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Sources Say Donald Trump and William Barr had Contentious Meeting on Tuesday after A.G. Dismissed Widespread Voter Fraud in Interview; U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Today Surpass 2,600 and New 100,000 Plus High in Hospitalizations, Cases Top 14 Million; U.S. Covid Deaths Today Surpasses 2,600; New 100+k High In Hospitalizations; Cases Top 14 Million; Woodward & Bernstein On Pres. Trump's Final Days. Aired 8- 9p ET

Aired December 3, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Explain. All right. Thank you so much, Kyung. Thank you.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. AC 360 begins right now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. Reality versus unreality again dominates the program tonight.

First the reality: we are now weeks or even days away from vaccinating people against coronavirus depending how quickly the approval process moves, yet we are also now just entering the darkest moment of the pandemic.

In fact we are not even fully in it. Things will get worse according to the Director of the C.D.C. The numbers apparently aren't yet showing the full impact of Thanksgiving travel and Holiday gatherings, yet, already the daily death toll is stunning.

Right now, the single day count stands at 2,642 and that number, as you know won't be final until the overnight hours.

Last night, the 24-hour total was a record, 3,157. Cases today topped the 14 million mark. It's taken just six days to add the latest million, yet another record day for people hospitalized for COVID, more than 100,000 and with ICU beds running short his state, California's Governor today announced stay-at-home orders for hard hit areas when ICU capacity drops to 15 percent.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The bottom line is if we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed. If we don't act now, we will continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.

Today, we are announcing and introducing a regional stay-at-home order in the State of California


COOPER: It is not just California, Delaware announced stay-at-home orders running from December 14 through January the 11th. In other words, the Holidays.

Arkansas recorded its highest case count of the pandemic, a record as well in Massachusetts. In Michigan, cases are running at five times what they were at the start of October, more than 10,000 new cases today in Florida. Again, vaccines are coming, but the surge is already here. That is reality.

It's what Democratic and Republican governors are all now dealing with. It's what the incoming President and Vice President say is their top priority.

Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper for a conversation that's going to air at the top of the next hour at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, President-elect Biden spoke to a reality that we are all facing right now and said he offered a way out.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important that we in fact, the President and the Vice President, we set the pattern by wearing masks. But beyond that, the Federal government has authority I'm going to issue a standing order that in Federal buildings, you have to be masked and in transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked in airplanes and buses, et cetera.

And so it's a matter of -- and I think my inclination, Jake, is in the first day I'm inaugurated to say I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask, just 100 days to mask, not forever, 100 days.


COOPER: The President-elect also said he will be asking Dr. Anthony Fauci to be a chief medical adviser and part of his coronavirus team.

Meanwhile, in the unreality show, he is taking into his final act, the current President spoke briefly in favor of a compromise economic relief package, but mainly confined his remarks to the fantasy world that he has built for himself. Take a look.

This is the President of the United States today sounding like an old time flim-flam man, every point he makes in the sound that I'm about to show you is made up.


QUESTION: Mr. President, can I ask you to respond to the comments by your Attorney General who indicated he has not seen at this point any evidence of fraud enough to overturn the election results? Given that, why is now not the time to concede?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he hasn't done anything. So he hasn't looked -- when he looks, he'll see the kind of evidence that right now you're seeing in the Georgia Senate.

You know, they're going through hearings right now in Georgia and they're finding tremendous volumes. So they haven't looked very hard, which is a disappointment to be honest with you, because it's massive fraud whether you go to Wisconsin where we just filed a case or Michigan, or if you look at what's happening in Georgia as an example, or Pennsylvania.

If you look at Nevada, which is moving along very rapidly, or Arizona. You saw those numbers come out yesterday, we found massive fraud and in other states also. This is probably the most fraudulent election that anyone's ever seen.


COOPER: I was going to say it would be funny if it wasn't so sad, but that's not true. It would still be sad, even if it wasn't so sad. See how the President there made it sound like there was some kind of a snowball of momentum moving in his favor. Things are moving quickly.

Basically his game is say a state, make something up, say another state makes something else up. Hearings in Georgia, tremendous volumes. Pennsylvania, Michigan, just follow the case in Wisconsin.

Hey, look at Nevada, Arizona. Those numbers that come out yesterday. Look at Georgia.

The reality is there is no momentum in his favor. Just the opposite, in fact.

We got the tape of what the President said at 12:39 Eastern Time, at 1:15, Thirty six minutes later, news hit the local papers in Wisconsin, its

conservative majority Supreme Court declined to hear that case they just filed that the President was crowing about.


COOPER: As for Georgia, here's what the Republican Secretary of State there said just yesterday.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: It looks like Vice President Biden will be carrying Georgia and he is our President- elect. We have seen no substantial changes to the results from any county so far, and that's what we expected.


COOPER: As for Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona, all those states along with Wisconsin and Georgia have certified their results. And again, as Attorney General Barr said this week, the Justice Department has seen no sign of systemic fraud. And yes, they have been looking. We learned as well today that the President has recently sampled

another flavor of dangerous unreality, speaking within the last several days at a meeting with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and other aides, he brought up Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene's support for the QAnon conspiracy cult.

Now QAnon, on in case you haven't been following are the folks who believe that there's a global cabal of Democrats and celebrities who operate child sex rings out of a pizza parlor and worship Satan and drink the blood of children, which is what the Nazis used to say about Jews.

Yet again, the President has nice things to say about them.

A source familiar with the matter telling CNN he said the QAnon consists of people who quote, "basically believe in good government," which then reportedly led to silence in the room.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was reported to have then said that he had not heard the group described as such. Yes. The President really surrounds himself with people of strong moral character who are not afraid to tell him when he is wrong.

Yes. Forty eight days until the President is out of office, and yet there is another corner of this unreal world to report on tonight, one in which a White House liaison to the Justice Department is barred from the Justice Department told not to even enter the building.

Our Kaitlan Collins did the reporting on this and joins us now. So what's happened with his White House liaison?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is not a well-known role, Anderson, but it's critical because you act as the intermediary between the West Wing and these Federal agencies.

And so when you're not allowed in the building, it hinders your ability to be able to do that job. But that's what we're told happen to this White House liaison, because we were told by sources that she was trying to get access to sensitive information that she is not privy to access about potential voter fraud cases that the Justice Department was looking at.

And we're told the belief was that she wanted to share that with the White House. It's not clear because she hasn't commented and neither has the White House or the D.O.J. on this.

But it did lead them to ban her from coming into the building. They told her she was not going to have access to the building any longer. And so the White House has not commented on this. But they do seem to be responding to this because today they announced they're putting her in another position in this advisory board.

And so you can see there that that's where this ended up where the White House is no longer saying that she is going to be in this role. But you've got to remember this comes after in September, the White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, e-mailed the heads of all these Federal agencies and said they were replacing all of the liaison, people who were doing their jobs, not because of performance issues, but because what it was seen as inside the White House is they wanted to put loyalists in those positions, because you really can act as the White House's eyes and ears for what's going on at these agencies given this is a West Wing and a President who has this deep distrust that there's this Deep State constantly working against him.

And of course, Justice Department has been number one on his list, but we are told that she is no longer in that position. So it's not clear who is fulfilling that role at this moment.

COOPER: And President Trump's said that -- or wouldn't say if he had confidence in Attorney General Barr, you have some reporting about their White House meeting this week. What have you learned?

COLLINS: Yes, and the President chooses his words carefully. He's been asked that question a number of times throughout his time in office about certain people and you can always tell when he's actually upset with someone.

The last person I remember him doing it with was the Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who, of course, was fired the week after the election. And so today, the President had that long pause, and I'm told that came after on Tuesday, the President and Barr had a pretty contentious meeting here at the White House after Barr's comments to the Associated Press, completely undercutting the President's argument that you were showing earlier, his claims of fraud, after he said that that just wasn't true. That the D.O.J. had not uncovered any evidence of that.

And so, they had this contentious exchange, of course, that has raised the question by the President's closest advisers about whether or not he is going to fire the Attorney General with just seven weeks left to go. And they say the President is really hesitant to fire someone, Anderson in that realm ever since the blowback that he got from firing James Comey.

And so it's not clear if he will, but he certainly wants to and he has certainly talked about doing so.

COOPER: Fascinating. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. At the top of the program, we played for you that sound when you heard President Trump say about Arizona quote, "You saw those numbers come out yesterday. We found massive fraud."


COOPER: We spent the day trying to figure out what he was talking about, and we couldn't. So we're happy to be joined now by Arizona's Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

Secretary Hobbs, thanks so much for joining us. Do you know what the President was talking about there?

KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: No, we have not found any evidence of fraud here in our state. There continue to be challenges in court that have been free from evidence of fraud and those challenges continue to be dismissed.

So no, I do not know what he's talking about.

COOPER: So the court cases that had been brought forward, they've been dismissed.

HOBBS: There are two pending court cases right now that are challenging the certification of the election that happened on Monday and we expect these to end up the same way that the previous challenges have ended up.

COOPER: And so, in the court challenge. I mean, I think you said they were evidence free. They're not very detailed with any specific, actually credible allegations of fraud, is that correct?

HOBBS: Right. And so there was some investigation of ballots that were duplicated, which is done by humans. And so there were some mistakes found, which is not equivalent to fraud. This is a human process. Error is sometimes inherent there.

And the level that we found is not concerning at all, and nothing that would come near to changing the result of any election.

COOPER: It is so -- I mean, strange, because, you know, yesterday, Vice President Pence swore in Arizona's newest Senator Mark Kelly, by virtue of doing that, I assume the Vice President is acknowledging that the Arizona results are valid.

HOBBS: Well, yes. And you know, we had our Republican governor and Republican Attorney General participate in the certification of the results on Monday. The Republican governor's office prepared that certificate of election that allowed Senator Kelly to be sworn in.

And so you know, things are happening the way that they're supposed to be happening. And we still have Republican elected officials here continuing to cry foul and claim that there's all of this fraud that there isn't.

COOPER: Did you ever expect to see a situation like, I mean, obviously, you know, I'm not talking about just in the run up to this election because obviously, there was a lot of concern and thought about given what the President was saying what might happen afterward.

But just in, you know, in our previous lives, did you ever consider this kind of scenario?

HOBBS: Well, I think, in America, we have free and fair elections. They are a cornerstone of our democracy, and in that system, there's winners and losers. Normally, the losers accept the result and move on.

And I think we sort of predicted leading into this election with all the misinformation that was coming out of the White House about how the election would be rigged that this was a potential outcome.

Certainly, I think this is damaging and has far reaching consequences beyond just this election.

COOPER: And what are the far reaching consequences?

HOBBS: Well, I mean, you have Republicans across the country that are refusing to accept the outcome and continue to de legitimize the integrity of our elections, which the officials and the experts are saying there has been no evidence at all of widespread fraud.

And there are systems in place that check at every place, logic and accuracy testing of the machines, post-election audits that test for those things, and those things have happened.

And we have elected leaders who are fueling these conspiracy theories and refusing to accept the results and continue to say that the election was stolen, and that is frankly dangerous to our democracy.

COOPER: Yes. Arizona Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, I appreciate your time and your work. Thank you.

HOBBS: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead tonight, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in what these final days and weeks of the Trump administration may be like, and they of course covered the final days in the run up to that of the Nixon administration.

First, more perspective, from our CNN political analysts, Gloria Borger and David Gergen.

So, Gloria, the President, I mean, really is operating in this alternate reality ignoring the pandemic, amplifying baseless claims about the election, lying to the American people, raising money that he can use for whatever way he wants it, which people think they're giving to him, in order to, you know, allegedly fight voter fraud. It seems like there's no backing down for him.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, there isn't any backing down. He doesn't feel the need to and he doesn't want to. I spoke with somebody who speaks to the President. He said he is not listening to anybody anymore, and he's not going to.

So this notion that somehow the President is going to come out of this and be gracious and concede. That's not going to happen because he has to have his supporters, whether it's because of who he is or because of what he wants to do in the future, he has to have his own supporters believe that he didn't lose that he's never going to be called a loser.


BORGER: And maybe he wants to monetize this, as you point out, he's already raised, his PAC has already raised over $200 million, 70 percent of that he can use for himself if he wants to or whether he is planning for another run. Who knows if that would ever happen in 2024. But he is not going to leave the stage saying I lost. It's just not going to happen. COOPER: David does setting up like a grievance movement. Is there

evidence that that actually works to catapult somebody for a re- election attempt to run again? I mean, is that enough of a motivation?

I talked to -- we talked to Ben's Ginsberg I remember a while ago, and one of the things he was saying is that, you know, people who run again based on past grievance, saying that they were wronged, it rarely has worked out. I'm wondering if you've seen evidence to the contrary.

I think David's computer has frozen. The joys of what we're living through.

But you know, Gloria with coronavirus numbers. I mean, the numbers are staggering. People are dying at record numbers right now. The President is focused on conspiracy theories, praising QAnon, you know, anti-Semitic based conspiracy theory. President-elect Biden is making plans to combat the virus. It is stunning. Just the disconnect here.

BORGER: Well, it is stunning also, as you pointed out the beginning that the President praises QAnon of people in that meeting don't stand up and say, are you kidding me? What are you talking about?

You know, not only is he not focusing on the virus because of course, maybe he believes that was a hoax as well. But he's spending all his time or his aides are spending an awful lot of time talking about pardons.

And, you know, these pardons in advance of any potential crime for his family, for his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. And you know, Pam Brown and I heard today in our reporting that there is also talk of perhaps pardoning Jared Kushner's father.

Now, Kushner we're told is not involved in these discussions and hasn't talked to the President about it, because he really doesn't need to. But his father, as you recall, went to prison for tax evasion, among other things.

And so that could be on the President's list of pardons. So this is what's keeping him busy.

COOPER: Yes. It wasn't just tax evasion. It was tax evasion and there were some also other shady things.

BORGER: Shady things. Yes, absolutely.

COOPER: I want to play something that President-elect Biden told Jake Tapper today, when he was asked if all these possible preemptive pardons by President Trump concern him. Let's play that?


BIDEN: Well, it concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice. But, look, our Justice Department is going to operate independently on

those issues, how to respond to any of that. I'm not going to be telling them what they have to do and don't have to do.

I'm not going to be saying go prosecute A, B or C. I'm not going to be telling them. That's not the role -- it is not my Justice Department. It's the people's Justice Department.


COOPER: And David Gergen has also, I think figured out the problem. Hey, David, thanks for being here. Sorry about the problem. I'm just wondering what you make about, you know, what we're hearing from this disconnect, this unreal world that the President is, you know, ginning up, obviously, there's financial motives, there is political power motives, and, you know, motives for what his future may be.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Listen, we haven't seen anything like this before in our history. You could argue that Andrew Jackson was denied the presidency in one race that went badly and he screwed around, and then he came back and won the next one.

And showed yes, you can correct these things. But this President is so much off the spectrum, Anderson, it is just out of sight. I think, basically, this is about power. I think he wants to cripple Joe Biden before he ever gets started.

He has been -- it is things he's been doing on the stimulus program, the stalling on the stimulus program, the long line for food, the hurt that is going on in this country, with the archaic contracts with Iran.

There's so many things you can point to that he is really laying ground mines for Joe Biden to step into and block his presidency. And I think it's disgraceful, and Republicans need to stand up and be accountable in this. They will be held accountable by history.

COOPER: But I mean, there is no sign, Gloria, that any of these -- you know, they've not stood up at all since and they remain fearful obviously of the base that Trump has that he has continued to cultivate who is donating money to him that he can use however he wants for the most part.


BORGER: Right. Yes. And look, they are cowards. You hear some Republicans speaking out actually today, Wolf did an interview with Mitt Romney where he was very straightforward about the election. But he's not running for President, I don't think, but there are lots of folks now -- the irony here is they've been paying homage to this President and now he threatens to freeze the race that they want to run in.

So you know, there are senators like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley probably like to be President one day, they've been real supporters of his, what do they do now? He doesn't care about what they do now. He cares about keeping that support for himself in one way or another.

I mean, the Republican Party is of no interest to him.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, David, it is -- it is just -- it's so clear. I don't -- there's no way any Republican on Capitol Hill believes that Donald Trump really cares about the Republican Party.

GERGEN: No, their problem is Anderson, he's got more support back in their districts in their states than they do and that gives him enormous -- it gives him enormous leverage against them. That's what political power is all about.

That's why you know, how much people win by matters; it is not just victory, it is how big the margin is. And Trump did very, very well in the general election, but he's got a lot more power in state by state than any other Republican by some distance.

COOPER: Yes. David Gergen and Glory Borger. Thank you.

Coming up next, our medical team on the coming vaccines and the President-elect's call for a hundred days of mask wearing and on the incredible difficult holiday season we are all now facing.

Later Woodward and Bernstein and their thoughts about this President's final days and weeks in office.



COOPER: We are seeing the brightest light possible at the very end of the darkest tunnel imaginable that is where we are in the pandemic right now and thank goodness so many of us and those we love are healthy. Thank goodness, too, that so many of us can do what we can do to help others if we choose.

And if you ever needed just one more reason to wear a mask or just stay home for the Holidays, listen to this doctor from an overburdened hospital in Minnesota. Maybe do it for her.


DR. SARA SPILSETH, REGIONS HOSPITAL, ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA: What we do today, what we do tomorrow, what we do this holiday season will determine who exactly gets to the other side.

What I see are patients with breathing tube lining the hallways. I see patients who are gasping for air. I see family members on iPads crying because they just want to be able to see their mom, their dad, their brother one last time. That's what I see.


COOPER: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta also Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician, educator and former Health Commissioner for the City of Baltimore. Sanjay, I want to ask you about the President-elect's plan for masks.

But first I know you talked to Dr. Fauci today. What do you make of President-elect Biden telling Jake Tapper that he has asked Dr. Fauci to stay on?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's heartening to hear. I mean, Dr. Fauci has obviously been around for a long time. He has served six Presidents, will serve in sort of a chief medical adviser role, a sort of role that he has done for quite some time.

So it's -- you know, it's very reassuring. He's obviously been talking about this pandemic since the beginning. He has worked with Ron Klain before on the Ebola outbreak here in the United States.

So you know, I think he is the infectious disease guy we all turn to. It's great to know, he's still going to be able to do that sort of work.

COOPER: And obviously, Sanjay, President-elect Biden won't be able to mandate mask usage nationwide, though, he could do so as he said, in Federal buildings and plans to. How much difference do you think his plea for everyone to voluntarily, you know, mask for a hundred days could make?

GUPTA: Well, you know, this has become a very politicized issue. So I think there's some people who are just not going to wear masks as a statement, frankly.

But I've got to tell you, you know, it's interesting, I was at the White House a week before last to interview Ambassador Birx. I was in the Eisenhower Building -- the Executive Office Building -- and it was it was amazing to me, it was really cold outside, that maybe 40 to 50 percent of people were wearing masks.

I don't know, maybe that's not that surprising to other people. But it is a White House building, you know, we are in the middle of a pandemic, 250,000 people have died and 40 to 50 percent of people wearing masks, I think most were not.

And I think that the things that President-elect Biden is talking about will make a difference because even within Federal buildings, other institutions may take those cues. Hospitals do it all the time.

But other places of large employment may start to do that as well, and I think it will make a difference.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, I know you recently wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" which was fascinating and I urge people to read it. In it, you write that it's clear what lies ahead that we must cancel our Christmas and Holiday celebrations now.

I think for a lot of folks hearing that, it's really hard. It's been a tough year for many, and people want to see their loved ones. What do you tell them? DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: So Anderson, I would say that it

is really hard. The pandemic fatigue is real, and we all cannot wait until this is over, and the end is not that far away. But we have to get through this winter because what lies ahead for the next few months, it is actually our worst case scenario in terms of overwhelmed hospitals, in terms of the death count that is occurring.

And so you know, there's just so much virus in our communities right now. If you host a dinner of 10 people in many parts of the country, you have a one in four chance that someone at that dinner has coronavirus and doesn't know it and will spread it to others.

And I am certain that none of us want to be the person who is the inadvertent super spreader or hosting an inadvertent super spreader event. But that is what has probably happened over Thanksgiving, probably what will happen over Christmas and so let's not have those gatherings and not travel for nonessential purposes right now.

COOPER: Sanjay, the Pfizer CEO told NBC tonight that is unclear whether a person who receives the vaccine could still transmit the virus, which is pretty big unknown. Can you just explained how that could happen and what people would need to do to prevent it?

GUPTA: Yes, I think this is a really fundamental point. The way this trial worked, you had about 20,000 people or so who received the vaccine, 20 or so thousand people received the placebo.

Over a period of time, there were close to a hundred people who developed symptoms and sort of raised their hands and came forward and what they found was the vast majority of people who got symptoms who developed the disease were in the placebo group. That's where that 90 percent efficacy sort of number comes from.


What -- but what we don't know, and I think this is the point that Albert Bourla was making is that we don't actually even know for certain that this vaccine prevents infection. And we don't know that if it whether or not to prevent someone who's infected from transmitting. What we can definitively say is that it really greatly is effective at preventing disease, which is really important, right? People may still get it, they may even still transmit it. But if it can dramatically reduce disease, that's really important. Now may turn out that it does actually work pretty well, preventing infection and transmission. We just don't know that yet. Those are going to be longer term studies.

COOPER: I hadn't realized that. I mean, I know the reporting we're doing I guess, I mean, shows my lack of, you know, I should have studied more in science when I was younger. But I just assumed it meant you could not get infected.

GUPTA: Right? Yes, no, I think look, I think a lot of people think that and it's not, it's one of those things where you have to look at what was the prime will he call the primary endpoint of the study. And really, with this primary endpoint they were looking for in these trials was to determine does it actually reduce the likelihood of getting COVID-19. Now, again, it may do those other things. We just haven't seen the data to be able to say that at this point.

COOPER: And Dr. Wen if the vaccine is approved by the FDA, and everything goes to plan, how do you educate people on how the vaccine works, and any expected, you know, side effects. I mean, you hear about people all the time refusing to get flu shots every year, because they're worried, they're actually getting injected with the flu.

DR. LEANA WEN, FMR BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Right. And I think it is important for us to debunk that myth that if you get the flu vaccine, you're not going to get the flu from the vaccine. But I hear that all the time for my patients, when I counsel them on the importance of getting the flu vaccine, somebody may have had a side effect of the past. And they say, well, that gave me the flu, when actually that was unexpected side effect. And I think that's what we need to do the same thing with COVID-19, we need to let people know, not minimize the side effects, but rather be really transparent about them. You could get a local side effect, a local reaction of pain, redness, swelling, where the injection goes in, you could also develop fever, fatigue, body aches, that's normal, that's expected. That's certainly a lot better than being intubated, put on a ventilator and maybe die.

So, it's important for us to educate about this. And I also think that having trusted messengers carry that message is important. I was just talking to a local preacher in Baltimore, who was explaining them what he wants to do is to have an immunization drive at his church, and he wants to be the first to roll up his sleeve and get the vaccination to help to counter distrust in our community. And I think they will be many efforts like that locally that are really critical.

COOPER: Sanjay, researchers for the New England Journal of Medicine say that the Moderna vaccine can what they said was eliminate an immune response, or excuse me, elicit an immune response can last at least 119 days. That's after the first vaccination. So I mean, 119 days doesn't sound terribly long. They do say at least what is that -- can you explain what this means?

GUPTA: Yes. So they're trying to figure out this unanswered question at this point. And this paper, which I looked at doesn't answer it. The question is, how long does the protection from these vaccines last? And what you got to keep in mind is when they looked at these again, these endpoints, they're, they're measuring about a three month time period. So they can say that during those three months, there was a little bit of waning, you know, decreasing of the antibodies. But there was still strong immune response. It's also one of these things, Anderson, where at the end of the day, the real question is, is someone likely to, you know, become sick with this disease, you may have protection in forms other than the antibodies themselves. So, how long does the immunity last after a shot? We still don't know the answer to that. But what they're saying at least three months.

COOPER: Sanjay, thanks. Dr. Wen as well, appreciate your time. Even as COVID hospitalizations climb and the death toll sets a pandemic record, there does seem to be some movement at long last towards a congressional stimulus package that would help mitigate the economic damage done by the virus. Talks are intensifying between Republicans and Democrats for deal after months of arguments.

Joining me now to help sort things out is Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

You see the numbers, the infections, the deaths reaching grim new milestones virtually every day now. Obviously, the economy also continues to suffer. What do you say to many Americans who are wondering why Congress still hasn't passed a second relief packet?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, what I will tell them is that Democrats as you will know Anderson passed a $3 trillion bill almost eight months ago, a one that would have comprehensively not had Americans in the dire conditions that they're in. We understand that we were blocked continuously. And we understand now having come back to Washington that we just cannot leave, we have to continue to try and reach some solution. We know that there is one American dying every 30 seconds from COVID-19. There are no options. And the bill that is now before us, so will be before so still being negotiated is not what we would have wanted. Meaning Democrats who work so hard to make sure that cities and counties wouldn't be bleeding, that families wouldn't be evicted or having mortgage foreclosures. But we're at this point now.


And so, this bill has enough money for about a four-month period. That includes 160 billion for our counties and cities and states that are bleeding revenue. $288 billion for the paycheck protection, maybe we can keep a few more small businesses from closing, and of course, money for education and money for vaccine affirmation continue testing. So, we put in the necessities. And of course, something that we were fighting over is liability protection using taxpayer dollars that Senator McConnell seem to want it out for his for businesses that might be engaged in COVID-19 lawsuits. We had to deal with what we could deal with. But the main issue is Americans are dying. Americans need testing and they need the vaccination. And they need the distribution process or protocols in place so that we can try and save lives.

COOPER: How far do you think you are for from some kind of compromise and agreement on this?

JACKSON LEE: Well, the good news is that leadership has begin to pour over the bill. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have indicated that we cannot leave without a reasonable response to these lives that are being lost. I think we're in a good place, I think all of us have to pour over it. We all have responsibilities to our district. But we have responsibilities to the nation. I can't go home without a bill that will help our schools and help our children normalize, or to provide some guidance on how we will distribute the vaccines, and as well to save small businesses. And finally, every day that I've been in the district, our local governments have said we have no revenue. We have police and fire, we have municipal workers, we've got to be able to have revenue to continue working. And I think this four month window till after President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are the President and Vice President of United States where we can have a reason negotiator, someone who is focusing on dying Americans, and that focusing on dead elections, I think we'll be able to move forward.

COOPER: I've heard you talk about the issue of hunger in America. And certainly, what we've been seeing during this pandemic is just it's heartbreaking. You know, folks, I mean, huge lines in cities around the world, in cities around the country, certainly, and people who normally have not even, you know, had to go to food banks before now we're now relying on them. We reported last week, some 50 million people may go hungry this year, because of the impact of COVID-19. What can be done to stem that?

JACKSON LEE: First of all, I see it every day, we have been in the mix of food distribution almost every week, I'll go home this weekend for just a short period of time and do another food distribution, the cars along not just in Houston and Harris County, but it's all over the nation. And of course, people have said that it is people who have been food insecure. And I think we should not ignore them. They've been going to bed hungry for a long time. But it's also people who've lost their jobs. It's families, it's people who've lost two parents, if you will, and I have the children remaining. So we have to focus on that.

I believe what will happen is that if we can pass this crunch bill, this COVID-19 emergency bill, if you will, will immediately get to work starting at the very beginning of January to focus largely on food insecurity. Will continue to give if we can give cities and counties dollars, they can continue to help our food banks, people who have means or continue to donate to our food banks. I frankly have just joined some college students who are going to do a Texas sized Christmas they're going to collect goods and money until December 22nd. And by the way, they want to challenge colleges across America to be part of that because we know that food insecurity is real. People are going to bed hungry.


JACKSON LEE: Children awaking hungry and going to bed hungry. We're not going to let that last, Anderson. I think we'll be really working on it when we return to get as much money as possible.

COOPER: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, appreciate it. Thank you very much. Quick --

JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.

COOPER (voice-over): Quick programming note, with COVID vaccine delivery close to becoming reality. Please join Dr. Sanjay Gupta me tomorrow night 9:00 p.m. Eastern for new edition of CNN Town Hall, The Vaccines at the focus longer and our guest is Dr. Anthony Fauci.


No matter what President Trump or his ally said, there's no question that the President is entering his final days and weeks as an occupant of the White House.

(voice-over): Up next, a special conversation with two journalists who wrote bestseller about another president's final days. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein join me. That President was of course Richard Nixon, what is different, what's the same when we continue.


COOPER: Just a reminder, coming up at the top of the hour. President- elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris in their first joint interview since the election with Jake Tapper.

As they get ready to take office, President Trump is in the throes of his final weeks. Here to talk about it all, two legendary journalists who wrote a best seller of course about another president's final days those are Richard Nixon.


I'm delighted to be joined by Bob Woodward, author of the new bestseller Rage based on multiple tape conversations with President Trump and his longtime reporting partner. The Washington Post during Watergate Carl Bernstein. It's a pleasure to have you both with us.

Bob, when you look at how Republicans now continue to entertain President Trump's lies and conspiracies and baseless claims of voter fraud and election fraud. What does it tell you about the grip this president will have in the Republican Party for the next four years?

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, RAGE: Well, we did at least for the next 50 days, it's going to be rather absolute. I think it's shameful, quite frankly, the way the Republicans have just kowtow to this. Now, Trump, clearly as a political force, those 74 million people have voted for him. It's amazing. But this, I think, after January 20th, will start to crack. And I know as Carl knows, privately, lots of these senators will just say, they want to get Trump out of there. They want to move on and they're keeping their fingers crossed.

COOPER: Carl, can they move on? I mean, if he is threatening to run again, and holding that over the head of all these republicans who many of whom themselves want to run.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They could show some courage, instead of continuing to enable a shameful President of the United States who continues to attempt a coup. He continues to attempt to coup and not a serious leader of the Republican Party has come out and said, this must stop Mr. President. He continues to undermine the electoral system for the future, so that this election is called into doubt because of his lies by so many people. Look, Richard Nixon was a criminal president, who was held to account because people in his own party said, Mr. President, you cannot do these criminal acts. What Donald Trump did is, is a subversive American president such as we've never seen who has subverted the national interest. At every turn, we have hundreds of thousands of Americans dead and dying, because of his homicidal negligence. And he continues to abdicate his responsibilities, while more and more people die. And he focuses on his own narrow, selfish interests. We've never seen anything like this. And it is an episode in our history. That is going to resonate for a long time, especially for the Republican Party.

COOPER: Bob, I mean, you know, obviously, politicians, you know, have lied before but the scale of it the brazenness of it, the complete disregard for what is true and not. And the acceptance by the President and supporters of his lies is extraordinary. Can things ever go back? I mean, are now or does everybody have free rein to just live in their own reality? And I'm talking about every politician have free rein to live in their own reality and just say whatever they want free of concern about what is actually true.

WOODWARD: Well, I don't think people are going to try to pull Trump stunts in the exact same way they may do it differently. But, you know, we were talking about the final days here, and I think it is the final days of Trump. And the interesting question is, does it mere and resembles what happened to Nixon in 1974. And, as you may recall, the Nixon final days had some real weird episodes, like Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, getting down on their knees and praying together as the president pounded the carpet, asking the question, what has happened? What has -- what have I done? Also, Nixon's son-in-law Eddie Cox called Senator Griffin, who was a senator from Michigan at that time, very close to Richard Nixon. And Eddie Cox said we're really worried about the president. He was up talking to the pictures of former presidents giving speeches. We're worried that he might take his own life.

I don't think it is reached that point with Trump. But that speech last night was one of the most bizarre performances I have ever seen not only detached from reality, but he actually got somebody to write it because he had a teleprompter there saying all these things that make no sense and as Carl points out.


We've -- the number one calamity, for this nation now is the pandemic and for 10 months, Trump has ignored. When I did one of these interviews with Trump, I said, what's the job of the president and Trump said to protect the people, and he has failed in a way that truly is unimaginable to protect the people that he's supposed to lead?

COOPER: And Carl, I mean, the comparisons to the final days of Nixon and those details that Bob was just talking about our, you know, extraordinary I'd forgotten about the paintings and him speaking to the paintings and concerns about him taking his own life. Do you see it? Do you see parallels? BERNSTEIN: I see something far worse. Because what Donald Trump has done is from the beginning of his presidency, but in the final days, and the final months, more than any other time, he has undermined the interest of the United States, the health and welfare of its people. We have breadlines. No, we haven't seen red lines in this country since the depression. That's really what these food lines are about. We haven't heard a peep out of this President of the United States, nor about the coronavirus, which is killing our people by the hundreds of thousands.

But let's talk about son-in-laws as Bob just did. Eddie Cox was not a co-conspirator in the presidency of his father-in-law. Let's look at Jared Kushner, let's look at the pardons that we know the President is now considering for his grifter children, for his daughter, for his son-in-law. What is that all about? What does that tell us about the values of this President of the United States? Where is the national interest? And what are these pardons about? And what have they been about continuing the cover ups that have started early in this presidency, and are going through the final days of this presidency so that people can't be prosecuted and information cannot be obtained.

Look at Paul Manafort, the President's campaign manager who was in contact with Russian agents, and we know is the point of contact with the Russians. We don't know about his discussions with Donald Trump with Roger Stone. The cover ups continue, including the financial interests that were pursued by the President while he was in office and his children. So, these final days are unique in our history in terms of the venality of vino vino (ph) situation, and President of the United States.

COOPER: Yes. And Bob, 48 days to go, a lot can happen in 48 days. I want to play part of your interview with President Trump back from July 21st.


WOODWARD: The question is going to be we're going to look back, and we're going to say an end of July, August, September, October, what happened with the virus? Did people -- people want, you know, we've talked about this, people want their president to succeed. Now you're right, there's some people who don't.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: No, no, no. I think your wrong.

WOODWARD: But, but, but --

TRUMP: No, people don't want me to succeed.

WOODWARD: No, no. But if you succeed, they succeed.

TRUMP: Even the rhinos, even the rhinos don't want to succeed. They'll end up with a Supreme Court and lots of things that they're not going to be happy with.

WOODWARD: Is there any lesson you take? Because I think this is so important. I have, you know, I keep -- because I'm in the business of trying to understand other people. I keep learning about, how do you really understand people? How do I understand you? I mean, you and I --

TRUMP: You don't understand me, you understand me. But that's OK. You'll understand me after the election. But you don't understand me now.

WOODWARD: You don't think so?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so. I don't think, I don't think you get it.

WOODWARD: And what are the questions I've not asked that have not been answered?

TRUMP: I think you've asked me a lot of very good questions. A lot of personal questions. I think you've asked me a lot of good stuff.


COOPER: You'll know me after the election. Yes. I mean, you'll see who I am after the election.


COOPER: That's to me, that's, that's -- yes.

BERNSTEIN: It really counts.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Bob, we are seeing who this President is right now. I mean, the display you talked about in that rambling 46 minutes when he was talking yesterday, which we didn't even air because just so full of lies.

WOODWARD: Yes. Rightly so. I mean, when he says I don't understand him. We do understand Trump now. And the difficulty is larger than anybody could have expected. I don't think he knows the difference between the truth and untruth. And when something comes up, if he decides it, is to his advantage to speak on truth, he will do it easily, happily. And if the truth on rare occasion serves him, he will do that


I just want to read was one other thing we played in this, now that the pandemic has struck and this has, Carl was asking about Jared Kushner, and so forth. And here's one of the things seven months ago, Jared Kushner said, oh, we're now in the comeback phase, dealing with the pandemic, and, quote, Trump's now back in charge, it's not the doctors. Now think about that. That somehow it is a great thing that Trump is sideline the doctors and look at what the result is. I mean, that is something you don't want on your tombstone.

COOPER: You know, CNN, Carl, CNN is reporting tonight that --

BERNSTEIN: Let me say one other thing you don't want on. Go ahead. COOPER: No, no, go.

BERNSTEIN: One other thing that you don't want on your tombstone is Mitch McConnell, not talking about this, not coming on this broadcast, the Republican leaders not addressing this. This is on their tombstones, not just Donald Trump's. That's what's so extraordinary about what we're going through. Not saying to the President of the United States, put we are going to put down this coup that you have attempted. Mr. President, we are going to speak the truth, unlike you. We have not had that in four years.

COOPER: Bob obviously, the pardons, you know, there's been reporting on the President looking into, you know, a variety of pardons for as, as Carl keeps saying his kids, I believe those grifter kids, Carl said. And others possibly Jared Kushner's father, even. President Nixon, of course, was pardoned by President Ford. The only way I assumed President Trump would likely be pardoned, as if he did it himself, which I -- not even sure I mean, I've talked to some legal analysts. And it's not clear exactly who would have to determine if that's even constitutionally allowed.

But Ford wrote in his autobiography that Nixon's pardon, wasn't motivated primarily by sympathy for his plight, or by concern over the state of his health. It was the state of the country's health at home and around the world that worried me. It was criticized a lot at the time. I'm wondering how history views that now.

WOODWARD: Well, they're in a very interesting way. I think it was 1998. Well, 25 years after Watergate. Ford had been out of office for two decades, I went to interview him at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, and asked say what, you know, why didn't you get an admission from President, former President Nixon that he had committed crimes. So, Ford opens his wallet and pulls out a little newspaper clipping. And it's a clipping from a Supreme Court decision 1915 the Burdick decision in which it said that the acceptance of a pardon is a confession of it. And Ford held that out and said, so I got him to say, Uncle, I got him to say, at least legally that he had confessed to the crimes of Watergate.

COOPER: That's really interesting. Do you think he carried that -- put it in his wallet to show you or do you think he carried that with him like all the time?

WOODWARD: No, it was yellowed and folded out.


WOODWARD: I suspect he showed a lot.

COOPER: So that's really interesting. Wow. Bob Woodward --

WOODWARD: He wanted to --

COOPER: Go ahead. No, go ahead Bob.

WOODWARD: No, no, he wanted to, to make it clear. And of course, the most important thing that for did here, he really took the road, took the nation on the road of healing.


WOODWARD: And as he said, the long national nightmare is over. And he took a lot of heat for pardoning Nixon. And Carl and I now think it was the right thing to do.

COOPER: We got to leave it there. Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein. Thank you.

One last --

BERNSTEIN: Great act of courage.

COOPER: Carl, thanks. Even as we've been talking COVID death toll has been climbing in the hour, we've been on the air it has risen to more than 2,700 that's the second highest single day death toll still three hours until the day ends. At least 276,148 people have now died in this country from this virus.


Want to hand over to Jake for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's, their first joint interview since winning the White House.