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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Battleground States of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia Issue Blistering Rebukes to Texas Lawsuit to Invalidate Millions of Votes; F.D.A. Panel Recommends Authorization of Pfizer COVID Vaccine; Key Forecast: COVID-19 Deaths Reduced To 502,000 By April 1 From 539,000 Last Week; Vaccine Debate In Trump Country; Sen. Sanders Demands Vote On New Stimulus Checks; U.S. COVID Hospitalizations Hit Record High Of 107,248. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 10, 2020 - 20:00   ET

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


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We do see at one point an officer pointing a gun in her general direction, but we don't see any officer pointing a gun within six inches of her face, which she also claims.

So, I mean, it shows that the officers were outside for several minutes waiting for her to come to the door. That's what it shows and it shows that they were polite to her when she came out.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Drew Griffin, thank you very much. And thanks to all of you, Anderson starts now.

[20:00:24]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. On November 9th, two days after the election was called for Joe Biden and more than a month ago, a senior Republican official said this to "The Washington Post" about the President's unwillingness to accept the outcome. What's the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time, the official asked, no one seriously thinks the results will change?

Well, tonight after multiple recounts in multiple states, after dozens and dozens of failed court challenges, tonight, we know. The results have not changed. But there is a downside because this was never really about what the President thinks, it's about what he would do.

So tonight, here's what this vain and selfish man who has never honestly demonstrated the ability to put his country before himself is now doing.

He is now all in on what he is billing as the "big one." A Supreme Court challenge led by Texas pitting state against state, not to mention fantasy and junk science versus facts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Donald Trump deserves his day in court, the Supreme Court and all I can say is God bless, Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think he practices that? I think he does. The vice President in Georgia today, a state that certified Joe Biden the victor after counting the vote three times, a state with a Republican governor and Republican election officials, all of whom said their election was free and fair.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the votes there, all of them, along with all the ballots cast in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Eighteen other Republican controlled states have signed on to this effort.

And today, more than a hundred House Republicans got in on it, too, filing their own amicus brief including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): President Trump wins 19 of the 20 bellwether counties around the country, increases his vote with Hispanic- Americans and African-Americans, but somehow Joe Biden who hung out in his basement, who would have a rally and get 55 people when the President would have a rally and get 55,000 people, somehow Joe Biden gets 80 million votes and wins and gets 12 million more votes than Barack Obama did?

So, nothing squares with what we know and historically what's happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes. Nothing squares with what we know. Congressman Jordan is parroting almost word for word words expressed in the President's supporting brief in the case which he says quote, "18 of the country's 19 so called bellwether counties," counties whose vote historically almost always goes for the candidate who wins the election, which is actually true, but completely irrelevant.

I mean, for years, Texas, and most of the South was solidly Democratic, and then it wasn't. That's called voting. That's what happens. And that's what happens when a lot of people vote, and a lot of people voted.

The brief also cites President Trump's nearly 75 million votes. That's a record for any incumbent President. Yes, okay. It doesn't mention President-elect Biden's more than 81 million votes, which is a record for any candidate, nor does it mention how much of the massive turnout was from people determined to try and get Trump out of office.

In fact, according to CNN's exit polling, 32 percent of Biden's more than 81 million voters said their ballot was a vote against Trump. And Republicans further down the ticket, by the way, including Congressman Jordan did just fine.

You don't hear Congressman Jordan, raising the issue of fraud in his election. He seems fine. He won. The President didn't win. The brief also claims that no candidate has ever lost the election

after winning Ohio and Florida as the President did. That's actually false. Richard Nixon won both in 1960 but lost to John Kennedy. The lawsuit itself cites a dubious statistical analysis which the President's defenders have, of course, seized upon lately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: For President Trump to be ahead as far as he was at 3:00 a.m. in these four states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia; and for the vote to swing by as much as it did, the probability of that in one state is one in one quadrillion. That's one comma 15 zeros. To happen in all four, it is one comma 15 zeros to the fourth power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: One comma 15 zeros to the power. That's the brain trust Kayleigh McEnany. Now, this assumes that the votes that were counted after Election Night would have been divided exactly the same as the ones cast on Election Day. That's what they're doing here.

Except we know that they weren't. Democrats voted heavily by mail-in and absentee ballot, as was discussed for months because the President was railing about that.

And in Pennsylvania, especially the last ballots to be counted came from heavily Democratic counties.

[20:05:10]

COOPER: Same in Wisconsin, and in Michigan. Essentially, the President is arguing that he won because he was winning before all the votes were counted. So that's idiotic. No? I mean, yes. Yes. Idiotic. But that is what he is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The alleged Biden margin of victory in several states is entirely accounted for by extraordinarily large midnight vote dumps. You saw them going up to the sky, all extremely skewed to Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Midnight vote dumps. It sounds suspicious. But maybe one of the reasons those ballots were counted so late, was that Republican controlled legislatures made it illegal to count them early. Yes, that's not even the lamest argument the President is making.

Here's what he tweeted just yesterday, "At 10:00 p.m. on election evening, we were at 97 percent win with the so-called bookies." I mean, the implication is a bunch of Vegas touts tell him it's a sure thing, how could he lose? I suppose from a guy who went broke running casinos or trying to run them or running them into the ground, this may make sense or maybe he was citing the landmark case House v. Suckers.

In any case, as to the thrust of his supporting brief and the case in chief, it is that one state can challenge the way another state runs its elections. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn says he is struggling to quote, "Understand the legal theory." I think there's a lot of folks who are struggling to understand the legal theory.

In its brief today, Pennsylvania called the Texas lawsuit a quote, "seditious abuse of the judicial process." And here's what Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger had to say about what the President and his supporters are doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): They only need to accept this reality. It puts the country in a very dangerous moment in time. What have we taught our children about politics? That it's a noble pursuit? Or that to win is everything and tweeting and yelling the loudest is the path to victory?

We've tribalized and we've dehumanized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Congressman Kinzinger began those remarks by saying, quote, "Repeating something over and over doesn't make it true." The President, meantime, he is doing just that over and over again, tweeting today, quote, "Most corrupt election in history by far. We won."

There's no evidence that is true, because it's not true. Tens of millions of his followers believe it, and that is sad. The President's brief even cites this as a reason the Supreme Court should rule in their favor. And that kind of gets the nub of this.

It's a circular argument, fanning mistrust, and inciting mistrust as evidence. And then it's kind of on a rinse and repeat cycle, until you've got states and citizens at each other's throats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: When you have more than a third of your electorate who thinks there's a major problem, a stolen election that is not a healthy situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Yes, we can agree with that. Sure. Yes. That's not a healthy situation. But who has made those people feel this way? It's the President of the United States and Mr. Jordan there, especially when that belief is false.

So yes, it's upsetting that so many people believe it, but it is false. And that's just the way it is.

It's even more so when a President spreads those falsehoods and exploits those falsehoods in a desperate attempt to overturn the election that he lost.

More now on all of this from our political analyst, senior "New York Times" white house correspondent, Maggie Haberman.

So, Maggie, there's almost no chance that this latest strategy from President Trump to overturn the election will work but he presses on regardless. He is still making money on this. It's been a huge boon for him. So I understand the financial motive.

What -- other than the financial motive -- would be the goal in continuing to pursue this? And is anyone around the President? I mean, I think I know the answer to this, pushing back on him at this point at all.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There are some people who have, Anderson, at various points, but for the most part, his circle has gotten incredibly small.

There are very few people who he is actually either talking to or listening to, and many people are enabling him in his desire to push ahead with something that both would overthrow the will of the people and would tattoo Joe Biden in some way in his hopes as some questionable President, and those are his goals.

Look, this is somebody who has spent decades suing, you know, every problem that came into his life as a way of handling things. He takes everything to the courts.

This is the one time he has found something that he can't sue, except he is trying to show that he can and there's no precedent for this. Most legal experts don't anticipate the Supreme Court will hear this case and even if they do, they do not anticipate it being successful.

But the President at this point just sees this rolling on. He has had support in this and I think, an important point, it is not just the number of states that have signed on, which is candidly, less surprising, given how Republican Attorneys General have stuck together, but a quarter of House members signed on to this, Republican House members in an amicus brief, more Republican House members are supporting it than Republican House members who aren't.

[20:10:30]

HABERMAN: And he is trying to do a show of force with this. That should say something pretty stark to people about the President's grip on his party. This is about power and trying to exert his will and raise questions about Biden, that's it.

COOPER: It also says something about the spinelessness of those Members of Congress.

What is the mood in the White House? I mean, President Trump is basically -- he seems to be out of sight, tweeting lies about the election, not really talking about all the Americans who are dying on his watch in record numbers. What is he doing? What is it like in there? Do you do you have a sense? HABERMAN: Yes, it's grim. I mean, he is serious. I know that we have

way overdone the trope that he has isolated over the last four years. He's actually isolated at this point.

He is speaking as I said, to very few people, most people are avoiding the Oval Office because they don't want him to ask, don't you agree that the election was stolen from me? Because they don't want to tell him they disagree with him, or they don't want to be yelled at.

His mood is often dark. He is snappish. He is churlish. He is in the word of several advisers "over the job." He does not really feel like doing it anymore. And yet, he is sowing enormous distrust across the country in an ostensible effort to keep the job and that goes back to the question you asked early on, what is this really about?

I go back to the fact that it is as much about trying to delegitimize Biden as anything else.

COOPER: The President's newest attorney, this guy, John Eastman, who as we mentioned previously made a bogus argument about Kamala Harris not being eligible to be Vice President because her parents were immigrants, is apparently reporting directly to President Trump.

What do you know about why he was hired and what his role is? I mean, is he just, you know, one of the few people who is willing to embarrass themselves and go to court in something like this and how does Ted Cruz play into this?

HABERMAN: You just answered your own question. He is willing to do what the President is asking, which most of the legal community would not be willing to do.

President Trump called Ted Cruz on Tuesday night. The senator asked him if this case, the Texas case gets to the Supreme Court, would he conduct the oral argument on the President's behalf. Senator Cruz said, yes, we're still a way from that because obviously, it has not been agreed to be heard by the Supreme Court.

But Cruz is one of the few Republican senators who is openly embracing this. Most Texas lawmakers in the suit originated with the Texas Attorney General, most Texas lawmakers or Texas public officials or many of the many ways are saying there's no legal basis for this suit.

This has really nothing going for it, but it has become a litmus test about fealty to this President.

COOPER: What the lawsuit is also doing is pitting various states against each other. I mean, you have 19 State Attorneys General supporting the suit to invalidate millions of votes. Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the states targeted by the suit filed, briefs to the Supreme Court today pushing back.

Pennsylvania went as far as calling the effort as seditious abuse of the judicial process. Clearly, I mean, the White House seems to be all on board with this. They're fine with this, even though they're supposedly a believer in states' rights. HABERMAN: I mean, you raise an important point, which is the

Republicans have historically portrayed themselves as the party of state rights. This is one state initially, Texas and now, you know, more than a dozen others trying to invalidate millions of votes in four swing states, four battleground states.

You know, this is definitionally not respecting the rights of other states and what they're trying to argue, the case they're making about some disenfranchisement of their own states votes, has had no basis that any court has found plausible or valid in any of the lower courts.

COOPER: Yes, it probably made it easier for Ted Cruz say, yes, sure. I'll argue this case when it goes to the Supreme Court, knowing it is very unlikely to get to the Supreme Court.

HABERMAN: I think it was cost free.

COOPER: Yes, exactly. Maggie Haberman, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now from two CNN political commentators. Former Pennsylvania Republican senator Rick Santorum and Democratic strategist Paul Begala.

Senator Santorum, do you think the people who are supporting this suit, the Attorneys General, Members of Congress, President allies actually believe this? Particularly the Members of Congress, because it all seems incredibly intellectually dishonest?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, here's what I believe. I believe that there are lots of legitimate grounds to protest this election. If you look at the State of Georgia, for example, the State Chairman down there, David Schafer, instead of jumping into bed with Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell actually did the homework that you should be doing, every State Chairman should have been doing, which is looking at how many people who voted weren't registered to vote, how many people had moved out of the state, how many people were felons, how many people were dead.

[20:15:10]

SANTORUM: I mean, go through that -- go through the numbers and see whether there's enough votes there of people who didn't vote legally to overturn the election, and he actually put a very compelling case together, but you don't hear anything about it, because you have all these -- what I consider to be, you know, the Giuliani, Powell, Lin Wood, these people out there sowing these conspiracy theories that make no sense at all or running with statistics that have nothing to do with the way this election was conducted are to me, are complete, you know, rabbit holes that are driving people down.

And in Pennsylvania, was the election conducted correctly? Overall, yes, but there were places it was not. We lost a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, me being the Republicans, because the Allegheny County decided to count ballots that didn't have date on it. COOPER: Well, okay, hold on. Let me just stop for a second, Senator

Santorum -- but Senator Santorum, your argument seems to be that you have uncovered a guy who has uncovered, really the fraud, and nobody is listening because Rudy Giuliani gets all the oxygen in the room.

I mean, if there was a valid case, you're telling me that the President wouldn't have jumped on this guy who --

SANTORUM: He is on the suit. Okay. He's joined the suit, and he's on it. And it's going to be heard before the court, and I would say, you know, based on what the numbers that I've looked at, and it's -- you can -- they're laid out there. There's probably 7,000 or 8,000 solid votes there that are pretty clear that these are people who should not have voted.

COOPER: There have been three recounts in Georgia, right? And they have certified the votes three times. So you're saying they've gotten it wrong?

SANTORUM: I understand. They certified the count versus what, you know, what the paper count was versus what the machine count was. That's not looking at whether the people were actually authorized to vote. They don't do that.

And that's the job of the party or the candidate to do that. In the case of Georgia, the State Chairman there did that job and he has come up with a fairly substantial number, and I would encourage you to look at it and get him on their show. He'll walk through it.

Now, are they going to win? I don't know. But there certainly are in Pennsylvania and all these other states, there are legitimate cases to be made. In the case of Georgia, there's only about 11,000 difference and 81,000 in Pennsylvania -- that may be some proof.

COOPER: All right, Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's just sad. It's sad. Look, I think what's going on in Georgia is that there's two Senate races coming up January 5th, and Republican strategists can't dare cross Trump because they're worried Trump's supporters won't turn out on January 5th.

Back home in Texas, by the way, the rumor mill is Ken Paxton, the Attorney General, who is already under indictment for state securities fraud allegations, is now facing an F.B.I. investigation, a federal investigation into allegations from seven of his top aides that he committed bribery and misuse of office.

So the word back home is well, he is angling for a pardon. The problem with this and the problem with what Rick is saying, really damages our faith in democracy. The acid test of a democracy is to concede when you've lost.

You know, Rick, I've never told you the story. November 8, 1994. I was the guy. I was the guy who handed the phone to Senator Wofford and said, you've got to call Congressman Santorum. It was over. I hated losing. I especially hate losing to you, Santorum. But we

lost. We lost by 87,000 votes in 1994. You won by 87,000 votes. And Harris Wofford conceded to you because he was a patriot first and a partisan second.

By the way, Joe Biden, as you point out one by 81,000. That's a Santorum level victory, so the notion that you or anybody else can contest it. It's really destructive to our democracy, though, Rick, it is.

SANTORUM: I'm not suggesting that the votes there in Pennsylvania to overturn the election. I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm suggesting, in Georgia it is possible.

BEGALA: We are in Georgia.

SANTORUM: Because the vote -- well, I'm suggesting it is possible, if you read the suit, I think it is possible that a court could make that case.

But my point is, that's the way you make the case, and they have not been making that case. They've been using -- Anderson, I didn't really disagree with anything you said in your monologue, because to me, it had nothing to do with what I would consider garden variety irregularities or cheating or people not following the law, which is where most of these irregularities take place.

COOPER: Right. But the garden variety that is not what the President is alleging.

SANTORUM: I understand.

COOPER: The President is alleging this massive rigging thing and a hundred folks in Congress are going along with it. According to legal experts of all political stripes, this suit has -- the Texas suit has no chance of succeeding. Just hypothetically say the Supreme Court does rule in favor of Texas. Then what happens?

I mean, have you heard anyone religiously offer a path forward from there? I mean, your states right -- you believe in states' rights, the idea that does Texas have the right to disenfranchise voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania and Georgia?

[20:20:03]

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, the argument is that it's -- you know, it's a federal constitutional issue and therefore, you know the states have a right to --

COOPER: Yes, everyone loves states' rights until it actually means holding up states' rights, and then they're all for federal stuff.

SANTORUM: I'm just telling you what the argument is that they believe that -- I'm not saying I agree with that argument and I don't think the court will agree with that argument. But what they do, do in that case, is they do lay out a lot of what I would consider very boring, garden variety irregularities that I think need to be cleaned up across this country if we're going to have confidence in our elections.

COOPER: Okay, Paul, boring, garden variety, irregularities. Those occur in pretty much all elections, somebody -- a human makes a mistake. There have now been three certifications in Georgia, and in some cases, vote tallies have shifted a tiny amount in one way or another, in some cases in favor Biden more.

But again, these are tiny garden variety irregularities. That is not what is being alleged, which is potentially, you know, tearing apart the entire trust of half of the electorate.

BEGALA: Right. The Georgia vote has been counted. It's been recounted, it's been canvassed. It's been hand counted. It's been audited, and it has been certified by a Trump supporting Republican Secretary of State and a Trump supporting Republican governor. It is over it is.

It is what Monty Python will call a dead parrot. The Trump candidacy is over. And for them to continue to do this. And I say, I think they're trying to juice their vote for this runoff. I think it's really destructive of our democracy.

They're telling good people, honorable people, that somehow something was stolen from them. And the remedy they're seeking is to throw out 20,492,401 votes across four states. That's preposterous.

You're going to tell 20 million Americans that they're not allowed to participate in picking their President because Texas doesn't like it. They will be laughed out of the courts.

I'm not worried about it being effective as a constitutional legal strategy. I'm terribly worried about destroying people's faith in our democracy because there are a lot of good people who look to and listen to Trump and Rick Santorum and others, and they have to be told the truth and the truth is their guy lost.

COOPER: Yes, Paul Begala --

SANTORUM: And I just want to make one final point, Anderson, if I can. The fact that it's been recounted is not the point of the lawsuit. The Georgia Secretary of State did not look at whether people who are dead voted. He didn't look at 4,500 people who moved and registered in other states who then voted in the State of Georgia.

Those were -- no one in a recount looks at those things. Those are the irregularities. They have nothing to do with the recount. They have everything to do with who was qualified to vote and how those votes were counted.

COOPER: Rick Santorum and Paul Begala, thanks very much.

Coming up next, what happens now that the F.D.A.'s advisory panel has voted to recommend authorization of the first COVID vaccine in this country?

And later, Senator Bernie sanders on the fight to provide economic relief as millions face a grim future this holiday season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:25:43]

COOPER: A light at the end of the tunnel may have just gotten a little brighter. An F.D.A. advisory panel today voted to recommend Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

The agency is likely to give the final nod within days, again, a bright light but the darkest tunnel, another 2,700 deaths reported today so far. That is on top of more than 3,100 yesterday.

In other words, two 9/11 size casualty counts in two days.

Joining us now is Dr. Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst, emergency room physician, medical educator and former Baltimore Health Commissioner.

Dr. Wen, so now that the F.D.A. advisory committee has recommended Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine, what happens next?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, what happened today, I thought was really monumental. I mean, the fact that we are now about to get a vaccine that looks to be safe and 95 percent effective. That's really incredible.

And I also think it's great that this -- the advisory panel met in public. I mean, everybody was able to watch the proceedings, we had all the data. So that transparency is really key.

What happens next is that the F.D.A. is probably going to be granting Emergency Use Authorization shortly. This could happen as soon as tomorrow, and within 24 hours of that, there will be six million -- more than six million doses of this vaccine now going out to states and so we could certainly see shots in arms being given next week.

COOPER: And members the committee voted yes. One abstained, four voted no. Do you know about why those four voted no?

WEN: Yes, so I followed this pretty closely. And I think it's important for people to know that, in general, everyone was very enthusiastic about the safety and efficacy data for adults. But the way that the question was framed was do you support Emergency Use Authorization for 16-year-olds and up. And there were some people who disagreed with the idea of 16 and 17-year-olds being included in this group because they thought these are individuals who tend to not get as sick as older people.

And also, there's insufficient data, they thought for 16 and 17-year- olds. So I think we should take this in context and recognize that Emergency Use Authorization doesn't mean that there are many questions that still remain to be answered.

But overall, this is a highly safe and effective vaccine.

COOPER: And I know you were listening for two key points today. Should pregnant women receive the vaccine and which groups are warned to not receive the vaccine? What did you learn?

WEN: So there were a lot of questions raised, and I think a lot more questions than answers, which actually may be okay. Because what I was listening for was, I did not want for pregnant women to be excluded from the group that could receive the vaccine.

And what I mean is that pregnant women were not initially included in the Phase 3 trial. So we really don't know about the safety for pregnant and postpartum and breastfeeding women.

The issue though, is that we have 330,000 healthcare workers who are pregnant or in postpartum. And while we're beginning to get some data from the trials of women who got pregnant during the trials, but were not initially included as such, we still don't really know.

But at the same time, you don't want to be excluding pregnant women from the benefits of the trial. And so you may have, for example, an ICU nurse, a respiratory therapist who is a very high risk, and I was hoping that the F.D.A. committee was not going to say, don't allow pregnant women to have this choice, because ideally, that should be a decision that she makes between her and her doctor, which is, incidentally, what the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine has recommended.

COOPER: Do you know what you would -- I mean, if you were pregnant, whether you would take it or not.

WEN: See, it's really tough, and I think this is why it needs to be tailored to the individual circumstance. If you are a woman who can very easily keep social distancing, you can work from home, you don't need to be around others who have high risk then, you should not be taking this vaccine because in that case, the risks of -- the unknown risks of the vaccine may outweigh the benefit.

But on the other hand, if you're in a very high risk profession, and you would otherwise have high risk, for example, and maybe you have obesity and diabetes and are otherwise at high risk for having severe effects from coronavirus, maybe you do take it in that case, but having that option is important.

COOPER: Can you explain in a layman's terms what the vaccine does and does not do in terms of immunity, in terms of transmission? Because that seems like a big question.

WEN: Yes, it really is. Because Anderson, what we know about this vaccine is the primary endpoint is it measures -- it measures reducing symptomatic illness.

Meaning that it prevents you from getting severely ill. It prevents you from having symptoms of coronavirus, which is really important because ultimately, that's what we want. We want to prevent somebody from getting so ill that they are hospitalized or they die from coronavirus.

[20:30:00] But what we do not yet know is whether it prevents you from

contracting COVID-19 in the first place. Maybe you could still catch coronavirus, you could be an asymptomatic carrier, and still transmitted to others. And so, it's really important for people to know that even after they get the vaccine, they should still be wearing a mask. They should still be social distancing. They may be protected themselves, but maybe they can still transmit it to others.

COOPER: How will -- when will we know if somebody actually, if the vaccine enables somebody to actually resist getting infected? I mean is that -- I assume they don't do experiments where people got have the vaccine are purposely infected.

WEN: Right. And so, that's something that we'll know only by observation over time. And that is one of the things that's going to be studied, but so many other things need to be studied to including about allergic reactions, including children. And so, I think we should see this emergency use authorization as the first of many steps, but a really important step because there are 2,000, 3,000 people dying every day. And so, there is going to be a massive societal benefit from getting this vaccine out very quickly too.

COOPER: Dr. Wen, appreciate it. Thank you.

More now what lies ahead even with the vaccine new numbers tonight? Joining us for that, Dr. Chris Murray, Director of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Dr. Murray, your new model shows that a half million Americans may die from COVID by April 1st is actually down just slightly from last week, though, obviously, still catastrophic. What accounts for the slight decrease?

CHRISTOPHER MURRAY, DIRECTOR, UNIV. OF WASHINGTON IHME: Well, we're seeing Anderson is this leveling off of hospitalizations and cases in a whole number of Midwestern states. And at the same time, the California is shooting up Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, and a number of other places going up. So that level -- leveling off in the Midwest, is brought our forecast down. And then the other thing that's brought it down is that the news from the FDA filing by Pfizer, that just after one dose of the vaccine, you get 50 percent protection. And so that moves up the benefits of the scale up a vaccine where we previously would, or you had a benefit.

COOPER: And today obviously was, as Dr. Wen was saying a huge day when it comes to the vaccine, your mental health factors, people receiving it. I know I asked you this almost every time but how many lives would be saved? If you know more people were mask?

MURRAY: Well, 56,000 could be saved if we could get mask use up, you know, we've been making progress on masks, we're up to about, you know, 72 percent for the nation --

COOPER: Oh really, that high.

MURRAY: -- if we can get up 94 percent, we can save 56,000 lives. COOPER: So it at 72 percent. Because that's high. I think there are times when you and I have talked over the last, you know how many eight, nine months or so it was in the 45 percent range sometimes?

MURRAY: No, it's been, yes, which is really good news. And we're (INAUDIBLE) Midwest just we'll have second rave (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Hey Dr. Murray.

MURRAY: Risk of the families --

COOPER: I'm sorry.

MURRAY: We are seeing.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Murray, I'm sorry. The audio obviously is cutting out. We appreciate Dr. Murray's time.

(voice-over): Coming up next. The President wants credit for the vaccine. The question is, what does Trump country really think about it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:36:49]

COOPER: As the nation appears on the first night of launching its first coronavirus vaccine, there are places in the country where resistance to any inoculation seemed paramount. One of those locations is rural Tennessee where a local pastor is not only against vaccinations, he's also denying the very existence of the pandemic itself.

CNN's Elle Reeve has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): News of imminent vaccines comes just as COVID-19 surges through rural parts of the country. And the political debate is as heated as ever.

GREG LOCKE, PASTOR, GLOBAL VISION BIBLE CHURCH: Not (INAUDIBLE).

REEVE (voice-over): We wanted to know if the same resistance to masks would happen to the vaccine. So we reached out to Greg Locke, a pastor and conservative Wilson County, Tennessee who says he has grown his congregation by protesting COVID control measures.

LOCKE: We're not going to close our church ladies and gentleman because of COVID.

There was a lot of sincere people that are doing their best to put out a vaccine but that doesn't mean I'm going to take it. I don't believe the government can tell me, you know, when or how I can stick a needle in my arm or my kids arms, super government overreach. REEVE (voice-over): Locke says he's moved his services outdoors, not to limit the spread of COVID. But to handle all the new people who've come.

LOCKE: Thank God for fear. I (INAUDIBLE).

I'm saying the sickness is real. I'm saying the pandemic is not.

REEVE (on-camera): I don't understand what you mean when you say pandemics not real.

LOCKE: Pandemic is not real.

REEVE (on-camera): But what do you think a pandemic is?

LOCKE: Not? Not COVID-19.

REEVE (on-camera): But what do you think a pandemic is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we've stuck on the pandemic question too many times.

LOCKE: It's ridiculous.

REEVE (on-camera): Well, then why can't you answer it?

LOCKE: There's no pandemic. COVID-19 is not a pandemic.

REEVE (on-camera): Well what was is a pandemic then?

LOCKE: Not what we're experiencing. I'm 44 years old, we've not had one of my lifetime. So I don't know. And this is not yet.

REEVE (voice-over): To be clear, a pandemic is a disease that spreads across many countries and affects many people. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 pandemic in March. And experts say about 70 percent of people need to get the vaccine to control COVID spread.

LISA BORCHERS, CHURCH SERVICE ATTENDEE: It's not been tested and we don't know what's going to happen with it. Later on, it may help you now but in the future it tell us more on see your body if you get it easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not, you know, this anti vaccination. You know, (INAUDIBLE) the devil it's like, personally, it's a choice.

REEVE (voice-over): Some people at this service told us they'd seen Locke on Facebook and liked his message.

LOCKE: Donald Trump won the election by a landslide. He will be reelected as the President of the United States.

REEVE (voice-over): We wanted to know how widespread his views are. So we drove deeper into Wilson County, where there's a COVID testing site at the fairgrounds. We met Quintin Smith, a cattle farmer who runs the agricultural center there and takes extra care to keep things sanitized during COVID.

QUINTIN SMITH, DIRECTOR, JAMES E. WARD AGRICULTURAL CENTER: You all never go to a fairgrounds or anybody, is probably (INAUDIBLE) come on, come on in.

I'm cautious about running out new light, you know, I think everybody's excited about there being a Vax lane, but I find it's going to be kind of everybody waiting around and watching the first responders and nursing home folks and, you know, if there's any reaction to it.

Let me tell you what my daddy always told me. Son, that never believe anything you hear, and only half what you see.

[20:40:03]

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: I think it's entirely human to be a little skeptical and a little hesitant. After all, this is a new virus in the human population. This vaccine uses new technology. It's been developed very rapidly, and that makes people cautious.

REEVE (voice-over): Based on our interviews and recent polling, Pastor Locke represents an outspoken minority. Surveys by the Pew Research Center found that Republicans are less likely than Democrats to see COVID as a major threat to public health, but also that there's a growing acceptance of the vaccine nationwide, including among Republicans. Sixty percent of Americans say they take it and nearly half of those who are reluctant say it's possible they'd get it after others do so.

Dr. William Schaffner who's been working on infectious disease at Vanderbilt University since the '60s says that in order to overcome vaccine hesitancy, public health officials have to build trust.

SCHAFFNER: You have to respect people, you have to respect where they're coming from, hear what they say, and then try to respond to their concerns.

SMITH: You know, we give shots to cows all the time, and you do get reactions to shots. So, you know, we have give a shot to an animal and walk out there, 20 feet out of the shooting drop dead, everybody's going to respond differently.

REEVE (on-camera): After the first responders take it when it's your turn, will you take the vaccine?

SMITH: I probably will go on and take the vaccine.

REEVE (on-camera): How do you feel about the vaccine?

GWEN SCOTT, FIDDLERS GROVE COORDINATOR: Anything new, that has not been proven? We're not sure I won't be the guinea pig, you know, and I really wish there was time for more testing, but there's not. And we're losing too many people too fast. So, we have got to do what we can. I know it's become a political issue at times, but it shouldn't be. This is a health issue.

SCHAFFNER: The approach to COVID has had substantial political overtones. People have attitudes about this, and it will not be easy to change those attitudes.

REEVE (on-camera): Are you going to tell the members of your congregation not to get the vaccine?

LOCKE: Members of our congregation can do what they want to, but they'll watch my videos and know that I'm not getting it.

REEVE (on-camera): So, you expect them to model your behavior.

LOCKE: I expect them to use their Bible and use the brain.

REEVE (voice-over): Elle Reeve, CNN, Wilson County, Tennessee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Our next guest can speak to the second of those two items. He spent a career working to understand and then defeat infectious disease, especially HIV/AIDS. William Haseltine, is also a prolific author. His latest book is titled My Lifelong Fight Against Disease From Polio And Aids To COVID-19.

Professor Haseltine, thanks for being with us. Good to see you again. You hear people talking about not getting the vaccine. Can you just talk about what that would mean for everybody if a sizable chunk of the population does not get it?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR & PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: Well, what we're hoping from a vaccine, of course, is it not only it protects the people who are vaccinated, but it stamps out the virus because it can't jump from one person to another, because there's not enough uninfected people to get to. And that virus, then well, pretty much stamp down at least for a while. That's what we're hoping for. That's about 70 to 80 percent. But there are a lot of variables.

And I would say the best way to look at this is to say if we're going to get the kind of immunity we need, we need to do two things, we need to control the infection through public health measures, mask, social distancing, limitations on travel and gatherings, together with a vaccine. Now how many people need to be protected? Depends on how big the infection is? It's like a forest fire. How many firefighters you need depends on having the fire is. That more people are infected like they're on the United States, the longer and harder is going to be to get curd immunity to get immunity that makes this virus really tamped down.

COOPER: And given that we don't even know if somebody who gets the vaccine, if that makes them -- makes it impossible for them to get infected. Or if it just makes the symptoms so little that it's manageable. If they can still get infected and still spread it, then even with a vaccine, the idea of herd immunity. I mean, that it doesn't really affect that, doesn't. HASELTINE: It's a complicated question, Anderson, because the polio vaccine doesn't necessarily stop polio. It's just very good at stopping people getting sick. And that is really eliminated polio pretty much. The flu vaccines don't stop people from spreading the flu, but they have some effect on modulating the flu. So, there's really a whole series of factors doesn't stop transmission. How long does a vaccine last? What fraction of people get infected? And how long is their immunity? Those are questions that are going to get answered, but we don't know those answers now.

So, the best strategy forward is get as many people vaccinated as possible, and observe as many public health measures as possible. And there's another very big question. If as much as 20 or 30 people, percent of people decide not to take the vaccine, adults, then it's going to be up to children. And you have to remember that those children can't take a vaccine unless their parents tell them, it's OK to take the vaccine, until they give permission.

[20:45:15]

So we will need probably because it's certainly I think it's very likely 20 percent of people will resist. We need to begin to test whether that vaccine works in children, they do spread the disease to adults. And that's going to take even longer. So, I think the bottom line of this is we need both public health measures. We need vaccination measures. And even together given the magnitude of this pandemic, it's going to take a long time to get this thing back in the bottle.

COOPER: Yes, Professor Haseltine. Appreciate your time. Thank you.

Up next, we --

HASELTINE: You're welcome. Thank you.

COOPER (voice-over): -- more breaking news and millions of Americans facing the end of unemployment benefits at the end of this month, Congress still at a standstill over the passage of second round relief.

Coming up, I'll speak with Senator Bernie Sanders about why he is demanding a vote on a new stimulus check.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As the Pfizer vaccine moves closer to reality, there's breaking news tonight out of Capitol Hill about the negotiations over relief for tens of millions of Americans suffering economically because of the pandemic.

From us, Senator Bernie Sanders is demanding a vote on a proposal for a second round of stimulus checks. He joins me now. Senator Sanders, thanks for being with us. Are you willing to let the government shutdown if you don't see movement on stimulus checks? I know you and Senator Hawley are introducing an amendment to that effect? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, nobody wants to see the government shut down. But I think it would be outrageous and simply unacceptable for members of Congress to go home to their families, when tens of millions of working-class families in this country are facing economic desperation. They don't have the food literally to feed their kids. They're worried about being evicted. They can't afford health care. They have no income. We have got to address that, and I intend to do everything I can to make sure that we do.

COOPER: Would shutting down the government though. I mean, that would get anything but (INAUDIBLE) --

SANDERS: Nobody, Anderson, nobody wants to shut down the government. But I think the answer American people want their government to respond to the terrible crises that they are facing today, and you just can't walk away from that. So, no one wants to shut down the government, but the government is going to have to respond. We are in an emergency situation, and it would be absolutely reckless and irresponsible to ignore the pain of so many people are feeling.

[20:50:24]

You know, I always get amazed Anderson when wars come about, we have trillions of dollars to spend on wars, we have trillions of dollars, the giveaway and corporate welfare tax breaks, the billionaires, large corporations. But when it comes to the children of this country, going hungry, working people facing eviction, suddenly, we just can't act that's unacceptable. That is unacceptable. And if it means that my colleagues and I don't leave Washington during the Christmas break, and nobody wants to get out of here more than I, but I think that's what we have to look at. We got to act.

COOPER: How did stimulus negotiations get this bad? I mean here we are in December, these crucial measures set to expire, you know, why can't people good intentions on both sides get it done?

SANDERS: Well, that's a good question. And maybe the answer is, up to this point, at least there are not good intentions on both sides. Let me give you an example, Mnuchin, the President's representative and talked to the Democrats, and talked about a $1.8 trillion package, which would have included what I want to see what Senator Hawley wants to see. And that is $1,200 of direct payments, for working class adults, each working-class adult, and $500 for the kid, that's what we did in the CARES Act.

And now suddenly, literally, we are talking about, instead of 1.8 trillion, we're talking about 350 billion in new money at about 550 billion to be transferred from unused money in the CARES package. So in other words, what the Republican leadership is saying is, you know, we're just going to put a very little amount of money into the needs of the American people right now, that is unacceptable. And Democrats are going to have to stand up and demand that we address the crises of facing this country.

COOPER: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office indicated today, he doesn't see a path to an agreement on the two main sticking points liability protections for businesses aid for states and cities. Is there room on your end for negotiation on those?

SANDERS: Well, this whole liability thing is a horror show. It's incredible to me that when you have corporations who have been absolutely irresponsible in the meatpacking industry, other industries and Amazon 20,000 workers, as I understand that have come down with the virus, that they will be held immune from any liability. And that, to me is absurd. States and cities are in desperate shape, their financial revenue is going down, their tax revenue is going down. They need help.

You know, what I just don't understand is that back in March in the beginning of this terrible pandemic, Congress came together, and people forget this. Unanimously, Democrats, Republicans, President Trump, we passed a $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which included that $1,200 per person that I'm fighting for the $500 for the kid, $600 supplement for unemployment insurance, we passed that. And, you know what, it was just enormously important to millions and millions of families. And it's such we did it then. And today, tragically, as you report all, every day, the virus situation is worse probably right now than it has ever been.

So, if we could act unanimously with the President in March, I'm not quite sure why we can't do it today.

COOPER: Just lastly, I just got to ask you about where this country is in terms of the President leaving and what the President is, is alleging. As you know, the Texas Attorney General along with 18, other Republican state attorneys general, who theoretically no law, are asking the Supreme Court to essentially overturn the election, the president reportedly asked your colleague, Senator Ted Cruz to make the case for him. If it goes to oral arguments, I guess Cruz's thinking it's never going to go. So yes, say yes, that's where the benefit is. But what is going on? I mean (INAUDIBLE)?

SANDERS: I do Anderson. Now, I think you understand a little bit about the complexity of where we all right here in the Senate. Let us be very, very clear that Trump happens, among his many, many deficiencies, being a pathological liar and a racist, et cetera. He also happens not to believe in democracy. And the fact that you have so many Republicans at all levels, you have majority of my colleagues who have not yet acknowledged that Biden won the election. He's what 6, 7 million votes, popular votes ahead. He has the same electoral votes that Trump had four years ago, and Trump called it a landslide. They haven't even acknowledged Biden's victory.

[20:55:04]

So, what we are about right now are people who are trying to undermine American democracy, the will of the people and the election. It really is extraordinary. And the day after Biden gets inaugurated, we're going to roll up our sleeves and figure out how we strengthen American democracy because it is very much under attack right now.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Bernie Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

COOPER (voice-over): Up next today in perspective, deep loss tempered by real hope in the fight against coronavirus. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Updating a breaking news on the epidemic. Sense of hope coupled with the reality of such deep loss more than 2,500 deaths reported so far today. And there are still several hours left in this day. More people will die. That's in addition to a record 3,100 deaths just yesterday.

The CDC director warning today we will likely see more than 3,000 deaths per day, more than we had on 911 for the next two to three months. Think about that.

Also, tonight, record number of people hospitalized battling the coronavirus right now more than 107,000 patients to any who are in their rooms watching tonight. I wish you strength and quick recovery.

But again, there's at least a glimpse of how this will end there is hope out there, the vote today to recommend emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA is expected to support that decision soon along with the CDC Advisory Committee on Sunday. That certainly cannot come soon enough.

Reminder, don't miss "Full Circle", our digital news show. Continue to spend a lot of time focused on the pandemic on it. You can watch "Full Circle" streaming live 6:00 p.m. Eastern at cnn.com/fullcircle or watch it there and on the CNN app anytime On Demand, if you're not already sick of me.

[21:00:02]

The news continues. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Sick of you, death first.

COOPER: Yes.

CUOMO: Death first.