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Donald Trump Says People are Tired of COVID; Supreme Court Rules that Mail-in ballots can be Accepted in Pennsylvania up to Three Days after the Election; Debate Commission Clamps Down on Interruptions. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 19, 2020 - 20:00   ET


CHRISTOPHER CROSS, GRAMMY-WINNING SINGER: So please be careful, you know.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I hope people will listen to you. I know that they will because it is -- it is true. Someone like you, you know, a lot of people look at you and think, oh, how could it happen to you? But it did and you're dealing with it, and I thank you for sharing it with us.

And I wish you all the very, very best in getting 100 percent better. Chris, thank you.

CROSS: Thank you very much, Erin. It's good to talk to you.

BURNETT: You, too. And thanks to all of you. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. With 220,000 Americans now dead from the coronavirus, we begin tonight with the President's own words and how they speak to his priorities which seem to revolve right now around settling grudges not saving lives.

The first clips you'll hear are from a campaign conference call that he phoned in today. Now, before we play it for you, you should know that today marked day one of what the White House officially declared to be -- and I'm not making this up -- National Character Counts Week.

Reading from the proclamation quote, "Throughout this week, we recommit to being more kind, loving understanding and virtuous." This is actually signed by Donald J. Trump. Clearly, he did not write it. But he did sign it.

So with that in mind, here's the President on the campaign conference call today.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are tired of COVID. I have the biggest rallies I've ever had and we have COVID. People are saying, whatever. Just leave us alone. They're tired of it.

People are tired of hearing Fauci and all of these idiots, these people, these people that have gotten it wrong.

Fauci is a nice guy. He's been here for 500 years. He called every one of them wrong and he is like this wonderful guy, a wonderful sage.

And yet we keep him. Every time he goes on television, there's always a bomb. But there's a bigger bomb if you fire him


COOPER: Now, CNN was given access to the call by a source, not that the President would mind because here's what he said a moment later.


TRUMP: If there is a reporter on, you can have it just the way I say it. I couldn't care less.


COOPER: "I couldn't care less," says the President. Perhaps, we finally have the answer to that question Melania Trump's coat once posed? "I really don't care, do you?"

The President couldn't care less that Dr. Anthony Fauci is the nation's foremost infectious disease researcher.

The President couldn't care less than he is a non-partisan career professional who has been in this job since 1984, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by a Republican President.

The President couldn't care less that Dr. Fauci and I'm now I'm quoting from Dr. Fauci's official biography, has advised six presidents on HIV-AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.

That is the man the President is mocking and couldn't care less that we know it, or that we hear the sarcasm and contempt for a lifelong public servant, and quote, "all these idiots," because as he doesn't mind saying, he is one smart guy.


TRUMP: You know, my uncle is a great -- first he was at M.I.T. He taught at M.I.T., for I think, like a record number of years. He was a great super genius, Dr. John Trump. I like this stuff. I really get it.

People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability, and maybe I should have done that instead of running for President.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Dr. Redfield there behind him kind of smiling, laughing

along, not realizing he is soon going to get kneecapped and made irrelevant.

When the President said that, just 14 people had died by the way, not 14,000 or 1,400, fourteen people had died.

Two hundred and twenty thousand lives later, the President still believes he knows better than the experts.


TRUMP: If you vote for Biden, he will surrender you jobs to China. He will surrender your future to the virus. He is going to lock down, he just wants to lock down. He'll listen to the scientists.

If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead of we're like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.


COOPER: Listen to the scientists. There is a difference between slavishly following scientists and listening to scientists, I am not sure why the President is mocking the idea of listening to scientists.

If the President had listened to the scientists when the C.D.C. put out guidelines recommending mask wearing, he could have helped save tens of thousands of lives and opened up the economy sooner. Instead, he immediately mocked C.D.C. guidelines, literally as he was announcing them, and he gave his supporters license to disregard basic public health measures.

And to his economic analysis that were like a rocket ship right now. According to the latest numbers from the Labor Department, 898,000 people filed first time jobless claims in the week ending October 10th. It's up 53,000 from the week before. So no, the economy is not going up like a rocket ship.

What is going up, which the President won't tell you is the number of people infected with COVID. The President doesn't want to say that. We're rounding the corner, rounding the turn, he says.

The scientists at Johns Hopkins University who have the grim unfortunate job of gathering case and mortality figures, they will tell you that if you listen to them, which the President doesn't.


COOPER: The country is now averaging 55,000 new cases a day. Those are the numbers and the facts. And as that climb, so does the number of people getting sick enough to need hospital care, which traditionally lags case numbers by several weeks, and of course, so does rising mortality, which if experience holds, will start showing up not long from now.


DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: We do have vaccines and therapeutics coming down the pike. But when you actually look at the time period for that, the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.


CHATTERLEY: Darkest of the entire pandemic. That's epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who we've had as a guest on the program and our Town Halls. He says the challenge going forward is getting a message to the public that quote, "reflects the science and reflects reality," which isn't easy when the only taskforce member or taskforce adviser the President does listen to is this guy, Dr. Scott Atlas. He doesn't have the qualifications as an epidemiologist, he is a radiologist. Apparently, he is very good at that. He has appeared on FOX News a lot.

Over the weekend he tweeted quote, "Mask work? No." Unquote, followed by a series of misrepresentations about the science. Twitter took it down, prompting Taskforce member Dr. Deborah Birx, a source telling CNN to express relief to her friends.

Dr. Birx, like Dr. Fauci and Osterholm, but unlike Dr. Atlas, is an expert in this field. The sourcing, she also told friends that fighting the virus is quote "hard enough without Atlas." Yet he now has the presidency ear and he is preaching what he is preaching his music to the President's ear.

He is apparently a mass skeptic who reportedly is interested in herd immunity, which actually experts say is only is one thing if it's achieved through vaccination and something far deadlier if you try to do it by simply letting people get infected.

That seems to be the course the President is taking, because, you know, his uncle taught at M.I.T., I guess.

By the way, his uncle, John Trump was a physicist and electrical engineer. Apparently, a pretty good one as well, but not a virologist, not an infectious disease specialist, not an epidemiologist or a biostatistician, nor is Dr. Atlas, but Dr. Atlas is telling the President, apparently what he wants to hear.

Well, the former C.D.C. Director on shortly will discuss what's misunderstood about the whole idea of herd immunity or herd mentality as the President has called it, namely to getting a lot of apparently healthy people sick is somehow a good idea.

Dr. Anthony Fauci does not believe in that and he is not telling the President what he wants to hear. Here he is talking about the White House reception for Amy Coney Barrett, the one at which most people including the President and Dr. Atlas were not wearing masks.


QUESTION: Were you surprised that President Trump got sick?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Absolutely not. I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask.

When I saw that on TV, I said, "Oh, my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that. That's got to be a problem." And then sure enough, it turned out to be a super spreader event.


COOPER: Which is certainly true given how many people attended the event, subsequently became ill including the President, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who came away, seemingly chastened by his experience. He is now taking opportunities to call on people to cover their faces, maintain social distancing, and stay away from large gatherings.

As for the President, he, of course, is now attacking the legitimate experts and mocking his opponent for believing in science, which raises the question from the top if putting out a clear science based message for fighting COVID isn't such a priority. Then what else is?

Well, here's the President yesterday in Carson City, Nevada.


TRUMP: The dishwashers, they've had a little problem, they didn't get enough water. Like so people would run them 10 times, so they end up using more water.

So I hate to say the three things. It's the shower. It's the sink and you know, the third element in the bathroom. But I don't say it because every time I say it, they only talk about that one, because it's sort of gross to talk about, right?

So I won't -- I won't talk about the fact that people have to flush their toilet 15 times. I will not talk about it. I'll only talk about showers and okay, but there are three things. I won't talk about it.

Then on the shower, the worst. You ever to get under show where no water comes in? And me, I want that here to be so beautiful.



TRUMP: Right? I want the hair to look good. I go into some of these hotels, you know, when you travel, I go into these hotels, new hotels, they do a nice job. It's not their fault. And I get in there, I say, oh, I can look at it now. I know they have everything.

I say, oh here we go. Turn on the water. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. But now you go into it a shower and the water pours out. You go into a sink and you can wash your hands very nicely, beautiful. And the third thing, don't worry about it, okay.



COOPER: Yes, that took a lot. There's so much to say. But given that the White House has declared a National Character Counts Week, I'm just going to recommit to being more kind, loving, understanding and virtuous. As should we all.

More now on all this from CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House? Jim, do we know if there was a particular reason the President lashed out at Fauci? Was it just that he saw him on "60 Minutes" the night before or was it a general rage emitted pandemic, you know, and anxiety of the election?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think that's part of it. As you know, Anderson, the President counter punches. He believes in counterpunching.

But keep in mind, we might be at the end of the Fauci rage news cycle and at that the beginning of the Debate Commission, Supreme Court rage news cycle with these late breaking developments that the Debate Commission is going to approve of some muting of the microphones at the upcoming debate on Thursday, and the Supreme Court is going to allow mail-in ballots to come in past Election Day potentially, and that is also a defeat for the Republicans.

And so he is not going to be happy with either one of those developments. But Anderson, I will tell you talking to some Trump campaign advisers this evening in terms of what the President has been saying about Dr. Fauci. I mean, I talked to one adviser earlier today who said this is not smart. This reminds Americans of the President's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. That is a subject they would like to avoid.

And I talked to another adviser this evening and said this just doesn't make any sense. This is not what they want to be talking about two weeks before the election.

COOPER: Yes, it's so interesting, because you know, for a long time, he tried to get as close to Fauci as possible, because he -- and he has talked about this publicly -- knew about Fauci's favorability ratings that he was viewed as widely respected, and the President tried to glom on to that as much as possible.

Interesting that in the final days of the campaign, he is choosing to go after somebody who is well-respected and has a track record of service.

Jim Acosta, thanks very much. We have perspective now on the President's ongoing assaults on science and scientists.

Joining us for that, former C.D.C. director, Dr. Tom Frieden and also Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. Dr. Frieden, you hear the President mocking Dr. Fauci, undermining his

contributions to science. I mean, does this just again, given that we are about to -- I mean, the President says we are surrounding a turn, if we're rounding a turn, it sounds like we're about to round a turn into an oncoming truck. Given what's about to happen in this country, does this make any sense?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER C.D.C. DIRECTOR: Well, I can't talk about the politics, but I can talk about the science. What's happening is that because of a failed Federal response, we're having a steady increase in cases in much of the U.S., the Midwest, and the West. We have still very high case count throughout much of the South. And this is a reflection of a failed Federal response.

It's not about agreeing or disagreeing with one individual. It's about whether you follow policies that will protect people, and that gets us into the whole herd immunity discussion, which has been really very distressing to hear, because you're talking about sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans based on a theory that's almost certainly wrong.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Sanjay, I just don't -- I don't understand just the morale -- I mean, I don't understand how somebody who is the leader of this country, knowing that the projections are, according to Chris Murray, who we've had on, you and I talked to you just a couple days ago, by early February, an additional some 200,000 people, I think it will -- I think it was up to about 400,000 people will be dead by then.

So a growth from 220,000 or so right now to 400,000 by the end of February, that could be drastically reduced by 70,000 or more if 95 percent of the country wore masks. The fact that the leader of this country is not doing everything he can to save as many lives as possible and get people to wear masks. It's -- it is just unconscionable.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think you cannot disentangle anything from politics nowadays. I mean, you know, I hate to say it, I agree with Tom Frieden, of course that you know, we want to talk about the science here.

The problem is, this isn't a scientific discussion anymore, right? I mean, Anderson, you laid out the numbers. People know the numbers. You've got a significant percentage of the country that hears they could be part of a movement to save tens of thousands of lives by wearing a mask, and they basically say I'll pass, ain't going to do it.

So what is that? That's not -- that's not a scientific discussion. We could explain, we can show over and over again, as we have been doing for months about the efficacy of masks. We can show what the virus looks like in someone who wears a mask and who doesn't wear a mask, the likelihood of transmission dropping six fold, saving tens of thousands of lives like you said.

What is this discussion that we're having at this point? I mean, it was vile what the President said about Dr. Fauci who is spending most of his time trying to come up with vaccine, you know, and therapeutics and things like that and is speaking to the American people because he wants to educate them and then getting attacked for it.

It's totally about politics. I hate to say it because I'm a medical reporter. But my job -- I mean, this has become a political discussion, Anderson, and I hate it. You know, like it or not, that's what it's become, though.


COOPER: Dr. Frieden, I want to play something President Trump said earlier today at one of his rallies. Listen.


TRUMP: They are getting tired of the pandemic, aren't they? Getting tired of the pandemic. You turn on CNN, that's all they cover. COVID, COVID pandemic, COVID, COVID, COVID. Whoa, whoa, you know why they're trying to talk everybody out of voting? People aren't buying at CNN, you dumb bastards. They are not buying it.



COOPER: He used the same line about Dr. Fauci of people getting tired of hearing Fauci talk about the pandemic. I agree, everyone is tired of the pandemic. I don't know anyone, you know -- I know, in particular, you know, doctors and nurses, and, you know, medical technicians, and everybody who has really put their lives on the line.

And, you know, grocery store, checkout people, and delivery people who have risked their lives to enable the rest of us to be able to stay at home more and to be able to stay safe. I agree, people are tired of it. That doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean that the virus gets tired. The virus is the same virus as it was before. It doesn't know that we're tired. It doesn't care that we're tired.

FRIEDEN: Right, I think it's true that all of us are sick and tired of this virus, but the virus isn't tired of making us sick. And the fact is that we have the possibility of really making a big difference.

The response to we're tired of it shouldn't be, let's give up because that's essentially what herd immunity is saying. Let's infect a bunch of young people and protect the vulnerable. It's an alluring argument. It's just, oh, you know, young people, they're going to do okay; older people, vulnerable people, we can protect them, and we can get our society back.

Well, that is such a failure and fallacy. That's about surrendering. It's about waving the white flag. And here's a number that is just stunning. If we were to do that, if we were to pursue the policy that Dr. Atlas, although he claims he is not suggesting it is clearly suggesting and allow the virus to spread among young people. COVID would have killed more people in about a year, more Americans in

about a year than all of the wars of the 20th century killed.

Now, it's just commonsense, the way to protect the vulnerable is to have fewer infections, not more infections. And there's no way -- one out of five people in this country is over the age of 65, about half of adults have an underlying condition that increases their risk of COVID. And young people who may be otherwise healthy can get very sick and even die from this infection, and we don't know what the long term impact is going to be for some people who have lingering symptoms.

So this idea that we should let it rip in young people surrender to COVID is just not only mistake, but a deadly mistake.

COOPER: I mean, Sanjay and this is a medical question. But, you know, again, for the leader of the of the country who likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill, you know, if Churchill, while you know, England was in the darkest days of World War II, and you know, getting bombed, had just said, you know what, I know, we're all tired of this. We're just tired of it. We're tired of the people reporting this on the news.

We're tired of this. Let's just -- let's just, you know, give up to it.

I mean, it's again, it is unconscionable, and I don't know, I don't even have a question. I just think it's -- I just -- I am stunned that we are in this situation that you who have been talking about this round the clock since February -- January-February, we're still talking about the exact same things every freaking night. It's unconscionable.

GUPTA: Right. It is. I mean, I think that it's still important to talk about it. I mean, I think that's why we do it. I think that there are people, I like to believe, that are still going to listen to this. And you know, Tom Frieden presented this model of boxing and the virus a while ago.

You know, Tony Fauci talks about five things that we could do that is all within our power that we could do. We could bend this curve downward, and it's not -- before a vaccine even needs to be there. You know, just wearing the mask when you go outside, socially distancing, avoided crowded indoor places and large crowds and wash your hands.

I mean, you know, there's no need for panic. But if you present a problem, you've got to also present a plan which is there, people just did not adhere to it.

This is the patient who is sick, and despite the fact that they did not listen to the treatment is now pissed off at the doctor because they're still getting sick. They didn't do what was supposed to be done, and now they're upset about it.

So we could still, you know, turn this into a different direction. But you know, it is really frustrating, Anderson that we are still in this position here in October. [20:20:32]

COOPER: And, you know, our Gary Tuchman was at a Trump rally the other day and asked somebody you know, who is not wearing a mask and says she doesn't believe in masks. He asked her, you know, if the President said you should wear a mask, she instantly without even him finishing the question said, oh, I'd wear a mask.

I mean, it's that -- it would be that easy for this President to save tens of thousands of lives, to raise the number of people in this country wearing a mask.

Dr. Frieden, I appreciate it. Dr. Gupta -- Sanjay, thank you very much.

Next, more on the breaking news from the Supreme Court that Jim Acosta mentioned involving the swing state of Pennsylvania.

More as well on the Debate Commission's decision just announced on microphones and interruptions.

And later just days after arrests in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's Governor, the President is basking new calls from his supporters to lock her up. We'll talk about it with Michigan's Attorney General.


COOPER: We touched on this at the top. There's breaking news on two fronts: a major ruling on which ballots counts in perhaps the decisive state in this election in Pennsylvania; also a big decision on how the next debate will look and sound.

First Pennsylvania, CNN's Pamela Brown has the late details on that, so what are we learning about this Supreme Court ruling?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a significant ruling, Anderson and could really have a big impact on the election because now we're learning from the Supreme Court ruling that mail-in ballots can be accepted in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania up to three days after the election, even if the postmark is not legible.

This is a huge win for Democrats and a big loss for Republicans bottom line, and what is so fascinating also about this ruling is that Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberals on this. It was four to four, therefore, the lower court's ruling on this stands.

What this means practically is that thousands of Pennsylvanians will now have their votes count in this election because otherwise it may have been where if their ballots may have been received after Election Day, which would have meant it would have been thrown out, if it were not for this final ruling from the Supreme Court that says no, these mail-in ballots can be received up to three days after the election, even if the postmark isn't legible. Of course, this is all because of the coronavirus and changes that

Democrats have pushed for; Republicans have argued, Anderson, that ballots should not be accepted after Election Day, especially if you can't tell the postmark, that this could cause chaos and could cause fraud, it could invite people to try to vote after Election Day, but clearly the High Court in this matter, decided that was not the case that Pennsylvania will now accept these ballots after Election Day.

And again, this is a state that Donald Trump won by a very narrow margin in 2016. It is a very important state for both of these candidates in this year's election. So very significant ruling here, Anderson.

COOPER: And what could it mean for other pre-election challenges?

BROWN: Well, it certainly sets the tone. Look, we're just a couple of weeks out from Election Day. And there are still these ongoing challenges. One in particular is in Wisconsin, but this is the other way in Wisconsin, where you have the Democrats appealing to the Supreme Court because the lower court ruled that the ballot should not be accepted after Election Day.

And so we're still waiting for the High Court to rule on that and don't expect it -- don't expect the High Court's ruling on that to be just like this. There's something very distinct about this, not as the Justices have signaled. They don't want to meddle too much this close to the election and changing the rules.

So in Pennsylvania again, this was a lower court's decision that is being upheld with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the liberals; and so Wisconsin, it will be interesting to see how they rule on that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Pamela Brown, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

More now on the breaking news on Thursday's Trump-Biden debate. The Commission on Presidential Debates has a plan to prevent interruptions at least for part of the debates. CNN's Brian Stelter joins us now with details. So, explain the new rules the Debate Commission have adopted.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: During the two-minute period, Anderson, where each candidate is asked a question and is supposed to have two minutes uninterrupted, the microphone for the other candidate will be cut off.

This is a direct result of President Trump stepping on Joe Biden during the first debate, cutting him off repeatedly, and to a lesser extent, Biden did a little bit of that as well. But it was really Trump trying to railroad the debate last month.

Now for this debate in that crucial two-minute portion, Biden will be able to speak freely, no interruptions from Trump, and vice versa.

However, for the rest of the debate, Anderson, the mics will be on. It'll be a free for all. It'll be up to moderator Kristen Welker to maintain order.

The Debate Commission was under intense pressure to do something after the first debate. What they've done here is a halfway measure, halfway between what the Biden camp might have wanted, and what the Trump camp might have wanted.

By the way, the Trump campaign is railing against moderator, Kristen Welker. They're complaining about the topic selection. And now there's this new rule, which is really just a way to enforce existing rules.

But if President Trump wants to attack the Debate Commission and threaten not to show up, well, here's another reason to.

COOPER: And just in terms of -- I mean, just because they mute the microphones, if the President is speaking, I don't know how, you know, directional these mics are, but you would still be able to hear the President trying to interrupt.

STELTER: Yes, that's right. You know that as a former moderator in these events. You will be able to hear the candidates talking to each other, interrupting each other, even if viewers at home are not able to hear all of it.

So, we will see if the President goes in and tries that tactic, again, against Biden. Biden, of course, off the campaign trail this week. We assume, he is getting ready for the debate, perhaps preparing to be interrupted by Trump.

But it's notable the Commission is doing anything at all. This is an old-fashioned Commission that doesn't want to be choosing anybody's side. It's a bipartisan Commission. It seems like a very, in some ways a stale commission that's not keeping up with the times.

So the fact that they are coming in and making some change is notable even if it's only a halfway measure.

COOPER: Yes. Brian Stelter, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Perspective now from CNN political director, David Chalian, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and CNN election law analyst, Richard Hasen, author of "Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and the Threat to American Democracy."

David, with Pennsylvania being such a critical state in deciding the election, how important a win for Democrats is this decision from the Supreme Court?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's a big win for Democrats because across the country in these battleground states, they've been looking to extend receipt deadlines when the ballots can still be received and counted, given the fact that we're in the midst of a pandemic and so many more Americans are going to be voting by mail than have been before.

[20:30:10] But Anderson, the real critical sort of effect that I think this is

going to have is that everyone is going to need to be really patient on election night. This is a critical state, we know that it can determine who gets to 270. And now you're dealing with a state that has very little history of absentee vote by mail, it's usually all sort of Election Day in person voting, they're going to have an enormous amount of mail to count. And now, they're going to have the ability to get that counting done for three days following Election Day.

You remember, you heard about the red mirage, we know Election Day voters are more inclined to support Trump and the Republicans. So when the returns come in of the Election Day vote on election night, Pennsylvania could look very favorable for Trump. But we don't know that that's the reality until all these absentee votes are counted, which now has an extended deadline to do so. And that's when you'll start to see this blue shift in a state like Pennsylvania, that again, could determine the outcome.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Richard, I mean, it's a loss for Republicans who've been pushing prevent ballots arriving after Election Day to be counted. Does it impact Republicans? I mean, how many impact how Republicans try and litigate the voting in Pennsylvania after Election Day?

RICHARD L. HASEN, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, I mean, the big news here is that the court split four to four. And by the time we get to Election Day, there's a very good chance we're going to have a ninth justice on the court. Justice Barrett. If she acts as a conservative justice along with Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas, there could be a majority that if there's a dispute between the state Supreme Court, which is Democratic dominated, and the state legislature, which is Republican dominant, as we saw here, she could end up siding with the Republicans and you know, this could come in like a Bush versus Gore 2.0 kind of situation.

COOPER: Dana, it's not clear, though, what impact of any of this may have in other states who are facing these kind of same issues?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a great question. I don't think we know that this has a specific impact. You know, oftentimes, when the Supreme Court rules on something, it has a, you know, an effect across the board. And it doesn't seem to be the case here. David mentioned that in Pennsylvania, though, they don't have a lot of history with mail-in ballots. This is the first time that that, you know, mail-in ballots have been allowed across the board, not just for absentee voting, and it is a brand new situation. They had a little bit of a test drive during the primary season and some local elections. But by and large, it is new, which is, you know, part of the reason it seems why they're being given some leeway.


BASH: It's another reason, though, Anderson, I can tell you that I've been talking to Republicans about this today, that they are banging their heads against the wall, because if only the President had been encouraging and discouraging mail-in voting, this could actually help -- be helpful to the President as much as it is potentially the Democrats

COOPER: We'll also imagine they're banging their heads against the wall because once again, Dana, John Roberts has been the deciding vote against --

BASH: Exactly.

COOPER: -- President Trump and he's a conservative justice. He was appointed by President George W. Bush.

BASH: Yes. And Donald Trump at David Chalian and I were in the elevator together. And he and I will quote you, David, at the Donald Trump's head is probably exploding right now over John Roberts, because again, and again and again. He had -- he John Roberts has been a decisive and deciding vote in rulings that have gone straight at Donald Trump's desires, both in policy and in politics now. And, you know, it is part of the reason why, you know, he has been so aggressive along with Mitch McConnell, in completely filling up the federal bench, not just the Supreme Court, which we've seen, but across the board, the district level and the appellate level.

COOPER: And Richard, as you said, 4-4 decision, I mean, it does show how critical Amy Coney Barrett vote will be.

HASEN: Yes. And you know, if you think about it took the court 13 days and nobody issued an opinion. So, what was going on behind the scenes is probably Roberts was struggling mightily to find some common ground or, you know, some way that they could decide this without dividing this way. But it'd be really tough if your first vote on the Supreme Court is in favor of the president who says he was rushing to put you on the court to help decide the election. That would be a very tough position for Judge Barrett to be and I certainly hope we don't get to that point come November 4th.

COOPER: David Chalian, I mean, the debate commission, you know, releasing this new rule for the debate on Thursday, they're going to mute the candidates microphone just during the opening two minute answer to each topic question. I mean, they're not, you know, they may mute one of the candidates mics, but the audience can still hear the other candidate if they choose to interrupt. And if it's the president trying to sort of throw Joe Biden, you know, off his train of thought whether his mic is on or not. It has the same impact.


CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, he could also decide to walk over to his lectern or whatever Donald Trump wants to do to create cast. But here's the problem, Anderson. So, you have this, I don't even know, I know, the Commission's not saying it's an actual rule change, but more of a way to enforce the rules so that those two minutes can be uninterrupted as both campaigns agreed to. But you're right to note that it's there's no foolproof way of doing this. So, Donald Trump, if he wants to repeat a performance, like you had at the first debate, he can do so. I don't think there's a political adviser in his team that would advise him to do so because that debate was a disaster for him, it did not work. It didn't work with the voters, it didn't accomplish any of his political goals.

So, I don't know if we're going to see him try to recreate that kind of chaos, because it really did not help him at all. But I don't think this one adjustment from the Commission on Presidential Debates is going to actually prevent that from happening if Donald Trump decides to sort of light himself on fire again.

COOPER: Dana, do you see though the President abiding by the rules this time? Or I mean -- what do you think?

BASH: No. It's very hard to see him abiding by the rules. I will say that my reporting is that he certainly gotten, maybe I shouldn't say gotten the message. He's heard the message loud and clear about how bad his debate performance was, certainly by now in the in the sort of 24, 48 hours afterwards, he was calling friends saying that didn't I do great. By now, you know, the message is certainly gotten to him. It's always an open question, as we all know from, you know, being on this roller coaster ride for five years, whether or not he's taken to take that to heart and actually implement the changes that he's been told he must make in order to not have a debacle like what, like two weeks ago.

COOPER: David, do you think is possible that the, the debate might not happen? I mean, the -- you know, there's some claiming maybe, you know, the Trump campaign wrote a letter to the Debate Commission, that they're unhappy about the topics as well.

CHALIAN: Yes. Again, I think this is more about sort of pre-debate, distraction. And we've seen the Trump campaign when they did this, in advance of the first debate in the vice presidential debate sort of create a story about the debates going in. But it seems hard if you're in Donald Trump's position, Anderson, which is you are the underdog in this race for reelection, to turn down the last opportunity to be in front of tens of millions of Americans for free at a concentrated time to try and actually sell your message at the end here and get to 270 electoral votes. That just seems something that I would be very surprised if Donald Trump walked away from that opportunity.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dana and we touched on this earlier, but attacking Fauci if the goal is to get to 270 electoral votes. Does that -- does this help?

BASH: No, absolutely not. Anderson. I have been working the phones today talking to several people who are very familiar with the President's, but the data behind what he's trying to do with how he operates. And to a person, these are people who want him to be reelected. Nobody has said this is a great idea. They're all shaking their heads, they're all completely. I wouldn't say that they are surprised. But they are very frustrated, because they understand that only this -- not even maybe his whole base, the smallest percentage of his base, maybe those who go to his rallies and boo with the name Fauci and maybe encourage the president to talk badly about him. That's about it. The reason the President did what he did today is because it is he's upset that Fauci said what he said on 60 Minutes with, which is the White House with had a super spreader event. And because as we've seen so many times before, President doesn't like that Fauci gets good press, and he can't stand it. And so, he got out in front with a message that is dominating today and is not a message that is a winning one for him two weeks from tomorrow.

COOPER: David, President Trump also, you know, what he was framed as an attack said Biden would quote, listen to the scientists. And he said that as though is a disparaging thing.

CHALIAN: Yes, I actually think it can turn into a Biden campaign that I mean, Biden, exactly right. He says every day, he's going to listen to the scientists. This is what's so remarkable about what the President did. It is exactly this, these two things, the dismissing of the science, and the personal insult. This is the thing that has turned away independence, suburban women, seniors, all the groups that he actually needs to take a little bit of slice back from to get to 270 electoral votes. It is this precise strategy tactic that drives them away and doesn't bring them back and it makes his job all that much harder to get reelected.


COOPER: Dana, what are you hearing just internally for about the Trump campaign? I mean, obviously, you know, they're projecting confidence publicly.

BASH: They are and internally, they're worried. I mean, Pete, some people I talked to argue that some of the numbers that they are seeing internally are not as bad as what we are seeing publicly. But there's also a good reason for them to be arguing that because the President doesn't want to hear and see some of the stories that have been out there over the weekend, and even today, about how depressed and, you know, people are feeling very bad inside the campaign and at the Republican National Committee. And the fact is that there is infighting, that there is disagreement at the top. And, you know, we all know from covering campaigns, you don't hear a lot about that from people who feel confident that they're going to win. The sort of blame game and the finger pointing often starts to happen when people think that they have a very good chance of not winning.

COOPER: Yes. Although, I seem to remember some finger pointing and blame, you know, from the Trump campaign in 2016.

BASH: True.

COOPER: Shortly before the election results.

CHALIAN: You are so right.

COOPER: We're coming in.

BASH: Fairpoint.

COOPER: Yes. David Chalian, Dana Bash, Richard Hasen, thanks so much.

About Pennsylvania, President Obama will be campaigning there Wednesday in Philadelphia, where he made his closing argument for Hillary Clinton four years ago.


BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I know it's been a long campaign. There's been a lot of noise and a lot of distraction.


OBAMA: At times, it's felt more like a reality show or even a parody. But tomorrow, tomorrow, Philadelphia, the choice you face when you step into that voting booth --


OBAMA: -- could not be clear and could not be more serious.


OBAMA: On the economy, Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be our chief executive. That's why most CEOs and economists don't support him.


OBAMA: He would trigger a reckless trade war that cost jobs, stripped 20 million Americans of their health insurance, roll back the new rules designed to check Wall Street recklessness and protect consumers and would roll back the regulations we put in place to preserve this planet for our kids.


OBAMA: On foreign policy, Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief.


COOPER: Former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was in Philadelphia when he said that. She's the author of Finding My Voice When The Perfect Plan Crumbles, The Adventure Begins. She joins me now.

Valerie, thanks for being with us. First of all, this debate commission rules change. What do you make of the idea of them muting the candidate's mic -- the other candidates microphones during these two minutes, where they're both supposed to have two minutes uninterrupted? Well, that worked?

VALERIE JARRETT, FMR SENIOR ADVISER TO PRES. OBAMA: Well, first of all, good evening, Anderson. Well, what else are we supposed to do, and President Trump had a complete disregard for the rules that he and his campaign had agreed to ahead of time. So, it's unfortunate that they have to do this. But I think what the American people want is to be able to hear directly from the candidates, unfiltered by the other candidate and interrupting so I support the real change.

COOPER: And your reaction to the Supreme Court ruling in Pennsylvania ballots, particularly as President Obama tries to, you know, sharp Joe Biden's support there this week.

JARRETT: While I think it was obviously the right ruling, the goal is to try to make sure that every American who wants to participate in our election can do so. And if the ballots are in before the deadline, they should be able to do so. And in this case, they're saying there's a grace period, because we know that the Postal Service hasn't taken the necessary steps to accommodate the great influx of ballots coming in. And I'm just smiling, because having listened to the video, you just played a President Obama, somewhere in the crowd shout out. That's right. Well, you know what everything he said in his remarks four years ago, has proven to be true. And I think this time, the American people are onto President Trump and will vote accordingly, which is why we're seeing such large numbers of people showing up for the early vote.

COOPER: And by the way, I just been listening to that. I am funny that you mentioned that the guy shouting, that's right. I could not listen to anything else. But that guy, I wondered if at the time President Obama was like, who's this guy who's cutting? I mean, color responses. There's a long tradition in churches, but I was like, wow, all right, you know, just let the president speak.

JARRETT: It felt like church and it felt like President Obama nailed it. He everything that he said, turned out to be true. And now the American people have a second opportunity to vote not on the aspirations of a candidate but the track record of a president.

COOPER: We heard from President, Mr. Obama during the obviously the Democratic Convention, very stark, personal terms. How do you think the former president tends to kind of walk that line on Wednesday, clearly, you know, was going to make it about Joe Biden and the future? There's obviously his legacy as well. Say nothing in fact, the President has called for his indictment, among other thing, which adds a whole other layer to this.


JARRETT: Well, I think what President Obama's laser like focused on is making an affirmative case for why his vice president who he had the opportunity to work with every single day for eight years is the best person to become the next President of the United States. And in so doing, he will make that case strongly based on Joe Biden's competency, his track record, his experience, his temperament, and his empathy, all of which President Obama saw up close, not just on good days, but I'm really hard days, he saw how Joe focus singularly on the American people and never on himself.

But Anderson, it's also an opportunity to make a pretty stark contrast with President Trump, who is the opposite of Joe Biden. And I think President Obama is obviously immensely popular, not just within the Democratic Party, but all across our country. And he is the perfect person to have out there on the campaign trail, as we enter into the final two weeks of the election.

COOPER: If President Obama wins, what happens? I mean --

JARRETT: If President Obama wins?

COOPER: Excuse me, excuse me, if President Trump wins, what do the next four years look like?

JARRETT: Honestly, I just can't imagine, you know, every day I think, well, we reached a new low. And how are we going lower? I don't know that our country is recognizable, both domestically, as polarized, as this President has tried to make us and internationally where we are no longer the envy of the world, no longer that beacon of hope. But people around the world feel sorry for us and confused. And we have given up the important leadership role that took decades and decades of generations to achieve. So, it is the most important election of our lifetime.

And I think, the American people understand that, which is why you've seen such, you know, so many people who've turned out already, and people are making plans to vote it is the conversation everywhere you go, are you going to vote? How are you going to do it safely in the middle of a of a pandemic, given that the Trump administration and many of the secretaries of state have not taken the necessary steps to do this in a way that avoids people having to stand in long lines for 12 hours? How could that happen in America? How are we not better prepared than this? But what gives me hope is the resilience and the grit of people who showed up including my 91-year-old mother, who went to early vote in Chicago on Saturday, she stood in line for a half an hour. She got there right when the polls open, and she is really proud to have participated and that's the case all around this country.

COOPER: Valerie Jarrett, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: You're welcome. Thank you Anderson.

COOPER: One final note on the new debate rules. Just moments ago the Trump campaign issued a statement saying they will in fact be at the debate. CNN coverage begins Thursday night 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Just add tonight jarring new video and tax and what Michigan's governor calls dangerous rhetoric from the President regarding the alleged kidnapping plot, authority say potentially could have ended the death of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.



COOPER: CNN has obtained new video prosecutors say they plan to use as evidence against 60 individuals accused of plotting the kidnapping of Michigan's governor. The video shows several men two of whom are training with weapons they jump out of a vehicle and start firing high powered rifles. A video is provided to CNN affiliate by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Text messages were also revealed one read, quote, have one person go to her house knock on the door and when she answers it just kept her, end quote.

This weekend at a rally in Michigan last the President was again criticizing Governor Whitmer over the state's response the coronavirus. The crowd started chanting lock her up just as they did about Hillary Clinton in 2016. The crowd chanted the President of United States replied lock them all up. This was Governor Whitmer, his response.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): It falls on deaf ears every time, they haven't done a darn thing. And in fact, 10 days after a plot to kidnap, to put me on trial and then to murder me, ten days later, they're back in Michigan using the same rhetoric. I've been asking them to turn the heat down. It is dangerous.


COOPER: Joining us now is Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Attorney General, thanks for being with us. I'm wondering what your reaction is the President continuing to attack Governor Whitmer and the Attorney General the United States not even being out front and center about the plot against her.

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, like many of the things that Donald Trump says I find it to be vile and hideous and repugnant and a stain on our nation. But, you know, it's funny, I, I couldn't help but look back to 2008. And, you know, make the contrast to what John McCain used to do on the campaign trail when someone would denigrate his opponent, Barack Obama, and he would defend him and say, no, no, he's a good and kind and decent man, just someone who I happen to have fundamental differences with on policy issues. But that's not this President. And even after we know that there's a very serious plot to kidnap and to execute our governor. He continues to say the same things and to egg people on and to incite violence. And it's very disturbing, and it's not what we should have in terms of leadership in this country.

COOPER: I want to play something that the President's daughter-in-law, who is amazingly a campaign surrogate Lara Trump told my colleague Jake Tapper yesterday in response to the President going after Governor Whitmer this weekend, let's listen.


LARA TRUMP, SENIOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, look at this. He wasn't doing anything. I don't think to provoke people to threaten this woman at all. He was having fun at a Trump rally.

The President was at a rally it's a fun light atmosphere. Of course, he wasn't encouraging people to threaten this woman. That's ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I mean, the idea that he's not encouraging people to I mean, he encouraged people to liberate Michigan just like liberate Virginia. And some of these folks did talk about the governor of Virginia as well. And he -- you know, when folks showed up at the statehouse, in Michigan, with rifles, yelling at politicians and yelling at law enforcement and screaming in their faces. The President was talking about, you know, fine people showing up and, you know, good people, patriotic people.


I mean, the idea that he's not encouraging this sort of stuff that crowd was chanting lock her up. That doesn't sound like a fun light atmosphere.

NESSEL: Yes. I'm not exactly sure what's fun and light hearted about calling for the execution of a sitting governor. But I wasn't at the event. So maybe hard to say. I just, you know, this is a continuation of what we've seen from this president. And what we have come to know, and what we've come to learn is what we suspected all along, is it that it's dangerous, and it does encourage bad behavior and dangerous behavior. And there are those that hear these mocking words, utilized by our commander in chief, and then think it's OK to act on them. And what more can you say, you know, you mentioned the fact that the United States Attorney General has yet to talk at all about this plot. And in fact, if you remember, when Bill Barr testified under oath, before the House Judiciary Committee, he claimed to not know anything about any threats to Governor Whitmer. And yet his own FBI was at the time investigating a plot to kill her.

So, you know, I don't -- it's really unfortunate, because once we've lost our sense of justice, in America, it's hard to know what we have left. And that's why it is so important that we regain that trust in our judicial system, in our executive and in people that we can have faith in actually care about protecting people in this country, instead of inciting violence against our political enemies.

COOPER: It is one of the most important foundations of a -- of functioning democracy is that there is a rule of law, and that it's not, it is impervious to politics, that it is not something that the ruler of the country can just put their thumb on, and have their attorney general, you know, go after one group and ignore other law breakers?

NESSEL: Well, I will say that, you know, we had quite a scandal with our last governor and you probably remember the Flint water crisis, which remains under investigation by my office. And even though there were a lot of people that were very upset with Governor Snyder during the course of that event, and President Obama came to Michigan many times and visited Flint. But I don't remember him saying anything to incite acts of violence against our sitting governor, then. But we have quite a different set of circumstances now, don't we?

COOPER: The President continues to undermine mail-in voting continues to claim widespread fraud, which there is not. He's shown no evidence of widespread fraud at all, because there isn't any. He actually is going after you as well in this saying that you and Governor Whitmer both partisan out to get him. What message do you have for the president, more importantly, what message you have to Michigan voters watching tonight when it comes to voting in your state?

NESSEL: Well, what I would say is that the governor and myself and the Secretary of State in Michigan are doing everything that we possibly can to protect the vote. And yes, of course, we want to make sure that all eligible voters know how to vote, when to vote, where to vote and have the opportunity to vote. But, when these votes are tabulated, as they will be by 1,600 local clerks all over the state of different parties, that it will be done fairly and it will be done accurately. And whoever receives the most votes, that person will be the winner irrespective of who that candidate is. And that we will protect both in Michigan.

COOPER: Attorney General Nessel, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Before we end the program tonight, we want to note something President Trump resurrected on the campaign trail this weekend the so-called War on Christmas. If you don't remember there was a war apparently in his election one it apparently but now he says that hard fought battle is in jeopardy of Joe Biden wins.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: If he comes in Carson City will become a ghost. And the Christmas season will be canceled. Look, remember I said we're going to bring back Christmas right then. Remember (INAUDIBLE).


COOPER: Christmas season will be canceled. Wow. That's where we are in our politics. It won't. Don't worry, kids. Ludicrous statement. The only reason we're actually showing it to you is provide what's known as the setup. The setup to what is possibly the most glorious, or one of the most glorious examples in policy we've seen from this White House. Because here's First Lady Melania Trump in a conversation with her former friend who was secretly recording her during conversation about the Yuletide season back in 2018.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF UNITED STATES: They say I'm complicit, I'm the same like him, I support him. I don't say enough. I don't do enough.


M. TRUMP: Where I am. I put -- I'm working like as my ass -- my ass of at --


M. TRUMP: -- Christmas started, you know, who gives a (INAUDIBLE) about Christmas stuff and decoration? But I need to do it right. (END AUDIO CLIP)


COOPER: Perhaps, both Trump should heed the words of their own Christmas message last year. Together, we must strive to foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect traits that exemplified the teachings of Christ.

The news continues, let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME", Chris.