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Lobbyist with Russian and Ukrainian Ties Admits He Arranged Illegal Foreign Donation to Trump's Inauguration; Source: DOJ Official Bruce Ohr Testified That Dossier Author Told Him Russians Thought They had Trump "Over a Barrel"; Poll: Disapproval of President at a High of 60 Percent; Honoring A Hero; Gen. Petraeus Recalls Sen. McCain's War Zone Trips; A Look At Sen. McCain's 106-Year-Old Mother Roberta McCain; Massive Celebration For The "Queen Of Soul"; Buckingham Palace Honors Aretha Franklin; Star Power At Aretha Franklin's Funeral; New Plea Deal In Mueller Probe. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 31, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:05] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: President Trump keeps talking witch-hunt and the Russia probe keeps finding broomsticks.

John Berman here in for Anderson.

One more guilty plea in connection with the investigation. One more cooperator for Robert Mueller. He is Samuel Patten, the Washington lobbyist with busy ties to a Russian national, who himself was a close colleague of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to register as a foreign agent, and he admitted to making false statements, obstructing the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and causing foreign money to flow into the Trump inaugural committee. What he's got to offer the special counsel remains to be seen.

What he represents, though, is clear. Another reminder on top of the Manafort conviction, the Cohen guilty plea, the Russian indictments, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos that what the president calls a rigged witch-hunt continues to bear fruit, which may explain the president's tweet storm on the subject the last several days, his attack on the attorney general, and his threat which he restated on the stump last night.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: All I can say this, our Justice Department and our FBI at the top of it, because inside they have incredible people, but our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now, because people are angry. People are angry.

What's happening is a disgrace. And at some point, I wanted to stay out, but at some point, if it doesn't straighten out properly, I want them to do their job, I will get involved and I'll get in there if I have to.


BERMAN: The whole world gets it, he went on the say. Keeping them honest, though, what the whole world gets seems to be

something quite different than the message the president gives. Sixty-three percent of respondents in a new ABC/"Washington Post" survey support the Mueller investigation. Only 29 percent oppose it. The poll also shows record high disapproval of the president's performance on the job. More on that shortly.

More as well on the revelations by one of the president's bogeyman Bruce Ohr about a breakfast he had with Christopher Steele of dossier fame. We've got new reporting tonight on what he says Steele told him about just how much the leverage -- just how much leverage, I should say, the Russians believed they had over Donald Trump. The phrase he used, over a barrel, that they thought they had the Republican presidential nominee over a barrel. That's coming up.

More, though, on the Patten plea and what it could lead. CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with that.

Evan, what more can you tell us about this man Patten and his plea deal?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Samuel Patten is a lobbyist here in Washington, and he pleaded guilty today in federal court here in Washington to essentially failing to register as a foreign agent. But there is a lot more to this story. He got paid over a million dollars or the representing a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. And one of the people he was in business with is Konstantin Kilimnik, and that name rings familiar because the special counsel Robert Mueller has named him in the past in court papers as someone who is suspected to be a Russian spy essentially.

So, Patten has now agreed as part of his plea deal to cooperate with prosecutors. This is a case that began as part of an -- as part of the Robert Mueller investigation that was referred over to prosecutors in Washington, D.C. And one more interesting thing about this, John, is that, Patten basically admits in the court papers today that he helped Ukrainians funnel money into the Trump inaugural committee. Essentially what they did is they used someone else to buy tickets to the Trump inauguration so that he could take this Ukrainian with him to the Trump inauguration.

This is illegal under federal law. You're not allowed to donate as a foreigner. You're not allowed to donate to the inauguration committee.

So, what this case does, really, what it does is it shows that the special counsel and the prosecutors are very much keen on trying to figure out whether foreign money made into it the Trump campaign or to the Trump inauguration, and we expect that there is more to this story that we'll learn later.

BERMAN: And it is really interesting. As you say, it does draw a line between foreign money, Ukrainian money.

PEREZ: Right.

BERMAN: And the Trump political machine.

But there were more than a few people who wondered if on this Friday before Labor Day, Evan, there would be some perhaps bigger news from the special counsel's office. And while this charge is something, it isn't that bombshell some expected. And there are those who wonder if maybe Robert Mueller is about to go quiet for months before the midterm elections.

PEREZ: No. And that I think a lot of people are assuming simply because there has been this practice at the Justice Department. It's not written policy, per se, that you do observe a period of silence so as not to affect an upcoming election.

[20:05:08] In this case, we know that special counsel Robert Mueller plans to say a lot in the next month. We know he's got testimony, grand jury testimony that he is going to be taking from witnesses. So, we expect that we're going to see a lot more from Robert Mueller, more shoes to drop, if you will, between now and October.

Now there might be a period there where he will go quietly for the election because it is something that is important to observe. But we certainly don't expect that to happen right now.

BERMAN: Maybe not, maybe. Who know? Robert Mueller does what he knows, he doesn't often tell us.

PEREZ: Right.

BERMAN: As for the president's team, Rudy Giuliani, he weighed in on this latest conviction, this latest plea deal today. What did he say?

PEREZ: That's right. Well, Rudy Giuliani basically called attention to the fact that there is no mention here of Donald Trump in this plea deal. Take a listen to what he had to say.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TURMP: Turned out to be this irrelevant indictment where I think Mueller has turned into the private prosecutor. I mean, what does this have to do with President Trump? Not a single thing. It has nothing to do with collusion.

Some guy who donated to the inauguration? My goodness. There are about 500,000 people who donated to presidential administration. Every time they got a speeding ticket, the special prosecutor is going to do it.


PEREZ: And, look, Giuliani can minimize this plea deal today, but the fact is that this is the first time we're seeing on paper that the prosecutors have been examining any foreign money that went into the Trump inauguration. We know from our previous reporting that there were witnesses who were asked about Russian money, Ukrainian money that made its way into the campaign and the inauguration. So it is something that we know is very much in the focus of the special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators. And it's just a matter of time, obviously, before we find out the rest of this story.

As we mentioned, Patten has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his plea agreement.

BERMAN: So this could just be the beginning of Patten's role in this story.

PEREZ: That's right.

BERMAN: Evan Perez, thank you very, very much.

PEREZ: Thanks.

BERMAN: Now, the troubling notion that a foreign power could hold such sway over a presidential candidate that they can believe they had him, quote, over a barrel. According to a source with knowledge of the testimony, that's what a Justice Department lawyer told the members of the house judiciary committee this week.

He, that person who testified, is Bruce Ohr, a 30-year veteran of the DOJ, and until the president of the United States made him the target of his online ire and called for his firing, he was just another career official specializing in Russian organized crime. Now, he is the center of quite a story.

And CNN's Sara Murray has it.

So, Sara, what are we learning about what Christopher Steele told Bruce Ohr at this breakfast?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest twist in this is that Bruce Ohr was testifying in front of a congressional committee, and he said he was at a breakfast in July of 2016, and Christopher Steele was there. You know, Christopher Steele is this ex-British spy who compiled the dossier with all of these salacious allegations about Trump. And at that breakfast, Christopher Steele tells Bruce Ohr that Russian intelligence believes that they have then-candidate Donald Trump over a barrel, suggesting that for whatever reason, Russian intelligence believes that they, you know, hold something on then-candidate Trump.

So, this is what came out in his testimony. And, you know, it does line up, of course, with the allegations that we've previously heard from Christopher Steele through the dossier he compiled. Many of them, the salacious parts are still unfounded, but sort of the broader notion that Russia was trying to wage this campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, that is something that U.S. intelligence agrees with now.

BERMAN: So, Sara, this information from Steele, do we know if Bruce Ohr ever passed it along to anyone at Department of Justice?

MURRAY: Well, one of the tricky things about the Bruce Ohr situation is that, you know, his superiors were not aware of the extent of the contact that he was having with Christopher Steele. So, as you point out, this a guy who has been at the Justice Department for a long time, and he was overseeing these organized crime cases.

Well, he is no longer doing that. He was removed from that position. He was stripped of some of these responsibilities, in part because his bosses were uncomfortable once they found out about the extent of his contact with Christopher Steele and the fact that they were not aware of it the entire time.

BERMAN: So as we know, Ohr has been a frequent target of the president and his allies. Does this new information support their theories that Ohr somehow was involved in collusion against the president?

MURRAY: You know, it's really hard to say if it tells you anything about the president's vendetta and his allies that they decided to wage against Bruce Ohr. It's possible. You know, this is one of the contacts that was completely aboveboard and was part of him trying to do legitimate research, a legitimate investigation. But anything that Bruce Ohr does at this point with Christopher Steele looks nefarious to the president and his allies because they see Christopher Steele as someone who is out to get the president, someone who is being essentially paid for by liberals and that Bruce Ohr was all a part of this.

[20:10:07] BERMAN: Sara Murray, thanks so much for the reporting. Appreciate it.


BERMAN: More on the legal angles and the political implications of this and the latest guilty plea.

Joining us, former FBI supervisory special agent Josh Campbell, who also worked as a special assistant to James Comey and is currently a CNN law enforcement analyst, by the way. Happy birthday, Josh.


BERMAN: It's my mother's birthday too, which is a strange connection. I'm not sure if they're related.

Also with us, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero and CNN global analyst Max Boot.

Josh, I want to start with you. Now that this man Sam Patten has agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller, what kind of things could he offer? What insight could he provide and what interest could he be to the special counsel?

CAMPBELL: So if you look at this through the lens of an investigator, this is investigation 101. You start with the low level crime. You start with the lower level criminal and then work your way up.

The violation we're talking about here is a FARA violation. It's registering as a foreign agent. Obviously, he was operating in a orbit of people that would be of interest of the special prosecutor and that's obviously going cause great concern to the president and his allies as well.

I think what's interesting and, you know, what possibly is even worse for them is that you look at the broad scope of this investigation, you now have four offices that are some way involved in this. You have the national security at Main Justice. You have Mueller, and you have two U.S. attorneys' offices that are working on this investigation. I think it shows that they're not leaving any stone unturned.

Interestingly enough, as this campaign to discredit them continues, people talk about draining the swamp. They seem to be the only ones that are out there draining the swamp as evidenced by this plea today.

BERMAN: And, Carrie, to pick up on one thing Josh was talking about there, this is the first time we've seen formal charges by the government related to an illegal foreign donation to Trump election related events, the inauguration. You think this is a big deal and could lead investigators to more.

Why is that?

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: John, I definitely think it's significant. I think the most important paragraph in the plea documents that were filed today by the government is really the paragraph that pertains to other conduct. So, not the one FARA charge, the Foreign Agents Registration charge that he pled guilty to, but the other conduct that's not charged that's described.

And that goes to what Evan was describing earlier, which was the donation that was made to the inauguration committee through a U.S. person, unnamed U.S. person straw man. And that's really, I think, the first time that we are seeing actual evidence in a court pleading of a foreign donation that has made its way to a Trump campaign entity. So, it is the inauguration committee, not the actual campaign donation.

But I think it does show that if the individuals that have been drawn into this investigation were able to so readily set up a straw man through a foreign bank account, that it certainly indicates that investigators would be looking for other foreign money. Whether or not they find it, we'll find out. But I think it certainly indicates that they're looking for it.

BERMAN: So, Max, "The New York Times" reported that the inauguration tickets that pat purchased were for a Russian political operative believed to have had ties to Russian intelligence. So when you hear that, does that raise any suspicions to you?

MAX BOOT, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, of course, John. I mean the number of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians is off the charts. I mean, according to the Center for American Progress, their Moscow project, we now know about 87 contacts, 87 contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian.

And they reported none of them. They didn't call the FBI about any of them. They kept them all private. They lied about all of them.

We're seeing the substance of some of those come out now. What we're seeing is a lot of the people around Trump were very closely and suspiciously connected to the Kremlin. Of course, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, his deputy, Sam Patten was another one who was funneling money to Trump from essentially Russian interests and who was also close to Konstantin Kilimnik who was the Russian intelligence agent who was also very close to Paul Manafort and to Rick Gates.

I mean, we hear this constant refrain from Rudy Giuliani, no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. Well, actually we see a lot of evidence of collusion. We have not seen the absolute proof presented yet because Robert Mueller is building his case methodically and he is not going to show his cards before he has to, but the building blocks of collusion are there along with, of course, obstruction of justice, which, you know, the president continues to commit in plain sight with his attempts to intimidate Sessions and Mueller and perhaps to get rid of them, along with other crimes, including the fact that last week Trump's lawyer pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign laws at the direction of president Trump.

So the case against Donald Trump, I mean, these are very small building blocks that we've seen the last day, but the overall case is getting very, very strong.

BERMAN: In terms of Patten, just to be clear, it isn't clear to me that Samuel Patten was extremely close to the Trump campaign per se.

[20:15:02] He appears to be close to Konstantin Kilimnik who's this Ukrainian figure with ties --


BOOT: I mean, according to the indictment, he was funneling Russian money to the Trump inauguration.

BERMAN: Ticket, absolutely. He admitted to that. And that is significant.

And if you're following the money, that is the first time as Carrie has pointed out that foreign money went into Trump political operations. It could be just the beginning or not. We'll have to wait and see.

Josh, in terms of Bruce Ohr, who is increasingly a messy figure in this drama, we know that Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr had a number of meetings. We now know that Ohr was told by Steele that the Russians thought they had Trump over a barrel. Does it surprise you that Ohr didn't go back and tell his superiors at the Department of Justice what he was learning?

CAMPBELL: So I don't think we know enough about that exchange right now to make a fair assessment on what Bruce Ohr was or was not doing. He had a history of being involved and investigating Russian organized crime. That's how he first met Christopher Steele. So, he was serving as that conduit, possibly for the government to provide this information.

What I'm afraid of if we continue to chase these lines from the president where he tries to attack people, undermine their credibility, we're going to lose the forest for the trees here. I think the main focus as we talk about Christopher Steele is people are trying to make him out to be this boogieman, that he is some partisan who is going to campaign to destroy the president when -- what I think is important if we stop and actually think about who he is, this is a former or retired officer with the British security service, the secret intelligence service who was retired and was investigating on behalf of a client whether or not Donald Trump had connection with the Kremlin.

And he took that information. He was so concerned with what he found that he first took it to the FBI. He didn't think they were doing enough with it, so he decided to make it public because of the time crunch running up to the election.

Now, he is a collector. In the intelligence business, a collector will take information and provide it to analyst who will then discern whether that information is true. We never got that benefit because of that close time crunch. So, a lot of people try to look at the Steele dossier and discredit it and focus on this tawdry detail, the salacious part. But you have to remember, that is one aspect of a larger document that is purporting to claim that the president is compromised by the Russians.

And I would ask you this. If you have someone, whether you're in the media or an intelligence official, you have a source that tells you 10 things, eight of them turn out to be true, two of them turn out to be false, you don't simply discredit everything that they tell you. You look at it with greater scrutiny.

So, I don't think sitting here today that we can say that Christopher Steele, what he provided was, you know, completely false. And the last thing is the president is actually helping us corroborate some of that information because the more time that passes where he continues to not ridicule Putin, he continues to act opposite the interests of the United States, he is helping us corroborate the information Steele put in the dossier.


BOOT: Can I jump in very quickly just on the subject of Bruce Ohr. I just want to stress how incredibly outrageous I think it is that Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is out here excoriating this career Justice Department official, this hardworking civil servant who by all accounts is honest and effective, and there is zero evidence that Bruce Ohr did anything wrong. Not only is he being excoriated by the president, but his wife is being excoriated by the president. In a tweet that Mrs. Ohr speaks Russian. This is somehow supposed to be something that is really damning.

I mean, this is really McCarthyism in action. We should not become so inured to this that we overlook how outrageous it is that the president is hanging career civil servants out to dry for doing their jobs, trying to keep our country safe.

BERMAN: Again, what Bruce Ohr was told is the Russians believed they had a candidate for president over the barrel.

Carrie, I want to talk about where we are tonight, August 31st, important not just because it's Josh Campbell's birthday and my mother's birthday.

CAMPBELL: And your mother.

BERMAN: But because it's the Friday before Labor Day. And there is this notion that the political season kicks off officially after Labor Day. And while the Patten indictment is interesting today, it may not be the major development or shoe to drop that some people were expecting Mueller to provide before things get very political in a few weeks.

Do you think he would be resistant to come out with more indictments as we get closer to Election Day? What do you take from the fact that Rudy Giuliani says he hasn't heard from Mueller in three weeks?

CORDERO: The policy or the unwritten rule about not affecting an election, normally that would have pertained in the Justice Department to public corruption cases. In other words, if a public corruption case is being conducted, then the general guidance within the department would be the FBI and the Justice Department wouldn't want to take any steps related to that investigation that would be interpreted or actually be able to affect an elections outcome.

And so, then they would hold off. I think in the special counsel's situation, it depends on what the particular charging activity might be. So, if there is somebody that may be more of a minor player, and they plead to something that might happen, but it would be a judgment call that the special counsel, probably in consultation with Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general for purposes of this investigation, would need to make if they had a major new charging decision to make.

[20:20:03] BERMAN: And I'll note, President Trump not on the ballot in November.

Carrie Cordero, Josh Campbell, Max Boot, thanks so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

Josh, have a great birthday.

Next, more on the president's poll numbers and what effect they could have in the midterm. David Axelrod joins us live.

Also, remembering John McCain. Washingtonians power into the capitol to pay their respects.

And later, remembering Aretha Franklin as only Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder, Cicely Tyson, and so many others can. A regal sendoff for the Queen of Soul ahead on 360.


BERMAN: We touched on new polling at the top of the program that shows strong support for the Mueller investigation. That same polling from ABC News and "The Washington Post" also shows this difference of opinion concerning the president's dispute with attorney general over the Russia probe.

[20:25:09] Sixty-two percent backed the actions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. By that, I mean his recusal. Only 23 percent side with the president here.

As for his job approval, it stands at 36 percent, 60 percent telling pollsters they disapprove. That's the highest it has been in the ABC News/"Post" poll.

And on impeachment, Americans are split: 49 percent believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. That is more than say they should not. And that's with midterm elections just a bit more than two months away, which certainly makes for plenty to talk about with "AXE FILES" host and former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod.

David, our friends in the numbers business will tell you that when you look at polls, look at them all together. The average is a more predictable, reliable indicator than one single poll, maybe as an outlier. Still, this poll comes after a very tough week for the president, after the Cohen guilty plea, after Paul Manafort was found guilty.

Do you think that's what we're seeing here?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that may be part of it. I mean, every poll can have certain unique features that have to be discounted.

But when you aggregate the most recent polls, you do see a drop in the president's approval rating. He had been in a sort of low 40s. It's now running around 40. This poll is lower than that.

And it stands to reason after the week -- the couple of weeks that he's had that his numbers -- that his numbers would fall. So, there's really no good news for the president in this poll relative to the investigation, relative to his own rating. And if you're a Republican candidate out there, this has to be very, very concerning.

BERMAN: Let's talk about that. What do they then do about this? Because I do not think you're going to see Republican candidates, many Republican candidates trying to distance themselves from the president.


BERMAN: Maybe in a few swing districts, but not overall.

AXELROD: Yes. You know, it was interesting. I had a conversation today with a high-up Republican operative. And yes, I do have friends on both sides of this. And what he said was, look, there is a real concern about turnout. And these individual members of Congress aren't going to inspire to come out in large numbers.

The one guy who can inspire the base to come out is Donald Trump. The problem is that he also has a really negative impact on swing voters and independent voters. And so, you know, it's really a tough choice. And in these swing districts, they'll probably opt to try and distance themselves.

But let me tell you something. It's very hard to distance yourself from a president of your own party. That rarely ever works. And so, you know, I think that they are battening down the hatches for a stormy November.

BERMAN: In this poll, by the way, the president only had a 78 percent approval rating among Republicans. Now I know 78 percent sounds like a lot. That is low for the president in terms of where he has been with Republicans in his own polling. So that is interesting if that trend continues, it will be really problematic for him. But we don't know that yet.

AXELROD: Well, there is another factor in a number of polls I've seen, John, which is the number of people who declare themselves as Republicans has dropped by a few points.

BERMAN: Right.

AXELROD: So you have a lot of -- not a lot, but some segment of Republicans now identifying themselves as independents because they don't want to identify themselves as Republicans in Trump's party. So, he is -- he is -- yes, his number is dropping a bit among Republicans, at least in this poll, but he is also commanding a small base there. And so, all of these things are concerning.

You know, listen, Donald Trump has defied conventional wisdom in the past. So, one has to offer that disclaimer. But no one can feel good about this poll if you're sitting in the White House or if you're running on the Republican ticket around the country.

BERMAN: What about the impeachment numbers, right? Forty-nine percent of people in this poll said they would support Congress beginning impeachment proceedings which was more than the number who said they did not.

It's unclear to me who is going to like that number more, Republicans or Democrats, because I don't hear Democrats jumping in to impeachment all that willingly on the campaign trail. Not as much as Republicans who were warning their voters that if you vote for Democrats, you'll see impeachment.

AXELROD: You and have I talked about this before, John. You know, as I mentioned before, the Republicans are concerned about turnout among their base. And their base is motivated by Trump. If they feel that Trump is in some sort of existential situation here because of impeachment, they may be more likely to come out and vote. At least that's what the Republican theory is. That's what you hear Steve Bannon and others talking about.


But Democrats I think are hesitant in part because swing voters aren't necessarily signing up for immediate impeachment. I think they want oversight. I think they want -- they want some -- they want Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibilities. But they want to make sure that this is just not a political food fight. And so you're going see many Democrats continue to be muted. And I think that they should properly be muted because Mueller has to report. And when he does, they have the opportunity to judge that. But for Republicans, this is a turnout thing.

BERMAN: David Axelrod, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

AXELROD: Good to see you, John.

BERMAN: All right, coming up, Senator John McCain's casket arrived at the capitol rotunda today where friends, family, colleagues, members of the public gathered to honor him. We'll show you some of that really moving ceremony.

We'll also tell you about the extraordinary life of the Senator's 106- year-old mother, Roberta McCain, who was there today holding her granddaughter's hand.


BERMAN: Senator John McCain lying in state at the capitol rotunda tonight. For hours now, members of the public have been paying their respects. The lines outside have been long, and they remain long as we speak right now. Capitol police have now cut off any new visitors, but anyone already in line will be permitted to go into the rotunda. Tomorrow morning, two former Presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies for Senator John McCain at a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.

Today the current Vice President and McCain's congressional colleagues spoke. CNN Sunlen Serfaty joins now us from Capitol Hill. Sunlen?

[20:35:04] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, so many touching moments so, many moving moments up here on Capitol Hill. And one I want to highlight that largely happened in private. The wife of Senator John McCain, Cindy McCain went with Senator Graham, one of Senator McCain's best friends here in the Senate and they visited the Senate floor, visited John McCain's desk one last time. And during that moment, Graham's lead (ph) took two white roses from a large vase that sat on top of McCain's desk and handed them to Cindy McCain, certainly an acknowledgment of all of the time that he spent away from his family doing his work here in Washington.


SERFATY (voice-over): A poignant sound. The skies opening up and rain pouring down just as Senator John McCain's casket was brought step by step into the U.S. capitol for the last time. A somber end to the Senator's 35-year career on Capitol Hill. REP. PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced.

SERFATY (voice-over): The capitol rotunda filled with McCain's colleagues from the House and Senate.

RYAN: I remember thinking more than once, yes, he really does talk like a sailor. But you see, with John, it was never feigned disagreement. The man didn't feign anything. He just relished the fight.

SERFATY (voice-over): Paying tribute to McCain's legacy in Washington, oftentimes as the maverick, a thorn in the side of his own party.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY LEADER: Depending on the issue, you knew John would either be your staunchest ally or your most stubborn opponent.

SERFATY (voice-over): In the absence of the President, which was McCain's wish --

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: In every generation, there are those who put country first, who prize service ahead of self, who summon idealism from a cynical age. John McCain was such a man.

SERFATY (voice-over): Vice President Mike Pence speaking on behalf of the White House

PENCE: The President asked me to be here. On behalf of a grateful nation --

SERFATY (voice-over): And as was McCain's wish as well, to send a final message of bipartisanship. He wanted to break protocol and have the leaders of both parties, Republican and Democrat in both chambers to lay wreaths together at his casket. John McCain's grieving family, including his 106-year-old mother Roberta McCain tearfully continuing their goodbyes. As did Republican congressman Sam Johnson, a POW for nearly seven years who shared a prison cell with McCain.


BERMAN: So Sunlen, after two days of emotional farewells, what will be next in this weekend of festivities?

SERFATY: Yes well, appropriately so, there will be another two days of emotional farewells. First Senator McCain's body will lie in state overnight tonight here in the rotunda of the U.S. capitol. He will be on the ceremonial unit of the U.S. capitol police. They will keep watch throughout the night of his body. In the morning, tomorrow he will be driven to the National Cathedral for the service there. But a poignant stop along the way. The hearst will pause briefly at the Vietnam Veteran's War Memorial. His wife Cindy will get out and lay a wreath, and then on to the National Cathedral that is where we'll hear speeches from his two formal rivals, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. These are two men that John McCain before passing away wanted and asked for them personally to deliver these speeches.

Ad then on Sunday, the service at the U.S. Naval Academy and then where he will ultimately be buried in Indianapolis, Maryland. John?

BERMAN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thanks much for that report.

Now General David Petraeus will be one of the speakers Sunday at the ceremony that Sunlen was just talking about where Senator McCain will be laid too rest at the U.S. Naval Academy. He and the Senator had a lengthy personal and professional relationship and often met at the height of Americas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I spoke with General Petraeus earlier this week, and asked him to respond to Lindsey Graham's comments about Senator McCain on the Senate floor.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Warriors are the best I believe at making peace. And the warrior understands the difference between a false peace and real peace. To those who accused him of wanting endless wars, you had no idea what you were talking about. He wanted sustainable peace and understood the consequences of not seeing it through.

BERMAN: Do you agree with that description of John McCain?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, FMR CIA DIRECTOR: Oh, yes, very much. So he spent a lot of time with us, as you know. Every recess, he and Senator Graham and Senator Lieberman, the three amigos were out there with us. They experienced a lot of memorial ceremonies. They participated in a number of events.

[20:40:04] There was one, for example, in the fourth of July in 2007 where about six months into the surge. It had been tough. And we had a ceremony, a reenlistment ceremony that also featured a citizenship's swearing in. About 600 soldiers, air, marine reenlisted at that ceremony. And then the very moving piece is what followed where there were empty chairs in the ranks of those who were going to rise and had been fighting with the American flag on their shoulder and now were going to get citizenship in the country for which they had been fighting, except that some of them had been killed in the week preceding that actual ceremony.

And so we had their pictures frames on those chairs. And understandably, Senator McCain was very moved about it. And he wrote about it in his final book, "Restless Wave."

BERMAN: I can see that being very important to him to be a part of. And you had mentioned that he kept on coming back to see you in Iraq through those and Afghanistan, in the war zones at all time. He was a huge fan of yours. I mean it's no accident you're speaking at the service at Annapolis, an army guy speaking at Annapolis on Sunday.


PETRAEUS: I'm sure he would like the idea --

BERMAN: I know, I'm sure he did to it you on purpose.

PETRAEUS: One last dig at you (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: He called you one of the great military leaders in American history. He stood by you even during some very tough times for you politically. What does that say about what kind of man he was?

PETRAEUS: Well, he is extraordinarily loyal to his friends, if you will, to those with whom he has been through tough times. The surge was a very, very tough time. It was a grinding experience for those of us in Iraq, for the commander of it. And it was a grinding experience for him because he put so much on it. He had -- he was really the champion of the surge. He had criticized his party's President for not taking action in Iraq prior to the surge. He was the biggest supporter, again, with Lieberman and Graham, the three amigos.

He famously said that he would rather lose an election than lose a war. And perhaps a bit because of his support for the surge, he did lose that election. And ironically, the victor, Senator Obama, when he became President, was helped enormously I think by the results of the surge with violence down by some 85 or 90%. It gave him an opportunity to do what he had wanted to do, which was to draw down in an orderly fashion, which what it was for the subsequent three years after the surge.

BERMAN: General David Petraeus, always a pleasure to speak to you. Thanks so much.

PETRAEUS: Thank you John.


BERMAN: As family, friends, colleagues and all Americans honor the life and legacy of John McCain, we'd also like to take a moment to tell you a little bit about his mother. It's not often that someone lives long enough to have to bury her nearly 82-year-old son, but nothing about Mrs. Roberta McCain's life has been particularly ordinary. Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 106, you might say Roberta McCain is the original maverick. With her husband, a navy admiral gone for long periods at sea, Roberta raised her son and his two siblings largely on her own.

JOHN MCCAIN, FMR SENATOR: Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength and her belief that we're all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country. I wouldn't be here tonight but for the strength of her character.

KAYE (voice-over): The two were very close. To Roberta, he was simply Johnny.

ROBERTA MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S MOTHER: He was just one of those nice children that people like to have around. The neighbors liked him. Everybody liked Johnny.

KAYE (voice-over): Roberta McCain was born in 1912 when William Howard Taft was President. And her independent streak kicked in early in life. She was just 19 when she met her future husband, a sailor on the USS Oklahoma. Roberta's mother banished him from their home because she didn't want her daughter to marry a sailor. So what did Roberta do?

R. MCCAIN: We loped. It was a real love affair. It really was.

KAYE (voice-over): Roberta created what her son later called a mobile classroom, often taking her children on road trips as a part of their education. As Senator McCain shared in his memoir, they went to museums, art galleries, and natural wonders of the world. Later, Roberta and her identical twin sister spent years seeking adventure around the globe. She reportedly once rode through the Jordanian desert in the dark of night. At one point, when Roberta was in her 90s, she flew to France where they told her she was too old to rent a car. She had an answer for that.

R. MCCAIN: They wouldn't rent me a car. So I bought a Peugeot.

KAYE (on-camera): When her trip was over, she shipped that car to the U.S. and reportedly drove it out west. And if there's any truth to the stories her son told about her on the campaign trail, she probably got there pretty fast. Senator McCain liked to tell the story of his mother being pulled over for going 112 miles per hour.

[20:45:10] (voice-over): It is no secret she is a force to be reckoned with.

FRED THOMPSON, (R) FMR SENATOR: All I got to say is if Ms. Roberta had been the McCain captured by the North Vietnamese, they would have surrendered.

KAYE (voice-over): Her strength helped her navigate one of the toughest periods of her life.

R. MCCAIN: A friend of ours said Roberta two planes were shot down, and we didn't see any ejections. And when we came home, Tom Moore, who was chief of naval operations called and he said we're sure that Johnny's gone.

KAYE (voice-over): And when she heard that her son had been taken as a prisoner of war --

R. MCCAIN: Can you believe that that's the best news I ever had in my life? See? It depends on where you're standing how things affect you.

KAYE (voice-over): Years later when Senator McCain ran for President, Roberta joined him on the campaign trail. At her age, she always imagined her son would outlive her, but instead this week she's burying him. A pillar of strength once again for the McCain family.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: What an incredible woman. Be sure to tune in to CNN tomorrow morning, remembering a hero, the funeral of Senator John McCain. Our coverage begins at 8:00 a.m. eastern time.

Up next, the spectacular tribute to another great American, Aretha Franklin. We put together the dynamic moments of some of music's best came to motown to embrace the joy that the queen of soul left all of us. And Monday here on CNN we debut the story of another pioneering woman, the CNN film "RBG."


BILL CLINTON, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I'm proud to nominate this path-breaking attorney, advocate and judge to be the 107th justice to the United States Supreme Court.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: There may be trying times, but think how it was in those days. The judges didn't think sex discrimination existed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth knew what she was doing in laying the foundation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put women on the same plane as men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The goal was equality and civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg quite literally changed the world for the way is for American women.

GINSBURG: What has become for me could happen only in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's become such a rock star. .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is really closest thing to a super hero I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is known to fans the world over as the notorious RBG.

GINSBURG: All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet our necks.



[20:51:48] BERMAN: You're hearing the band of the welsh guards at Buckingham palace in London today honoring a real queen. The later Aretha Franklin with her classic "Respect" during the changing of the guard. Indeed the changing of the guard seems to be a theme in this country tonight as we say good-bye to John McCain and Aretha Franklin. A fleet of pink Cadillacs sat outside the Detroit church where hour after hour a funeral for the queen of soul became the concert of the year. Some of the most towering figures of music joined famous names from politics for moments that were dynamic and at times electric.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't all agree on everything, but we agree on Aretha. And she fought -- she fought for everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She charmed us. She thrilled us. She entertained us. She inspired us. She motivated us. She helped us. She hoped us. She blessed us one and all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember when I was a kid, people used to always ask me what does it feel like to be Aretha Franklin's granddaughter? And I'd always shrug my shoulders and go, I don't know. It's just my grandma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The celebrated and the uncelebrated danced to the queen's music, cleaned house to the queen's music, laugh, cry, and make cornbread and greens to her music. Break up, make up, dream dreams to her music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the palaces in England singing for the queen to popping up in the back seat of a car in the middle of a commercial, Aretha was everywhere. She was classy enough to sing on the most prominent stages in the world, but she was home girl enough to make potato salad and fry some chicken.

[20:55:31] CLINTON: We started out not as a President and a first lady, a Senator, a secretary of state. We started out as, like, Aretha groupies or something. the secret of her greatness was she took this massive talent and this perfect culture that raised her and decided to be the composer of her own life song. What a song it turned out to be.


BERMAN: What a day. What a woman. Reminder, don't miss full circle, our daily interactive newscast on Facebook where you pick some of the stories we cover. You can see it weeknights at 6:25 eastern on

We have much more ahead on this Friday night. Another witness playing ball in the Mueller probe. What today's plea deal could mean for Mueller's interest in Paul Manafort's inner circle and why the President's legal team is again saying nothing to see here.