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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Joe Biden To Address Nation As President-Elect; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Trump Refuses To Concede, No Plans To Invite Biden To WH; Cities Erupt In Celebration After Biden Beats Trump; Balance Of Power In Senate May Hinge On Two Georgia Runoff Races. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 7, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:25]

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett alongside Anderson Cooper and we want to welcome all of you, our viewers in the United States and around the world. A historic day in the United States, Election Day morphed into Election Week. We're still here.

CNN now projects Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the United States. President-elect Biden received more than 74 million votes in the nation's record turnout for both candidates is all the more stunning considering obviously, Anderson it came in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. And stunning images we've been watching as you see right now. That's the scene in Washington, D.C. outside the White House.

Tackling the coronavirus pandemic is one of several urgent challenges for the Biden-Harris administration that they are going to have to take on immediately to that and President-elect Biden plans to unveil his Coronavirus Taskforce on Monday.

But before the work comes the celebration and an address to the nation which will occur tonight at 8:00 p.m. We will obviously bring that to you live.

All day in cities all across the country, people most of them wearing masks have gathered in the streets certainly not social distancing, and the pandemic is raging.

They are reveling in historic win by a historic ticket that will make Kamala Harris the first woman and first person of color ever elected Vice President. Some of those celebrations can be heard from the White House, but inside and you're looking at Philadelphia right now, a drumline, some drummers that have shown up, President Trump has stayed silent, opting to tweet falsehoods and lies about the integrity of the vote count instead not conceding that the people have spoken.

President-elect Joe Biden has crossed the Electoral College threshold of 270 and in just a short time, will deliver his victory speech.

We are going to go right to CNN's Arlette Saenz who is at the Biden headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. Arlette, what's the latest?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, people have started to arrive here at the Chase Center for what will be the victory celebration tonight after President-elect Joe Biden officially crossed that 270 Electoral Votes threshold.

As you can see behind me, this is a drive-in style event, something that's become a signature for Joe Biden in the age of coronavirus. Just outside of this event, there are also hundreds of people gathered at outside hoping to catch a glimpse of Delaware's native son as he is soon going to be heading to the White House in just a few months.

But this celebration is capping off several days of unknowns during the presidential race. This morning, it was called in Joe Biden's favor completing his third run for the White House successfully. Now Biden has spent the majority of the day at home with his family. In fact, I want to show you a photo that his oldest granddaughter, Naomi Biden posted and you can see the family embracing him earlier today as this is quite a personal moment for the Biden family. It is something that they have all worked for, for many, many years.

Now, Biden has also spent the day working the phones. He got a phone call from President Obama, his former boss congratulating him. He has also spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They congratulated him and something that you heard Biden talk about last night is that he believes that he now has a mandate going forward after this election.

Those are two people that he would be working with to implement a lot of the policy that he has been talking about during the campaign.

Now, Biden's speech tonight is going to focus on unity. You've seen the former Vice President, now the President-elect kind of preview some of this over the course of the past few days as he has spoken, and he actually released a statement earlier today that gives you a bit of a preview of what he is going to talk about.

He said, it is time for America to unite and to heal. We are the United States of America and there is nothing we can't do if we do it together.

Now, this has really been a hallmark of Biden's campaign talking about unity. But tonight, he is stepping on the stage after working for the White House for decades and he is now successful on his third run -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, first time facing the Americans as President-elect. Arlette Saenz, appreciate it.

Straight to the White House now and CNN's Kaitlan Collins -- Kaitlan.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. The President is obviously having a very different day than Joe Biden, the only time that we saw him today was when he left earlier before the race had been called for Biden to go golfing at his course outside of Washington in Virginia. [18:05:09]

COLLINS: And then when he returned back, his motorcade came through streets that are now filled with thousands of people celebrating the fact that he has been voted out of office and will be replaced by Joe Biden, though that's something that President himself has not acknowledged yet. In fact, he is maintaining and insisting that the opposite is true and that he has won this election, at least that is what he is saying on Twitter.

Though, of course, we know that it's not the case, given that CNN and several other major outlets have now projected that Biden is going to be the winner.

But the question is, when is the President actually going to acknowledge that he won't be staying in the White House past January once Joe Biden is inaugurated? And a lot of people do not think, you know, there is this scenario that people are throwing around that he is going to have to be forced out of the White House.

A lot of people do not think that's the case. They think he is obviously going to have to leave the White House, but they don't think that the President is ever going to accept that Biden won the election over him free and fair. And instead, the President is going to continue to insist that this election was stolen from him, something that he has made these baseless accusations as his campaign has tried to distract from this win by filing lawsuits, demanding recounts in certain states.

But the question is, how long can they maintain that? Because you've heard legal experts say that, of course, there's not a lot of basis there.

What we do know is the President hasn't acknowledged it, but several Republicans have. They have validated Joe Biden's win and congratulated him on it. So we'll wait to find out whether the President himself is actually going to speak on this, but we will not be seeing him for the rest of the night -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Okay. Kaitlan Collins appreciate it. Erin, quite a scene of what we are seeing in Philadelphia there as the -- what is really kind of a street party continues.

BURNETT: It sure is. And of course, Anderson, as we know, the President is watching all of this as well, right, sitting in the White House there, not coming up, but is seeing this, and as Anderson has pointed out, hearing it with the crowds in Washington, and these celebrations, of course, are going on across the country.

And our reporters are amidst all of them. Let's go to Vivian Salama, who is actually outside the White House, Vivian, where people have been, you know, cheering and celebrating. Certainly, the President can hear. What are you seeing and hearing?

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Not only can the President hear, Erin, it is getting louder and louder as the night progresses. What was a very joyous celebration where families were coming earlier today is now turning into quite a party.

You can hear some sound systems behind me, people are dancing. We saw some group dances and line dances a little while ago. Bullhorns as you can hear behind me.

And this is -- what you're looking at right now is Black Lives Matters Plaza, which stretches all the way to the gates that are around Lafayette Plaza -- Lafayette Square, which is right in front of the North Lawn of the White House.

And so obviously, people trying to be heard by the President, trying to let their voices be known, and what you're seeing now versus a couple of hours ago, you saw a lot of families. You're seeing a lot of youth coming out, younger people, some of the people who are driving the vote for Biden. You're seeing a lot of black people in the area who are coming out in support of Biden.

I have Dr. Michelle -- remind of your first name.

NICOLE HUNTER (ph): Nicole Hunter (ph).

SALAMA: Nicole Hunter, thank you so much, Nicole. It's so good to have you here.

HUNTER (ph): Thank you.

SALAMA: Why did you come out here tonight?

HUNTER (ph): It was important to you know, feel the energy and be in the moment. But it's also a reminder to let them know that particularly 55 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump this year, where it's up from 2016, fifty three percent white women. So while we're in a celebratory mood, it's important to let these people know of why we're here in the first place.

SALAMA: Why was it important? Now, a lot of people out here are celebrating. They are just telling me that they wanted to be part of this event tonight. Why did you want to be here tonight in particular?

HUNTER (ph): Because I was here in 2008. I was here in 2012. And I thought it was just important. It's a part of the democracy.

I feel like as though, you know, a lot of people are thinking these swing states, for putting us in this position, but I wanted to highlight that we not only have to thank Michigan, but we need to mostly thank Detroit.

We shouldn't just thank Georgia, but we should think Atlanta. We shouldn't just thank Pennsylvania, but we need to thank Philly. Those are all majority black cities. And so it's black people who put us in this position of a celebratory mood.

SALAMA: Nicole, thank you so much for talking to us, and so obviously, this group growing by the minute, and we'll be here to monitor it throughout the night -- Erin and Anderson.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Vivian -- Anderson.

COOPER: Erin, yes, I want to take our viewers to Chicago City, a city that was home, obviously to President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, now celebrating the victory of his former running mate and current President-elect, Joe Biden.

I want to go to CNN's Omar Jimenez, who is in Chicago. We've been watching this street celebration part demonstration at times, party in the streets going for quite some time. What's the scene there now?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, it has been going on for hours now at this point. It was no secret that people here in Chicago supported now President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, but they have made their support known, their music, through marching in the streets, the signs that they brought to these demonstrations here in downtown Chicago.

Just behind me, what you're looking at is Michigan Avenue and police have blocked off Michigan Avenue from people crossing it. So cars are still coming through, but they are honking and people are cheering as those honks have come through.

[18:10:31]

JIMENEZ: Now, one thing to keep in mind, we did hear from the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, who, it is also no secret, she was no fan of President Trump's, but she made sure she celebrated the election news that we were all talking about today of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, specifically saying America is back.

And the relationship between Chicago and the Federal government has been one that has been tense at times, especially when trying to deal with violence here in the City of Chicago that has played between the U.S. Department of Justice and here in the city.

So, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics change between local officials, and again, Federal officials in dealing with some of the issues that have plagued Chicago for a while now.

Another thing to keep in mind is obviously, there are a lot of people here dancing and celebrating, of course, but while they do have masks, there is no social distancing going on and Illinois has -- this is a perfect embodiment of it.

As you try to talk about coronavirus, people are so excited, and of course, that has gone to the back of the minds on a day like today when the focus seems to be on what the next four years are going to look like as opposed to what the past four years have, specifically over the course of what has been an incredibly tumultuous 2020 year for not just Chicago, but for the entire country as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, and Omar Jimenez, appreciate you being there. Thanks very much -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. We are now joined by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Senator, I appreciate your time. I see the name on your face.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you. Yes.

BURNETT: You know them both. You served in the Senate with Biden and Harris. Have you spoken to them today?

KLOBUCHAR: Just text messages, and I just want to, first of all say I think there is celebration going on all over the country. But there's also a collective sigh of relief. And I was actually buoyed by people like Mitt Romney, and some of the Republicans who are coming out and making very clear that they believe in our democracy, and I think that's going to be really important when the celebrating ends, that the hard work begins.

And that's going to be my point, when I do talk to Joe and Kamala in person is just the need to keep working on these issues, not just bringing people together, but getting things done, economic issues that have been plaguing our country, both before the pandemic and during, and to do that they are going to have to build a big coalition, and I'm ready to help.

BURNETT: And of course, you know, you ran for President. Tonight, though, we have, Senator, a Vice President-elect Harris, a woman. This has never happened before in this country.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly.

BURNETT: And there are so many historic things happening today. Right? I mean, in terms of the turnout and in terms of the President's reaction and the people who are celebrating and all of this, and yet you have this happening today.

You have a Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, you don't want to forget that.

BURNETT: Exactly. What does this moment mean for you?

KLOBUCHAR: You do not want to forget that. Well, for me, remember, Minnesota was where Mondale announced Geraldine Ferraro, and I literally remember what she was wearing. These pearls with this red dress, because it was when I thought that anything and everything was possible.

And then nothing has happened since then. We've never been able, as I said, from the presidential debate stage, if this was easy, we could play a game called, "Name your favorite woman President" or "Name your favorite woman Vice President." We can't. There's been none until now.

And so, Kamala, of course as she stands on the shoulders of so many, including Geraldine Ferraro, and including Shirley Chisholm and all of those women that have -- and certainly Hillary Clinton -- have made this attempt before and she is going to be out there.

I can't wait to see her tonight and mostly see her lead. BURNETT: So we saw record turnout, right, and a record turnout for

both sides in this, right, and Joe Biden is going to have probably close to 75 million or so votes when all this is said and done.

KLOBUCHAR: Could we have a footnote on that, Erin, Minnesota is inching toward, are you ready for this -- eight percent inching up to that voter turnout.

BURNETT: Eighty percent. Wow.

KLOBUCHAR: Now, let me see, maybe 79 something where I think we'll have the highest in the country, not of registered voters, of all eligible people who could vote. So, I literally walked down the street in my state and I know that something like four out of five people have voted and I've had people say, hey, I voted. I might not agree with you, but I voted.

I think it's -- we have to look at it one way. Even though it's a very divided country and it's going to be a lot on us as leaders to bring people together and to bring people together and I think the first step would be a pandemic package right now when we get back.

[18:15:15]

KLOBUCHAR: But also, people participated. They believed that their vote mattered. They believed that they are part of this democracy, and I actually do think that's a good place to start despite the division.

BURNETT: Well, I have to say, 80 percent or close. I'm just -- it's just a moment to step back and say, you know, we've all lived in a country for too long where we just settled for about half the people vote, if that -- right?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, Minnesota is always --

BURNETT: And now, all of a sudden, we made it easier for people, right, that there was early voting and mail-in voting and things that hopefully will stay forever because people's voices should be heard. But what does it mean that there is such -- now, you use the word "divided"? It's the right word. What does this mean for Joe Biden, in terms of a mandate and governing?

KLOBUCHAR: It means that he will have to use his unique skills to bring Republicans with us. I'm sure one of the first things -- I know because he said this to me, one of the first things he is going to do in these next few weeks will be calling Democratic and Republican governors, calling Democratic and Republican Members of Congress to start talking about what he needs to do and getting advice on things. That's what he does.

I don't think you saw Donald Trump doing a lot of that. You're going to see Joe Biden doing a lot of that. And then he will be, of course, announcing his Cabinet to the world that is on his mind in a big way. But a lot of this is just appealing to better angels in people, and it's not going to be easier for people to think of that. But finding that common ground and I think, his friend, John McCain,

my friend, John McCain said it best that there is nothing more liberating than fighting for a cause larger than yourself.

Right now, this is a democracy of purpose and Joe Biden is going to seize that moment, seize, yes, the celebration today, but also the hard work of governing. We can't wait anymore to do something about the pandemic and the economy and to do something about climate change and immigration reform. He knows that.

BURNETT: Senator, you ran as a moderate. I remember sitting with you after debates and talking about the response in the room, right, when people on that Democratic stage had to respond to questions about healthcare and socialism.

You are a moderate, you talk about the Cabinet. Has Vice President -- I'm sorry, President-elect Joe Biden spoken to you at all about a possible role in that Cabinet?

KLOBUCHAR: No, and I think part of that is that I made clear, I like what I'm doing and I think it is a very critical role right now. I'm actually the highest ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, and we will be doing a lot of work in the coming year.

I serve on the Judiciary Committee, as you know, and do a lot of work on the economic side with Commerce and Joint Economic Committees. So you know, I'm ready -- I'm ready to go. And I think it's going to be very important to bring back the Senate.

We still don't know who is running the Senate.

BURNETT: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: We have the two runoffs coming up in Georgia where we did very well in the presidential, I believe, when it's all recounted, we will continue our lead in the presidential. And that's a good place to start for those runoffs.

BURNETT: We are about to speak to Raphael Warnock, who obviously is going to be in one of those runoffs in the State of Georgia.

KLOBUCHAR: I talked to him two days ago and I am hoping he --

BURNETT: Those two Senate run offs are going to determine the control of the Senate. Some Republicans have argued, look a Republican Senate is actually better for Biden. It will enable him to be more moderate, to govern as a moderate, to temper the far left of his own party. Do you see anything to that?

KLOBUCHAR: You know, I think we're much better off with a Democratic Senate and being able to work more easily to pass some of these major bills, especially an economic package. I don't think it is even a close call.

But again, even in that situation, Joe Biden will have unique skills in working with Republicans and we're going to have to keep that up because that's going to be part of the beauty of what we need to do in the next six months.

BURNETT: All right, Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much. Always appreciate talking to you.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And we will be right back here as you watch these crowds across the country. This is Washington, D.C. right outside the White House tonight.

We'll be back with our special coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:23:43]

COOPER: The voters in Pennsylvania pushed Joe Biden over the finish line securing the 270 electoral votes he needed to win. Our Shimon Prokupecz is in Philadelphia. People have been celebrating there now for several hours.

Is it so much -- I mean, is it -- it is clearly Biden-Harris supporters. There's also been a lot of just anger about the insults that the President has been making toward Philadelphia just over the last several days.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there has. In fact, some people were holding signs, mocking the President saying things like bad things happen in Philadelphia and we've seen signs people saying, "Great things happen in Philadelphia," certainly after this city, which they believe ultimately clinched the presidency for the President-elect Joe Biden.

It's been one big party here, Anderson. When I was with you, just a short time ago, we were at the Convention Center where most of the supporters have been gathered. We've now moved over to City Hall because it has been incredible to watch as people have been streaming in to that area, drumlines started showing up.

There are now two different drumlines that have joined the party here, and they led this group through the streets to this area here at City Hall.

[18:25:10]

PROKUPECZ: And you can see just straight ahead, sort of, it's too crowded for us to walk through, Anderson, but the drummers are just the head here and then people out here, there's an Elmo costume, a Mickey Mouse costume, people just celebrating.

And one of the things you keep hearing from people out here is the relief that they feel from what happened, finally, with the decision, with the call on the fact that Joe Biden is the next President. And that's the relief that they have been feeling.

And we've been seeing it all throughout Philadelphia, the streets of Philadelphia, here in downtown certainly filled with people celebrating carrying signs and flags, when we were before at the Convention Center, there with a group of Trump supporters, so there was some tension there, but it's all peaceful, and so now, everyone here, just continuing to celebrate at City Hall.

COOPER: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

I want to go to the West Coast where people are also celebrating in Los Angeles, the history making day for Senator Kamala Harris, a native of California and of course, for President-elect Biden. I want to bring in CNN's Josh Campbell in Los Angeles. How's it going there, Josh?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, you know, I've lived in Los Angeles for a long time and I've never seen anything like this and that is a group of people taking to the streets in a parade here after an election.

You can see behind me, there's a large crowd that gathered close to City Hall and now, they just decided to go on the move, going through the streets, very much a sense of jubilation here. There are some of the people on some of the high rises that live outside, opening their windows shouting -- shouting and chanting and screaming their calls for celebration as well after this election.

Now, of course, as you mentioned, Senator and now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is from California, a native of Oakland, but she and her husband now live here in Los Angeles. So many of these crowd members out here that have been telling us that they are here to celebrate one of their own, another Californian who has now made history, becoming the first woman and certainly the first woman of color to reach the vice presidency.

It's also worth noting that so much of what we've heard from this crowd pertains to Donald Trump, Anderson. Calls and chants for "Trump out now." This is obviously a very diverse city here, a large Hispanic population, some of the group members telling us that President Trump's policies, as it relates to the immigrant community and Hispanics is something that they have really taken exception with throughout the bulk of his presidency, starting with the birtherism of Obama, starting with calling Mexicans rapists during his announcement for the presidency.

And so that pattern of action throughout his presidency, in their view against people of color is something that has really turned this into very much a pressure release valve it seems with that announcement now, that Biden-Harris will now become the President and Vice President, respectively. You now see this group of people coming out here, a sense of jubilation, a sense of celebration here in downtown Los Angeles -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jeff Campbell. Josh, thanks very much -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And joining us now, the host of CNN's "Smerconish," Michael Smerconish; CNN political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson and legendary journalist, Carl Bernstein. Carl, let me start with you. We have this this moment here. It is 6:30

Eastern in the United States and people are going to the streets en masse. Right?

We all saw it this morning when people first started hearing the news and trickling out and celebrating and it wasn't just a momentary thing, it has grown and grown and grown. The President still refusing to concede, what are you hearing in Republican circles about this tonight, Carl?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, particularly in the Senate of the United States, one of the dirty secrets of the Trump presidency, is that perhaps 20 to 25 Republican senators actually despise Donald Trump. They've been held hostage by him. They have done his bid bidding and enabled him. But many of them were actually, according to their assistants and aides and chiefs of staff, were happy to see Donald Trump lose this election, as long, they hope they can keep control of the Senate.

But they also know that Joe Biden is a creature of the Senate and that the country needs some kind of peace and an attempt at bringing people together and they know that Trump has said he is going to do a scorched earth attempt to hold on to office and there are eight, 10 or 12 of them who are talking with each other about absolutely preventing Donald Trump from going into the bunker. They're going to make sure he comes out of the bunker.

I think they are talking with Leader McConnell about this, and I don't think that we're going to see that Leader McConnell go along with any plans that Trump has to hold on to office by subterfuge and undermine the Electoral College and these other dark things that he and his sons and others are talking about.

[18:30:08]

BURNETT: So when does this happen? I mean, I understand your reporting here sort of a work in progress. They're thinking as a work in progress, Carl, but when, right? We're in this crucial moment, but right now it's celebration and then there's going to be this pregnant pause that the President needs to fill.

BERNSTEIN: Somebody told me today on Capitol Hill who's in touch with these people, maybe a week, if Trump continues to be as recalcitrant and continues his scorched earth comments and refusal to recognize what's happened, maybe within a week that there are going to be a group of senators that go down to the White House and tell the President that he is going to have to capitulate.

The precedent for this, of course, is what happened with Richard Nixon, when Barry Goldwater, the great conservative, 1964, nominee for president of his party, he led a delegation of senators and House leaders to the White House and told Richard Nixon he had to leave office, that the tide in the country had turned against him and that's really what's going on here. Now, that doesn't mean that these same senators aren't still afraid of Donald Trump. They know that they can be 'primaried', if Donald Trump after he leaves the White House calls for them to be defeated.

BURNETT: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: Donald Trump's movement is not going to go away. He got 70 million votes, et cetera. But there are senators who are ready to speak up and to make sure that there is an orderly transition to the presidency of Joe Biden.

BURNETT: And Nia, are there any moderating forces in the White House that have the power to break through to this president?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think the short answer to that is no. We've seen this president over the last many years, his behavior, particularly his behavior in the weeks leading to this election, the way he talked about the voting process, really tried to undermine democracy and we see him continuing to do that now. So you think about who he surrounds himself with are the folks who are closest to him, people like Ivanka Trump, people like Jared Kushner, they have stood by and let him behave in a way that has gotten him to where he is now.

I think his behavior in terms of refusing to concede his refusal to acknowledge reality, that is why he is going to end up being a one- term president. This sort of delusional behavior. He's a man who rose to the presidency on a conspiracy theory and we'll leave embracing a conspiracy theory about some sort of vast fraudulent voter scheme, which, of course, we know is an utter lie.

So if you think about Republicans, if you think about the people who work in the White House, they have ceded their power completely to this president because they want it to be around him and in his circle. So this idea that someone in the White House or even Republicans can come to him at this point and tell him what to do. I think it's unlikely for years, it's been the other way around.

He has told Republicans how to behave and they have fallen in line. So I think that is going to be the order of the day and we'll just have to see what this president does and hope he doesn't do more damage and just contains his rantings and ravings to Twitter.

BURNETT: Which Michael thus far today that's what he's doing, his 70 million legal votes, the 1830 [00:03:42], I guess, 74.5 million aren't, that he's won the election. It's contained to Twitter. It's lost much of its amplifying power for now. But yet, Michael, Republicans have a decision to make. They can't just sort of get by silently on this.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: So I think there'll be clarity in the early part of the coming week. I'm reminded of the fact that this election cycle began with tabulation hiccups. I'm thinking about the Iowa caucus on February 3, you remember that whole debacle for a couple of days.

But Erin, in Tuesday's election, it strikes me how remarkably quiet it was and I attribute that to the mail process that was relied on by so many. The sort of human factors and I'm not referencing anything with fraud, just stuff happens, there really weren't many reports of it.

The President has raised some transparency issues. That alone is not enough to contest the race and I think in courtrooms that's going to become very, very obvious. Call me naive. I'd like to think that he can and maybe we'll make a call. The question is he's a very proud individual, conceding has never come naturally. I'm sure he's emotionally devastated.

[18:35:00]

He left it all on the field. He almost pulled off quite a comeback, but the call should have three component parts. It should be Joe, I am calling to congratulate you on a very tough race. The results suggest that you won. And now I need to make sure that it was all done fairly.

It would give the President elect the ability to stand up in Wilmington tonight and say, I received a telephone call from the President. He congratulated us on our tough fight. It's not everything that Joe Biden would like to hear from Donald Trump, but it would solve the nation and it would be in the President, Donald Trump's best interest.

BURNETT: And Carl that is what he focuses on. I think it's interesting what you said though, that this is still - 70 million votes is 70 million votes. President Trump, if he plays this right, will remain a person of great power within the GOP.

SMERCONISH: Right.

BERNSTEIN: Yes, he will. And he also wants to remain a huge force in American life, whatever happens to him. He thrives on being the most talked about person in the world and he's not going to give that up. But the one thing we do have to think about is that he knows that he faces the possibility of some criminal actions and that there also is a question of will he pardon himself on his way out the door, will he seek somehow to get pardon farther down the line.

But this is according to people who talk to him. He knows that he is the target of investigation and that has to worry him to some extent and be part of his calculation here. But he's nowhere near ready yet to capitulate. And hopefully, in the next week or so we'll see a real movement to bring these forces together that he might accept what has happened here and begin for a peaceful transition of power.

BURNETT: I mean, Nia, he's sitting there, he's watching the television screens, he is seeing people gathering, he is hearing people gathering outside the White House. And like many in this country, he's going to watch Joe Biden speak tonight to the nation.

HENDERSON: Yes.

BURNETT: I mean, this is a moment for him, just to imagine that image for a second, right? He's going to sit back and be watching the person who is now the President elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

HENDERSON: Yes. And I imagine his anger, and his frustration, and his delusions, and his paranoia will only grow. I mean, the idea that this was stolen from him, that is what he's been telling his followers, even before any votes were cast, that somehow this was rigged if he lost. And I think he's never going to give that story up.

And if he calls Joe Biden and congratulates him, if he concedes, he will have to give that story up. He will have to admit to his followers, that he was a liar all this time. And I find it hard to believe that he would actually do that. He's using this conspiracy theory to bind himself closely to those followers and the most diehard of those 70 million and he is never going to cede that bond with them.

And if you're Republican, you think somehow you can get those people to support you. But this is Donald Trump really laying claim to a significant portion of his voters through this story by casting himself as someone who was robbed of the presidency by forces in this country that are illegitimate and cast illegal votes. That is his whole story and it's a powerful one. And I think it'll bind his followers to him for years to come and will make him a force and a dark force in appear in American politics for years to come.

So Republicans are going to have to reckon with that and it's a reckoning that they could have had earlier, if they really dealt with all of the problems that Donald Trump pose to the country, but it's something that they went along with, so now they're going to have to deal with him going forward.

BURNETT: All right. All thank you, Carl, Nia, Michael, appreciate it very much. And our special coverage continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:43:57]

BURNETT: All right. In Atlanta, an area the President once described as crime infested and falling apart, the celebrations have been particularly spirited thus far and we are now here in the dark, in the evening hours.

Our Gary Tuchman is in Atlanta on the ground. So Gary, I know you've been surrounded by people as we've been talking over these past few hours, how are people responding to Biden's victory?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll say that the people here to use an understatement are jubilant. This is a spontaneous block party. It's a block party that has now lasted for about seven hours ever since CNN made its projection. People started hitting the streets.

This is Midtown Atlanta. Midtown Atlanta is a very politically liberal area and if the State of Georgia ends up going for Joe Biden, it'll be because of these people who are so happy. Atlanta went big for Joe Biden and it appeared that Georgia may go blue for the first time since 1992, 28 years.

I can tell you it's been very festive. What's most important it's been very peaceful and very safe. There haven't been any problems whatsoever. There's even a very relatively small police presence. They pose up the streets here to maintain safety. So there's no one driving on this very busy street right now.

[18:45:08]

Couple of things that are concerning that's important to mention, number one. Hey, guys. Guys, quiet. Quiet. Quiet while I talk, please. Quiet while I talk.

It's very important to point this out, I'm going to walk this way that there's very little social distancing here. But 90 percent to 95 percent of people are wearing their masks and that's very important. So the opposite kind of a Donald Trump rally where almost 10 percent, 15 percent of people wear masks, but there's a little more social distancing, so that's a little risky.

In addition to that, there is concern because earlier today there was a demonstration in support of Donald Trump, a few hundred people. There was some concern that I had that people who were at that rally would show up here and cause trouble. They have the right to be here, but it's concerning to us, that hasn't happened.

So right now everything is safe, everything is peaceful and we hope it remains this way as people here are very happy. Erin, back to you.

BURNETT: Yes, so many celebrating. All right, Gary, thank you very much.

And I want to go to another part of Atlanta where our Natasha Chen has been watching these people have been gathering in these past few hours. And we hear the horns. What are you seeing now, Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's just more and more people continue to gather here. There was already a planned rally today at noon. And as people were arriving on their way to this plans rally, that's when they heard the race being called.

And one of the people who decided to come is Ms. Champ (ph). She's from Clayton County. Now, Clayton County, South of Atlanta was critical in delivering those final votes to put Biden in the lead in this race. And Ms. Champ (ph), what does that feel like to you? You've volunteered for so many campaigns and you've never seen Georgia in your time here elected Democrats for president.

CHAMP (?): It was absolutely wonderful. It was fantastic. When I got the phone call this morning, I just went crazy because we never had it done. I've been here since the Olympics came and we have never had this type of success.

I credited it all to Stacey Abrams. It was her push to change things and make sure everybody knows what the rules have been, that everybody wasn't talking about that made this happen for all of us, so thank you, Stacey Abrams.

And Clayton County, shout out to Clayton County because we made it happen. I appreciate all of you and everybody's effort. We really did it this time. Ms. Lorette (ph) and everybody that helped out in Clayton County, thank you all so much. We still got a long way to go. But I think we going to take both Senate seats.

CHEN: That was quite a nail biter the other night when Clayton County was counting those final ballots and you're talking about the runoffs that are about to happen. Tell me about the work that you're going to do to make sure that this momentum doesn't stop here.

CHAMP (?): We are going to register more people to vote, that's for sure. We got to make sure that we get out the vote and make everybody turns out the vote. We're going to do phone calls. We're going to do knocks on doors. We're going to make sure everybody in a family member get involved in making this happen for us here in Georgia.

We deserve it. We deserve new leadership and this is the time right now. So everybody, please, if you're listening to me and you live in Georgia, get involved, make sure you're part of the process. And let's turn Georgia from red to blue completely.

CHEN: Are you nervous now that the Republicans in the State see how close it was that they're really going to come out during those runoffs and make it very challenging?

CHAMP (?): I'm not concerned at all because we was concerned and look at what happened. Long as we keep our faith and we do what we need to do, we can make it happen. I really believe that.

CHEN: Thank you so much, Ms. Champ (ph), for speaking with us about this. And I spoke to the organizer of the rally earlier today. She's already gone home. She said she needs to rest up, because they're starting the registration of voters for that runoff tomorrow, so the work does not stop.

BURNETT: All right. Natasha, thank you very much. All right. So Natasha is talking about those two runoffs and they're crucial. They are the two runoffs that will decide control of the Senate. Georgia is now the center of the American political universe. It was also the adopted home, of course, of the late Congressman John Lewis.

Earlier this year in Selma, Alabama, Lewis talked about why the vote was so crucial for American democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN LEWIS, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep faith, keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and both like we never ever voted before.

America is a different place. But we can make it much better. We must use the vote as a non-violent instrument tool to redeem the soul of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And as what we have seen record turnout in this country. The Rev. Raphael Warnock joins me. He is the Democratic candidate facing off against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler in Georgia.

And Reverend, I appreciate your time. It's good to talk to you again, sir. So what's your reaction to what we're seeing? We have reporters in Atlanta. Here's what we see on the streets, a spontaneous celebration.

[18:50:03]

What is your reaction? Are you surprised at all to this great outpouring on the streets of Atlanta?

RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA: Oh, no, I'm not surprised at all. Thank you so very much. It's great to be here with you and congratulations to the President elect Joe Biden and our Vice President elect Kamala Harris.

Listen, the four most powerful words in a democracy are the people have spoken and so I'm grateful for this outcome, for what's happening right here on the ground in Georgia. This is not magic. This is not something that happened all of a sudden. Stacey Abrams and others of us have been working on this for years and I believe John Lewis, my parishioner whose service I had the sad honor of officiating is smiling right now. He's part of a great cloud of witnesses, ushering us on and we intend to amplify the voices of the people who are ready for change. And you're going to see that in this runoff.

BURNETT: All right. So I want to talk to you about this runoff. First, though, Reverend, it is so, so very close in Georgia, indications that there'll be a recount on the Presidential race. Are you confident that Joe Biden will succeed in securing Georgia on his win column?

WARNOCK: There is no question that Georgia is well on its way to solidifying its status as a blue state. We've been working on this for years and the other side knows it. That's why they've been engaged in voter suppression for so long. We saw record voter turnout in June 1.8 million Democrats showed up and showed out more than ever and we saw that again in this election. And I think that our side is going to be very energized to show up for the January 5th.

They understand how much is at stake and as I'm moving across the state, people are concerned, they understand how consequential this election is. They're worried about their health care. They need somebody to get control of this pandemic and help us to reopen our businesses and our schools. And so Joe Biden will need a lot of help in the Senate and I'm deeply honored to be a part of that process.

BURNETT: All right. So let me ask you about where things are, because the whole country is going to be watching Georgia. The whole country. We are about to see, you're talking about voter registration pushes, money flowing in, it is all about Georgia now and these runoffs, these two crucial seats. It determines the Senate. It's going to determine what legislation Joe Biden can pass.

So where you stood in the race this week, 32.9 percent of the vote, the Republicans in your race combined, Mr. Collins and Sen. Loeffler had 45.9 percent. So if she is able, Sen. Loeffler, to consolidate that support, that combined support, how do you close the gap to win?

WARNOCK: Oh, we'll close the gap. Remember, there were 21 people in my race, 21 people, and they were listed alphabetically. My last name begins with W, Warnock, so I was near the bottom of the list. And we've finished in a very strong position. We finished first and as I'm moving across Georgia, people are not worried about the politicians.

They're worried about themselves and their own lives and they're trying to figure out how they and their families navigate this big darkness of a once in a century pandemic and economic turndown that's caused them to lose their jobs and they have not seen any relief from Kelly Loeffler, who, for months, has served in the Senate.

She's done a good job of protecting her own portfolio. She hasn't done a good job at all protecting the people of Georgia. I intend to stand up for ordinary people here in Georgia and I think that as they hear our message, they will respond and we'll see the benefits and the fruit of that comes January 5th.

BURNETT: And a final question here, you look at neighboring South Carolina, Jaime Harrison, there's an unprecedented amount of money that went into that race. It did not do what Democrats thought it would do. Lindsey Graham is returning to the Senate.

In the Georgia Senate races, we've already seen an incredible amount of money, $173 million plowed into the Georgia Senate races thus far. Are you worried about the money factor, Rev. Warnock, when you're trying to focus on grassroots voter registration? Are you worried about the money factor?

WARNOCK: Well, I was outspent during the general. If you could buy this seat, Kelly Loeffler would have it by now. But I'm going to be focused not on who I'm running against, but who I'm running for and I have to tell you that over the last few days, my website has seen a whole lot of traffic of folks that have been going to warnockforgeorgia.com. They've been signing up. They've been giving to my campaign.

My campaign is fueled by support of ordinary people, because that's who I'm standing up.

[18:55:03]

BURNETT: All right. Well, Rev. Raphael Warnock, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

WARNOCK: Thank you.

BURNETT: And thanks to all of you who are joining to watch this historic day in America, in the United States and around the world. Thanks for watching CNN's coverage the election of Joe Biden over President Donald Trump.

Our coverage continues now with Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash, Abby Phillip, John King and Anderson Cooper right after this quick break. Have a great night.