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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Georgia Confirms Biden Victory after Statewide Audit; Source Says Trump Knows He Lost, but Stalling Transition to Get Revenge on Democrats Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 19, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Dr. Reiner, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
And thanks so much to all of you for yours. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, there is breaking news tonight. Just moments ago, Georgia finished its statewide audit of ballots and confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden is the winner there. According to the final count, the margin was 12,284 votes.
The audit confirms there was no widespread fraud or irregularities in the election, and even before the news broke, there was this.
CNN has learned that the President of the United States knows he has lost the election, knows in short that nothing he is doing now to cast doubt on the vote can possibly change the outcome. He knows this.
What's more, according to our source, he is not even motivated by the hope of that. According to new reporting from CNN's Gloria Borger and Dana Bash, who will join us shortly, he is doing it for revenge. He is not acting on behalf of the 70-odd million Americans who voted for him nor for policies he believe in.
He is not motivated apparently by some greater end that justifies such drastic and unprecedented means. He is not even destroying the village in order to save it. He is just trying to destroy the village.
The most powerful person on Earth doing the greatest damage possible to the oldest democracy on Earth for the pettiest motive imaginable -- vengeance. Because he can't stand losing. It's pathetic really, and I've got to just say, did you see the press conference? The train wreck with Rudy Giuliani with the sweat and the hair dye dripping, he was the conductor of this train wreck.
I mean, if you thought they couldn't top the mishegas of the press conference at the Four Seasons landscaping parking lot next to the, you know, the porn place, they took this one to 11. It was next level. Take a look.
Rudy Giuliani, there he is. I mean, we've got to talk about Giuliani. Can the producers from "Intervention" please get in touch with his people and set something up? Legendary New York columnist Jimmy Breslin once described Giuliani as a small man in search of a balcony. Now, he's just a hot mess.
The man once described as America's mayor appeared sweating with newly applied black hair dye rolling down his face. It wasn't a press conference, it was a clown show without any actual meaning or reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Did you all watch "My Cousin Vinny?" You know the movie? It's one of my favorite law movies because he comes from Brooklyn. And when the nice lady who said she saw and then he says to her, how many fingers do I -- how fingers do I have got up? And she says, three. Well, she was too far away to see it was only two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's the guy who is leading the President's efforts. That's who is in charge. Only the best.
Rudy Giuliani, he is alluding to a complaint, among several, about observers being kept too far from the counting, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected two days ago. Now, here he is having started off talking about a case in Michigan, which has already been rejected by the state's Court of Appeals, drifting into a baseless allegation about voting in Philadelphia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: If you live in Philadelphia, unless you're stunad -- that's an Italian expression for stupid, unless you're stupid, you knew that a lot of people were coming over from Camden to vote. They do every year. It happens all the time in Philly.
It's about as frequent as getting beaten up at a Philadelphia Eagle basketball -- football game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, it must have been hot in that room. I mean, this is where we are. This is where we are. These are the people.
Yes. This is where we are.
He is talking about the old legal doctrine of everybody knows. I believe it was first argued in the well-known case of Finders v. Keepers or perhaps it was Eagles v. Lakers.
Evidence schmevidence. It's Rudy.
Here is another member of the legal team, how this member of the legal team answered a reporter's question to Giuliani about having evidence for his allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: I -- JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP 2020 SENIOR LEGAL ADVISER: Let me address just one
other thing to your question about the process. Your question is fundamentally flawed when you're asking, where's the evidence? You clearly don't understand the legal process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Meanwhile, the lady behind her is like -- wow. You know, I said it was a clown show. I apologize to clowns. I'm sorry. You're better than that.
"Your question is fundamentally flawed when you're asking about evidence," she said. Okay. Yes, look, I'm not a lawyer.
Would you like a side of alternative facts with that, perhaps? Today was not a good day in court for the President's effort. Not that it matters, because as we said, he doesn't even expect to win. One court after another has dismissed claims on the President's behalf.
The latest today Georgia and Pennsylvania. It seems that as far as the campaign is concerned, only allegations matter. Here is attorney Sidney Powell peddling a debunked conspiracy theory about voting software.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNEY POWELL, MEMBER OF TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: The Dominion Voting Systems, the Smartmatic technology software and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's the old claim Hugo Chavez maneuver. He's been dead since 2013, but he had his finger on this one.
Things got so bonkers that Chris Krebs, the official fired by the President this week for helping ensure that this, in fact, was the most secure election yet, tweeted, quote, "That press conference was the most dangerous one hour 45 minutes of television in American history and possibly the craziest. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're lucky."
But wait, there's more. The President's effort is so pathetic that he is now also making efforts to get Michigan's Wayne County, which went heavily for Joe Biden to toss out the results, going so far as to personally call Republican members of the county's Board of Canvassers. He's invited Michigan lawmakers to the White House, according to a person familiar with the matter, presumably in hopes of them getting to appoint a Trump-friendly set of electors instead of the ones the voters chose.
He hasn't attended a public function in 12 days. He hasn't received an Intelligence briefing that we know of in more than a month and a half. He hasn't attended a COVID Taskforce meeting in six months. He has not said a word about the quarter million Americans who are now dead, who have died of this virus.
He has not mentioned the more than 1,800 who died yesterday nor the 1,899 reported dead so far today.
And now, learn from this new CNN reporting, it's not even a matter of him caring more about a quarter million contested ballots and the quarter million lost lives, in fact, it seems he cares about neither.
He cares about nothing now except, according to this source, taking revenge on those who called his 2016 victory into question and making it hard for the winning candidate this time to do his job, which is serving the American people, helping America make progress.
That's the best we can describe it tonight. And perhaps the worst that can be said about anyone who has ever held the office.
Joining us now is Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's election implementation manager. Mr. Sterling, so break this down for us. Did this audit change the margin of Vice President Biden's lead over President Trump?
GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA'S ELECTION IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: Well, the thing about a hand tally audit -- and this is the largest hand tally audit in the history of the United States, it's not about changing the final tally, and it is about verifying the tally we saw on election night. That was shown here with very little variation.
COOPER: When you say very little variation, what do you mean?
STERLING: Well, when you do a hand tally, you're comparing it to what the computers counted on Election Night and essentially we all know that computers are always going to be more accurate than human beings.
In fact, most hand tallies have -- according to most studies -- about one percent to one and a half percent deviation. But in Georgia, we saw a 0.1053 percent variation of the total vote count and a 0.0099 percent variation in the overall margin.
So it was verified what we saw on Election Night, which was that former Vice President Biden has the most votes at this point. We are looking to get the certification tomorrow and then, under our state law, the person who comes in second, in this case it looks like it will be President Trump has the right to request a recount, since he is within 0.5 percent of the former Vice President Biden.
COOPER: And just to be absolutely clear, did you find any evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities, like the President and his legal team and his allies have been alleging?
STERLING: One of the main things that you're looking for when you do this hand audit is to make sure the items you see on the paper, on the ballot that says Donald Trump, Joe Biden or Jo Jorgensen that they match what the computer says. Human beings were looking at this things because as you know, one of
the big complaints is these machines somehow flipped votes or changed votes or did stuff. They didn't. At least not in Georgia, we proved it.
We did this hand audit and it shows the outcomes we saw on Election Night on the same ballots we saw this time essentially is the exact same, even with a human being having a hand count of that.
COOPER: The Georgia Secretary of State announced the news in a press release which ended, quote, "Because the margin is still less than 0.5 percent, the President," as you said, " ... can request a recount after certification of the results."
Do you expect that his campaign would do that? Or have they already done so, I guess I should ask?
STERLING: They haven't done so yet because they legally can't until we certify, which will be at some point tomorrow. And, listen, they have every legal right to ask for a recount. They have every legal right to go to court.
As we saw today, they've gone to court twice in Georgia. I think one they pulled with the lawsuit and one was dismissed by a Trump- appointed judge. So, they have legal remedies. They have due process. We are a nation of laws, not of men.
They have every legal right to present evidence, but in this case, we are presenting more and more evidence every day that the final outcome of what we anticipated in terms of what we saw on Election Night is proper and correct. The machines did their job and the will of the voters of Georgia will be met by this office because our job is to execute the goal of making sure we have fair, honest and transparent elections in this state.
COOPER: And just so I'm clear, assuming if the Trump administration decides to -- or the Trump Campaign asks for a recount, how would a recount differ from what you have just completed?
STERLING: What we did was a hand tally, which is basically when you have thousands of audit teams together looking at each ballot individually. Under our state Election Board rules, we move to a recount and in that case we'll be using equipment again.
So in every county, all the 159 counties, they will create a test deck of ballots between a ballot marking device ballot, which is our computer-generated ballot and a hand-marked ballot and they'll have 50 for Trump, 45 for Biden, 5 for Jorgensen. They run those through the scanner and if they say, the can say yes, this is what we expected to see, so the scanner is operating appropriately. They clear those off, and they literally will run through all five million-plus ballots through these high-speed scanners to get a true recount again of those ballots one more time, and then that would be the final version of the ballots that were voted. COOPER: And approximately how long does that -- if that was to be
requested, how long would that take?
STERLING: Well, we've never done one before, so this is kind of new territory for us. We just did a hand recount in 10 days, which was an amazing lift working with VotingWorks and some other people out there that made -- our counties did amazing work. They really staffed up and did it right.
It takes about, we did the math, we can do about 50 ballots a minute on each individual scanner. There are about 200 of them in the state. So, we think the small counties will get done first. We will probably redeploy some of the smaller county scanners to the big counties to help them get through it. So, hopefully, we can get through it pretty quickly.
The law is on the 0.5 percent, they can request it within two business days. Since we're going to be certifying tomorrow, they have until Tuesday to make the request. Of course, Thanksgiving is next week, so depending when the request comes in, we can start Monday or we can start the following Monday.
COOPER: Gabriel Sterling, really appreciate all your hard work and everybody in the state. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
STERLING: I thank those counties for the real hard work. Thank you.
COOPER: Yes. Appreciate it. As promised, Dana Bash is here along with CNN law election analyst Rick Hasen, author of "Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and the Treat to American Democracy." What an apt title.
Dana, your reporting is that President Trump knows he has lost, but is delaying the inevitable out of revenge. Explain what you've heard.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, a source who is in contact with the President says that what the President knows is that in his heart of hearts is that he will not win. We've heard that from other sources as well.
But what this source added was that what the President is saying, pretty explicitly, is he feels that the Democrats when the President won in 2016 tried to make his win illegitimate by the Russia investigation, the dossier and everything that went along with it. And so he is using their playbook. That's his thinking.
And he's, you know, I use the word payback. This is not what my source used, but there's no other way to put it. That is what the President is doing. One of the many reasons why he is continuing to not allow the Biden transition to get funds, to get briefings, and also much more destructively, continuing to call the election results fraudulent where there is no evidence, as you showed with your opening with the Rudy Giuliani and company press conference.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, I'm wondering how the President views Giuliani and this legal, you know, team, I guess they are, you know, the press conference, these fruitless rabbit holes. Things are just, you know, in courtroom after courtroom things are being rejected, tossed out or lawyers stepping down or taking back, you know, withdrawing their cases.
BASH: The President wants somebody out there fighting for him. And the President wants somebody out there going down whatever rabbit hole they feel comfortable doing. And Rudy Giuliani is pretty much the only one left who will go down those rabbit holes and have the kind of press conference he had today with the few people who were standing by him.
Other lawyers who have a lot more credibility with election law are nowhere to be found, and there's a reason for that -- Anderson.
COOPER: Rick, I want to read something you wrote earlier today about the President's efforts in Michigan. You said, "This is very dangerous for our democracy, as it is an attempt to thwart the will of the voters through political pressure from the President. Even though it is extremely unlikely to work, it is profoundly anti-democratic and a violation of the rule of law and it is inexcusable."
Does it become dangerous for our democracy the longer this goes on?
RICHARD L. HASEN, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Yes, I think so. I mean, certainly the President has every legal right, as any candidate does to bring legal cases and to challenge results if there is a reason to challenge them.
But we've now gone -- you know, we're coming up closer to the deadline from when everything needs to be certified. They've produced no evidence. In a filing today in Pennsylvania for a preliminary injunction when you're supposed to provide your evidence, they said we'd like to bring in an expert, but they didn't provide any expert yet.
They've got nothing legally in the hopper that plausibly is going to show fraud, plausibly is going to show any problem in any state. So what they are trying to do now is a naked power play.
The idea is we're going to try to get these state legislatures to just announce an alternative slate of electors, declare Trump won with no basis at all. I mean, that is really the opposite of the rule of law, and the longer this goes on, not only does it endanger the transition in terms of COVID and all of that, it undermines people's confidence in the fairness of the process.
There are millions of people now who falsely believe that voting machines are being manipulated, that Biden is cheating, that there is some large conspiracy, it's just really deteriorating the whole environment in which we have our democratic process take place in.
COOPER: And Dana, you know, perhaps most -- I don't know if -- it's not surprising, I guess, but one of the -- I mean, you kind of expect the President to do, you know, this kind of stuff. This is from his playbook.
All of these Republican senators standing by being party to it. And sort of, you know, sagely nodding their heads and saying, well, yes, yes, you know, we must look into all -- I mean, it's -- I don't think we fully understood as a country how vulnerable our system is to manipulation because, you know, Tom Friedman and others have pointed out and others that it is often based on norms, not necessarily something that is codified in law.
BASH: Based on norms, based on shame, and leaders not wanting to be shamed, not wanting to be the one or the ones who break those norms that are the pillars of this democracy. And you're exactly right, we are seeing that deteriorate right now in a pretty big way.
And they're not just nodding their heads, they are enabling this President in a very big way. Now, when you talk to Republicans privately, what they say to a person is what I reported that the President says. They know he's not going to win.
But there are several reasons why they are continuing to nod their heads and to enable him. The most important, from their point of view is power. And by power, I mean, they want to keep control of the United States Senate and there are two outstanding races in Georgia that is not going to happen until January 5th, and they don't want to do anything to make the President so mad that he will either, you know, kind of, you know, throw a tantrum and say, I'm not going to go help Republicans in Georgia or even undermine Republicans in Georgia. That's a real concern and it is about power -- Anderson.
COOPER: Right, yes, but I mean, doesn't it give them too much credit? Because after that, after that January 5th date, their next excuse is, well, now we're just terrified of the base. We're terrified of all of the President's supporters, so we still can't talk about it. We can't still speak out.
BASH: All of the above. You're exactly right.
COOPER: Dana Bash, thank you. Dana is going to stick around. Rick Hasen, thanks so much.
Coming up, next, the White House strategy -- I mean, you can't call it a strategy -- the White House careening forward movement will attempt to be.
Later, Bill Gates on new vaccines and how to bridge the gap between now and when they actually become widely available and what he thinks the next few months look like. A lot of great information from Bill Gates coming up.
COOPER: Talking about two big breaking stories, Georgia finishing its recount and confirming a Biden victory and ruling out widespread irregularities. Also Dana Bash and Gloria Borger's new reporting that revenge is motivating the President's delay on conceding defeat and blocking a smooth transition, according to a source.
And against that backdrop, the Coronavirus Taskforce briefing the public from the White House. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is there for us now.
This is the first time the White House Coronavirus Taskforce has held a press briefing remarkably since July 8th, over four months ago. Put that in context, at that point, the total of nearly 133,000 Americans had died. In the time since, about 120,000 more Americans have now died of this.
You were there today. I know you had wanted to ask the Vice President about the transition to President-elect Biden's team. How did that go?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We had a lot of questions for him, but at the end of it, after they came out and everyone made their presentations, updated us on the numbers, went through the vaccine distribution, the Vice President turned and left the room even though we had plenty of questions.
Here's a little bit of what it looked like as that was coming to an end, and you can see reporters shouting at the Vice President.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
COLLINS: So you could see the outrage in the room as they are refusing to take anyone's questions at the first coronavirus briefing in four months. If you ignored everything else that's going on, that in and of itself, Anderson, is outrageous. Because of course, if you see how the virus is surging, there are questions about how there was no coordinated national effort and how that is affecting what we are now seeing play out across the country.
But it's also part of a larger pattern this week where we have seen people who work for the Federal government and are funded by taxpayer dollars refusing to do their jobs by taking questions.
That started with the Press Secretary yesterday who walked by reporters three times without taking questions. The President himself hasn't taken questions in over two weeks. The Vice President didn't take questions there. The Pentagon Chief didn't take questions on a troop drawdown earlier this week, neither did the National Security adviser.
So it is just a growing effort where you are seeing Federal government officials refuse to take questions, Anderson, and you've got to think it's primarily because they don't want to talk about what the President is doing.
COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. We're back with Dana Bash. Joining us as well, CNN political commentator Scott Jennings, who served as special assistant to President George W. Bush and CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip.
Scott, "The Wall Street Journal" just came out with an op-ed from Peggy Noonan entitled "A Bogus Dispute is Doing Real Damage." do you agree with that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I do, actually. I think what we saw today was a disgrace. I would say it was an embarrassment, but it was something worse than that, it was pathetic and it was sad.
And at some point you have to acknowledge the math and the facts of the situation. Joe Biden has won the race, an incredibly close race, by the way. I don't dispute that it is extremely close in a few states, but it's quite apparent that Biden won, and to drag the party through this is not good for the party or for President Trump, who, by the way, has amazing opportunities right in front of him if he would see it.
He could help the Congress get things done in December that need to get done. He could help the party win races in Georgia in January. He's already delivered on the vaccine and the economy seems to be more resilient than people thought. He could really exit on an upswing here, if he thought about it.
But it doesn't look like Rudy Giuliani had thought about that today, and it doesn't look like the President has any interest in reining him in. So, I was mildly disappointed.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Abby, we now know that the great American tradition of the peaceful transfer of presidential power, which people around the world look to the United States and, you know, are amazed at our history of that because you don't see that in a lot of places, but we now know it's not as secure as we thought it was. I mean, should we get used to the idea that Presidents may not honor that idea? Is this going to be the new norm?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I really hope not. I think that the loss of that even just for this period of time is a real tragedy and it is a real disgrace, as Scott just put it.
Look, this is a president who has flouted a lot of norms for his entire time in political life, but at the same time, what is so much more distressing about this moment is that he is being enabled and supported by many, many people who know better, who do know better, who understand that. As Scott said, this is not an election that is going to be overturned.
When you look at the United States and its standing around the world, what standing do we have now to tell countries around the world that they ought to respect the results of their election when the sitting President of the United States is saying now that the only way that he would accept a loss is, I mean -- actually, that's not even what he's saying. What he's saying is he will never accept a loss.
I mean, that is an anti-democratic notion and it should be called out for what it is. So, yes, I mean, Scott put it really perfectly, but I would just point out one thing that I gently disagree with my friend, Scott on, which is that yes, this election was somewhat close, but it's not as close as the 2016 election was.
President Trump's margin over Hillary Clinton in Michigan was 10,000 votes four years ago. Now, Biden's lead is 157,000 votes.
At the end of this process, Biden will have a more significant lead than Trump did four years ago and would have won the popular vote.
So, you can characterize it as somewhat close, but it's really not that close.
COOPER: Dana, I think Scott makes a really good point, which is there was an alternative, you know, future that the President could have charted. There was an alternative path he could have taken and, you know, make sure the Republicans get -- both senators get elected in Georgia, you know, end on a high note, set up his legacy.
I mean, maybe he is not thinking about his legacy at all or he just kind of assumes the name Trump is, you know, all the legacy he needs. But history is not going to look back kindly on this absurd -- I don't even know what it call it -- spectacle that we are living through.
BASH: This is the hallmark of the Trump era and that is that Donald Trump himself can't get out of his own way. I mean, we could go down the list of real accomplishments that he can claim from his presidency.
From renegotiating a trade deal to, you know, Criminal Justice Reform and he won't do it. He can't do it because the noise of him kicking and screaming and having a temper tantrum about his loss is completely drowning that out.
And I just have to say that Scott is a lifelong Republican and is a loyal Republican, and the fact that you, Scott, just sounded so normal and the fact that that normal tone and tenor and the content of what you said was so jarring in its normalcy tells us everything we need to know.
I mean, you just said what the basic expectation should be of elected officials in your party, and we haven't heard very many of them at all.
COOPER: So, Scott, obviously, look, you know, there's no way to predict the next 60-something days, but once the President has left, and you know, whatever, he'll set up, it will be an alternative -- he'll have a mega phone. He'll still be a big power obviously, in the Republican Party. What happens?
I mean, do things -- you know, there's a lot of Republicans who will still be beholden to him, still fearful he is going to run again or happy he is going to run again. I'm talking about Republican senators and Congress people -- happy he'll run again, you know, wanting him to raise money for them, for their campaigns and wanting the support of his base. So does he -- does this remain the party of Trump from now on?
JENNINGS: Well, I mean, he'll remain an enormously popular figure. I'm sure he's harboring thoughts about running in 2024, which is why I'm sort of dumbfounded that he doesn't take advantage of the opportunities in front of him to end on a high note.
He could continue to be the most popular Republican in the country and somebody who is sought after to do all the things you just said, fund- raising and campaigning and otherwise. I'm sure that he will by some, but he is freezing the party.
I mean, you have a whole host of people who want to run for President, but most of them are beholden to him or trying to inherit his audience. So as long as he's out there rattling around, which I assume he will be for the next several years, all those people are frozen.
And I don't think he could get the nomination in 2024 by running as sort of an anti-Trump like a Governor Hogan might do, if he were to run.
So he is going to have a chilling impact on all of those people who have been loyal to him but now want to have their own chance in the spotlight.
Look, I think Republicans are enormously grateful to Trump for beating the Clinton machine, for taking on the media everyday, for doing some of the things that they don't think their establishment leaders were willing to do, taking on some of those fights, but at some juncture, the institutions of the country take precedent over what you hoped to have happen in the election and that's what we're up against right now, a political reality, versus what they wanted to have happen and they're just not the same. And it's -- what I saw today, Anderson, I just, I was stunned. And Donald Trump has the chance to exit office on a real high note on a real upswing, and instead he's going to exit office with Rudolph Giuliani on TV with his hair gel streaming down his face. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe.
COOPER: Yes. Scott Jennings, appreciate it. Dana Bash, Abby Phillip. Thank you.
Just ahead, breaking news from the CDC about Thanksgiving travel as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb.
(voice-over): And we're going to have a long talk with Bill Gates on the recent developments in the vaccine as well as what he thinks the next year looks like. And when things may actually return to some semblance of normal. Fascinating discussion with Bill Gates ahead.
COOPER: We're going to spend the rest of this program discussing the coronavirus pandemic and for the simple reason that it's out of control and getting worse. As we reported earlier, more than 171,000 cases reported so far today and almost 1,900 deaths reported. On Wednesday, 79,410 people were hospitalized a new high. We also passed a truly grim milestone more than 250,000 total deaths in this country. And that number currently, more than 252,000. Almost as disturbing as that we've heard nothing from President Trump about that milestone, not that his words matter at this point.
But we've heard nothing for perspective about the road ahead. We're joined now by Bill Gates, philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is on the forefront of the battle against HIV, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and now COVID.
Bill, our first conversation was back on March 26, there were less than 2,000 Americans dead at that point, just over 80,000 reported cases. We've just now crossed a quarter of a million debt in this country in more than 11 and a half million cases. Did you ever imagine it would get this bad this fast?
BILL GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Well, sadly, you know, this is an exponential phenomena. And we worried even at that time that it was going to be seasonal on there for the fall would be tough. It's tragic. But yes. You know, in fact, it could have been even worse if the pathogen had been even more fatal.
COOPER: I was once years ago in Niger, in a malnutrition crisis. And I remember I talked to a doctor named Milton Tecktonik (ph) who works with doctors without borders in this remote place in Niger. And one of the things he was describing children who died because they don't have access to antibiotics that cost $0.25 or something, and he called them stupid deaths, that their deaths that didn't need to occur, because the vaccines, you know, the vaccine exists, it's just a question of getting it to the to the child in time. I mean, quarter of a million deaths, these are people who did not have to die.
GATES: That's right. It's an incredible tragedy. You know, we'll look back and wish that we had done more before the epidemic hit and done a better job during the epidemic. The only good news is that the private sector innovation is going to come along with better therapeutics and the vaccine. And so, you know, over the next six to eight months, we need to do the right things, and then the vaccine coverage will get us out of the mess.
COOPER: In our first conversation back then you said you thought it might take as long as 18 months before we had a vaccine that was seven months ago, we now have these two vaccines that are reportedly almost ready for emergency use authorization equally remarkable and important. They both seem to have an efficacy of about 90 to 95%. Can you just talk a little bit about what these vaccines mean? How confident you are in them? Or yes are you confident in them?
GATES: Yes. So the data has come out on very much on the high end of what was expected. And that's good news, not just for these two vaccines, but there are several other vaccines coming along, that had an even stronger antibody response. So we expect AstraZeneca, we'll probably get UK approval not too long from now. There's some Novavax and Johnson & Johnson will come fairly early next year. And these vaccines are easier to scale up to get global covered. So, the vaccine front is looking very promising. But we've got to stay the course until we can get that vaccination level up to 60 or 70%. COOPER: How was it possible to do this so quickly? I mean, President Trump says it, you know, it takes obviously responsibility for it. And I know the, you know, producing the, I guess producing the vaccines at the same time as they're testing them, correct me if I'm wrong, that that helps speed things up. But what -- I mean who gets the credit here?
GATES: Well, the mRNA platform had been backfire foundation, parts of the U.S. government, because the promise of being able to do something quickly and having a generalized factory look great for all diseases. And so, mRNA is going to be used for other infectious diseases for cancer. This is something that had been in the pipeline. Pfizer who got their first funded all their own R&D, did all their own trials. They're, you know, top notch company, people, most people do trust the FDA and, you know, I've been watching the FDA process and the professionals there have done a great job of making sure that even though they're moving quickly, they're not cutting corners.
So, they, you know, the pharmaceutical industry has stepped up. There'll be many good vaccines that will, you know, by late spring, give us high coverage, and eventually global coverage, and some therapeutics that will help cut the death rate in the meantime.
COOPER: I want to talk about distribution of vaccines in a second, but just, you know, there's an emotional component to this, that, you know, just as a citizen, you know, when I hear, OK, these vaccines are coming, 90-95% effective. There's part of me that thing, and I'm, you know, as big a mask where as anybody and well, not as anybody as, as people who wear masks are. And I wish there were more of us. But there is part of me that just psychologically thinks, oh, well, as soon as the vaccine comes, you know, I can get rid of the mask I can go to, you know, eat indoors, again. It's not. I mean, is that I feel like that's something I have to guard against. I don't want to get my hopes up in that sense. But also, I mean, is that a danger in these vaccines that people think suddenly it's a silver bullet?
GATES: That's right. The, you know, ideally, it would get people to say, hey, I have to do my best behavior, for the six to eight months until the coverage is high. You know, we're likely to get 2,000 deaths a day, in January and February, so up to about a peak level there. And it's tragic, you know, it's going to add up to several hundred thousand lives lost just in the U.S. alone. You know, and we'll look back and say, why couldn't we convince people to just stay the course, until we got up to that very high vaccination level, which will be probably late spring,
COOPER: I think about, you know, you hear about soldiers who get killed 10 hours or four hours before an armistice is signed, and, you know, people who in the early 1990s died from AIDS, you know, days, weeks before the cocktail was available. I mean, the idea that, you know, I think the latest from Chris Murray's team that IMG is, you know, 400,000 dead by the first of February. I mean, the idea that, you know, it took us 10 months to get to 250,000, that we could get to 400,000, by the first of February is just shocking. And the idea that it's within sight of a vaccine, it just seems so tragic, and so incumbent on all of us to try to lower those numbers.
GATES: I couldn't agree more, the good news should pull us together. You know, help us to say, OK, it is a bit of a sacrifice. But, you know, we will get back to normal. And, you know, thank goodness, if this had come five or 10 years earlier, we wouldn't have been able to get these things going so quickly. So, you know, it's a little cacophonous, how the vaccines going to be distributed. But I assume that that will get worked out. You know, we should have websites up right now, where people are giving their criteria and being told, you know, when they're supposed to come get the vaccine with that, that organization. I'm a little worried about how well we do that.
COOPER: This is a dumb question. But do you have like, the coolest mask in the world? Because I imagine when I like to think of you, I think of you having the coolest life in the world. And although you're drinking diet cokes, that's not cool. But, I'm a former big Diet Coke drinker. But I go for Coke Zero, by the way. But do you have like the coolest mask or do you just wear like a normal mouse like everyone else?
GATES: We actually did a video where I was putting on lots of different masks. But the mask I wear most of the time is just a nice black mask. Sometimes I wear those kind of surgical blue ones, not very fashionable.
COOPER: Well, that makes you even cooler. So the next big hurdle, obviously, is just distribution. I mean, I think that's the next big hurdle in terms of the vaccine distribution storage of the vaccine. To me, it sounds like it's got to be stored in special refrigerators that are very, very low temperature. It's not can't be in like the hotel mini fridge. Am I right about that? What -- when, you know more than anybody about, you know, getting vaccines out there. How tough is this job.
GATES: In the United States, the logistics are handleable. Pfizer built a box that uses liquid CO2 dry ice to keep the vaccine cold. So they've thought that through pretty well. So the -- as soon as we can manufacture these vaccines if we identify the priority people, the logistics will be just fine. The U.S. has a lot of delivery capacity and keeping these things cold is hard. But it won't hold us back.
COOPER: A lot of the distribution is going to end up falling on the shoulders, the incoming Biden administration, we are obviously in this, you know, I don't even know what adjectives used to describe it. But surreal, I guess would be one situation with that the Trump team has not initiated transition, which means that the Biden team isn't being briefed, et cetera. How big a problem is that? I mean, how important is a smooth transition from one to the other in terms of vaccine distribution?
GATES: Yes, the countries actually have some pretty tough situations during presidential transitions, which is bad luck, it makes the how do we register people about how they took the vaccine. You know, particularly given that the voice of science hasn't been foremost here with the top CDC, people being people, you know, and who are talking about their plans. So I think it, it could slow things down a bit. I'm still hopeful that you'll see cooperation kick in here pretty soon. I think the Biden team of people is a very good set of people who have track records of scientists working on health care, and you don't have any, you know, outliers in terms of not believing in public health.
So, it looks good to me. But, you know, every day you waste in terms of not getting that distribution, and that clear message on behavior could result in lives lost.
COOPER: Have -- has the team -- has the Biden team reached out to you? Can you say?
GATES: Yes, we're, you know, we're -- we are allowed to talk to various people. And so, you know, we have long standing relationships with a lot of those people in a good rich dialogue. Of course, nothing, you know, they don't have any real impact until January 20th. So we're continuing to talk to the current team, but it's a bit fragmented with, you know, voices that aren't all that constructive.
COOPER: Though we're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back because I want to talk about how you see the coming months.
COOPER: Tonight, perspective from philanthropist Bill Gates on the coronavirus, something that's sorely needed because it was we reported earlier, more than 171,000 cases reported so far today, almost 1,900 deaths today. The foundation Bill Gates founded with his wife, Melinda has helped fund research into a number of diseases, including COVID. Thankfully, it could take time from schedule to join us this evening.
How do you think the vaccine is going to -- I mean, how is it actually going to, you know, get in people's arms or shoulders? Is it in doctors' offices? Is it you know, in a stadium somewhere? Is it in a convention center or a hospital setting? What will that actually look like?
GATES: Yes. That isn't as clear as you'd like it to be. Given the numbers involved, it's possible that we'll use the same sort of drive thru approach that we use for testing. You know, it doesn't take that long to give the shot, you get the one shot, and then you come back later for the second shot? And you'd like to have it all recorded. So, you know, in terms of making sure that, you know, are there any breakthrough cases that are -- is people who got vaccinated, who got sick? Well want to study all those breakthrough cases, want to study any health things for -- to make sure there are no side effects. And if you don't want big lines, because of course, if you get infected, before you get the vaccine, it doesn't protect you for that, a simultaneous infection.
So organizing, you know, do people meet the criteria, not having long lines, just in time supply because of the cold chain? This is logistically complex. But it's way easier in a rich country like the U.S. to get that right, then it will be as we start to get vaccines out to the developing countries.
COOPER: And you've been -- I mean you've done vaccination, global vaccination efforts of polio and many things. And how, by comparison in terms of difficulty globally, how does this distribution effort seem? I know, you said it's complex. I think that seems like an understatement.
GATES: Yes, well, the urgency and the numbers are pretty daunting. You know, if you end up with all to dose vaccines, you know, we need over 10 billion doses to get to a high percentage of the world. And, you know, it's during a pandemic, where you don't want to infect people, you have more bad rumors that are confusing people here, then probably not the case. But we've seen with polio, you know, we're down to only two countries with wild polio left, that even in tough places where the rumors will swirl. If we get the message out, right, we get high coverage.
In fact, Africa is now gone, three years without any wild polio. So --
COOPER: That's amazing.
GATES: -- at a time, we thought for a while we'd never achieved that. But that's -- there -- so we're very close to the end on that one and --
COOPER: And I mean you did that?
GATES: -- lessons. Well, there's a group that includes the US-CDC, Rotary International, deserves immense credit. WHO, UNICEF and our foundation, those are the five leaders of this Polio eradication.
COOPER: New York City just shut down schools yesterday, you think that's the wise move?
GATES: I'm afraid so. Even though there's this huge long term cost, and I hope we can get those schools back in operation. You know, that, you know, if we can get say the teachers to be prioritized, I think then the unions will see that's an appropriate thing. You know. I do think the antibody therapies can start to bring the death rate down hopefully, by early next year. But we're making hard trade offs here. That some jobs like construction and manufacturing, they have figured out protocols for the likelihood of infection is very low. So we're smarter and some of those things that in the spring, last spring that we had to discontinue, some of those can be allowed because the protocols are very, very good, unlike the bar where you're talking loud and in pretty close proximity even under the new restrictions.
COOPER: And obviously holidays have been catalyst for infection jumps we saw with Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, next week Thanksgiving then, you know, Christmas, Hanukkah is I mean, is there any doubt that Thanksgiving could end up being a nationwide super spreader event even though the CDC issued guidance say telling people not to travel obviously, people are going to travel.
[20:55:09] GATES: Yes, I heard that people are buying smaller turkeys. So maybe that means people are gathering in smaller groups certainly. And I'll be with less family members this Thanksgiving than I'd like to be. You know, and of course, just seeing them on the screen is not quite the same. But, you know, by next Thanksgiving, the vaccines, the great innovation there will have brought this to an end. So, you know, one more round, probably six to eight months, we're asking people to make sacrifices to save a lot of lives, and then wearing the mask, which I don't consider that much of a sacrifice.
COOPER: So just to be clear, you personally, are having less family at Thanksgiving, you're not going to have what you would normally do. And that's something you would actually recommend for people, just from a purely health standpoint?
COOPER: We know the guidance is around what we should and shouldn't do when it comes to COVID. We also have friends and families that are more relaxed in their approach to COVID, to say the least, or simply don't abide by recommendations. What's your advice on how people should know go about dealing with that in their lives? I mean, it's just a difficult thing to deal with.
GATES: It's awkward when, you know, like the family of your kids best friend, you're saying, OK, how much should we talk to them about how they're dealing with this. Or how did they ask you, you know, OK, what is your family doing? Because, you know, if you let friends get together at all, then there's a certain disease, connectedness, that that creates some risk.
And, you know, I think we have to be pretty aggressive about figuring out OK, amongst all the indirect contacts I have, are we doing things in a safe way. I mean, literally, there's no part of the country now, that hasn't been touched in a pretty big way. And it was predictable that the people who were more lacks that eventually the disease would get there. There was a lot of talk about that, sadly, it ended up being true even in town smaller than I expected it to get to, which is deeply, deeply unfortunate.
COOPER: You sort of touched on this, but I mean, you know, the bottom line question everyone wants to know is, when will things go back to normal, which is an unknowable at this point? Obviously, we don't know. You know, there's still a noise about the vaccines. We haven't really talked about therapeutics, but there are improving therapeutics. But in terms of playing out the next three months, six months, a year, is it realistic to think by next spring, there could be some semblance of normal in the U.S. or next summer? You know (INAUDIBLE) --
GATES: I would say, very likely by the summer, a lot of things will be back to normal. Now, you know, they'll still be a lot of people outside the United States. And that assumes that we get these other approvals, and we get the logistics, right. But yes, I'm very hopeful that by summer, we will be able to go back to offices and open up those restaurants and bars and say, OK, we are in a completely different stage than right now, where we're headed into this a significant increase. I mean, today, you know, was just another record day, with almost 2,000 deaths.
COOPER: I could see though, even in the summer, even if I've taken the vaccine, I could see, and I would take the vaccine if I could get it. I could see still carrying a mask with me if I found myself on a particularly crowded subway or if I found myself in some situation, I feel like masks are at least for me here to stay whether it's constant or not.
GATES: Well, the amazing thing is how little flu --
GATES: -- are seen and that's the behavioral change. The mask has very little downside. You know, nobody -- I am yet -- so there'll be some residual light. You know, what we have big sports events by then or is that take even longer, but certainly, you know, to lay the groundwork so that the next school year is completely normal. We can get the whole country, every city back into school. I think that's achievable and a very important goal to have in mind.
COOPER: Bill, as I said, the first time we got to interview with Sanjay was March 26. And you're been just a calming and a such an authoritative and smart voice on this and I just -- as a citizen, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and get information across because it's in this crazy difficult surreal time that we live in, it is nice to talk. Somebody who knows exactly what they're talking about and has some perspective on this. So, thank you very much.
GATES: And a little bit of good news too. So --
COOPER: Yes, even better.
COOPER: Bill Gates.
The news continues. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.