER: Is the special counsel closing in?
The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, will be here.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is mourning a president.
Political leaders of every stripe, including President Trump, will come together this week to honor the life and legacy of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, who passed away late Friday at the age of 94. The nation's 41st president will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol,
before a memorial service at the National Cathedral, and then another back home in Houston. He will be laid to rest at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.
The former president spent his final hours at home in Houston surrounded by friends and family, refusing to go to the hospital, saying he was ready to be with his late wife, Barbara Bush, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.
According to a source familiar with the president's final days, President George H.W. Bush's final words were to his eldest son, President George W. Bush, the 41st president, telling the 43rd -- quote -- "I love you, too" over speakerphone.
Joining me now, someone who was there in the final hours, former Secretary of State and White House Chief of Staff to President George H.W. Bush, James Baker.
Secretary Baker, I want to start, of course, by offering my deepest condolences on the loss of your close friend.
More so than being one of his closest advisers, you were one of his best friends. And I know you spent his final day with him.
Tell us -- tell us about that last day.
JAMES BAKER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it was actually a pretty sweet day, Jake.
He'd been failing for a little while. Of course, he'd been in and out of the hospital many times over the course of the past five or six years, because he had Parkinson's, and it affected his ability to get rid of phlegm and stuff. And that would accumulate, and it would give him pneumonia.
He would go in the hospital, they would cure him, he would come out. There was a lot of that.
But it never really affected his spirit. In fact, he said after Barbara died that he wasn't ready to go. He used to kid about wanting to live to be 100.
But that last day was really a very, very gentle and peaceful passing for him. He had not gotten out of bed for three or four days. I live close by his home here in Houston, and I went over there at 7:15 on Friday morning, expecting to see him sleeping, but he was alert, more alert than he had been in four or five days.
And I sat there. I had a wonderful two-hour visit, just the two of us. He ate a big breakfast, ate three eggs, and yogurt, and then two fruit drinks and everything. He hadn't been eating much. And he was really -- and we all began to think, well, here we are. Here -- he's going to surprise us again. It's another bounce-back day.
And we went over there again later in the evening. My wife and I were going out to dinner around 6:00. And he was not in quite as good shape. We went out to dinner. And on our way home, they called us and said, you better come on over.
And we went there, got there about 8:15, and he passed away at 10:10.
When I showed up at 7:00 in the morning, his -- one of the aides who assisted him physically said, "Mr. President, Secretary Baker's here."
And he opened both eyes. He looked at me. He said hey, "Bake, where are we going today?"
And I said, "Well, jefe," I said, "We're going to heaven."
And he said: "Good. That's where I want to go."
Little did I know or did he know, of course, that, by 10:00 that night, he would be in heaven.
And you were there for his last words, which were to his oldest son, President George W. Bush. Tell us about that.
Well, then, later on, as it became obvious that he was probably going to pass that evening, they got all the kids on the phone. You know, when somebody is passing away, the last sense that goes is the hearing. And they can hear things.
So they got the kids on the phone, and each one of them spoke to him, and he spoke back -- or mumbled back anyway. And then they got 43 on the phone. And 43 said: "I love you, dad. And I just want to -- and I will see you in heaven."
And 41 said: "I love you, too."
And those were the last words that he ever spoke.
TAPPER: We should all have such last words, telling a...
BAKER: Yes, indeed.
And we should all have such a gentle and peaceful passing.
TAPPER: You spent a lot of time with President Bush over the past weeks and months going out to dinner and visiting him in Kennebunkport.
From what he told you, it seems as though he was ready to go?
BAKER: Well, by the time, yes.
But he really wasn't ready to go after Barbara died. In fact, he said so. And -- but by the time he got back here to Houston from his summer in Kennebunkport, I think he was pretty much ready to go. Quality of life had deteriorated a lot for him.
TAPPER: Your relationship with the president goes back decades. You got to know him as tennis partners back in Houston in the '50s. And you were by his side from his Senate campaign in Texas all the way through the White House and beyond.
Here you are. Let's just show a picture of this. Here you are helping him cast his vote in the midterm elections a few weeks ago.
Tell us, what are you going to miss about him the most?
BAKER: Well, I'm going to miss him. What a beautiful, beautiful human being, a friend of 60 years.
He was my daughter's godfather. He was my friend, as I say, of 60 years. I was his campaign manager in all of his campaigns for president. He gave me the privilege of serving as secretary of state in those four very consequential years that he was president, and in which he built an extraordinarily productive and successful foreign policy legacy.
And so I -- you know, I'm going to miss everything about him. And, in fact, I do. I had a tough time yesterday. And I finally went out and did some fast walking in the park and got myself back together.
But he's special. He used to refer to our relationship as one of big brother-little brother. And I have told people that is a characterization that is -- that I take as quite an honor.
I consider him to be my best friend. He has told people he considered me in the same way. So that, too, as far as I'm concerned, is a big honor.
TAPPER: One of the ways that you bonded, it seems, was born in tragedy. You both lost family members to cancer decades ago.
TAPPER: You lost your first wife, Mary Stuart.
TAPPER: President Bush, of course, lost his daughter Robin to leukemia.
I know you helped each other through those terrible ordeals. Was that part of the foundation of your friendship?
BAKER: Well, it certainly was, but it's just so typical of George and Barbara Bush.
I mean, they spent a lifetime helping others. George Bush was perhaps the most kind and considerate person I have ever known in my life. If he invited you over for a drink or something, you would be sitting there or anything, a lot of people sitting there, well below his rank in life, and he would be passing the hors d'oeuvres.
He would get up. He would pass. He would fix the drinks. I mean, he's just very -- a thoughtful person. And he and Barbara, frankly, were the last people, other than her family, to see my first wife alive when she died of cancer at the early age of 38.
They came to the hospital a day or two before she died...
TAPPER: You have had a...
BAKER: ... because they wanted to support me.
And it was George Bush who said after her death. He said: "Bake, you have got to take your mind off your grief. How about helping me run for the Senate here in Texas?"
I was apolitical at the time.
TAPPER: And you have had a remarkable career, served as secretary of the treasury, secretary of state, White House chief of staff. You ran presidential campaigns.
Looking back, there is this common theme with you and politics, starting with the race you just told me about, the Senate race in Texas. When George H.W. Bush called you, you answered the call.
Why was that?
BAKER: Well, look what he had done for me. And he was my friend. He was my tennis doubles partner, but, more than that, he was my friend.
And I would never have gone -- you know, I didn't intend to do any politics or public service in my life. But after Mary Stuart died, George made a special point of coming to me and saying: "You know, you need to do something to deal with your grief."
He even had tried to recruit me to run for his seat that he was giving up to run for the Senate, his congressional seat. But, of course, Mary Stuart was critically ill and terminally ill, and I couldn't do that.
But he's just a caring and kind and thoughtful, selfless individual, in addition to having been such a consequential president of the United States.
TAPPER: There are people out there saying that the death of your friend marks the end of an era, an era of civility in politics, an era of personal decency, the kind that you have been talking about.
Certainly, things do seem uglier and rougher in Washington right now than we have seen in a long time. Do you think that that era of civility in politics died on Friday also?
BAKER: Well, I hope it didn't die on Friday, because we need -- we badly need to bring some civility back into our public discourse and into our politics and into our discourse generally.
I mean, we need to stop yelling at each other and start listening to each other, at least be willing to listen. You don't have to agree. But, you know, George Bush had a Congress that was totally controlled by Democrats. He had -- the entire time of his presidency, he had a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.
And look what he got done. So, it can be done. And I'm just confident that, with the systems of -- system of checks and balances we have in this country, it's going to be done again, Jake. I don't -- I think we're going to get back to it. I really do.
TAPPER: Well, from your mouth, sir.
Thank you so much for giving us some of your time today.
And, again, our deepest condolences on the loss of your friend. It's a loss for all of us, I know, but it's especially for those who knew and loved him, such as yourself.
So, thank you, sir.
BAKER: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: We have a lot of other news we're going to get to, including a possible breakthrough in the Mueller investigation.
Plus, General Colin Powell will be here to share what he misses most about his former boss President Bush and the example that Bush set for his fellow Americans.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Trump is back at the White House this morning, after attending the G20 summit in Argentina, as the pressure over the Mueller investigation ratchets up.
Now we know the president's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen told Mueller he lied about a potential business deal with Russia to protect his boss, who was also out there not telling the truth about it.
Joining me now, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. He's the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
So, Michael Cohen says in this court filing on Friday that -- quote -- that he -- quote -- "remained in close in regular contact with the White House staff" when he -- when he was lying to Congress about the development and attempted development of a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Did President Trump or the White House staff know that he was lying, instruct him to lie -- to lie? Do we know anything about that?
WARNER: Well, first of all, Jake, just in light of the earlier segment and the news in the last few days, want to add my voice in terms of great deal of respect and admiration for President Bush.
And, boy, oh, boy, that kind of strong leadership he brought to the world stage, we could use that now. Could you imagine a George Bush at this last G20 vs. the performance of Mr. Trump?
To the Mueller investigation and what happened last week with the Cohen pleading, let's step back and look at what we know. We know that now that then candidate Donald Trump was still trying to do business with Russia in the summer of 2016. We know as well that his son and son-in-law had been meeting with Russians to get potential dirt on Hillary Clinton.
We know that his campaign aides had -- knew about the e-mails that had been stolen by the Russians. And we knew that his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was trying to offer the brief the Russians. And now...
TAPPER: When you say the campaign aides knew about -- you're talking about...
WARNER: I'm talking about Papadopoulos.
TAPPER: Papadopoulos, OK.
So, these are all things that have been established by Mueller. And what I find particularly interesting with the revelation of Cohen's plea is that he's saying he lied to protect then candidate Trump's stories that he had nothing to do with Russia.
So, now I -- the president seemed to already be changing his story a little bit and say, well, it was all legal. I will leave lawyers to make those determinations.
But I have got to believe that most Republicans who were about to nominate Donald Trump in the summer of '16 would probably have thought it was a relevant fact, they would like to have known that then candidate Trump was still trying to do business with Russia.
TAPPER: Do we know whether or not -- we know Michael Cohen said that he was in -- in contact, close and regular contact with White House staff, while he was lying to Congress about this deal, the Trump Tower Moscow. Do we know anything about whether or not the White House was aware that he was lying?
WARNER: I'm not aware of that. Obviously, this was just the plea arrangement with Michael Cohen. And, clearly, most of these characters who are around Donald Trump, none of them have exactly a sterling record of telling the truth.
WARNER: But I got to believe that the special prosecutor has more details to come.
TAPPER: Now, you said on Thursday that it might not be a coincidence that Mueller waited to announce Michael Cohen's new plea until after he had received these written answers to his questions from President Trump.
Are using suggesting that President Trump was less than truthful in his answers to Robert Mueller?
WARNER: I'm not suggesting anything. And I'm purely speculating.
But I know there had been a four- or five- -- three- or four-month time-out where Mueller had not taken many actions, appropriately, I think before the election. And it just appeared that he was waiting to get the president's written responses before he took or at least announced this Cohen plea.
But that's pure speculation. And, obviously, with this White House that seems not able to go a day without a factual inaccuracy or failing to tell the truth, anything's up for grabs.
TAPPER: Jerry Nadler, the congressman from New York, is likely going to be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
He said on Friday -- quote -- "It's become very clear that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians."
Now, he meant that not necessarily about conspiracy to affect the election, but collusion in a broader sense, having to do with business deals, having to do with whatever.
Do you agree? Is there evidence of that?
WARNER: Again, I'm going to continue the same position I have had from the beginning of this investigation, why we have kept it bipartisan.
Both Chairman Burr and I are going to reserve that final judgment until we get all our facts. We still need to see people like Michael Cohen back before our committee.
But we do know this. It's pretty clear that the Russians, not only did they -- they hacked into the e-mails. Not only had they stolen other information, but they were very forward-leaning in terms of offering this information to the Trump campaign.
And it appears that a number of the senior Trump officials or campaign officials continued to lie about those kind of contacts.
TAPPER: I wonder, though, if there is a narrative here that is different from the one that a lot of Americans were thinking it was, which is, for instance, in March 2016, President Trump suggested -- or then candidate Trump suggested easing sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Crimea.
He was in the middle of also trying to curry favor with Putin to have this very lucrative deal, Trump Tower Moscow.
WARNER: A Trump Tower deal that, supposedly, they were going to offer Putin a $50 million penthouse apartment.
TAPPER: A $50 million penthouse suite for free, yes, exactly.
So, my question, maybe this -- maybe there was a motivation of greed and avarice and business dealings, and not, we're doing this for Russia so that they help us win the election. Maybe it's, we are doing this for Russia so that, after we lose the election, we can make a lot of money in Russia.
WARNER: Well, there were clearly -- from on the outset, I think everyone wondered, why was Donald Trump, who was willing to whack almost anyone, was never willing to say an ill word about Vladimir Putin?
WARNER: Now, was it -- and we still don't know the answer to this -- was it because of his business dealings for potential business dealings with Russia? Or was it because at some point during the campaign -- and I think special prosecutor Mueller's zeroing in on Roger Stone as well -- was there some communication about what the Russians had and the potential then release through WikiLeaks and the ties between WikiLeaks and Roger Stone?
That's a whole chapter that I think that Mueller still has much to reveal.
TAPPER: But I guess, while on that subject of the Roger Stone part of it, is there evidence that Roger Stone, Randy Credico, Jerome Corsi, any of this gang actually coordinated with WikiLeaks for the release of...
WARNER: We have not had a chance to interview Mr. Stone yet.
Clearly, the special prosecutor has. And I, like you and I think most of America, want to hear that results of those kind of interviews.
TAPPER: Wait. The special prosecutor has interviewed Roger Stone?
WARNER: It's my under -- I believe. I'm not 100 percent sure on that. I know they have been back and forth, and know at least they have dealt with Corsi. I'm not sure whether they have dealt with...
TAPPER: Yes, it seems to me like they have been circling around Roger Stone. They haven't necessarily gone towards him.
Senator Mark Warner, it's always a pleasure to have you here.
WARNER: Thank you.
TAPPER: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
I want to turn to some major news that President Trump made overnight on trade.
The president is stepping back from his threat of a trade war with China, after he and Chinese President Xi Jinping hammered out a preliminary deal over a two-and-a-half-hour dinner.
The president agreed not to raise tariffs on Chinese products next month, in exchange for an agreement from China to purchase more U.S. goods.
Joining me more -- for more on that and other issues, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Senator, congratulations on your -- on your reelection, by the way.
The White House also said that the U.S. and China have set a 90-day countdown clock for broader negotiations over intellectual property rules, cyber-security issues.
You sent a letter to President Trump urging him to stay aggressive on trade with China, and not just to agree to any deal for the sake of an agreement. Do you think the deal, as it is shaping up right now, is good?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I can't tell.
I think it's important to step back and understand why all of this with China. And that is that half the world's steel capacity is in China, half the world's aluminum smelting capacity is in China. They have -- they have had a history, decades, of cheating on trade rules.
So, the point -- the whole point of tariffs is that tariffs are a temporary tool to reach a negotiation and to make change with Chinese- U.S. relationships and what we're doing with trade policy.
I'm hopeful. It's not clear to me yet that the president's done this right. But I'm hopeful from the early stages of this.
TAPPER: The U.S., Mexico and Canada signed a replacement deal for NAFTA called the USMCA in Argentina on Friday.
The plan still needs to pass the Senate. Now, I understand you want some tweaks, but President Trump says, he's ending NAFTA, it's this deal or nothing
If this agreement as it's currently written came to the floor of the Senate, would you support it?
BROWN: No, the president's threats to pull out of NAFTA don't take away from the importance of getting this job done.
I mean, I voted against -- one of the first votes I ever cast in Congress was against NAFTA. And I have seen the devastation it's brought to the Industrial Midwest. I have seen what it's done to workers.
And you start off here by respecting the dignity of work and understanding the most important thing is to stop the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico. GM just announced this summer another plant in Mexico.
So we have got to do this right. The president's threats are not particularly helpful, not surprisingly. But we need stronger labor enforcement standards there.
These -- these rules so far, the USMCA, don't get us where we need to get to stop the outsourcing of jobs, to respect the dignity of work, to protect American workers, whether it's the Lordstown plant in Ohio or the Hamtramck GM plant, or other companies that find it's profitable for them to outsource jobs.
We know, in the president's new tax law, there are provisions to encourage the outsourcing of jobs by giving companies that move overseas, shutting down in Ohio, moving overseas, they get a 50- percent-off coupon on their taxes.
TAPPER: Well, I want...
BROWN: That just makes no sense.
TAPPER: I want to get to that in a second, but just -- just to bear down on this, the president's made it clear that it's not going to change. It's been signed by Mexico. It's been signed by Canada.
I just want to get you firmly here. You're going to vote no on the USMCA?
BROWN: No, I don't -- the work is not done yet.
I understand the president said it's final. The president needs to talk to Congress on this. And we can go back to the table with the Mexicans and the Canadians and do stronger labor standards.
Mexico hasn't even passed its -- its promised strengthening of labor standards and labor law that it said it would do during these negotiations. There is now a new Mexican president who is more pro- worker than the outgoing president that signed USMCA.
I'm hopeful, with the House of Representatives where it is, with the labor movement, with labor, with workers all over the country telling me they want stronger labor enforcement standards -- you don't just sign this away, because this does -- this doesn't live up to the promise the president said, that it would be a renegotiated NAFTA, helping workers and stopping outsourcing, because it doesn't do that yet.
I'm hoping that it will. And I have been talking to the U.S. trade rep for months and months and months on strengthening these -- strengthening the labor enforcement. We will still get there.
TAPPER: You have -- let's talk about General Motors.
You slammed the company this week for -- quote -- "corporate greed at its worst" after its announcement that it's laying off 14,000 workers, including almost 2,000 in Ohio.
This comes after the Trump administration imposed sweeping tariffs, which you have supported. GM told the Commerce Department in June -- quote -- "Increased import tariffs could lead to a smaller GM, a reduced presence at home and abroad for this iconic American company, and risk less, not more, U.S. jobs."
GM said in June that tariffs could cost jobs. Was it a mistake to stand with President Trump's tariffs?
BROWN: What GM executives never tell you in these -- in these statements is that the stock buybacks they did, in large part because of the huge tax cut that the president gave them, including more incentives to move offshore, but the billions of dollars in tax cuts have ended up in -- in GM executives' pockets.
They have done literally over the last three years $10 billion of buybacks, money that could have been invested in Lordstown and Hamtramck and in Maryland to upgrade and retool and build their SUVs there, instead of in Mexico.
So, they can blame the tariffs, but the tariffs are literally a dime on the dollar when it comes to the stock buybacks enriching corporate executives. That's why I talked about GM greed.
They have made a choice to put money in their pockets, rather than investing in Lordstown and other places around the country.
TAPPER: I want to ask you a couple political questions.
Your fellow Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who lost, she blamed her loss on a failure of the Democratic Party to gain enough trust with rural Americans.
Now, you have touted your reelection as instructive to national Democrats looking for a message in 2020, talking about the dignity of work.
Exit polls, however, do show that you also lost rural voters by 14 points in Ohio. Why did they vote against you?
BROWN: Well, rural voters are becoming more Republican. Metropolitan area voters are becoming more Democratic, for a whole host of reasons.
But it comes to me, I did reasonably well in rural areas. I always -- we always could do better.
It comes down, to me, the dignity work. If you love your country, you fight for the people that make it work, whether they punch a clock, or swipe a badge, or work for a salary, or work for tips, or whether they're raising children, or whether they're caring for an aging parent.
And I don't think Democrats speak to workers enough about the -- about the dignity of work and about the respect we should have for workers. And you start with that, you have better health care policy, you have better retirement.
If you work hard in this country, you ought to be able to get ahead. And so many Americans, so many Ohioans are seeing that's not the case. That's why I start with that, with the dignity of work, and build from there.
TAPPER: Now, you have said you're seriously considering a run for the White House in 2020.
Do you think that message, do you think you are the best person to take on President Trump?
BROWN: I don't know.
Connie and I were probably -- I'm not -- as I have said before, Jake, I -- and you have known me for a number of years -- I didn't dream all my life to be president. I wanted to play center field for the Cleveland Indians. That door is apparently closed.
TAPPER: I think so.
BROWN: But I -- Connie and I were pretty overwhelmed after the election, the number of people that said, not just my message of dignity of work, but my career of always fighting for workers, whether it's against NAFTA, or a better tax policy, tax and trade policy, or health care for workers, or consumer protections, or all the above.
And I have heard from a lot of people about taking that on. And I -- it's not just -- it's not just a message that works in the Industrial Midwest, in states that we need to beat President Trump. It's also a message for the -- for the X-ray technician in Oakland and the construction worker in Augusta, Maine.
I mean, it really -- it's the respect and dignity of work matters for this country. And both parties, frankly, have -- have not paid -- neither party has paid enough attention to that.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, thank you so much for your time.
TAPPER: I appreciate it, sir.
BROWN: Thank you. TAPPER: I want to turn back now to the death of the 41st president.
President George Herbert Walker Bush made service, honor and duty a central part of his presidency. It's a -- it's a legacy of a different era of politics, less personal, and, as my next guest says, less nasty.
Joining me now, the former Secretary of State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush General Colin Powell.
General Powell, thanks so much for being here.
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Pleasure to be here, Jake.
TAPPER: Really, really appreciate it.
You were chairman of the Joint Chiefs under President George H.W. Bush, breakup of the Soviet Union, invasion of Panama, war in Iraq.
Why was he so successful in foreign affairs?
POWELL: Because he had more experience in foreign affairs than any president in history.
He had been an envoy to China. He had been in war himself, as you well know. He had eight years as vice president of the United States. He could watch what was going on in the Reagan years. He served at the U.N. He served in the Congress. He was the director of the CIA. What other credentials do you need to be a successful president with respect to foreign policy?
So, he knew the world. He understood so many of the personalities who were working in the world at that point. And he was essentially fully prepared to be a foreign policy president. And he was a successful one, a very successful one.
TAPPER: And it seemed as though -- I mean, he helped negotiate the post-Cold War era. It was very important to him to build alliances, to invest, to help out the Soviet -- the former Soviet Union as it disintegrated, to help out Germany as it unified.
International organizations, which today Republican voters and Republican presidents look at, you know, askance -- look askance at, they were part of his blood.
POWELL: They were part of his blood.
And maybe he also read the history of World War I, where we didn't do this kind of thing, and we produced a situation that produced World War II.
But President Bush, he wanted to talk about a new world order. It was a term he used all the time. And by that, he meant -- he didn't mean a world order where somebody dominates. He wanted all the nations of the world to come together and deal with each other in the spirit of humility, in the spirit of, let's get the job done.
And that's the way he went about his eight years as vice president and his four years as president.
TAPPER: Yes, you talk about humility.
I heard Condi Rice on our network telling the story to Jamie Gangel about, after the Berlin Wall fell, and she and others, maybe even you, wanted him to go to Berlin, and I don't know if it would be a victory lap or whatever, but to talk up the United States won the Cold War, the Berlin Wall came down.
And he said, no, this is a German moment. Let the Germans have their moment.
You don't see that kind of humility very often.
POWELL: You don't see that kind of humility.
And I saw -- I wasn't in on that conversation, but I have had similar conversations. After Desert Storm, the American people were so overjoyed as to how quick the war went and how well our soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines performed, that they wanted to celebrate it with parades.
And the big parade was going to be in New York, ticker tape parade up Broadway. And it was exciting. The troops were going to be there. The city was going nuts getting ready for it.
And he wouldn't go. And when we talked about it, he said: "This is something that belongs to the troops, to you, the other members of the Joints Chiefs of Staffs, Secretary Cheney and General Schwarzkopf. I don't want to go. I'm not going to go."
He went to the one in Washington, which was much more subdued, a few months later. But it didn't surprise me in the least. This is the guy I got to know.
And I didn't just know him as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two years before that, last two years of the Reagan-Bush administration, I was the national security adviser and deputy national security adviser.
He and I had offices next to each other. So, I got to know the gentleman very, very well and watch him and help him during the '88 campaign, so he always knew what was going on as he was out campaigning. We kept him fully informed of what was going on with foreign policy.
And he was also a receptive person. You could go in and tell him anything, good news, bad news, you just wanted to chat. He was always available to you. And his humility demonstrated itself in so many different ways. I think I have told the story several times already this week about
how, when he lost, and I called him a day after the loss and told him that: "I feel sorry for you, boss, but sorry."
And he said: "Thanks very much, Colin."
And an hour later, my wife, Alma, calls me and says: "Barbara just called us. Want the whole family, all of us, to go up to Camp David to spend the weekend with him."
I should, "No, isn't his family going to be there?"
"No, they want us to be there."
And so she called -- Barbara called another hour later and said, "And bring the kids."
So, we did. And it was myself, my wife, my son, my daughter-in-law, and our 4-year-old grandson, Jeffrey.
And the story love to tell is, when we were having lunch on the second day, President Bush was anxious to finish lunch, and go out and walk and do something. And so he was starting to hustle us along.
And 4-year-old Jeffrey raises his hand and says: "I haven't finished my ice cream."
POWELL: And President Bush says: "Well, OK."
So, we all sat down again.
POWELL: That's who he was. He was like that with everybody, that humility, that humbleness, that, don't take myself so seriously. I am the president, but I'm just one person. And I'm privileged to be in this position and privileged to be able to serve the American people and serve the cause of peace justice around the world. And history has given me the opportunity to create a new environment, a new world order, and people respecting one another.
And if you believe that, you can't say, why didn't he go to Berlin and show off, or why didn't he beat up the Russians? He didn't. He wanted to work with Gorbachev, just as President Reagan had worked with Gorbachev for his time in office.
And, as a result, we left a situation that was very, very good. Now, there are a lot of people now saying, well, let's -- we got to get out of this treaty, we got to get out of that treaty. Bad, terrible mistakes, which we will regret, because they don't make sense.
Well, the Soviets -- the Soviets have been cheating on the INF Treaty, so let's get out of the INF Treaty. Oh, good, you do that and guess what? The Soviets aren't cheating anymore, because there is no treaty to cheat. It doesn't any sense.
But that's the kind of thing we're doing.
Climate change, so many other areas where we are not demonstrating the kind of inspirational, broad-based leadership that we saw under Bush and Reagan.
TAPPER: You were privy to scenes behind -- away from the cameras.
And looking at the Bush Cabinet, you had a lot of different views, Dick Cheney, you, Brent Scowcroft. How did he manage all these strong opinions and individuals with strong opinions?
POWELL: One of the things that helped is that each of us in that group -- gang of eight or group of eight, as we called ourselves, we had all worked with each other in some other capacity. And so we knew each other.
And we could go into the Oval Office, and he would sit in the chair in front of the fireplace sort of just sitting there, chewing his lip a little bit. And we would argue out an issue. And we were all friends, but this was business, not friendship.
So, it wasn't usual for Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser, to look across at me, at the chairman, and say: "What are you talking about? You don't know what you're talking about, Powell."
And I would shoot right back at him. And the president would just watch all of this. It was so -- such a tight-knit group that Mr. Cheney, who represented the Defense Department: "Oh, it's not me. I'm just his adviser."
He would say to the president, he would say: "Mr. President, this is what we hold as the Defense Department position. This is our position. But Colin doesn't agree with everything. Colin, tell the president what you don't like."
And I would. You don't see that in many organizations these days, where you are free to speak. And Bush would just sit there listening. And he would enjoy the dialogue. He wouldn't say anything.
And then he'd asked some questions. And then he would either make a decision or it would come down the next day. He did it quickly. Sometimes, it was very quickly.
The night we lost a soldier in Panama, Noriega's thugs killed this officer and was abusing some of our families. And that was -- we had had enough of Noriega. President Bush did not know what new plan that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I had come up with, along with General Thurman, in Panama, but it was not just to go after Noriega, but to take the entire Panamanian Defense Force out of action, so we didn't have to worry about it again.
And there was a president waiting to take over Panama if Noriega went away.
And so Saturday night is when it happened. Sunday morning, about mid- morning, we went to the White House to brief the president on what this new plan was. And I took him through it. I said: "It's not take out one guy. We're going to take out an entire force. And we're going to put in about 23,000 soldiers and Marines and airmen."
And everybody kind of looked at me a little oddly, but this will do it. And he asked a couple of questions. Brent asked some questions. Jim Baker asked a few questions.
And then the president just didn't need any more information. He said: "Do it."
Four days later, we were in Panama. And several days after that, we had succeeded in getting rid of Noriega and in restoring Panama on a path, putting it back on a path of democracy and freedom.
And we left. There aren't any American soldiers in Panama anymore. There had been for hundreds of years -- or a long time. Let me put it that way.
And that's what he wanted to do. And that's what we also did in Desert Storm. He defined the mission. There no-open-endedness to it. It was a defined mission, and everybody could support it. Almost every nation in the world supported that.
We had a U.N. resolution supporting it. We had Congress supporting it. We had our allies supporting it, 500,000 American troops, 200,000 others. It's hard to believe now, but we had a division from Syria. We had a division from Egypt.
TAPPER: That's incredible.
POWELL: They were under Schwarzkopf's command.
And the only constraint on them, they would go into Kuwait to kick out the Iraqis, but they wouldn't go into Iraq. Fine. We could -- we can arrange that.
So we had quite a chessboard with different units that were there, 500,000 Americans, 200,000 allies, the whole world supporting us.
And I'm probably the only chairman who ever could go up to a president say, "I guarantee the outcome." We had -- we had boxed the Iraqi army in. They couldn't do anything but sit there and get beaten. And they were beaten rather quickly and rather decisively.
People have argued, well, why didn't you go to Baghdad? We were never going to Baghdad. The president did not want to become the occupier of Iraq. He wanted to do what had to be done, kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, bringing the government of Kuwait back, and make sure they were secure.
And that's what we did. TAPPER: General Colin Powell, our deepest condolences on the loss of
your friend. Thank you so much for taking some time today to talk to us.
POWELL: Thank you so much, Jake. He meant a lot to me. He was a -- not just my boss, my friend.
TAPPER: Our deepest condolences, sir. Thanks for being here.
Coming up next, some personal stories about George H.W. Bush from other people who knew him. More on the life of a remarkable man. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No regrets then?
BUSH: No regrets about anything. No regrets about one single thing in my life that I can think of. I've made mistakes but they don't measure up to regrets now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: President George Herbert Walker Bush reflecting on his life as a warrior, a statesman, a devoted father and grandfather in a 1999 interview with CNN.
Let's discuss, and let me start just by bringing people into the conversation we were having during the commercial. Jamie, you were just telling the esteemed Bernard Shaw how worried George H.W. Bush was about him as desert storm kicked off.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So what we all know -- we watched desert storm live on television and that man was right there, Bernie reporting on it, the bombs coming down.
George H.W. Bush was so worried about his safety and where he was, and they were making calls to make sure that he was OK. He was not happy that you were in harm's way.
BERNARD SHAW, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: When I came back to Washington bureau about a week later, the Bushes invited me over to the residence. Went upstairs. There's Brent Scowcroft, Marlin Fitzwater, the president. That was a time when Mrs. Bush had broken her foot and she came in with a cane and the president came in, he was wearing a yellow sport jacket.
He said, Bernie, we were really worried about you. I said I was worried about me.
TAPPER: But you say that doesn't surprise you?
ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER DIRECTOR OF WHITE HOUSE PERSONNEL: No, not at all. Because he always worried about the other guy, right?
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE, FORMER PERSONAL AIDE TO GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Right.
ANITA MCBRIDE: Even Tim could tell you tons of stories about that. You know, we've been (INAUDIBLE) most important moments in his life, he worried about other people all the time. We all felt that.
TAPPER: So you've been at Bush's side since 1985 when you started working for him. He was the vice president.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: I was his aide for five years. And to Anita's point and Bernie's point, worrying about the other guy, the story that stands out the most was the day of his inauguration as president, he decided -- it was a temperate day. He wasn't going to wear his overcoat. So we left it in the limo down on the Capitol plaza.
And as we're getting -- as he's being ready to be escorted out on the platform he sees that Nancy Reagan is bundling up President Reagan from the cold. He has his overcoat and scarf and president-elect turns to me and says I need my coat. And I said, you may not have time to get your coat before you're escorted out because everything was choreographed.
So we -- he said, well, I need my coat. I can't go out looking more robust than President Reagan. And so we quickly handed him my coat, he wore it out, took it off after when it was time for him to be sworn in. He was worried about President Reagan on the most significant day of his life, I have to imagine.
GANGEL: And there's a little thing -- a coat. And as you were just talking about, Condi Rice.
He wouldn't go to Germany when the wall came down. So little things, large things. He wasn't going.
GANGEL: As his mother said to him, George, don't be a braggadocious.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Yes.
GANGEL: And that really was with him throughout life, whether it was a baseball game or running for office. And he said that it may have hurt him, actually, politically, that he wasn't more willing to boast about himself.
SHAW: But, you know, Bush was very concerned about appearances. Not being braggadocious, what have you. The Bushes invited me and my wife Linda to go to their favorite Chinese restaurant.
(CROSSTALK) SHAW: We were just there a couple weeks ago.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Route 50, westbound. And it was where --
TAPPER: Where is this?
TAPPER: -- Virginia. OK.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Peking Gourmet. Don't miss it.
SHAW: We're in the limousine, it's raining, going down this rain- soaked highway. And this is the transition. This man is about to become the 41st president of the United States in about three or four weeks.
And he looks out the window and he says, you know, I've been getting some flack. He said, do you think I'm looking too anxious, or am I coming off as being pushy?
And I said, hell, no. I said, you've got a matter of weeks to get the right people before you're president of the United States.
At that point, I turned over and looked at Barbara. She cut her eyes at me, and she -- like that.
SHAW: He was concerned about --
ANITA MCBRIDE: A great partner.
TAPPER: Yes. He had this great relationship after both he and Bill Clinton had left office.
ANITA MCBRIDE: Right.
TAPPER: With the man who defeated him.
ANITA MCBRIDE: Right.
TAPPER: Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton wrote in the "Washington Post," "Given what politics looks like in American and around the world today, it's easy to sigh and say that George H.W. Bush belonged to an era that is gone and never coming back. I know what he would say. Nonsense. It's your duty to get that America back."
ANITA MCBRIDE: You know, actually when you tell me that story, I think immediately of this wonderful photo that I have of sitting with George H.W. Bush on Air Force One on our way to Pope John Paul II funeral in April 2005. President Bush's son had invited the former presidents to come. And we're sitting on a sofa in Air Force One, and I asked about his relationship with Bill Clinton, and how it had really been blossoming at that point.
And for those of us who lived through the 1992 campaign, which was so difficult and the rhetoric against George Bush was hard for us to take. I said, what is this relationship? Explain it to us. Explain it to me.
And he said, you know, look, I'm an old guy. He likes to talk. I like to listen. But he said, you know what? I think I'm the father he never had.
ANITA MCBRIDE: And that tells you everything about George H.W. Bush.
ANITA MCBRIDE: How he embraced his -- probably most ardent political foe, other than Ross Perot. And how he really just built his personal connection with him. Politics aside.
TAPPER: What a thing to say. I'm the father he never had.
SHAW: But wasn't a counterpoint to that, his wife's attitude about William Jefferson Clinton?
TAPPER: Barbara was not a fan.
SHAW: Barbara Bush despised Bill Clinton.
TAPPER: Barbara Bush didn't buy it. She wasn't having it.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: The only asterisk I would add is she valued very highly the role and the relationship that -- and the respect that President Clinton showed her husband. So in that sense, she did value --
ANITA MCBRIDE (ph): Years later.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: -- Bill Clinton and the role he played. (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: I do want to bring up the elephant in the room, which is that President Trump spent a lot of time badmouthing practically every male member of the Bush family. George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and there is no love lost between the Bush family and the current president.
Take a listen to this from President Trump yesterday in Argentina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you regret any of your comments about Bush or his family in the past?
TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you regret any of your comments about George W. Bush or the family -- George H.W. Bush or his family in the past? "Thank you very much, everybody." Thank you very much.
It seems like that could have been a moment. It was not a moment.
ANITA MCBRIDE: I think in some ways it was, actually. I think it's an acknowledgment that he has.
But he's not a guy that says I'm sorry. But I think even in that tacit response of saying nothing, I think it's an acknowledgment.
TAPPER: Well, you are very generous person.
ANITA MCBRIDE: I learned from George H.W. Bush.
GANGEL: We've seen two things here. We have seen the public statements, the written statements that the White House has put out. And those are very, very different, and I'm guessing that chief of staff General Kelly had a lot to do with the tone of that.
I was also told this morning that the White House has cooperated completely, that they have -- that the Bush family is so appreciative that they have done everything.
But Donald Trump is still Donald Trump. When it's not scripted, that's what you get.
SHAW: But, Jamie, this White House has no alternative but to cooperate.
TAPPER: That's true.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: But let me speak to the Bush reaction to the White House. Even in spite of reasons, I suppose, to be annoyed and upset, it is the Bush family that wanted president and Mrs. Trump there at the funeral. Consistent with all that we learned from President Bush.
TAPPER: What did President Bush think of Donald Trump? We know he didn't vote for him in 2016.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Yes, I'm -- I'm afraid I don't know.
GANGEL: Well, the word "blow hard" is On the Record. There was a book written, "The Last Republicans" by Mark Updegrove, and President Bush did say that On the Record, that he thought Trump was a blowhard.
Look, Donald Trump is 180 from who George H.W. Bush is. But inviting him to the funeral is not a surprise. Because this is about respect for the office.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Absolutely.
TAPPER: And Bernie, you heard Colin Powell talk about George H.W. Bush as a president, as an international leader, as somebody who believed in treaties, believed in international order. And he was -- he didn't say the word Trump, but he was clearly contrasting President George H.W. Bush with Trump. But there are a lot of differences beyond the foreign policy realm.
SHAW: Bush was democracy's president for the world. On his tour. Given what happened. The implosion of the Soviet Union. Collapsed Berlin wall and other things.
The world looked at George Bush because he was a leader respected. He had proven himself. This president has yet to do that.
And I just pray that on his watch, whether he has one term or there's a second term for Donald Trump, I pray that our great nation does not undergo the potential threatening developments that could tear us asunder.
TAPPER: And there's a great clip from 1980 when George H.W. Bush is challenged on his -- how tough he is. And he talks about toughness is about having values and standing for them, being principles. Toughness is not attacking people.
And then they go through a list, is John Connally (ph) too slippery, is Ronald Reagan too old, is Bob Dole -- and he says, no, no, no, it's up to the voters to decide.
He did not believe -- and he was a tough politician, but he believed in a sort of fundamental decency.
ANITA MCBRIDE: Right. And that was across the aisle. Whether it was talking about other Republicans or talking about Democrats.
I mean, I think one of the things, too, that I remember being young staffer in the White House, and Tim would know this, because he shepherded a lot of these people in. All of his Democratic friends from the Congress that were frequent guests at the White House.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Frankly, somewhat to the annoyance of some of the White House staff.
ANITA MCBRIDE: Yes.
TIMOTHY MCBRIDE: Sir, why are we embracing are D (ph) friends (ph)?
TAPPER: Thank you one and all for being here. Do want to take one second here to acknowledge before he was president, George H.W. Bush was a fly boy, a World War II pilot flying missions in the Pacific. In 2002, CNN returned with him to the spot where in 1944 he had a close brush with death.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BUSH: I have a clear picture of my parachute blowing up onto Chichijima.
TAPPER (voice-over): Fifty-eight years after his bomber was shot down by the Japanese during World War II, former President George H.W. Bush returned to the Pacific to the site of a combat experience that forever changed his life.
BUSH: I'm not haunted by anything other than the fact I feel a responsibility still for the lives of the two people that were killed.
TAPPER: There he revisited some tough questions from that day.
BUSH: I wonder if I could have done something different. I wonder who got out of the plane. I wonder why the chute didn't open for the other guy.
Why me? Why am I blessed? Why am I still alive? That has plagued me.
TAPPER: Bush formally enlisted in the Navy the day he turned 18. Eventually becoming one of the youngest naval aviators.
BUSH: I knew fact certain that I wanted to serve. Duty, honor, country.
TAPPER: He flew a total of 58 strikes during World War II. But that day over Chichijima, would live with him forever.
BUSH: My wife was spared. A lot of other people's lives weren't spared in that war. But I am now getting older and much, much, much, much older, and I -- I'm at this stage, I look at all of this as a blessing. I look at all of this as having made me a better man.
Little kid made into a man by a series of circumstances over which he had no control.
TAPPER: Thanks for watching.
"FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" starts right now.