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Nail-Biter Election Down to Six States; Trump Falsely Claims Victory; Biden Takes Narrow Lead in Wisconsin. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 4, 2020 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: John Avlon is one of our -- our contributors here and he analyzes this stuff and he has a question for you.

What do you want to --

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Commissioner, so you're -- you're making an important point, which is that this is a -- this is election week, it's not Election Day. Here's my question. I know you're focused on -- on Philadelphia. But when we talk about Democratic strongholds, what we're really talking about is major population centers. And I wonder if you've spoken to any of your colleagues in the counties that surround Philadelphia, Chester, for example, whether they're seeing similar dynamics as you're dealing with there?

AL SCHMIDT, PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: Well, all of the southeast counties in Pennsylvania have received a lot of mail-in ballots. It is brand-new to Pennsylvania this year, as you know. We only had absentee ballots in the past, meaning you had to be absent from the county or you had to be incapacitated and unable to make it to the polls on Election Day.

The embrace of mail-in voting in Pennsylvania is extraordinary. About half of our voters will have voted by mail and about half of our voters will have voted at the polls on Election Day, which is the same as it was in the primary.

In our case, you know, we -- we're finishing up getting all of the results in from the polling places, the in-person voting, and the production here to continue counting the mail-in votes is going to continue until they're counted.

LEMON: All right, Commissioner Al Schmidt in Philadelphia, thank you so much, city commissioner. Appreciate you joining us.

And, you know, I do resemble that remark. Everybody wants to know when the votes are going to be in. Thank you so much. Best of luck to you.

SCHMIDT: Thank you.

LEMON: Let's get back to Chris. I want to get back to Chris and Phil over at the magic wall. And just to get some analysis on what we just heard from Al Schmidt,

he said 350 to 400 plus mail-in ballots that they've received, 75 they -- last night. They reported 65 about an hour ago. And they're still working it. Those are big numbers.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: They are. So let's flip the suggestion and put it into the mind of where the voter is. Well, is that enough? I -- you know, those numbers are significant, but not enough to make up the 618,000. So what are we dealing with here in terms of likelihoods? Let's start there. What is the answer to the question of, all right, so he's got 200,000 plus thousands more to go, even if it's very Biden-centric as a voting percentage. Doesn't bring him near that.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it doesn't. Be I think you, again, we need to talk about not just Philadelphia County, the city of Philadelphia and its outskirts, which, again, dropped in about, in total over the course of the last 30 minutes or so, another 65,000 I believe is what he said out of the 350,000 to 400,000. So that moved the margin up. That moved the total up as well. Joe Biden now at 76.2 percent, Donald Trump at 22.9 percent. Again, we expect this county to go heavily Democratic.

What we've been waiting for is the vote. This was the margin back in 2016. Obviously, the bidden campaign would like to see the margin grow. They would also like to see the top-line vote grow, 584,000 for Hillary Clinton back in 2016. Biden campaign wants it up above that to some degree. So that gives you some way, some pathway to start cutting in.

But you make a key point here, how do you make up 611,000 votes. Well --

CUOMO: All right, hold on. Hold on.

We have a key race alert. Put the coffee down.

Let's talk about this right now.

Here's what we know in Michigan. Right now the margin has just changed. We're getting information in right now. Donald Trump is 64,520 votes up.

Why is this significant? He was just -- he was over 200,000 all over night. He was at 197,000 ahead just a few moments ago. Now it is very tight.

Phil, why?

MATTINGLY: Right here, it's Wayne County. And this is -- this carries between what we saw in Wisconsin. Why did Joe Biden take the lead in Wisconsin a couple hours ago, however long ago that was? Milwaukee County came in. Milwaukee City was the big -- was the bulk of Milwaukee County. And all of a sudden the vote flipped. He was up 109 -- down 109,000, then he was up 9,000. Obviously, that doesn't mean Wisconsin's done, but it shows the effect of major urban centers that are Democratic strongholds where there's major vote outstanding. In Pennsylvania, in Michigan, also in -- was in Wisconsin. Not so much anymore.

Wayne County is the largest county in the state of Michigan. It is 18 percent of the voting population. It is Detroit that pushes outward, right now, 63 percent reporting. Joe Biden at 67 percent to 31.4 percent, 408,000 --

CUOMO: 600,000.

All right, so it's like -- it's like 600,000. So you have another 40 percent basically. That's about 230-something thousand votes to go.

MATTINGLY: Right. And those votes are by mail for the most part. We believe that is the composition of them. We know they're coming in, in a Democratic county. Democrats have been voting heavily by mail.

What we're trying to -- what I'm trying to lay out for you is this, Donald Trump was ahead by 212,000 votes about 30 minutes ago.

[06:35:05]

Right now he's ahead by 64,000 votes. Roughly about 1.3 points with 83 percent reporting. Let's look at what's outstanding right now and factor in a couple of things. One, Ingham County, that is a Democratic county. There's 69 percent outstanding right now. Democrats expect to win this county. They expect to win this county big. And the expectation is the vote that is outstanding right now is largely mail, which means it might skew even more Democratic than what you're currently looking for.

CUOMO: Right. Every time he says that, he means m-a-i-l. I get why you guys keep asking the question. Is it male, female. No, it's about mail-in.

MATTINGLY: No. Right.

CUOMO: No, no, you're making the right assumption, but it's about mail-in, OK. So now we know.

Keep going.

MATTINGLY: So the reason I'm pointing out Ingham, the reason I'm pointing out Kalamazoo is these are larger counties where there's a lot of Democratic vote outstanding -- where there's a lot of vote outstanding. It is expected to come in Democratic because of the county composition. And it's expected to be mostly vote by mail or absentee ballot, which has skewed more heavily Democratic, not just in Michigan or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, but across the country.

CUOMO: Why is it taking so long? Fraud, cheat, steal?

MATTINGLY: No, because of when they were allowed to start counting. It's --

CUOMO: Which is?

MATTINGLY: It's purely a processing issue. And different states processed at different times. If you were paying attention last night, if you were watching returns come in in Ohio, you looked at Ohio and if you were a Democrat you saw vote by mail hit early and you said, Ohio is back in play. Guess what, Ohio is not back in play if you're a Democrat. Ohio is not back in play.

So what you saw was you saw the vote by mail hit early. You saw Democrats take early leads in Ohio and several other states. What we are seeing is the inverse of that -- let me pull this back out -- is the inverse of that in states like Pennsylvania, in states like Michigan, in states like Wisconsin.

And so the vote by mail, because of when they were allowed to process and when they were allowed to count, based on state law or state rule, is coming in later.

CUOMO: So in Michigan, that means their specific rule was, you can't count any mail-in ballots, any, until right before polls close.

So what does that mean?

You're going the see initial returns be day-of voting. And as a result, the president has been hyper-competitive in day-of voting. Absolutely a show of strength. But now the second wave winds up being the mail-in votes. And that's what we're seeing compiled now.

MATTINGLY: If you are a Republican, you initially watched North Carolina and Ohio last night with trepidation and fear. And then you were popping the champagne as you watched the Election Day vote come in because Donald Trump crushed the Election Day vote across the country.

If you were a Democrat, you watched the initial returns in the state of Michigan with trepidation and fear until not even 30 minutes ago. You're still a little concerned, but now, as the vote by mail comes in, you are getting a little bit more enthusiastic about where things stand.

Now, I want to just kind of follow up here and show you real quick why you're enthusiastic if you're a Democrat. It does not mean that Joe Biden is locking up Michigan right now.

CUOMO: Nope.

MATTINGLY: He still trails by 64,000 votes.

CUOMO: A healthy margin.

MATTINGLY: We do not know the exact composition of the vote that's coming in. We don't know if the vote by mail for perhaps Kent County is more Republican than Democrat.

CUOMO: Yes.

MATTINGLY: That would be different. That would be different. But right now the margin that Donald Trump holds in Kent County with 80 percent reporting -- CUOMO: Right.

MATTINGLY: Is fairly sizable given where Kent County stood in 2016.

CUOMO: Now, another frequently asked question, just because I've been getting the rhythm of your question on these things, why aren't you guys -- you say the blue county is going to go for Democrats, and then you go to a red county and you say it's not going to go for Republicans. That's not fair. That's not what we're saying.

Phil is only talking about mail-in ballots. And what we know, as a supposition, in Michigan, is that people who asked for ballots tend to be more Democrat than Republican, even in a Republican county.

All right, we've got to hold it there.

Let's take a quick break. A lot of information coming at us to process. Things are changing. And we have to count it slow and low. That is the tempo. As the information comes in, we will bring it to you.

Please, stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:42:49]

LEMON: We have been saying all along, we knew this was going to come down to the battleground states and here it is. Almost 7:00 in the morning, the day after the election, and still Michigan is still out. Pennsylvania is still out. Georgia. We're wondering what's happening in Nevada. All of those states still out. Wisconsin. We're still trying to figure out what's happening with that. A lot of them too close to call. Ballots still coming in. Mail-in ballots and so on and so forth. We've never dealt with this situation, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

Both campaigns, both people in the campaigns, the former vice president and the president of the United States, speaking earlier in the evening last night. Joe Biden not declaring victory, but saying, we think we're going to win this. We think we feel strong. I think the quote was, we feel strong in Georgia, we feel strong in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania. And they said that they were also confident about Arizona.

Not so -- they said that they didn't think that they would be, at this point, in the game for Georgia. But -- wasn't expected, but they say that they may do well with that.

But the president of the United States claiming victory last night. Also saying that this whole thing, in so many words, rigged, that people are trying to steal the election.

Why don't we get to the White House now? CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House, where she is a lot of the times these days.

Kaitlan, I'm sure the president was probably happy with what he said last night. Maybe the folks around him, not so much.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, but it wasn't really surprising. It was entirely predictable. But, Don, we are looking at this map and a lot has changed in the four hours since the president came out, claimed he won something that he has not won yet, and neither has Joe Biden, to be clear, because we are still counting ballots. And the president also threatened legal action, even though there's nothing to challenge yet because ballots are still being counted by the thousands, by the hundreds of thousands, and potentially even by the millions.

Yet that did not stop the president from coming out around 2:30 a.m. to his party of guests who had been waiting here at the White House since around 7:00 p.m. and this is what he declared, declaring victory even though the vice president said they still needed to wait and let the votes be counted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a fraud on the American public.

[06:45:00]

This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. (INAUDIBLE).

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 on 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 4:00 in the morning and add them to the list, OK? It's -- it's a very sad -- it's a very sad moment. To me this is a very sad moment. And we will win this. And we -- as far as I'm concerned, we already have won it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now, Don, what the president is talking about there is not what he has been saying for the last several days, that he was preparing to challenge in places like Pennsylvania if they're still counting ballots in the three days after the election. He is challenging votes that were happening on election night, that were still being counted in the hours after the election. Talking about 4:00 a.m., of course, we have seen now it is 6:45 a.m. and votes are still being counted. So there is nothing for the president to challenge here, to be clear. That is not how this works. You don't just decide that you're going to the Supreme Court.

And the president is already being criticized for those statements by people like Chris Christie, someone who is typically an ally of his who says, now if a problem does arise with these ballots, the president has totally undercut his own credibility to be able to make that argument because he is declaring that legitimate ballots that are being counted are fraudulent, when they are not. And now we should note the Trump campaign is fundraising off this, sending e-mails to supporters saying, we told you this was going to happen, even though, Don, we should note, what happened last night is perfectly legitimate.

LEMON: And we have to keep reiterating it, Kaitlan, what happened and what is happening now is not unusual. For the president to say, we want all voting to stop, that's what he said, we don't want them finding ballots in the middle of the night, 4:00 a.m., and then counting them. That's what happens on election night. That's how this works.

COLLINS: Exactly. Exactly. That's entirely how this works. So what the president was basically saying last night is he wants them to keep counting votes in states like Arizona, where right now he's down, but stop counting them in other places like Michigan, where you saw he had a pretty good lead and now that lead is narrowing significantly. So the president is making his argument here painfully clear and it is going to be basically impossible for aides to defend this.

And it was such a stark contrast last night to see the president saying that and then he invited the vice president to come up and speak, and he said they should stay vigilant as the votes are still being counted. That is completely incompatible with what President Trump is saying, recklessly declaring victory when he has not won anything yet and neither has Joe Biden.

LEMON: All right, Kaitlan, I want you to stand by. And in just a moment, we're going to have some new reporting on the president and what the folks around him are saying from our Maggie Haberman.

But, first, I want to get to MJ Lee, because the Biden campaign is responding to the president's cry to stop the count.

MJ, you're at Biden headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. What are you hearing? What are they saying?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, incredibly, this is precisely what the Biden campaign had predicted might happen and what we might hear from the president on election night, that he would prematurely declare victory, that he would cast doubt on the democratic process. And so, overnight, we did hear from Biden's campaign manager, Jen O'Malley Dillon, responding to the president's speech.

So here's a part of what she said. She said, the president's statement tonight about trying to shut down the counting of duly cast ballots was outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect. It was outrageous because it is a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens. She added that the counting simply will not stop.

I also just want to go back to Wisconsin for a second. I know you can see the sky behind me, the sun has come up now in Wilmington. The work that Phil Mattingly has been doing on the magic wall, looking at the county-by-county counts that are coming in, I can guarantee you that is exactly what is also going on over at Biden headquarters.

We saw what happened when the Milwaukee numbers came in. I know that we are now waiting to see what the numbers are like in the Green Bay area. The question now is, are the margins going to be big enough in some of

these areas for Biden to be able to ultimately clinch this important state? And the big picture now, right now, is that the reality is, for the Biden campaign, this is not about expanding the map, expanding the states, adding on bonus states, having some extra padding. The reality right now, as of Wednesday morning, is that this is a close, close race and it is going to come down to a handful of states, including the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

[06:50:07]

These are the blue wall states that we have been talking about all week, heading into election night, but this isn't necessarily the way that they hoped they would clinch the nomination. They thought that they had a good chance at winning these three states. And then the other states would be sort of the extra, right?

And I think this is why it is important to keep in mind, we have heard from the former vice president and his surrogates in recent days emphasizing over and over again that they were not going to take these three states for granted because the last thing that they wanted was to take them for granted, to not campaign enough, to not pour in enough resources into these states and then see a repeat of what happened in 2016. They have been openly critical of, sometimes too, of the former Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, not spending enough time in some of these states. And that is why we have heard them, over the last couple of weeks, saying, we are not going to see a repeat of that. Obviously, we don't know what we are going to -- what we are going to see in these couple of states yet.

Don.

LEMON: MJ Lee, thank you.

And I think we should -- everyone should stop with that. This is 2016 again. This is 2020. By this time in 2016, there was a winner that had been declared and is the current president of the United States. We're in different territory now. This is the election of 2020. Still not decided.

So let's talk about a lot of this. I want to bring in Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times," and also of CNN.

Maggie, thank you so much.

To -- my jaw dropped when I heard the president of the United States say, we should stop all voting. We want all voting to end. We don't want ballots coming in at 4:00 a.m., which is exactly what we're doing. Again, that's how election night works.

How are the folks -- you have some new reporting about the folks around him.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the folks around him are -- share his anger and frustration about the call in Arizona, which was made early, which is what triggered this with him, but many of them are not happy with what he actually said because the people around him, in most cases, know how elections actually work and --

LEMON: We didn't call Arizona here (INAUDIBLE).

HABERMAN: Excuse me, on another network and then the AP did as well.

LEMON: Right.

HABERMAN: And so that's part of what they were frustrated about.

The -- that's fine, but there are political professionals who work around the president who understand how campaigns work, how elections are fought and won, how votes are counted. And there is nothing abnormal, per se, in what we have seen so far. They will complain about Pennsylvania and I think you will see an effort to have a legal fight there from the Trump team, but there was nothing to base this claim on.

As Kaitlan said, Chris Christie, who is an ally of the president, is one of the only Republicans, and he's not a current elected official, who has called the president out for that and said that this was a mistake. Hearing an American president say something like that, this is a fraud on the American people. Not counting people's vote is a fraud on the American people. And I think that we should not let how jarring that remark was pass, especially by people saying, well, he was angry or, you know, well, you have to understand how he feels, or he doesn't really mean it and know what he's talking about. He's the president and his words should have meaning.

LEMON: Well, Rick Santorum, who is a Trump surrogate on this network --

HABERMAN: (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Said the same thing. Also Alice Stewart saying the same thing. I think many Republicans, most Republicans, sensible Republicans are saying the same thing.

HABERMAN: Not elected officials.

LEMON: No elected officials.

HABERMAN: No elected official who's a Republican has said anything. And I think that's where it's going to -- it's going to matter.

LEMON: That's really, really telling.

It's interesting because as I'm looking over my notice for the president's speech earlier, he said, you know, I told you that we were going to do this. There's a group of people who are trying to disenfranchise another group of people. And then he said, talking about going to court.

And in the very next breath he says, we are going to court. Our lawyers are ready to go to court, to go to the Supreme Court.

HABERMAN: Right. LEMON: Isn't that contradictory because he is criticizing supposedly Democrats, or people who are -- you know, who -- the votes who are doing what they're supposed to do and counting votes, every single vote, by -- and by saying they were going to go to court, and then he said he's going to go to court.

HABERMAN: Right. Well, not only did he say he's going to go to court, which -- which, in fairness, they have been saying for several days. They've been telegraphing that they were planning on legal challenges, that they were lawyering up. The president has been saying to his advisers that he expects this is going to be a big battle and he has been forecasting this for a while.

What you don't say is, we're going to the Supreme Court, because that's just not the way this works. You don't just get to go right to the Supreme Court and skip every other lower court, even if you have a basis for the argument that you're trying to make.

And, again, he did not lay out exactly what he was talking about. It's not clear what he was talking about, other than that he was angry. And what he was angry at, again, is this call by another network, and by the AP, the AP might not have happened at that point, about Arizona, which is still being counted. But he was also angry because all of the polls were predicting that he was going to face a big loss, and at the moment we still don't know who won. And that is part of what he is reacting to.

Two things can be true at once. It can be true that the polling is a huge problem and it's clearly not been fixed and also true that what he said was very problematic.

LEMON: I've got to get to the break. How soon do you think before we hear from the president again?

HABERMAN: At some point this morning probably on Twitter. If past is prologue.

LEMON: That's a -- that's -- yes, I think that is -- you can count on that.

Thank you very much, Maggie Haberman.

Will Joe Biden be able to maintain his lead in Wisconsin?

[06:55:01]

It is a very small lead. Where does this race go from here? If anybody tells you they know, they don't. There are lots of questions that we have and that you have. We're going to keep getting you answers throughout this Wednesday morning.

We'll be right back. Right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Good morning. I'm Chris Cuomo, along with Don Lemon. We have been doing this all night. We're closing in on 7:00 a.m. Eastern, 4:00 in the West. I don't know why he looks that good. This night has been filled with changes that make material differences in our understanding of where the presidential race stands.

And here's the headline. There is no clear winner --

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And there won't be for some time. Why? Because the counting is making a difference. Not of votes that were discovered, not of additional voting. Everything that's being counted is a function of what happened last night and during the day as prescribed by the system.

[07:00:03]

The president, prematurely, and, of course, without proof, claimed victory.