🎄 Good Saturday morning, and welcome to December.
The passing last night of President George H.W. Bush at age 94 "marks the end of a long era in presidential history — what we might call the Cold War Presidents: Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush," presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of "Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush," tells Axios:
"To me," Meacham continued, "one of the most fascinating things about GHWB is how easily he could have turned out to be a conventional New England-born, Ivy League-educated Wall Streeter in a world circumscribed by the Council on Foreign Relations, the River Club, and commutes home to Greenwich."
The statement from the former president's office: "George Herbert Walker Bush, World War II naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st President of the United States of America, died on November 30, 2018."
George W. Bush, from Dallas:
Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.
From the office of Barack and Michelle Obama:
George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey. Expanding America’s promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. Reducing the scourge of nuclear weapons and building a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from Kuwait. And when democratic revolutions bloomed across Eastern Europe, it was his steady, diplomatic hand that made possible an achievement once thought anything but — ending the Cold War without firing a shot. It's a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want all of us to try.
The long view: "He was president for only four years, but George H.W. Bush shaped U.S. history for decades, taking on tough jobs from Beijing to the CIA, ousting Iraqi forces from Kuwait, sealing a breakthrough budget deal that cost him an election and fathering a future president." (Reuters' David Lindsey)
The N.Y. Times' Adam Nagourney writes for history:
Statement from President Trump (who mocked the 41st president just five months ago: "What the hell was that, by the way: Thousand points of light?") and First Lady Melania Trump, issued after midnight ET from Buenos Aires:
Through his essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country, President Bush inspired generations of his fellow Americans to public service — to be, in his words, "a thousand points of light" illuminating the greatness, hope, and opportunity of America to the world. ...
With sound judgment, common sense, and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our Nation, and the world, to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War. As President, he set the stage for the decades of prosperity that have followed. And through all that he accomplished, he remained humble, following the quiet call to service that gave him a clear sense of direction.
"Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment," The Wall Street Journal's Warren Strobel reports (subscription).
Why it matters: "The CIA last month concluded that Prince Mohammed had likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, and President Trump and leaders in Congress were briefed on intelligence gathered by the spy agency."
A Saudi official to The Journal, after the article published online:
Supreme Court's official group portrait day, in the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building yesterday:
For 563 days, news about Robert Mueller's investigation has come out in dribs and drabs — tile by tile. Once in a while, it's important to step back and see the mosaic. Here's a synthesis by AP Justice Department reporter Eric Tucker:
Why it matters: "The lies to the FBI and to Congress ... have raised new questions about Trump's connections to Russia, revealed key details about the special counsel's findings and painted a portrait of aides eager to protect the president and the administration by concealing communications they presumably recognized as problematic."
"More lies followed as prosecutors this week accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying even after his guilty plea."
What's next: "More false statement charges could be coming. Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the panel has made referrals to prosecutors and cited Cohen as an example."
Microsoft's big bet on cloud computing is paying off, as the company yesterday surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable publicly traded company, AP's Matt O'Brien writes:
The history: On Nov. 8, 2017, "Apple’s closing market cap reached $903 billion, surpassing what Microsoft was worth during the dot-com boom." (N.Y. Times)
P.S. N.Y Times Quote of the Day ... Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, a group that supports strong data protection laws, on the breach of personal data of up to 500 million Marriott International guests:
Seven weeks (51 days) after first being spotted on Oct. 10, the now-famous Mandarin duck — nicknamed "Mandarin Patinkin" as its social-media star rose — floats on a pond in the rain in Central Park yesterday.
Backstory, from the N.Y. Times's Julia Jacobs on Oct. 31, "A Mandarin Duck Mysteriously Appears in Central Park, to Birders’ Delight":