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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Tries to Reverse Election, Meets with MI Lawmakers; Sources: Talks Underway About Inviting PA Lawmakers to WH; After Meeting with Trump, MI Lawmakers Warn Certification should be a "Process Free from Threats & Intimidation"; Donald Trump Jr. Tests Positive for Coronavirus; Georgia Governor Certifies State's Biden's Win. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 20, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Trump trying to overturn the election. Meeting tonight for an hour with Republican lawmakers from Michigan and his next target, Pennsylvania.
Plus, breaking news, Donald Trump Jr. testing positive for coronavirus as the President's legal team, including Rudy Giuliani is now in quarantine after exposure to the virus.
And Trump's attacks on election integrity, hitting the nation's poll workers especially hard. One of them happens to be a registered Republican tells me why it is so deeply personal for her. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, overturning the will of the people. That is what the President of the United States is trying to do right in front of our eyes. Literally just look, watch your own eyes. That's a meeting today. Seven Republican lawmakers from Michigan, President invited them to the White House including the leader of the State Senate and the Speaker of the State House. Why did he invite them, bring them, fly them to Washington?
Well in a far-fetched and legally dubious strategy, Trump wants Republican legislature in Michigan to step in and name electors supporting him to the Electoral College, so to give those Electoral Votes of Michigan to him, instead of to Joe Biden. That's the will of the Michigan voters, they chose Joe Biden by a margin of 154,000 votes.
But we are learning just now that the Michigan Republicans at that meeting did not cave to Trump. Tonight, they're doing what is right. They have put out a statement that reads in part, "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan's electors."
And then, the Michigan Republican leaders continue with a clear message for Trump, "Michigan's certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan's electoral votes. These are simple truths."
The power of a simple statement, because these are simple truths, not partisan truths, truths. No adjective required. And so is this, these Republicans who are publicly rebuffing the President's wishes tonight are way too small a category because the truth is too many Republicans have so far lacked the moral backbone. They are silent and complicit or cheering on the President's absurd and dangerous plan.
Take Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar telling CNN, "States should be able to disregard the election and instead name their own electors to the Electoral College. If the results aren't certified as part of the system set up by our founders." Think about that.
And then, Republican senator Lamar Alexander released a statement today. It says, "If there's any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all the transition materials, resources and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition."
OK, we are really beyond this because let's be clear, it's not chance. It's not up for debate. This is not unsettled or unknown. There isn't like, oh, he's got a good chance. Alexander is getting props tonight for saying Trump should start the transition in case Biden wins. That is not enough, that is trying to thread a needle here to say, oh, go ahead and start but we still don't know the outcome here.
That statement gives oxygen to a dangerous and deeply undemocratic sentiment that has taken hold across much of this country. Joe Biden will be the next president and it is time for Republican leaders to follow the likes of Mitt Romney and those Michigan legislators to take a stand and say the simple truth. The people who win elections win elections. This got to stop dancing and fear around Trump.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live outside the White House. Jessica Dean is with Joe Biden in Delaware. I want to start with Kaitlan tonight. So Kaitlan, this meeting, obviously, the President called them to come to Washington from Michigan to have this meeting. Tell us what you've learned.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Clearly, it did not go the way the President wanted it to because while the White House said it wasn't an advocacy meeting, you're seeing this statement that they put out tonight saying that there is no new information changing their mind about who won the State of Michigan. And I think that's incredibly notable, because while the White House was saying that it wasn't political focus, it wasn't politically motivated to have this meeting, we did know that people from the campaign were supposed to be there, including Rudy Giuliani who did not show up only because his son tested positive for coronavirus. And so the question is really what's next here, Erin, because the
President has made all of these last ditch efforts to try to overturn the results, unparalleled efforts we should note, by inviting these state legislators to the White House today and we're told that he has plans to do similar for Pennsylvania though those invitations don't appear to have been extended yet.
But they really appear to have been exhausting all of their options, because initially, they said wait for the votes to come out, then we will show the President has one. Clearly, that did not happen. Then they said wait for our lawsuits. We now see that the President and his allies have lost or withdrawn over two dozen lawsuits only winning two cases, so far for a small number of votes that's not going to change the outcome of this election.
And then clearly this pressure campaign that the President had in mind didn't work, because you saw his attorney Sidney Powell saying yesterday that the goal of this was to get them to change the electors to be for Donald Trump, which, of course, would be overriding the votes of people in this state, especially Michigan, where Joe Biden has a margin of 150,000 voters. So the question really is, is what does the President do next? He did not answer our questions today, so it's still really unclear, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. So Kaitlan, let me ask you about something that happened today and the exchange that you had with the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany that says a lot about the White House view of this situation. Let me play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Kayleigh, why can't you call on all of us? You haven't taken questions ...
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't call on activists.
COLLINS: I'm not an activist and you haven't taken questions since October 1st and you just took about five, Kayleigh. That's not going your job, your taxpayer-funded job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So what does this tell you, Kaitlan, as you were sitting there, basically? I mean, I could see the frustration on your face. You're just trying to ask a question, that's your job to go in there and sit in that pressroom and ask questions of Kayleigh McEnany, the Press Secretary.
COLLINS: And it was our first opportunity to do so since October 1st. And I get that not everyone is going to get a question every single time. I understand that time is limited if you're at the White House, but she hasn't held a press briefing in so long. There's not that many reporters in the room because of social distancing, we're pretty limited. There's only like two per row, I believe.
And so there is a chance to do that. Whenever she started as press secretary, she used to call on everyone in the room. So it's clear she's not calling on people whose questions she doesn't really want to answer. And so I think it's not just Kayleigh McEnany, it's a widespread effort throughout the government to not answer questions as evidenced by the President.
Then coming in the briefing room a few hours later, not taking a single question, even though he touted it as a news conference, they moved that event from being in a smaller room where fewer reporters would have attended to the briefing room, but he still did not take questions. And I think you just see people not want to answer questions about what the President is doing, this unprecedented effort to try to overturn the results of the election.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Jessica Dean. She is with the President-elect in Wilmington, Delaware. So Jessica, what is the Biden team saying about all of this today and if we even had a chance to hear their reaction to that statement from the Michigan Republican lawmakers who walked out of that meeting and put out a statement rebuffing the President's wishes.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, we're still waiting for that but we have heard from one of the senior advisors and lead attorney for the Biden campaign earlier today, Bob Bauer, he gave a Zoom call with reporters and talked about how all of Trump's actions are eating away at the fundamentals of democracy.
But he said that while they are trying to rip at the fabric of democracy, it is holding firm. The Biden campaign, the Biden transition team, Joe Biden himself, all of them believe that when this is all said and done, Joe Biden will assume office on January 20. That none of these legal fights are going to pan out. Nothing is going to be overturned, that all of the outcomes of the election are going to be what they are that he won the election. He and Kamala Harris won that election.
But the fact remains they still have to deal with all of this. So they are certainly monitoring all of it, Erin, they are certainly concerned about what it does to the state of American democracy. How many people believe conspiracy theories and don't believe Joe Biden outright won this election, but they believe that in the end, it's going to hold firm.
And one other thing just quickly to note, Biden and Harris meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi today, they talked about COVID relief bill and getting that during the lame duck session. Erin, this is just another effort to show the American people they are leading, they're getting out front of this and they're not going to wait on Trump to concede, Erin.
BURNETT: Right. And I know that's what they're trying to do and obviously, they've got unemployment benefits and things all running out in December. That would be almost a month before you even had a new administration with the new Congress, whatever that will be comprised of. Thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Jonathan Oosting. He is a reporter who has been covering Michigan politics for over a decade and has been speaking to members who attended that meeting today. Alice Stewart is with me, former Communications Adviser to four Republican presidential campaigns, most recently Ted Cruz. And Ben Ginsburg, longtime Republican election lawyer who served as National Counsel to the Bush campaign during the 2000 recount.
Jonathan, let me start with you. So we have the statement that they're saying they're going to follow the normal process. They haven't seen evidence of anything that would change the outcome and that the process should be free of threats and intimidation.
What are you hearing happened in that meeting?
JONATHAN OOSTING, BRIDGE MICHIGAN CAPITAL REPORTER, INTERVIEWED MI SEN. SHIRKEY THIS WEEK: Well, to tell you the truth, I don't know exactly what happened yet. It hasn't been over for too long just yet. What I think is remarkable about that statement is, well, not that the actual content because it's actually very similar to what these GOP leaders have been saying for the last week or two. But it's remarkable because it came out a minute after they left or so.
So clearly, they went in (inaudible) knowing that they were not going to have their minds changed. That's probably not what the President was hoping to hear and (inaudible) probably disappointed, but both speaker (inaudible) Shirkey have told me very similar things this week.
BURNETT: Right. And I mean, it seems very clear. Alice, one Republican has told The New York Times this is coming under enormous pressure regarding his vote and this is in terms of the certifying that's going on in Michigan. What do you make of this, you're getting pressure on people who are supposed to certify election results to go a different way than the election after actually went from the President?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You just have to do your job and I'm encouraged to hear what the statement from the Michigan leaders that came out of the meeting saying that they have found and seen no evidence that would change the outcome of this election. And keep in mind, yes, we need to make sure that every legal and legitimate and valid vote is counted.
But to say there is a national widespread conspiracy is really impossible to believe. States run these elections individually. I've been Deputy Secretary of State in Arkansas and each Secretary of State takes a lot of pride and a lot of pressure to do this right and to make sure that's accurate. And if many Republicans want to support this president, but if he does see evidence, and there is some actual concrete evidence of voter fraud, we need to see it. We don't need Rudy Giuliani waving affidavits around in a news
conference. We need to actually see it and then we can investigate it because the integrity of the election process is paramount here and we need to make sure that we get it right.
BURNETT: Right. Of course in 27 or 28 cases, right now 27 have not gone in their favor.
Ben, let me ask you about the case in Michigan here when you hear Jonathan's reporting. Michigan supposed to formally certify their results on Monday, what can the Biden team do if that for some reason doesn't happen, when I'm referring to Alice with this great pressure that is coming on those who are supposed to do the final certification here?
BEN GINSBERG, FORMER NATIONAL COUHNSEL TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGNS, 2000 & 2004: Well, I believe that they will be required to do their duty. The Biden campaign would bring what's called a mandamus action, which means you tell a public official to do what their job is, which in this case is certifying.
Now, I think that there are ways in Michigan law for a state board to ask for more time, but this is not one of those instances where they should invoke that even if it's true because this is all pretty straightforward. What the President is doing is completely unprecedented to try and disenfranchise voters by denying a certificate of election. So I suspect that the Biden team would go into court pretty quickly to get the board to do that.
BURNETT: Jonathan, I just want to make a clear point here, which you were making. You weren't making this explicitly, but let me just contrast what you're talking about with those Michigan leaders. The speaker, they went to this meeting, because they were asked by the President, they went. Within a minute, they put out a statement saying we will not put up with intimidation. We have seen no evidence. We're going to go ahead. Just the fact. And they put in there, these are simple truths. This is how elections work. OK.
And yet on the national level, silence from some of the leadership, silence, nobody said any such thing. You know these gentlemen, does this surprise you? I mean, I don't want to say this is a profile in courage, but in the environment we're in right now, it is.
OOSTING: Yes, sure. I mean, they were obviously (inaudible) intense pressure. Today, Sen. Shirkey was greeted at the airport as he left from Detroit. He was at the airport (inaudible) so they knew going into the (inaudible) and I think they knew obviously what the question was going to be, whether the President was able to change their mind about awarding electors to the pretty clear winner of the popular vote right now.
Their statement about threats and intimidation, I think that was directed more at the canvassers who (inaudible) decide Monday, the GOP leaders are asking the public to kind of cool off because we do know those canvassers are just getting flooded and hounded by people right now on both sides of the aisle asking them to weigh in on (inaudible) that is usually rather perfunctory. I mean, usually (inaudible) the counties have already certified results in the state board, (inaudible) ...
BURNETT: Yes. Sorry, we're having a little bit of trouble with your audio there. Let me just give, Ben, give you a chance to respond to the news we also have which is that Kaitlan was saying they haven't yet formally extended the invitations and I don't know whether tonight's situation with the Michigan lawmakers will change it. But that the President wanted to invite Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to try to do the same thing to say, well, you're a Republican legislature, you can overturn the popular vote of Pennsylvania and turn those Electoral College votes for Trump. Do you think there is any chance that Trump succeeds at any of this?
GINSBERG: I really don't. First of all, the Pennsylvania legislative leadership has said very much the same thing as the leadership in Michigan did. There's also a quirk of Pennsylvania law that apparently the Trump campaign doesn't realize. But the current term of Pennsylvania legislators expires on November 30th.
If the certification of election is denied, it's not denied just in the Presidential race in Pennsylvania, it includes races up and down the ballot, which means there will be no Pennsylvania legislature, except for half of the Senate elected in 2018 to even vote on a slate of electors. So even if they could, they can't because they won't be sworn into office.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate all of your time. Thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Jared Bernstein, longtime aide to President- elect Joe Biden, now a member of the Biden-Harris transition advisory board. So Jared, what is your response to what happened tonight? How much does this harden you to hear the statement from the Michigan Republican leadership after their meeting with the President?
JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST & ECONOMIC ADVISER FOR VP BIDEN: Well, I share your view that it's a low bar to be cleared, but it's extremely essential that legislators clear it. Joe Biden has been elected President, Kamala Harris, Vice President and they need to get to work. That is my message that I want to unequivocally get out. They need to get to work because the virus is surging at an alarming rate and it's having an impact on the economy, not a trivial impact. It's doing the kind of damage that it did once before, in an earlier wave, leading businesses to dial back, leading to longer spells of unemployment.
We've actually had a very sharp spike in people who are long-term unemployed. There's 3.6 million of them now, unemployed for at least half a year, 400,000 small businesses have shut and many others are suffering and dealing with the stress of the reduced demand that they're facing in this environment.
And as that is happening and all this transition stuff is going on that you've been talking about, the absence of an ascertainment, we learned that Sec. Mnuchin actually pulled the rug out from under a program, I should say he tried to do so, because it involves the Federal Reserve as well. Tried to pull the rug out of a lending program that is essential right now to help offset some of these headwinds, so it's adding insult to injury, Erin.
BURNETT: So that context I think is so important. One thing I mentioned at the top of the program, I mentioned Paul Gozar, but he wasn't the only Republican Congressman today to do this. Richard Hudson also embraced Trump's effort to overturn the election through the Electoral College.
And the reason I am deeply concerned about this as a citizen is because it's working for a decent number of people, Jared. A Monmouth poll released this week found 70 percent of Republicans believe Joe Biden only won the election because of voter fraud. It is factually untrue. It's a simple truth that that is false. OK.
But perception matters and Biden has said he's going to be president for all Americans. But you've got a lot of Americans who believe those things. What is Biden's plan to get through to those people to combat that?
BERNSTEIN: You also have a whole lot of people who are facing a whole lot of pain right now. I mentioned the surging virus. I don't need to tell you or our viewers about this, but we also had over 20 million people claim uninsurance benefits last week. In fact, that number spiked by over 30,000 just in the past week and we know that if Congress doesn't get together and do what the President-elect has been calling for, which is to pass a stimulus bill in the lame duck, something like 12 million of those folks could get kicked off the rolls because of the expiration.
We also know that Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin is trying to lead to the expiration of a lending program that's supporting state and local budgets, that's supporting small businesses and making sure that credit remains available in these tough times. So we have an economy that is slowing. OK. There was a headline today from forecasters at JPMorgan, suggesting that first quarter GDP next year could have a negative handle on it. That is it could decrease.
I'm not talking about some sort of deep second dip like we had before, but that's the scenario at which all this is taking place. Now, you asked about the President-elect. He is already doing his best to reach across the aisle. He has met consistently over the past week with business leaders. He has met with union leaders. He's met with folks from commerce, he's met with folks from the healthcare industry.
Today, we had the Chamber of Commerce very clearly criticized this Mnuchin move to reduce the lending facilities. So this is a bipartisan set of energy that's developing to go a very different route.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Jared, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. And next, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader says Republicans may
have to intervene if the state can't certify its results. That sounds like music to Donald Trump's ear. So the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania is going to be OUTFRONT next, explain exactly what's at stake.
Plus, breaking news, Donald Trump Jr. testing positive for coronavirus. The same person who again and again, of course, has questioned the seriousness of the virus and claimed that COVID deaths had dropped to almost nothing. Now 2000 just today.
And Georgia's Governor certifies his state's election, still try to make Trump happy by leaving open the possibility of fraud. A top state election official is OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Tonight, CNN learning there are talks underway with President Trump about inviting lawmakers from Pennsylvania to the White House as he wraps up tonight's meeting with Michigan Republicans. Now, that's the state that President-elect Biden won by more than 81,000 votes almost double the margin President Trump won it by in 2016.
Pennsylvania now faces a deadline to certify its results and that is Monday. And a Republican State Senator says they will allow Democrats to appoint electors. OK. That's what should happen because Biden won the state, but then they don't rule out intervening and the quote here is, "If we were at the time when the electoral college is going to meet and Pennsylvania's results haven't been certified and it's still challenged in court, and there's no end to that, then possibly the legislature would have a role there."
Of course, being challenged in court to kind of open the door here, just to be clear, there's been no victories for the Trump campaign in any court challenges thus far. So I want to go now to Pennsylvania's Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
Lieutenant Governor, so when you hear that, do you have any concern about know what's going to happen Monday?
LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D) PENNSYLVANIA: No.
BURNETT: OK, tell me why.
FETTERMAN: No. I'm not concerned at all. Look, the bottom line is that Jay Corman - I like Jake and I appreciate the line that he has to walk between actual governance as the upcoming pro tem President of the Senate in striking a balance with the lunatic fringe/death cult wing of the party as well, too. And that's just a nod to that faction.
And the bottom line is this, they can clap their tinkerbell all they want. They can go visit the White House, but it's not going to change the music. Because, everybody and I mean everyone from the President all down, knows how this movie is going to end. BURNETT: So let me just ask you about what happens Monday then,
because I mean his whole - I understand how you're characterizing it, but he's basically saying if, if, if, but all the efforts are predicated upon Pennsylvania not certifying its results on Monday as it's supposed to do. Is there any question in your mind the Pennsylvania will not certify its results on Monday with Joe Biden as the winner?
FETTERMAN: None. None. And as your guest alluded to earlier, if they don't certify Joe Biden's results, they don't certify the entire house result either and there's not even going to be technically a house of representatives to even work with.
So the bottom line is this, look, I understand very much that they have to, again, pander to the lunatic fringe elements of their party. But the bottom line is that the law is firmly on the governor side here and the Secretary of State. It's very clear that the Secretary of State certifies it and then the Governor does. And anything else is just simply performance art and it's just sad.
BURNETT: So what do you make of the statement we got out of Michigan, where they say these are simple truths, the people who win the elections win the electoral votes and that's just the way it goes and nobody should be intimidated and very thinly veiled. And that statement, as the reporter who's been covering those gentlemen in Michigan for 10 years, said it came up a minute after they left their meeting with the President of the United States.
So they knew what they were going to say going in. They took the meeting and then they said it. They didn't rethink it or waiver. So when you see that statement and now there's the possibility that the Republican leadership in your state may go visit with the President on Monday, we don't know yet but they might. Do you think they'll do the same?
FETTERMAN: Who cares? I mean, go. Dude, have a good time, but it's not going to change anything. And they really need to be careful, too, because my understanding is there's a flare up of COVID in the House right now, so I don't see that being a happy ending. But it's their story, they got to tell it the way they need to, but the bottom line is the law is on our side. The bottom line is facts are on our side. The bottom line is Vice President Biden is the President-elect and he's up over 83,000 votes.
And again, unless there's some enchanted little village of 90,000 Trump voters that we may have missed over the last two weeks since the election. This is ballgame in Pennsylvania and again it's ballgame, and we have a President-elect Joe Biden.
BURNETT: Lieutenant Governor, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
FETTERMAN: Thank you.
[19:30:04] BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, the pandemic hitting Trump's inner circle
yet again. His son, Donald Trump, Jr., now positive for the virus. Rudy Giuliani how isolating after his son got the virus.
And we're going to go to Georgia, where Trump supporters are refusing to accept defeat, but the Republican governor has said results are the results. I'm going to talk to a top Georgia election official who has a message for those Trump supporters.
BURNETT: Breaking news, Donald Trump, Jr. testing positive for coronavirus. A spokesman for the president's eldest son saying he's currently isolating and asymptomatic. It comes as Rudy Giuliani is self-isolating in Washington after his son tested positive for coronavirus today.
OUTFRONT now, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean at Brown University School of Public Health.
And, Dr. Jha, thank you. Good to see you.
This is a White House that, of course, has never taken this seriously, so we've had outbreak after outbreak, hot spot there, throughout the president's inner circle. The president himself, three nights in the hospital.
What's your reaction to this latest news? Rudy Giuliani couldn't even hold his press conference today about the election, because he's isolating.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yeah, Erin, so thank you for having me on.
This White House has not taken this seriously, and we have seen the consequences of that in terms of so many different people getting infected. Now, obviously a lot of them end up having access to the latest experimental therapies, and I think that's bailed a few folks out who got quite sick.
One of the things we have not heard about is all of the staff who work at the White House, all of those hundreds of workers who make the place work. I'm sure many of them have gotten infected as well as part of this sort of reckless behavior and they're probably not getting the world class care that these political leaders are.
BURNETT: Well, you know, and talking about people being bailed out by latest care, the president is number one, right? I mean, he was -- he was really sick and yet afterwards, you know, his comment instead of acknowledging that was, he's superman.
So Donald Trump, Jr., came under fire last month, you know, down playing the scenario of the coronavirus in an interview with Fox News.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: I went through the CDC, I kept hearing about new infections. I was like, why aren't they talking about deaths? Oh, because the numbers is almost nothing, because we have gotten control of this. We understand how it works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We're now 2,000 deaths a day. We've seen a surge of deaths of nearly 30 percent in just the past seven to nine days, Dr. Jha.
What do you think when you hear someone like Don, Jr. say what he just said, given the reality?
JHA: Yeah. So, look, the bottom line is, people like Don, Jr. know nothing about this virus. They should not be commenting. And their consistent underplaying it is a major reason we're in the position we are in.
Not enough Americans have taken it seriously, because their political leaders kept telling not to worry about it, that if you get infected, it's no big deal. You'll be fine. We know that's not true.
I mean, for some people, but other people get quite sick. And I just think this is, again, reckless behavior to underestimate and to really undersell what is a very potentially serious virus.
BURNETT: You know, it's just amazing, that we're at a point that even with all the improvement and treatments, it has been significant, we're back to record death levels. That's what you have when you have unmitigated spread and the deaths don't need to happen, but you're back to this record levels, even with the treatments, because so many people are sick.
And, Dr. Jha, you participated in a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing yesterday. And the hearing, if I understand correctly, was focusing on the merits of hydroxychloroquine, which was the malaria drug that, as we all know study after study, along with the FDA, have shown to be ineffective at best, and can cause serious harm in treating coronavirus.
So they have this hearing about hydroxychloroquine, right now, and it got personal. I want to play for our viewers the exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JHA: There is now clear consensus in the medical and scientific community, based on overwhelming evidence, that hydroxychloroquine provides no benefit in treating COVID-19.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): You can sit there with all the authoritative voice that you possibly have, but we have a gentleman here that are treating patients within that empty circle, and they completely disagree with you. DR. PETER MCCOLLOUGH, VICE CHIEF OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR
UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I think Dr. Jha's (ph) testimony is reckless and dangerous for the nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's just a little clip, so people get a sense of what went on in an hours long hearing. What was going through your head?
JHA: Yes. On one hand, Erin, I felt like this was surreal. We were almost in the twilight zone, because we are in the worst phase of this pandemic right now, and the fact that the Senate is spending its time talking about hydroxychloroquine was unbelievable. And the personal nature of the attacks was really because people didn't have anything to say about the science.
You know it basically came down to a group of people saying, hey, I have given it to my patients and saying it works. And me saying the science and evidence are very clear, it doesn't work.
And so, if they can't refute the science, they went after me and called me reckless and suggested that I was responsible for the deaths of all these people, because the narrative they wanted to paint was a narrative that everybody would be just fine in America, if we all took hydroxychloroquine. It's really, as I said, mind-boggling. And I think it's deeply disruptive.
BURNETT: OK. I will also say, the chairman of the committee was implying that you and others like you are saying hydroxychloroquine doesn't work, not because of all the overwhelming science, but because it doesn't cost very much to buy hydroxychloroquine and all the other drugs are more expensive. And somehow you profit from it and it's all about profit.
That was what Senator Johnson was saying. I mean, that -- just tell me what you think when you hear someone say that to you. That's what they're saying about your character.
JHA: Yeah, this has been a recurring theme, the president, his coronavirus expert, Scott Atlas, and now Senator Johnson, all of them saying American doctors are corrupt and we are withholding therapies or in the case of the president that we are making up COVID cases, all of it driven by the profit motive.
This is what happens when you can't talk about the science, you can't talk about the health, you can't talk about the data, you start impugning the motives of all American doctors. It's crazy.
And I did not think that our own government would turn on the medical profession this way, when we all know, of course, that is not what's going on. It's very disturbing and it's very distressing.
BURNETT: Dr. Jha, thank you very much. It is disturbing and distressing saying the doctors were inflating the deaths because they get paid more for COVID deaths, right? So, anything the doctor say, they don't like to say, it's all fake, right? Just like the vote, don't like the outcome, just say it's all fraud.
Tonight, the White House press secretary was asked whether the Trump administration's failure to work with President-elect Biden could slow down something that will save thousands of American lives, and that is vaccine distribution. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not in the slightest, because in fact, I did hear the former vice president say yesterday he was concerned about not being able to distribute a vaccine. He shouldn't be. Maybe he hasn't seen, but we have publicly available that plan that I mentioned in my opening. It's the COVID-19 vaccination program, the interim playbook for jurisdiction operations. This is publicly available, if the former vice president would like to read through it.
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BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Michael Osterholm. He is a member of President- elect Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory board, also the director of the Center of Infectious Disease, Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Okay, Professor, so she says it's publicly available, it's out there, there's no problem, there's no concern. There will be no impact on the vaccine distribution, even if you all have no contact with the Trump administration besides reading that publicly available report.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, BIDEN COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: Well, that's just not the case. It's really critical that the incoming administration, President-elect Biden, President-elect -- Vice President Harris, and the entire transition team and our group as an advisory group have access to this information. The plans are still preliminary. States are still working on how to distribute this. We're only talking about the very first doses to roll out to health care workers.
But that we also need to talk about how to get it out to the entire population. We need to understand how we're going to educate the public for the need for this vaccine, and why they want to take it, why is it safe and effective. These are all issues that are not available at this point, and not to be able to share that information between both groups is really -- is actually dangerous.
BURNETT: So Pfizer and its partner submitted for emergency use an EUA from the FDA for that vaccine.
So in your plans, Professor, and I know there are unknowns, but when is life back to basically normal -- no masks, free travel, mass gatherings, concerts, sports? OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, I'm just speaking for myself, we don't
yet -- the transition team doesn't have that position out there. But let me just say it's likely going to take well into the second quarter, into the beginning of the third quarter of next year before we'll have sufficient vaccine for the U.S. population.
So, clearly, between now and then, we have a lot of work to do. And as I pointed out just a moment ago, if we, in fact, see that up to 45 percent of the U.S. population doesn't trust this vaccine, as a recent Gallup poll showed, and won't take the vaccine, particularly in the black and indigenous and other populations are very skeptical of the safety of those vaccine, we can have a vaccine but still have a major problem because they're not turned into vaccinations.
So this is why we have to today begin working very, very hard at a community grassroots level to help communities understand why they want this.
BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about South Dakota and I want to ask you for a specific reason. First of all, let me just set the table here. An alarming 52 percent positivity rate over the past seven days, that is the highest rate in the country, the virus is ranging. The numbers there are bad. Hospitalizations, deaths.
So when I saw what the South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said today, I really stopped in my tracks and I wanted to read part of it to you, Professor.
She said, in South Dakota, we won't stop or discourage you from thanking God and spending time together this Thanksgiving. Fifty-two percent positivity rate --
OSTERHOLM: That's dangerous, it's a dangerous -- it's just dangerous. That's simply dangerous.
There will be more residents of South Dakota and those who visit South Dakota to come home to family that will become infected. Unfortunately, some of them will be hospitalized and some of those will die. And we're talking about an overstretched health care system now, one that's on the verge of collapse clearly in South Dakota.
But even for those who come home to visit, they'll be going back to many communities in this country that also have very, very, very real problems with just trying to provide the very basic minimum right now of health care.
BURNETT: Professor, I appreciate your time.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
BURNETT: Professor Osterholm. And next, Georgia's governor certifies the state's election results. And I'm going to talk to a poll worker, a Republican poll worker from Michigan, life long Republican. She worked a 16-hour shift on Election Day. She says the president's attacks on the election are personal for her.
BURNETT: Breaking news: the governor of Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp, officially signing the paperwork. And that paperwork means that the state's 16 Electoral College votes will go to President-elect Biden, because he won the state.
Now, Kemp did try to assuage the Trump faction, saying he would follow the law, but he did criticize missteps by election officials.
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GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: It is important for Georgians to know that the vast majority of local election workers did their job well, under unprecedented circumstances. However, it is quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor thin outcome, in a presidential election. This is simply unacceptable.
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BURNETT: All right. Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
CROWD: Four more years! Four more years!
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are hearing correctly.
This Georgia crowd is calling for a second Trump term despite defeat.
Vice President Mike Pence on his first return to the campaign trail pledged it's not over.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted. We're going to keep fighting until every illegal vote is thrown out. And whatever the outcome, we will never stop fighting to make America great again.
LAH: That's despite the hand count led by a Republican secretary of state in Georgia.
BRAD RAFFENSERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don't lie.
LAH: A fact the vice president is ignoring, while he dances a political two-step.
President Trump still insists he won. Meanwhile, Pence is calling for Georgia Republicans to vote in the January 5th Senate runoff to fight a Joe Biden presidency.
PENCE: The Republican Senate majority could be the last line of defense.
LAH: Supporters who showed up to see the vice president have no problem following this logic.
Do you believe the election results?
PENNY CLOPTON, VETERAN AND TRUMP SUPPORTER: No.
LAH: Penny Clopton who came to see Pence carried a "stop the steal" sign. She says all of this makes her want to vote in January even more.
And how different is the energy from November to January?
CLOPTON: It's still here. It hasn't gone anywhere.
LAH: What do you believe will happen on January 5th?
CLOPTON: I believe that people will come out and vote for Republicans, so that we can -- I guess so that it will be a fair fight when things come to the Senate.
CROWD: Let's vote blue! Let's vote blue!
LAH: The Democratic challengers for the two Senate seats Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock attacked the GOP fight with reality.
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: They don't like the results. It wasn't supposed to turn out that way. Explain that to me.
LAH: The challenge for the Democrats will be turnout. Something even the most die-hard Democratic Georgians understand.
TINA MARIE HEAD, GEORGIA VOTER: I think that the people that voted in the general election will not come out for the runoff.
AMANDA GAINER, GEORGIA VOTER: We've been red for so many years, you know? I'm just a little concerned about that.
LAH (on camera): Now, Governor Kemp tonight did indeed certify the votes, giving the 16 electoral votes to Joe Biden. But in doing so, Erin, he did offer a bunch of illogical statements -- a mashup, if you will. He told the Trump line, he's sewed doubt on the election results but at the same time said he would certify because he had to -- Erin.
BURNETT: Kyung, thank you very much. I want to bring in Gabriel Sterling now, Georgia's election official,
also happens to be a lifetime Republican.
So, Gabe, you were involved every single step of the way -- the election, the hand recount, every single thing. You're still hearing, though, from fellow Georgians, right? They believe the election was stolen because of how President Trump talked about Georgia. What do you say to them?
GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: This is an emotional time for people who fought for the president and felt like he fought for them. Unfortunately, it looks like -- well, it was certified the election after a hand audit showing the machines counted properly. The election records did their job jobs. We're still investigating multiple claims, potential legal voting and malfeasance. We haven't seen anything that rises to the level of this.
Now, through certification, the president can now request a recount, which is a little bit of hand count that we did, and it opens a door for more potential challenges through the due process that we have in this country, which he's afforded the right to do.
And him fighting for these people is what they're waiting to hear if him on. It's difficult, I know. It's really hard. I've got my own family members who are pretty angry about the whole thing, and it's even hard to explain to them.
BURNETT: So, you know, so, what do you -- you and I have been talking a lot through all of this, OK? And, you know, you've been very clear, right? I mean, you're a life long Republican, but your job here is to count the votes and that's what you did. And that's what we're hearing the folks in Michigan saying, right? You counted the votes. There were some mistakes, we all know, but the votes were the votes and the outcome is clear.
How do you get people to understand that at this point, Gabe? To understand that? Go ahead.
STERLING: I think, continuing the amount of transparency we do, continuing to talk about -- continuing to explain, as you have seen in some of my press conferences, and my -- what I do is we try to answer every single question and point out everything that's out there. There's going to be a group of people who will never believe at the end of the day, similar to the people who never believe that Stacey Abrams lost, a group of people who never believe that Hillary Clinton lost.
We got to get to a point in this country where at the end of the day, people have enough faith in the outcome election that they're saying, yes, my person lost, my person won, and they can move forward and fight for another day.
Just like we are in Georgia, there's a big fight coming up in the Senate and I'm -- outside my job, I'm still a Republican and I want to make sure that David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler win the seats for the same reason the president pointed out. It could be the last line for the people who share those values.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you about what comes next, because you talk about a recount. Now, my understanding is recount is different from a hand count in several ways. One of which is you just stick the ballots in a machine, and now, you've been through them so much, they're collated, for lack of a better word, you could do that quickly.
But you also mentioned legal challenges. So, is there any question -- should anybody have any question that the certification your Republican governor just gave, and he may have done so hesitantly, but he did it, could be undone?
STERLING: Listen, with the due process in this country, people come forward with something to show something untoward happened and a judge says, we can look at that, that's absolutely a path for that.
There are investigations so far. And the problem is, to a degree, we are under-resourced. We have 23 investigators on right now, and we're getting hundreds of people coming in talking about illegal votes and malfeasance in these offices, and we're trying to track down all of them.
But so far, we haven't seen massive ballot harvesting. We haven't seen illegal absentee ballots. But that's but absentee ballot is the place where you're most likely to see at some level of fraud.
So, with the explosion of them this year it's understandable for some people to have some questions about that. And we'll continue to operate on that path. But that's the main path you can see the legal challenges on.
The recount, more than likely, will not change the outcome, because very rarely the recounts do that, especially now that the first one was the human beings doing the recounts. Now we get a machine. It's much more likely to be more accurate than before.
And the handoff we just did was 0.1035 percent off on the total number of votes and 0.0099 percent off the margin, which is huge, I mean, the biggest one in the United States ever, but very narrow margins. The machinery worked. As I said before, people are always the parts that fall down on these things.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Gabe, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
STERLING: Thank you.
BURNETT: Those Georgia results certified. Nothing that they have seen rising to any level of notable fraud.
So now, why does the president keep waging an all-out assault on the election workers? People who are there working tireless days. He says he's got 23 investigators investigating all of this. Well, the president comes out and accuses all these people of fraud and corruption. I mean, that's what this would be if it actually happened after all.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Poll workers in Michigan were duplicating ballots but when our observers attempted to challenge the activity, those poll workers jumped in the front of the volunteers to block their view so they couldn't see what they were doing, and it became a little bit dangerous.
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BURNETT: Duplicating ballots, jumping in front of volunteers to block their view, accusing poll workers of blatant fraud and corruption.
I'm joined by one of those poll workers now, from Michigan, Theresa Williams. Sixteen hours she worked on election day in Wayne County, Michigan.
So, Theresa, when you hear the president -- and I put your politics completely out of this for a second, but I will bring it up in a moment for one reason. But poll workers in Michigan duplicating ballots, jumping in front to block results, what do you even say about that?
THERESA WILLIAMS, WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN POLL WORKER: It angers me. You know, we work there 16 hours, and I saw absolutely none of that, no intimidation, no ballot tampering. We even had two poll challengers there, and they were there and they witnessed everything going on.
And like I said, I've never witnessed anything like that. It kind of breaks my heart that we're being accused of that.
BURNETT: So, I mean, Wayne County, they have been fighting the results in Wayne County. Joe Biden won that county easily and this is where your politics come in.
You have been a registered Republican since you were 18 years old. The whole point is you do this because you have faith in the country and the systems. So, Joe Biden won, he won. Maybe you're personally disappointed. I don't know how you voted but I know you're a Republican.
What do you say to this? How disappointed are you that you can go in as a Republican and say, I don't see anything that happened because I don't think Democrats are horrible people trying to destroy the poll results, yet that's what's accused of happening.
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, we're Republican and Democrats working together at the polls. I was a registered Republican when I was 18. I don't and I don't support the president and what he's doing currently. It embarrasses me.
And I just wish he would accept the loss, move on, and start bringing us together instead of trying to create more divide. We need to come together at this point.
BURNETT: Theresa, will you do it again? Will you work at the polls?
WILLIAMS: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
BURNETT: Well, I'm glad to hear that. Hopefully this will just be a brief bump in the road, just a small break, and things will be better. Yeah. Thank you so much.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, adios (INAUDIBLE).
BURNETT: Yeah. All right, thank you so much. I appreciate your time, Theresa.
And thanks so much to all of you for being with us as always on this Friday.
"AC360" starts now.