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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Trump Makes Two Brief Appearances, Takes No Questions; Biden Says His Cabinet Picks Will Make Us Proud As Americans; U.S. COVID-19 Hospitalizations Top 88,000, A New Record; White House Coronavirus Task Force Is Considering Shortening The Recommended Quarantine Time For COVID-19. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 24, 2020 - 20:00   ET

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


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Another important Intelligence pick, the Director of the CIA, a critical partner for Haines and the formidable challenges that lie ahead.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.

[20:00:16]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So it was a day where President Trump heaped praise on cousin, Eddie from the vacation movies, a day when the coronavirus statistics are reaching horrifying levels, a day when we got our first glimpse of how a Joe Biden administration will look, act and sound. And boy, that was different.

John Berman here in for Anderson.

In his first full day of the official government sanctioned transition, President-elect Biden not only learned he will finally receive the President's daily briefing, something we'll get to in a moment, but he quickly put his stamp on the executive office he will inherit in less than two months, so a rollout of picks for top National Security positions who all voiced an unmistakable message that Donald Trump lost and that America first died on Election Day.

This is how Biden described it moments ago in a new interview with NBC News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is back. We're at the head of the table once again. I've spoken with over 20 world leaders and they all are literally really pleased and somewhat excited America is going to reassert its role in the world and be a coalition builder.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: America is back says the President-elect and keeping them

honest, the entire tone of today's affair both in terms of style and substance and masks was a stark contrast from the current President's conduct.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke of quote, "A President who will ask tough questions and demand that we be guided by facts." The nominee for Director of National Intelligence told Biden, quote, "You've selected us not to serve you, but to serve on behalf of the American people."

Imagine any member of the current administration saying that to Donald Trump or any prospective member of any other incoming administration needing to say that at all. And the distinctions the Biden team drew with the present administration extended to the bios of the candidates themselves. Diversity: one key theme.

Avril Haines who we just mentioned, would be the first woman to head National Intelligence; Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Latino, an immigrant to head the Department of Homeland Security. These candidates stressed not only their personal backgrounds, but their professional qualifications as well. So that was Biden today.

Now, juxtapose all of that with what we saw from President Trump today. Basically, it's what voters saw the past four years, the unhinged tweets; also public appearances where he took credit for the stock market's performance, but ignored the long line seen today at food banks in America ahead of Thanksgiving.

Likewise, he touted vaccine successes which are very real, very promising, but ignored the increasing misery this pandemic is causing, and the numbers this evening are just staggering. Deaths now approaching 260,000. Just moments ago, we learned we set another new high in hospitalizations more than 88,000. That's the 15th day of new highs.

Tonight alone, more than 1,500 new deaths reported; more than 137,000 new cases. The President ignored that, but leaned into the personal attacks in this case, a jab at his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who co-authored an op-ed telling Biden to axe Trump's America first policy.

So add that to the basic claims of voter fraud, crazy theories about voting machines and long dead Venezuelan dictator and what you have is a contrast in both style and substance and maybe one explanation why Donald Trump lost and Joe Biden won, crossing 80 million votes tonight, a six million vote edge and that's growing.

The latest on the transition now from CNN chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, you know, we did hear from Joe Biden that the transition so far seems to be sincere. The outreach from people in the Trump administration, Biden said does seem to be sincere. But how do you square that with the fact that the President continues to say he will never concede the election?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. When you talk to White House officials publicly, the only thing they'll say is we'll refer you back to the President's tweets. And the President has been tweeting as if he is not going to concede the election, and so it is hard to square that circle.

But if you just look at what's happening inside the Federal government right now. That gives you some indication that things are moving along. You have departments across the Federal government, in contact with the Biden transition team.

I talked to Dr. Anthony Fauci earlier this evening. He said, he is also talking to aides having preliminary conversations with the Biden transition team.

You know, John, I talked to a White House adviser, a longtime White House adviser who said, listen, the President still has some unhelpful voices whispering in his ear. And so while we are seeing a peaceful transfer of power, by no means is this normal one.

BERMAN: So Jim, we did see the President a couple of times today. They were sort of bizarre appearances, though bizarre may be a relative term given that he began today retweeting Randy Quaid "Cousin Eddie" from the vacation movies.

ACOSTA: Right.

BERMAN: What do we know about what we are going to see from the President over the next 57 days? What will he do? What will he say? Will he take questions?

[20:05:22]

ACOSTA: Yes, I mean, to quote "Cousin Eddie," he once said in that movie "Vacation," that you don't really need the hamburger, a hamburger helper does just fine by itself. That's what we've been seeing over the last few weeks. When the President comes out in front of the cameras, we're getting the hamburger helper, we're not getting the hamburger.

He is not taking our questions about whether he is going to concede to Joe Biden, whether he is going to cooperate with a peaceful transfer of power. Will he go to the Biden Inauguration?

I talked to a White House advisor earlier about this this evening. He thinks at some point, the President will take questions. Perhaps, he is keeping us in suspense, ever the reality TV executive producer at heart.

But John, I mean, make no mistake, this is a train that has left the station without the President on board. But it is a transition and it is happening, whether the President likes it or not.

BERMAN: Jim Acosta, thank you very much. Perspective now from two White House veterans, Christine Todd Whitman, former E.P.A. Administrator under President George W. Bush, also a former New Jersey Governor and David Gergen, former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, also a CNN senior political analyst. And David and Governor, I just want to say, I don't think we could

overlook the fact that President Trump continues to try to overturn the results of an election. He is doing it in Wisconsin. He did it in Michigan. He did it in Pennsylvania trying to convince legislators to throw out the votes of the people.

So that happened and is still happening, and I don't think we can really ever forget that. That said, David, the transition itself does seem to be beginning. How can the two walk hand in hand?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I am glad to be with you, John and Christine, but I think, listen, there are two different tracks that are going down here. One is the Trump administration is in the courts, and it is very clear they have failed miserably. But the second track is whether they can succeed in the court of public opinion.

I think that the evidence is still coming in that this country is deeply divided. We'll have to wait and see how people respond to the Biden press conference today, the introduction of his new National Security folks. I thought it was very, very impressive.

In normal times, it would really help the President of the United States, but I'm going to be really curious of people who been supporting Trump who are independent going to be thrown around? Or is there going to be continuing noises as I am afraid there will be effort to push the whole notion that Joe Biden is illegitimate.

But Biden getting off to a great start in the midst of the kind of prize is just -- it's hard to fathom. We've never been here before.

BERMAN: Governor Whitman, to David's point, how much does the transition itself? Or how much can the transition itself sort of overshadow or push to the side the nonsense and theatrics that we will continue to see?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER E.P.A. ADMINISTRATOR UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think the President is embarrassing himself now. I mean, he is looking petty. He is looking like a spoiled child. He is starting to become very irrelevant.

Every time Joe Biden is on television, you can almost hear people heave a sigh of relief and saying, we've got a real person. We have got somebody who is empathetic, who cares, who knows how to do this job, and yes, the President is -- the current President is throwing up roadblocks. Yes, he is inciting his base to always consider Joe Biden as a fraudulent President, about 85 percent of those who voted for Trump, believe that if Biden if they still say, takes the Oath of Office, it'll be because of fraud. And that's just very damaging to our basic fundamentals of election.

This was a free election. It was a fair election. It was a balanced election. These people throughout the country did their job. People came out and voted in record numbers. And the state officials are doing their job every day. And you're right, he is continuing to fight in court. There have been over 30 cases that have been thrown out. He's won maybe one minor one, and I think that was almost reversed too in Arizona. It's just -- it's pathetic. It really is.

But unfortunately, as David says, it's going to be real. It's going to be a part of our politics going forward. But I do think that Biden, the personality he projects, the people that he is appointing, you know, they are saying that well, the far left in the party aren't terribly happy with it, but they can live with him, and that's the key.

These are people who have proven experience, know what they're doing and they can get on with the job no matter what the President tries to do.

BERMAN: Both of you mentioned the President-elect's event today unveiling part of his National Security team. I want to play a little bit of this. Actually, I want to play his interview with Lester Holt, which took place shortly after the unveiling, and he was asked who his team has been hearing from now that the G.S.A. finally greenlit the transition?

[20:10:14]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Yes, immediately, we've gotten outreach from, from the National Security shop, from up to just across the board and they are already working out my ability to get presidential daily briefs. Already, we are working out a meeting with the COVID team in the White House, and how to not only distribute, but get from a vaccine being distributed to be a person able to get vaccinated.

So I think we're going to not be so far behind the curve as we thought we might be in the past. And there's a lot of immediate discussion and I must say, the outreach has been sincere. There's not been begrudging so far. And I don't expect it to be, so, yes, it's already begun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Sincere, not begrudging, so far. We are in day into that, David, what do you make of it?

GERGEN: Well, so far, so good. But yes, the very fact that the person who is going to be the contact at The Pentagon is someone who only recently was a conspiracy theorist, and right at the forefront of that, and yet he has been appointed to be the liaison.

So we'll just have to see how that goes. But I do want to say, John, I think it's so important. There will be a lot of Trump voters who will disagree. But my impression is that Joe Biden has gotten off to the best start of any President I've seen in 40 years.

The team, the quality of the team he has surrounded himself with, their humility, they the way they spoke today, their patriotism, the fact that there are many people who are breaking barriers and women to do this, the first, you know, to do that, but they are all just experienced people. Now there are some people who are writing, there are some journalists

who are writing, well, they are just careerists. And you know, Biden is surrounding himself by too many people that have Washington experience. Well, the last person to do that was George H.W. Bush. Well, guess what? George H.W. Bush was one hell of a good President on international affairs, on national security.

I think the President, I think Biden is surrounding himself with some really good people. We need to give him all hands, and we all need to calm down a little bit. I do think going to Christine's point, he has a calming influence. We do feel relief that someone is there, especially in contrast to his predecessor.

BERMAN: Governor, when you both express concerns about the unfounded questions over the legitimacy of the election, and they are unfounded, because you know, most of what is being said about it are all just lies.

One thing that would help with legitimacy is a phone call or a statement from Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, and as we sit here tonight, I don't know that that's happened. I don't know that there's been any discussion.

So you know, what does it tell you that Mitch McConnell, who we know has a relationship, a personal relationship with Joe Biden? He hasn't said anything publicly or had any public outreach yet.

WHITMAN: Well, I think right now, Mitch McConnell is only concerned about one thing, and that's the elections in Georgia. Those are the elections in Georgia, the two Senate seats, and he doesn't want to do anything that is going to upset the Trump base, so that they will sit home I think, Roger Stone, I mean, he should be behind bars, but he has been pardoned by the President.

Roger Stone is threatening that if they do anything to undermine President Trump that he will make sure that the Republicans lose a Senate seat, a sort of backward way of looking at things, but that's Roger. So that's what he is mainly concerned about. I really do believe that once Joe Biden takes the Oath of Office, will Mitch McConnell continue to be partisan? Of course he will.

But you've got to remember, the Senate is going to be a lot closer and the House, of course, is a lot closer as well. And you have the problem solvers caucus, which just requires an equal number of members from each side of the aisle. They come together, they work out issues, and they'll vote as a bloc, and they've already come forward with a number of important legislative initiatives.

So they are going to become more of a force, and I see this moving forward. People now desperately want to get something done. The big issues haven't been addressed. I can't believe we're sitting here in the midst of this pandemic, which everything has gone on, the people have lost their jobs, their homes, and we still don't have a relief package. It's just unconscionable and I don't think the American public will accept it anymore. BERMAN: Look, he can pick up the phone and say I'm going to do

everything I can to work against you, but congratulations, that in and of itself, would be a simple thing to do. It'd be a very American thing to do tonight, and we continue to wait for it.

Governor Whitman, David Gergen, thank you both very much for being with us.

GERGEN: Thanks, John.

WHITMAN: Pleasure.

BERMAN: We have much more to discuss about the Cabinet picks just ahead and the break from the past four years that Joe Biden is clearly trying to signal with these picks in National Security.

We also have breaking news on the pandemic as deaths increase and hospitalizations set new highs every day. The details when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:18:55]

BERMAN: As we mentioned at the beginning of the broadcast, President- elect Joe Biden's roll out of his picks for top National Security positions appear to contain a not so subtle message that there will be a sharp contrast between the way he will run things with the way that President Trump has.

His National Security staff come from all backgrounds. They are white, people of color, immigrants, men and women. Differences united by one fundamental characteristic: a lengthy professional record, belief in diplomacy and strong ties with allies and in several cases, long ties with the next President. Also not a Republican so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Have you considered for the sake of national unity selecting or nominating a Republican, someone who voted for President Trump?

BIDEN: Yes. And we still have a lot more appointments to make. I want this country to be united. The purpose of our administration is once again to unite it. We can't keep this virulent political dialogue going. It has to end.

HOLT: Can we expect an announcement?

BIDEN: No.

HOLT: Not ever or not soon?

BIDEN: No, not soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [20:20:04]

BERMAN: I am joined now by CNN Political Director, David Chalian and CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" and author of the new book "Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World." Fareed, you just heard the President-elect there say he wants to unite people.

One of the picks that seems to unite more people than any is the one he hasn't officially made yet, which is former Fed Chair Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. She will obviously make history as the first woman to head that department and be Secretary of Treasury, first former Fed Chair. You've got a personal history -- a relationship with her. What kind of pressure will she face right at the beginning with the economy and a pandemic being where it is?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Oh, it's an extraordinary amount of pressure. I mean, Janet Yellen comes into the job with more challenges than I think -- I can't remember a Treasury Secretary since Franklin Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary, who's had as much of a challenge because you have the pandemic, you have the economic challenges that come out of the pandemic. But you also have this paralyzed government.

Remember in '08, at least Obama had the Senate and the House initially for two years. This time, that doesn't appear to be the case. So she will need all the credibility she has.

Now the good news is, Janet Yellen is probably the most qualified person ever to be appointed or nominated Treasury Secretary. She has been the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. She has been Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. She was a Chaired Professor at a major university. She was the head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve.

No, she's an extraordinary person. We served on the on the Yale Board of Trustees together. So I know her well.

What I would say about this is, she is very, very thoughtful, careful with her words, careful with how she presents herself, very disciplined. But she is really somebody who believes that the point of economics is to help people.

You know, for her, the debate, these are not abstract debates. The point that she is trying to make sure that relief gets to people. And I suspect she will advocate for that quite strongly.

BERMAN: The market seems to think though, as well. The market went up big today, partially on that news, thinking that Janet Yellen would be in favor and push hard for more money into the economy, more stimulus.

David Chalian, a lot of firsts on that stage today with President- elect Joe Biden, in terms of diversity, to be sure. And then, in a way, a lot of seconds, which is to say a lot of people who have served as the number two in the departments that they've now been nominated to run, what strikes you is the most important thing we saw today?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think the last point you were just making is the critical difference Joe Biden is trying to demonstrate with the way in which the Trump administration was run.

Yes, he is going to people who have worked deep in the trenches of these various departments actually have expertise. You said, I mean, we have a former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, that's now the Homeland Security Secretary. We have a former Deputy Secretary of State, now Secretary of State. People who have worked on the National Security Council before now, the National Security adviser.

These are people who have worked these beats, John. And so they have now been tapped to be the next generation of people to lead these agencies and lead these departments. And I think that's such a vote of confidence from Joe Biden, who is going to need this foreign policy and National Security team to hit the ground running with his mission of restoring America's reputation around the world, really repairing those relationships with our allies, which he says is his fundamental vision for American strength around the world, those relationships with allies.

He is going to be so consumed with COVID management, vaccine distribution, the economic catastrophe because of the pandemic that he needs this experienced team to be out there accomplishing that mission around the world.

BERMAN: Fareed, I want to play a little bit more of what President- elect Biden said earlier tonight. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: This is not a third Obama term, because there's -- we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration. The President this -- President Trump has changed the landscape. It's become America first. It's been America alone.

We find ourselves in a position where our alliances are being frayed. It's totally different. That's why I found people who will join the administration and keep points that represent the spectrum of the American people, as well as the spectrum of the Democratic Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Fareed, objectively right that obviously, a lot has changed in the last four years in the Trump administration. So how does the mission of this team, what are the specific challenges they face in this post Trump world?

ZAKARIA: Well, look, first of all, it really is a superb team. He has found very, very bright people who are also very experienced and who are also very creative and flexible about the way they think. You know, these are people who really are first rate thinkers, first rate implementers. They have the experience, they're ready on day one.

But it's a huge challenge, because it's a different world out there, and the big difference is, you have a world in which the United States is not easily and comfortably the dominating agenda setting, burden bearing power that it used to be. We are not living in a unipolar America dominated the world. [20:25:37]

ZAKARIA: Part of it is, the United States doesn't want to play that role. You know, if you look at Obama and Trump, the one commonality is they were both trying in various ways to have the United States play a somewhat different role, obviously, very different in how they expressed it.

The second is, other countries have become more powerful and more confident and more aware. And the third one, which is in a category, by itself, is China is now essentially, the other superpower. We are living in a bipolar world. We've not had that before, for a long, long time.

And so these people, men and women are going to have to really rethink core assumptions about American foreign policy. But I think if you would -- you said yourself, are you better off with a team of people who have spent their lifetimes thinking about these issues, working these issues, talking to allies across the world? Are you better off with a bunch of people who Donald Trump saw on TV, or you know, like the way they looked or met once at a party, or, you know, interviewed once -- and I am literally describing Trump's Cabinet and his method of selection.

Obviously, you'd prefer what Joe Biden has done. It doesn't change the fact that it is a huge challenge. But what he has shown is that he trusts intelligence, he trusts experience, he trusts expertise, and he wants a team, these people all work together, that makes a big difference. Because ultimately, we are all in this together.

BERMAN: Well, 80 million people, now, we know as we count the votes, chose what you're just describing there from Joe Biden, and the team he put together. Does it mean, David Chalian that 51 senators will necessarily vote to confirm them all? Senators, Rubio, Cruz, Cotton, you know, all came out with various types -- today, Senator Rubio, you know, couldn't wait to get a statement out criticizing all these National Security picks, that may be more about Rubio 2024 than anything else.

But what do you think the prospects are for the confirmation for the people we saw today?

CHALIAN: And notice how much of the Republican criticism out of the gate is through the lens of China, which Fareed was just mentioning, as sort of this bipolar world and how much China is going to dominate the domestic political conversation especially for these Republican candidates.

Listen, John, this is a closely divided Senate, whether or not the Democrats end up controlling it with victories in Georgia, or the Republicans maintain control, you're talking about a nearly evenly divided Senate.

And so there are going to be the political skirmishes that are going to take real arm twisting on behalf of the administration, not just to get their nominees through, but the agenda through as well, no matter the outcome of Georgia, and you will find there will be some of that Washington gamesmanship with certain nominees.

But I think the crew that was introduced today will probably have a relatively smooth time getting through.

BERMAN: David Chalian and Fareed Zakaria, great to see you tonight. Both of you have a Happy Thanksgiving if I don't get a chance to see you before then.

ZAKARIA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, the Trump Campaign is still plowing full steam ahead on its fundraising efforts while claiming the money will help in their baseless claim to somehow overturn the election and effort that is still going on.

The fine print reveals a different reality. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:33:17]

BERMAN: As President-elect Biden and his transition team finally shift into high gear, team Trump too is moving forward with an all-out fundraising campaign. E-mail center supporters claim the money raised will help fund recounts and core challenges but the fine print shows something different. A new Trump fundraising arm called Save America gets the first cut of any money raise 75 percent of each contribution up to $5,000 below to save America. It's a leadership pack that President Trump launched less than a week after the election. Only after that threshold is met does money flow into the recount effort.

Joining me now to discuss Mike Shields, former Chief of Staff for the Republican National Committee and a CNN Political Commentator and Bakari Sellers, also a CNN Political Commentator and the author of "My Vanishing Country". So Mike, you know, as a Republican, I mean, how much do you want the political money in the country right now to be flowing into a leadership pack for a guy who will be out of office on January 20th?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a couple of things. First of all, there's money also flowing into to Georgia Senate campaigns and they are well funded. We've seen record numbers of dollars going into those, into outside Super PACs to help with those races. And then President Trump is starting to fund the outside organization that he's going to run it looks like after he's out of office. And there's a lot of Republicans are going to be happy about that, because he's going to fly around, raise money without -- for their campaigns, come and get voters out for their campaigns.

He's still going to play a role with the Trump voters in our party moving forward. And so, this is, you know, I believe that the setup event is an indication that he plans to continue to have a political voice in the Republican Party after he's out of office.

BERMAN: Traditionally, that is what most people do with leadership packs. [20:35:00]

Donald Trump isn't most people. Are you 100 percent sure that he will use the money in this leadership pack to go work on behalf of others because you don't have to. I mean, you can sit on the money and throw parties if you happen to have a place like Mar-a-Lago and charges the leadership pack.

SHIELDS: Well, look, I mean, I think it's pretty well known that Donald Trump has money. And he said, well, the journalists not be setting up the pack to like pocket the money. I think that, you know, he doesn't have to do that. And so, in fact, he didn't ever had to run for office in the first place. It wasn't anything he needed, unlike a lot of politicians like Joe Biden, who have gotten wealthy from running for office.

So, he doesn't need the money for that, he wants to have a voice. He wants to kind of control things. He wants to be in a position to kind of dictate the terms of the debate going into the 2024 election. And so, if you're going to do that, there are some legal reasons that you have to have a political organization to be able to do that. You can start handing out checks to candidates and that kind of thing. And so, it's pretty standard to have a leadership pack to do that.

BERMAN: Bakari, the comment about Joe Biden aside, who was for a long time the poorest member of the U.S. Senate, how concerned are Democrats to have a former President down at Mar-a-Lago, who may be spending the money on himself, maybe spending the money on others, but probably will be trying to get attention one way or another? How much of a problem can he cause?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I don't think anybody's concerned about Donald Trump raising money. He's never been a prolific fundraiser. That's number one. Number two, he's very much self-centered, and the majority of the money that he is going to raise, we all believe, will go to him or the people that he owes. There's no President in the history of the United States who's had more financial issues looming over them than Donald Trump.

I mean, I love and appreciate Mike Shields but the fact of the matter is, when Donald Trump leaves office, he's going to have a debt load. That is the equivalent of my little bit of money I make, and I still have to pay back student loans. It's probably that same ratio, and so that's a whole lot.

I don't anticipate Donald Trump doing much for the Republican Party. I do anticipate Donald Trump holding his a bit of leverage over the Trump base over the Republican Party. This is still going to be Donald Trump's party. But I think it's going to be very, very self-serving. I don't think Democrats have much to worry about unless Donald Trump's names on the ballot. If Donald Trump's names on the ballot, then you have a turnout problem. Without that, no one anticipates him doing the work necessary to juice turnout for other Republicans.

BERMAN: So, Mike to that point, Georgia. Donald Trump's name is not on the ballot, or is it? I mean, how much of a referendum on Trump do you think these two run offs will be?

SHIELDS: Well, look, first of all, just to address one point, Donald Trump's been a tremendous party builder and it's one of the amazing untold stories, the comparison between him and, for instance, Barack Obama who really eviscerated the DNC, took all the data and infrastructure out of and they still haven't recovered from it. And Donald Trump actually was a massive fundraiser for the RNC, massive fundraiser for other candidates around the country, was a tremendous party builder. And I say that as someone who worked in the party infrastructure with him.

But -- and to that end, there's money in that party infrastructure that he's raising, that's going to go and help fund the Georgia races. And so, those are essentially a special election. I think it's a really odd time to have a special election because Democrats just won the White House and are pretty happy about that.

And Republicans are angry and they want to kind of get revenge I think, you know, and win a couple of races, and we've already seen record number of ballots being requested. So the turnout in election interest is still incredibly high, just like it was in the last election. So, it's really I think part --

BERMAN: But my question was referendum on the President. To what extent is it a referendum on the President?

SHIELDS: I don't think it's a referendum on the President. I don't -- I think that this is a special election in Georgia. And I think people understand that now that Joe Biden is going to be in the White House that the Senate is up for grabs and do we want to give the Democrats in Washington a blank check with the House, the Senate and the White House, and I think that's going to be very difficult for the Democrats to overcome.

BERMAN; Bakari, you know, you're a young man in politics, and I'm struck by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton. All they're doing now, and sort of the younger generation of Republican politicians. And I just wonder what deep down inside they really think as they see Donald Trump exiting stage left or maybe not really exiting stage left, you know, they are doing everything they can not to alienate him.

None of them have acknowledged the results of the election yet in any real way. But doesn't Donald Trump cut off their ability, his presence cut off their ability to build their own organizations and do what they want to do to build their brands going forward?

SELLERS: So Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Tom Cotton, I'm really glad you asked this question, John, because the Republican Party -- and let me just give Mike and the Republicans this bit of credit -- have done an awesome job of grooming a new generation of elected officials and allowing them the opportunity to lead. Allowing them the opportunity to share leadership roles and allowing them the opportunity to flourish on the main stage of the RNC.

[20:40:09] But with that being said, you just named three people who do not have a path to being President, because they don't have the fortitude, they don't have the courage. And I think that when you name Ted Cruz, when you name Marco Rubio, when you name Tom Cotton, you're naming three people who most individuals in the political realm would deem as being cowards, because they're simply afraid of the shadow of Donald Trump.

There's only one Donald Trump, you can't be him. And the fact that all three of these grown men want to emulate somebody else Ted Cruz, who would probably get more virtue out of fighting back, someone talks about your wife, someone talks about your dad, you don't want to try to be them. You fight them, you punch them in the jaw and you keep moving.

BERMAN: Bakari Sellers. Mike Shields, thanks to both of you. Hope you both have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

SHIELD: You too.

SELLERS: Happy Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: All right, breaking news on coronavirus just ahead, a new record high for hospitalizations in the U.S. And why the Coronavirus Task Force is considering changing the 14-day quarantine period, when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: More breaking news. As we mentioned earlier, the United States has set a new record for the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus. Tonight, that number stands at more than 88,000. That's not the only staggering number.

[20:45:04]

U.S. deaths now approaching 260,000 with more than 1,500 lives lost today, new deaths reported today, more than 146,000 new cases today. The search shows no signs of letting up. The White House Coronavirus Task Force is considering tweaking guidelines and possibly shortening the quarantine period for those infected or anyone has been in close contact with someone who received a positive diagnosis. Here's what Admiral Brett Giroir who is in charge of the nationwide testing program told Wolf Blitzer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADM. BRETT GIROIR, MD, ASST. SECRETARY FOR HEALTH, HHS: As you know, it's quarantined for 14 days, half of people become symptomatic by day five, that's when the virus is present and there's a long tail of very low probability afterwards. So the postulate is, in the CDC is looking at, it will be driven by data. If you get a test at day seven or day 10, particularly, can that shorten your quarantine from 14 days to perhaps 10 days.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: All right, joining me now to discuss, Kathleen Sebelius, former HHS Secretary and Governor of Kansas and Craig Spencer, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. And Doctor, I just want to start with you. This possible change in the quarantine period shortening a little bit, what do you make of it?

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH IN EMERGENCY MEDICINE: Well, I'm glad he said the most important thing and that they're talking to the CDC and that this decision is going to be made on science alone. He's right, we know that the majority of people if they're ultimately going to get symptoms will have symptoms by, you know, day four, or five or six. And the overwhelming majority of people who will test positive will likely test positive by day nine or by day 10. There may be a small percentage of people who will test positive after that.

But I think it's quite reasonable to explore, it could certainly shorten the time from 14 to 10 days if we know the science is there to back that up. And that can make it a lot easier for a lot of people who are being forced to quarantine at home for a longer period of time. Hopefully, we can get that back out safely. But, again, this has to be based on the science and the science alone.

BERMAN: Well, it's an example of things we've learned over the last nine months and that's a good thing. Other things, Secretary, I don't think we've learned so well and then has to do with behavior. Because the White House Coronavirus Task Force put out a statement today that really caught my attention. They talked about the aggressive spread of COVID around the country. And they said that to battle it, there needs to be a, quote, significant behavior change of all Americans.

No, it's November, a significant behavior change of all Americans. How possible is that at this point?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I think it's only possible if it's led from the top and if the American public is allowed to hear regularly from scientists about what's going on if we have clear national guidelines, which we've never had. And if we don't blame the public for what's happening, but acknowledge the fact that we've never had a plan. So, does shortening the quarantine period makes sense? Maybe if scientists say so, but I got to tell you right now, almost no state is doing effective contact tracing, because the virus is so far out ahead of it.

Almost no state including my own in Kansas. If you had a quarantine period and wanted to get a test and a test returned on day seven, and you don't have symptoms, you still don't have access, ready access to fast, reliable tests. So, we are still in the same discussions that we were having in February and March about testing, about protocol, about opening guidelines and the virus is winning this particular chapter. So I think we need to regroup and have a national plan and then start to talk about behavior that models that national plan.

BERMAN: And meanwhile, hospitalizations reaching a new record level, more than 88,000 people hospitalized. It's the 15th consecutive day we've seen record hospitalizations. Dr. Spencer, I know you're planning on spending Thanksgiving in the E.R., what kind of strain is this putting on hospitals around the country?

SPENCER: You know, if you think about the last two big waves that we had, we peaked at around 60,000 people in the hospital and that stress the systems in places like the Northeast, in the Sunbelt, in Florida and in Texas. But what we're seeing right now is cases rising everywhere. We're seeing hospitalizations all throughout the country. And today, we had over 2,000 deaths. So the highest number of deaths that we've had, really since April. And all of these indicators are continuing to climb.

Now I hear a lot of people saying well just get more beds. Well, you need five or six really highly trained professionals, nurses, respiratory techs, doctors to take care of one sick COVID patient. This isn't just go out to IKEA and get more beds. You need a lot of really highly trained physicians and other people to take care of patients. And, quite frankly, a lot of us are exhausted, we're tired.

Over 1,000 health care providers have died from COVID themselves. Many more are getting sick every day because we don't have enough PPE in this country. You know, the system cannot last that much longer if we continue to have such a crush of new cases all throughout this country.

[20:50:07]

BERMAN: Secretary Sebelius, you've got a very unique perspective both being in the Cabinet and also Governor of Kansas. When it comes to getting the vaccine to the people who need it most, what do you think the biggest challenge will be? We've got about a minute left.

SEBELIUS: Well, I think definitely, again, a national plan. Governors need to know exactly what the federal government will do. And the federal government has unbelievable logistical ability and financial ability to help states and local governments hire additional people, get ready for the plan. Right now, pretty much again, governors are being told they're on their own, that the vaccine will come somewhere in their state at some time, and they need to figure out the rest. That's totally unworkable.

There needs to be a national strategy where the federal government plots out how to get the vaccine to various locations where the most vulnerable folks are. Governors can then take it from there. But this has to be a collaborative effort in a transparent effort and that has not happened so far, John.

BERMAN: Secretary Sebelius, Dr. Spencer, thank you to you both. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you can. And Dr. Spencer, thank you --

SPENCER: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- for the work you're doing and continue to do when I guess we'll do on Thanksgiving Day.

SPENCER: Thank you. Be safe. BERMAN: Just ahead, shifting gears, we want to bring you the unlikely bond between prisoners and prep school students. Lisa Ling joins us with that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:45]

BERMAN: So this Sunday night after all the turkey leftovers wrap up the holiday weekend by taking a look at an unlikely experiment. Two worlds, one of promise, one of punishment come together in the season premiere of "This Is Life with Lisa Lang". Lisa brings us a unique look at a prison and prep school that have formed a bond over literature. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA LING, THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING HOST (on-camera): I think it's done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know who's, you know, who were inside.

LING (voice-over): Guiding Hudson and the other students through security gates is the boys English and theology teacher, Jim Nicoletti (ph).

(on-camera): He talk much about what the boys are about to embark on, before they go in?

Well, it's tricky because you don't want to give away too much. We want to be a surprise. We want to be a healthy shock. Geography matters. Getting kids out in the community matters. I'm always telling students don't let school get in the way of your education. A lot of good stuff to see out there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: That's looks amazing. And joining us now is the host of "This Is Life", Lisa Ling. Lisa, this program brings the other students from an all-boys school in California with inmates of a nearby prison, which has the largest concentration of men serving life sentences. Tell us a little bit more about how this program works and why you wanted to focus on it.

LING (on-camera): Well, John, thanks for having me on. Yes. So, for eight weeks during the year, students from the Palma School and Elite Prep School in Salinas, California will go into the CTF prison in Soledad. And as you said, this prison houses more inmates serving life sentences than any other prison in the state.

And every eight weeks, they will study and interpret a different book. And what happens during the course of the eight weeks is pretty transformative, both for the inmates and the students. And the reason why I felt compelled to tell this story is a few years ago, after reading a particular novel, the inmates decided that they wanted to do something for a young man to be able to attend the Palma School. And so, keep in mind, most inmates if they have jobs in prison make an average of about 10 cents an hour. But they decided to start a scholarship. And they raised about $30,000 to put a young man who might otherwise have a difficult time putting himself through this fairly expensive boy's school. And so this past year, a young man named Sai Green (ph) graduated having -- had his -- almost his entire education paid for by inmates at the CTF prison.

BERMAN: I got to say, I knew that story already and I still got chills hearing you just tell it to me again, it really is. So moving, obviously, the prisoners feel connected to the students. You know, what does each group get out of this?

LING (on-camera): Well, John, you would think that it would be the inmates that would really benefit from having these young men come in and read with them. But what really surprised me was seeing the transformation that happened among the students, because these inmates -- and we're not talking about all inmates at the prison -- but in this particular program, they were so candid about their crimes, they were so remorseful about things that they had done in their past, but they were also so evolved with their emotions and recognized how trauma that they experienced as a young person affected the course of the rest of their lives. And so they shared it with these young men.

And week after week, you would start to see these young men become incredibly candid about things that they may have been holding inside of themselves for a very long period of time. And so they would start to divulge things that they'd been holding inside of them. And it was really powerful. I heard some of the students say, wow, I've known Aiden (ph), for example, this other kid, my whole life and I never knew that his father suffered from ALS and passed away.

I knew someone all my life, I never knew that, you know, his parents had, you know, an unfaithful relationship. And it really was about these students getting permission to be able to feel something that is so important for young men to be able to do.

BERMAN: And there are two episodes that premieres Sunday night, the other one also about young men and boys, the father of 13-year-olds. I'm so excited to see this. I always look forward to the premieres of your shows just to see what stories you find because it's always so interesting.

Lisa, thanks so much for being with us.

LING (on-camera): Thanks for having me, John.

BERMAN: And be sure to tune in a brand-new powerful season of "This Is Life With Lisa Ling", premieres with back to back episodes this Sunday starting at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. Or monitor -- don't miss "Full Circle", Anderson's digital new show. You can catch it streaming at 6:00 p.m., Eastern on CNN @CNN.com/full circle or watch it there or on any CNN app anytime on demand.

The news continues. So let's go to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME".