Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony for Edwin Meese CSPAN October 9, 2019 7:29am-7:55am EDT
passionate about and pursue as much as you can. >> we are asking middle and high school students to create a short documentary on the issue you would like the presidential candidates to address. and a $5000 grant prize. >> produce the best video you can produce. >> go to student cam.org for more information. >> on tuesday donald trump presented the presidential medal of freedom to former attorney general it meets who served under ronald reagan from 1985-1988. from the oval office this is 25 minutes. >> i want to thank everybody
for being here. this is a special event today, the most tremendous privilege to present our highest civilian honor to a titan of american law, heroic defender of the american constitution, to the attorney general of the united states, edwin meese, a very special man. [applause] >> congratulations on an incredible award. the congressional medal of honor and presidential medal of freedom and it is special for me to present it to you. i have hurting credible things over the years so congratulations. my honor to be with you. we are joined by mike pence,
attorney general william barr, and k james. also with this is that's terrific family. he was a good husband. for the first 38 years. with children and grandchildren and great grandson, he grabbed me and said i like this guy. edwin meese was born into a family committed to public service. police court clerk, his dad had some incredible stories from what i was told.
stories of serving the people of oakland inspired his lifetime of passion and his law enforcement career was unparalleled. after graduating from yale in 1953 he attended the california berkeley law school and servant two years of active-duty in the united states army. he remained in the reserves another two decades retiring as a colonel in 1984. i didn't know that. that was pretty good. he married ursula, the love of his life coming in 1958, they wanted me to say that and he meant it truly, the love of his life, a beautiful thing. he then became deputy district attorney of alameda county, california, the same county where he had grown up and regularly road with local police on patrol. one officer later said about him, finding someone around you who doesn't like edwin meese is like trying to find a 4-year-old it doesn't like
santa claus so he was a popular guy. when chaos and violence broke out, he was instrument in restoring order, peace and public safety. in 1966, still deputy district attorney, edwin meese was introduced to ronald reagan for the first time. at the end of a 30 minute 1-on-1 meeting the new governor offered edwin meese a job, said this guy has the potential to be great. edwin meese joined as legal affairs secretary and earned governor reagan's trust. two years later he became chief of staff at that position, he worked tirelessly to serve the people of california, negotiated the first major welfare reform in the nation, fought for legislative priorities and helped propel ronald reagan to a national stage, that was a truly great
one. he became a great president. after governor reagan narrowly lost the 1976 presidential primary campaign, edwin meese joined the faculty of san diego law school and became founding director of the center for criminal justice policy and management. in 1980, he became a key leader in ronald reagan's presidential campaign and knew there was going to happen, just a question of time. after reagan's victory he oversaw the presidential transition. in the new administration edwin meese was appointed counselor to the president, the only white house staff member included in reagan's cabinet. in that position he drove sweeping reforms of the executive branch and insured the department's work together to achieve the administration goals and was a star.
and the administration implemented tax cuts, dramatic defense buildup, to defeat communism and help spearhead an initiative to fight organized crime and supported a task force on victims of crime and shared the first meeting on missile defense over the strategic defense initiative, a strategy that helped win the cold war. president reagan nominated edwin meese to the attorney general. we have the attorney general with us. in the course of a grueling nomination, you showing critical grace and grit, tried to derail the nomination but edwin meese stayed strong at after 13 months he was finally confirmed.
sounds like the kind of things we go through. if you win by one vote today it is considered a landslide. it sounds no different. things don't change very much. over the next two years he would deliver monument will change for the american people. as attorney general, edwin meese led the battle against drugs, aggressively targeted traffickers and their assets and chart the national drug policy board and coordinated the administration's response to the drug crisis. in the years that followed the strategy proved successful. from 1982-1992 drug use by young adults plummeted 50% nationwide. would you like to make a comeback? we have it down 18% but i like 50% better but we are dealing with a whole new set of drugs unfortunately, a very tough situation. perhaps his greatest contribution to american law has been his unwavering advocacy for the legal
principle that judges must adhere to the original meaning of the constitution setting aside their own personal political views. through the decades he has been one of the most eloquent champions for following the constitution as written. to ensure fidelity to our founding documents, edwin meese supported growth of the federalist society and worked to confirm supremely qualified judges including the late great supreme court justice antonin scalia whose son became the secretary of labor, just had him in, a great ceremony we had. after concluding a historic tenure as attorney general, he joined the heritage foundation and helped create the foundation's legal and judicial studies department. which is named in his honor and we are talking judges and i will say heritage has been helpful with us as you know and i just had on that desk a
little while ago another six and very soon 182 federal judges and two supreme court judges. that is not including two supreme court -- we really have that. it is a number few people could come close to. we appreciate all the work you have done. edwin meese has advocated effective law enforcement against over criminalization and always in defense of the constitution and system of government designed by our founders. you are loyal fighter for freedom, champion of law and order, mentor to young americans and faithful defender of our republic. you are an inspiration to liberty loving citizens everywhere. you are an inspiration period. everybody that knows you use of that word. you are an inspiration.
on behalf of the grateful nation that i love and that we serve i want to thank you for your incredible lifetime of exceptional service and of devotion to our country and i want to say to your family that this is an extraordinary man and i look at all your wonderful children and grandchildren and great grandson and you and especially talking about you. you have very good genes. remember the president, you have great genes between the two of them. it is my honor to ask the military aid to come forward and present edwin meese iii with the presidential medal of freedom, thank you and congratulations. [applause] >> edwin meese iii has been a
strong conservative voice on matters of law and come forward to president ronald reagan and helped craft foreign-policy strong enough to help end the cold war and played a pivotal role in helping to secure historic tax cuts. as attorney general he promoted federalism and the original public understanding of our constitution. since leaving public service edwin meese has continued to champion our nation's founding principles through extensive work at the heritage foundation. the united states probably honors edwin meese iii who has dedicated his life to serving our nation and protecting our liberty. [applause]
>> thank you, mister president. thank you very much both for this very fine award. and award which i will cherish obviously forever but also for the kind words you gave, that you mentioned particularly for the privilege of being with you and my family here to meet you and listen to this particular ceremony. it is a great privilege i appreciate very much and appreciate all that you have done to make is welcome here and for those kind words. i am also very grateful to the vice president for being here. mister vice president, you and
i have been friends since you were in congress not so many years ago and it was great to have known you and followed your career also and you and the president make one of the finest teams in the country and i'm grateful particularly to have this award coming from the two of you and thank you. [applause] >> i want to mention william barr, i thank you for this, you and i started work together in the first chairman, ronald reagan in the office of policy development and you have reason to continue the string of great attorneys general in this country and i appreciate what you are doing now. i must say from my own experience i understand what you're going through now so it is even better to wish you well and the fine work you are doing. [applause] >> i am also really honored by
the members of your administration who are here today. as i look around i see so many good friends here. i can't name them all. it would take the rest of the afternoon but so many i appreciated a chance to work with as i look around and very honored you will come out and see this particular strategy. i can't do anything but thank and praise god. and the opportunities and blessings in the course of my life and one of the greatest blessings of my life has been my wife as you point out, over six years, who is with me to gay, my best friend, partner and everything i have done. and the handsome family of kids we have here. and also my whole family.
the family has been my foundation throughout married life and it is great to see and be with them today. and allowing them to participate in this event. it is great to have you four generations and it is a great honor to have them here. you spoke about the privilege i had of working for ronald reagan and i will always be indebted to him not only for the honor he did, appointed to serve under his leadership for 30 years. from 1967 when i first served as legal affairs secretary to
1997, and isolation, i had the privilege to work for him in the state of california. here as you pointed out in washington dc and following that, building his library and today i have the privilege of the young americans foundation, taking over his branch in santa barbara and the chairman of that branch board of governors. ronald reagan was a pivotal part of my life and i'm grateful to him. you were kind and generous in all you said. the things you mention are something i could not have done myself. over appear go of time i can't think of better people i could have his teammates then people presenting in the early work of
the united states of america in early days particularly the last 30 some years, i was privileged to work here in washington dc. one person who has been a friend and counselor and great teammate has been can crib who has been here today. he has always been there by my side and giving me excellent advice and help. as they say today, always having my back. another person who's with me and will join me in the department of justice, two people that are here today that i want to mention, one is mark levin, this is before he became famous. [applause] >> he was kind of a easy-going young man.
we are happy to have him here with us. of third one was becky from the department of justice, did a terrific job. it is great to have them. bob mcewen has been an advisor and help her to me in the conservative movement and inspiration and great teammate and also it is great because as you pointed out when i was privileged, left the government in 1988, i was asked to join the heritage family and now today with john malcolm on the legal ctr. becky was there and we had a great time and a great
team of people i was privileged to work with. it is a great thing for me to have the opportunities, i am grateful to all the people who are here. i am grateful to another guest, pastor bill man, who has been a great spiritual leader for our family and grateful very much for that. there are so many things to be grateful for today and the only thing i would do is mention a couple things particularly are meaningful to me. you have done so many things but you mentioned one of them, your commitment to the constitution and commitment to making sure i'm interpreted as it reads and you have appointed these outstanding judges which is a monument to justice and
the rule of law that will last literally for decades and i am grateful for that. the second thing is your emphasis on religious liberty. your speech to the united nations was the first by any president to talk about that subject before this august body and no one needed that encouragement more on that particular subject. i am grateful and ursula is grateful because of our family for your support for the armed forces of the united states. you not only give them leadership but resources but you have gone beyond that. you've shown personal respect for every man and women in uniform, that is not only good for them but for their families so their families can see the dignity you appreciate in the work military folks are doing. all these things are important
to us. as a result, today i couldn't be happier or more grateful to any person for what you have given us today, thank you. [applause] >> you are right that marky has become a star and the attorney general say a few words. and the vice president say a few words. nice and easy. >> it is a great honor to be
here with two great men, donald trump and attorney general edwin meese. it was an honor to work for you, special assistant and chief of staff through the good, the bad and the ugly and you accomplished many things as attorney general of the united states. you have always been wonderful to my family, you and ursula, your family to us that you always will be. this is a great honor and i can't think of a better person to receive it. mister president, i want to thank you. i want to thank you for everything you are doing for this country. i have known two great presidents, ronald reagan and you. and i am sorry you are going through what you are going through but i want you to know there's tens of millions of people who stand with you so god bless you. [applause]
>> thank you very much. come on. >> thank you, mister president. it really is my great honor to serve alongside this president and share this moment with you, edwin meese and your wonderful family. it is extraordinarily to think of the life of consequence you have lived, coming alongside one american president, but also being there every step of the way as this president brought forward a vision to rebuild our military, revive our economy, reground the courts of this country 2 constitutional principles of limited government and on behalf of the president and on behalf of a grateful nation it is my honor to add my congratulations to you on the presidential medal of freedom. congratulations.
[applause] >> thank you very much, everybody. [applause] >> are you daring nancy pelosi to make a vote? [inaudible conversations] >> c-span's campaign 2020 coverage continues as donald trump hosts a keep america great again rally in minneapolis, minnesota at 8:00 pm eastern on c-span. watch anytime on c-span.org and listen free wherever you are using the free c-span radio apps. sunday night on q&a historian jeff quinn discusses his book
the vatican's about the road trips taken by henry ford and thomas edison from 1914-1925. >> the idea was they wanted to go out and have fun, getting your car and do these things. they weren't going to have to try to light their own campfires or cold beings out of cans. they were not going to put a blanket on the ground. they had different amenities, they had a refrigerated car powered by it is in batteries so they could have fresh dairy. they had chefs who would prepare gourmet meals, freshly ironed clothes. they were so famous and america was so grateful to them that it didn't matter. the point was we are out in cars traveling and seeing these things, you can do it too. marymac sunday night on c-span's q&a.