Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Inching Closer to Victory. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired November 6, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: All eyes on Pennsylvania right now, as Joe Biden's lead there has grown through most of the day, and it continues to.

The commonwealth's 20 decisive electoral votes draw closer. And the president's campaign launches a new legal challenge, hoping to regain the advantage.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And that's exactly, obviously, what they're doing, Anderson.

But if trends continue, as we look at the numbers, it would be enough to put Biden over the top.

COOPER: Yes, we're going to have the latest on the count there and in three other states where Biden is leading, but by no means running away with it, Georgia, for one especially tight, likely heading for a recount.

BURNETT: And, also, we're going to be looking ahead to tonight, as Anderson, I have been telling you, this is going to be a big night, more boats coming in.

And the question is whether the former vice president will still address the nation if the race still hasn't been called yet, and check in at the White House on the president's thinking on the state of the race from his side, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it's a lot.

That is on top of the history-making potential of the first woman as vice president, and, of course, the raging pandemic surrounding all of it.

Let's go over to Phil Mattingly at the Magic Wall.

So, some new numbers in Pennsylvania.


And I'm actually -- I'm excited to show you this, because it underscores what we have been talking about in I think kind of the most acute manner. And that is these new numbers that came into Pennsylvania came into Westmoreland County down here, South of Pittsburgh.

And this is a county -- let's look at the top line first. Joe Biden has now added to his lead. He's added to his lead, a little shy of 500, 600 votes. Joe Biden added to his lead in a county that, when you pull this up, President Trump is doing extremely well in. Look at the margin. This is the top-line margin of the county, Westmoreland County.

This was one of his biggest counties back in 2016, sought to replicate that this time around, the margin, pretty substantial here, 63.6 percent to 35.1 percent. And yet, and yet, the vote that was counted that was just reported came in 61 percent for Vice President Biden, 33 percent -- 30 -- sorry -- 37 percent for Donald Trump.

COOPER: Now, somebody who is -- believes there's shenanigans going on is going to say, well, how is that possible, given that President Trump has such a lead in that county?

MATTINGLY: I want to show this to you. This will actually be a good way of demonstrating this.

So let's let's track back just through this county. So, this is a tool we have our great team put together where you can go back in time and kind of show people how this goes through.

So, Wednesday at midnight, you look at the margin, 69 percent to 29 percent, only 54 percent reporting, and then watch how it plays out, starts to drop a little bit, stays, starts to drop a lot. Now, the question is, why does it start to drop a lot in a stronghold county for President Trump where, in 2016, this almost single handedly made up his margin?

It starts to drop a lot because they start counting mail-in vote. This has been the story throughout Pennsylvania and the Midwest. Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, they count in person Election Day vote first. That went heavily Republican. And even in President Trump's strongholds, once they started counting mail-in ballots, just because it's a stronghold doesn't mean Democrats live here -- or don't live here.

COOPER: Right.

MATTINGLY: Democrats vote, 69,000 of them at this point in time. You can keep ticking through.

But the reality is, even though we have been talking about strongholds like Philadelphia, moving into the collar counties as well, it's not just those places where Joe Biden is picking up vote now. Joe Biden across the state is picking up vote because it's mail-in ballots. Democrats voted by mail-in ballots.

So, even in a stronghold for President Trump, like Westmoreland County, a new batch of vote comes in, and Joe Biden picks up votes. And that is the story across the state right now. So, when you talk about -- pull it back out, and you take a look at 14,281 votes ahead -- ahead right now for Joe Biden. You know there's about 112,000 votes left outstanding.

We're not just talking about Democratic strongholds where Joe Biden is running up big margins. And he is. He's winning those places sometimes 85, 86 percent of the vote that comes in. We're also talking about red counties, President Trump strongholds, where Joe Biden is pulling in 60 percent of what's being reported.

COOPER: Right.

MATTINGLY: So President Trump needs to pull in on net somewhere between 53 and 54 percent of the outstanding vote to try and make that up. You say, 14,000 votes, that's not a lot.

Well, here's a big problem. When this county with this margin comes in, and Joe Biden is winning 60 percent of the batch that comes in, that underscores the issue that President Trump is dealing with. And the reason that is happening is because of how they count.

They have been counting mail in ballots last. Mail-in ballots have been leaning heavily Democratic, even in places like Westmoreland County, where President Trump has a nearly 30-point margin.

COOPER: And we're still in a situation where, in Philly, about 20,000 mail-in ballots left to be counted, Allegheny County, some 35,000 still to be to be reported.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And so the perspective is, this is a nearly 30-point margin. Tick over to Allegheny, where you have 35,000 ballots remaining. And look at that margin.

In Allegheny County for the mail-in ballots that have been coming in, because they have been coming in leaning Democratic, because most Democrats voted by mail in this state, has been actually going 77 percent, 77 percent to Joe Biden.


And so all this makes pretty clear right now why Democrats feel comfortable about where they are in the state and the trajectory of where these votes are going to go heading forward.

That's the mail-in ballots as they count. Obviously, we have got to try and figure out where provisionals stand. We have got to figure out what's being segregated, all of those things.

But I think the bottom line here and the reason why I was happy that this was the batch that we got in is it underscores that it's not just Democratic strongholds where this vote is coming from, right? It's coming from all over because of how the vote is being counted, when it's being counted, and how these votes were cast.

And what's being counted right now is mail-in. And mail-in is leaning Democrat, even if it's a conservative county.

COOPER: I think I just saw the numbers again.

MATTINGLY: It ticked up again.

COOPER: Yes, it ticked up again.

So, there were -- I mean, as -- they're reporting in small batches at this point?

MATTINGLY: Yes, it depends.

Look, I was here all morning, late night, all morning. And we got little pieces of Philadelphia as it came in. There's still 5 percent outstanding. Kate Bolduan was kind of walking us through that. You were talking, I think, 20,000, 30,000 is what you were saying.

COOPER: Yes, 20,000, provisional ballots, 20,000 mail-in ballots in Philly and 1,000 segregated ballots.

MATTINGLY: Segregated ballots. And I think Kate said they still thought they'd have a drop of 2,000 or 3,000 mail-in ballots as well coming out of Philadelphia.

You can kind of tick through on the collar counties and see what's outstanding. You have got Montgomery County, obviously, a Democratic stronghold. You have got about 5 percent outstanding.

And so it's just kind of how each county is deciding to process and report. And a good example of that, we hadn't seen anything from Westmoreland in a while. They report. Now they're at 95 percent. Joe Biden is still taking 60 percent in a Republican stronghold.

COOPER: Yes, want to check in with the campaigns, Arlette Saenz and Kaitlan Collins.

Let's first go to Wilmington, Delaware.

Arlette, how confident is the Biden campaign at this point? I mean, obviously, they have even more access to numbers. They have been seeing the trend lines. What is their plan just for the next several hours?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, Joe Biden and his campaign are all watching these results coming in very closely. They have seen those signs of hope over the past 24 hours, as Biden has kind of widened his lead over President Trump in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania.

And for the time being, Joe Biden is still slated to speak here, expected to speak here in Wilmington, Delaware. But the question is, is whether they might reevaluate that if that race does not get called a into the evening hours.

Joe Biden has been spending his day at home with his family and his senior advisers watching these results come in, getting updates from his campaign about where things stand. But they have obviously -- they have been keeping this close eye as they have seen some of these votes coming in, in their favor in these hours stretching into the afternoon. And they're really closely watching the state of Pennsylvania, where a

win would not just be a strategic win, but also a personal one for Joe Biden. That is the state where he was born, spending his childhood in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He invested a lot of his personal time in the closing days of this campaign trying to get the votes out there in his native state.

But, right now, it's really a game and a theme of patience for the Biden campaign, as they are waiting to see and hoping to see that one of these states will help them get to that magic 270 number.

COOPER: He's going to be having a -- he's supposed to talk -- they want to have a talk in prime time this evening. Is that going to happen regardless of whether Pennsylvania has been called or not?

SAENZ: They haven't given any indication of whether their plans have changed.

But here on site, there has been quite a bit of activity over the course of the day, as staff has been preparing for these expected remarks from not just the former vice president, but also his running mate, Kamala Harris, which would be the first time that we are hearing from her since Election Day.

So, you have seen staffers up there on that stage. You have seen them rearranging some of the jeeps and trucks that are centered right in front of the stage where these remarks are expected to happen. But for the time being, we haven't gotten any indication whether they might be reconsidering whether he gives remarks later this evening.

COOPER: OK. Arlette, thanks very much.

Kaitlan, what are you hearing out of the White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting hearing you ask if they're still going to speak even if they haven't called Pennsylvania yet for Joe Biden, because, basically, what we're hearing is that, even if they do call Pennsylvania for Joe Biden, and he comes out and gives this acceptance speech tonight, the president is not prepared to concede this race.

He has no plans to do so. He has told people that, even if it becomes clear that Biden is on this path to victory and the president is not, that there is no concession speech prepared right now. And even the president has acknowledged in some private conversations that the math just isn't there for him right now, but they are still moving forward with what they believe is going to be a prolonged court battle.

As I noted, they put Dave Bossie in charge of that. And they believe that that's going to take several weeks. So, they feel like they have got a little bit of time here to figure out exactly what it is they're going to do.


And the president believes that, in that matter of time, he's going to continue to sow doubt about the outcome of these results, whatever they are, if they are not in his favor, of course, as we have seen.

And it's interesting, Anderson, because the position that they're in right now, where the president is obviously upset, he is frustrated, and speaking with his advisers, is, they have never really prepared for this.

Obviously, I don't think a lot of incumbent presidents talk to their aides at length about potentially losing the election. But the president and his aides really never did that. It is obviously a delicate subject for him.

And the pattern that we have seen who the president is, when something is a delicate subject, something like Russia, people just don't bring it up with him. And that is exactly what happened here with losing.

So, this is something that the president truly was not prepared for. And it doesn't appear to have set in with him yet. It does appear to have said with some of his aides, who we're told there's a bit of a frenzied atmosphere in the West Wing right now, where people are wondering, what is their next job going to be? What are they going to do?

How long are they going to stick around as this court battle is going on? So that'll be something to watch. Does everyone stay in the West Wing while they're going through this court battle and contesting the outcome of these results, whatever they may be?

COOPER: So you're hearing that there's folks in the West Wing of the White House, people who work in the White House who are already thinking about where the exit door is?

COLLINS: Exactly. There are people in the president's inner circle, the Hope Hicks, the Dan Scavinos, those types, they're focused on dealing with the president, managing his anger, I'm told.

But there are a lot of other people who are not particularly close with the president who are trying to figure out, what is their next job going to be? Because people believed the president was going to win.

He has this ability where, when he gets impeached, he somehow survives. He gets COVID, and he's out of the hospital a few days later. They really, truly thought he was going to win reelection. So, now they are having to recalculate and decide, what is their next job going to be? And what is it like going into the job market, not from a normal White House, where typically you have got a lot of offers, but coming from the Trump White House, where it's proven to be more difficult to land yourself in the private sector?


Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks very much. We will continue to check in with you.

Let's go back to Erin -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Anderson, so, you know, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, waiting for these votes to trickle in.

Brian Todd is in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County.

Brian, so we just saw that the tick here in terms of vote count go up between 500, 600 votes in favor of Joe Biden for the statewide margin. Where you are, though, 35,000 votes outstanding, it is a big chunk of change.

Where are we in terms of finding out how those go?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we could be maybe about an hour away from getting some of the first results of that count that you're talking about, those 35,000-plus mail-in votes that were -- some of them were postmarked before Election Day. Some were postmarked on Election Day. They were arriving. And they didn't start counting them until after Election Day.

Some of them -- and what's really cool about this, Erin, is that, you know, in some of these places, you do get great access. We have great access here. This is the elections warehouse here in Pittsburgh.

Look at these people. Like, they're inches behind me. These are people doing the most critical work. They're called the return board. They are counting ballots right now. Right now, the ballots that we're told they're counting are from military members and overseas people who have registered to vote in this county.

Earlier, they went through damaged ballots. They went through about 3,000 damage ballots out of the 35,000 outstanding. We are told that they have about 3,500 military and overseas ballots that they're going through. And then, in about an hour's time, we hope to get the first results.

And they're going to start counting about 29,000 other ballots. These are ballots that had wrong information put on them there. They're being kind of segregated. They had wrong information put on them when they were mailed out. That was corrected. They were re-mailed to people, and then people mailed them back.

But, because of that issue, by court order, they have got to be counted starting at 5:00 today.

And quickly, Erin, we will show you -- just again, great access here. That's what makes it so much fun. This lady in the red here is an observer. They have observers here just a couple of feet behind them, really transparent process here.

And here's some more transparency, Erin. Our photojournalist Jay McMichael is going to show you there are cameras everywhere. You see those monitors up there? Those are from cameras that are mounted all over this room.

So, between the cameras looking at every position and these, these monitors here, you're getting not only great access, but real transparency here, Erin. We hope to see some results very soon. BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Brian Todd. And we all hope

for those results, because those will matter, of course, as we watch this margin move.

I want to go to Sara Murray, who is live in Philadelphia.

Sara, what is the very latest you understand as to where they are for more votes coming out?


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, there's just under 96 percent of the mail-in vote counted across Pennsylvania.

So, we're getting into these smaller numbers, but still decent pots of votes. As Brian Todd said, you have that chunk in Allegheny County that they're going to be turning to.

Here in Philadelphia, we know they had about 40,000 votes left as of this afternoon.


And they kind of warned us here in Philly that it would take a little bit of time to go through. These some of these are similar to what Brian was talking about over in Allegheny County. They're votes that need to be reviewed that may have some issues with them. It just takes a little bit longer to go through the hand count of them.

They have provisional ballots they have to go through. They have military and overseas ballots. So, we saw some of these chunks of votes coming through at a pretty quick pace over the last couple of days. But we're hearing in Philadelphia, and we're also hearing in some of these smaller counties, it's these last batches that take a little bit longer, things that need to be reviewed, things that need to be hand-counted, that kind of thing.

And that's, I think, why we're not seeing these numbers move through quite as quickly as we got used to seeing the last few days.

Now, we did just get a press release from the secretary of state pointing out what we know. The vast majority of these mail-in ballots have been counted. She says counties are now turning to counting their provisional ballots.

As of right now, the secretary of state's office has not released a number for provisional ballots statewide, or for those segregated ballots, the ballots that came in after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day to 5:00 p.m. today.

Now, we know that they're talking to all the counties, as are we at CNN, trying to figure out those counts, but, so far, they haven't released statewide numbers for those.

BURNETT: All right, Sara, thank you very much. So, waiting, waiting. There's overall numbers we're not yet sure of,

and, of course, waiting as these votes are tabulated, and they come in, what changes to that margin in Pennsylvania, all-important crucial margin right now, 14,281 votes in Joe Biden's favor.

David Gergen joins me now.

And, David, you have been in these moments. You have worked with so many presidents. The reporting you just heard from Kaitlan Collins at the White House from President Trump acknowledging to some allies he recognizes the math won't work in his favor, but maintaining that a prolonged court battle will sow enough doubt to allow him to refuse to accept this election.

That is the mind-set of the president of the United States right now, as Joe Biden, with this lead in Pennsylvania, is primed to make a speech to the nation tonight. He may be declared the victor by then. He may not. What does he do at this moment?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, Erin, is very important to remember that tradition. And that is that the loser is normally the one who calls the winner, has a private phone call, and then goes before the public to make a gracious concession speech and promise to do everything he can to help the next president of the United States.

And, of course, we have instead a very childish response, irresponsible response, from our current incumbent.

Under these circumstances, I think it would really be helpful if the president were to go on a double track. He has every right to go file lawsuits and make his complaints.


GERGEN: But he is also president for the next 11 weeks.

And during that period of time, if there's going to be a transfer of power as it as there is, I think, now, and I think it may be peaceful, it's extremely important for Joe Biden to have the time to form his own government and, by the way, tap into those funds that are made available to the new president and his transition team in order to get ready to take over on January 20.

That's -- those are the wheels that ought to be in motion tonight. Even as they go on with the lawsuits, they will do this other -- under the circumstances, I think Joe Biden has to come out and set his own tone for the country. If Donald Trump is not being gracious, Joe Biden must be extra gracious.

He must be particularly understanding...


GERGEN: Yes, go ahead.

BURNETT: Should he tonight go ahead and give that speech?

I'm sorry. I didn't mean -- but they announced they were going to give this address. And we don't have a whole lot of detail on whether that plan would change if we don't yet know a victor tonight.


BURNETT: Should Joe Biden speak regardless to the nation?

GERGEN: It's a hard question.

I think now that he's pretty far down that track, he should go ahead and speak. We knew in the morning when he got up and said he was going to give a speech, we knew the day was going to have uncertainties and probably wouldn't win -- end with a full declaration of a victor.

So, yes, I think you got to go ahead with it may. It ought to be longer. It shouldn't be just a perfunctory one or two minutes. It ought to be about a five-to-10 minute speech, short, but gracious, saying what we do know, what we don't know, how he's going to try to help pull us through, that this may be a difficult time for everybody, but he promises to do everything he can to create a good and treat -- and respectful.

He wants to be respectful of his opponents. Begin setting a tone for the transition. He doesn't have to do everything. There's a lot we don't know. We don't know how he's going to handle the pandemic, for example. Does he take some responsibility for the pandemic, for the stimulus bill?

Or does he stand back from it all? That's a hard question. But I do think tone is what's really important, and for Americans to feel reassured that there's an adult in the room who's now going to be our president.

BURNETT: And what role do senior Republicans play right now, when it comes to what we heard from the president last night, right, where he talked about corruption, it being stolen from him?

And you do hear Republicans, people, the likes of Chris Christie, saying those words were unacceptable and others.

GERGEN: Right.


BURNETT: But what needs to happen now? Does that need to be louder and more coordinated?


GERGEN: Yes. Yes to both questions.

Yes, it has to be done behind the scenes very quietly to get to the president, The Lindsey Grahams have to get off television and start trying to help negotiate this peacefully. Go ahead with the lawsuits, but also pay -- keep your other eye on, how are we going to govern the country when this is over? What kind of transition do we make?

And those Republicans, for the sake of their own party, but, more importantly, for the sake of the country, have to be important to bringing us back together.

When Nixon was forced out, when both parties went to him, and encouraged him believe, and he realized that the jig was up and he had to go. So, the Republicans, they don't have to do this all publicly, but they do need to do it, to deliver the word that we don't want to spend the next four years with Donald Trump being a sort of a petulant leader and a shadow president.


GERGEN: And that's where it looks like where he's heading. He doesn't want to get off the public stage.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, David Gergen.

Next, to the latest on that Republican-led lawsuit, as we talk about these. This one was announced late today over those mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden does hold a growing lead at this moment.

We're also going to have a top Republican lawyer join us on the merits, if any, of that case.



COOPER: With Joe Biden's lead growing in Pennsylvania, Republicans are going to the courts to try and stem the tide.

We have been talking about the potential impact of their challenge in the courts, or lack of impact. Since the story broke a short time ago, a new Republican legal challenge.

Jim Sciutto joins us now with that.

So, what are you learning about this new challenge?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: All right, so, just right off the top, we should note you will hear these sometimes described by Republicans as late-arriving balance.

But, by Pennsylvania law, they are not late-arriving, because the law allows them to arrive up to three days after Election Day, at least as it stands now.

But let's walk through what they're trying here. So, lawyers for Pennsylvania Republicans are asking the Supreme Court to order the state to -- quote -- "log, segregate and otherwise not take any action" on ballots received three days after the election. Again, these are ballots which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said could be counted as long as they are -- they arrive three days after Election Day, even if the postmark is illegible. Here is the new GOP claim. I'm quoting here: "Given the results of the

November 3, 2020, general election, the vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next president of the United States. And it is currently unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots."

See that phrase again, late-arriving. It's not by law. But, to be clear, the Pennsylvania secretary of state has directed these ballots to be segregated.

Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, he was on our air a short time ago, made clear that state officials did this preemptively, complying with what he called a legal maneuver by the state GOP, the idea being, let's set them aside, so if there is some legal trouble for those, they won't effect other mail-in ballots.

State officials also say that the total number of ballots that arrived in Pennsylvania after Election Day within that three-day window is too small actually to affect the outcome.

In the new filing, Republicans, they argue this. They say the secretary of state issued two different sets of guidance, first that the ballots at issue be segregated, but a second one that allows them to be counted.

I should remind everyone that, prior to the election, Republicans twice challenged this Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision which allowed these ballots to arrive after Election Day. They went all the way to the Supreme Court, but the court let the state court decisions stand for now, while the case continues.

I should note as well that the Trump campaign is trying to intervene in the case, but the court has not yet ruled on that request.

So, two big headlines. You have state law as it stands there. It allows them to come up to three days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked before. This challenge isn't new. But you never know.

And there was a conservative justice or two in the Supreme Court decision that seemed to leave open the door to challenge those late- arriving balances, as the Republicans claim them to be. But, again, the other caveat, Democrats in the state say it's too small a number of votes to affect the outcome.

So that's where it stands right now.

COOPER: It's confusing, though. The -- just to be clear, the state is saying they segregated, they preemptively, without even this court ruling, segregated those ballots that would be arriving legally, but after Election Day. There's a three-day window that ballots can arrive, that they segregated them.

Do we know -- the Republicans are saying in the court, well, maybe, in some counties, they got an instruction that they could actually count those. Does that mean that the vote counts that we are getting have some of these segregated ballots in it in some of these counties? Or do we not know?

SCIUTTO: That's the Republican claim. State officials say, we set them aside? We shrink-wrapped them right over here for the very purpose, to prevent any legal challenges to adulterate, if you want to call it that, the other many tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, in fact, of mail-in ballots that came in before the Election Day.

So that's what state officials are saying. They said it on this air. Republicans are claiming otherwise. And like with all these things, it'll work its way through the courts.

COOPER: As it should.

Jim Sciutto, appreciate it.

Want to bring in longtime Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg. He was George W. Bush's lawyer for the 2000 election and the recount.

Mr. Ben Ginsberg, thanks so much for being -- what do you make of, first of all, the president's overall posture right now, his rhetoric, his claims of fraud, which he has really offered no evidence for, and these lawsuits that his allies are pursuing right now?