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Average Daily COVID-19 Deaths Highest Since April; WaPo Reports President Trump Asks Pennsylvania House Speaker for Help Overturning Election Results; Source: Trump Planning Return Trip To Georgia To Support GOP Senate Candidates; Trump On If He'll Keep Pursuing Recounts: "I Think The Case Has Been Made"; Wash Post: Trump Asks PA House Speaker For Help Overturning Election Results; Pro-Trump Group Screams, Yells Outside Home Of Michigan Secretary Of State; Young Mom Loses Battle With Covid After Giving Birth. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 7, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Isa, thank you very much, an absolutely stunning report. Thank you so much for going in and sharing all of that with us.

And thanks to all of you for watching it. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: And good evening to you. Seventy-nine years ago today, the country was reeling from the loss of 2,403 American lives at Pearl Harbor. Those deaths stunned the nation. There was understandable outrage and fury over the attack.

President Roosevelt declared war on Japan the next day, called it a date which will live in infamy. Two thousand four hundred three American deaths at Pearl Harbor.

Right now, the United States is averaging more than 2,200 COVID deaths a day. That's nearly one Pearl Harbor every 24 hours. By April of next year at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects the pandemic will have killed upwards of a hundred thousand more people in this country then all the American troops killed in three and a half years at the Second World War, more than half a million dead.

President Trump is the one who likened this to a war. He called himself in fact a Wartime President. That was a long time ago. Those were in the days when he wanted to be seen as a Commander-in-Chief leading the effort when he took over the coronavirus press briefings and then stopped listening to the doctors who actually knew what they were doing.

Now, the President doesn't seem concerned about being a Wartime Commander. If anything, he seems more like a deserter. He is absent.

The American people have given him leave, voting him out at the ballot box, but he still has some weeks left. He has chosen to go AWOL. He has declined to join the fight against COVID. He is not rallying

anyone to wear masks. He's not talking about our dead, our hurt, our fear. Yes, it has been that way for months, I know.

But it is particularly galling given so many of us are now sick and dying.

December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt said -- and I'm quoting here, "There is no blinking the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger." He was spelling it out for us.

August 14, 2020, here is what this President told Bob Woodward.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But nothing more could have been done. Nothing more could have been done.


TRUMP: I acted early. I acted early. So we'll see.


COOPER: It was not just a declaration of surrender, but a justification for having already surrendered months before. Worse, unlike FDR, this President did not make it in front of Congress. His words came in a private conversation. He didn't have the courage or the decency to tell the American people the truth that he was forfeiting.

As far as he was concerned, he'd already done all he could, already checked out.

Since then, another 115,000 of our fellow Americans, many of whom supported and voted for the President as if that should even matter, but to him, you would think it might, have died of coronavirus.

As of tonight, the count now stands at more than 283,000 with nearly 1,300 deaths reported just today.

On Friday, the President signed an order claiming today National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It reads in part, "We solemnly honor and uphold the memory of the patriots who lost their lives that day."

He had nothing to say, however, about the 2,879 Americans reported dead in this country of COVID the night before he signed that Proclamation, nor did he speak of the dead at his largely maskless rally in Georgia the very next day. How many of them might have survived if more had been done? If more of us wore masks, social distanced -- if the President really was a Wartime Commander.

Instead, he claims nothing more could have been done and look at the shot there. See how the people behind him are not wearing masks?

You may recall that is different than what you'd see when he was on the campaign trail, when he still hoped to get your vote, before he lost the election. The campaign used to put people with masks behind him to at least pretend that they cared. In fact, they would give them masks often, if they didn't have masks of their own.

They were -- they were pretending to do the right thing. They're not even pretending to care anymore.

It is now every man and women woman for themselves. And look, that's the way it's always been with this President and the people he has chosen to surround himself with. But it's more clear than ever.

As for the dead, the only dead the President spoke of were the ones in his fantasies about the election he lost.


TRUMP: We know the Democrats had dead people voting and you've got to watch it. Dead people -- you wouldn't believe how many.


COOPER: Sure, that's how he speaks of dead people. He speaks lies of fake dead people and says nothing about those who have died on his failed watch.

He said nothing about the dead who might have voted if COVID hadn't taken them, nearly 1,600 deaths reported on Election Day. He and the people around him just don't care anymore. They are looking for other jobs as we've been reporting, looking to see how they can maybe salvage what's left of their reputations, while the President is certainly pondering his next moves and raking in a whole lot of money to let him use as he'd like.


COOPER: By claiming it's going to be for his battle against the election fraud that never was.

Take a look at ceremony today at the White House, the Medal of Freedom, hardly a mask to be seen nor any distance he had between the guests.

The President, as you know, has boasted of being immune to the virus. As for everyone else? Does it look like he cares?

He certainly cares about getting credit for the vaccine. Less than a week after the election, he tweeted, quote, "As I long said, Pfizer and the others would only announce a vaccine after the election because they didn't have the courage to do it before."

When it comes to the vaccine, which is as far as his interest seems to extend, late today, "The New York Times" reported that the administration in late summer actually turned down the chance to buy more doses from Pfizer, which would have meant more vaccines available on day one. The administration denies it. The vaccine and could receive emergency use approval in a matter of

days, but the President shows no interest in doing or even saying anything that might keep more people alive to get it. Certainly not helping the Biden -- incoming Biden administration as much as they could. Not now, and perhaps not even up until inauguration.

Not in August when he told Bob Woodward that nothing more could have been done and on April, months after he told Woodward, the virus was airborne and far deadlier than the flu.


TRUMP: So it's voluntary. You don't have to do it, they suggested for a period of time. But this is voluntary. I don't think I'm going to be doing it. I just don't want to be doing it.

I don't know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office, behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a facemask as I greet Presidents, Prime Ministers, dictators, Kings, Queens, I don't know, somehow, I don't see it for myself. I just -- I just don't.


COOPER: Yes, it doesn't look good. Huffing and puffing, after getting off a helicopter, after having left the hospital early after having COVID, that apparently is presidential in this President's mind, but actually just wearing a thin piece of fabric over your mouth and over your nose to protect others that is somehow not something he can do.

The self-proclaimed Wartime President already announcing the terms of surrender in a war he never cared to fight because he could see nothing in it for himself, not even the credit for saving lives just by putting a piece of cloth over his face.

Nearly 1,400 Americans die that day, in fact alone, which ought to live in infamy.

President-elect Biden named members of his health team today: Xavier Becerra as H.H.S. Secretary, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy returns to that post, Dr. Anthony Fauci will serve as Chief Medical Adviser.

Joining us now is "New York Times" foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman who recently spoke with the President-elect. He is, as you know, author of too many bestsellers to count including "The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization."

Tom, public health experts warn the pandemic would worsen as the weather got colder. Political experts insist President Trump wouldn't take well to losing. Still though, does it feel worse, the gross tonnage of all this? Does it feel in some ways darker than the worst fears?

I mean, the idea that we are close to the numbers of the pandemic of 1918 is just extraordinary. THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know,

Anderson, listening to your introduction and thinking about the President's behavior, it is like he's telling the country, I demand the right not to lead you.

What is he fighting for in his election? I demand the right not to leave you. This is possibly one of the greatest leadership challenges and moments in our country's history. This is the greatest public health crisis we've ever faced.

And the fact that he won't take charge, the fact that he won't help Biden, it's despicable for all the reasons you said, Anderson. But the thing that makes it to me the most troubling, just the most despicable, don't do it for yourself, okay, don't do it for your party. Don't do it for me, but do it for the healthcare workers, the doctors and the nurses manning the frontlines in hospitals and clinics and nursing homes.

When you don't wear a mask for whatever reason, what you're doing is you're raising the exposure of yourself and other people that are going to put you in a hospital in an emergency room and expose these people.

And they are already burned out. We know that. So do it, if not for him, for me, for you, do it for the doctors and nurses because we're about to enter a two-month period, every expert is telling us that I think, Anderson, I think we can't imagine. It's going to be like unlike any period in our history and the pressure it is going to put on hospitals and doctors and nurses is going to be just excruciating. So stop being a pig and do it for them.


COOPER: And I mean, you know, I said this on the program before, but we did some reporting in Niger during a malnutrition crisis, there was a doctor from Doctors Without Borders, Milton Tectonidis and he was talking about children dying from malnutrition and dying of things that an antibiotic that cost 25 cents would save their life from, but that it just wasn't accessible to their parents.

And they keep calling it stupid deaths, deaths that did not need to occur.

These are -- many of these deaths do not need to occur. I mean, if we had done more, myself included, if we had worn masks more and social distanced more and done more and rallied together as a nation, which is something we used to be able to do and I don't understand that given all this calamity that why we cannot right now rally as a nation.

FRIEDMAN: Well, that is the saddest thing because you know, big hard things can only be done together. This is this is the biggest hardest public health challenge we've ever faced.

It is a moment that not only cries out for leadership, but history would so reward leadership by a President who actually put everything down and said, you know what, I get it. Forget the election, you know, forget party. Right now, I have one job, to pull us together.

And again, it was never masks or sporting events, mask or restaurants, mask or work. It's always mask for sporting events, mask for restaurants. And you know, the maddening thing is that, it is precisely by wearing a mask, doing the smart things would actually allow the economy to come back sooner, faster, bigger.

And it's just the unwillingness -- it's just the insistence on my right to be dumb as I want to be. I can be dumb as I want to be. And unfortunately, that mood, that attitude has been harming our country for a while now.

COOPER: As I mentioned, you recently interviewed President-elect Biden, you wrote in "The Times" that he seemed cautiously optimistic about what he and the administration can accomplish.

He also said that -- he told you, he's felt, quote, "no moment of elation." I'm wondering what your sense of what he believes he can actually get done in the short term?

I mean, he mentioned to Jake Tapper that he'll ask Americans to wear masks for a hundred days. Beyond that, though, you know, what do you think the early part of the Biden administration looks like?

I would imagine a fair amount of Executive Orders given what this -- President Trump has done. I don't know. What do you foresee?

FRIEDMAN: Yes, I'd say a couple of things that really struck me in talking to the President-elect, Anderson, you know, one is the simple fact that we are so lucky that we now have, as our President about to take over, a person who is impossible to hate, after four years of a hate-filled presidency, that has so divided the country.

Biden is impossible to hate. And I think that's going to be very important. It's going to enable him to reach out to a lot of other Americans who did not vote for him.

At the same time, he -- you know, he is so clearly surrounding himself with really high quality people. I know that Vivek Murthy very well -- who is going to be Surgeon General. He is just a wonderful person. These are really high quality people.

And I think what I'm hoping for, Anderson, is that, you know, there's nothing like the bully pulpit of the presidency, and we've seen how destructive the bully pulpit of the presidency can be when you have a bully in the pulpit.

But when you have someone who is soft spoken, who is not in your face, who is trying to pull people together, I do hope that after January 20th, that he will model the right behavior and that it will inspire, not everyone, but more Americans to start doing the right thing.

I was so struck, Anderson in the comments on my column in "The New York Times" how many people wrote in and just said, wow, wow. I forgot what it's like to listen to a President who speaks so thoughtfully, so carefully about issues; who doesn't -- isn't exclaiming his perfection and dividing the country and decrying fake news. That just the sobriety of the conversation, people forgot what normal is like.

COOPER: Yes. And you know, one of the things he told you is that he thinks much of the ugliness that's defined the Trump era will disappear when President Trump is no longer in office.

Clearly, you know, President Trump is going to attempt to stay in the headlines as much as possible, you know, whatever network he ends up, you know, doing whatever he is going to do on -- you know, obviously Twitter and things like that, he'll maybe start merchandising stuff, make paid speeches to you know, people who admire him.


COOPER: He is going to do everything he can. Do you think that he will be able to maintain the sort of the grip he has on so many people or out of office, he will just be a carnival barker like so many other people on talk radio?

FRIEDMAN: You know, we talked about this I think once before, Anderson, where I pointed out that former Secretary of State Jim Baker used to joke that how do you know you're out of power in Washington? It is when your limousine is yellow and your driver speaks Farsi.

Okay, so when you're -- and so what none of us know is what will Trump's grip on that party be when his limousine is yellow, and his driver speaks Farsi, when he's out of power?

You know -- and I think that's actually, Anderson, what he's afraid of most, because Trump understands power and he is terrified that the phone calls won't be answered so quickly, that maybe the access to FOX News won't be so great.

But the real culprit here, the real culprit, and the truly shocking thing beyond his behavior is that at this point in this election, and at this point in this pandemic, there aren't five, ten Republican senators who just say enough, sorry, this is -- this election is over. This pandemic hasn't even begun to crest, and I am not participating in this farce any longer.

You think, five, ten, that not one -- when you think of people like Solzhenitsyn, the Sakharov who were ready to go to prison, to suffer the worst, you know, pain in defense of human rights, and these people won't give up their free parking place at a National Airport to do the right thing? It is so shameful.

And that's why I hope that when this is over, that some Americans do come up to them on the street and say when it was Trump versus the Constitution, were you really with Trump? Were you really with Trump? What the hell was that about?

COOPER: Tom Friedman, I appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: There's breaking news now on just how far the President will go to win no matter what the voters actually chose. The headline of just now "The Washington Post" website reads "Trump asked Pennsylvania House Speaker for help overturning election results, personally intervening in a third state." CNN political analyst Josh Dawsey shares the byline. He joins us now by phone.

So Josh, explain what you've learned.

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via phone): Yes, President Trump called the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week to lean on him about reversing his loss in the state.

The Speaker of the House's office confirmed these calls on the record and said, the President, you know, said I'm hearing about all these issues in Philadelphia, all these issues with your law, what can we do to fix it? And the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House said that he had no power to overturn state's chosen slate of electors for the Electoral College vote next week.

This comes after, you know, the President has repeatedly called Brian Kemp, the Governor of Georgia to try and exert pressure there and met at the White House with top lawmakers in Michigan to try and exert pressure in that state.

So far, none of the entreaties have seemed to work.

COOPER: So was that the Pennsylvania State Speaker's final response to the President? Because you said there were two calls, I am wondering, you know, once he says I can't do anything, is there a need for another call?

DAWSEY: I think the President called back with new information is our understanding and at both times, the Speaker, his spokespersons to the Speaker said, we're not -- you know, we don't have any powers for that. We can't change that.

You know, there have been a number of lawmakers in Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers who have agreed to sign on to the President's efforts, dozens of them now. But the Speaker of the House so far is not going along with it.

And you know, as it stands right now, you know, the President has some supporters in each of these states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, who have been supportive of his causes, but it's not nearly enough to make a difference and turn any of these states in the way he would want them to go.

COOPER: Has there been a response from the White House over the reporting?

DAWSEY: The White House declined to comment on either one of the calls. But you know, the White House has not made any secret of the fact that the President is working on this. I mean, he recently said during one of his appearances, Anderson, that is working on this harder than he has ever worked on anything in his life.

And he is skipping a lot of the Christmas parties. He's not really doing public events. He doesn't have intelligence briefings on his schedule. Coronavirus briefings are not in his schedule. He's spending most of his day obsessing about voter fraud and trying to stop the evitable from happening.

COOPER: Yes, well if that's the hardest he's ever worked then wow, we would be in more trouble than we even realized.

DAWSEY: That's what we said. Those are the words --

COOPER: Yes, I know that's -- it's very telling that he believes this is the hardest he's been working, not getting intelligence briefings, not going to coronavirus taskforce briefings which we know he hasn't gone to for a long, long time. But wow.


DAWSEY: But what Tom Friedman was just saying there, Anderson, the interesting thing, he keeps saying that some of these Republican senators should stand up and you know, there's a lot of pressure on them to do that.

What's interesting is the President has exerted significant pressure now on Republicans and states across the country, four or five different states now where, you know, there's been evidence that here Giuliani or Jenna Ellis or some other campaign emissary has tried to, you know, stop kind of just the democratic wheel from moving along again. So far, he has had no success in any of these states.

COOPER: Yes, well, the system is working so far. Josh Dawsey. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, more breaking news from the White House on the subject as well as for his desire to go back down to Georgia to fight for two Republican senators in control of the Senate.

Also one of the challengers, Jon Ossoff weighs in on the debate he had with literally nobody. His opponent, Perdue wouldn't show up.

Later, that Michigan official who was surrounded by an armed crowd outside her home simply for doing her job.


COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight in the President's willingness to subvert the will of the American people by staying -- trying to stay in office. We heard one facet of it from Josh Dawsey before the break.

CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta joins us now with the other angle. So what are you learning about the President's allies are saying in public and also what they're saying in private.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, in addition to this pressure campaign, you have the President saying what he is saying publicly and thinking otherwise, privately.


ACOSTA: You know, we saw the President in the Oval Office earlier today talking about the scoreboard and saying that he somehow had two wins and zero losses politically. That's obviously not true. And we're now going, I think, from the delusional to just the laughable in terms of the President's claims about this election.

But Anderson, you and I have talked about this several times. The President understands privately he has lost. His advisers understand privately that he has lost. Now, we're learning from our sources that the President's legal team also believe that they're basically at the end of their legal challenges.

And so you know, they are facing a calendar at this point. You know, next week, the Electoral College meets, finalizes the counting of the electoral votes and essentially, finalizes Joe Biden's election.

And I asked a source close to the White House about all of this earlier this evening. And I said, you know, how long will the Republican Party go along with the charade that the President is carrying on? And this source close to the White House said, quote, "Until he leaves office."

COOPER: Now, we'll see maybe even beyond that. I mean, we are going to hear from Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff in a moment, how much more involved does the President plan to be in the runoffs there?

ACOSTA: Yes, Anderson, and I think that's a crucial part of this. We are hearing that he is going to be going back, expected to go back and campaign on behalf of those two embattled senate G.O.P. candidates.

And I think there -- that is key to some of this because as the President is claiming that he won this election and that he will be inaugurated somehow into a second term of office, you know, talking to this source earlier this evening, what I am hearing is that it's not just lawmakers up on Capitol Hill who are urging the president to fight this out. There are state Republican Party operatives in all of these various states and in Georgia, who are encouraging the President to fight it on.

And so at this point, Anderson, yes, he plans to go down there and campaign on behalf of Loeffler and Perdue at this point to potentially hold on to the Senate for the Republicans. But I think it gets to the larger issue here, and that is why these Republicans don't want to cross the President. They need him, they need his base of support, and that is almost totally obvious down in the State of Georgia.

Whereas, you know, if they don't have the President campaigning down there, potentially they lose those two Senate seats -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks, Jim. Speaking of Georgia with two seats and control the Senate up for grabs, three of the four candidates debated yesterday: Democrat Raphael Warnock faced off with Republican Kelly Loeffler, Democrat Jon Ossoff, went up against an empty chair. Senator David Perdue declined to take part. I spoke with Ossoff just before airtime. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mr. Ossoff, first of all, thanks for being with us. I want to talk about first of all the empty podium last night. That was the second time that Senator Perdue has refused to show up to debate you. How much of a difference do you think it's going to make at this point?

JON OSSOFF (D), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it shows tremendous disrespect for Georgia voters, and here at a moment when we're losing thousands of Americans per day, a virus out of control, Congress that has not delivered any economic relief for ordinary people, a public health infrastructure nationally that urgently needs to be backstopped and funded to deal with this surge, to have a sitting U.S. Senator too afraid to debate these issues of life and death concern for Americans is a disgrace.

COOPER: Perdue did show up to President Trump's rally on Saturday, he spoke about winning Georgia as a way to stop President-elect Biden's policies in Washington, a so-called firewall vote. Is that, do you think an effective strategy? I mean, how much do you see this election as being a referendum on the presidential results?

OSSOFF: No, this election is about whether or not we're going to be able to govern at a moment of crisis. And all Senator Perdue is running on is ensuring Joe Biden's failure.

They will do exactly what they tried to do to President Obama. It will be paralysis and gridlock and government shutdowns. They will obstruct COVID relief. They will obstruct the public health response, and they'll obstruct the broader agenda that we must enact as well of Criminal Justice Reform and affordable healthcare.

Paralysis at a moment of crisis is totally untenable and that's why we have to win these two Senate races in Georgia.

COOPER: You know, President Trump was spending part of Saturday convincing Georgians the elections were rigged, but also that they should go out and vote.

I'm wondering, do those things square? I mean, I'm not quite sure I understand his argument.

OSSOFF: Look what President Trump is trying to do to pressure election officials in Georgia to throw out legitimate ballots is an attack on black voters in Georgia. It is an attack on black voters in Georgia because it was the power of black turnout, rejecting this President's racism and fear mongering and hateful politics.

Black voters in Georgia is standing up because the black community here has been rocked by this pandemic, because black businesses in Georgia have been hit so hard and they haven't gotten any help for six months from Washington.

[[20:30:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: I want to read something that Newt Gingrich said this morning on Fox he said, quote, the objective fact is I believe Trump probably did actually carry Georgia. He went on to say Republicans simply have to turn out more votes than Stacey Abrams can steal. It's obviously completely baseless.

And, you know, I guess Newt Gingrich is all in on, you know, the Trump train and makes money from speeches from people who support the President. So maybe that's what's behind him. But what do you make of a -- do you get what is happening to the GOP?

OSSOFF: Here's what's happening is that they expected that the apparatus of voter suppression that they have constructed in Georgia since the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, they've expected that this architecture of voter suppression would allow them to keep the lid on the pot and suppress black voters enough that they could hold on here. They feel entitled to victory in Georgia, but the will of the people boiled over. And that's what forced Perdue and Loeffler into runoffs and that's why Biden carried the state.

If David Perdue had been in Congress in 1964, 1965, he would have been filibustering the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. They want to undermine the right of the people to participate in our democracy. We have to stand up in Georgia like we have never done before, to claim this seat for the people because it doesn't belong to David Perdue. It belongs to us.

COOPER: It is, you know, in runoff elections, it is hard to get people out to vote often. Perdue won just more than 88,000 votes than you did in the general election in November 3rd. Do you worry without the Biden-Trump showdown at the top of the ticket, the Democratic voters just aren't not enough American turnout?

OSSOFF: I don't worry because here's what's happening in Georgia Anderson, you got the young Jewish journalists son of an immigrant running alongside a black preacher, Reverend Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist church who holds the same pulpit Dr. King did and we are building a movement for health, jobs and justice for the people running against like the Bonnie and Clyde of political corruption in Washington. There is movement energy in Georgia right now history in the making. And I'm asking folks to help us by visiting elect Jon -- to power this movement, protect voting rights and deliver these two crucial Senate victories.

COOPER: Jon Ossoff, I appreciate your time. Thanks.

OSSOFF: Thank you.

COOPER: Just to be clear, we continue to ask Senator Perdue to come on the program. So far he has declined the invitation stance.

Strangely enough, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger has no qualms about joining us, nor does CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip or at least now they're willing to voice publicly.


COOPER: Yes, well. Abby, you here with Jon Ossoff had to say. How does it stand up against the arguments being made by President Trump the other national Republicans?

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, the arguments being made by President Trump about the election specifically are completely invented and have no basis in fact that I'm not saying that that's what is being said by judges all across the country, as they dismiss these cases one by one. And there is no track record of any kind of victory on any of these fronts. So, the President is really kind of spinning in the air. And I thought it was no notable tonight, that he's already starting to pass the blame in Georgia, blaming Republicans who he calls rhinos, like the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger and Lieutenant Governor, and even the governor Brian Kemp, and saying that it would be their fault if Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue lose their seats.

It seems to suggest that the President is sensitive to this idea that he's not doing enough because at the rally over the weekend, he spent so much time talking about all of these fantasies of voter fraud and how badly he, you know, feels about losing this election, that he didn't spend enough time actually urging his supporters to do what they need to do if they want to win, which is to get out and vote.

COOPER: Well, I mean, Gloria such a contradictory message, really, you know, the whole thing is rigged. All these dead people are voting. But, you know, take part in it. I mean, he's, I mean, not that we should expect consistency from President Trump, but you know, or yes, or honesty.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. The Democrats, the Democrats are going to steal this election, but go out and vote. And, you know, to piggyback on what Abby was saying, I think the message from the President tonight, he said, you know, he talked about the potential loss of two great senators. It's almost as if he wants to blame the Republicans running the state of Georgia. If the senators lose, so that he can say, you know what, see, it's their fault it's not mine.


But the stakes here are so huge. The President doesn't seem to be talking about that at all, control of the Senate and control of the Congress. Joe Biden's entire if he wants to have a robust agenda, he would like a Democratic Senate. Mitch McConnell would love a Republican Senate because he'd like to put the brakes on that. So, the next four years really depend to in particular depend on what happens in this election. It's huge. And instead, the President, of course, makes it all about him, takes everything personally, and has a vendetta now against the Republicans running the state of Georgia. And it can't seem to make up his mind about what he would like to see happen, because we'd like to punish Republicans.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, you know, and Abby I mean, the idea that they're not one but two run offs, they're going to decide the control the Senate, both from a southern state, the Republican president, who's basically contesting election dress laws is itself bizarre and hugely consequential. It's, I mean, is this now basically sequel to the general election? Because there's obviously getting people to vote in -- if it's not in the general election, you know, has always been challenging.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, it is a sequel in some senses. But I think you hit it right on the head, which is that, you know, run offs are very, very difficult to get people to turn out for almost like midterm elections, generally, where turnout is lower than in general elections, you don't have that energy at the top of the ticket. So, this is really all about organizing. It's all about what is your base and whether they are energized enough to come out. And so, you know, but this race has become so nationalized, that all of the -- you know, if you watch the debate on Sunday night, you hear the same kind of rhetoric that President Trump used against Joe Biden, in the general election playing out in this runoff between Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock.

So it is a sort of microcosm of a broader national conversation that's playing out in Georgia. And then on top of that, you have these dynamics of the suburbs being so important to Joe Biden's victory in that state and Democrats really wondering if they can count on that kind of momentum again. I think a lot of these big narratives that we've been talking about for some time, are going to play themselves out again in January. And we'll see how durable some of this movement toward Biden was, as we go down the ticket in these lower turnout races that are really just all about, you know, can you really get your core supporters out to the polls when you need them the most.

COOPER: And Gloria CNN's reporting that President-elect Biden has selected retired general and former CENTCOM commander Lloyd Austin, and is his nominee for Secretary of Defense. He'd be the first black defense secretary in American history, which is, you know, obviously, a big step for the administration. He has built basically building, you know, while the president is President Trump is in la la land, you know, spinning these fantasies and raising money off it. Biden is building his cabinet.

BORGER: He is building his cabinet. And I remember that recently, the President said, well, you know, he shouldn't be doing that now, because the election hasn't been decided. Joe Biden is doing exactly what he should be doing. He's building a very consequential cabinet, as Tom Friedman said earlier in the show. I think with this selection, he may have some problems here, because of course, you have to wave the rule that says it should be seven years from when you retired from the military to when you can serve as Secretary of Defense. And there are people, including Democrats who say, you know, we did it for Mattis, but it really shouldn't happen again.

COOPER: Right.

BORGER: But he has a consequential choice.


BORGER: And I think Biden might have a bit of a fight, but he is building a cabinet that has served.

COOPER: Yes. Gloria Borger, Abby Phillip thanks a lot.

(voice-over): Next, protest are some of them armed outside the home of Michigan Secretary of State over the weekend. Yelling because Michigan's certified President-elect Biden's victory over President Trump by more than 146,000 votes because that's how many votes he won by.

Up next, I'll talk with Jocelyn Benson about what happened and what it means going forward.



COOPER: Reporting from the Washington Post tonight, President Trump is still trying to press his baseless voter fraud case in Pennsylvania. And the dangerous effects of that disinformation campaign seen in another battleground state. The Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said a large group of armed protesters showed up outside her home Saturday night drawn by the state's decision to certify President-elect Biden as the winner there because he won there. She said that she and her four-year-old son had just finished putting up Christmas decorations or someone was about to sit down and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. That's when the demonstrators arrived.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Stop that spill (ph), stop that spill. Stop it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the spill.



COOPER: People shouting murderer. Later Secretary Benson tweeted, the individuals gathered outside my home targeted me as Michigan's chief election officer but their threats were actually aimed at the 5.5 million Michigan citizens who voted in this fall's election seeking to overturn their will. They will not succeed in doing so.

Jocelyn Benson joins me now. Secretary Benson, I appreciate you joining us. Just as a citizen I am sorry for what you are going through. This just seems so insane and unfair. Can you just walk us through -- I mean, you're at home with your child and suddenly outside your home, has this ever happened before?


JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Not to this extent, no. And notably, we are in a quiet residential neighborhood in the city of Detroit, there are other families with young children on the same street. So, I thought went to them as well as being a mom, I thought, of course, was focused on my little boy and making sure to create an island of calm around him and making sure that he was able to just continue on with his evening and be safe and secure, which were able to do successfully. And then recognizing, as you mentioned, that while these they were targeting me as my in my role as the state's chief election officer. What I soon realized throughout the evening, is that they're actually aiming their attack at our voters, at our democracy.

And my job is to defend our democracy, defend our voters, and I'll proudly do that every day, despite any threats of violence, or bullying, and my job is to really assure every voter regardless of who they voted for that their vote counted, as it did in this November's election, and that they can it be secure, that the results are accurate.

COOPER: You hear about the President reaching out to, you know, Republican legislators in various states. Is there any chance in Michigan of the president having any kind of impact on his ability to change things through? You know, obviously, the courts have projected all the arguments that they've been putting forward? Is there anything else he can do in Michigan?

BENSON: No, I mean, the results have been certified, the people have spoken, and their choice is clear, not just for the position of president but for a number of positions on the ballot. And so, no amount of you no politically charged legislative hearings, or bogus legal filings, or any other type of elements of this really irresponsible PR campaign is going to change that truth. And so, we're calling on all citizens to join us in defending the voice of the people, defending our democracy and ensuring that we all can push back against this onslaught of misinformation that is combining with hateful rhetoric that we've seen in the state for months now to lead incidents like we saw Saturday night, not just targeting me, not just targeting our voters but also affecting elected officials on both sides of the aisle all across our state.

COOPER: I mean, everyone remembers the alleged plot foiled in October to kidnap Michigan's governor Gretchen Whitmer. Is there something about the climate in Michigan now, do you think the politics in your state that's leading to these sorts of incidents? Or is it just what the President's doing riling people up and these people chose to respond in this way?

BENSON: I think it's all interconnected, Anderson. We've seen this amount of attacks on our state really all here and perhaps even preceding that. And as someone who started my career investigating hate groups and hate crimes, I've seen firsthand how hateful words and rhetoric, particularly from leaders in positions of power can lead to hateful actions by followers. And we've seen that in various different ways, not just in Michigan, but throughout the country. And it's particularly pernicious and unfortunate when it starts affecting our democracy impacting our voters, whether it's through the form of voter suppression prior to November 3rd, or now after in the in the case of voter misinformation.

But the bottom line is nothing's going to change the results of this election of the voters have spoken. The truth is has been certified. The results have been both certified, they're accurate and secure. And my job will continue to be to ensure that truth is known and my expectation is that elected officials all across the state will do the same.

COOPER: Well, I'm sorry for what your son went through and I hope he's, he's done. OK. Secretary Benson --

BENSON: He's fine.

COOPER: I really appreciate your time.

BENSON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

COOPER (voice-over): As we mentioned at the top of the program, the coronavirus, pandemics is ravaged American families of course. And to come up next the story of Erika Becerra, the mother of a one-year-old who battled COVID delivered a newborn all while under attack from the disease.



COOPER: This country reeling from the onslaught of the pandemic it is difficult times to pause and report a single heartbreaking story.

Tonight, we want to bring you one such story of a young mom, Erika Becerra. She already had a one-year-old daughter also named Erika and was pregnant with the son when the pandemic struck. Her brother said she was having trouble breathing. She was admitted to the hospital and had the baby naturally and almost right away, was put on a ventilator. She died a few weeks later.

Her brother is Michael Avilez who lives in Los Angeles and flew to Michigan where his sister had been living.

Michael, I'm so sorry for your loss. How is your family doing?

MICHAEL AVILEZ, LOST SISTER TO COVID-19: Oh, you know, we're literally we're all coming together, trying to get through this tragic time. You know, we do have our ups and downs because there is going to be a really big void without my sister here with us anymore.

COOPER: Tell us about Erika, what would she like?

AVILEZ: Erika was the most wonderful person you could ever meet. With her, her main concern was other people, you know. For her other people's happiness was her happiness. And, you know, her goal in life was you know, to cheer people and be aware (INAUDIBLE). She would, you know, she would know if you were having a bad day and you'll get her phone call. Just so she could come.

COOPER: Was she --

AVILEZ: And -- COOPER: Was she worried about being pregnant during the pandemic?

AVILEZ: She wasn't really worried. But, you know, she did take care of herself. She wouldn't go out. Always wear her mask, anything she would touch or anything that she was about to touch. You know, she would clean just like, you know, they say. Yes, she you know, she followed every rule in the book and, you know, she still ended up catching it. And it's sad, you know, like, you got a lot of people that don't understand what's going on. They don't think it's a joke. They all think it's a joke until you know it happens to them or one of their family members. And that's what, you know, my sister would want for me to, you know, out people just like she'd be. And, you know, unfortunately, this happened to her and you know I'm going to keep her name (INAUDIBLE).


COOPER: I understand she wasn't feeling well. She was having a hard time breathing. What happened next?

AVILEZ: After she wasn't able to breathe. She just came back from the hospital because she was having contractions.

COOPER: So, she'd gone to the hospital with contractions. And then when she got out, she was having trouble breathing.

AVILEZ: Yes. So she stood a week and at the hospital and she came home she called my mom that Monday morning. She's all like, mom, you know, it's, I think they hurt me at the hospital. It hurts to breathe, you know, it hurts to move. I don't feel good. She only lasted up until Wednesday and Wednesday, she they had to call the ambulance and they came to pick her up. And, sorry.


AVILEZ: And Friday came along. And you know, the doctors, you know, they saw that she wasn't getting any better. At that point, she was already on the second phase of receiving oxygen, which was a small mass.

COOPER: Right.

AVILEZ: And we got a phone call from her, you know, she looked pretty bad at that time already. And, you know, she was already on that second stage of mask. And I want to say, Friday midnight, the doctors decided to induce her labor, because she wasn't getting any better. So, they induced her and baby Diego was born Saturday morning, around 1:30 in the morning and right after that after she gave birth to her son. They put her -- the two because her body, you know, it wasn't retaining oxygen anymore. So, then after that she wasn't able to meet her newborn baby.

COOPER: So she was intubated right after she gave birth to -- gave birth.

AVILEZ: Yes, sir.

COOPER: And did she -- was she able to hold Diego?

AVILEZ: From what about the nurse told us they were only able to put her -- put them up to her cheek. And, but, you know, she wasn't really conscious at the time anymore. You know, she just put her toward her cheek and right after that, you know, they intubate her and right after the intubator, you know, she just started declining.

COOPER: How long did she stay on the ventilator?

AVILEZ: She stood on the ventilator I want to say about 16, 17 days.

COOPER: I know your sister also leaves behind a one-year-old daughter named Erika would name for her mom. What do you want --


COOPER: -- what's -- I mean, what are you going to tell Diego and Erika about their mom?

AVILEZ: Well, that's up to the dad when he wants to tell him. But, you know, right now, we just got to enjoy them as much as we can. And, you know, just be there for them. And luckily, as much as my sister loved everybody, everybody is, you know, going to be there for those two babies. And they're, you know, they have a lot of love from both sides, from his family from our family. The first thing they ask is, how are the babies, how are the babies. You know, they have nothing but love right now.

COOPER: Michael, my condolences to your family and I appreciate you telling us a little bit about your sister.

AVILEZ: Thanks for having the -- for letting me have the opportunity to speak with you guys.

COOPER: Michael, I appreciate it. You take care.

AVILEZ: You too boss. Thank you.

COOPER: There's a GoFundMe page has been set up for Erika Becerra's family. You see there at the bottom of the screen. It's Note, there's a hyphen between each of those words.

Before we go we want to update you on a story that we ran Friday about distrust the COVID vaccine around the country, according to polling but specifically in the black majority community of Hobson City Alabama. Were in the third of those tested there and the surrounding county have tested positive for the virus. Yet many including the mayor told CNN they didn't trust the vaccine.


ALBERTA COOLEY MCCRORY, MAYOR, HOBSON CITY AL: I'm going to love to take the vaccine. JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Wait, you yourself are reluctant to tie on?

MCCRORY: I'm reluctant.


COOPER: Today we received this letter from Mayor McCrory which reads in part quote segment did not erase all of the fears the African- American community has the medical community, but it has opened the door to begin having some much needed conversations about African- Americans and healthcare that's long overdue. We hope these conversations will lead to saving lives not only due to COVID-19, but saving lives in the future. Want to thank the mayor and we hope so as well.


The news continues. Want to hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.