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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Slams Probe As Mueller Set to Release Cohen, Manafort Memos; Train Carrying Bush Casket Arriving at Final Resting Place. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired December 6, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:31:33] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back.
In politics, President Trump today complained on Twitter that the Mueller investigation is dragging down his poll numbers. Quote: Without the phony Russia witch hunt and with all that we have accomplished in the last almost two years, my approval rating would be at 75 percent. It's called presidential harassment, unquote.
This all comes as we await what could be one of the most consequential days in the Russia probe. Special counsel Robert Mueller will issue filings tomorrow that would reveal just how much information the president's former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen has provided him as well as an explanation of how President Trump's former campaign chief Paul Manafort breached his plea agreement after it was inked. In other words, what Manafort lied about to them.
Let's discuss all of this with our team.
What are you guys looking for in the documents on Cohen and Manafort that Mueller is going to file tomorrow?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO ASSISTANT ATTORENY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: So, on the Manafort piece, the interesting thing that we want to know is what evidence does the special counsel's investigation have, that indicates that he actually was not truthful in all of his dialogue or much of his dialogue with the special counsel's team? I'm also interested to know whether or not they have information that indicates anything about whether individuals in the campaign had been coordinating their stories at all. In other words, whether there's any indication in these documents, there might not be, but if there's any indication that Manafort or others involved in the campaign were involved in coordinating what they were providing information to the special counsel's office through grand jury testimony or interviews or what they were saying to Congress.
TAPPER: What about you, Phil? What are you looking for?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm looking for one word, and that's Russia. Look, we've already had a guilty verdict on dirty money. Presumably, he's not sitting there with the special counsel saying, I want to violate my plea agreement because I'm scared that you're going to uncover dirty money. The only other thing I can think of is, there's issues related to coordination with other witnesses lying or the big ticket. You know, as you know, he's there in the critical stage in mid-2016.
He doesn't want to talk about what he knew himself or people around the president in terms of things like conversations with affiliates of Julian Assange. I'm looking for something that gets away from money and closer to where we started. What happened with Russia and why doesn't he want to talk about it?
TAPPER: Do you think that it's possible that Mueller suggest Cohen gets no jail time the way he suggested that they go easy on Michael Flynn?
CORDERO: I don't know about that because he's been charged with more complex crimes, including financial crimes, some of which have nothing to do -- you know, they were activities that pre-dated the Trump campaign and things like that. So, he's facing more jail time.
Michael Flynn was only charged with one count of false statements. And so, that anyway comes with a low potential sentence. So I think -- I think I would be a little surprised if I was no jail time. But, again, it will also depend on the extent of his cooperation and given how much he has a long history with the Trump Organization, depending won there's investigations into Trump Organization activities that he could provide years worth of information about, it's possible that they could -- they could go for a lower sentence.
MUDD: Yes, and one other issue, Jake, about Flynn. Remember, one of the things that documents says when they are requesting no jail time, was he was with us, that is Flynn was with the special counsel from day one. This is a signal saying, one of the things that Flynn did for the special counsel was to tell people it's okay to cooperate. Cohen is pretty late in the game, so in addition to more complex charges, there's also not a reward in my view for somebody who says really lay after you lay out a ton of documents, hey, why don't you flip now?
TAPPER: All right. Phil, Carrie, thank you so much.
[16:35:00] We're watching the final journey of the 41st president of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush. His remains are arriving soon by train to his presidential library in College Station, Texas, where he'll be laid to rest.
We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: In our national lead, the final farewell. The train carrying the casket of former President George Herbert Walker Bush is pulling into College Station, Texas, right now, the site of his final resting place, at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library.
This train is dubbed the "Bush 4141" specifically built to honor his life. It was commissioned in 2005. [16:40:00] Now, 13 years later, with his family close behind, crowds
lining the route along the way, this train is making its most important journey and its most important stop.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer is in College Station, Texas, for this final arrival.
And, Wolf, heavy hearts this hour, especially in Texas, at this final ceremony takes place.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Yes, Jake, this is the end, this is the final stop. It will be very, very emotional for everyone involved. It's been six days now since the 41st president of the United States passed away, and right now, the country is saying a final, final farewell.
We'll bring back John King with us. Let's talk a little bit about what. So, what do we anticipate unfolding in the next few minutes?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you'll see and you see the cadets here from Texas A&M. Waiting, Bush family friends, some staff, officials from the library, the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. You see them all lining up here.
The train will arrive shortly. You can hear it in the background, and this is final resting place of the 41st president of the United States, and I'm reminded in the scene in the song from "Hamilton", "One Last Time". That was about George Washington's final address. The people will see me, hear me one last time.
This is last time we will see the 41st president of the president of the United States, the last time the country will see him, the last time those who respect and honor his memory at this museum and library will see him and most importantly those on the train with him his family and after these days of celebration, we talked about this earlier. This is all hard, I don't mean to say any of it has been easy, but they have been uplifted by the remembrance of their father, the celebration of their father and grandfather.
This has to be the hardest part, this is good-bye.
BLITZER: Students, faculty, friends of Texas A&M University, they have gathered here, as well as invited guests to issue, to say this final farewell.
Dana Bash, the family, the immediate family, is aboard this train as it's about to pull in here to College Station, Texas, for this final goodbye, including the 43rd president of the United States.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And you see the images there, what they're seeing, their vantage point and, of course, what they have been -- the greetings that they have gotten, the outpouring frankly going through rural Texas to get from Houston to where we are in College Station. Really an outpouring, and we said it and need to say it again, to -- to give tribute to a man but also to take part in a truly American moment, a nonpartisan American moment, to -- to say good-bye and to -- and to honor a legacy.
And I just have to say that as we've been sitting here. You can see the library is behind us. It's out of camera shot, unfortunately, but there is a long line of cadets behind us, and they have been standing out here in the rain, at times very nasty rain for, I don't know what, two hours, just waiting, waiting for this moment.
BLITZER: Mary Kate Cary, you've been watching all of this unfold.
BASH: There they are.
BLITZER: There are the live pictures of the ROTC cadets. This is a university with a large number of cadets.
MARY KATE CARY, FORMER GEORGE H.W. BUSH SPEECHWRITER: Yes, they are known for that. You can see the core of cadets here.
BASH: You can see the train approaching.
BLITZER: You can see it approaching. College Station, Texas right now. You can -- and these are images -- there you see the train approaching.
Go ahead, Mary Kate.
CARY: Just a remarkable outpouring here. He's beloved here on campus by the kids. No matter if they are in the corps cadets or not. Any time he's here, they all turn out, the sort of dancing aggies and the cowboy wranglers, they all come, and he just loved it.
And I think there's probably a lot of young people here today who want to be part of something bigger than themselves and want to learn from him and see what they can do. To them, it's not the end of an era, I don't think. I think, as one said earlier this week, an invitation to continue his legacy and to live up to these sort of values that he stood more that go back to the founding of our republic in a lot of ways, and that's what's going through my mind as I see these young people standing at attention for him.
BLITZER: There you see 4141, the special name that this president was provided, Bush 4141, the 41st president of the United States.
Jake, they've got a really, really moving ceremony that's about to unfold, including all of the tributes that this president clearly deserves.
TAPPER: It's been -- it's been quite a week of outpouring of emotion, outpouring of fond remembrances of the 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush. Here we have the train making its stop. This is the final journey for President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president.
And, Mary Kate, I just wanted to ask you as somebody who worked with the former president, as somebody who worked as a speechwriter for him -- was there any one moment that captured the week for you, any one remembrance or any one comment that you'll think about when you think about this week? CARY: Well, you know, I'm a speechwriter, so I -- I think that the
speeches were out of this world good. All speech writers keep a file of great eulogies because if you get called to write one of these, it's usually on very short notice, so you always have the best of the best ready to go so you can get inspired. And certainly the eulogies this week were amongst the best I've ever heard because they did two things. They elevated the values that President Bush stood for to the founding of our country and what we all stand for, but second, made him a very human person with some real humor and insights into the way he lived his life on a daily basis and we could all learn from him. So that's what jumped out at me was the level of oratory was spectacular.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And the Train Bush 4141 coming to a stop. You see the casket flag draped inside. It will be escorted, it will be taken out of there and escorted to the former President's final resting place. Many former presidents are buried at their presidential libraries. His former boss Ronald Reagan is buried at his Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. And let's listen in and see what happens as George H.W. Bush comes home.
Wolf, we're seeing a shot right now of the train having stopped at the presidential library at Texas A&M University near Texas A&M College Station. Tell us what we're not seeing. How many people are there, where are they, set the scene for us.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: There are -- they're probably 700 or 800 people who have been gathered here. And then you see -- you're beginning to see now some of the folks get off this train. It looks like a President George W. Bush is standing right there.
BLITZER: Yes, he's going to be one of the first off this train. As you know, Jake, this has been so, so powerful, so moving for him. We saw him -- you know, briefly breakdown at the end of his eulogy at the National Cathedral in Washington earlier in the week. And he's just been so grateful to all the people who have come, all those who have spoken, all those who are paying tribute to his father, someone he clearly loved so much.
So he's -- this is going to be a powerful moment for him, for Laura Bush, the former First Lady, his brother Jeb Bush, Columba Bush, his wife, all of the kids are here, the grandchildren and you see here there's going to be a religious ceremony as well as this casket is taken off this train. It's going to be a powerful moment indeed.
You know, John, I know you have a thought. You want to weigh in as well.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just to see the -- see 43 standing there. Again, two men in history, president of -- the father of President George H.W. Bush and John Adams and to watch -- I'm just remembering Mary Kate mention of the eulogies, George W. Bush saying, you know, the goal in life is to die young as late as possible. And I think that's what George H.W. Bush did. He died young as late as possible, 94 rich years.
We were in the library earlier, you see the pictures of him as a young athlete at Yale playing baseball. The pictures of his cigarette boat fidelity which he loved to race off the Maine coast. He was skydiving when he was 85 and he was 90. He died young as late as possible. And to see the family be here, I think again President Bush 43 was on Instagram thanking people along the way shooting pictures out the window, thanking them for me -- he said making, 41's farewell so uplifting.
And again, the mix of celebration and now farewell, I think it has to be incredibly tough for this family and this leader who you're looking at now right there. It used to be George and Barbara, now it's George and Laura.
BLITZER: Yes. And you see his daughters Jenna and Barbara there as well, the daughters of President George W. Bush. They're getting ready to begin this process. They're going to be walking down this track, these steps from the train and then there will be a ceremony. Let's listen.
AMERICAN CROWD (singing): To fallen soldiers let us sing, where no rockets fly nor bullets wing, our broken brothers let us bring to the Mansions of the Lord.
No more weeping, no more fight, no friends bleeding through the night, just divine embrace, eternal light, in the Mansions of the Lord.
[16:50:35] Where no mothers cry and no children weep, we shall stand and guard though the angels sleep, oh, through the ages let us keep the mansions of the Lord.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready step! Ready step! Ready step! Forward march!
[16:56:37] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TAPPER: George H.W. Bush in his final resting place. The door is closed on the hearse that is now going to the site where he will be buried. It has been a long week of remembrances, of eulogies, of memories of this man, and all that he did for the United States.
Jamie Gangel, you've been -- you've been to this presidential library, where is the hearse going? Where is it driving to right now to deliver him to his final, final resting place?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So we'll actually not see the burial. It's at the presidential library, but it's over a hill so that the family will have some privacy. Barbara Bush, of course, is buried there in April. The remains of their daughter Robin who died when she was three from leukemia were moved from Greenwich, Connecticut, and she is buried there so the three of them will be together. And I understand that he asked for a very simple marker, very similar if you can picture the markers at Arlington Cemetery. And he wants his number from the Navy there and something about how much he loved Barbara there, but it's a very simple headstone, I'm told.
And I just have to say, you know, this has been an extraordinary week of tributes as state funerals are, but today it's about the family.
GANGEL: They have gone through two services. One that was the formal state service at the National Cathedral where President George W. Bush spoke and was so emotional and then a more personal Texas one this morning. But there is his final resting, and they have lost both their parents within seven months, so I think it's -- this is -- it's all hard, but this is the hard part.
TAPPER: And we have watched this week as George W. Bush has gone from the oldest son of President Bush to the family patriarch. We saw it happen before our eyes, from the landing of the plane at Andrews -- Joint Andrews -- Andrews Joint Air Force Base to the moment that his father was memorialized at the funeral. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.