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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Supreme Court Rejects GOP Longshot Bid To Overturn Biden Win In Pennsylvania; No Dissent Noted In Decision; Biden Spokesperson On Supreme Court Decision: This Election Is Over, Joe Biden Won; COVID Hospitalizations At New High, 104,000-Plus; Daily Deaths Above 2,400; Total U.S. Cases Surpass 15 Million; First People Receive COVID Vaccine In U.K.; First Recipients Speak Out. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 8, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STATE REP. CYNTHIA JOHNSON (D), MICHIGAN: And if I happen to pick up, most of them will hang up. So to ask me if I'm afraid, I thank you for the question. I appreciate that.
And for all the well-wishers, I am fine. I want to tell you that but God has another plan for all of this country. I'm hoping that this will be the time that racism will really be addressed.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Well, you are not afraid and I appreciate that. And I hope that many are inspired by the courage it takes in speaking out in the face of this. Representative, thank you so very much for your time.
Thanks to all of you for yours. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. With a single sentence late today, the Supreme Court erased any doubts about who will be the next President of the United States. That sentence in the case brought by Republican Congressman Mike Kelly and others aimed at overturning President-elect Biden's victory in Pennsylvania reads, quote, "The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the court is denied."
There were no opinions offered, no dissent was noted, just that one sentence signaling the court's unwillingness to sign on to the President's scheme -- and that's what it is -- to overturn the election. It is by no means the only big story tonight.
The day began with truly good news, the first approved doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine being administered in the United Kingdom. That was followed by word from the F.D.A., which is expected to grant Emergency Use Authorization for here this week of how effective it is.
It's also somehow fitting that one of those first two people to get vaccinated should be named William Shakespeare. His namesake was born into the first year of a plague outbreak that killed about a fifth of his city's population.
Today, Shakespeare lives at what we all hope will be the beginning, the end of this outbreak, which cannot come too soon.
Today saw coronavirus infections in this country top the 15 million mark. That's another million cases that were added in just five days, at least 188,000 more so far today, and more than 2,400 people died today.
Hospitalizations also reaching a new high.
Today also saw President-elect Biden unveil his health policy team and lay out a three-part plan for controlling COVID.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will start with my sign in order on day one to require mask where I can under the law, like Federal buildings, interstate travel on planes, trains and buses.
Secondly, this team -- this team will help get at the latest, at the last 100 million COVID-19 vaccine -- at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first hundred days.
The third thing I'm going to ask in a hundred days, it should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school.
And to the American people, I know we've all had a lot of sleepless nights this year. All I can tell you is the truth. We're in a very dark winter. Things may well get worse before they get better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Trump held a COVID event as well today, the tone could not have been more different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll be seeing that over the next few months. The numbers should skyrocket downward. We are the most exceptional nation in the history of the world. Today, we're on the verge of another American medical miracle and that's what people are saying. People that aren't necessarily big fans of Donald Trump are saying whether you like him or not, this is one of the greatest miracles in the history of modern-day medicine or any other medicine any other age.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: People are saying it. He said so, it must be true. The President signed what appears to be largely symbolic Executive Order that Americans get first priority to what the order refers to as, quote, "United States government COVID-19 vaccines."
He did not mention, in the reporting in "The New York Times" and elsewhere that the administration passed on the chance back in the summer to secure more doses of the vaccine from Pfizer.
Vice President Pence mentioned the dark days ahead even with a vaccine, the President did not. Instead when asked, he spoke as if the pandemic were already behind us and spread more falsehoods about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think that the vaccine was our goal. That was number one, because that was the way -- it was the way it ends. Plus, you do have an immunity, you develop immunity over a period of time. And I hear we're close to 15 percent, I'm hearing that and that is terrific. That's a very powerful vaccine in itself, and just tremendous progress has been made.
One of the reasons we do show so many, and I say this and I've been saying it for a long time, so many cases is because of the fact that we have 200 million tests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Except about the importance of a vaccine, none of what he said there was true and you've got to give him props. I mean, he is a liar to the end. Nor was anything true in this answer to a question about why members of the Biden health team weren't invited to the event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to have to see who the next administration is because we won in the swing states and there were terrible things that went on.
Because you can't steal hundreds of thousands of votes. You can't have fraud and deception and all of the things that they did, and then slightly win a swing state, and you just have to look at the numbers, look at what's been on tape, look at all the corruption, and we'll see. You can't win an election like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sure, it's annoying to hear him lie continually. Of course, it is. If you're sitting at home, stewing and boiling about it. You know what? So what? It's now just meaningless. It doesn't matter what he says.
The Supreme Court spoke today. It doesn't matter what that guy says. He's become the old guy at the party who doesn't really have a home to go back to. He just wants the greatest hits to keep spinning.
Everyone is leaving like rats from a sinking ship and he just wants those greatest hits to keep spinning. He's going to be singing that song about fraud every day for the rest of his life. You know that.
Table hopping in Mar-a-Lago, hey, can you believe what they did to me? Total fraud. And dental checkups, family dinners with you know, whoever will show up.
I would say, it must get tiring. But clearly it doesn't for him. Not for him ever. He just keeps repeating the same jive over and over and over again. And yes, I said jive. Why not? It doesn't matter.
It's Ivanka's problem now. She'll have to deal with it.
Today, the Supreme Court wasn't having it and its decision underscores how little success the President has had making that argument in court, any court, anywhere. And in a dramatic twist, kind of worthy of Dickens, not Shakespeare, there was word today from another ghost of Christmas past, the man who once was Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani, who has been traveling the country maskless and shouting until he caught COVID popped up today talking on a New York radio station offering advice on of course, COVID.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: You can overdo the mask. You can overdo almost anything. Everything done in moderation makes much more sense.
My advice to people is get early treatment. The earlier you get treated for this. Number one, you totally eliminate the chance of dying; and number two, you probably eliminate the chance of getting it, you know, a more complicated illness.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: He didn't mention the nearly 300,000 Americans who have now died, many of whom also got early treatment, but perhaps not VIP treatment that the man formerly known as Rudy Giuliani got.
When asked whether the experience has changed him as it apparently has for his debate, prep partner Chris Christie, Giuliani said quote, "Things happen in life and you can't overreact to them. You don't screw around your whole life because of an illness."
More from CNN's Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, who joins us now, at what point do -- I mean, obviously the President knows he has lost. He is still just -- I guess, he is still trying to rake in as much money as possible, so he wants to keep the lie going for as long as possible. But it does seem like the options are over.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does seem the options are over. I mean, he lost Pennsylvania, but he still has the state of denial, Anderson. The Trump legal team did put out a statement earlier today saying that they're going to continue with these legal challenges.
It's unclear where they will go after the Supreme Court. Perhaps it's Judge Judy or the People's Court. That remains to be seen. But Trump and his team still want to keep fighting.
Privately, they know it's over. And I talked to a Trump adviser earlier this evening who said this was totally predictable. They knew that this was going to happen. And I asked this adviser, is there any talk of the President conceding behind the scenes and this adviser said, quote, "Zero."
And so at this point, Anderson, we're going to see the President, I think, continue to cry foul, put out these bogus claims that he was cheated out of the election. But it's not going to add up to anything because the Electoral College will meet next week and certify these results, and Joe Biden will be on his way to becoming President-elect.
COOPER: The President made it very clear before the election that because he had appointed three of the sitting Justices, he was optimistic about his ability to successfully challenge the vote tallies if he didn't like them. I don't think anyone is really surprised the Supreme Court Justices did not buy into this at all.
ACOSTA: Right. And this adviser that I spoke with earlier this evening, said they didn't think it was going to happen. And the adviser went on to say, candidly, Anderson, that Trump tested our system that this was a stress test for the American electoral system, and that the system held strong, sort of, you know, a level of candor there, you don't always get from operatives behind the scenes who are spinning you, even they understand -- some of them understand behind the scenes that what the President has been doing has been damaging to American democracy.
And yes, the President thought he was going to get some sort of quid pro quo to resurrect a phrase from a year ago that the President thought by putting justices on the Supreme Court like Amy Coney Barrett, that they would somehow rule in his favor.
It's yet another, I think example of how the President just does not understand how our system of government works despite the fact that he's just weeks from leaving office -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, appreciate it. Thanks.
We're joined now by the official who got fired by the President after calling this election the most secure in American history. Christopher Krebs, as you know, he is the former head of the agency in charge of election cyber security.
Trump campaign lawyer, Joseph diGenova suggested that he should be killed.
Mr. Krebs, who is now suing that attorney and the campaign joins us tonight. Mr. Krebs, thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.
Just first of all, I wanted to get your reaction to the Supreme Court ruling today rejecting Pennsylvania Republicans attempt to block the certification of the Commonwealth's election results. I mean, I don't -- it probably even surprise you. But what do you make up the finding?
CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: I thought it was beautiful in its simplicity. One line, right, what everybody expected. So it's just one more nail in the coffin, I think of the continued efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
COOPER: As a Republican, do you think it will make a difference for other members of your party who have been supporting the President's baseless claims, you know, at least publicly about election fraud, and were holding out that that somehow the results would be overturned?
I mean, do you think this Supreme Court ruling is a turning point on that front? Or is the turning point just when the President actually leaves?
KREBS: You know, it's hard to say. I think that there has been a coordinated campaign to intimidate and silence Republican officials across the country. Just look at what's happening down in Georgia.
Erin just had on the Lieutenant Governor down there. He's been targeted. The governor down there has been targeted, and the Secretary of State. Governor Ducey today was also out in Arizona targeted by the President.
So there is an ongoing effort to try to silence Republican officials that don't, you know, carry water for the campaign that this was an illegitimate election. It was a clean election. It was a straightforward victory by the Vice President Joe Biden.
COOPER: When you did, you know, when you came out and said that this was, you know, the most secure election or very secure election, I'm paraphrasing. Did you know how the President -- I mean, did you have a sense of how the President was going to respond to that?
KREBS: So, you know, again, I don't think we really considered what the reaction was going to be from the President or the candidate. What we did was the right thing, and just like, you know, filing this lawsuit, the way I look at it is, you know, I kind of have a pattern of standing up for what's right.
I'm standing up for myself, my family, my friends, my teammates, standing up for democracy and there are costs associated with that.
But you've got to take a stand at some point, you've got to take a stand up and stand up for what's right. And so then, I stood up for democracy and got fired for it. I continued standing up and defending democracy, got death threats, and now we're standing up again for democracy and filing this lawsuit.
COOPER: You know, the President spent time today talking about the elections, saying, you know, let's see whether or not somebody has the courage whether it's legislators or legislatures or a Justice in the Supreme Court or a number of Justices at the Supreme Court, let's see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right.
After what you went through, and are still going through them, I am wondering, what do you make of that choice of language? KREBS: You know, this is part of what we are looking -- we would like
to look into a little bit further. There -- you know, whatever the reason is, whether he honestly believes that he won, which I can't conceive how any rational person would conclude that or it's an ongoing fundraising effort to retire debt, or fund future political opportunities or, you know, maybe it's just, he is not a gracious loser, it doesn't matter.
And contrary to, I think, what Jim Acosta said earlier, or at least the adviser said, yes, democracy held strong. But I still am a firm believer that democracy is fragile, and to have these sorts of internal attacks, these internal domestic threats is incredibly dangerous.
And no, we cannot have another four years of some kind of lost cause effort. We have to put this to rest. We have to move forward as a country.
COOPER: The lawsuit you filed today against the Trump Campaign and the attorney Joseph diGenova, who is working with the Campaign to try to overturn the results, accuses them of defamation.
diGenova went on Newsmax the day after your "60 Minutes" interview and suggested that you be executed. He later said his remarks were sarcastic, made in jest. Can you talk a little bit about what you felt compelled to do? I mean, why you felt compelled to take legal action.
KREBS: So look, I was a public servant in the National Security Community defending democracy. He accused me of being a traitor. You know that the penalty -- the penalty for treason is exactly what he described and that's exactly how it was interpreted by the community, by everyone out there in social media.
You know, the number of death threats just went off the charts. And you cannot unring that bell in this highly, this intense, toxic political environment. Just look at the threats against Governor Whitmer and Governor Northam here.
KREBS: You know, once you start agitating and really pouring kerosene on the fire, it's really hard to put that out. And so, again, it's important for me to stand up for me and stand up for my family.
COOPER: Well, according to your lawsuit, your 10-year-old child asked at one point whether you were going to be executed. I mean, just as a new dad, I can't imagine what that -- how do you deal with that?
KREBS: I'm not sure you can, right? Those things are hard. You know, I listened to the Michigan Congresswoman how she is doing great. I love hearing that. But when you have family members that are brought into this and are collateral damage effectively from these sorts of claims, these attacks on your character and on your person, I don't take that lightly. That is that is not acceptable behavior. That is not how people should act in a civil society. It has to stop. COOPER: How do things change? I mean, how -- I'm still stunned after
all the shamelessness we have seen over the last four years, after all the lies, I'm just stunned at how the President turns on people who worked very hard for the good of the country, I am talking about you and others who, you know, even Jeff Sessions who, you know, one can argue with politically if you disagree with him politically, but he was executing the President's agenda in terms of what, you know, judges and all the things that the President wanted.
He just didn't recuse himself -- he just recused himself, which is the right thing to do. Just the degree to which this President will turn on people, and it seems like his base and a lot of people in the Republican Party, I don't know if they are scared. It's like a bully. They're scared of the bully turning on them. So they are, you know, praising the bully, but something has got to give just moving forward.
KREBS: So you've heard from whether it's off the record or background conversations from Republicans where they say that it's political suicide to go against the President.
And, you know, I guess I can understand that. For me, it's not -- that's not good enough.
I took a stand. We defended democracy. I do it a thousand times over, and in fact, I've said it that, you know, it was an honor to serve in the role as the Director of CISA.
But to your larger point, this has to stop and in short of the President acknowledging that he did not win and that Vice President Biden is the President-elect, you know, that's a good first start. I don't have a lot of faith that it's going to happen, because I think there are other things they are trying to accomplish here.
But the rest of the Republican Party and the leadership has to stand up. There are three branches of government. The legislature has to stand up and accept the outcome of this election, because certainly, particularly in the House, they are accepting their own races, every single one of them was on the ballot. They're accepting theirs.
I don't see them, you know, questioning from their own races. We've got to move on. They've got to stand up. We've got to move forward.
COOPER: Yes. Funny how fraud is always in somebody else's race, not the race that you have won in one's district. Christopher Krebs, thank you for your service, and thank you for talking tonight. I really appreciate it. Good luck to you.
KREBS: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Next, more reaction from a member of our own legal team to the President's Supreme Court defeat. Also, the President's continuing election denial and whether there's any real chance he can go any further than he already has.
Later the new vaccine data. We mentioned also the reported failure of the administration to take advantage of a chance to get more doses from Pfizer and what happens next as more vaccines come online.
COOPER: Returning to the breaking news, the President's Supreme Court defeat in a case aimed at overturning the results in Pennsylvania.
Perspective now from CNN senior political commentator, former top Obama adviser, David Axelrod; also CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero.
So, Dana, in a normal time, this kind of rejection by the Supreme Court would give a politician and his allies, real pause, time for reflection, perhaps. Obviously, this is not a normal time, what happens next?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the President is likely to keep kicking and screaming. You know, he tried to bully even the Supreme Court, really for the past, you know, month or so, but especially when he was speaking today at the White House, actually calling out the Supreme Court and Pennsylvania legislatures -- legislators, I should say, challenging their man and womanhood.
I mean, it was really remarkable, and the fact that the Supreme Court just slapped it down with no dissents, meaning even the three nominees from this President didn't think that it was worthy of even saying, you know, what I agree with the President, or even anything at all tells you everything that you need to know.
This is a lost cause and has been for some time, and he is trying to push and fly in the face of basic facts, and those facts are that in these swing states, Pennsylvania included, the President did not win and there is no widespread fraud.
COOPER: Carrie, I want to play a little bit about what the President was saying about the Supreme Court before the election back in September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think this will end up in the Supreme Court. And I think it's very important that we have nine justices. I think it's better if you go before the election because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it is a scam. The scam will be before the United States Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So I mean, it's hard to read too much into a one-liner order, but if you really thought the Supreme Court complete with his three appointments was going to deliver him a victory, he was certainly wrong.
[20:25:04] CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he was wrong. He thought that
he would be able to influence the court. He certainly tries to do that. The fact though is, is that in this circumstance with the 2020 election, there just wasn't a case to be made. The election wasn't close. It wasn't close in the States. There were no credible allegations of fraud.
And so really, this lawsuit, and many of the others are simply frivolous. And the Supreme Court has absolutely no reason to insert itself into the 2020 election when its result is so clear.
COOPER: David, when President Trump says as he did today, we will have to see who the next administration is. You know, obviously, like people who deal with facts and basic arithmetic have known for weeks who the next administration is going to be, the Supreme Court knows that as well.
We're not in the President's head, thankfully. I assume a lot of this is just for him to continue fundraising and raking in as much money that he can use for his personal benefit down the road as he sees fit.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you'd say people who deal with facts that lets the President out. He is not one of those people. He develops his own alternative set of facts. That was the line we heard in the first days of his administration, and it's been true -- it's been true throughout.
Look, I think there is madness to his method in that I don't think that he can tolerate being a loser. That's the worst thing in his parlance.
There's also a method to his madness. He has raised almost a quarter of a million dollars -- a quarter of a billion dollars, I should say -- that is going to serve as his kind of political slush fund when he leaves the White House.
He sets himself up now, as the avenger. This was stolen. And it was interesting the language that he used down in Georgia this weekend, they stole this from us, from you. They stole this from you. That is going to be the platform on which he is going to launch whatever he does next, and he'll probably intimate that he'll run for President again in 2024.
And that does two things for him, Anderson. One is, it keeps him in the game and makes him relevant. Secondly, if he should be indicted in New York, which is a real possibility, he will depict it as a political prosecution to try and keep us from taking the White House back.
And the third thing was mentioned to me the other day by a financier in New York, a savvy guy who said, you know, he is $425 million in debt. He can't get a conventional loan from a regular lending institution. But if there are -- but if he is still active, and he's still talking about running for President, again, pretty good investment, whether it's Russia or Turkey or any other country to make sure that he gets the money that he needs. So I think part of it is that he cannot tolerate being a loser. Part
of it is he is making a bet here on a plot that will rally people around him and advantage him in other ways.
COOPER: That's -- go ahead.
BASH: That's really so easy, because -- and you were talking about this with Chris Krebs, who is really remarkable in how articulate he is in and what he saw internally and what he sees now, the money part of this.
I mean, I'm sure -- I'm not sure if you all are on the Trump Campaign's fundraising e-mail list, but it's ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, all day long on your text, on your e-mail and they are just desperate for money.
And the money isn't all going -- almost -- 25 percent of it at this point is only going to the legal fund, 75 percent is going to the PAC that the President created for his future political runs and all of their political endeavors.
And for all the reasons that David just cited, that is the most important thing for the President right now, it is to keep his political viability going and that includes and especially underscores the idea that this is a money raising effort what he's doing from the Oval Office. Democracy be damned.
COOPER: And that's a PAC. That money is money he can kind of use however he really wants.
BASH: Correct. He can, for the future.
COOPER: Carrie, the Electoral College meets officially next week. What state or federal judge regardless of who appointed him or her is going to wade into this at this point and legitimize, I mean, the President's baseless and fraudulent claims. What lawyer or adviser worth their salt would tell the President that he still has a chance besides Rudy Giuliani?
CORDERO: Well, he's got his team of lawyers who are willing to go to court and put their name to lies. And those aren't lawyers that I would want to work with, but he seems to have people who are willing to do that.
The fact of the matter is that there simply were not credible allegations of fraud and what the President's doing and what the lawyers who are enabling him in doing this and his political allies who are supporting this charade which is really what it is in terms of alleging fraud, they are really harming the country because there are some people who actually believe this.
[20:30:19] And that's why if I can just comment for a minute on your interview
with Chris Krebs, the work that Chris Krebs did as the director of CISA and what his team did before the election. So the years that they put in securing the election and working with state and local partners, to make sure that the cybersecurity of the election really was in much better shape than it was in 2016, was really important.
But what they did after the election, by backing down the rumors, including the rumors coming from the President himself, I think, saved the country, an enormous amount, because they had the credibility, to be able to say that the allegations he was making were false. And that was an incredible service that they did.
COOPER: Carrie Cordero, Dana Bash and David Axelrod, thank you. Appreciate your time.
(voice-over): President-elect Biden's camp is reacting to the high court's decision tonight. Details on that ahead. And a conversation about it with a Florida Congresswoman Val Demings.
More also on what the data is showing about the coming vaccine, how effective it is and how quickly we expect the rollout in this country after the advisory panel meets on it on Thursday.
COOPER: Tonight, Supreme Court decision denying Republican attempt to block Pennsylvania certificate. This election results certainly found a welcome audience in Delaware. President-elect Biden is forming his government.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is there. So what's the president-elects that his team's response to the decision?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson President- elect Biden's team has long said that no legal challenge or tweets will be changing the outcome of the election and the Supreme Court decision is just the latest in a string of validations that they've gotten to back up that argument.
And a Biden campaign spokesperson, Mike Gwynn gave us a statement a short while ago saying dozens of courts have rejected Trump and his allies debunked and meritless claims. And now, the highest court of the land has joined them without a single dissent. In repudiating this assault on the electoral process.
(voice-over): They add this election is over Joe Biden won and he will be sworn in as president in January.
They have been keeping an eye on these legal challenges that the President has put up, but really have not felt that they will change any of the outcomes. And so, what you've seen Biden do is plowing ahead with his transition team, building out the administration that will step in, in 43 days when he takes office. So this is certainly welcome news. But they don't feel very surprising, as they've always thought that these legal challenges would fall flat.
COOPER: And I mean, really, they have fallen flat. I assume they don't believe that there are any legal challenges on the horizon that are going to stand in the way of the inauguration?
SAENZ: No, they really don't. This is really the end getting to the end of the road for President Trump they feel. And so, what they will be watching next week is when the Electoral College votes which they expect to go in their favor as the results have been certified across the country.
I think one thing that they're keeping an eye on is when Republicans will start to acknowledge the reality that Biden is the president- elect and will become president on January 20th. The President Elect has really tried to give Republicans space saying that he wants to give them time to come around and accept this reality. But that vote from the Electoral College next week really will solidify his standing heading into his inauguration in 43 days.
COOPER: All right. Arlette Saenz, appreciate it. Thanks.
We're now on that Supreme Court decision whether it just might, might convince at least some Republicans from knowledge that Joe Biden is the incoming president.
Joining me is Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us. What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's refusal to take up the challenge in the Pennsylvania election results?
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Oh, it's great to be back with you, Anderson. And let me say this any case, before any court has to have evidence, and I tell you what the evidence is clear and convincing that Joe Biden won the 2020 election, it doesn't surprise me what the Supreme Court decided in this case, there was nothing there. There was no there, there. What has surprised me though, and has been quite disappointing is the reaction of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle if you will.
Look, the elections over Joe Biden won, Donald Trump loss, and in spite of the President's efforts, his own efforts to try to interfere in this particular election. The evidence is clear, as has already been stated, the Electoral College will meet next weekend, it will be officially certified the results of this election. I am just hoping that the Republicans, who have made a conscious decision to play this game with the president that is based on nothing that's real, will come to their senses and participate in preparing for the next president of the United States. We only have 43 days.
COOPER: I mean, it is I think game is the right word. Because I mean, it is a game to them. It's a game to the President, you know, he's fundraising off it. Obviously, that's a huge motivation for him. He needs money in the years ahead for a whole variety of reasons, politics and legal issues and beyond. But, you know, it's not a game to a lot of the base of the Republican Party who support the President and actually believe, you know, they believe when the president says there was widespread voter fraud, they believe it.
And they're being played for suckers, by the President and by these other Republicans in Congress. Do behind the scenes -- do they at least acknowledge? You know, yes, of course, it's over. But I just can't say that. I mean, what are your colleagues actually say? They don't really believe the President is, you know, won the election today.
DEMINGS: But let me say this, Anderson, I think we all know that the current president of the United States will do and say anything and nothing that he does surprises me anymore. But certainly the behavior of my colleagues who used to say that, you know, they didn't really support a lot that the President was doing, but they were afraid of the political repercussions. And maybe not take action maybe stay silent, but the behavior in this case, I mean their behavior, and this election is really a disgraceful.
We know that all of them I heard have been asked, you know, who won the election only 27 out of 249 acknowledge that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States, two, I understand actually said that Donald Trump won the election. And so well, I don't expect better from the president. I do expect better from the members of Congress. And I think it's absolutely shameful what they are doing.
And we see the results of this totally out of touch with reality behavior. That is been, you know, it's translated into violent acts. I saw what and heard what has happened to the elected official in Michigan, we know that there are protests outside of officials homes in Georgia, and it's disgraceful. And so, for the president not to say anything is bad enough. But for the members of Congress to participate in it is disgraceful.
COOPER: So, there's 43 days until the inauguration, Republicans on the joint congressional committee on the inaugural ceremonies today blocked a resolution by Democrats that would have specifically named President-elect Biden, and Vice President-elect Harris as the two people said to be sworn in. I mean, it's so -- this is insane.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said and I quote, the extent to which Republicans were refusing to accept the outcome of the election and recognize Joe Biden, Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president is astounding.
Why won't Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy even acknowledge that the Biden-Harris inauguration is the one that that is being planned? I mean, there's no Trump-Pence inauguration in the works.
DEMINGS: Anderson, there is absolutely no excuse for it. There really isn't. As you well know, dealing with a public health pandemic, over 280,000 people have lost their lives. We have over a million cases here in Florida. 20,000 people have lost their lives. The numbers are going up and not down.
We were dealing with the public health pandemic, businesses closing, people losing their jobs trying to keep a roof over their heads and the Republicans are playing games by not even acknowledging or supporting the resolution when clearly, they understand that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won.
I would just hope that the people in their districts who need help, and need help right now and need us to get to work will remember this moment and what their representatives chose to do.
COOPER: Yes. Just last, I want to ask you about President-elect Biden's cabinet pick so far, there's been some debate today about the President-elect choice of retired general Lloyd Austin for defense secretary have confirmed General Austin would be the first black Secretary of Defense. There is also hope that the new president would appoint a woman to that position by some. What's your reaction?
DEMINGS: You know, Anderson, I am just so thankful that vice President-elect Biden now has several options, several very capable and competent individuals that he can consider. I've said it before, I think certain people are chosen to deal with certain times.
We know after the mess that this current administration has been involved in and will lead for the incoming president. I think he has to select the people who he believes spring, the skills to the table at for this certain time that we're in and I'm excited about his appointments so far. I'm anxiously awaiting to see more, but I think he's right on track today.
COOPER: Congressman, Val Demings. I appreciate your time. Thank you.
DEMINGS: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next. What we all need to know with COVID vaccines arriving but the pandemic growing. And later we'll hear from one of the first to roll up their sleeves.
COOPER: A breaking news tonight on the pandemic as we mentioned nearly 105,000 people hospitalized with the disease today. A new high, more than 15 million total cases upwards of 202,000 today alone and more than 2,400 people have died today. Those numbers still likely to rise over the next several hours.
This is the first COVID inoculation started in England. It could be just days away here. Now that said the White House Coronavirus Task Force is warning there won't be a substantial reduction in viral spread hospitalizations or fatalities until 100 million Americans with comorbidities can be fully immunized. Meanwhile, President Biden's laid out his team's plan to combat the virus so there's certainly a lot to get to.
Joining me is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. As well as Dr. Celine Gounder, member of the President-elect Biden's Coronavirus Task Force. So, Sanjay. I mean, something is -- quite something to see today, people in the UK being vaccinated. I know you spoke with the FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn today and asked him why the vaccine approval process is taking longer here. What did he tell you?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he basically said that the, you know, the FDA regular regulatory framework is the gold standard around the world. That's -- it's been long thought of that way. He said, it's a stricter framework, both from a regulatory standpoint, but also from a legal standpoint and liability standpoint. He also pointed out that, you know, while the UK did go ahead and authorize this vaccine, the rest of the European Union has not yet they sort of follow some of the same guidelines that the FDA does.
I think what's really driving this Anderson is, you know, there's still amount of a fair amount of vaccine hesitancy, something else that Dr. Hahn mentioned. You know, you remember that I think was around 51 percent of people back in September said they would take the vaccine. Now it's up to 60 percent. But that's still, you know, it's not it's not high enough.
And I think, making sure making it clear to the American people that the regulatory process is not being shortcut here is really important, and that's part of the reason it's taking so long. But, you know, it should be within the next couple days, Anderson that we hear something.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Dr. Gounder ahead of Thursday's meeting to grant Pfizer's emergencies authorization, the FDA released a briefing document and highlighted the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine. In your view as an infectious disease specialist, how promising is this vaccine?
CELINE GOUNDER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Well, the data looks quite good. And while we can't make any conclusions based on the data that was submitted to the FDA, even after one dose seems like you are seeing pretty good immunity, you'd have to look at this in larger numbers. But it is certainly possible that you might see changes and guidance about how the vaccine is utilized as we learn more about it.
COOPER: That's interesting. I mean Sanjay, to you personally, Biden said that he wants to aim for at least 100 million Americans to be vaccinated in his first 100 days. Is that realistic?
GUPTA: Well, what -- you know, it's interesting, he said 100 million doses and this may be semantics, but if it's 100 million doses, that may be a little different than saying 100 million people because as you know, Anderson these are often two doses per person. If it's 100 million doses, I think it's realistic. You know, we put the numbers together. We've sort of been talking to the various vaccine companies. As you know, you know, potentially by the end of the year, if both Pfizer and Moderna become authorized, that would be some 40 million doses available.
[20:50:20] The screen that you're looking at now, by the way, is a different, different numbers. But these are the overall numbers of vaccines that were purchased by Operation Warp Speed. But as far as the calendar goes over the next, you know, the 100 days after the inauguration, it is possible to get 100 million doses if other vaccines come online like AstraZeneca, and Johnson &Johnson in particular, those are two that Moncef Slaoui told me last week are likely to go into emergency use application phase at the end of January, early February, then I think we can get to those numbers.
But a lot of things got to go right. And, you know, as of right now, we don't have any authorized vaccines. It looks promising, but we still got to get there.
COOPER: And Dr. Gounder, President Trump's White House Coronavirus Task Force is warning states that current vaccination plans won't reduce the spread of COVID until at least late spring. How's the Biden administration going to address this and I'm wondering if you think local public health departments have enough resources to vaccinate their residents?
GOUNDER: Well, very good question. You know, I think we really do have to double down on many of the public health measures we have been promoting all along the mask wearing, the social distancing, if you're going to be around other people do so outdoors, where at the very least in a well-ventilated space with all the windows and doors open, that needs to continue. You know, while we have a vaccine and there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is still a long tunnel ahead.
You know, and it's for vaccine distribution. I think state local health departments really do need some extra help and funding here in order to distribute the vaccine. You know, it's not just about nursing homes, which are fairly easy to target but to get to people in the community is a much, much bigger effort.
COOPER: I also want to bring in Sharon LaFraniere an investigative reporter with The New York Times you broke the story about the White House's dealings with Pfizer and that they declined to buy more doses.
Sharon, what have you learned about what happened between the Trump administration and Pfizer?
SHARON LAFRANIERE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think what happened was that Pfizer was very eager to offer the Trump administration as many doses really as they wanted to buy because Pfizer is an American company, and the bulk of its customers are American. And it did not want to get into a situation where it was basically vaccinating people overseas while Americans were waiting for its vaccine.
But so, two or three times, Pfizer officials were told, really urged the Trump administration to buy more than just 100 million doses. Like, don't you want more, you know, you don't have to pay for it up front? There's not a lot of risk for you here. Just, you know, reserve your doses, you know, because the demand is absolutely going to outstrip supply. And the administration said no, because basically, they were betting
on six vaccine makers. They didn't want to make too big, that big of a bet on Pfizer, even though it was not money out of pocket, right. They basically bet on 100 million doses from each of the six vaccine makers that were included as part of this crash program to develop the vaccine.
COOPER: It looks like they put --
LAFRANIERE: It could have.
COOPER: We just showed the list of all the different companies and it looks like AstraZeneca, they bought a lot more of AstraZeneca than any others. The others were kind of in the 100 million range. I guess I don't quite understand. Yes, apparently, for AstraZeneca they purchased 300 million. Everybody else they purchased 100 million from. Do you have any idea why?
LAFRANIERE: Yes, because AstraZeneca is a low-cost vaccine. And it's, it's basically I think they were selling it at no profit. So the amount of money that the government was plunking down was about the same, but AstraZeneca also is not. There are some questions about its data, its transparency, you know, it's only -- its trial in the U.S. is only half and rolled. It's not in the same position as Pfizer and Moderna.
What we actually have in hand right now is 100 million doses from Moderna, 100 million doses from Pfizer. And these are both two dose regime regimes. Right. So that's going to fit together they're going to cover 100 million Americans. And the question is, you know, who's going to cover the other 230 million?
COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, that's, that is a great question. I mean, the head of Operation Warp Speed told Good Morning America that it would not have been reasonable to purchase more doses of the Pfizer vaccine over the summer and other officials said that the decision was made as part of a plan to diversify the nation's vaccine arsenal. Do you buy that?
GUPTA: You know, I've been talking to Moncef Slaoui almost since he was appointed the Chief Scientific adviser for operation warp speed and, you know, they were having to make a lot of bets, you know, essentially on these vaccines, I think, these mRNA vaccines in particular, which are Pfizer and Moderna, one thing is that they, you know, we've never had this type of vaccine before.
So, you know, the results now, we're seeing looked to be pretty remarkable as Celine was just talking about. But at the time, you know, it wasn't clear that they were going to be that effective efficacious. And I also, you know, talked to Moncef a few days ago, and he said it wasn't clear that Pfizer was going to be able to deliver, you know, the numbers of vaccines that they would need to make up the shortfall.
So, I think there's lots of different decision points here. I think they probably wish that they had ordered more of the Pfizer, but AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are in phase 3.
COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, Dr. Celine Gounder, Sharon LaFraniere, appreciate your reporting. Thank you so much.
LAFRANIERE: Thank you so much.
COOPER (voice-over): Just ahead. The first people in the west to get the Pfizer vaccine today, what it means and their words to no longer live in fear, when we return.
COOPER: Since the pandemic began, we've often used this portion of the broadcast remember those taken from us by the virus. Tonight for the first time, we're pleased to be able to do the opposite.
These are the stories of those men and women the United Kingdom who are alive tonight, the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine outside of clinical trials. Margaret Keenan was the first that's her being applauded for inoculation was a celebration not just for Margaret herself, but as you see there for the people who treated her for the nation and the world.
And also for her two children and four grandchildren. Keenan turns 91 next week said this about getting a vaccine quote, if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too. You're here.
Then there's the most famous of the bunch William Shakespeare or bill as he's known to his friends and yes, that is his name. He had his grandchildren's artwork nearby as he took the job and went for a rest not long after.
CNN caught up with another one of the first recipients of the vaccine Martin Kenyon who had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN KENYON, RECEIVED COVID-19 VACCINE TODAY: I hate I am not going to have the bloody bug now. I tend to tend to have it go granddaughters and I want to live a long time to enjoy their lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been able to see them much this year this past year.
KENYON: No, I don't (INAUDIBLE) to the Christmas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A bloody bug. We wish him well. Grandfather, finally going to hug his grandchildren after so long. And for Christmas, I can think of no greater gift than that because that is what all of this has been about. And it's still a struggle to be about the mask, the social distancing. So that at some point, someday we can all hug our families and friends again, and know that the only thing we would ever transmit was our love.
A reminder, don't miss me "Full Circle", our digital new show. Gives us a chance to dig in some important topics, have in-depth conversations. You catch it streaming live at 6:00 p.m. Eastern at cnn.com/fullcircle or watch it there and on the CNN app at anytime On Demand.
News continues, let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris.