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Biden on Verge of Presidency, Expected to Address Nation Tonight. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired November 6, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:02]

BEN GINSBERG, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: In terms of his overall posture, Anderson, I think he is running into a problem making these claims about the election because there were such lack of credibility claims made before the election.

In other words, he said our elections were rigged and fraudulent. There was no proof for that. He had the Republican National Committee and various Republican parties go out and file a series of suits none of which tried to make it easier for people to vote.

And so, now, in the post-election period, they are a bit hoisted on their own for the positions taken beforehand. But the president's overall position is consistent now with what it was before the election.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And just to be clear for our viewers. You have spent a very remarkable and illustrious career focusing on elections, focusing on ballots, focusing on in polling stations. I imagine you've been to more polling stations than most Americans would ever even want to get near.

So, you're coming at -- you're a Republican. You're coming at this from a lifetime, a career's worth of experience. When you hear this challenge now in Pennsylvania about segregated ballots, I'm not sure -- it seems to me like a difference in argument one is the Republicans are saying, well, some of these segregated ballots were actually counted and it seems like the state is saying, well, no, they were segregated? Do we know what the reality is?

GINSBERG: I don't think we know the reality in each of the counties. But the essential point throughout this lawsuit is, number one, it is a valid legal question about whether votes received after the election should be counted, and secondarily whether it was a task for the legislature or state Supreme Court. Those are valid legal issues.

But for this election, it's not valid to throw out those votes and not count them simply because the voters all relied on the three-day after the election deadline. And courts have always frowned on disenfranchising votes because things a election administrator said in their roles.

COOPER: So, those Republicans who say, look, laws are laws and even if, you know, it's unfortunate, those laws should be abade to the detriment somebody cast a vote even if it's cast in good faith, you say what?

GINSBERG: Well, I say for something like this, the broad-based rule where the state law and the Supreme Court did not interfere with this law, said the ballots could be received up to three days after the election if postmarked on election day, that you actually have to let those votes count. In individual recount situations like we are about to see in a number of states, you will get into the issue of whether the law should be strictly interpreted in the marking of ballots or whether the intent of the voter, if clear, but not precisely done, should prevail.

But that's a different issue from what is being said about these late arriving -- about the ballots that come in after Election Day.

COOPER: When you have a client like president of the United States who is clearly upset right now and wants to see action on as many fronts as possible, as an attorney, I'm wondering what that experience is like? And at a certain point, does the fact that the number of these segregated ballots even if they were all thrown out by the courts and ruled invalid would not affect the actual outcome of the election? Does that -- should that be taken into account or should the court take that into account?

GINSBERG: The court undoubtedly will take that into account, especially the Supreme Court. I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court would jump in to consider the validity of these particular ballots for this election under any circumstances if there aren't enough to change the outcome.

COOPER: Ben Ginsberg, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

GINSBERG: Thanks.

COOPER: Up next, we're going to get an update on the race of Georgia. Secretary of state saying this afternoon, a recount is likely. We will talk about that with Atlanta's mayor coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:39:14]

COOPER: We are watching the votes being counted. A lot of moving numbers in these critical battleground states. A big one we are focused on right now is Georgia, of course.

Phil Mattingly is at the magical wall. Let's go over there and see what's going on.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's tight, it's tight. I don't think that is going to change any time soon. As it currently stands, Joe Biden 1,563 votes ahead.

COOPER: Ninety-nine percent.

MATTINGLY: Ninety-nine percent reporting.

We are now in the universe of votes, not including provisionals and military ballots, that's roughly, it's got to be under 10,000, it's definitely under 10,000 right now.

I think the biggest watch that we've been waiting for, and we've been waiting for it most of the day, with respect to everybody who is taking the time to count those votes.

So, let's come over here in Gwinnett County. We know what that county has about 4,500 votes outstanding that they need to count, process, and then release. And you look at the margin in Gwinnett County. You understand it's a Democratic county. It will likely break Democratic based on what we've seen and trends that we've seen.

[16:40:04]

It may break at a bigger margin than this. But I think the reality right now in the state is it's going to a recount at some point. We heard the election officials talking about it earlier in the day. I think the one wildcard that we don't have a full picture on yet is provisional ballots and military ballots outstanding as well. There's about 18,000 I believe if my number is right, off the top of my head.

COOPER: Right, we heard from an official in Georgia earlier who said that there are 8,410 votes that could have been postmarked and returned today.

MATTINGLY: That they were waiting for to add on to --

COOPER: Yes. But not saying -- that is like the upper limit. It could be anywhere up to 8410 votes that could have been postmarked.

MATTINGLY: On top of the 18,000 they have brought in. So, that's obviously military ballots, overseas ballots as well, and they and made clear of the 8,000 left of that pool, it won't be 8,000, it won't be zero. It will end up somewhere in the middle.

So, to give you a sense of the universe that we are working with right now and how little vote is outstanding, provisional ballots, military ballots don't often have the ability in and of itself to shift a race and these could. These could. So, we'll see where it goes and how it ends up.

I do think, though, the biggest thing that we're looking for right now is Gwinnett County when it comes in and how that goes. If it goes to Biden at this margin, at this margin right here, or if it goes bigger and if it goes bigger because it's vote by mail or vote by mail over the course of several states over the course of the last couple of days has gone fairly heavily to Joe Biden. So, we'll see if Joe Biden can pat his lead before they factor in military and overseas and provisionals as well.

COOPER: So many states watch. Phil, thanks very much.

Erin, it is -- it is fascinating. I'm very curious to see if -- depending if and when Pennsylvania is called, whether or not Joe Biden will speak if the state -- if the commonwealth of Pennsylvania hasn't been called for him.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Yeah, that is -- that is the, you know, the crucial thing, right? Because he said he was going to speech and now it's hard not to do that and what sort of speech do you give? Big questions for him.

All right. Anderson, thank you.

So, now, let's go to mayor of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

What do you think, Mayor, about where we are in Georgia? Obviously, it is an incredibly narrow, narrow margin right now for Joe Biden -- 1,585 votes. Officials in your state were laying out, look, there's -- you know, more than 8,000 overseas military ballots left to be counted. There are still votes left to be counted.

But when all is said and done, do you believe Georgia truly will be a Biden state?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: I absolutely believe it. This is our year. I've known for a while that Georgia was trending blue and every opportunity I've had, I've said it to Joe Biden. I even said it during my conversation with him during the vet for VP that I believe that this was our year and now the world sees it.

So, I know it's going to be a thin margin but we are used to close elections and my race for mayor was 132-vote difference out of almost 100,000 votes.

I've been saying that to people all week. We need it to show up because it was going to be close and this is what we are seeing.

BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about a recount. When you look at the rules as I understand them, there is no automatic recount in the state of Georgia. A candidate can request one, though, after certification if the margin is one half of 1 percent or less. Now, obviously, you know, currently, it is. But, you know, we have got more votes to come in.

How confident are you that a recount could be avoided and, to be clear, the Trump campaign has already said that they want a recount, right? They are going to push one. Do you think it can be avoided or not?

BOTTOMS: And also my understanding that Senator Kelly Loeffler is going to help fund that recount in Georgia, which is interesting given where she is in the runoff. But I'm confident that a recount will show that Joe Biden has taken Georgia. And also, it gives people the confidence they need and the integrity of this election, I think we should have a recount, but it's going to be a close one but we are blue.

BURNETT: So, Senator Kamala Harris, obviously, already has made history as the first black and Asian women to, you know, be on a vice presidential ticket, to receive the nomination. If these numbers hold, if they do, nationally, you know, she -- she will be the next vice president if they hold in Georgia, she could very well be. It's a crucial part of the puzzle here.

Can you take a moment to reflect on that and what that means to you?

BOTTOMS: This is an historical election. And to have Senator Harris join the ticket and for us to be a part of changing the history of this country, I think really speaks to the legacy of John Lewis and Joseph Lowery and Dr. C.T. Vivian, all three great giants who we lost this year in our state. It's a great year. This really is the most important election of my lifetime and so many others.

And to have Kamala Harris be a part of this historic moment makes it even more special.

[16:45:00]

BURNETT: All right. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

Of course, as we have more counting and the situation unfolds in the state of Georgia. You know, she mentioned Senator Loeffler in Georgia. And we have had so much attention, of course, rightfully so on the White House.

But I don't want to lose sight of these crucial Senate races, Senator Loeffler involving one of them. The Senate and control of the Senate is hanging in the balance and this means everything to what the next president will be able to do legislatively, everything.

So, let's go to Brianna Keilar.

Brianna, where do things stand right now?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. Let's take a look, Erin, at the balance of power and what Democrats would need to do in order to shift it. You can see, there are 51 seats that they would need in the Senate at this point in time.

So there is one narrow path way to get there and that would be if Joe Biden were president, they actually only need 50 because Kamala Harris could be the tiebreaking vote in a Senate that is divided 50/50. So, how would they get to 50/50? Part of it, a lot of it is running right through Georgia and has to do with the race between David Perdue and Jon Ossoff. If we take a look at that one in this point in time, the percentage for David Perdue has dropped back down from 50 percent. So, this appears to be heading for a runoff January 5th.

Accompanied on that runoff is going to be that special election that you mentioned between Reverend Raphael Warnock and the incumbent Republican senator in Georgia right now, Kelly Loeffler. So, they're also going to be seen a runoff. Democrats hanging their hope on that.

Other outstanding races that we're keeping an eye on right now, one is in North Carolina, where Thom Tillis, the Republican incumbent, is ahead at this point in time, leading his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. We are also keeping our eye on Alaska and Maine as well, Erin. But, right now, those races appearing to favor Republicans which wouldn't change the balance of power.

So this is a narrow pathway for Democrats. And like you said, this is essential for whoever the president will be in order to have control of the Senate. If it is Joe Biden, you can see it's a very tough pathway to having a Senate in his favor and it's going to be take sometime before he will find out if that is something that falls in his favor. January 5th, all eyes on Georgia.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, as if they weren't already.

Wow. Okay. Brianna, thank you.

KEILAR: Right.

BURNETT: So, let's go back to our political team.

You know, Karen, when we look at this, obviously, it is amazing how tight the battle for control is. This is not what Democrats expected to be looking at. Let's just be honest, right? They thought they had a lot more things in their favor.

Other than that, you simply have not seen a blue wave, right? Mark Kelly in Arizona, that came out as expected. Other than that, this has not gone the way Democrats thought.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, hat's true. Although I think there is reason for Democrats to continue to be optimistic as we go to this runoff in Georgia. And certainly if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the White House, we will have the benefit of having a Democratic vice president to break any ties that may occur.

You know, I think for Democrats, I think there is a lot of really good news about this election that I think we're -- because of our anxiety, frankly, around what is happening in the presidential and as things are sorting themselves out, maybe it's harder to see. But you're right, it didn't turn out the way folks had hoped.

Personally, I never believe in the big blue wave, but that's my cynicism from 2016 kicking in.

BURNETT: Forever scarred.

FINNEY: And I think the reality is, also, we're -- you know, we are a fairly divided country and that will be one of the greatest challenges that our next president and both Congress will have to deal with. They will have to decide how will they lead in this moment?

Again, I think it will become a question of country over party. We can't continue along this pathway we have been on with the divisiveness. And so, I hope that is the pressure we put on all of the elected members of Congress.

BURNETT: Mike, one thing we did see, though, in more than one case but I give you the example of Susan Collins in the Senate. You had people go and split their ticket, right? They voted for Susan Collins. They voted for that Republican and go ahead and vote for Joe Biden.

That was not something people expected to see but you are seeing it. What's the significance?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the significance is we are going to have a divided government if Joe Biden wins. And, you know, that this -- to quote what Karen is talking about the big blue wave was talked about in the media and on the left that this was going to be an ultimate repudiate of did the polls saying Joe Biden would win significantly and make some kind of statement and give him a mandate.

And in reality, it didn't happen. It looks like Republicans will keep the Senate or come down to one state for that. When we started the cycle off, Republicans were down 19 seats in the House.

[16:50:01]

It looks like we'll be down only about six or seven by the time this is said and done. So we have gained seats in the House.

And the country is very, very evenly divided. We're now still counting vote days after the election to determine who the president is. So, this was not a repudiation of Republicans or Trumpism. This was a close election and that proves that a lot of the Democrats wrong for what they thought was going to happen.

BURNETT: So, I totally hear your point.

David Chalian, when the numbers come in, you could come in a situation all outstanding states go for Joe Biden, where you have, you know, and 5 million split on the popular vote and more voted for Donald Trump and Joe Biden than any presidential candidate in history.

How are you supposed to see that, David Chalian?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, there's no doubt that we are a divided country.

BURNETT: Yeah.

CHALIAN: I think that is crystal clear. Donald Trump, the energy he brings -- his ability to bring his voters out as he did on Tuesday is what definitely helped Republicans apparently save control of the Senate if it does, indeed, happen that way even though he may not have saved his own job.

I do think, though, even -- listen, these votes have to be counted. It's hard to do sort of takes on what things meanwhile votes are still being counted and we don't know how it settles. We saw that in 2018 with the House races as we waited for California to come in.

But it could end up that Joe Biden has flipped five Trump states, not just rebuilding that blue wall but also expanding into Arizona and Georgia. You know, when Donald Trump won in 2016, he had flipped six Obama states to get to 306 electoral votes, and that was a substantial victory how it was perceived and moved forward with a mandate.

So I don't know yet that this will be judged at the end of the day when we see how all of the votes are tallied if, indeed, Joe Biden at 306 electoral votes and flipped five Trump states in various regions of the country. That will be seen I think as a pretty substantial victory.

BURNETT: It is very hard, Nia, to see to understand how this will be perceived, because right now, we're so much in the middle of it, and it's so razor thin. It's worth reminding people you may end up with, and we just don't know at this point, but your margins in some of these states will be greater than in Joe Biden than they were in narrowly fought states for Donald Trump.

Incredibly divided, no way to say that's not true but, yet -- but more in favor of Biden than Trump was able to succeed with in 2016?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No, that's right. If we flash back to 2016, you know, it was an upset surprising victory but it certainly was seen as a mandate. It was seen as sort of massive upheaval in terms of where the country was and what sort of values the country was valuing and what would be represented in this administration.

So, listen, Biden might end up in the same place. He certainly has more votes than Hillary Clinton did. More votes than Donald Trump did too.

So, you know, if you're a Democrat, if you're in this administration, if Biden ends up winning, you should claim the mandate because that certainly what Donald Trump would have done if he gets re-elected and certainly what he did in 2016 as well. So the idea that there is a divided country, well, that wasn't really what the Republicans were saying in 2016.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: One quick point. If Biden wins and Republicans keep the Senate --

BURNETT: Go ahead, Karen. Then Mike jump in.

FINNEY: I was going to say it's great spin while the votes are still coming in to try to suggest that Joe Biden doesn't have a mandate. Just because as I said I believe the country is divided, that does not mean that Joe Biden won't have a very clear mandate and, frankly, I think that also means that the members of Congress and the Senate and House also have a mandate.

So I don't want -- you know, Mike, I have to push back on you this idea that somehow it's not going to be a mandate for Joe Biden as David said also. If we flip those five states, that is incredibly meaningful and just the sheer volume in terms of the turnout, that is very meaningful in terms of the direction that this country is choosing to go into.

BURNETT: Mike, certainly this is the case you'd be making if the shoe were on the other foot?

SHIELDS: Look, if Republicans hold the Senate, Joe Biden -- and Joe Biden were to win, he would be the first president in 32 years that didn't have a solidified Congress in his first term. And so, look, you can say that these are states that are being flipped, we haven't been competitive in Pennsylvania since 1988 in a presidential election. We lost it every single time. And we're -- if Trump winds up not winning it this time, it will be by a razor-thin margin because we are still counting the votes.

And so, the point is the country is incredibly polarized. Democrats were looking at this thing we called a blue wave that they were going to sweep into office and wouldn't this make a great statement that we pushed back and repudiated who Trump was? And there are millions of voters said no to that and a lot of it was based on issues they were turned off on the left wing of the Democratic Party.

[16:55:02]

BURNETT: OK.

SHIELDS: Things like nationalized health care and those type of issues and Democrats have to reconcile with a president. And there will be midterms coming up if Biden wins and they're going to have a real problem inside their party dealing with those issues that really pushed a lot of voters away from them in this election, and we gained seats in the House because of it.

BURNETT: They are soul searching to be done for both parties, that is clear.

All right. Thank you all very much.

Next, we are going to have update on the crucial battlegrounds. A little bit of changing and tweaking as these votes are coming in when our special coverage continues.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: ELECTION NIGHT IN AMERICA continued. Joe Biden on the cusp of becoming president elect.

[17:00:00]