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Alabama Certifying Doug Jones Win Over Roy Moore; President Trump Touting His Legislative Record. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 28, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:08] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello and thanks for joining me. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Brooke Baldwin, who is off today.
And we have breaking news in that contentious state race in Alabama where right now Democrat Doug Jones is being certified as a winner in that special election, despite his opponent's efforts to invalidate the results.
Just moments ago, a judge just rejected Republican candidate Roy Moore's legal complaint alleging rampant voter fraud across the state.
Now, Moore was disputing accusations that he sexually abuse and assaulted teen girls when he was in his 30s. He says he took a polygraph test to prove his innocence. And last hour, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said, people are entitled to their own opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MERRILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a number of things that have been introduced, and some of those I'll touch on for you, one was that five bus loads of African-Americans have been brought from Mississippi to Mobile to vote in the election. That was summarily dismissed after investigation was conducted.
The second thing was that there were three van loads of people from Mexico that were imported to come and vote and cast their ballot and they had been identified and they had actually been arrested and incarcerated. That, too, was not true.
Third, that there was a town that was some 20 miles from Birmingham named Borderlama where they had only 2,200 residents and more than 5,000 people had actually cast their ballot, that would make some sense and it would cause a lot of consternation, although there is no town or community in the state of Alabama called Borderlama. So that was completely fabricated and made up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher who is in Montgomery where this election certification is taking place.
Dianne, what more can you tell us about this new breaking developments?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, and I apologize because the certification event is going to be starting in just a couple of minutes here, you should be seeing them doing the pledge.
But this came down from the circuit court of Montgomery County, Alabama, just a few years ago, the Honorable Johnny Hardwick, the circuit judge, essentially dismissed with prejudice Roy Moore's motion for temporary restraining order to basically delay this certification of this election for that special election that was held on December 12th. The Moore campaign, as you guys went over has been alleging voter fraud. They wanted the secretary of state to investigate these claims. The secretary of state said he has already investigated.
So, at this point, its going to move on as scheduled with the voter certification canvas to go ahead and find the paper work making Doug Jones the next senator from Alabama.
CABRERA: So, with all of this last minute drama, what evidence did Moore actually provide for his voter fraud allegations?
GALLAGHER: Well, so Roy Moore in this initial complaint from his attorney, kind of a kitchen sink, if you will, a lot of different claims of voter fraud that they were going through. And I think that the clip that you played from the secretary of state, he went over some of those that he had already disproven.
But he talked about the fact that there was a higher voter turn out. They used this analysis from they called three election experts who one of whom is sort of a conspiracy theorist who talks about the assassination of JFK and murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
They pointed to certain areas like Jefferson County that have high African-American population and also had extremely high turnout and looked at the precincts and they determined that they thought it was irregular. It was unusual they would have such high turnout. And some of the more traditional Republican areas had low turnout.
Roy Moore also alleged that perhaps people came in from out of state and voted with out of state driver's licenses. They used YouTube videos to kind of back those claims up that, again, secretary of state looked into, and they were not voter fraud instances, he determined. That was a person who actually had an Alabama driver's license and was resident and just misspoke when he was talking online.
So, a lot of these cases, Ana, seem to be things that he grasped at online. I can tell you that the secretary of state's office, they have been answering phones since we have been here nonstop with people calling, you know, either issuing complaints. He said so far they have had 118 complaints about voter fraud. They have, his words, totally adjudicated 85 of those.
[14:05:05] And a good number of those 118 came from people from out of state, Ana. So, this is sort of a concerted effort. Even Roy Moore spokesperson when she came on CNN speaking to Dana Bash earlier continued to give out the phone number of secretary of state here in Alabama.
So, it does appear people are continuing to call with either their feelings or to claim instances of voter fraud. But according to secretary of state, there have been none that they have been able to find that they've investigated thus far.
CABRERA: And even with Moore's campaign trying to fight to the very end, it sounds like all the officials that are involved in the election process there in Alabama, even the judge now rejecting Moore's complaint. Proof that this is going to move forward.
Dianne Gallagher, stay with us as we wait for the election certification to happen live. In fact, let's listen in if it's happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of the agenda, approving the agenda say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With unanimous consent, the agenda is approved.
The next order of business is the actual certification of the election results, and although you speak mostly in terms of certification being with regard to the U.S. senate, special general election that was held, there were also proposed constitutional amendments that were on the ballot in two different counties, so today's certification will include not only certifying the results of the U.S. Senate race, but also one local amendment for (INAUDIBLE) County and two local amendments for Lamar County.
The reason the document in front of you is so large is under state law, we did have to identify who received the write-in votes cast for this particular office. And so, there is an appendix to the certification document that includes all the names of everyone who received write-in votes minus people that are not a live or fictional such as Mickey Mouse of Superman. So, if you -- I don't know if you want to look at the document first before we proceed with signing, or once you are ready, we can proceed with the signatures.
Let me also add that these are available for your individual review as members of the media. If you'd like to see these upon completion of the certification process today.
Once the certification process is completed today, we will be posting a PDF copy of the complete certification document on our Website within 30 minutes to an hour upon conclusion of the meeting. And it will be there for download and review and analysis if you would like to do so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first two pages are really the actual vote totals. Behind that are all the appendix with the write ins, is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, that's correct.
(INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the members of the board, prior to you all entering the room, we gave out some statistics related to the results I'd like to share with you. Based on the official certification of results, the margin of victory in the election was 21,924, which is 1.63 percent of the votes. That went up from 1.54, based on the unofficial results on election night.
The total number of votes cast in the election was 1,348,720, which was pretty good turnout for a special election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broke every record in the history of the state for a special election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
If you are ready to proceed with the signing the certification document, what we ask you to do is take the copy that's in front of you or next to you and sign, and then we'll pass the documents between each other until all three signatures have been obtained on the document.
CABRERA: OK. So we are watching them sign right now the certification of the election results for the Senate contest in Alabama.
[14:10:03] That special election in which we saw Democrat Doug Jones defeat Republican Roy Moore just a few weeks ago. We now have learned the official results were Jones winning by nearly 22,000 votes. And all of this coming after a last minute attempt by Roy Moore to halt the certification process.
I want to bring in David Chalian to discuss now.
David, a few more twists along the way, leading up to this moment. What are your thoughts?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, first, just watching this scene, and you see it's a three-person certification board, the governor, the attorney general in the middle and secretary of state on the right-hand side of your screen doing what is probably the most pro forma perfunctory sort of official duty they have which is to affix their signatures to certify election results which normally we would never be covering live or covering, Ana, of course.
But this election has been anything but perfunctory or pro forma, including right up until today as you noted with the last ditch effort from Roy Moore to really drum up the fighting spirit inside his supporters, to not let that die down. He hasn't conceded the election, so instead he was going to contest the election results. But as you noted, judge tossed that out and now, Doug Jones, the Democrat, is indeed the certified winner of this special election.
That certification now goes to the United States Senate, so that Mike Pence, the vice president who serves as the president of the Senate, can swear Doug Jones into office when the Senate gets back next week. And, remember, what is so astonishing about this, this is the first time a Democrat has been sent to serve in the United States Senate from Alabama in a quarter century.
So, this dramatically changes the math in the United States Senate to a bare two seat majority for Republicans. And though Roy Moore clearly tried some last antics to delay this or not have this happen, the secretary of state made it clear on our air throughout the day that they were going to move forward, and that's what we saw them do there.
CABRERA: So, David, stay with me. I want to bring in a couple of others.
John Hammontree is the managing producer at AL.com, a member of the editorial there, which endorsed Doug Jones. And also with us is CNN legal analyst Page Pate.
So, Page, assuming everything stands as what we just witnessed, a judge already rejected Moore's attempt to halt the certification, does that mean this is all over legally in terms of this complaint Moore tried to file?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I believe it is, Ana. What I think is interesting here the judge didn't just reject the request for temporary restraining order, he dismissed it with prejudice, that usually means that's the end, no more litigation from this group relating to the election challenge. And this is I think a particularly interesting thing to follow.
A question the judge is now going to have to answer is, will sanctions be appropriate here? Because there is a statute under Alabama law that allows a judge to sanction a lawyer or a party that comes forward and files a frivolous lawsuit for some improper purpose. And I think what we found out from this particular complaint is although they had a lot of theories and possibilities about fraud, they came forward with no evidence of fraud.
And you saw how they put in this complaint, all this about the polygraph, that had nothing to do with the election challenge. So to me, that indicates that the entire process was for an improper purpose, a political purpose. And if we are going to see this happen after every person loses a campaign, I think this judge could send a very strong message by issuing sanctions in this case since there was no merit to the lawsuit.
CABRERA: And, John, I'm curious what the reaction was there in Alabama to this last minute maneuver by Moore.
JOHN HAMMONTREE, MEMBER, AL.COM EDITORIAL BOARD: Yes, I think everybody in the state is really ready to put this election behind us with the exception of Roy Moore. You know, I think these actions kind of confirm the state's choice. You know, there is no basis in it.
This is a man who clearly is putting his own self-interests above the interests of the state by casting our election process into doubt, with no evidence to back that up. He's probably gearing himself up for another political run. I wouldn't be surprised if he's aiming to be on the ballot in 2018 and that's why he's trying to energize the base by making them feel like something was stolen from them.
But the majority of Alabamians have already rejected Roy Moore and they're ready for him to accept the results.
CABRERA: To that point, David, this idea of a rigged election, of voter fraud, I mean, it sounds familiar, right? I'm wondering if there will be some kind of an impact, bigger picture impact on Capitol Hill in Washington among other members of the Republican Party that would like to latch on to the idea of the election was flawed in some way?
CHALIAN: Well, the idea of raising voter fraud as an issue is not -- wasn't new to Donald Trump in 2016. It's not new to Roy Moore. It's been around for quite some time in American politics.
And what hasn't been around is actually some evidence of widespread voter fraud that actually upends election result, which is not to say there aren't some discreet cases and circumstances of some fraudulent behavior when it comes to people voting. But there really has not been, if you look at the full case study, sort of proof of widespread voter fraud, which is why it begs the kind of scrutiny it does when the claim is made.
CABRERA: I want to read statement we just got from Senator-elect Doug Jones just releasing this statement following the certification of the election.
I am looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the New Year, he says. As I said on election night, our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation. I will be an independent voice and work to find common ground with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get Washington back on track and fight to make our country a better place for all.
John, Roy Moore spokeswoman prior to the judge rejecting their complaint and prior to the certification tried to argue that if state officials cast aside his complaint and these allegations that he raised, that there would be backlash to the secretary of state, to the governor.
Do you think that will happen?
HAMMONTREE: I don't. I mean, I think if there is going to be any backlash to the secretary of state and governor in 2018, it will be because of their actions during the election where they supported and endorsed Roy Moore. That angered a lot of people. Kay Ivey was very popular on both sides of the aisle here and there was a lot of anger directed her way because of that.
The fact they are doing their jobs now and standing for the integrity of our state elections, I can't imagine that's going to have the type of backlash that Roy Moore's out of state spokeswoman thinks it's going to have. CABRERA: And going to what's next, I'm curious, Page, from a legal
perspective, you talked about this polygraph test that was part of the complaint. Roy Moore says that after the election, he took a polygraph test that proves his innocence in sexual allegations.
His spokeswoman was asked about this as well. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you tell us about the polygraph test? Who administered it? Were there witnesses, so on and so forth?
JANET PORTER, SPOKESWOMAN FOR ROY MOORE: That's all been submitted to the court. I think it's connected to the complaint.
BASH: I know. Well, most people aren't reading all 84 pages. Can you --
PORTER: All I know is that it's a renowned independent expert that he went before, he took the polygraph test, and not surprising to anyone who knows Judge Moore, he completely passed it. What you know, he didn't know any of these women and he never conducted -- engaged in sexual misconduct, what a surprise to those who know him. It's not.
BASH: Why didn't he take the polygraph test almost a month between the time these allegations came out and his election day?
PORTER: Dana, we may not agree on much, but you and I agree on that. I'll say if I was the one running the campaign, I would have absolutely seen that that was done. But where we are right now, he took the test, he passed the test. And he also said all these people who have made these baseless allegations, you do the same, do a polygraph.
And if there's any variation, let's go to an independent, he's willing to go to someone chosen between the two, they both agree upon, and let everyone take a polygraph test. How about that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Page, this polygraph test that he says he took did not show up in the complaint. He didn't have the actual test itself, any kind of report. He didn't have an affidavit signed by the polygrapher. But when the Roy Moore spokesperson says these other women who have made their allegations go take polygraph test, I mean, are there any legs to that?
PATE: No, I don't think so. And again I think it was a big mistake for the lawyers to include any information about a polygraph in this lawsuit, because it had nothing to do with the claims made in the lawsuit. And as far as polygraphs are concerned, in my practice, we use them all the time. And who is saying he didn't go to a polygraph examiner back during the campaign and he failed, because this is really a subjective process. I know a lot of people put emphasis on polygraph examinations, but I
found examiner who will pass a client and then another examiner will fail the very same client. So, this may have been the second or third polygraph examination that Roy Moore had.
CABRERA: All right. Gentlemen, thank you all for your input, your thoughts, we appreciate it. What a day. Another interesting political day, that's for sure.
Just in, President Trump publicly shaming China on Twitter, saying it was caught red-handed helping North Korea. This as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tout's the foreign policy administration through the first year. We'll discuss coming up.
[14:23:51] CABRERA: President Trump is touting his legislative record. He boasted that in his first year of office, he broke President Truman's record for signing new bills into law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was one of the things that people don't understand, we have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, this little pat on the back came during a surprise visit to a Florida fire house. He was supposed to be there to thank the first responders for their help with security as he visits this area. Well, the president repeated over and over again that he is among the most productive presidents ever.
Here to fact check, Sara Murray, CNN's White House correspondent.
So, Sara, the president's claim there is just not true. Break it down for us.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't think we are surprised at this point to see President Trump touting his record. He certainly feels he doesn't get the credit he deserves.
But in this case, the pat on the back may have been a little richer than deserved. If you look back at previous administrations, actually President Trump has signed fewer bills in his first year than any administration dating back to Eisenhower. So that claim doesn't hold water.
But obviously the president is still riding high on this victory from tax reform, and certainly wants to make it look like he had a more productive first year in office than the numbers reflect.
[14:25:06] CABRERA: All right. Thanks for the quick update. Sara Murray reporting in Florida, traveling with the president -- thank you. Up next, dramatic drops in crime in major U.S. cities, like New York,
Philly and Las Vegas. But there are some key exceptions. A look at what's behind the numbers when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: And you can see hopefully for America what they've seen in New York is a steady decline in homicides and violent crime. So I believe that's a proven technique. Our policies would call on each United States attorney to encourage that in their district.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That, of course, was Attorney General Jeff Sessions praising the NYPD model in fighting violent crime and across the nation. According to a new report from the Brennan Center fro Justice, the overall crime rate in 28 of the 30 largest U.S. cities fell about 2.7 percent this year.