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Razor-Thin Margins Separate Biden, Trump in Uncalled States. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 5, 2020 - 11:30   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OK. All eyes on two states this hour, Georgia, we are expecting results shortly from the Atlanta area. Significant chunk of ballots coming in in the Atlanta area that will -- we'll see what happens to this razor thin margin right now in Georgia where the president is ahead by about 18,000 votes.

And in Pennsylvania, ballots being counted, the margin there has been shifting, there are legal challenges flying. I want to go to the Pennsylvania attorney general, Josh Shapiro.

Attorney General Shapiro, good to talk to you this morning.

Okay. So, let's just start with the big picture. Last understanding we have is you have about 700,000 votes outstanding in the state of Pennsylvania. Where are you right now?


JOSH SHAPIRO, PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. That's probably more of a question for the secretary of state in terms of the exact number. But what I'll tell you is she indicated last evening that she felt that the lion's share, the vast majority of these ballots, would be counted by the end of the day today. And so, the people of Pennsylvania, the people across America who are looking to -- some answers from Pennsylvania should have a better sense of that by the end of the day.

BURNETT: Okay. That's -- and that -- look, that is the bottom line. That is what people want to hear. But then we get to the other thing that I mentioned, right, some of the legal challenges and other questions.

So let me ask you about Allegheny County. The New York Times is just reporting, Attorney General, that 35,000 uncounted mail-in ballots are there in Allegheny County, right? That's a real chunk of change. But that the election staff is taking the day off from counting them for other administrative work. Can you confirm that explain to us why if that is indeed happening?

SHAPIRO: Yes. I can't confirm that. I can tell you the county executive, Rich Fitzgerald, has been on top of this count, on top of the ballot issues. I'm sure they have a very good reason for why they are handling it the way they are. They've had a good process. They've gone through that process. And I'm sure they'll be reporting these numbers just as soon as they can.

BURNETT: Okay, so, unable to confirm that. Let me ask you then about legal challenges here from the Trump campaign. They have indicated they're pursuing at least two lawsuits against your commonwealth of Pennsylvania, asking this U.S. Supreme Court to intervene to stop mail-in ballots that legally arrived after Election Day from counting. So, what happens from here?

I know you've been segregating ballots, right? So in case there is legal challenge that force some of them to count and others not, but what are you doing right now?

SHAPIRO: Yes. So let's talk about this, Erin. I mean, the first thing I got to say, the campaign is over, Erin. The spin, all that kind of stuff, like let's be done with that. The fact is that the American people, people here in Pennsylvania, they voted. And now, we are focused on counting those votes. I've said many times with you and on this network we're going to secure, protect and count all these votes. We're counting them now.

It would appear that the Trump campaign issued a press release and is moving to intervene in that matter before the United States Supreme Court. Now, what's really important for folks to know and why I think we've got to just sort of take a deep breath and calm down is that, on two separate occasions, the United States Supreme Court had this matter before them and refused to take it up.

And the real question here, the real issue here is whether a ballot that is postmarked by Election Day and then received on Wednesday, Thursday, today, or Friday, tomorrow, before 5:00, whether that can be counted. That question is a question of state law that went up to our state supreme court, which is our highest court here in the commonwealth. And it was heard and decided by the state supreme court that those ballots are legal and they will be counted.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, there are other states that have the same laws, also laws that were set, as you point out, by GOP legislatures.

So, Trump's deputy campaign manager, Justin Clark, has said that bad things are happening in Pennsylvania. Democrats are scheming to disenfranchise and dilute Republican votes. What do you -- I mean, obviously, that's a baseless thing, I understand you're counting votes and you're counting everywhere. But they have provided no credible evidence that any such thing is occurring. But what is your response when things like that are put out there to cast doubt on results?

SHAPIRO: Yes. I mean, Erin, you kind of answered the question with the way you phrased it, which is there is no legitimacy to those comments. My response, as the chief law enforcement officer of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is that we're following the law here in Pennsylvania. We're counting these legal votes. Erin, I want to tell you what people are counting all across Pennsylvania right now. And, by the way, these are clerks, these are folks from our neighborhoods that are out there doing a great public service. What they're doing is, the ballots that were mailed a week ago, or two or three weeks ago because someone was afraid of COVID and didn't want to stand in line at the polls or someone that dropped off their ballot at a drop box, at the local government office building or what have you, those ballots were arranged, they were processed and now they're being counted.

They are every bit as legal as the ballots that were cast on Election Day. They will be counted here in Pennsylvania. We will follow the law. We're not going to get into any kind of back and forth on the rhetoric or the politics. As I said before, the campaign is over. Now it's time to count the votes.

And what I will tell you is, we will respect the will of the people of the Pennsylvania. Whoever gets more votes in that election will be deemed the winner by the commonwealth and we will respect the will of the people.


That's the law, that's how the process works and that's what we'll do here.

BURNETT: All right. Attorney General, thank you very much for your time.

So, despite some of these questions, Anderson, he is still saying they anticipate a result by the end of the day today.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And, again, such an important thing to continue to point out, what we are seeing is, the votes being counted, it's not new people voting, new votes being cast.

BURNETT: Exactly.

COOPER: It is the votes being counted.

New numbers from Georgia, Erin, you had talked to an official from Fulton County. The lead for President Trump now from -- in Georgia has gone from 18,146 to 14,857. That means the lead the president has currently in Georgia has shrunk by 3,289 votes.

Back with John King.

John, we had heard from an official in Fulton County that they were sending over about 9000 -- the results of about 9,000 ballots that they had counted. I'm not sure if this changes from all of those. Do we know?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's 6,000 if you're on -- it's 4,653 votes for Joe Biden in the latest count, Anderson, 1,364 votes for President Trump. So, as you noted, the impact of that, the net when you do the math, is 3,289 cut off what was the president's lead.

So the Fulton County official told Erin about a half hour ago they were about to tabulate 9,000 ballots. That's about 6,000. So we're waiting. Obviously, it takes time. They have to run it through the machine and count them. So there could be more.

But the trend line, again, is clear, again, down to 14,857, so just shy of 15,000 votes. Every time one of these blue -- this is Fulton County, which is Atlanta and the suburbs around it, and the suburbs around the blue here, every time one of these counties reports new votes as they count the votes, we see the president's lead shrinking.

And so you see in many Fulton County, the former vice president is getting nearly 73 percent of the vote compared to 26 percent for the president. So we're waiting. And we knew there were 11,000. He told us we're going to hear about nine soon, so we get six. So we're waiting. We could, any second, now get 3,000 more votes and then there's more to come there.

COOPER: Right. We should also point out he had said there were about, I think, 2,000 or so still to count in Fulton County. So there's -- if there's, what -- yes, so 2,000 more that they have yet to count. And -- but we should shortly hear about these other few thousand.

KING: Right. So they had 11,000. He said, 9,000 went to the tabulation center and we now have 6,000 of those in. So we're waiting for the other three of the nine they sent over. I'm going to confuse people. So three there and then the 2,000 you mentioned. So we're waiting for about 5,000 more votes. We're waiting for about 5,000 from Fulton -- just Fulton County.

And, again, every time Fulton County reports more votes, Joe Biden is cutting and proportionally, significantly from this into the president's lead. So we're waiting there. We think 5,000 or so from Fulton County.

And then if you go through, again, we're also told there are still 7,300 votes to count here in Gwinnett County, and you see Joe Biden is winning the county with 58 percent of the vote. That's the overall count. In the mail-in balloting, he has been getting a higher percentage than that. We're waiting for votes there.

And you come back out and we double-checked this since last time we talked --

COOPER: Yes, you were right17,000.

KING: -- at Chatham Count, over here, 17,000. That's a lot of votes, right? Now, especially you think 17,000 votes here, Joe Biden is winning the county with 57, 58 percent of the vote if you round it up, he tends to be getting higher percentages among the mail-in ballots. That is the bedrock of Democratic support.

But just assume he's getting 57, 58 percent of those votes perhaps higher, when the 17,000 of those, you still have several thousand here in the blue suburbs or in Atlanta and around Atlanta, the city of Atlanta and the suburbs around it, you see the president's lead is now below 15,000. We have a very interesting few hours ahead of us as Georgia now is starting to report more and more of these votes.

And, again, if you go back to last night, or especially midnight Tuesday, the president had a giant lead. There's a reason he's tweeting, stop the count, he is watching what's happening and his people are telling him it does not look good.

COOPER: Given the number votes left in the state of Georgia, it does seem like by the end of today, we should have a much clearer picture of what's going on in Georgia.

KING: If it keeps the going the way it's going. Again, Joe Biden needs to win about two thirds. That's a ballpark number when they tell us those 61,000 votes out there, is that 59,500, is it 61,200. We don't have exact numbers, nor do the officials. And we have to give them grace. They're doing the best they can as they check in with every county and count these votes.

But the secretary of state's office told us ballpark 60,000 votes. If that's your ballpark number, Joe Biden needs to get two-thirds, roughly. It could 64 percent. It could 66 percent. But the ballpark is right in there. He has been performing at that rate or better, Anderson, as we count these vote. The question is does it continue.

COOPER: Kate Bolduan has got new information from Allegheny County. Let's go to Kate.

Kate, what have you been learning in Philadelphia?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, Anderson. We have confirmed that Allegheny County, which is, of course, the home of Pittsburgh, they are pausing on their counting of the outstanding ballots that are still out there today.


We're talking about a universe of 35,000 ballots. And Allegheny County is putting a pause on it, we found out, because in large part, it appears, due to a pool of 29,000 ballots that are caught up in a legal challenge over ballots that were issued, that were incorrect, and then new ballots were then issued to those same voters. There's a legal challenge that this pool of 29,000 ballots is wrapped up in.

And because of that legal challenge, there had been an agreement that those ballots were not going to be counted or, you know, gone through until Friday, tomorrow, and after 5:00 P.M.

There's also then 6,000 ballots that I'm told are -- were not able to be processed. And because of that, they were going to need to be gone through manually. With all of that in mind, Allegheny County is not counting ballots today. They will be back in to resume work at the return board, will resume their work tomorrow beginning at 9:00 A.M.

There was an internal communication that we received from -- internal communication that we were able to look at that did say that the -- that -- and I'll read you a quote here, that they said the election division staff will be using the day, meaning today, to do administrative work.

I'll tell you, Anderson, I spoke to a councilwoman, an Allegheny County councilwoman just now. I just got off the phone with her. And she basically said she wants to make sure everyone knows there is nothing malicious going on here. Because if you think about it, 29,000 votes can't be counted until tomorrow, there's not a lot to do for the return board.

But she did say that she thought it was frustrating. She would also like to know herself what they're doing with the day because she did not understand what administrative work meant. She would like to get some more information herself and she thought it was frustrating that there wasn't nor information out there, especially with the understanding that everyone's eyes are on Pennsylvania. But making very clear that, she said to me clearly, this is not a vacation day. But that's the very latest from Allegheny County, Anderson.

COOPER: Let me just -- this is so important what's going on in Pennsylvania. So let's just go over the numbers just again. Allegheny County, so 29,000 ballots, which are votes that have been cast, but there was a legal challenge to them. Those have been set aside and there is a pause on counting them, correct?

BOLDUAN: Yes, there's a pause. The way it was described to me is because of the legal challenge that came, they came -- all parties came to an agreement that those 29,000 would be set aside and they would not be -- I'm just going to say, dealt with, if not, counted, until after the deadlines for all mail-ins to come in, which we all know is by 5:00 P.M. Friday. They were not going to look at this pool of ballots until after that point.

COOPER: Right.

BOLDUAN: So that is what we know with those 29,000.

COOPER: And then there was another group you said of 6,000?

BOLDUAN: Yes. So then there's another group of 6,000 ballots that, from my understanding, they could be counting today. They are ballots that they were too creased, that they wouldn't fit into the scanner correctly, all of the little things that can trip up the process. It sounds like there's about 6,000 of those that would need to be handled manually. They're also not being counted today as they're not doing counting today. That we will then assume will then pick back up when they get back to work with the counting tomorrow starting at 9:00 A.M.

COOPER: And are there any other votes -- sorry, go ahead.

BOLDUAN: I should say, Anderson, we are -- go ahead. Sorry.

COOPER: Are there any other ballots uncounted? You've talked about the 29,000 set aside, you've talked about the 6,000 that have creases on them that are not being dealt with right now.


COOPER: Do we know how many other outstanding votes there are in Allegheny County?

BOLDUAN: So, I'm going to pull up my latest communication that I got to make sure that we're fully accurate. The number that I have of outstanding is 35,413. And that includes the 29 and the 6.

COOPER: Right, got it. Okay.

BOLDUAN: So that's kind of generally speaking. And it's all approximates. The six include 2,250. I don't want to kill (ph) everyone with every number, but that's the universe they're looking at right now, just over 35,000 not counted.

COOPER: Right. So most of the ballots that have not been counted in Allegheny County are these 29,000 batch which there's a challenge on and the 6,000 that have issues with them as well. That seems -- that comes very close to the 35,000 number. So, good information there, Kate --

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.


COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

BOLDUAN: Of course. No, I was just going to say -- and so there are definitely questions of what are Allegheny County election officials and the count in the return board, what kind of administrative are they doing today. But, for sure, you can rest assured that they are starting back up tomorrow.

COOPER: We are getting new numbers in Pennsylvania. Let's take a look at that. Let's put those on the screen. The president's lead has narrowed by about 14,000 votes, 14,000 votes less for President Trump. Let's go to John King, who is standing by.

John, do we know where those votes have come from?

KING: The trajectory -- I will walk into that in just a second. But the trajectory there, Anderson, tells you why those 35,000 votes that Kate just talked about out in Allegheny County could be decisive when you look at a lead that is now 121,000 plus, let's round it up to 122,000 and it is shrinking by the hour as more votes come in.

So, Allegheny County is what Kate is talking about, Pittsburgh and the area around it. You see how blue it is. You see Joe Biden getting close to 60 percent of the vote. We know in those mail-in votes he has been performing even better in numbers like that in most of Pennsylvania. So 35,000 ballots could very well be very important as we get closer to the finish line in this count.

We also should just prepare our viewers for this, especially because the margins are tightening in many places, sometimes it's the state Republican Party, sometimes it's the Trump campaign, they are going in to challenge things, and we're going to go through that.

So, most of the ballots that we are waiting for are coming over here. So I just want to check in Philadelphia, we're up to 83 percent. Now, that's slight uptick. And you see Joe Biden is moving up the math a little bit there.

This is where the game right now is. I shouldn't use the term, game, because consequences are so important. But this is where you have the biggest outstanding votes still to be counted in the city of Philadelphia, which, again, I showed you how well Joe Biden was doing in Allegheny County, well, he is doing even better in Philadelphia, 80 percent.

So, this is, Anderson, where it's going to play out, and that's why Kate is there, even though she is doing reporting statewide for us. Montgomery County, up to 95 percent, Bucks County now, this is more of an even split moving up there. So it is Central Philadelphia area we are waiting for the biggest number of votes, because it just has the biggest basket so we can move the numbers the most.

But there are still other ballots we're going to count throughout the day in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The issue is, you see the challenges out in the western part of the state. We know the Trump campaign has been complaining a lot in the southeast part of the state, especially the city of Philadelphia. Expect this in Georgia as well and expect this out west.

This is so close and this could be a decisive day and the president's lead in a state he absolutely cannot afford to lose. Without these 20, President Trump does not win re-election. So it's going to get very bare-knuckled, especially if that lead keeps shrinking, if the rate is shrinking, watch for the fights and the contentiousness to increase. The volume is already up. The dial is going to turn.

COOPER: And from what Kate is saying, we're not really going to be getting more votes counted in Allegheny County today. The 29,000 are basically on hold, as are these 6,000, according to officials, the word that Kate has there.

John, we'll continue to come back to you. A lot of math happening right now, combine that with the lack of sleep for pretty much the entire country, things can get messy.

Jim Sciutto is here to help breakdown the numbers, doing the math for us.

So, Jim, let's starts with Pennsylvania, where we just got these new numbers.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: All right. So get your calculator or your pencil and paper or your Alexa, however you do your math. That's what we've been doing here.

And I want to start with this proviso. These are estimates based on what CNN is receiving from states, and they can change, and we have seen that in Pennsylvania just now there. So, until that latest update from Pennsylvania, we had 605,000 uncounted votes in total from the state of Pennsylvania. So, 30,000, that takes it down 575,000 votes if you take away those votes that are not delayed in their counting until tomorrow.

This is the margin that each candidate needs to make up ground there. Joe Biden needs to win 61 to 63 percent of those outstanding votes. Do the math there, that adds up to somewhere over 350,000, up to 380,000 votes. Donald Trump needs to maintain 37 to 39 percent. That translates 223,000, 235,000, somewhere in there. Again, these are estimates but it gives you an idea of how those remaining uncounted votes have to breakdown to either give Joe Biden that state or President Donald Trump.

Let's go to Georgia, 65,000 uncounted votes, again, this is an estimate. Joe Biden needs to win 63 to 65 percent of those uncounted votes to make up his current deficit in that state which is now below about 15,000.

So, Biden, of those remaining uncounted votes, again, doing the rough math here, needs to win between 40,000 and 42,000 of them. Donald Trump, to maintain his lead in the state, needs to win 22,000 to 23,000 votes.

Now, I should note, as you look at the margins in some of those counties, remember, these are urban areas, suburbs that have tended to favor Joe Biden and mail-in votes which have tended to favor Joe Biden as well.



COOPER: Jim Sciutto, thanks very much. Updated vote counts in these critical battleground states are expected throughout the day. We'll have the latest in the road to 270 with John King and the rest of our political team, next.