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Biden Leads in Michigan, Trump Leads in Pennsylvania. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 4, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Both counts overnight in places like Michigan and Wisconsin, he says, have magically disappeared his lead.

[11:30:08]

And he's blaming or suggesting that there is fraud in that vote counting. He had not won those states last night --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And, John, we've got to step in, I'm sorry. We will come back to you. The Michigan secretary of state is speaking. Let's go to -- listen.

JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: -- effectively, methodically and securely. This meticulous process is all about and focused on ensuring every absentee ballot is counted accurately and fairly.

We have many secure protocols in place to confirm the validity of every ballot, and, in fact, that's why the process takes so much time. Our goal is to ensure, again, we're being transparent but also fully accurate and that the public, you all, can trust the results of the result as an accurate reflection of the will of the people.

Now, importantly, as we go through this counting as the counting is completed, four of the county and state levels that are also comprised of people from both parties will then review the procedures and counts of the entire elections before the results are certified as official.

So, that's the process we're in right now, the beginning and that first tabulation. And when we have that first unofficial tabulation, which we hope will come sometime within the next 24 hours, we will then begin the process of finalizing and with addition secure protocols moving towards an official tabulation, which could take even more time.

Now, notably you may be thinking why are we still waiting to hear from Michigan and why are they still counting our ballots? Well, for about 18 months, the state of clerks throughout the state of Michigan and I called on our state legislature to update our laws to provide time for preprocessing of ballots that were on par with many other states, like our neighbors in Ohio, who are able to count the vast majority of their ballots yesterday.

Now, our state legislature chose not to make that change to our laws and here we are in Michigan, where our counting process is continuing long after the polls have closed. But rest assured, we're focused on counting every single ballot. That's our focus, every single ballot in Michigan will be counted.

And, importantly also, right now, there are tens of thousands of ballots that still need to be counted and jurisdictions have been reporting throughout the morning, as many of you know and have been following, but the information I have is that ballots are still being counted in our largest jurisdictions, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Clint, Kalamazoo and numerous other Michigan cities and townships.

Now, these ballots were cast by tens of thousands of Michigan citizens who the right to have their vote counted and we're going to make sure that right is protected. We're going to ensure that the result of our election accurately reflect every single ballot vote that was cast and this is particularly important in close races, as the numbers of outstanding ballots is still greater than the margin of difference between many races with leading candidates.

So, at this point, I ask for patience out of respect to the will of our voters and the work of our election workers who are volunteering in communities all across the state to serve the public and are committed to ensuring an accurate count.

Now, I continue to expect, though I had for weeks, said we expect results to be in by Friday. We're still certainly on track for that. But as I've also mentioned recently, and we are on track to have our results in much sooner, I continue to expect we will have more information throughout the day. And as I mentioned last night, I'm optimistic that by the end of the day, the majority of our ballots will be tabulated and will be much closer to having a full, if not a full and unofficial complete result to announce at that point.

But I also want to mention that yesterday --

COOPER: You're listening to Jocelyn Benson, secretary of state in Michigan. Obviously, just too close to call at this point in Michigan right now. Joe Biden has about a 32,000-vote lead in Michigan. More numbers have come in just a short time ago and his lead increased from the 10,000 or so that it was to 32,000.

The secretary of state, really, the headlines -- 31,000, I should say. The headline regularly from the secretary of state is they said that -- she says there are still tens of thousands of votes to be counted. They hope by the end of today to have kind of an unofficial vote tally. It will be tomorrow or even Friday before they can firmly say, and officially say, what the results in Michigan. She said she hopes it would be before Friday.

We're getting new Michigan results now. Let's put them up and let's take a look at these. And let's see. Michigan results, Joe Biden's lead dropping somewhat. He's now at 29,525 votes ahead. It had been 32,000 and 31,000, so a slight downward move for Joe Biden, his lead still 29, 525.

We were looking at Michigan moments ago with John King at the magic well. We were looking at Wayne County, which is the Detroit area.

[11:35:03]

A lot of votes, it seems there. I think it was in the 70 --

Let's go to John King right now. So, John, you see the few votes lost and gained for President Trump. Where are the votes remaining?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And so, again, what you see there, Joe Biden's lead narrowing a little bit. It's just why we're going to ask people throughout the day to have some patience, whether you're Biden supporter, whether you're a Trump support, whether you're three people left in America who are neutral about this. I think it's important that we just have patience, have patience, because we're seeing the numbers move.

As you mentioned, Joe Biden right now, 29,525, just little above that. Just a short time ago, the last time we spoke, it was above 30,000. So what are they doing? Why is that changing? It's changing because they're counting votes.

And you just heard the secretary of state there say she hopes to get this done by Friday. That's unnerving to a lot of people out there and I understand that. That can be frustrating. It's a very close race. We want to know the winner. Her point is the legislature in Michigan would not change the law to allow them to start processing these ballots sooner, so they're at it today and it could into tomorrow.

What did she say? She said, in many of Michigan's larger jurisdictions, that's where you have more ballots still to count. The largest of the jurisdictions is Wayne County, predominantly Democratic, that's Detroit and the area around Detroit. Again, this is where Democrats need to run it up to win statewide in Michigan. In the votes counted so far, Joe Biden is doing just that, 67 percent to 32 percent, if you round it up. but you see there, 76 percent of the estimated vote, which means they have about a quarter left to count.

Now, again, common sense, history, our own polling and data from the early vote tells us Joe Biden is going to add to his total here in Wayne County. That doesn't mean there aren't places for the president to pick up votes. It just means if you look at the Biden lead now, 34,000, it is likely to grow from Wayne County.

So where can the president offset that? Well, we talked a little bit earlier about Kent County, maybe, the president is leading Kent County. This is Grand Rapids and suburbs around it, more conservative. And you get to Western Michigan. Right now, Joe Biden is in the hunt here, 51/47, if you round that up, but we will the rest of the votes, right? We'll just count and see what happens. There are more votes here in Grand Rapids as the secretary said.

Then you go through Kalamazoo, again, another urban area. We have more votes, more people live here. This is the ninth largest of 83 counties in the state of Michigan. Joe Biden is ahead here 54 to 44, ten points if you round it up. Sure?

COOPER: John, we also just got more votes in Michigan now. Biden's lead has actually grown, 34,769 ahead. So this is going to be happening all day long.

KING: Right. You have all of these county votes and their posting on their websites and they're reporting to the state sometime. And we saw this in Pennsylvania. Again, this is where this will be frustrating because people will see a county may post votes before the secretary of state has them. In some cases, the state may post votes before the county officials get around to put it on their local website. So there will be mixed message during the day.

The key point is the end of the day, right? The key point is the end of the day. You heard Secretary Boockvar in Pennsylvania, Secretary Benson in Michigan will do the same thing. They're going to count the votes and she's going to check in whether it's a small county like this, 99 percent here, she is going to be checking in, getting the reports from all these people to see are there any more votes to be counted here.

And then you move up through these counties here, Genesee County, this is where Flint is in Michigan. Flint, Michigan, they're at 95 percent right now. So they're almost done. They're almost done. You see, this is closer than I think the Democrats would like it to be, 50.4 percent to 48 percent if you round up the president up. Go back four years ago, it's a ten-point, just shy, nine-point race there.

So, right now, if you're thinking -- think the Democrats think Flint, we need these votes, that's closer than they would want it to be, but they're going to continue to count votes.

Now, again, all of the data tells us before the election that the mail-in votes, most of what we think is yet to be counted, those mail- in votes were disproportionately Democrat. That's what the data told us before the election. Guess what? We're in the election now. We're counting votes. So we can even set that aside.

We know common sense, we know logic, but the most important thing in the next few days, and let's just check some of these counties, this is Oakland, 95 percent, you come back up here, Genesee at 95 percent. You see the red counties other votes for the president again, 95 percent here. You come over here, 95 percent here. These are much smaller counties but very vote counts, Anderson, and that's the key point, 34,769 right now. It's going to seesaw, bounce up and down a little bit and just keep counting.

COOPER: So, is it really Wayne County in Michigan that has the most votes outstanding?

KING: Yes, yes. And, again, exact numbers we need to get from Wayne County officials but you see they're at 76 percent now. If you have a pen and paper at home, you can do this math yourself. So you're at 76 percent, Joe Biden is leading 67/32 when you round up. He has 489,000 and changed votes. Well, you've got 25 percent of the vote roughly still to be counted there. If it keeps coming in at these percentages, there's no guarantee, some Democrats think it will actually come in higher, that the mail-in ballots are so disproportionately Democratic, that this could go up. We don't know that. That's what the Biden campaign will tell you. That's why they say they're optimistic there. We just need to wait and count the votes.

And there's going to be a lot of political spin today. There's going to be a lot of, shall I say, Tarzan moments with people saying, stop this vote or do this more. This is why you just let these people do their jobs and count the votes.

[11:40:00]

COOPER: You're talking about well over 100,000 votes there. I mean, my math is not very good. But if -- given the vote, I mean, there's 700,000 or so votes already cast. If 25 percent of them have yet to be tallied, that's -- yes, it's more than 150,000.

KING: And that's exactly why because Wayne County is blue, it's always been blue, that's exactly why the Biden campaigns thinks it's going to add to its totals, because you have 25 percent of the vote, 24 percent, somewhere in that ballpark, to be counted in a place where Joe Biden is getting 67 percent of the vote. He is going to get a majority of those votes in Wayne County. That's -- history tells us that. We're not making that up.

And four years ago, again, this was a source of disappointment late on a Tuesday night. We got into this early Wednesday morning. I remember the Clinton campaign saying don't call Michigan because we're going to poll more votes out of Wayne County. So we should be skeptical of what any campaign tells us, right?

We should be skeptical of what the Biden campaign says today. We should be skeptical about the Trump campaign today. We should just use the facts, right? We know four years ago, Hillary Clinton did not pull it out. She got 500,444 votes in Wayne County. We know right now Joe Biden is under. This is why it's important to count. It's a higher turnout election, right? We will see in the end if there's higher turnout in Wayne County.

But, look, Joe Biden shy of 490,000 votes, right? Hillary Clinton four years ago, 520,000 votes, I'm rounding up a little bit. 519,000 and changed then, 489,000, it just tells you because we know the turnout was up in this election, there are votes out there to be counted. And you know this is a disproportionately Democratic place.

Biden campaign has every reason to believe they're going to get more. But, guess what, the way we know whether that's true is to give them the time to count it. You can be frustrated about it. We all wish this would happen more quickly but it isn't.

And the other point is, again, when you hear late votes, how are they doing this, where are these votes coming from, these votes, whether it's in Wayne County here, Democratic, or a little tiny Republican county here, Lake County, these votes are in-house, Democratic eyes watching them, Republican eyes watching them, local election officials watching them.

In some places, they have cameras, I know they have that in Philadelphia watching them. So when you hear things about are they sneaking in new ballots, that just doesn't happen. If anyone tries to do it, somebody will see them. We just need to be patient and let them count the votes.

COOPER: If anybody is playing a drinking game, nobody should play -- nobody should play a drinking game on count the votes. That's going to be -- that and patience are the words we're going to hear an awful lot of today.

And, Georgia, John, Georgia secretary of state has been briefing reporters. He says 200,000 absentee ballots have yet to be counted and 40,000 to 50,000 early votes remain outstanding. They say they hope to have them counted by counted by this afternoon. How significant would that be?

KING: Well, it's significant in the sense that you just mentioned, what, 240,000, if I got your math quickly, roughly, ballpark number there. The president's lead in Georgia was 101,837 votes, 50.5 to 48.3, so 51 to 48, if you want to round the president up. So, again, for Joe Biden to make that up with less than 240,000 votes, if that's the right universal vote, that's a pretty enormous hill to climb.

But the question is where are those votes, right? So, you're looking at this map. You know if the Democrats are going to make mount a comeback in Georgia, it's going to be here, a little bit help from here. But Atlanta and suburbs around it are the key. So let's just go in and take a look. And, again, you've got to find out exactly are these votes.

But if you go in Fulton County, for example, I left at 4:00 in the morning, they weren't anywhere near 95 percent, they are now. And if you see it, this is Atlanta and the suburbs around Atlanta, overwhelmingly Democrat. Joe Biden is getting 72 percent of the vote there. But this says they're 95 percent in, right? It's a larger population center. That 5 percent can be a lot of votes. We'll let them count them and see if it happens here.

This is the one I was looking at a little bit earlier, and it's still at 80 percent, DeKalb County, you come to the east of Atlanta, very important suburban area for Democrats, the suburbs trending their way, if you don't believe me, 83 percent to 16 percent there, and 80 percent here. So, there are a lot of votes to be counted. Logic tells you looking at the results of the votes we have so far, Joe Biden is going to add to his math here.

Is there enough, Anderson, to overcome 101,000? That's why we're going to wait the day out, right? We're going to wait the day out. You can do the math at home. The probability of that, the hill is pretty steep but because if they're missing from these areas here, Fulton County missing 5 percent, Cobb County missing 11 percent, you see this is a little closer but Joe Biden has the lead there. If you walk through these counties, 95 percent here, I went through that, Gwinnett County at 95 percent, if you come back down here, it's 80 percent in DeKalb, it's the one tells me watch that. Watch the next wave of votes that come in from there. Does Joe Biden narrow the lead when more of this comes in? If so, they're you're putting in play, if not, what is the harm, even if the president keeps his lead?

What is the harm of counting all the votes and knowing with more certainty as we walk through the delicate hours ahead of us?

COOPER: John, for viewers not following this as closely, the president has said in a tweet that late at night, there were all of a suddenly, magically, all these votes appeared that changed to a Biden lead in a number of states.

[11:45:01]

There's nothing magical or nefarious about it, it's simply votes being counted.

KING: It is simply votes being counted. Imagine you come home from work, you have a stack of bills on your desk at home, you're tired. You want to do them all. You don't get them. You do some, you go to bed, you get up in the morning, and you do the rest. It's the same stack that were sitting right there on the desk. You just didn't get through it all because you were tired and you had to go to bed, or you didn't have enough help, so you went to bed. This is all that is happening here. This happens in every election.

Let's go back to 2018, right? The Democrats had a big night on the midterm election night. We didn't realize how big for days, Anderson, for days. In California, some other closely contested House races, they kept counting legally cast ballots.

That's the key point, legally cast ballots. Each state has its rules. And, again, both campaigns have every right to send in lawyers to watch. That's fine. That is perfectly within the rules and within systems to say how are you handling that ballot? Can I look at that ballot? Can I check? Was that one processed right? Can I look at the postmark?

All of that is perfectly legal, it happens every election and both campaigns have every right to do it. That's why we have rules and you have appeals in the process. Let it play out. Let it play out. There are eyeballs on these ballots. They have been collected. Some will come in today. Some will come in today, in states that allow ballots to come in today as long as they're postmarked and there are some states that do that, that's perfectly legal too.

This happens every year we have an election. I was going to say, every four years, we have a presidential election, every two years, we have the midterm elections. Some states have elections in the middle of those for state and local offices as well. They know what they're doing. They know how to do this. If there are issues, there will be eyeballs on them and people can complain. To blanketly say, they're sneaking in ballots, they're cheating and they're stealing is simply false.

COOPER: Much more ahead. Next, how the Biden's campaign is feeling with the count in Michigan moving by the minute. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:00]

COOPER: Right now, with numbers moving in Joe Biden's direction in Michigan and Wisconsin, perhaps even Georgia, the question is what must be the thinking at Biden headquarters. Jessica Dean is in Wilmington, Delaware for us. Also John Harwood is covering the White House.

Jessica Dean, let's start with you. What are you hearing from the Biden campaign?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, just about a little over an hour ago, Anderson, they held a briefing, Biden's campaign manager saying that they believe they have a clear path to victory. They are very optimistic. A senior adviser telling CNN they believe they will win today.

Let me walk you through a little bit why they are saying this. They believe they are going to win Wisconsin. In Michigan, they also believe they are going to win there. They are very optimistic about the vote by mail numbers there. In Pennsylvania, they believe they are going to win Pennsylvania, as John has been showing us, the vote by mail in Philadelphia, they have their eye on there. Georgia, they are also watching Fulton County.

They are realistic though about North Carolina, acknowledging that President Trump is up there right now. But, overall, like we've all been saying all morning, they are asking for patience but they are incredibly optimistic. They believe that when all these votes are counted that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

And, Anderson, we're also learning that Joe Biden is expected to address the nation at some point today. We're still waiting to hear when that might be and exactly what his message might be. They also -- the campaign, of course, watching these numbers, watching which states might be called in the coming hours as well and we'll adjust as need be.

COOPER: Have they talked at all about legal challenges? Clearly, the president is set on doing all he can.

DEAN: Right. And they -- at one point on the briefing, one of their senior advisers and lawyer, Bob Bauer, was saying that President Trump had threatened to send lawyers to the Supreme Court but that has not happened. And if it did, indeed, happen, he would be in for a very large defeat in the courts.

The Biden campaign really believing that the law is certainly on their side here and that they are going to win this just outright. COOPER: All right, Jessica Dean in the Biden campaign.

Let's go to John Harwood standing by in Washington. John, what are we hearing from the president?

HARWOOD: Well, Anderson, we heard from the president, the tweet that you mentioned from John King where he claimed that his votes, his lead had magically disappeared in Democratic-run states with secret vote dumps and that sort of thing. Twitter flagged that as misleading for the reason that you were discussing with John King. It's not magic, they're not secret vote dumps, they are simply counting the votes.

The problem for the president is, last night, he signaled the strategy of trying to stop voting counting. But now that Joe Biden has taken the lead in both Wisconsin and Michigan, Joe Biden is leading in states with 270 electoral votes. It's not a tenable strategy to try to stop vote counting across the board if your opponent has got enough electoral votes to win.

So what the Trump campaign is doing, they outlined on a conference call today, is a cherry-picking, selective strategy of saying, well, the math works for us if we only count legally cast votes. So what they are going to try to do is keep counting in places where they are behind to try to make up the deficit.

[11:55:04]

But in places like Philadelphia, where Joe Biden is making up ground, try to disqualify votes that would advantage him.

The problem is, as we have seen from 2000 legal battle between Bush and Gore, if you have the lead, that's an advantageous position. And if you're trying to have additional vote counts, it is disadvantageous to try to say, well, I want vote counting stopped here but not there. Remember, the Supreme Court threw out Florida vote count on the grounds that it was being done different ways in different ways, not violated equal protection for voters.

That's the same challenge that the Trump campaign is going to face if they say, well, let's keep counting in Nevada and Arizona but stop the count in Pennsylvania as these mail-in ballots, which we all anticipated, would favor Joe Biden start coming in.

And it's also worth noting, finally, Anderson, that the reason these votes are getting counted slowly is that Republican state legislatures with the acquiescence of the Trump camp, supporter for the Trump campaign, prevented those states from processing and counting them earlier for precisely this reason, because they were hoping to stop a late vote count and a late surge of votes for Joe Biden, which is exactly what we're seeing right now.

COOPER: Yes. John Harwood, I appreciate it.

Let's go for more to our Erin Burnett. Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Anderson. So let's ask David Chalian how to interpret all of this. I mean, David, you hear John Harwood, right, a lot of confidence from the Trump campaign, right? They say, when you count these mail-in ballots, it's going to break in our favor. That's what the Trump campaign is saying.

When you take a place like Michigan, right, and we now have a margin as these votes come in of more than triple the margin of Trump's victory in 2016, but this time for Joe Biden, the ballots outstanding seem to be around Detroit is the confidence that the Trump campaign right now really rooted in reality.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, listen, we're going to count the votes, of course, and see. But to your point about Michigan, not just are we waiting for more absentees from Detroit, we are also waiting from Grand Rapids. The city of Grand Rapids is the population center inside of Kent County. John was showing that on the wall a little bit ago. And there are some 60,000 absentee ballots to be counted in Grand Rapids. We expect them to overwhelmingly favor Joe Biden there. It may add to the total.

We don't know how many of those 60,000 have already been counted and are included in that count. But, yes, a 35,000-vote lead. This is why what Jessica Dean was just saying, has the Biden campaign feeling very good that that lead in Michigan is insurmountable for Donald Trump.

Now, Erin, I think what Bill Stepien, the campaign manager on the Trump side, said about Wisconsin was really interesting because he pointed to -- he said it was a razor thin margin and it is recount territory, perhaps. It is true that if you are less than -- if there's a margin of less than 1 percent, the losing candidate can, indeed, request a recount, but not until the official canvas is done. I think the counties have until about November 17th to get that all in. On the 17th of November, the state puts out that official canvas.

And then the losing candidate, if the margin is within 1 percent, as it is now, has the right to request a recount, I'm not sure if Stepien was indicating that that is going to be their strategy, but it doesn't necessarily mean that that 20,000-vote lead is going to change all that much. That is about how much Donald Trump won the state by four years ago, Erin.

BURNETT: That's right, exactly. And, by the way, I just want to make sure we update the numbers here for Michigan, because these are just keeping -- they are just going to be dripping in throughout the day. We're now up to 35,551 in terms of as of the very latest with the votes to come in, but that's the latest margin in favor, currently, of Joe Biden in the state of Michigan.

So, as these counts come in, David, how do you interpret, because you're talking about, okay, you can request a recount, you can be within the legal margin, you're referring specifically to Michigan --

CHALIAN: That was Wisconsin.

BURNETT: I mean, I'm sorry, to Wisconsin, where the margin last time around was, what, 0.8 of 1 percent, right? So you're in that realm. That doesn't mean it's going to change the count. But they're now saying, both Stepien, the campaign manager for President Trump says, if we count all legal ballots, we will win, trying to sow doubt in the legality of ballots which all of these are legally cast ballots cast, according to the laws of these states.

CHALIAN: Right. I think what they are indicating there is they are going to try to define in court arguments what a legal ballot is and fight for their definition of what a legal ballot is. And that's where the court action will come as these -- again, we're actually not in overtime yet. I just want to be clear, we're kind of in the fourth quarter of this game in terms of vote count. So that will come once these canvasses are done if there are official contests or legal action there.

[12:00:00]

I will note one other state that Stepien mentioned was Nevada. That was a state Hillary Clinton won. It is pretty close in the count right now.