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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Vote Counting Continues in Many States; Trump Falsely Claims Victory, Winner Yet to Be Declared. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 4, 2020 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[02:00:00]

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And these are states that include the so-called blue wall that Joe Biden has been promising for months to build back for Democrats, from Michigan to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

We simply do not know what is going to happen in those states, particularly a place like Pennsylvania, where the secretary of state there said that they could be counting the votes until Friday of this week.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Pamela Brown just said they still have 2 million ballots, vote by mail ballots, to count.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, frankly we have been telling everyone this for days and weeks, so it is happening. We hopefully prepared everyone at home to be patient and just to wait for this to happen.

I think what we are about to witness, as we wait for President Trump to come out, is really important. It is a very important moment for him. He is the incumbent President of the United States. He gets to set the tone for how it goes for the rest of the country.

Will he give us the unfiltered Trump that we saw earlier on Twitter?

Or will he give us something more restrained and thought through that allows the American people to remain in a state of calm while we wait for the ballots to be counted?

Or will we get something that is trying to declare a victory, where there is no victory to be declared?

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I think you are being very charitable by suggesting we don't know what he's going to do based on --

PHILLIP: -- will he read a read a teleprompter or will he just riff?

I think there's a big difference between a teleprompter Donald Trump and a riffing Donald.

TAPPER: OK, fair enough and we obviously always hope for the best when it comes to his behavior and whether or not he rises to the moment. But he has already gone on Twitter and said, falsely, misleadingly, potentially dangerously as Dana noted, that Democrats are trying to steal the election.

And there is no evidence of anyone trying to steal the election. There is evidence of election workers in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona counting the votes.

PHILLIP: I am not suggesting there will be a new Donald Trump tonight by any stretch of the imagination.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIP: What I am saying is that I wonder if there are people in the White House that recognize the historical importance of what he is about to do.

Will he try to declare victory on Election Night when votes have not been counted?

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIP: I think that would be a completely different situation.

BASH: As you know, because you covered the Trump White House, yes, there are people that understand the historical importance. But the question is whether the people are going to get to the -- either want to get to the president at this point to try to get him to tone it down, as it relates to the earlier tweet, or whether it is even a lost cause for the president, because he has been saying what he said in the tweet earlier, every single chance he got on the stump.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: He has been saying it for weeks. Even if he sticks to the teleprompter today, he already said what he has said and put the lie out there among his supporters, is all I am saying.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Hope springs eternal. And I hope you're right.

PHILLIP: I completely agree with you. I do think that the night of an election when both candidates come out and they say their piece, these are things that history will remember. I think that people recognize that in this White House.

The tweets are the tweets but history will remember this moment. We will see what he does.

The wise thing for President Trump to do is to write something that is similar to what Joe Biden did. Joe Biden came out and said, I think I am going to win. It is probably OK for President Trump to say, I think I am going to win. But to say I won and this is being stolen from me, it would be a tectonic type of event in American politics. BASH: You mentioned history. To point out, in most cases

historically, the American people didn't know who won the presidency that night. It has taken time to count votes.

That is something I have seen historians reminding us of, going back election after election. And that is not going to change, if and when the president says something different.

TAPPER: Sure.

BASH: It is just not.

TAPPER: This is the sixth presidential race I have covered and the first, two 2000, 2004 we didn't know who won that night. We didn't know.

BASH: Hope it is not 36 days but it could be.

TAPPER: But it could be. We don't know. There are a lot of write-in and mail-in ballots being counted in several states.

[02:05:00]

TAPPER: And just like the Trump campaign, the White House doesn't want to prematurely call Arizona or Nevada. The Biden people don't want us to prematurely call any other states. Let's bring in Jim Acosta.

The president already is a little bit late, based on what we were told in when he was going to come out.

What do you anticipate he will say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Just to anticipate the mood the Trump campaign, they are white hot on this call on another network for Arizona for Joe Biden. They have been clamoring for other networks to not call Arizona for Joe Biden.

That is part of what is driving some of the president's anger. I think we will see some of that expressed when he comes out in a few moments. He will try to make the case, as he did on Twitter, that just counting the votes in some of the leftover battleground states somehow deprives him or cheats him out of a victory.

Keep in mind, counting the votes in the remaining states is not a victory for Democrats; it is a victory for democracy. I think, to some extent, there needs to be a surgeon general's warning on what the president says when he comes out. He is going to express, I think, in front of the cameras, what he was saying a few moments ago in the tweets, that he feels the election is being stolen from him when it is not being stolen from anybody. It is just a natural process of counting votes.

Some of this I think is being driven by extreme tension inside the Trump campaign headquarters right now. They thought things were moving along well tonight. They saw some of these margins and a lot of the states not matching what was out in the polls over the last several weeks. So they thought they were beating the polls, as they did in 2016.

When some of these, you know, results were coming in, Arizona being called by another network, that did not come in to their plans. And I think that also what happened in Nebraska, with the one electoral vote going to Joe Biden, that wasn't in the Trump campaign's plans.

So things are not going according to what they were hoping to see tonight. And they are reacting accordingly.

I do think that when the president comes out here, it is likely he is going to say things that are just flat false. He is going to be making claims about voter fraud and so on.

We have to remind our viewers that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this country. And just because the president says something, doesn't make it so. He doesn't get to declare who the president of the United States is.

TAPPER: That is right.

We are still waiting for President Trump to come out and give his statement. He has been saying things about the election being stolen from him that are false, that Twitter and Facebook labeled false because he put them out on social media first. We don't have the capability of doing that, like in "Pop-Up Video" on VH1, immediately next to his face.

BASH: Abby, we will explain what VH1 is later.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: But it is important that, if the president comes out saying that the election is being stolen from him and he has won that is not true. That is not accurate. It may be that the president ends up winning. We don't know. It is a much closer race than a lot of other people predicted.

PHILLIP: You pointed out earlier, the hypocrisy, literally in the same breath, they're saying please count all of the votes in Arizona. But they are also saying in Pennsylvania, they are saying in Pennsylvania, if you keep counting after tonight, then you are stealing the election.

It does not make any sense. Both the votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania are just as legitimate and need to be counted. But we need to be prepared for the president to make all kinds of outlandish claims.

There are a lot of things outstanding on the board, including Georgia. That state is close and there is a lot of outstanding vote and the Democrats think they have a chance there.

TAPPER: If there is anybody just tuning now at 2:08 am, we are still waiting for the final results from Georgia and North Carolina. They looked to be states that President Trump is leaning towards victory but haven't been called and there remain outstanding votes.

The blue wall states Hillary Clinton lost in 2016, that Joe Biden wants to return and rebuild, those are states, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, where not only there are outstanding votes but many outstanding votes that were vote by mail, that are disproportionately thought of the be from Democratic leaning counties.

We are told there is more than 2 million outstanding ballots in Pennsylvania alone, which would be quite significant.

Out West, we have Nevada and Arizona. President Trump and his campaign taking the opposite attack there, states where President Trump is behind.

[02:10:00]

TAPPER: And another network called Arizona. We have not called Arizona. But the Trump campaign, completely hypocritically, is saying don't call Arizona; they haven't counted all the votes and is saying the opposite with Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

BASH: If we do hear the president saying things like, counting votes after Election Day is not real or it is fraudulent, it is important to note that, just because a vote is counted after Election Day does not mean it came in after Election Day. Some states actually allow votes to come in after Election Day.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Including Republican states like Ohio and Mississippi and --

BASH: -- let's just take that aside for the moment. What we are largely going to see these swing states do is count votes that came in as part of early voting and absentee voting, period. They came in on time. I am sure that there will be a lot of votes that will be contested. The lawyers are already champing at the bit.

But that is the most important part of the story to remember before we listen to the president.

TAPPER: Yes. Counting every vote is a fundamental democratic principle and it is part of what is important when it comes to democracy. It's part of the reason states bend over backwards to make sure as many valid ballots can count as much as possible.

And the idea that the president is looking to openly disenfranchise people, tens of thousands of whom no doubt voted for him, is just remarkable.

PHILLIP: It is something that even Republicans like Ben Ginsburg, a Republican lawyer, who has been involved in voter fraud related issues for the Republican Party for many years, basically has said it is completely undemocratic, the idea that you can say just, because votes are coming from more Democratic leaning part of the country they shouldn't be counted is really beyond the pale and it has no historical precedent for a President of the United States in particular to make that argument before the election has been completed.

TAPPER: He has been saying it for a long time. He said that early voting in Pennsylvania is not acceptable while early voting in Florida is acceptable. Obviously, each day has it own rules and differences.

Yet that is how he has been waging the campaign when it comes to counting the votes. But as Jim Acosta pointed out and we pointed out, it is not up to him. It is up to the individual states.

BASH: No. That is exactly right. And you know, when you look at what Donald Trump is saying, it is pretty clear that he knew going into this that it would be a possibility. That is why we heard from Joe Biden and his campaign, leading into Election Day, the answer to what we could see right now is to win decisively.

And the Biden campaign hasn't won decisively. That is out of the window. Now we have to deal with whatever we are going to see. And patience and time and counting votes in the key states.

PHILLIP: The Biden campaign hasn't won early. But we do not know yet if it will be decisively. Just because we don't know what the outcome is in these states does not mean it won't be a decisive victory.

BASH: That is really important.

PHILLIP: It is just not an early call.

BASH: That's such a good point. I think what they are meaning is early and decisively so to overcome that psychological --

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIP: If they could have flipped Florida we would be having a completely different conversation right now.

BASH: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIP: But that did not happen. Now this will be a protracted process.

TAPPER: Americans are not necessarily known for our attention spans.

BASH: Sorry, what did you say?

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: One of the things a lot of people were hoping for was an early, decisive outcome, whether for Trump or Biden, that there would be closure so everybody would know who the president was and go to bed by midnight. But this is not an hour and a half thriller. This is like a Netflix 10-part miniseries.

PHILLIP: And this is the year 2020. This is a divided country.

BASH: It is a very divided country. That is bearing out in the results we are starting to see tonight.

[02:15:00]

TAPPER: Including the fact we have not talked about it too much this evening but we still do not know who will control the Senate. Looks as if Republicans could possibly hold control of the Senate, even while possibly a Democrat is elected to the White House. But I don't know that either of those will be the outcome. But it could happen.

PHILLIP: Yes. I think that a lot of people thought they would know what would happen at the presidential level or the Senate level. And things are turning out to be more complicated. We are waiting on things I don't know we knew we would be waiting on, Georgia and Arizona. Certainly the Biden campaign hoped those states would be within their reach.

But this is an unpredictable environment that we are in and part of it has to do with the fact that, four years ago, Donald Trump changed the landscape in an important way. And we are still figuring out what it looks like all over the country, not just in the Upper Midwest but in parts of the South.

What does it mean for the turnout of non-white voters?

We are living through a big change in the country and we are not there yet.

TAPPER: That is an excellent point. One of the things that we are witnessing is a realignment that is happening in this country. For instance, Virginia used to be, when I was young, a battleground state. And now it automatically goes to Democrats.

On the other hand we have seen Republican inroads with Latino voters, a lot of those votes are being tabulated. But in terms of the margins that we did not anticipate would happen necessarily but certainly people were sounding the alarms about Joe Biden and Latino voters.

But there is a realignment going on and the votes are so close in each state to tabulate the ballots.

BASH: Arizona and Georgia are the prime examples of that tonight. Arizona, we have been talking about the dramatic demographic shift in that state. And Georgia, the same thing.

I mean, Georgia was so incredibly red two years ago. And now we have two Senate races in Georgia and the presidential race is seeing a battlefield. We don't know how it will turn out because of the outstanding votes in the major population center of Atlanta. We just don't know.

You know, it is people moving in and the populations being more diverse and younger.

PHILLIP: One thing is for sure, we are still talking about Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania four years later and it could very well be that the states remain battlegrounds. I think Democrats hoped after tonight if Joe Biden would win them back

it would be in such a decisive manner that it would take it off of the board for Republicans. I don't think that will happen tonight. I think those are going to be states that are fought over, which is a big change. They really have not been up for grabs for a long time. That is why 2016 was a big deal.

TAPPER: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan have always been battleground states but usually the type that Republicans two weeks before the election pull out of and compete in and focus on Florida or Virginia.

Now they are truly battleground states. Donald Trump tore down the blue wall that Democrats used to rely on. Joe Biden trying to rebuild it. We don't know what will happen. They literally have millions of ballots that remain needing to be counted and they are going through that and they are doing it the best they can.

Again, we are waiting for President Trump to come out to the East Room of the White House and we are expecting, based on his tweet earlier in the evening that has been labeled as misleading by Twitter and Facebook, we expect the president will prematurely and falsely declare victory and say any efforts by any states other than the ones he wants to do counting is stealing votes.

And that is not accurate. That is not what is going on. There is no evidence of ballots or votes being stolen in the states. There is evidence that election officials are trying to count the votes.

PHILLIP: You do have to wonder what is taking the president so long.

BASH: It is a long four minutes.

PHILLIP: It is a little bit of -- it is interesting. He seemed so sure when he tweeted what he tweeted an hour and a half ago, I just wonder what is the delay in coming out, saying what he needs to say.

[02:20:00]

PHILLIP: Joe Biden came out saying what he needs to say, that he thinks it is headed in his direction. The president feels the same. It should be easy to say that. But we are still waiting.

TAPPER: He has a good, positive story to say. This is closer than the pundits predicted.

Jim, what is the holdup?

We were told by the president's team he would be out a long time ago.

ACOSTA: Only one person can answer that question. I just noticed Mark Meadows and Don Jr. walking out, Ivanka Trump, other members of the Trump family. I think the president wants to put the best face on it.

I was with the president four years ago at this time. Donald Trump is not in the same place he was four years ago. He is hanging on to his political life right now. And no matter what the president says in a few moments, projecting he will win the race, we expect him to say that, he is not out of the woods by a long shot.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Here he is. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Please sit. Thank you. This is without question the latest news conference I've ever had. Thank you. I appreciate it very much. And I want to thank the American people for their tremendous support, millions and millions of people voted for us tonight. And a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won't stand for it. We will not stand for it.

I want to thank the first lady, my entire family and Vice President Pence, Ms. Pence for being with us all through this. And we were getting ready for a big celebration. We were winning everything and all of a sudden it was just called off. The results tonight have been phenomenal and we are getting ready -- I mean, literally we were just all set to get outside and just celebrate something that was so beautiful, so good. Such a vote, such a success to citizens of this country have come out in record numbers. This is a record. There's never been anything like it to support our incredible movement. We won states that we weren't expected to win. Florida, we didn't win it. We won it by a lot.

We won the great state of Ohio. We won Texas, we won Texas. We won Texas. We won Texas by 700,000 votes and they don't even include it in the tabulations. It's also clear that we have won Georgia. We're up by 2.5 percent or 117,000 votes with only 7 percent left. They're never going to catch us. They can't catch us. Likewise we've clearly won North Carolina. Where we're up 1.4 percent. We're 77,000 votes with only approximately 5 percent left. They can't catch us. We also, if you look and you see Arizona, we have a lot of life in that. And somebody declared that it was a victory for -- And maybe it will be. I mean, that's possible. But certainly there were a lot of votes out there that we could get because we're now just coming into what they call Trump territory. I don't know what you call it. But these were friendly Trump voters. And that could be overturned.

The gentleman that called it, I watched tonight.

He said, "Well, we think it's fairly unlikely that he could catch."

Well, fairly unlikely?

And we don't even need it. We don't need that. That was just a state that if we would have gotten it, it would have been nice. Arizona. But there's a possibility, maybe even a good possibility. In fact, since I saw that originally it's been changed.

[02:25:00]

TRUMP: And the numbers have substantially come down just in a small amount of votes. So we want that obviously to stay in play. But most importantly, we're winning Pennsylvania by a tremendous amount of votes.

We're up 600 -- think of this. Think of this. Think of this. We're up 690,000 votes in Pennsylvania, 690,000. These aren't even close.

This is not like, "Oh, it's close -- "

With 64 percent of the vote in, it's going to be almost impossible to catch. And we're coming into good Pennsylvania areas where they happen to like your president. I mean, it's very good. So we'll probably expand that. We're winning Michigan but I'll tell you, I looked at the numbers.

I said, "Wow."

I looked, I said, "Wow, that's a lot."

By almost 300,000 votes and 65 percent of the vote is in and we're winning Wisconsin.

And I said, "Well, we don't need all of them. We need -- "

Because when you add Texas in, which wasn't added, I spoke with the really wonderful governor of Texas just a little while ago, Greg Abbott.

He said, "Congratulations." He called me to congratulate me on winning Texas.

I mean, we won Texas. I don't think they finished quite the tabulation but there's no way. And it was almost complete but he congratulated me.

Then he said, "By the way, what's going on?

I've never seen anything like this."

Can I tell you what, nobody has. So we won by 107,000 votes with 81 percent of the vote. That's Michigan. So when you take those three states in particular and you take all of the others, I mean, we have so many -- We had such a big night.

You just take a look at all of these states that we've won tonight and then you take a look at the kind of margins that we've won it by and all of a sudden, it's not like we're up 12 votes and we have 60 percent left. We won states.

And all of a sudden I said, "What happened to the election?

It's off."

And we have all these announcers saying, what happened? And then they said, "Oh."

Because you know what happened?

They knew they couldn't win so they said, "Let's go to court."

And did I predict this, Newt?

Did I say this?

I've been saying this from the day I heard they were going to send out tens of millions of ballots. They said exactly, because either they were going to win or if they didn't win, they'll take us to court. So Florida was a tremendous victory. 377,000 votes. Texas, as we said. Ohio, think of this. Ohio a tremendous state, a big state. I love Ohio. We won by 8.1 percent, 460,00 -- think of this. Almost 500,000 votes. North Carolina, a big victory with North Carolina. So we won there. We lead by 76,000 votes with almost nothing left. And all of a sudden everything just stopped.

This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud in our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at four o'clock in the morning and add them to the list. OK?

It's a very sad moment. To me this is a very sad moment and we will win this. And as far as I'm concerned, we already have won it.

So I just want to thank you. I want to thank all of our support.

[02:30:00]

TRUMP: I want to thank all of the people that worked with us. And Mr. Vice President, say a few words, please. Please.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to join you in thanking more than 60 million Americans who have already cast their vote for four more years for president Donald Trump in the White House. While the votes continue to be counted, we're going to remain vigilant, as the president said. The right to vote has been at the center of our democracy since the founding of this nation and we're going to protect the integrity of the vote. But I really believe with all of my heart, with the extraordinary margins, Mr. President, that you've inspired in the states that you just described and the way that you launched this movement across the country to make America great again, I truly do believe as you do that we are on the road to victory and we will make America great again, again. Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you very much (INAUDIBLE). Thank you very much.

(MUSIC PLAYING) TAPPER: All right. President Trump, as we anticipated, falsely and prematurely declaring victory, saying that he won.

He did not win. He hasn't won. The president falsely depicting the counting of votes as a fraud and an embarrassment. That is not what is going on. What is going on is the normal democratic process. Almost everything Trump said in his declaration of victory wasn't true.

He is ahead in Georgia and North Carolina. It is not true he is winning Pennsylvania or winning Michigan or winning Wisconsin. They are still counting votes. They literally have millions of vote by mail ballots, those three states are counting. It may well be that President Trump ends up winning the election.

But what President Trump just said was undemocratic and false and premature. It is not accurate to say that he won. We do not know who won the election.

Dana, It is not a surprise but, still, years into the presidency I find it shockingly disappointing that he would continue to erode faith that the American people have in institutions. What is going on right now is a clean and a fair election and there is no evidence to the contrary.

BASH: I know we expected him to say something like that. But hearing the president of the United States in the middle of an election, in the middle of an election, where they are counting votes all over the country, to say what he said from the White House is just not something that I don't think any of us expected to see and hear in our lifetime.

That is not what democratically elected candidates say. That's what authoritarians say. When he said that he -- that people are going to be disenfranchised, the only person right now at this stage of the game who is trying to disenfranchise voters is Donald Trump.

He is saying the voters whose votes haven't been counted in the states, he does not want them to be counted in, don't count.

PHILLIP: We should underline what he is saying. He kept saying that I want the voting to stop. That is not what he is saying. He is really saying that he doesn't want the votes that were already cast to be counted. There is no justification for it. It is shocking. It is really beyond the pale.

He called it a fraud to count ballots in the United States of America?

TAPPER: It is undemocratic.

PHILLIP: It is completely ridiculous. But notice that vice president Mike Pence came up a few minutes afterwards and tried to paper over what the president had just said. He doesn't want the votes still outstanding in states that he had not won to not be counted.

You can't paper over that when it comes from the mouth of the president of the United States from the White House. TAPPER: Vice president Pence tried to say something that is a more traditional idea, grateful for the people that voted for us. We want to be vigilant and make sure that all of the ballots are counted and we are confident we will be victorious in the end.

[02:35:00]

TAPPER: As if President Trump didn't say what he just said, which was a premature and false declaration of victory.

Let me say, it may be that President Trump ends up being reelected. If he is, it will be because of the fair and the diligent counting of ballots in states like Arizona and Nevada, where he wants the county to continue because Biden is ahead, and states where he does not want the counting, not the voting but the counting to continue where he is ahead, because they have not brought in and counted all of the millions of vote by mail ballots, by the way, that were cast vote by mail because we are in the middle of a pandemic that the administration hasn't been able to get control over.

Jim, we all were hoping the president would not go there and lie and falsely declare victory. So again, as always, it is not a surprise but it is shocking.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, Jake. I think our founding fathers are probably rolling in their graves right now. They did not envision a President of the United States delegitimizing an American election. That is what the president did, it's historic and historically awful.

I think one thing we will have to wait to see, they're deploying an army of lawyers to all of the states where they want to contest the results of the election, to try to cast aside votes that are still being counted.

They want to question the legitimacy of the timelines for counting ballots in states where ballots are coming in after Election Day.

It does not compute with the president that states are allowed to have varying ways of counting votes. That is one of the traditions of our democracy. States sort of run their own affairs when it comes to counting votes. The president doesn't get that.

We did hear vice president Mike Pence get up there to the podium and contradict the president immediately, saying the votes continue to be counted. There was at least an ounce of decency in the room. If you read between the lines, he was allowing for the fact that the votes will continue to be counted.

TAPPER: Let's bring in the Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsburg on the phone with us.

First of all, before getting to the morality of what the president did, if you can walk us through it. The president said that he is going to go to the Supreme Court to try to stop the ballots from being counted.

Is there a way for him to go to the Supreme Court and ask them to stop the counting of valid legal ballots from voters?

BENJAMIN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: No. There is really not. There is no natural path to that. There are procedures for continuing to count the votes. You can certainly contest in each state the process of the way that the election took place and ultimately you can try to get an appeal before the Supreme Court.

There is no direct right of appeal for something like this to the Supreme Court.

TAPPER: The president is taking issue with the counting of ballots in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. He describes it as stopping voting but that is not what is going on. These are legal votes that have taken place; they just need to be counted, right?

GINSBERG: Yes. They are legal votes that have taken place. The voters have made their expressions. They in the receipt of all of the states with the exception of Pennsylvania, which had it own law that extends the deadline.

So these are all legally cast votes. The process of trying to toss them out, I think, would be viewed by any court, and including the Supreme Court, as a massive disenfranchisement that would be frowned upon.

TAPPER: I am looking at the numbers in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania as well as Arizona and Nevada and North Carolina and Georgia.

If you were advising him, what would you be advising him to do right now?

[02:40:00]

GINSBERG: I think you need to let all of the votes be counted and watch it carefully. If you have objections to either particular ballots or to the process, then you have remedies after the fact, through each state's contest or recount laws if the margins are close enough.

These are legally cast ballots or are determined to be legally cast by the appropriate local officials. For a president to say we are going to disenfranchise those legally cast ballots is extraordinary.

TAPPER: And beyond the undemocratic part of this and beyond the immoral or amoral part of this, I do not know of an election lawyer that would tell President Trump to do something like this, given the fact he could very well win still.

GINSBERG: Well, it is conceivable that he has found some. But I am not -- I don't know how it would be successful and how to a large extent they will be able to justify it to just bypass the state procedures and to disenfranchise people who legally cast their ballots under state law.

TAPPER: Ben, I am old enough to remember when there was a big election fight in Florida. And one of the things that was going on at the same time is that there was a very close election in New Mexico, where Al Gore won New Mexico and George W. Bush's campaign was thinking about challenging that and realized that it would be inconsistent and hypocritical to be making one argument in Florida and the complete opposite argument in New Mexico.

So you guys dropped the New Mexico thing because there was one principle that you wanted to fight on. Here we have President Trump, in the course of one speech, talking about how mad that he is because Fox called Arizona for Joe Biden and, at the same time and in the same breath, arguing the exact opposite, that we shouldn't be counting on votes coming in and still being counted in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

GINSBERG: Yes. It wasn't really a consistent position. And one of the things about being in a recount or a contested election is that you do have to maintain consistency.

But the consistency begins with recognizing the right to vote in this country and how each individual voter has a right. Now there may be rules for ways that the ballots themselves need to be verified. And there may be instances when the margins of elections are breathtakingly close and fall within a state's required recount.

But that is very different from what we heard tonight.

TAPPER: Ben, you have been a respected Republican lawyer, election lawyer for decades. I think you go back to Indiana's Bloody 8th, which is an obscure reference and only a political super nerd would recognize.

But have you ever seen anything like this before from a President of the United States?

GINSBERG: No. Not even close.

TAPPER: What is your take on it?

What is your take on the Republican President of the United States coming out and, in your view as you already said, attempting to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands, if not millions of American voters?

GINSBERG: Well, it is a distressing moment for me as a longtime Republican to see it. I mean the Republican Party -- and I think that everyone who was on the ballot in the Senate, House or local office today recognizes the value of individuals' votes and how what we do is trying to preserve them and to honor them.

So what the president said tonight is not only unprecedented and not only lacks any basis in the law, it is a disservice to all of the other men and women who are on the ballot as Republicans today.

TAPPER: Ben, thank you for your time and expertise. We really appreciate it. Get some sleep. I am sure we are going to be calling on your services in the next few days, weeks, months, who knows how long. Thank you so much.

Ben Ginsburg, very respected Republican lawyer, shocked, distressed about the fact that an American president is openly seeking to disenfranchise American voters.

[02:45:00]

TAPPER: And in the words of John Bolton, President Trump's former national security advisor, commit a fraud or a con on voters.

PHILLIP: You heard Ben Ginsburg call it unprecedented. If we were watching it in another country right now, we would be shocked. I think it would be setting off alarm bells -- and I am sure it is all over the world.

The president of the United States just said, at 2:00 in the morning on the night of the election, that he wants to stop counting the votes in certain parts of the country but not in other parts of the country because he thinks he has already won, because he thinks he has won.

That is something that, anywhere else in the world, would be a sign of a democracy that is in peril. I think it is a sign that our democracy is in peril.

What is going to happen tomorrow?

Will anyone speak up about this?

I think that is really where we are. We have to wait for the votes to be counted.

Will Republicans just sit in silence and allow the president to say I don't want to count the votes in a handful of states in the country because I think I already won?

BASH: As you are talking, I am thinking about the fact that American observers are sent around the world to observe democracies in action. And one of the things they try to do is to prevent exactly the type of thing President Trump was just calling for.

It is hard to wrap your mind around. I want to underscore what we talked about earlier and that is there are a lot of people out there who believe everything the president says. That is why this is potentially dangerous.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

BASH: You know, we all hope that it is not. This is a norm-busting and institution-busting president. He ran that way four years ago and, even though he is president of the United States, he ran that way this campaign cycle.

Hopefully this is not a ramification of the erosion, thanks to him, of institutions, not just the media and others but those that we all need, basic democratic institutions. TAPPER: I am wondering what the former senator, Rick Santorum,

Republican senator who ran three times in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania three times and won two of three., I am wondering what you make of what we heard from the president?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was very distressed. The president is prone to bluster and fits of being upset about how he is being treated. I don't have a problem. I think Joe Biden said similar things, saying I think I won. That is fine.

The idea that he is using the word fraud by people counting votes is wrong. I understand he sees votes potentially being shifted around in some places.

But look, the reality is that what is happening -- I can tell you in Pennsylvania what is happening is that they are counting the absentee and mail-in ballots right now. And some counties stopped counting.

Why?

Because it is 2:48 in the morning. That is why they stopped counting. People get tired. When they are tired, they make mistakes. You stop counting and take it up when people are fresh and everybody has a chance to make sure they are not making mistakes.

They are not stopping counting because they are trying to fix anything or create any sort of fraud. There are plenty of people there. You know poll watchers and others watching the county. I know the city of Philadelphia, there are cameras on the people who are actually doing the counting.

Look, I understand the president's frustration because some of the states were not called as early as he would have liked. But at the same time, he complained about one of the states being called early like Arizona.

So I understand that the president feels like it is a grievance against him and somehow or another this is another example of the media not treating him fairly.

I would just say I could not disagree more in this case. I think CNN has been quite responsible and been very slow to declare winners. I think that is the right thing to do. You have to be sure we don't do, what may be a mistake in Arizona. They are not confident that state has been decided yet.

And, you know, we need to be cautious. There are plenty of votes out there. All of the blue wall states out there, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, they could flip it.

[02:50:00]

SANTORUM: I think it is highly unlikely in Pennsylvania, as I know it well. But it is still possible. As long as it is still possible, you need to take your time and count the votes. TAPPER: Is there anybody left in that White House who the president listens to, who could tell the president, Mr. President, it's undemocratic what you're saying, it's distressing what you're saying.

We need the votes to be counted for your own second term, should you win one, you need to have the people have faith that this happened the right way.

Is there anyone who can tell him that anymore?

SANTORUM: I suspect the reason the four minute-call went out between then and the time he did speak, there was probably a lot of discussion about what he should say and the president is a 70-some-year-old man at 2:30 in the morning, after a very stressful time. I think he was just, unfortunately, being more a raw version of himself.

So that's just disappointing. I hope that the place -- they walk it back tomorrow and say we want the votes to be counted, particularly in Arizona, need to have them counted in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.

TAPPER: That would be a consistent position -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, John King is here.

It is outrageous what the president said, "This is a fraud on the American public; frankly we did win this election."

They're still counting ballots now, John. By our count, our projection, 220 votes for Biden in the Electoral College, 213 for Trump, there is still a way to go until you get to the 270 needed to win.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right. Let's give Senator Santorum some credit there, let's count the votes. This is the United States of America, not Belarus. Let's count the votes. The leader doesn't decide when we're done, states count their votes. That's how we're going to do it. States count their votes.

There are some things we can be reasonably certain about this map, which is when Hawaii comes in, we can expect it to go Democratic. I can say now these aren't done yet. Nevada, Biden is leading in Nevada. That would be a hold, it was a Clinton state. Biden was leading in Arizona. The math has Biden leading in Arizona.

Let's give him that for now. Let's come back here and go to the red. We assume when Alaska's votes come in, that will stay in the red. Let's get that to change. That gets you to 241-216. Where are we?

We come back over here. Georgia the president is leading. But we're not done yet. North Carolina the president is done, it's close, we're not done yet. In Maine we're not done yet either here. Here's what we expect to happen in Maine. Let me bring Maine out here. I tapped that in the wrong place. Take this off, bring this here.

This district here, Trump is winning here. Biden, we expect to win more of the state. Trump is leading right now in the second congressional district. If you do it like that, you give Trump one and you come out. That's a pickup for Joe Biden, we know. That would be a pickup if that holds right there.

So now you're looking at the map. If we go where the president is leading right now, this is going to anger Democrats. If we just say that we'll see, we still have votes to count. We're not done in Georgia. The lead has shrunk a little bit. We'll pick up Fulton County, Atlanta suburbs.

North Carolina also has tightened a little bit, it's 78,000, that's a little bigger. Let's leave those there for now. That gets you 248 to 244. That would have just these three left. Two out of three, if Joe Biden can do these two, he wins the presidency with 270. If for some reason, let's just say Donald Trump got this one and this one, Donald Trump wins the presidency.

If Joe Biden came back in Pennsylvania, he would win the presidency. If this plays out, if Georgia stays red, North Carolina stays red and the rest of it goes as we think, it's two out of three in the blue wall states.

BLITZER: Let's look at Pennsylvania. Pamela Brown has new reporting on what's going on in Pennsylvania.

What are you picking up, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing how tight of a race it is. Outstanding mail-in ballots, according to official numbers from the Pennsylvania website, there are still 1.4 million, more than 1.4 million mail-in ballots that have not been counted.

So those ballots, those outstanding ballots are not in the account right now. They are working. They are in several counties through the night. In fact, in Philadelphia alone, the Democratic stronghold, they still have 270,000 mail-in ballots to count, 270,000 mail-in ballots to count in the Philadelphia stronghold there.

And so we're told that officials are working through the night in many places in Pennsylvania because, as we have been pointing out, they started the morning of the election. This takes awhile. It's a process, deeper as it comes to Pennsylvania.

BLITZER: Interesting.

[02:55:00]

BLITZER: John, take a look at Pennsylvania now. They're still counting votes. It is it's not over with by any means.

KING: No, it's not over but the math is pretty steep. We need to watch, we need to be transparent. If they have 1.4 million left and the president is up by 673,000 and change, Joe Biden has to win ballpark 75 percent of these votes. Right now he's not doing that statewide but these are mail-in votes.

These are mail-in votes. We do know he was disproportionately winning, Democrats are disproportionately winning the mail-in vote.

Can he win it?

It's a rough number because we're getting the numbers from county to county. But if it's in the ballpark, that's the president's lead right now, Joe Biden will have to win in the area close to 75 percent of those ballots to catch up.

Can he do that?

We're going to have to see and count. That's a steep hill. Remember four years ago, we were in Michigan, we were in Wisconsin, Hillary Clinton was behind. Democrats kept saying the votes were there. In this case, mathematically, it's possible. When they count the votes, his execution among those mail-in ballots, his return rate among those mail-in ballots is going to be off the charts.

We do know from data that's possible because Democrats did disproportionately win the mail-in vote. That's a number to watch as we count them. And most of that counting will continue through the night. We'll be finished sometime tomorrow.

BLITZER: They're counting in Wisconsin and in Michigan as well.

KING: Let's go through and look at the president's lead. Again, the president looks 307,000 right there. As we count and, in Wisconsin, 116,000. But again, votes to count.

BLITZER: Stand by. We're going to continue our special coverage right after a quick break.

[03:00:00]