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Trump Tries to Reverse Election, Meet with Michigan Lawyers; Donald Trump, Jr. Tests Positive for COVID-19; Senior G.O.P. Lawmakers Grow Anxious over Trump's Effort to Overturn Election Results; New IHME Projection: More Than 470,000 Americans Will Die From Covid-19 By March; 177,780 New Cases In U.S. Today And 1,700+ Deaths. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 20, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Better. Yes. Thank you so much. All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time, Teresa, and thanks so much to all of you for being with us, as always on this Friday.

AC 360 starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So, the bad news is, the President is trying to overturn the election. The good news is, his latest attempt today seems to have failed.

John Berman here, in for Anderson -- back to that bad news, which is really historically bad. How do we know the President and his team are trying to overturn the election? Because they told us. Listen.


SIDNEY POWELL, MEMBER OF TRUMP LEGAL TEAM: The entire election frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislators should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump.


BERMAN: That's Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell talking to FOX Business and when she says she wants the election overturned, I think what she means is that she wants the election overturned.

She is talking about negating the will of the people in states where they chose President-elect Joe Biden but whose state legislators happen to be Republican controlled.

So far for all the hair dye running down Rudy Giuliani's face, so for every sex shop presser, every clown show courtroom presentation, this is serious.

After all, when the clowns are pouring gasoline over the electoral process and lighting matches, you stop noticing the grease paint or the hair dye.

Which brings us to this newest phase of the President's campaign to overturn the election. First, demanding the vote counting stop in some states and continue in others depending on whether or not he was ahead of the moment. That has failed and on that note, Georgia this evening certified its results cementing President-elect Biden's win there.

Phase two has been legal challenges by the dozen, nearly all of which have either failed, failed miserably or failed miserably and comically.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Did you all watch "My cousin Vinnie"? You know the movie. It is one of my favorite movies, because he comes from Brooklyn.


BERMAN: So now that Rudy has gotten that off his chest and judges have gotten tired of his courtroom antics in general legal frailty, there's phase three. Phase three is reaching out directly to Republican controlled legislature as in states that went for President-elect Joe Biden, on the theory they can name their own slate of electors, thereby throwing the state to President Trump.

Oh, and as we mentioned, overturning the will of the voters, which is so serious.

Today on Trump's invitation, the Republican leaders of Michigan's House and Senate flew to Washington to meet with him. When asked about why the leader of the free world should happen to want to meet these two state lawmakers of all people at this particular moment, the White House Press Secretary who also works for the campaign gave an answer fishy enough for Friday dinner.


QUESTION: What is the President planning to discuss this afternoon with the two Michigan lawmakers? Is he going to ask them to have the state legislature appoint electors who will support his re-election? What's the nature of that meeting?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So he will be meeting later on. This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country.


BERMAN: Now, of course, you can always believe Kayleigh McEnany whose very first promise on the job was to never tell a lie, which she broke that same day. Or you can believe the President's lawyer who you just heard laying out the plan, the plan he told us about to overturn the election.

Rudy Giuliani was not at the meeting. He's in isolation after his son who works at the White House was infected with COVID. Oh, and breaking news. Don Jr. has it, too. So yes, there's another outbreak in the President's circle, which is

hardly even news anymore. We do wish them all well.

Rudy's colleague, Jenna Ellis was also absent for the meeting. In fact, it's not clear any member of the team was there, perhaps because they realized that whatever transpired could well be illegal.

For their part, here's what Michigan's House and Senate leaders said after the fact in a statement. I'm quoting now, "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, and we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan's electors, just as we have said throughout this election."

The statement concludes with this, " ... And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan's electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections."

So the President's plan is not working, at least not yet. But the fact that he is explicitly trying again, is historically alarming and not done.

CNN has also learned that he's considering reaching out to Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania as well and as you know, he's gone so far as to make phone calls to county election officials in the Detroit area who subsequently tried to rescind their certification of the vote.

So he is trying and with a few exceptions, most notably senator Mitt Romney and to a much lesser extent, Lamar Alexander, the majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill seem willing to let him continue.


BERMAN: The President himself spoke out today at what he billed as a press conference on drug prices, a press conference yet he took no questions. He did, however, declare himself the winner of the election, the savior on vaccines and a sore loser in general.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Big Pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign, which I won, by the way, but you know, we will find that out -- almost 74 million votes.

And Pfizer and others were way ahead on vaccines, you wouldn't have a vaccine if it weren't for me for another four years, because the F.D.A. would have never been able to do what they did -- what I forced them to do.

And Pfizer and others even decided to not assess the results of their vaccine. In other words, not come out with a vaccine until just after the election.


BERMAN: And that, by the way, is simply a lie. The vaccine timetable was driven by the numbers. Oddly enough, so was the election.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now from the White House. Kaitlan, the President's meeting with these Michigan lawmakers, the idea of which is wildly inappropriate. Do we know what came out of it?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly not what the President wanted, judging by this statement, because they are sending a pretty clear signal that they're not going to change anything. They are not going to break from the norm and they are not acknowledging Joe Biden's win in here, but they're going far enough to basically say they're not doing what the President and what Sidney Powell, his attorney, as you played that sound had hoped that they would do.

And so it was clearly a political move for the President to invite them here. He doesn't often meet with state lawmakers, despite what the Press Secretary said earlier. This meeting was not included on his official schedule, we should note. We only found out about it, because of reporting we did in Michigan to know that they had been invited.

And so the question is really what does the -- what next step does the President take care? Does he actually go as far as to invite those lawmakers from Pennsylvania to come to the White House as well, in a similar fashion to this because the President is kind of at the end of the road here running out of options for what he can do, because it went from waiting for the votes to be counted after the election, and of course, we saw what happened there.

Then it went from here as these lawsuits that we're pursuing now over two dozen of the lawsuits have either been lost or withdrawn by the President and his allies. And so this was kind of his last ditch effort to use his political muscle.

On these Republicans, we should note who, of course, you know, don't want to anger the President. But notably in the statement, they are not endorsing the President's claims about widespread fraud.

BERMAN: No, they're not. Not at all. The President didn't take any questions at what he said would be a news conference this afternoon. I'm not sure he fully understands what that phrase means.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany hardly took any questions at her White House briefing. So what's going on here?

COLLINS: Yes, this has been this broader pattern of the last several weeks since the election where basically members of the Federal government don't want to take questions from reporters and the President was just the latest instance.

It's very surprising for him to go 17 days, which is what he's done without taking any questions from reporters. But then the Press Secretary came out. It was her first briefing since October 1st. And of course, it was around the time the President got coronavirus, and she subsequently did as well.

And today, she only took a handful of questions, and there's not that many of us in the room, John, because of social distancing. So at the end, I asked her why she couldn't call on everyone in the room and this is how that went.


MCENANY: Thank you, everyone, for the very good and substantive questions today.


MCENANY: I don't call an activist.

COLLINS: I am not an activist and you haven't taken questions since October 1st and you just took about five, Kayleigh. That's not doing your job.


COLLINS: So John, that really kind of gives you an indication of where the White House is at and what people do or do not want to answer about the President's efforts to overturn these election results.

BERMAN: It also tells us how good you are at your job, Kaitlan Collins, which everyone frankly knows.

We also learned tonight that Donald Trump, Jr. tested positive for coronavirus. What more do we know about that?

COLLINS: Yes, this is surprising because remember his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who also works for the Trump Campaign had coronavirus earlier this year, but now we're learning. The President's oldest son also has been diagnosed with it.

And they said he was diagnosed with it on Monday, so he's had it for several days now before it was first reported by Bloomberg that he has also contracted it and his spokesperson has confirmed that he's quarantining. He is taking the necessary precautions.

But this is just more evidence that we are seeing people in the President's inner circle are getting this. A lot of times they are disregarding or dismissing the severity of this pandemic and we've got more cases happening inside the White House today with now, Rudy Giuliani is also quarantining because his son has tested positive for coronavirus and has not been wearing a mask at the White House.

So you just see the dangers of this happening here even inside the West Wing and the President's family.


BERMAN: Kaitlan Collins badass White House reporter, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Keep up the great work.

COLLINS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: More now on just how unprecedented this is, not to mention unpresidential, CNN Senior political analyst David Gergen joins us. He has seen quite a lot from the inside, but not quite this.

Also with us, presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm who is a senior member now of the Biden transition team.

So David, you wrote a piece for today and you say, quote, "Never before has the opposition undermined the legitimacy of a new President before he has even taken office to anything like this degree or in this fashion."

So you've served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. How unprecedented is this on the way in?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Very, very, when people like Doug Brinkley and I were growing up, I am a little older than Doug, you know, Presidents had honeymoons. They usually got see eight or six months of time when the opposition the media, other groups, you know, were very supportive and wanted to see them succeed and it made a major difference. They got big things done.

And we went through a period from sort of Bill Clinton until today when Presidents were denied to their honeymoons. But they still were left unscarred coming out. They sort of had to make it on their own, they have no honeymoon.

It was rougher, but they made it out on their way.

This is the first time we've ever seen trying to kneecap an incoming President before he even takes the Oath of Office to set out in a deliberate way, to sabotage, to sabotage a future President before he can go in and focus and try to do things for the country. That is different.

And I'm really worried, John. The more you look at the data and what's happening among Trump voters, the more you say, a swing from, well, maybe this wasn't decided fraudulently, maybe it was sort of, you know -- it we could have been decided better to now there is an active view among a lot of Trump voters and the poll will bear this out, 70 percent to 75 percent think that Biden is coming from a place of fraud, they basically think that he will be illegitimate. Think about that.

You translate down in the number of, you know, 73 million voters who voted for Trump, 75 percent of them, you know, think that he is -- Biden is a fraud. That means if you boil it down, we're going to have on Election Day, possibly, and likely 50 million Americans who believe that our new President is illegitimate. That is extremely damaging to the prospects for governing and it is very damaging for our belief in democracy.

BERMAN: And it is such an important point, because while I do not think that the President will be successful in overturning the results of the election, it has an impact, nevertheless, but to that effort, Douglas Brinkley, to explicitly say you are trying to overturn the election, which is what the President's lawyers are doing. Where does that fit in historical precedent? You know, what has there been that's even -- I mean, there's nothing close to it, is there?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It goes against American tradition. It's what dictators do. It's the kind of stunt Vladimir Putin who President Trump worships would do. There is nothing like this.

And I think David used the right word, "sabotage." You have a President now trying to wreck what really was one of the great accomplishments in a very hard year of 2020.

We, in 2016, Russian interference, men like Mr. Krebs had to work to stop and make sure this cybersecurity was okay. We ended up having historic number of voters we saw and be going what a great success the election was, instead of Donald Trump wants to act like a petulant child and it would be okay, if we didn't have 61 more days left.

But his erratic behavior in the White House and the way he is trolling around in Michigan and Georgia and Pennsylvania, taking worthless legal cases to court and then losing makes you think he is mentally unstable.

We thought this for a while. But you know, this is -- we used to think Nixon's last days were dark or Lyndon Johnson's were problematic. This is bizarre, and I agree with David. It's going to be hard for Biden to pull the country together. He'll try, but I doubt there will be a Donald Trump there at the inauguration to participate in the ceremony.

BERMAN: So Governor Granholm, you're the former Governor of Michigan, former Michigan Attorney General, I imagine normally, you know, you'd celebrate to Michiganders going to the White House for a visit under normal circumstances.

But these are the least normal circumstances you can possibly imagine. So on a scale of one to 10, I mean, how inappropriate do you think this meeting was today?


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, SENIOR MEMBER OF BIDEN TRANSITION TEAM: Oh, it was a hundred. It was so utterly inappropriate. But the good news is though, John, is that Mr. Shirkey and Mr. Chatfield, the two Michigan legislators, they have now as you reported, reaffirmed their commitment to respect the Constitution and the voters.

So to the problems that have been identified there by David Gergen and Douglas Brinkley. It is long past time for every republican to come out and stand for American democracy and acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-elect so we can move forward together to tackle these big issues like the COVID crisis.

It is -- the Republicans need to stem this problem that David Gergen has identified. They need to step up. Thank you to Mitt Romney and others who have, but the rest need to do so as well.

The Republican Party has to begin to repair the damage that Donald Trump has been making. The good news is, it's still the gambit today, however wrong. The President's actions might be the pillars that are holding up this democracy. They are not going to be toppled.

The President may be slashing at them. He may be flailing at them in desperation, but these pillars will not fall and the choice of the voters is going to be upheld.

BERMAN: It's not working. Not yet. As I said at the open, that's the good news. But the bad news is the President is explicitly trying and as you all say it so eloquently that in and of itself leaves a real mark that will be hard to recover from.

I appreciate you all being here, Governor Granholm, Douglas Brinkley, David Gergen, thank you so much.

GERGEN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Next, a former Republican senator and Defense Secretary on what we're seeing, and what he is not seeing from his old Senate colleagues. Where are the Republicans now?

And later, with cases, hospitalizations and fatalities soaring and a new and sobering forecast on the pandemic, that and more when 360 continues.



BERMAN: So Governor Jennifer Granholm referred to it in the last segment, Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, he had to say -- he had this to say about the President's scheme to overturn the will of the voters in the states that he lost. This is quoting Mitt Romney, "It's difficult to imagine a worse more undemocratic action by a sitting American President."

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Congresswoman Kay Granger of Texas and Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, all senior Republicans we've reached each raise concerns in different degrees about what's going on. Most other Republicans, though, have been more reticent, far more reticent.

Perspective now from former Clinton Defense Secretary and Republican Senator William Cohen.

Secretary, thanks so much for being with us right now. CNN is reporting that some Republicans are growing, quote, "restless" over the delay in moving forward. They have anxiety.

I mean, what good does that do? You know, give them Tums if they have anxiety. What good is their anxiety and restlessness do if they're not speaking out publicly?

WILLIAM COHEN (R), FORMER CLINTON DEFENSE SECRETARY: It doesn't do much. In fact, it confined seven to a wall of shame if one were erected or made and put up in the Washington area that would be -- their name should be associated with that. And frankly, I consider them to be sunshine conservatives. When you

look at what President Trump has tried to do, he has tried to undermine the 10th Amendment.

Most conservatives like to cite the 10th Amendment as being almost the 10th commandment, namely that there are states' rights. What are more states' rights than the right to vote, which is governed by the governor and the legislature in that state or the county?

And so the President by saying any write-in ballots, any mail-in ballots, any absentee ballots, they're all fraudulent. So he's saying that they're okay as long as he can vote by mail, that's not fraudulent or it's done in Florida where you have a Republican governor, that's not fraudulent.

What he is doing is saying that anybody who votes by other than in person is committing a fraud upon the American people. So what he's doing in essence, he is trying to criminalize those who live in cities as he has done for black people and people of color, naming them presumptively criminal, because of the color of their skin or because they live in cities, and therefore they must be engaged in fraud.

And this is time for my Republican friends who consider themselves to be conservatives to speak out for states' rights, that every state has the right to set what the procedure and policy is going to be in terms of the people's right to vote.

So I think he is undermining the Constitution and 10th Amendment and those who consider themselves conservatives should be the first in line to speak out against that.

BERMAN: But the fact of the matter is that 50 sitting Republican senators have said squat. They've said nothing so far.

We have Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, and to a much lesser extent, Lamar Alexander, but 50 have said nothing. You have these two Michigan legislators go to the White House today. They came out and said that the law in Michigan says whoever won the popular vote there is going to going to get the electors.

I imagine that took some courage for them. You know, in this day and age, this is what takes courage to do. But how much easier would it be if Mitch McConnell would speak out publicly for these politicians?

COHEN: I don't understand why they are so hesitant. Apparently, they fear the President that he might turn his supporters loose on them and they would send hate mail and other types of activities directed to them.

I was talking to a gentleman who at 17 lied about his age and joined the Army because we had been attacked by the Japanese and also the Germans. He was 17 when he joined. He was the one of the first ones on Omaha Beach. He went back during the Korean War.

And you think about the greatest generation, they were fighting Nazi bullets and bombs coming at them and here we have a bunch of senators who fear a vote against them, who fear they might lose, not their life or their limbs, but might lose their office if they come out and say what they know in their hearts is really true that Joe Biden and Happy Birthday today, Joe Biden, but Joe Biden is the next President of the United States. He is the President-elect and they should say so.

They should at least say he should be given access to all of the Intelligence and the materials and allow him to start on a run the first day.


COHEN: And I would like to say to my former colleagues, they like to cite the founding fathers. With hope they go back and read George Washington's "Lessons about Civility" And there were 110 lessons. A hundred and ten, the 110th lesson was labor to keep alive in your breast, that little celestial light called conscience.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little celestial light called conscience. Look to your conscience and decide whether or not you're going to support the Constitution, which you swore an oath to do, or whether you're going to live in fear of President Trump, ex-President Trump.

And my one wish for all of those who are listening and watching is that the media come January 21. That the media stop covering Donald Trump, cover Joe Biden and the enormous challenge that he has. Put the former President off to the side and ignore him as much as possible and don't cover what he is saying because he is determined to keep your focus on him and disrupt and undermine whatever Joe Biden hopes to accomplish during the next four years.

COHEN: Secretary William Cohen, it's a lot to think about, that light of conscience. I worry tonight that light is flickering if not going out completely, but thank you.

Thank you for being with us tonight.

Just ahead, a new coronavirus tracking model suggests it's about to get much, much worse, particularly if most Americans don't wear masks or social distance.

The details when we continue on



BERMAN: A well respected coronavirus model now projects tens of thousands more coronavirus deaths in the U.S. than it did just a week ago. According to the researchers, U.S. deaths are now expected to total 471,000 by March. That's about an 85% increase from where we are right now. And it gets worse. That number assumes we do things right that 40 state governments will impose a reimpose social distancing or other mandates. Otherwise, the total could be as high as 658,000.

Joining me now is the man whose group publishes that coronavirus model, Dr. Chris Murray, Director of the Institute for Health -- and Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

The new projections are just terrible. Why do you think infections and deaths are increasing faster right now than what was expected?

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS AND EVALUATION: You know, that's a great question. We certainly have been expecting for months now this big surge, but the -- it's really explosive we're seeing in the case and the death numbers. Things go -- that the numbers are just going up faster than we expected. And I think it's probably fatigue. I think it's that people have are just not being as cautious as we had hoped they would be. And we're not seeing as the numbers surge up, we sort of expect people to start being really careful. And that's not what's happening.

BERMAN: The 2,000 deaths reported yesterday. Who knows we could hit that again today. That's a big number. And as you're right, I mean, I think that was a little bit unexpected so soon, in this surge. Your models are projecting 2,500 deaths per day by mid-January. That's two months from now. So given what we're seeing today, you know, is it possible that that projection for mid-January is on the low side?

MURRAY: It certainly is. You know, that projection, as you mentioned, assumes that governors in the 40 states that will have the bigger epidemics are going to act, they're going to put in a set of mandates, and that's going to put the brakes on transmission. And that's how we get that sort of slowly increase, as you say, from 2,000 now to 2,500 in January, if we don't see those actions, we go up as high as, you know, four and a half thousand deaths in the end of January per day.

BERMAN: That's so upsetting. It's just so upsetting. You mentioned before you haven't seen the changes in behavior yet that you would need to see to keep the numbers down. But one of the things we have seen in the past is when things do get bad, people do start to alter the way they live. And one of the ways you can measure that is mobility, how much people move around or not. What are you seeing?

MURRAY: What we're seeing in the mobility data that comes from cell phone use. So it's pretty useful. We're seeing that there is, you know, some indication that it's coming down. But it's not like what we saw back in the spring when we saw you know, the extraordinary surge, even before government -- governors put the mandates in, people got really scared in the spring and then mobility really went down profoundly. We're seeing a slow decline, but nothing like what we saw before.

BERMAN: Oh, that's interesting. I didn't realize that it's not slowing down as quickly as before.

Finally, Pfizer today, apply for emergency use approval for its vaccine. It's going to take some weeks to get this all done and weeks for them to get their vaccine out to people. But when will you start to factor that in to your projections?

MURRAY: We're planning to factor that in the week after Thanksgiving. We've got the models running, we've been looking at what the vaccination is could do. But unfortunately, given the scale up, even if we do nationals sort of crisis scale up. A lot of the deaths that's going to occur in December and January will occur anyway because it takes about four weeks for the vaccine to work. You got to have two doses three weeks apart another week for it to fully effect have its impact.


So, you know, the vaccines great for the -- for getting back to normal next summer, but not the solution for this winter search.

BERMAN: Dr. Chris Murray, tough stuff. I really appreciate the work you're doing, and I appreciate you being with us tonight.

MURRAY: Thanks.

BERMAN: Perspective now from Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who serves on President-Elect Joe Biden's Coronavirus Task Force. And Dr. Mark McClellan former FDA Commissioner under George W. Bush.

Dr. McClellan, I'm going to start with you, you say this surge that we are now smack in the middle of or maybe even just at the beginning of is by far the worst. But we'll hopefully be the last. What further steps do you think need to be taken now to get it under control?

MARK MCCLELLAN, FMR FDA COMMISSIONER: Well, John, most important is what you were just talking about with Dr. Murray, which is helped enable all Americans who are tired of what they've been through over the course of this year, to take the steps needed to slow the spread. And there's some steps that our state and local officials can take in terms of reducing the degree to which businesses are open. There are some states that steps that Congress could take to just like they did in the spring to provide some financial support for the businesses that are affected and the people whose jobs are put in jeopardy by the need for more distancing. But those really are the most important effects, the most important steps in the short term.

Other things that we can do include increased access to testing that's a lot better than it used to be, there's more room we could take and ramping it up. And there are better treatments available now, John, such as manmade versions of the antibodies that the vaccines induce us to produce. We don't have as many of them as we'd like, but they could help with preventing some of the more severe cases and bring down the hospitalization. So, this will hopefully be the last big surge. But, we do have some tough weeks ahead, and we all need to pull together to make it through that coming weeks.

BERMAN: Dr. Gounder, the President-Elect says he does not want a lot national lockdown. He says it emphatically. You say it also been very clear about it for the last few days. What does the advisory board which you are a member of and the President-Elect, what do you want to see happen between now in Inauguration Day?

CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST AND EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, a couple things. I think one Americans have had a really hard last several months. There has been some support in the form of stimulus bills to help people who have lost their jobs and the like, make it through. But that needs to be readdress now, that money is running out. And there has been a stimulus bill before Congress. The Senate has yet to take it up. Senator Mitch McConnell really does need to move forward on that and not wait for January 20th.

People are having difficulty making rent now, people are not able to put food on the table now. So, you know, a lot of this fatigue is also related to some of the economic consequences of the pandemic. And if we can help people with the economic side of things, I think they'll be much more likely to work with us and help us as public health officials and doctors and nurses and so on with the medical side of things.

BERMAN: So Dr. McClellan, the FDA announced late today that it is scheduled -- it has scheduled December 10th meeting of its outside advisory panel to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech's application for emergency use authorization for their vaccines. As a former commissioner of the FDA, can you explain what these next steps will be?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, let me say also, I'm just really impressed with what the FDA has done, what scientists working with them have done and what all the people who participated in these clinical trials have done to get us to this point, the data that we've seen from Pfizer that went into this emergency use authorization application today are pretty impressive. But what needs to happen now is a close look at that data by the FDA staff. They've been watching the progress all along, now they're going to take a detailed look over the next few weeks.

And as you said, there will be an independent review by the FDA advisory committee in the second week in December. And that committee is going to review also the FDA is assessment of the data. There'll be a close look not only at how beneficial the vaccines are, but also what the safety data is showing. Remember, there were over 40,000 people in this clinical trial. Also, right on the heels of this Pfizer vaccination application is one from Modferna. So, we could see action and pitsee vaccines available in mid-December if all those steps work out.

BERMAN: And that's would be simply terrific news. If the vaccine can get to the people who need it, what's gets to the idea of distribution which gets the idea of coordination between the current administration and the president-elects transition. Dr. Gounder, how much does the Biden-Harris team know about the plan to distribute the vaccine?


GOUNDER: Well, we simply don't have the inner administration, data plans and so forth. So we have access to what is publicly available in newspapers on television, online. And, frankly, that's not nearly the level of detail we need. That would be like waging war with a superpower based on watching CNN and reading the New York Times. That's obviously inadequate. And so, we really do need for the administration -- for the GSA rather to move forward with ascertainment so that our team can interface with its counterparts in the current administration and get that critical information and understand what what's already in the works and where we're picking up.

BERMAN: Dr. Celine Gounder, Dr. Mark McClellan thank you both for the work you do and thanks for being with us tonight.

MCCLELLAN: Thank you.

BERMAN (voice-over): Up next more on this crisis. "360s" Gary Tuchman has a look at how the failures of one state government to push harder for social distancing and mask usage has helped turn it into one of the biggest hotspots in the nation.



BERMAN: So as we mentioned before the break, the pandemic is getting far worse no more so than in South Dakota which has the highest seven day positivity rate in the nation. More than 52%, what that means is that on average, more than one in two people tested are positive for the virus. One reason according to that IHME study we mentioned earlier South Dakota is one of two states where mask usage is below 50%. Despite all that Governor Christie known this week said the rising case this has nothing to do with her refusal to issue a mask mandate. In fact, she recently cut a PSA and what she said up herself in South Dakota residents quote, together we've done a good job.

More now from "360s" Gary Tuchman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be OK if I sit you up a little bit?


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Keith Sugden (ph) is very ill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're welcome.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The 88-year-old has COVID-19. He's in the hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, a state with an explosive increase in COVID cases. Incredibly more people in South Dakota are testing positive than negative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) helped me so much. Those three days has been rough. It's improved.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is an intensive care unit just for COVID patients at the Monument Health Rapid City Hospital. The onslaught of patients is overwhelming for the staff. And everyone knows things are likely to get worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I've been working.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Shankar Kurra is the hospital's vice president of medical affairs.

SHANKAR KURRA, HOSPITAL VICE PRESIDENT OF MEDICAL AFFAIRS: I'm very scared for the state for my neighbors for my own family. Sometimes for myself, and this is the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to get better, huh?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Employees here are doing heroic work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you are getting better.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But there is great concern that as cases continue to increase, it will be difficult to maintain adequate staffing levels.

(on-camera): As recently as the end of July there were just five COVID patients in this hospital. Today, there are 85 COVID patients in this hospital.

(voice-over): Heidi Schumann is a nurse's aide.

HEIDI SCHUMANN, NURSE'S AIDE: It's very hard. There's a lot of days that I go home and just cry because I get to go home to my family and I get to see my daughter and, you know, my parents and everybody. And some of these people don't make it out of here unfortunately.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): For Keith Sugden things are touch and go. It's been a great life. And they just tears in my eyes are happy tears. They're not sad. There's to know that how many people really care. You've got to wonder and once in a while.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 90% right now. So, remember to take those deep breaths in your nose.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll turn now and then breathe.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): A few days ago, Tom Massa (ph) felt achy and had a scratchy throat. Now he's also extremely sick, receiving high levels of oxygen.

(on-camera): How are you feeling right now?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): You have good character. Great doctors and nurses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, they're here. Excellent.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): One of the RNs treating Tom moved to South Dakota from South Florida, right at the beginning of the COVID outbreak.

JAMESHIA PARKER, REGISTERED NURSE: Thankfully, I haven't contracted it yet. I just keep praying that it stays that way.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): It's scary, isn't it?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): What do you say to people who don't take it seriously? COVID?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't know if I should say this or not. But I believe that the whole COVID situation was a failure from the top government leadership to the state government. They did deal with it. They apparently did think that they needed to listen to the experts and stuff.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): My people are happy.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The governor of South Dakota has refused to encourage her citizens to wear masks or socially distance. Even as their state becomes a national leader in COVID sickness. So South Dakota hospitals are taking it upon themselves to try to keep people safe.

KURRA: Some folks don't even believe this disease is real.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Here in South Dakota?

KURRA: Yes, yes. And so, misinformation is one thing that leads to misguidance. But also there's this streak of, you know, we will not do something if you tell me to do it. I'll do it to fight --

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So that's the way you feel when you give advice.

KURRA: That's how frustrated I feel. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father told me when I was a kid, he pokes me (INAUDIBLE) and he says, you know, everybody's got troubles and you have to help them if you can. And I've done that all my life.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And now people are helping you Keith.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are, they are. Thank God.


TUCHMAN: The governor held a news conference this week, she gave zero indication of a change of philosophy. You talk John about that PSA that's been cut. That public service announcement is on TV a lot here and the governor is saying we've done a good job fighting COVID-19. But the numbers don't lie. South Dakota is a beautiful state. But it's in a very bad place right now. John.


BERMAN: And there are beautiful people suffering inside that hospital, Gary. We do care. Please let them know that all around the country we do care what's happening to them. Terrific reporting. Thanks so much for being with us. Gary Tuchman.

(voice-over): Coming up, first daughter and soon to be former presidential adviser Ivanka Trump pushing back on this bombshell new report about payments from the Trump Organization. Will you hear how she's responding? The details and insights from a reporter on the Trump and Kushner beat when we continue.



BERMAN: First daughter Ivanka Trump is blasting to New York State Fraud Investigation cases that have in part put a spotlight on hundreds of thousands of dollars she was apparently paid by the Trump family business. The New York Times reports that the two separate pros one criminal and the other civil are examining Trump Organization tax write offs. Just a portion of the $26 million paid in consulting fees, nearly $750,000 of which according to the Times, appear to have been paid to Ms. Trump. The Time says there is no indication Ivanka Trump whose government post as an official advisor to her father until he leaves office in January. No indications she's the focus of either inquiry and she perhaps not surprisingly, is now sounding like her father in pushing back.

In a tweet she wrote, quote, this is harassment pure and simple. This inquiry by NYC Democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well there's nothing here that there was no pat tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless.

Perspective now from Elaina Plott, who was colleagues at the Times and broke this story. She herself has written extensively on Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Obviously, this reporting from your colleagues of the Times in Ivanka Trump's response, what's your sense of how concerned she is about these legal issues?

ELAINA PLOTT, NATIONAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think the tweet in many way, John's speaks for itself. One thing that's been quite fascinating covering Ivanka Trump over the course of the past four years is how, you know, we've gone from seeing a first daughter and official advisor, who in many ways did everything she could to distance herself from the tenor of her father from in many ways, the politics of her father, trying in many ways to present herself as someone who was still part and parcel of the Manhattan liberal community from which she came. And the past few months is especially have shown that -- that's no longer the community with which she identifies John. And I think the tone of this tweet in particular shows that not only has she come to more politically identify with her father, but also in a much more personal way in terms of adopting his tactics and being quite comfortable. And projecting an image that looks much more like his.

BERMAN: Two things I want to point out really just, the first is that one thing that may be getting under her skin here is this is a state investigation. This is something that she can't be pardoned for by her father in the next 60 days. Not saying she necessarily needs a pardon. But this is something that there's nothing that he or she can do to stop in the next 61 days.

PLOTT: It's such a great point. And the reality, of course, is that you are seeing, however, gradually a number of Republicans, whether it's, you know, some and conservative media, like the Washington Examiner, or others in Congress gradually begin to call on Trump to realize that he has in fact lost his reelection race. Which means that come January 21st, the Trump's will be once more private citizens and with (INAUDIBLE) and Letitia James in New York, pursuing these investigations as far as I can tell, you know, well, after the Trump's are out of office. You know, the White House is no longer an umbrella for this family in terms of avoiding what could eventually come out of these investigations.

And, as you said, I think it's important to point out we have no indication at the Times whatsoever that Ivanka Trump is a primary focus of these investigations. But if like you say she is somebody who is ultimately, you know, charged with criminal activity, this is no longer something -- she's no longer Roger Stone who could back in for a pardon from the White House.

BERMAN: You keep on talking about what happens in 60 or 61 days after Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner long, no longer part of the Trump administration. What's their plan? I mean, do they intend to come back here in New York City where I am because there is this notion floating around that they may not get invited to quite as many parties here?

PLOTT: Well, the first thing I would say, John, when I did a pretty extensive profile of Ivanka Trump for the Atlantic a couple of years ago, one thing and a gentleman in New York as a prominent gentleman in New York society told me was that the only thing that was unpardonable in New York is poverty, which is to say that, I'm a bit skeptical of, you know, maybe wish fulfillment headlines that would suggest that Ivanka Trump will never be invited to the Met Gala again, right. You know, I don't know that I feel comfortable as a reporter saying that I believe that that's entirely true.

And but at the same time, you know, I think Ivanka Trump is somebody who has quite enjoyed her time in politics. And, you know, I think it's prudent to read recent tea leaves where she's been willing to say that, well, she's pro life. She's conservative now, what does that mean for her future in politics? I think it's certainly, you know, a pointed posture on her part.


BERMAN: Elaina Plott, we love your reporting. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Appreciate it. The news continues, so let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME."