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Aretha Franklin Funeral; Steele To Ohr In Secret 2016 Meeting: Russia Has Trump "Over A Barrel"; Washington Lawyer a Frontrunner to Replace Don McGahn; Manafort Associate Charged with Violation of Foreign Agents Act; John McCain Lies in State at Capitol Rotunda as Public Pays Respects; Eric Holder Speaks at Aretha Franklin Funeral. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 31, 2018 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] SABRINA OWENS, NIECE OF ARETHA FRANKLIN: She has sung before heads of state and foreign royals and gained admiration from fans, colleagues, and fellow artists across all genres. She's both the 20th and 21st century musical and cultural icon who is known all over the world simply by her first name, Aretha.

Her vocal mastery and artistic excellence have been recognized numerous times over the course of her distinguished career. Aretha is the recipient of the USA's highest civilian honor, the presidential medal of freedom, as well as an 18-time Grammy Award winner, the recipient of the Grammy lifetime achievement, and a Grammy Living Legend Honor. She was the youngest individual ever to receive the coveted Kennedy Center honor, the first female inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the second female inductee into the U.K. Music Hall of Fame, and an inductee into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Aretha was the first woman and fourth artist in history to achieve 100 R&B Billboard charted singles with her version of "Rolling in the Deep."


OWENS: Aretha has been proclaimed internationally as the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America, and a symbol of black equality. In 1968, her spiritually uplifting voice was heard around the world singing at the funeral of civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1972, at the funeral of queen of gospel, Mahalia Jackson. Aretha's acclaimed voice was declared a natural resource of the state in 1985 by the Department of Natural Resources of the state of Michigan.

Aretha would reach a milestone by singing at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama.


OWENS: Aretha's powerful, distinctive gospel vocal style has influenced countless singers across multiple generations and musical genres, justifiably earning her the number one position on "Rolling Stone" magazine's list of the greatest singers of all time.

(APPLAUSE) OWENS: Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25th, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, the fourth of five children born to Reverend Clarence LaVaughn "C.L." Franklin, and Barbara Bernice Siggers, and was raised in Detroit. Aretha's father served as pastor of new Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, from 1946 to 1979. A nationally recognized American Baptist minister and civil rights activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, most notably in the 1963 Detroit Walk of Freedom. Reverend Franklin was known as the man with the million-dollar voice and was one of the first Baptist ministers to record and distribute his sermons.

Aretha's mother, Barbara Bernice Siggers, was a gifted pianist, and according to her close friend, Mahalia Jackson, one of the finest gospel singers in the country.

Talent ran strong within the family. Aretha's sisters later became professional musicians as well and spent years performing background vocals on her recordings, along with her cousin, Brenda Corbett. Her brother, Cecil, became her manager and maintained that position until his death in 1989. Her brother, Vaughn, a retired Air Force and Vietnam veteran, became her stage manager in 1990 until his death in 2002.

Aretha's musical gifts were apparent at an early age. Largely self- taught, she became a gifted pianist with a powerful voice and was widely regarded as a child prodigy. Aretha got her start as a performer singing in front of her father's congregation. By the age of 14, she had recorded some of her earliest tracks at her father's church, which were released by a small label as the album "Songs of Faith" in 1956. She also performed with her father's traveling revival. And while on tour befriended such gospel greats as Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cook, and Clara Ward.

In 1960, with her father's blessing, Aretha traveled to New York. After being courted by several labels there, including Motown and RCA, she signed with Columbia Records, which released the album "Aretha" in 1961. In 1966, Aretha signed with Atlantic Records. In 1967, the album "I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You" was released. Of this period, Ritchie Unterberger (ph), of the All-Music Guide wrote, "In the late '60s, Franklin had become one of the biggest international recording stars in all of pop."

[13:35:14] In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr himself presented her with a special award for inspiring so many Americans with her music.

Franklin's success continued throughout the '70s, and as she branched out to work with notable producers such as Curtis Mayfield and Quincy Jones.

Her string of top charting hits during the decade included "Call Me," "Don't Play that Song for Me," "Spanish Harlem," Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Angel" and "Daydreaming," just to name a few. In 1985, Aretha returned to the top of the charts with a platinum certified album, "Who's Zooming Who?"

In 1987, Aretha became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha continued to amass Grammy milestones. In 1991, Aretha received the Recording Academy's Grammy Legend Award. In 1993, Aretha was invited to sing at the inauguration of Bill Clinton, and the following year she received both a Grammy and Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003, she released her final studio album "So Damn Happy."


In 2008, she received her 18th Grammy Award for "Never Going to Break My Faith." In 2009, she performed "My Country Tis of Thee" at the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Over the course of her career, Franklin has supported a large number of charities and advocacy organizations, including the NAACP, Special Olympics, Feeding America, the Rain Forest Foundation, and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.

Aretha's artistry has also earned her a number of academic distinctions. Among them are honorary degrees from both Harvard University and New York University.

Aretha transitioned this life on Thursday, August 16th, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan, surrounded by her friends and family.

Those who are commending her loving spirit into the assurance of her eternal rest are her loved ones who preceded her. Her parents, Clarence "C.L." Franklin and Barbara Bernice Siggers. Her sisters, Carolyn Franklin and Irma Franklin. Her brothers Cecil Franklin and Vaughn Franklin. And her nephew Thomas Garrett Jr.

She leaves to cherish her precious memories her children, Clarence and Edward Franklin, Theodore R. White III, grandchildren Stephon Fred, Jordan Franklin, Victory Franklin, Grace Franklin, great- grandchildren, one sister, two sisters-in-law, Arlene Franklin and Cindy Franklin. A first cousin reared as a sister, Brenda Corbett, James Corbett. Four nieces, Sabrina Owens, Oliver Owens, Crystal Franklin, Bridget Franklin, and Marlene Brown. Five nephews, Vaughn C. Franklin Jr, Christine Franklin, Timothy Franklin, Carolyn Franklin, Anthony Franklin, Pamela Franklin, Terrell Franklin, and Charles Smith, Tina Smith. One uncle, and a host of great nieces, great nephews, and cousins, including Larone Garrett, Bershay (ph) Garrett, Asia Garrett, Brooklyn Hardeman, Vaughn Franklin III, Kalisha Mosely (ph), Dominique Hardy, Trina Beal, Joshua Franklin, Anthony Gates, Andrea Gates, Amber Hammond Franklin, Anthony Franklin, Senatana Franklin (ph), Cameron Green, Christina Davis, Jeremy Abernathy, Seltin Lowe (ph), Jeff Low, Romney Darrell, Doris Lowe, Billy Wilson, Deon Dingy (ph) and Latonza Waters (ph).

Thank you.


[13:39:40] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Amazing family, indeed. An amazing woman. Sabrina Owens, the niece of Aretha Franklin, with her obituary. We'll take a quick break. We're standing by to hear from the former

president, Bill Clinton, the former attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder. Much more right after this.


BLITZER: We're going to get back to the funeral of Aretha Franklin shortly.

But we're following a few headlines that are now bubbling here in Washington.

A revelation from Bruce Ohr that Russians thought they had then- Candidate Donald Trump, quote, "over a barrel."

An American lobbyist with ties to Ukraine pleads guilty in the case referred by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

And a Washington attorney has surfaced as a possible new White House counsel.

Several developments.

I want to bring in our justice correspondent, Evan Perez, who's following these stories.

Evan, what can you tell us first of all about Bruce Ohr, this Justice Department official, what he told Congressional staffers behind closed doors?

[13:44:59] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Several days ago, Bruce Ohr spent hours behind closed doors providing testimony to members of the House, Wolf. In that testimony, we're told by sources that Bruce Ohr described a breakfast he had in July of 2016 with Christopher Steele. Christopher Steele obviously is the person who we now know was the author of the now-infamous Trump/Russia dossier. In this breakfast is where, according to Bruce Ohr, who's a former Justice Department lawyer, high-level lawyer, he says that Christopher Steele described that the Russian intelligence agencies claimed to have then-Candidate Donald Trump over a barrel. Now, we don't know more about what he meant by that testimony, but it really sort of aligns with what we've now seen from the dossier that Christopher Steele provided later that year in 2016, which we now know was a part of the -- became part of this FBI investigation that Donald Trump is still living with -- Wolf?

BLITZER: We're also learning, Evan, more about the effort to replace the outgoing White House Counsel Don McGahn. What are you learning?

PEREZ: Well, one name that has now surfaced as a high possibility to replace Don McGahn is Pat Cipollone. He's a Washington lawyer who, it turns out, over the last few months, Wolf, has been providing advice to the president's legal team. The president has gotten to know him, according to sources we've talked to. So it appears that he is now a front runner for the job to replace Don McGahn. Emmet Flood, who is also working at the White House, is also believed to be in the running for the job -- Wolf?

BLITZER: There's another story that's developing right now involving a Washington lobbyist who saw Trump administration tickets for a Ukrainian oligarch. What about that?

PEREZ: Well, Samuel Patten is this operative here in Washington who pleaded guilty today in federal court here in Washington for failing to register as an agent of a foreign power. So he allegedly got paid over a million dollars over the years working with the political party in Ukraine. As part of what he was pleading guilty to today, the court documents say that he helped secure tickets for the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, that he took a Ukrainian oligarch with him to the inauguration -- Wolf?

BLITZER: The charge was that he didn't register as a foreign agent, is that right?

PEREZ: That's right. He's pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent, which is the same -- which we now know is one of the things that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been focused on in his investigation. By the way, this case, Wolf, began over at the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office. He referred it over to the U.S. attorneys here in Washington.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Several developments.

Evan, thank you very much.

Amidst all of this, we are also remembering Senator John McCain today as he lies in state at the U.S. capitol rotunda. You're looking at pictures of the public now having an opportunity to walk around the rotunda and pay their respects to this great American.

I want to bring in one of his many friends in the U.S. Senate, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. We all know he loved New Hampshire.

First of all, what did you think of today's ceremony at the capitol rotunda?

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, it was a very distinguished ceremony, as it is when someone lies in state. And I think it's been pointed out he's only the 30th person to lie in state in the rotunda of the capitol. And that speaks to the statesman that John McCain was, to the service that he provided to the country, both as a member of the military in the Navy during Vietnam, in his prisoner of war days, and to the work he did in the House, but especially in the Senate, his years on the Armed Services Committee, his support for our men and women in the military, his work to normalize relations with Vietnam after his own horrific experience, his willingness to reach across the aisle and work with anybody who was after the same goal he was after. There just aren't very many people like that either today or in American history.

BLITZER: Yes, only 30 Americans were honored previously. Today he became the 31st to lie in state at the capitol rotunda.

Senator, I want you to look at this Instagram picture just posted by Meghan McCain, the daughter of John McCain. She's with Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman and John McCain used to be called the Three Amigos. Great friends. Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman both there today. What do you think?

SHAHEEN: You know, again, it speaks to his ability to work with people on all sides of the partisan divide. He worked closely with folks in New Hampshire. Senator Ayotte, my former colleague in the Senate, and Steve Dupree, from New Hampshire, were both there today. He had very close ties with people in New Hampshire from his runs for president. And people loved him because he was a straight talker, because of his service, because of his willingness to stand on principle for what he thought was right. Again, we will not see someone like that any time soon.

[13:50:22] BLITZER: What are you going to most remember about

SHAHEEN: One of the things I worked closely with John McCain on was making sure those people, those Afghans who helped our men and women in the Afghan War and put their lives at risk to do that were able to come to the United States so they weren't murdered by the Taliban? One of my best days in the Senate was when John McCain and I were in my office welcoming one of those Afghans who served and the Army captain whose life he saved, making sure that he could come to America and be safe because he was being threatened? It's one of those places John McCain didn't get a lot of kudos for that but did what was right.

BLITZER: Senator McCain requested, as a final act of bipartisanship, that the wreaths brought into the rotunda surrounding his casket would be brought in by leaders of both parties. There was Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader; Paul Ryan, the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House. They all walked in together. That is an act the Senator and his family wanted. What happened to that kind of bipartisan cooperation in Washington? It seems to be missing now.

SHAHEEN: It is missing. Having that symbol that shows it's important to work together and we can do great things if we work together and make compromises if we need to and stand on principle when we do that is critical. That was one of the role models John McCain provided, not just for Congress, but for the country. We will miss that. We need people to step up and follow that model he set.

BLITZER: Senator Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, thanks for joining us on this important day.

Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, thank you.

We are going to have more news on what's going on in Washington. There's a lot going on in Washington.

Also, we are going to Detroit. We're going to see more of Aretha Franklin's funeral. We're standing by to hear the former President Bill Clinton, the former attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder. Much more music. Much more after this.



ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: To the Franklin family, this is a celebration of a life that was extremely well led. There's joy in that. There's happiness, even, in that. But, I cannot ignore the sadness that I feel in saying good-bye to a woman I was privileged to know and who I long admired before I ever had the chance to meet her. Whether I was a teenager in a basement party in New York City looking for that special someone to dance with to "Ain't No Way" --


HOLDER: -- or a departing attorney general of the United States surprised and delighted that she came and sang "America" at my farewell ceremony. Aretha Franklin has always been a part of my life. I think all of us can say that. It is hard to imagine that magnificent voice has been stilled, that compelling presence is gone too soon.

[13:55:17] Now, she was born a princess. Her family made her so. But, it was through her talent, determination and care for others that she became a queen. Her --


HOLDER: Her family shared her with Detroit. Detroit shared her with America. This nation shared her with the world, but she was always ours. She was always ours. Our princess and ultimately, our queen.


HOLDER: The issues that mattered to her were the same concerns of the people proud of her and who she never forget. She was the rare queen that never lost the common touch. She could drop her fur coat on the stage of the Kennedy Center in front of those with great power and great wealth and continue to care about the plight of the poor, unfairly treated people and forgotten hearts of this country.

In her voice was shared the joys, the sadness, the pain and the faith of a people. Through the power of her artistry, her voice became universal for all people. You felt that in her music. It was lyrical. It was sweet. It was earthy. It was sensual. It was righteous and it was powerful. She's moved us in ways no artist ever had before or since. Aretha Franklin commanded respect. She deservedly received it and made it possible for others.

Now, hers was a consequential life beyond the impact she had as a great singer. That should never, ever be forgotten. In ways not known to many, she was part of the movement that set this nation free. She made one song, in particular, her own. It became an anthem for a movement that made women more equal. In short, her status as queen, unlike others who inherit the title, her title was earned. Now --


HOLDER: It has been said that hers was a once-in-a-lifetime voice. That is simply not true. Her gift was almost other worldly. There has never been, there will never be another voice melded to the constant artistry that was Ms. Aretha Franklin.


HOLDER: We should count ourselves fortunate we lived in a time God shared one of his unique gifts before us. Those who came before us and after us will not have the same privilege we all have had. She made our lives richer and she made our lives better. She made this country both more sensitive and more just.

Aretha Franklin made the world more beautiful and more understandable. She comforted us. She moved us and she inspired us. God sang through her.

I know that she is in a better place and surrounded now by so many she missed for far too long. Our days will be a little less bright in our lives, a bit empty. It's impacted this wonderful woman had on all of us. We must find joy in her continuing ability through her recordings, videos, to connect with one another, especially with those we love with her music and the unique way she described so much of what we all experience.

Now, I'm going to end by paraphrasing words from what is probably my favorite Aretha Franklin song. "She won't call anymore and we'll sit and wait in vain, our love is true and it's all for you."

Aretha Franklin. Rest in peace, my queen.


[13:59:32] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We just watched the former attorney general, Eric Holder there. Senator Debbie Stabenow speaking there. What a day this is in America.

I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We are going take you through it all for the next two hours. This nation today honoring, remembering, celebrating the lives of two American legends in ceremonies powerful and beautiful in their right.

You have the late Senator John McCain. He is lying in state there. Members of the public having the precious opportunity to bid their own farewell to such a legend and hero in this country, a moment of bipartisan reverence, and a solute to his 60 years, 60 years of service to the country.