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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  December 2, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST

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"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. george h.w. bush. >> i want a kinder and gentler nation. >> america's 41st president dies at 94. >> a higher purpose to life beyond oneself. i speak of duty, honor, country. >> those words defined his life. a man of courage, decency, and accomplishment. from world war ii fighter pilot to gulf war commander in chief, a lifetime of service leavened with humor and humility. this morning, general colin powell and secretary james baker remember the president they called friend. we mark the end of an era.
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plus, bombshell revelations. >> mr. cohen has cooperated. he will continue to cooperate. >> president trump's longtime fixer reaches a plea deal with robert mueller, confessing he lied to congress to protect trump, cornering the president. >> he's a weak person. he's lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence. >> questioned for 70 hours by mueller's team on contact with russia and obstruction of justice. once trump's most fierce defender, now his most serious threat. we'll analyze it with a top democrat on the house intelligence committee and our powerhouse "roundtable." and an interview with roger stone. he joins us live. we'll break down the politics. smoke out the spin. the facts that matter. "this week." good morning. and welcome to "this week." late friday night, america lost the last president of the greatest generation, george h.w. bush,
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his final words, i love you, too, for america's 43rd president, his son, george w. his lifetime of service capped by a single term as president, that loss which hit so hard in the moment, redeemed by grace in defeat and wisdom revealed by history. the 20-year-old fighter pilot shot down in world war ii landed softly in the cold war as president. a singular achievement of a remarkable man. america will remember and celebrate president bush all this week with the civic rituals he revered at the capitol, the national cathedral, and last journey home to texas. we begin this morning with his closest friend, the tennis partner who went on to manage out of george bush's campaigns, became his white house chief of staff and secretary of state. james baker, welcome to "this week." mr. secretary, i know you had the privilege of sharing the final days and hours with president bush. what can you share about that?
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>> well, the president had a very gentle and peaceful passing. but he surprised us. he kept surprising us throughout his illness because he would get sick, they'd put him in the hospital, he'd bounce back. that happened for five or six years, i think. he had a form of parkinsonism that prevented him from getting rid of a lot of fluids. they would build up and impact his lungs adversely. he went through a lot of that. and then -- but he really wanted to live long enough to get back to his summer home in kennebunkport this last summer which he did. then he wanted to live long enough to get back to his home in houston, which he did. he began to go downhill a little bit rather rapidly after that. he hadn't eaten for three or four days last friday -- by last
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friday. i live fairly close to him and i go over there a fair amount. i went over friday morning, 7:15. he hadn't eaten for three days. one of his aides said, mr. president, secretary baker is here. well, he -- he bounced up -- he perked up. he opened his eyes. he looked at me, he says, hey, bake. he said, where we going? he kept his spirit and sense of humor right to the very end. his passing was very gentle and very peaceful. he had members of his family there. susan and i were there and others, jean baker, his chief of staff and the doctor. >> that is a blessing. and i guess you also had the blessing of friendship with him for so long. have you ever imagined how different both your lives would have been had you not met? >> well, i've certainly imagined how different my life would have been had he not been my friend. you know -- i never intended to
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get into politics and public service, george. i was a lawyer in houston, texas. i was content to continue that. then i lost my wife to cancer at the age of 38. barbara and george were the last people to come see her other than family before she died. and, george wanted -- george came to me and said, you know, you need to take your mind off your grief. how about helping me run for the senate here in texas? i said, well, george, that's a great idea except for two things. number one, i don't know anything about politics. i was sort of apolitical. number two, i'm a democrat. he said, well, we can cure that latter problem. and we did. i changed parties and helped him in that senate race. from there on out, it was an extraordinarily warm and close friendship. and as you said i think in your introduction, i did lead all of his campaigns for president. we became extraordinarily close. and then he gave me the privilege of serving as
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secretary of state over this wonderful country of ours at a time of fundamental change. his presidency from a foreign policy standpoint was such a consequential presidency. i can go back and check off all the things that happened. but it was a time of fundamental and radical change in the world. >> no question he'll be remembered and you'll be remembered for how you managed that situation. i know in a conversation with john meachem that the president said very matter of factly that he's just going to be an asterisk in history. >> no, no. i don't agree with that. yes, he's a one-term president, thanks to you guys involuntarily retiring us from public service. but he's going to be and was a very consequential one-term president and i would argue far and away the best one-term president we have ever had and such a good one that he was, in
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my view, one of the very best presidents of all time. and he really got a lot done and he did it with great skill and he knew foreign policy. he understood it. he managed the end of the cold war peacefully. it ended with a whimper and not a bang. and then he did all those other things. >> historians are coming around to that view. which single memory of president bush will you cherish the most? >> i suppose one of the most vivid memories i have is sitting in his suite at the 1980 republican convention when it looked like governor reagan, who was going to get the nomination, was going to pick jerry ford, my old boss. i had been ford's chairman in the campaign against carter in '76. looked like he was going to come back as maybe vice president for governor reagan, for president reagan. we were sitting there. we were the only opponent of governor reagan in that primary that had any delegates. we had a fairly substantial
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number of delegates. and the phone rang and a voice said, is ambassador bush there for governor reagan? i answered the phone. that was -- that was the moment that i think had that not happened, i really -- i really am convinced there would never have been a bush 41 presidency. if that hadn't happened, there probably would never have been a bush 43 president. >> changed the course of history. mr. secretary, thank you for joining us this morning. >> thank you, george. and we're joined now by another secretary of state, general colin powell. he was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under bush 41. general, secretary, thank you for joining us this morning. i saw you called president bush the perfect american. explain what you meant by that. >> i thought he was a perfect american in terms of how he served the country in so many capacities, in congress as the envoy to china, in business, all the things that he did
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throughout his life to include being pcia director. you name it, he did it. he vice president for eight years and then president of the united states. but throughout that entire period, he never forgot who he was. he never let it all go to his head. he was a man of great humility. he was humble. my experience for a total of six years really, two years as national security adviser to he and president reagan and four years as the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. he was always kind. he was always contained within himself. he didn't let emotions get on top of him. and frankly, he was a product of his parents. they told him, don't show off, george. just always remember, you're humble. you work for people. you serve people. so i think he was a perfect president. he didn't win a second time. but that was another -- subject of another discussion. not the guy. as jim baker just -- he will be seen as one of the best ones. i agree with jim baker on that one. >> he was the last president to serve in combat. how did that shape his work as commander in chief?
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>> he knew what combat was all about. he knew that combat meant the death of people, people on your side and people on the other side. he wanted to avoid a war. people think about desert storm. you have to remember that throughout that period, we're building up the force in desert shield getting ready for desert storm. he was doing everything. he and jim baker were doing everything to see if we could avoid a war by getting the iraqis to leave kuwait. at the last minute, jim went to meet with tarik aziz, the prime minister of iraq. he wouldn't agree to it. and then the war came. he organized the war in way that was straightforward and direct. we had a specific mission, kick the iraqi army out of kuwait and then don't stay there. come on out. as a result of that statement, he was able to get the u.n. on board. almost every nation in the world joined in the coalition with troops on the ground or political support.
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we even had gorbachev, then the head of the soviet union to be part of the political coalition. because he made it a precise conflict, defined in terms of space and time, he got the support he needed. we were able to say to him, mr. president, we guarantee the success of this operation. he gave us everything we needed. everything general schwarzkopf asked for, everything that i took to the president, he would listen carefully. he would ask questions. he knew what war was all about. he would give us what we needed and we did what we said we would do. >> you mentioned gorbachev. the temptation to crow when the berlin wall was falling must have been so great. >> not for george herbert walker bush. as i said a few moments ago, it was in his dna not to gloat, not to be a braggart. it doesn't mean he wasn't competitive. he was very competitive, especially with horseshoes and other sports. in matters like this, he felt it was his place to do the right
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thing and not gloat, not, you know, shout over somebody's grave. and i still remember not only with the end of the cold war and his treatment of gorbachev and working on the unification of germany but after desert storm which was very successful and the american people loved it. they never thought their armed forces could really be this good. and we were. when we started having the parades, especially when they decided to have a parade in new york, a ticker-tape parade up broadway, the traditional ticker-tape new york parade, president bush said, i won't be there. you won't be there? why not? it's a parade for troops, general schwarzkopf, the troops, the chairman, the joint chiefs of staff, secretary cheney. i will not attend. this is for them. this is not for me.
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he attended the one in washington. i can think of very few people that would have passed up an opportunity like that. >> what do you hope americans take today from his life? >> a life of quality. a life of honor. a life of honesty. a life of total concern for the american people. he thought of everything he did in public life which was always directed to helping the american people. he was a patriot. he demonstrated it in war. he demonstrated it in peace. he was the most qualified person with respect to foreign policy ever to serve as the president of the united states of america. he was able to demonstrate that for the four years of his service. it was my privilege to be his chairman for those four years but also to have served with he and president reagan for two years, the last two years of the administration. that's what set me up to become the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. >> mr. secretary, thank you for your time this morning. >> thank you, george. later in the program, our "roundtable" shares their reflections on president bush. up next, a momentous week for the russia investigation. special counsel robert mueller tightening the screws. his next target appears to be our next guest. roger stone is with us live, next. 6 mr. mueller's next focus is our
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i don't believe that i'll be charged in any crime that relates to russian collusion. or wikileaks collaboration. i'm certainly guilty of bluffing and posturing and punking the democrats.
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unless they pass some law against bull [ bleep ] and i missed it, i'm engaging in trade craft. it's politics. >> that was roger stone back in october. since then, a series of reports suggest he may be the next target of special counsel robert mueller. there you see the headlines. abc robert mueller appears laser-focused on roger stone. "the wall street journal," mueller bores into trump adviser roger stone's ties to wikileaks. the washington post, trump's night owl calls to roger stone draw scrutiny. "new york times" -- roger stone sought wikileaks' plans amid 2016 campaign. roger stone is here with us now. welcome to "this week." it does appear robert mueller is developing the case that you were a key part of this whole russia investigation. russia funnels the hacked e-mails to wikileaks. you're the conduit between wikileaks and the trump campaign. are you confident you won't be indicted? >> none of that is true, of course. there's no evidence to support that supposition. it's now two years in. $30 million. i think few americans could withstand the kind of legal
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proctological examination that mr. mueller has put me under. according to "the new york times" i was under surveillance by the obama administration in 2016. they wrote that on january 20, 2017. today there is still no evidence whatsoever of russian collusion between the russian state and the trump campaign involving wikileaks or not involving wikileaks. >> you say no evidence. i just want to put up, we knew that mueller has talked to about a dozen of your associates. we know he's asked president trump about your contacts. we want to show some of the evidence that's just come out and have respond to it. july 25, 2016, an e-mail from you to jerome corsi where you say get to assange. at the ecuadorian embassy. get the pending wikileaks e-mail. another july 31st e-mail to corsi where you talk about a british man named ted malloch. you say malloch should go see assange. corsi e-mails back to you, word is our friend in the embassy -- that must be assange -- plans two more dumps.
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one shortly after i'm back, second in october. impact planned to be very damaging. you had another e-mail to another associate of yours on august 4th. i dined with my new pal, julian assange, last night. august 8th, you said this to a group of republicans down in florida. >> i actually have a -- communicated with assange. i believe the next tranche of documents pertain to the clinton foundation. >> but now you say you never communicated with assange at all despite the documentary evidence at the time. >> first of all, let's take them backwards. i clarified that last one a dozen times. i identified that i had a source, a progressive new york city radio host who told me in late july that whatever wikileaks had, whatever assange
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had alluded to quite openly on cnn in july and again on fox in august was devastating. it was a bombshell. it would come in october. i identified that source. i was ridiculed in the media repeatedly. last week, i produced text messages that prove indisputably that he was my source. his source was a woman attorney working for wikileaks. you won't find that in "the new york times," "the washington post," "the wall street journal." let's go back to the quotes. the same day i got an e-mail forwarded to me from james rosen of fox news saying that he had a tip that the wikileaks disclosures pertained to the clinton foundation, yes, i contacted jerry corsi because, at some point, ted malloch who i met once, had dropped assange's name. like every politico in america, like every political reporter, i was interested in knowing what exactly they had. but there was no response to that. if i send an e-mail and say, we should rob a bank and spoke to julian assange?
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you never contacted wikileaks? never spoke about any of that to president trump? >> that is absolutely correct. i turned over one direct message to the house intelligence committee between the flack for wikileaks and i in which he essentially brushed me off. that immediately leaked to "atlantic" magazine who edited the context and publishes it. i had no contact with assange. assange himself has said roger stone is a brilliant spin master, we have had no communication with him whatsoever. >> if robert mueller develops evidence and says he can show you did talk to wikileaks and did communicate with president trump? >> that's all speculation. there is no such evidence. and in fact, going back to the e-mail, i think those have been mischaracterized saying that these dumps are coming. it turns out to be completely incorrect. they don't come in early august as predicted by mr. corsi. there's no reference in that e-mail to john podesta's e-mails either. it simply says podesta will be
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exposed to the american people, whatever that means. it's not as if those things had not been widely published in early august. >> have you had any contact with robert mueller or his prosecutors? >> we have not. >> none at all? >> that's correct. >> does that suggest that you actually are a target? usually they speak with the witnesses first. >> it suggests nothing at all. again, where is the crime? i engaged in politics. my purpose was to take a tip, which i thought to be solid, and then, after that, to follow the wikileaks twitter feed and send a google news alert for julian assange and use twitter to hype as much voter and media attention to the disclosures when they came as politics. you were in this business once. that's called politics. >> you're proud of your work as a dirty trickster. did you do any dirty tricks during the trump campaign? >> the characterization of dirty trickster comes from the democrats. it will probably be on my epitaph. >> self-proclaimed.
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you've bragged about it as well. >> find me the quote where i have self-proclaimed it. it kind of goes with the territory at this point. i have never done anything in politics that was outside the norms of my colleagues and my contemporaries. i have always made it clear that so-called dirty tricks come up to but do not cross the line into illegality. >> did anyone in the trump campaign cross the line? >> not that i'm aware of. again, i see some confusion in the public between low-key russian meddling, ineffective, $100,000 in poorly written facebook ads, and russian collusion between the trump campaign and the russian state which to this day there's no evidence of and no proof of. >> you say you're always going to be loyal to president trump. if you're indicted or convicted, do you firstl,en speaking in politics, you avoid hypothetical questions. that said, there's no
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circumstance under which i would testify against the president because i would have to bear false witness. i would have to make things up. i'm not going to do that. i have had no discussion regarding a pardon. the only person i pushed for a pardon for is marcus garvey, who i think should be pardoned posthumously. i wrote to the president about that. >> not paul manafort? >> i have had no such discussions. >> he says it's not on the table right now. any pardon of paul manafort. you have had no discussions with the president or anybody in his team about this? >> that is correct. >> roger stone, thank you for your time this morning. >> thank you. up next, the top democrat on the house intelligence committee, adam schiff, is going to weigh in.
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want to talk about it with congressman adam schiff. congressman, thank you for joining us. i want to get to the implications of the cohen plea deal. but first, your response to roger stone there. he's denying any contact with wikileaks. he's denying any contact with the trump campaign over wikileaks. did you find his answers credible? >> no, i didn't. not at all. and, in fact, the e-mails you read to him, those exchanges with corsi, which i think he provided to the press, the substance of those e-mails are inconsistent with his testimony before our committee. the mere existence of those e-mails are inconsistent with his testimony before our committee. but nonetheless, his testimony was delivered with the same conviction that he made the statements to you this morning. that testimony really needs to be provided to the special counsel for consideration on whether perjury charges are warranted. so no, i don't have a whole lot of confidence in what you heard this morning. >> you're saying based on what he told your committee that setting aside the underlying question of whether or not he was a conduit between wikileaks and the trump campaign, you believe he's vulnerable to
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charges of lying to congress? >> i do. what's more, if the allegations in the criminal investigation, the draft information that mr. corsi was considering pleading to, if the substance of the allegations -- and mr. corsi has only denied trying to mislead the special counsel. he hasn't denied the conversations with roger stone. if that's correct, it looks like mr. stone was attempting to enlist mr. corsi's help with covering false testimony. so i think the testimony alone is reason for great exposure for mr. stone. >> it was michael cohen who pled guilty this week to false statements to congress. the admission is he lied about working on the trump tower in moscow to protect president trump. what does that tell you, the agreement and what you have learned about it, tell you about mueller's core areas of focus,
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collusion with russia? >> it tells me a couple of things. it tells me he wanted to lock in michael cohen. there was no reason for that plea for the additional count. it's not going to materially affect his sentence. it has the benefit of making sure nothing changes down the road, that there's no pardon that causes this witness to go south. i think the likelihood of that was remote. but nonetheless, you don't like to take chances as a prosecutor. it also tells me that he wanted to put it all on the record. he wanted it in the public domain. that raises a concern for me. why does bob mueller find it necessary to do that? is it that he fears mr. whitaker will shut him down or prevent him from telling the country what happened? that's i think the procedural significance. the very broad significance here, george, is that there is now testimony. there is now a witness who confirms that in the same way michael flynn was compromised that the president and his business are compromised. and that is, the national security, former national security adviser michael flynn was compromised because he was saying things publicly that were
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not true about discussions with the russians over sanctions. now we have michael cohen saying that what the president was saying, what michael cohen was saying, and others were saying about when this business deal ended, was not true. and what's more, the russians knew it wasn't true. at the same time that donald trump was the presumptive nominee of the gop and arguing in favor of doing away with sanctions, he was working on a deal that would require doing away with sanctions for him to make money in russia. that is a real problem. that means that the compromise is far broader than we thought. >> you saw what the president had to say. first of all, he thinks michael cohen is lying. then he had a backup argument basically saying there would be nothing wrong if i were pursuing this tower. here's what he said on thursday. >> i was running my business while i was campaigning. there was a good chance that i wouldn't have won, in which case i would have gotten back into
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the business and why should i lose lots of opportunities? >> as he put in a tweet, this was very legal and very cool. your response? >> well, whether it was legal or not remains to be seen. it certainly wasn't very cool. more than that, it was very compromising of our country. in order for this trump tower deal to go through, sanctions had to be lifted on a russian state bank. at the same time, donald trump is out there pushing to lift sanctions on russia and this bank. there is no way to describe that as cool or ethical or in the national interests. it means that the president, whether he won or lost, was hoping to make money from russia, was seeking at the same time to enlist the support of the kremlin to make that money. and what's more, when this came to light, the kremlin intervened. mr. peskov, the spokesman for the kremlin, intervened to help donald trump and his business in the coverup. that is so deeply compromising.
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we have to remember what the mueller investigation began as the comey investigation was a counterintelligence investigation, an investigation into whether donald trump and his organization were compromised. and now via michael cohen, we find out that, yes, there was compromise. that puts our country at risk. >> based on what we have learned so far, do you think others in trump's orbit have lied to congress about this as well? for example, the president's son, don jr.? >> we're going through the transcripts of the testimony. all of these need to be provided to bob mueller so he can make those decisions. bob mueller has the advantage of far more information than we do that would allow him to vet whether what these witnesses told our committee was true or not. it's a pretty high bar to prove perjury. you have to prove there was a knowing intent to deceive. you have to prove there was not some failure of recollection. there are certain people i'm confident have met and exceeded the bar. i'll leave those determinations to bob mueller.
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>> bob mueller has also determined that paul manafort lied to him as he was supposed to be cooperating with the special counsel. we learned also that he was sticking with the joint defense agreement talking to president trump's attorneys while ostensibly cooperating with prosecutors. what is the significance of that? >> it means that paul manafort was double dealing. basically he was going through the pretense of cooperating but he was really in an underhanded way supplying information to the trump legal defense team. the president continues to dangle a pardon for paul manafort. it only adds to the growing body of evidence that the president is engaged in obstructing justice. that is the ultimate significance here. i think as a practical matter, the special counsel will have to throw the book at paul manafort as well as mr. corsi. you can't have people who are essentially in discussions with you flaunt that process, deceive you, if you want to telegraph to other witnesses that you darn well better be true when you say
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you're going to cooperate with us. >> congressman schiff, thank you. >> thank you. "roundtable" is up next. we'll be right back. k.
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go back and look at the paper that michael cohen wrote before he testified in the house and/or senate. it talked about his position. he's a weak person. and not a very smart person. he's got himself a big prison sentence. he's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story. now, here's the thing. even if he was right, it doesn't matter. because i was allowed to do whatever i wanted during the campaign. >> president trump on that plea deal on thursday. we're going to talk about it on our "roundtable." joined by cokie roberts, chief political analyst matthew
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dowd, co-host of "the view" meghan mccain. former new jersey governor chris christie. and donna brazile. former dnc chair. chris, let me begin with you. we heard adam schiff. let's take a step back. it does appear that robert mueller is methodically building a case that has the president right at the center. >> well, listen. what i've said all along is bob mueller is a traditional prosecutor. he's a killer. that's who he is. i think everything you have seen him do so far is traditional as you put it, methodical prosecuting. you work yourself up the chain. you bring charges when they're ready to be brought. and you don't talk. and the true power of bob mueller or any prosecutor is the secrecy of that process and that no one knows. and no one knows. i think that is part of also why we go overboard a little bit by the nature of the coverage. i don't think the michael cohen plea in and of itself this week was all that significant, except for the fact that he wanted to make sure that michael cohen understood -- >> how about the point adam
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schiff was just making, that the president, if he's denying any business dealings at all with russia, at a time he's pursuing a trump deal in moscow, that leaves him vulnerable to blackmail and compromise? >> you already had that. the idea that congressman schiff, who is consistently wrong on this stuff, saying he needed to do a plea to lock him in. once you give an interview to the fbi agent with the threat of 1,001, you're not more locked in with a plea. i think he did it because he wanted to get it public. he wanted to show another one of his cards. that's why he did the michael cohen thing. locking him in, michael cohen is locked in already. if he goes contrary to what he told bob mueller, he'll face consequences. >> but mueller has public opinion to think about. he has been very secret but he's also gone down in the polls because of the president's constant attack. if he shows us there is somebody that actually has the goods and this is something serious
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for the president, that puts him in a stronger position. >> one of the things he shows, whether it's michael cohen, michael flynn, george papadopoulos, jerome corsi, it seems like everyone around president trump on anything having to do with russia, were not telling the truth. >> michael cohen once said he would take a bullet for donald trump. this week, he delivered the smoking gun. oh, yeah. that's the smoking gun. because once again, he said, what i provided before was consistent with what the president wanted me to say because i wanted to stay loyal to the president. smoking gun saying, he said essentially that the white house, the president, was lying at the time that he had no business dealing with russia when he was looking to strike a deal with russia on a tower. >> and the president seems so -- >> i have a problem with what you just said. sorry. when the media treats every news bit like it's a smoking gun, it means nothing is a smoking gun. the problem is, all of these -- i call them marvel villain
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actors that worked on the trump campaign. these were all really bad guys from day one, from far before they met president trump. i think when you're talking about people like paul manafort and michael cohen, oh, he's a really bad guy. the question i have doesn't have anything to do with the investigation. we don't know. >> i go back to the question i posed before. i'll bring it to you, matt. if michael cohen is now telling the truth, that the discussions about the trump tower in moscow persisted through june of 2016, when the president was completely denying it, it does make the president vulnerable to blackmail. >> i think it not only makes him vulnerable to blackmail. and i don't know if there's a legal question. bob mueller will answer that question. it raises ethical questions, legitimacy questions of a president who hid this during the course of the campaign. it could have impacted the gop primary process.
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it could have impacted the general election. he hid a series of deals and payments he was making with women that allegedly slept with him. in the course of that. so it raises these concerns. it's like the sopranos meets one flew over the cuckoo's nest and they're sitting at the "star wars" bar. i would add to what meghan said. which is, they are like marvel villains. it's like "the sopranos" meets i would give one thing to bob mueller. look back at the investigations. independent counsels. special counsels. and all of that. he's had over 33 indictments and guilty pleas. more guilty pleas and more indictments than any investigation that we have seen since watergate. there's more than just smoke. it's a ton of fire. the ultimate question is, is the president impacted about this? we don't know the answer. >> the president also hasn't said that cohen is lying. >> he did call him a liar. >> he did this defense of his doing business. it implies he's telling the truth. >> and, again, but that doesn't have anything to do with the president's potential criminal liability at all. what cohen said this week, i am falling down shocked that
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michael cohen lied. >> step away -- take a step away from the criminal liability. doesn't it bother you at all that a candidate for president is pursuing deal with the russians at a time he's praising the russians and looking to relieve sanctions and not telling the country about it? >> i think there should be openness about everything when you're running for president. so that people can make that evaluation of you as a complete person. so i absolutely agree with that. that's not what we're talking about anymore, george. the distinction i'm trying to make here is not to justify anybody being on the campaign trail running for president of the united states and not telling the complete truth. it doesn't mean that what michael cohen said, with all due respect to my friend here, is a smoking gun. it's a smoking gun to the fact that people lie in politics. the next thing we'll talk about is the smoking gun about the sun coming up. >> i think there's a difference between normal republican campaigns. if i -- i was a candidate's daughter. if a russian spy had come to me and wanted a private meeting, i would have screamed bloody murder and probably called the fbi.
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so the ethical questions that you brought up, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, there's probably something here. i don't agree michael cohen is necessarily the smoking gun. >> it looks like the candidate's son in this situation is very much involved. and i think that that gets to the president. >> he said i made these misstatements to be consistent with individuals' political messages and out of loyalty to the individual one. >> that's what michael cohen. that's what he's saying is his motivation. let's make a distinction between that and being instructed to do that. those are two different things. michael cohen didn't say -- that's a big distinction. if bob mueller could have gotten him to say he was instructed by the president to do that, he would have said it. he said i was being consistent with the president's messaging. and let me tell you something, lots of campaign operatives over time have done things they thought was consistent with the candidate's messaging and they were wrong. >> i think -- i think -- i think -- i think -- >> wikileaks and roger stone. the disncens.you can testo thi. >> i think the country is coming
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to a conclusion about the ethics of this president and whether or not this president tells the truth. they know that. more than two-thirds of the country doesn't think he's honest. i think it's actually kind of ironic that the president and his people are making the argument that you can't believe michael cohen because he's a liar when we've seen this president, i think it's up to 6800 times in the course of his presidency. the country absorbs the news. they're at this point in time, we had an important midterm election. a key point in this process. the democrats have the house. they're going to hold public hearings on a lot of issues, this being one of them. and everybody is waiting on the mueller report. until we see the public until we see the public hearings where people have to testify in public, we have the mueller report. we're going to continue to have the conversation until the public sees that. >> that's true. all along, i have said we need to let bob mueller do his results are.n and se the my only objection about some of the coverage of this week was that it was breathless about
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something that to me was a nonstory. >> nonstory or nonsmoking gun? >> nonstory from the perspective of guilt or innocence of anything the president did or didn't do on the legal front. i'm looking at this as a prosecutor. not a political analyst. mueller did what he wanted to do. i think cokie is right. he's concerned about public opinion. and that's why i said earlier -- he played another card. >> i'm looking at it from the perspective of the integrity of our election process. just yesterday, general mattis said the russians tried to muck in our election in 2018. >> this time. >> 2018. there are two remaining chapters. one of them is who conspired with the russians who stole the dnc e-mails and mr. podesta's e-mails to leak them, put them out, distribute them. that's the collusion, the callrom t legal ever you wt perspectivtrying to obstruct this investigation? i mean, i think mr. mueller still has a lot to say. i hope that the senate will
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protect him so he can finish his job. >> by the way, there's no -- i'm willing to bet you there is no chance that this president tries to fire bob mueller. if he hasn't done it already, he's not going to do it now. he's not going to do it when you have a democratic house. >> he's trying to undermine. >> listen, in the clinton administration -- the clinton administration attended to undermine ken starr. >> of course they did. >> that's part of the political game that gets played here. >> i agree with chris. we have already seen what the president has done for a year and half has had no effect. actually, i think it's been detrimental to the president in what happened in the midterms. the party suffered historical losses in the course of this midterm. in the end, i agree with chris. bob mueller will give his report. i think the only question is how much of the report becomes public? the democrats on the house will make sure -- >> he's making it public through the indictments. it's not insignificant -- we have to move on but it's not insignificant that matt whitaker did allow the plea deal to go through. he doesn't appear to have interfered. >> by law, matt whitaker is a temporary attorney general. he cannot, under the vacancy act, be nominated by the
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president to be attorney general now that he's been made acting. he's temporary. bob mueller knows that, too. he knows this is not a guy he'll be answering to for a long time. so, all of those dynamics will let bob mueller be as independent as he wants to be. >> let's talk about president bush, cokie roberts. >> i saw him last at the end of august. he had wonderful spirits about him still. his speaking was not as easy as it once was. i said to him, i understand that you want to jump out of a plane on your 95th birthday. and he said, yes. his wonderful aide, jean becker, who has been with him so long, said to him, well, you know, your landing didn't go so well the last time. he said, why emphasize that? but what a special person. what a patriot. what a person of service to this country. and of just -- incredible decency. >> you worked for his son? >> i did. i did work for his son. i worked for lloyd bentsen who
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beat him in 18970 -- 1970 when he ran for the senate raccest pridt in texas in that time. i think that is the common word you hear in this. decency. he was a decent person. he was a good person. he was a kind person. to me, he's almost like the forrest gump of the last 50 years of this century. he was almost at every single moment of change in the country. the soviet union. world war ii. the cia. the u.n. the wars. his son which he had a tremendous impact on. one thing i would like to say is i think often in these times when we have these deaths, we're way too quick to canonize these people. george herbert walker bush was a great man. he did great things. but he also had flaws. he was human. he made mistakes. he was humble enough to g e way, pntakes. soisoliccampais. george bush was a good man. he was somebody that used brass knuckles in lipoa l cati he did the willie horton ad. he did certain things in political campaigns. there's questions about him on iran/contra. he's a good man.
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i think it's a good lesson to learn, let's not canonize these people. let's make them human beings. >> or define them by any one incident. >> let's make them human beings that do good things and are good people. >> the truth is, it's more admirable -- i always say this about the founding fathers. it's more admirable to be human than to be a bronze statue. because it's easy for bronze statues to do good things. it's hard for humans. >> he had faults. one of them was on the '64 civil rights act he opposed. one of the reasons i opposed george bush fiercely was because he was not a champion at that time. in other ways, he did support civil rights by the appointment of people like colin powell and condoleezza rice and so many others. barbara bush and george bush gave money to the united negro college fund. she served on the board of morehouse.
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and during hurricane katrina, and i can get emotional about this, he joined with bill clinton to help us rebuild my gulf coast. i got fired from the dukakis campaign because i opened my big mouth and do what i sometimes do which is tell people how i feel. he reached out. i reached out. we became friends. i got a chance to go down to the bush library. he was a human being with flaws but somebody who was a man and i liked that about him. >> great protector of the institutions of our country. and i think what he'll be remembered for more than anything else is that he was at the vanguard during some very difficult times. you know, whether it was during watergate and coming back in the post watergate era to run the cia and felt like it was his duty to try to restore ahonor ad integrity to that institution to later on when he was defeated. we know how heart wrenching that was. the note he wrote to president clinton on the way out the door tells you that he believes in
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those institutions and his desire to invite president trump and the first lady to his memorial service is another show of respect for those institutions. >> and it's a good moment, i think just like meghan's father passing away. it's a great moment for the individuals to reflect on who we are as a country. >> beautiful love story between him and our first lady. they were deeply in love up until the very end. he was the last combat veteran as you said to hold the presidency. seems to sadly be an ending of an era for that being something that we pretty much demanded of our presidents. just such a lovely man on so many different levels. i agree. it feels like another passing of an era. >> we're going to celebrate him all week long. the national cathedral, national day of mourning on wednesday. and right now, we'll honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice today. in the month of november five service members died in afghanistan. ♪ that is all for us today. thank you for sharing part of your sunday with us. as i said, please join us
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wednesday morning when i'll be anchoring our special coverage of the state funeral for president bush. that started -- starts at 10:00 eastern and i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
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