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Nationwide Editorials Condemn Pres. Trump's Attacks On Media; Remembering The Queen Of Soul; Aretha Franklin: 1942-2018; Remembering The Life Of Aretha Franklin. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 16, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:17] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: His decision to strip one adversary of a security clearance set off an uproar. But President Trump might not be through.

Good evening. Jim Sciutto here, sitting in for Anderson tonight.

And we begin with breaking news, just a day later, a day after the president revoked former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance and ordered the review of nine others, "The Washington Post" reporting tonight he may soon be taking more action.

Here is their lead tonight: President Trump told advisors he is eager to strip more security clearances as part of an escalating attack against foes who have criticized him or played a role in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. This says, "The Washington Post", according to two White House officials.

"The Post's" Josh Dawsey, who shares the byline, he joins me now by telephone.

So, Josh, tell me what you're learning tonight.

JOSH DAWSEY, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Jim, what we're learning is the president is not done. Still actively looking to strip clearances from officials that he thinks have wronged him or been at the heart of the Russia investigation. We cited a list of officials who he would like to strip clearances from or is considering them. And it seems that the president is determined to make that happen.

SCIUTTO: So, the list that Sarah Sanders read from the podium two days ago, yesterday rather, included James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, James Comey, of course, the FBI Director Trump fired, Andrew McCabe, frequent target of the president's attacks.

To your knowledge, is it people who was -- who were on that list who are next in line or could it expand beyond that?

DAWSEY: That is our knowledge. And what we're sensing is that folks inside the White House are attempting to analyze each of these cases to discern, if we were stripping them of a clearance what rational and what reason will we have. Yesterday, you saw Sarah Sanders go to the podium and tip off offenses in her mind that Mr. Brennan committed. She said erratic conduct and wild outbursts.

But the president in a pretty remarkable "Wall Street Journal" interview later in the day said he linked it explicitly to the Russian investigation. He said it was a sham. He said that these people led it, so I think that's something that had to be done. It was kind of a textbook case of his advisors looking for a way to explain his actions and maybe less deleterious in the way he is doing it.

And he eventually just said what he wanted to do anyway. That's what's happening here with these other officials from what we can sense, you know, folks like Don McGahn and senior officials, looking at these names and saying, you know, some of these folks have been contentious players in the probe. Have they done anything where it would be, you know, meritorious to take away their clearance? But that is not what is motivating the president by all accounts.

SCIUTTO: Now, we should note again as we did yesterday that normally clearances are taken away if people misuse classified information, et cetera. But you're saying, Josh, here, the president himself contradicted the justification given yesterday from the White House podium this has anything to do with that. The president himself told the "Wall Street Journal" that this is about folks involved in the Russia investigation, which again, we should be clear does not just include questions of collusion, but a fact says, the intelligence community, that Russia interfered in the election.

DAWSEY: And what the president said, he linked it to directly. And to be clear, most lawyers in Washington say, we spoke with them today, that he has the right to take security clearances away. Rudy Giuliani told me this afternoon in a phone interview, no one has a right to top secret info.

And what Giuliani was saying is that a lot of these former officials, according to him and the president are using this to try to get contracts, to try to make money. These are people the president's obviously not going to call on for advice because he has visceral disdain for most of these officials that he wants to take clearances from.

You know, that said, I talked to Mark Zaid, who's a long time security lawyer in Washington really wise about clearances, and he said, you know, we can't think of any other president who wanted to take clearances from people he dislikes. And how much further will he go? Everyone who goes on television who's a national security official, anyone who writes an op-ed, anyone who, you know, shows repudiation for the president, will they lose their clearance, too, because he doesn't like it?

So, I think you have some real concern among national security watchers and critics of the president. You also saw today, you know, the retired navy admiral who led the raid of Osama bin Laden --

[20:05:07] SCIUTTO: That's right, Admiral McRaven.

DAWSEY: -- said, Mr. President, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well. So, again, add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency, which was a pretty striking comment.

SCIUTTO: We'll see if the president takes him up on that. Josh Dawsey, thanks very much for your reporting.

One that many people taking exception with what the president has already done is, as Josh was mentioning there, retired Admiral William McRaven.

To explain to you who he is, you have to know what he was doing when they snapped this iconic photo in the White House Situation Room back in 2011. The president and his national security team monitoring the take-down of Osama bin Laden.

Where was Admiral McRaven at that moment? Not in the picture. Why? Because he was in Afghanistan, he was overseeing that operation. He has sense retired and made a point of staying out of partisan politics, which makes the op-ed that he wrote in today's "Washington Post" so extraordinary.

In it, he tells the president, as we just alluded to, quote: I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency. He then ads, listen to this, quote: Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, and worst of all, divided us as a nation.

Reaction now from someone who knows the admiral very well. He is CNN military analyst and is retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General Hertling, thanks so much taking the time.

You served with Admiral McRaven in Europe, in Iraq, in the midst of the Iraq War. He is no wilting flower. He's a former Navy SEAL. He commanded all U.S. special operators.

What would compel him, in your view, to take what is really a remarkable step here?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Primarily, Jim, because he's courageous. I think I know Bill McRaven very well. As you said, we did serve together in Europe. He was the special officer, the JSOC commander in Iraq, when I commanded the First Army Division.

He is a man of courage, of few words, but he is very succinct and courageous in terms of what he speaks, and he's a true American patriot. He understands our Constitution, and he knows what right looks like. I was very proud to serve with Bill McRaven back when we were both in uniform and I'm especially proud of the fact he did in fact speak out today against some of the president's actions.

SCIUTTO: And speak out indeed.

Through our actions, he wrote, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage, worst of all, divided us as a nation. There's a tendency of the president's loyalists to dismiss his public critics, his public critics, as members of the deep state, as members of the resistance, as Obama loyalists, et cetera.

Can you say that about Admiral McRaven?

HERTLING: Well, I will keep using the word courageous. He is a true servant of America. He has dedicated his life in selfless service to our country. And what I'd say, Jim, truthfully is anyone who is not speaking out against this despicable action by our president is somewhat a coward.

And the president -- Admiral McRaven, Retired Admiral McRaven, has stepped forward and said exactly how he feels and I think there should be more people saying exactly that, because Mr. Brennan is also a true patriot.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. You've commanded troops. You've commanded them in combat. How much does his voice impact the men and women down the ranks, when they see someone as experienced and respected as this, not political by any means, speak out in such strong terms?

Do they listen? Does it have an impact?

HERTLING: Well, there are many -- you know, there are forces in America's military fall on both sides of the spectrum of the left and the right. Just -- they represent America, Jim, just like the rest of the American population. So, they are tending to believe one thing or another based on the narrative that they hear.

But what is different in Admiral McRaven's words are he is speaking the truth, he is speaking the facts. It has nothing to do with a narrative or opinion. This is the way he sees it in terms of protecting America and ensuring that we continue with the right to free speech, which is I think why he is speaking up and saying, hey, take my security clearance, too.

[20:10:03] And I'll add my voice to that as well. I've only used my security clearance a couple times since I've been retired. If this is what the president is going to do, what I'd say, along with Admiral McRaven is, take mine, too, because we are speaking out in selfless service to our country. We take an oath to our Constitution of things that are right -- freedom of speech, freedom of the press.

And we have seen that violated in the last 18 months and especially in the last few weeks, as the president has used political means to foster his goals and his objectives.

SCIUTTO: General Mark Hertling, thanks very much.

HERTLING: My pleasure, Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: More now on what critics are calling President Trump's own enemy's list. Joining us for that, CNN legal analyst John Dean, who worked for a president who famously and loudly considered the press his enemy. Also CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein who, along with Bob Woodward and CBS's Daniel Schorr, were perhaps Richard Nixon's least favorite members of his least favorite profession.

John Dean, I mean, amazingly, 47 years ago today, you wrote a White House memo, the subject line of which was dealing with our political enemies, included the quote on how to screw them.

How are -- do you compare what President Nixon did and threatened to do then to what you saw from President Trump this week?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, there are similarities, there's no question. And I didn't realize it at the time I was instructed to write that memo how deep and angry Nixon was and the revenge he sought against people with whom he disagreed or perceived as his enemies. I know from the tapes today. It was even worse than I thought.

I was trying to throw in their face something I thought they'd find offensive. That memo was approved. What never happened, though, in the Nixon administration is they didn't execute on these enemies' attacks, whereas in the Trump presidency, we're seeing the execution first and explanation afterwards.

SCIUTTO: Carl, it's been interesting to watch the reaction. Of course, many Democrats have criticized the president's move here. The Republicans, though, largely, there have been some exceptions, they have either been supporting the president's move against Brennan or again shrugging it off as not important. I wonder, when you hear a similar thing, message from Admiral McRaven, he headed special operation forces, he commanded the bin Laden raid, he oversaw the bin Laden raid.

Can he be dismissed or put in the same category as John Brennan?

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUHOR: We see Donald Trump attempting to put everyone who opposes him into that category, and acting in an authoritarian manner, seeking to undermine their credibility as well as to punish those who speak the truth as they have seen it. And there's no reason to expect that the same might be true of the admiral.

What John Dean is talking about and what we're seeing here both in the Nixon presidency and even worse in the Trump presidency are authoritarian actions, in Nixon's case with the enemy's list, it was authoritarian words. Now, there were other authoritarian actions by Nixon for which he was impeached and for which he had to leave office. We are seeing myriad, a good number of authoritarian actions by President Donald Trump and those are some of the things the special prosecutor, Mr. Mueller, is looking at, including a likely obstruction of justice to further what he has done in terms of his authoritarian actions.

SCIUTTO: We should remind viewers that when Sarah Sanders announced the revocation of Brennan's clearance, she read a long list of other names of officials whose clearances -- former officials who clearances are now being reviewed. Those include the former CIA Director Michael Hayden, the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who've since come out and said, you know, basically dared the White House, saying, go ahead, families, revoke our clearances. Stop talking.

BERNSTEIN: The most important words, Jim, that we've heard, are from President Trump in this is interview with the "Wall Street Journal" yesterday, in which he stated without any reservation or qualification that he took this action and might take further action, not because there is any breach of national security, but because, quote, these are the people who led the intelligence gathering that began in his view the Mueller investigation. He has made it clear that he is doing this for retributive reasons, which indeed get into the area of obstruction of justice.

[20:15:01] And let me say one thing about what I can tell by talking as I have to many lawyers for those who Mueller has interrogated their clients, as well as I've talked to some of the clients and witnesses. It's very clear that Mueller is going both for an investigation into likely collusion, conspiracy with a foreign power. We'll see if it envelopes Donald Trump or not. It certainly looks like it is enveloping those around him, as well as in obstruction of justice in trying to cover up those activities.

And I think we can tell by now Mueller is on his way to putting forth a vast narrative, a report that illustrates both the cover-up and the actions that were taken that led to the cover-up. And the cover up involves Donald Trump and what we are witnessing now, I believe, and certainly people around the president of the United States that I talk to, who support him, believe that he is running terrified.

SCIUTTO: John, let me ask you, though, what we do know. We don't know where Mueller -- how far Mueller is going to go. We do know and Carl makes a good point that three people, that three of the most intelligence officials who were behind the assessment Russia interfered in the election, including to help Donald Trump, James Comey, he's been fired, John Brennan, he was head of the CIA, he now had his clearance removed, and James Clapper, he's now been threatened to have his clearance removed.

Do you see a method to this beyond pettiness?

DEAN: Well, pettiness is certainly present but there also might be an effort to try to influence them as witnesses, that he's going to make their life miserable, and then we're getting into an area beyond obstruction and witness tampering. So, he's walking a fine line when he starts going after these people and saying to these people, as he did to "The Wall Street Journal," he's going after them because of their work on the Russian investigation.

It is not a witch hunt. It will be shown not to be a witch hunt. And he's going to be left out there with his actions that he may well have to explain to a grand jury.

SCIUTTO: Carl Bernstein, John Dean, thanks very much.

Well, it's a busy night. There is more breaking news now. CNN's Barbara Starr has just learned the Veterans Day military parade planned for Washington requested by this president has now been postponed. There is also the one that was first estimated to cost $12 million, but whose price tag has since soared as high as $92 million, this according to "The Washington Post."

The Pentagon in a brief statement did not give a reason for the postponement saying only that parade opportunities will be explored next year.

And there's a lot more in the hour ahead, including Omarosa Manigault Newman's latest recording, what Lara Trump told her about the money she'd get if she made nice with President Trump.

Also tonight, we're going to devote a good deal of the program to remembering Aretha Franklin in words from closest friends and in some of the unforgettable music from her majestic rein as the queen of soul.


[20:21:00] SCIUTTO: There is breaking news tonight on the Omarosa Manigault Newman front. We learned yesterday that the Trump campaign threatened Simon and Schuster, the publisher of her new book, with arbitration, saying that the book breaches her confidentiality agreement with the campaign.

Well, tonight, we're hearing the publisher is firing back, saying it will not be intimidated by the Trump campaign, claiming she breached a confidentiality agreement she signed. This even as the fired White House aide released another audiotape where you can hear President Trump's daughter-in-law offering her a job with the 2020 re-election campaign, this after she was fired from her job, an offer that she claims came in exchange for another nondisclosure agreement.

She played it during an appearance today on MSNBC.


LARA TRUMP: Listen, obviously, with like "The New York Times" article and stuff, you know, it's --

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN: What's "The New York Times" article?

LARA TRUMP: The one that -- the one that -- it was in the "New York Times" today I guess you didn't -- with Maggie Haberman or they wrote about you, it sounds a little like obviously that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come onboard the campaign, like, we can't have -- we got to --


TRUMP: -- everything, everybody positive, right? And the only thing that we have to consider, where we're talking salary and as far as the campaign is concerned, is that, as you know, everything is public. All the money we raise and the paid salary is directly from donors, small dollar donors for the most part.

So, I know you're making 179 at the White House, and I think we can work something out where we keep you right along those lines, specifically, let me see, I haven't even added up the numbers, but we're talking about like 15k a month, let me see what that adds up to. Times 12. Yes. That's $180,000.

Does that sound like a fair deal for you?


SCIUTTO: Incidentally, tonight, "The New York Times" reporting that the White House is concerned that Omarosa Manigault Newman may have as many as 200 recordings all together.

Joining me now are CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers and Michael Caputo, who was with the Trump campaign in 2016.

Michael -- thanks to both of you, first of all, for joining us.

Michael, listening to that tape there, when you hear the juxtaposition of the job offer at $15,000 a month, $180,000 a year, right after Lara Trump references her concern that Manigault Newman has something in her back pocket, that was the phrasing she used, does that sound to you like a quid pro quo?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: Of course not. It sounds like she's being recruited to a campaign and they want to make sure she's not going to speak badly of a candidate which she threatened to do. This happens everyday in American politics.

I remember talking to a young veteran who wanted to join the convention in 2016. She had spoken badly of the president after his commentary on Senator McCain. And I told her, listen, we know you're a veteran. We know that that upset you. We can't just have any more of that if you're coming over to the convention. She said, of course not, I support the president.


SCIUTTO: Why would you, Michael, why would hire someone -- at this point, she was fired from the White House. Clearly, Lara Trump has a concern, not just that she had said critical things about the president in the past but that she had goods on him in effect, something in a back pocket. Why would the campaign hire that person?

CAPUTO: That's kind of funny you said that. You know, America first policy is the campaign. People who left the White House have gone to these places. I expect more people to leave the White House and go to outside political committees.

I mean, Omarosa all her life has failed up. And so, when she left the White House, it sounded like the president still wanted to help her out, which to me, speaks volumes how much he trusted this person.

[20:25:04] And she didn't deserve a bit of it.

I can tell you -- when I was asked to join the George H.W. Bush campaign after working on Jack Kemp's campaign in my interview, they asked me if I was OK with stopping the criticism that I used to make when I worked for Jack Kemp and the things that I wrote for Jack Kemp. This is business as usual. SCIUTTO: Bakari Sellers, business as usual to offer $180,000 job to

someone who had been fired?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's beautiful spin. I think that the White House has an Omarosa problem right now. And if you look at this, she's been fired four times. But what happens -- what has to happen for someone to be fired four times from Donald Trump? You have to be hired four times.

This goes back. This is episode, what, 180 that we hire the best people which turn out not to be the best people?

Look, I go back to this image all the time. And Omarosa by no means is a martyr. But there's this picture everyone has seen, I'm sure, where a python is fighting a cobra. The cobra bites the python and the python wraps itself around the cobra, both snakes die.

In this case, you have two snakes that are going to handle themselves. And so, Donald Trump has an Omarosa problem. She wasn't a good hire from the beginning. She's not a good hire now. And Lara Trump, it's like the Griswolds are running government She offered her $180,000 for a no-show job.

Anyone can see this. I appreciate --

CAPUTO: No, she didn't.

SELLERS: I appreciate Michael's spin on this, but to show up in a meeting or two in New York and to give a couple speeches, I think both you and I would take that gig for $180,000 tomorrow.

SCIUTTO: Michael, would that -- I'm just thinking about the smaller donors who donate money to the Donald Trump campaign, they believe in him, but they don't got a lot of money. So, there -- you know, it's a stretch to donate any money to a campaign. Would they be concerned to hear that $180,000 was going to someone fired from the White House and had that kind of track record?

CAPUTO: Most Trump donors would want the known go to staff in an array that the president thought was appropriate. I know nobody in the low dollar donor arena who would say this was an awful thing to do. I believe Lara Trump made it clear their concern was they got their value for the money, because this money comes from small donors who are digging deep in their pocketbook.

She talked about the things she was going to have to do. In the same tape, she talked about her duties. So, to think Lara Trump was offering a bribe to shut her up, even Bakari doesn't believe that.

I understand what Bakari is saying about how this looks like a bad hire. Amanda Carpenter, last Sunday, I think, said it best, I repeated it many times. You know, Mary Shelley, she wrote this script, it's called "Frankenstein," the theme is if you create a monster, sometimes it comes back to attack you.

SCIUTTO: You think that's good spin, Bakari? SELLERS: Listen, I think the one key thing both -- I left out in my

last argument and Michael is leaving out now, is we listen to the John Kelly tape. And Kelly said that he fired her for some egregious ethical lapses. And so, to fire someone in the Situation Room for egregious ethical lapses and then your daughter-in-law attempts to hire her, mentioning things in their back pocket, you have to look at these things in totality. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

So, my question is, if someone has ethical lapses to the extent where they have to be fired from the White House, why all of a sudden do you hire them on the campaign? And to say you simply don't know and you're literally every night sleeping beside the president's son, but you, all of a sudden, do not know makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

SCIUTTO: All right, guys. We're going to have to --

SELLERS: Omarosa deserves whatever she gets. And so does Donald Trump. Let them have each other.

SCIUTTO: We're going to have to leave it there. Bakari Sellers, Michael Caputo, thank you. Thank you for taking the hard questions.

CAPUTO: Thanks, guys.

SCIUTTO: And please do stay with us. There is a lot more ahead, including a remarkable nationwide round of editorials with one common theme, supporting a free press and decrying the president's attacks on the media. I'm going to speak with a famous White House correspondent all about that.


[20:32:17] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Just a stunning moment today, some 350 newspapers from coast-to-coast in this country in big cities and small standing up to President Trump's attacks, each writing editorials, most if not all denouncing the President's anti-media message.

Here are just some of the headlines. Stop the war on a free press. That in the "Philadelphia Inquirer." From Nebraska's "Fall City Journal", We are not the enemy. We are your peers, friends and neighbors. And this from the "Topeka Capital Journal" in Kansas, The press isn't the enemy of the people.

Today on Twitter, the President fire back attacking the "Boston Globe" for leading the charge on these op-eds, he also wrote this, "There is nothing that I would want more from our country that true freedom of the press, the fact is that the press is free to write and say anything it wants but much of what it says is fake news, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. Honesty wins."

Joining me tonight, retired ABC News correspondent and anchor, Sam Donaldson, who spent a lot of time in the White House briefing room most memorably confronting President Ronald Reagan. Sam, thanks so much for joining us tonight. You have the advantage of having covered administrations, Republican and Democrats, some of them not particularly fond of the media, including going back to Richard Nixon. But I want to ask you, what we're seeing and hearing today from President Trump, have you ever seen anything like it, anything to that degree?

SAM DONALDSON, FMR ABC NEWS ANCHOR: No. No. Richard Nixon of course hated the press. His press secretary, Ron Ziegler, hated the press. But it didn't do him any good. I mean, Jim, if you look at it, no one likes to be criticized, I don't. And no President of course wants to be told that he's doing something wrong. But most of them understand that's our job and most of them particularly people like Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and even Bill Clinton during the Monica emergency understood why we were there and why we were asking the questions that we did.

SCIUTTO: Does it worry you when you see some of that feeling that the President expresses seeping through to significant portions of the American public? There was a poll recently that 51% of Republicans agreed that the press is the enemy of the people. Is that a danger to the country?

DONALDSON: Well, it's a danger if I thought that most Americans thought that, or even some of them who go along with Donald J. Trump at the moment, are going to think that forever. I don't believe that, not for a moment. Beating the press does not work. John Kennedy got so full upset at David Halvorsen the New York Times reporter Saigon during the early part of the Vietnam War, he wanted him fired. He didn't get fired.

[20:35:00] Lyndon Johnson was so upset about the press that started beating up on him because of Vietnam later in his is presidency. Vietnam turned out the way it did. Richard Nixon of course left town one step ahead of the sheriff. It's the facts that matter, not what I say or any reporter or the press. It's the facts and the truth. And the American public eventually, the large part of it, if it doesn't already will come to know what the facts and truths are about Donald J. Trump and elect accordingly.

SCIUTTO: Powerful words. I want to read if I can a portion from a "Washington Post" op-ed publishes yesterday. This is by Patty Davis of course the daughter of the late President Ronald Reagan who you of course covered and she said the following. I'm quoting here, "The verbal sparring between my father and Sam Donaldson of ABC or Helen Thomas of UPI is well documented. But there was never vitriol, there was never name-calling. And if anyone had attacked a journalist, my father would have been the first to stand in the way."

You knew and covered Ronald Reagan --

DONALDSON: That's true.

SCIUTTO: -- very closely. Do you agree with that? What would he say if he saw and heard what President Trump would say? DONALDSON: Well Ronald Reagan was sure of himself, he was happy with himself and he knew what he said or didn't say was what he wanted to do and let the devil take the hind most. And he never yelled or screamed or said anything, no expletive degraded (ph) at a reporter that I ever heard of. For instance one time Sarah McClendon, very aggressive, she was in the wax in World War II, it started it on it, said you did this, you did that and he replied by saying, Sarah, how can you say that about such a sweet fellow as me and it broke the room up.

And one time in early this presidency when we were in deep recession, I said, Mr. President tonight you blamed this continuing recession on Congress and mistakes of the past. Doesn't any of the blame belong to you? He replied, yes, for many years I was a Democrat. And we all sat down laughing.

I mean, he could handle me and questions and he did.

SCIUTTO: Sam Donaldson, always great to get your wise perspective.

DONALDSON: Oh Jim, it's a pleasure to be with you, thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, a welcome change of pace, even though the occasion itself, a sad one. When we come back an appreciation -- a deep appreciation of Aretha Franklin, who died today.


[20:40:45] SCIUTTO: In the simplest term a light went out in the world today, yet somehow leaves it brighter for having burned and richer and more soulful and more serene. Aretha Franklin, she died today at 76. Her voice could soar to the heavens and raise us up there with it. That was a miracle but it wasn't her only one. So was her life's journey and how it became the soundtrack to moments that changed us all, whether on the national stage or even on a local dance floor with someone we loved.

In a moment, two people who knew her well and loved her. First, let's hear from 360s Randi Kaye.



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before she became the queen of soul she was born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, Tennessee. Her mother was a gospel singer and pianist. Her father a pastor, he raised Aretha in Detroit after her parents split up. Aretha Franklin demanded respect from an early age. She taught herself to play piano before age 10. Her first performances were at her father's church.

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: My dad encouraged me to sing. I really didn't want to sing in front of a lot of people. And he just kept pushing me out there. Anyway, oh come on Aretha, I want you to sing, now come on. And OK, all right, dad. And they would put a box, like this box right here, small box behind the pulpit and I would stand on that box and sing.

KAYE (voice-over): By age 12 she was touring with her father who sermons reportedly earned him the reputation as the man with the golden voice, a trait he seems to have passed to his daughter.

In 1964, Aretha made one of her first television appearances on "The Steve Allen Show," still a newcomer she performed the song "It Won't Be Long"

It was her song "Respect" though, an oldest (ph) writing original she recorded back in 1967, that catapulted the 25-year-old into stardom.

It surged to number one and earned Aretha her first two Grammy awards for best starring Grammy artist and best solo R&B performance. For women it became an anthem but it also changed history when the civil rights group adopted it as their mantra. Aretha was barely in her 20s by the time the world recognized her as the queen of soul. But she was just getting started. Her recording career would go to span more than half a century and go far beyond soul music. Her roots were in gospel but Aretha also thrilled audiences with jazz, opera and R&B.

Her songs were personal with not so hidden messages about pain and loss, also sensuality and sexuality.

Her song, "Think" written near the end of her first marriage was a rallying cry for women fed up with lousy men.

Aretha won 18 Grammy awards including best female R&B performance for eight years in a row. At the peak of her career in the '60s and '70s, she had more than two dozen top 40 hits.

[20:45:02] In 1987, Aretha was the first woman inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of fame. Long before that in 1968, she sang at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s funeral. Also, at inauguration concerts for Jimmy Carter in 1977 and Bill Clinton in 1993. She sang at Rosa Park's funeral in 2005. And in 2009 at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

FRANKLIN: I was delighted and thrilled to be there. And, that was the most important thing, not so much my performance.

KAYE (voice-over): Later in 2015, she brought the president to tears at the Kennedy Center Honors.

The song, "A Natural Woman" was first recorded by Carole King, who could hardly contain her excitement.

Earlier that year, she performed for Pope Francis in Philadelphia. Over the years, there were cameos on Murphy Brown. Unforgettable performances with the likes of Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, and Elton John. And duet with James Brown. In February, 2017, Aretha announced she would stop touring, but her music will live on.


SCIUTTO: Yes, the word is just wow. Randi joins us now, from outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where we hear there's a party going on in honor of Aretha Franklin. Randi, I know you've been seeing there watching this. It's really a sample of what's been going on across the country today?

KAYE: Well Jim, this is a very special place for Aretha Franklin fans and certainly for Aretha Franklin. She first performed here at the Apollo Theater back in 1962, when she was just 19 years old. So they've been blasting her music here in the streets outside the Apollo Theater. And if you take look at the marquee, you can see it's been changed it says, Rest in Peace Aretha Franklin. They've been saying the Queen of Soul. They've been giving her dates all day long.

And, people are continuing to just to dance in the street, and enjoy her, and honor her, and remember her. But it's not just the people who are in the street. Former presidents and the current president also were remembering her today. President Obama and Mrs. Obama released a statement saying, "In her voice we could feel our history all of it and in every shade, our power, our pain, our darkness, our light, our quest for redemption, and our heartwood respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human." The Clinton's and President Trump as well released statement honoring the Queen of Soul. Jim, back to you.

SCIUTTO: Many thanks so much out there outside the Apollo Theater.

Joining us now, two of Aretha's friends, the magnificent Gloria Gaynor you know "I Will Survive" her famous song also NBA great Isaiah Thomas both who knew her well. Isaiah if I could start with you. I know you were long time friends with her. What are you remembering about her tonight?

ISAIAH THOMAS, FRIEND OF ARETHA FRANKLIN: Just her beauty. The way she found a way not only to touch everyone with her music but to touch also with her friendship, and just who she was. She found a way to reach out and touch everyone. You know, her songs were the soundtrack in my household growing up. You know, my mom, you know, I can still see her sitting in the window crying, listening to "Ain't No Way" and "Natural Woman."

You know, she inspired all of us, you know, with her words. But again, just the way she reached out and touched her -- touched us with her friendship. When I first got to Detroit, her and her family were so welcoming to me. And you know, I've known all of them, and I've known Aretha since, you know 1983. So, we had a long and deep friendship. And, Clive and I were just together two weeks ago, just reminiscing and talking about the good times and some of her great performances.

[20:50:02] SCIUTTO: I think the whole country is doing that tonight. Gloria, you said that Aretha Franklin is not just the Queen of Soul. She's an American treasure. Tell us about, as a singer, tell us about her voice.

GLORIA GAYNOR, AMERICAN SINGER: Her voice was incredible. I -- I've been sitting and thinking while you were talking and thinking that she personified the word "inimitable." There is no other. There will never be another to even compare to Aretha Franklin's voice, her -- the way that she expressed the song made you feel it. You believed that she was living or had lived the words that she was singing because it was just so -- seemingly so deeply felt and transferred to you as you were hearing it. She is so much of the brick and mortar of the foundation of my career. I sang so many of her songs when I first started performing because those were the songs to sing. If you were going to sing anybody's song and be heard and be listened to, you had to have Aretha Franklin songs in your repertoire.

And so I've always admired her for her tenacity in her career, for her voice, for her delivery, for her complete musicianship. The education that -- So many people go into sing in a ballad be educated. And she was educated as a singer and sang so many different genres. I mean, who knew the woman could sing opera in Italian. Come on. She was inimitable.

SCIUTTO: Yes, we played that earlier today. She jumped in for Luciano Pavarotti the last minute and sang like a natural. She covered your song "I Will Survive" on a recent album. I have to imagine as a singer, as a performer, that's about the biggest gift she could have given you.

GAYNOR: Absolutely. Absolutely, they say that imitation is the highest form of compliment, and so she highly complimented me by doing that song, by doing my song, and I am so flattered by that. I really, really would when I heard about it

SCIUTTO: Isaiah, the thing one thing, one of many things about Aretha Franklin was that she was a voice. She was tremendous musical talented. But she was a voice for civil rights. She was a voice for feminism. You know that song respect. There was a lot of meaning behind that word respect. How important was that part of her legacy?

THOMAS: Well, it was extremely important. Particularly, you know, during those times in the '60s and '70s, when African American women and men were still asking for respect from this country. Her and (INAUDIBLE) the staples singers, they were talking about, you know, how women needed to be respected, and my mother resonated with that. When my daughter was born, Aretha found time to write her a note and send flowers to the house. And just when, you know, Hillary was touring, trying to, you know, do fund-raisers in Detroit, she was very political, and she was all about the women's movement about respect.

And her and my daughter shared a moment, you know, when they were singing the respect song in Detroit and just, you know. She was political. She was a friend. She inspired all of us to speak up and speak out. And, again, we talk about her music. But, a lot of the conversations that she and I had particularly later in her life was about the politics. And, she was very, very concerned about the tone and the tenor of this country.

SCIUTTO: A story I love Gloria, was how respect, of course originally recorded by a man, singing about getting respect from his wife when he comes home. Gloria, she turned that around, right? You know, this is a woman saying give me respect.

GAYNOR: She certainly did, absolutely. She made better use of it than anyone I know.

SCIUTTO: As you're here tonight both of you. I feel lucky to have two folks who knew her so well. Isaiah, she was very private personally --


SCIUTTO: -- I mean she faced a lot of tragedy in her life. Her father, who of course had been a preacher, he was shot by burglars, and he lingered on in a coma for five years. She had a child very young. How did that affect her? Did she share with you? How did she overcome personal tragedy?

THOMAS: Well, as you said, she was very private. But then, there would be moments, you know, during our conversations that, you know, she would share some of those private struggles that she had dealt with, you know, trying to help me in terms of some of the private struggles that I was dealing with. So she was very willing to share with her close friends. But, you know, through her pain and through all of her ups and downs.

[20:55:15] She always found a way to smile and enjoy life and encourage others. She kept telling me, you got to get out of the hotel, you got to -- you know, when you visit these cities, you got to walk around, you got to meet people, you got to start enjoying life a little bit more.

And at the end, I think she realized what was going on with her, and she would start just dropping little hints to all of us. But for the most part, she was very private. But, you know, through her struggles, she always found joy. You know, I remember when she was singing, you know, driving in Detroit with her pink Cadillac, you know.

I mean, it resonated so well with Detroit. She was the heart and soul and the Queen of Soul, not only of Detroit but for the world. And, you know, she would be happy with a night like tonight, where the whole world is honoring her and giving her respect.

SCIUTTO: Folks, Isaiah Thomas, Gloria Gaynor, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your memories with us. We'll be right back

GAYNOR: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: During her many special television appearances over the decades, Aretha Franklin made one very special stop. She was a guest on "Larry King Live" and this remarkable and rare piece of video is where we're going to leave you tonight.